Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Trust Me" Bush Spent $1.6 billion for propaganda and recruitment

SAN FRANCISCO - Media reform groups are calling for a deeper investigation of Bush administration advertising and propaganda efforts following the release of a report that concludes the White House has spun a web of public relations (PR) contracts larger than previously thought.


''When elected public servants use taxpayer dollars to manipulate or deceive the very people whose consent they require for their legitimacy, our public servants then become our masters,'' said Sanho Tree, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies.

The official Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported last week that government agencies have spent about $1.6 billion over the past 30 months on PR and advertising contracts. Investigators said they found no breach of the law and added that all spent funds came from the agencies' budgets.


''We need a full accounting of the Bush administration's spending on advertising, PR, and fake news,'' said Craig Aaron of advocacy group Free Press. ''It's time for Congress to reclaim its constitutional role as a counterweight to the executive branch and permanently cut off funding for covert propaganda. We must ensure that taxpayer money isn't being spent by the White House to secretly manipulate the American public.''

The administration's drive to shore up popular support for its self-styled ''war on terror'' and to keep up armed forces recruitment appears to have fuelled the spending, according to Diane Farsetta of the Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of the quarterly PR Watch.

Of the $1.6 billion total outlined in the GAO report, the Pentagon spent $1.1 billion--much of it on recruitment, Farsetta said.

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