Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

The Military-Industrial-Media Complex

Posted in media, politics by allisonkilkenny on November 30, 2008

Photo Illustration by The New York Times
Photo Illustration by The New York Times

New York Times

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.

The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.

Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.

Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.

“That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.

General McCaffrey did not mention his new contract with Defense Solutions in his letter to General Petraeus. Nor did he disclose it when he went on CNBC that same week and praised the commander Defense Solutions was now counting on for help — “He’s got the heart of a lion” — or when he told Congress the next month that it should immediately supply Iraq with large numbers of armored vehicles and other equipment.

He had made similar arguments before he was hired by Defense Solutions, but this time he went further. In his testimony to Congress, General McCaffrey criticized a Pentagon plan to supply Iraq with several hundred armored vehicles made in the United States by a competitor of Defense Solutions. He called the plan “not in the right ballpark” and urged Congress to instead equip Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles.

“We’ve got Iraqi army battalions driving around in Toyota trucks,” he said, echoing an argument made to General Petraeus in the Defense Solutions briefing packet.

Through seven years of war an exclusive club has quietly flourished at the intersection of network news and wartime commerce. Its members, mostly retired generals, have had a foot in both camps as influential network military analysts and defense industry rainmakers. It is a deeply opaque world, a place of privileged access to senior government officials, where war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of interest.

Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry McCaffrey.

General McCaffrey, 66, has long been a force in Washington’s power elite. A consummate networker, he cultivated politicians and journalists of all stripes as drug czar in the Clinton cabinet, and his ties run deep to a new generation of generals, some of whom he taught at West Point or commanded in the Persian Gulf war, when he rose to fame leading the “left hook” assault on Iraqi forces.

But it was 9/11 that thrust General McCaffrey to the forefront of the national security debate. In the years since he has made nearly 1,000 appearances on NBC and its cable sisters, delivering crisp sound bites in a blunt, hyperbolic style. He commands up to $25,000 for speeches, his commentary regularly turns up in The Wall Street Journal, and he has been quoted or cited in thousands of news articles, including dozens in The New York Times.

His influence is such that President Bush and Congressional leaders from both parties have invited him for war consultations. His access is such that, despite a contentious relationship with former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the Pentagon has arranged numerous trips to Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots solely for his benefit.

At the same time, General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that have grown with the fight against terrorism.

(more…)

Sarah Palin Hosting SNL = Lunacy

Posted in media by allisonkilkenny on October 14, 2008

From MCM:

The New York Post is reporting that Palin’s appearance (on Saturday Night Live) Oct. 25 is signed, sealed, and delivered.

If this is indeed true, it’s outrageous. I seriously doubt NBC plans on affording Biden or Gonzales the same privilege of getting free face-time on a national network on public airwaves.

NBC, and its parent company GE, are allowing Sarah Palin to perform this ridiculous PR stunt even though she parrots hateful ideologies, including forcing rape victims to pay for their own rape kit.

Also? She thinks Jesus is coming back to Earth…soon! And she’s running for the second highest seat in the land.

Which brings me to my theoretic question: If we (Jamie and I) were to organize a protest of Sarah Palin’s hosting of SNL in NYC, who could come out?

We’re not talking about standing outside in the dark with our little signs. We’re going to stand in line, get into the live taping, and then take turns yelling our slogans throughout the night, so even if a handfull of us get kicked out, there are more people scattered throughout the place to make the entire hour-long taping complete and utter hell, and the footage unusable.

Now, having said that, we have a source on the SNL staff, who tells us he doesn’t think Sarah Palin will actually be used. This is great news, and here is how you can prevent her from even getting her painted clown face on TV:

Call and complain. Say you find Sarah Palin’s rhetoric hateful and offensive, and you will stop watching SNL if Lauren Michaels (SNL producer) allows this divise, monstrous character to parade around on network television.

NBC: 212-664-4444
General Electric (NBC parent company): 212-575-6000, or 1-800-626-2000

Here’s the contact info for Lorne Michaels’ SNL production company: (212) 265-7600

This is NOT a free speech issue. The airwaves belong to the public, and NBC is not affording equal face time to the political parties. SNL has been accused of being too liberal, and now GE is pressuring the staff to “even things out” by having Palin on their show. It’s bullshit.

IF YOU CAN COME TO THE PROTEST, PLEASE CONTACT ME

If this happens, it would be October 25. We will probably only be able to receieve stand-by tickets, so you will need to arrive by 7 a.m. on the morning of the taping under the “NBC Studios” marquee on the 50th St. side of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Again, ideally we don’t want her on the show AT ALL, so call the above numbers, and I’ll keep you all posted