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More Agitprop

Steve Bates at Yellow Doggerel Democrat, in comments, wondered if I had seen Glenn Greenwald‘s e-mail exchange with Colonel Steven Boylan, the head of MNF-I agitprop and personal spinmeister for General David Patraeus.

I’d already read Noah Shachtman’s post, Petraeus Throws Out the Book, Launches Airstrikes (Updated), in which he notes: “Colonel Steven Boylan, Petraeus’ public affairs officer, disagrees with just about every letter and punctuation mark in this post.”

Those of you with good memories might remember the problem the US military had over the use of white phosphorus munitions in Fallujah. Guess who tried to spin Amy Goodman on that: from November 17, 2005 Pentagon Admits Use of White Phosphorus

Lieutenant Colonel Boylan: “I know of no cases where people were deliberately targeted by the use of white phosphorus.”

Within a week, that was shown to be untrue by the Army’s own Field Artillery magazine.

Boylan must be good at his job, and making his superiors happy or he wouldn’t have been promoted. In agitprop misleading the media isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

[Update: spelling correction.]


1 Steve Bates { 10.29.07 at 9:16 am }

“Within a week, that was shown to be untrue by the Army’s own Field Artillery magazine.” – Bryan

So in this verbal battle at least, a magazine is where your ammunition is stored. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

I’ve duly updated my post to reference and link yours. Thanks for the additional info on Boylan. It never occurred to me that a subordinate might be writing “his” insulting emails, giving Boylan plausible deniability if asked whether he is the one who wrote them. However it took place, it’s a sorry business, but I suppose he learned the approach from the commander guy.

2 Bryan { 10.29.07 at 9:43 am }

In general, full colonels read statements, they don’t write them. It is very possible that these exchanges are with E-6s or 7s in the colonel’s office and his e-mail address is the official office point of contact.

This may be under the actual direction of a reserve officer sent to Baghdad specifically for this purpose. Under Rumsfeld’s system agitprop was a reserve function.

3 andante { 10.29.07 at 7:54 pm }

Whichever person sent them, someone has been deliberately reading left-leaning and/or anti-war blogs & columns, then writing to challenge them. Perhaps someone has been put on ‘Google Petraeus’ duty.

A fine use of taxpayer money it is (syntax courtesy of Boylan or Yoda, take your pick)..

4 Bryan { 10.29.07 at 10:04 pm }

This whole thing could be run out of a propaganda shop in the Pentagon with the military routing through a proxy for a consistent IP address. I keep getting .mil visitors from time to time.

5 hipparchia { 10.30.07 at 12:16 am }

you [and everybody else] used to get .mil visits from me. for some reason, my previous isp used to show up on everybody’s sitemeter as being from the navy base here.

6 Steve Bates { 10.30.07 at 12:40 am }

I used to get hits from .dod.mil domains for a while. My response was to stop looking at my logs.

7 hipparchia { 10.30.07 at 12:52 am }

my response was to stop logging visits to my blog entirely [except that i couldn’t bring myself to give up clustrmaps].