Monday, May 31, 2004

Selling War

The Department of Homeland Security spent 226 million in 2003 on an ad campaign designed to prepare the public for another possible terrorist attack. No one involved in the project appears to be able to explain why the campaign was in the works for over a year and didn't launch until February 2003, only one month before Bush invaded Iraq. I mean really, it took 17 months for them to decide to tell us to buy batteries and duct tape?

Dan Forbes, with his usual meticulous research, makes a credible case that the Bush administration used your tax dollars to promote their long planned attack on Iraq. It's certainly not the first time they have used public money to support a private political agenda.

There's the 69 million spent on the U.S. Army's "Operation Graduation" campaign. As Dan points out, although at first glance this may seem to be a politically neutral program, the person managing the campaign admits it aids recruitment efforts since the Army does not accept high school dropouts.

And of course there is the 65 million the ONDCP spent last year on those ineffective anti-marijuana ads -- much of which went to promoting prohibition profiteering groups affiliated with the privately held Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. This is in addition to the regular federal grants these private agencies receive to protect prohibition policy. It is through these agencies that current drug czar John Walters uses your tax dollars to defeat drug policy reform initiatives brought forward by the taxpaying public.

Interestingly the Ad Council, a private non-profit in existence since 1942, invents the slogans and oversees 1.5 billion a year in advertising buys, but makes no mention of their three biggest clients on the website. You would think that since the CEO of the council serves on the board of directors of the Partnership for a Drug Free America they would at least mention the ONDCP campaign somewhere on the site.

Maybe they're afraid they will lose an account ultimately worth 2 billion dollars if the public does the math and comes to the same conclusion as Dan Forbes did. And after all they did invent the phrase, "Loose lips sink ships."


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