Thursday, November 01, 2007

CENTCOM public affairs scandal

One of the many disturbing trends that has emerged from the fiasco of the Iraq occupation has been the extreme politicization of the military. General Petraeus and other military figures have been given us overly-optimistic assessments of the situation that curiously coincide with Republican talking points and invariably conclude that we should stay in Iraq. ("Violence is up! We can't quit until it drops!" "Violence is down! We can't quit while we're winning!".) Heck, CENTCOM's PR flaks even dropped by Internal Monologue a while back to leave some drive-by spam in the comments section of an Iraq-related post.

Now, there's the curious case of Petraeus' spokesperson, Col. Boylan. Apparently he sent an angry email to one of my favorite bloggers, Glenn Greenwald of Salon. Greenwald had been writing about the politicization of the military and Col. Boylan apparently took offense. Greenwald, surprised to hear from Col. Boylan, asked Boylan to confirm the authenticity of the email. Boylan declines to do so, and an odd exchange ensues. Later, Col. Boylan claims the e-mail was not sent by him. Analysis of the disputed e-mail header information seems to indicate it was, in fact, from Col. Boylan. Either that or it was from someone who has severely compromised our military's computer systems in Iraq or has physical access to Boylan's computer there (not to mention an uncanny ability to mimic Boylan's prose style). If the latter case is true, the military has a major security breach on its hands. But they don't seem particularly concerned about it.

What seems far more likely is that Col. Boylan fired off an angry email to Greenwald, then realized the e-mail made him and the General he speaks for look like angry, right-wing partisan hacks, which was Greenwald's criticism in the first place. So now Col. Boylan is trying to dissociate himself from the email he sent.

Now whatever the result of this little dust up is (maybe Boylan did not in fact send the e-mail, and even if he did, it's not a crime to send an angry e-mail to a blogger), the fact remains that the Bush administration is infecting our military with partisan hackery and cronyism. This isn't too surprising, since they've done the same thing with every other part of government under their control. But it's a little more scary when it's the military.


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