Amid all the recent negatives in the worlds of intelligence and journalism, one encouraging development has been the recognition of common ground between two beleaguered groups, honest U.S. intelligence analysts and honest American journalists, two groups that previously had been on opposite sides of the secrecy divide.
What brought them together, ironically, was that they both were targeted by the same dishonest forces, particularly the neoconservatives who emerged as a powerful force in Washington in the 1980s.
The neocons understood that intimidating CIA analysts and Washington journalists would clear the way for the key neocon goals: a more aggressive foreign policy and more spending on military budgets, some of which would get recycled into neocon think tanks and media outlets.
So, through the 1980s, the neocons spearheaded an assault on the CIA's analytical division by pushing a politicization of intelligence that reversed the tradition of giving policymakers the best possible information. Instead, careerists got rewarded for tailoring intelligence to fit the neocon agenda -- and those who wouldn't go along were pushed aside or out the door.
Simultaneously, within the Washington news media, the neocons and allied right-wing attack groups took aim at journalists who dug up unwanted information. Instead of rewards for such work, there were punishments. Many truth-telling reporters were "controversialized" while journalists who played ball moved to the center of the profession.
The well-educated neocons - many of whom embraced the elitist political philosophy of Leo Strauss - knew that if they could manipulate those two crucial sources of information - the CIA and the press - they could control the Washington debate and set the policy parameters for the United States.
The neocons even had a phrase for this process of controlling what the American people got to hear, see and believe. It was called "perception management."
So, threats to the American people were wildly exaggerated; dissent from the Left was deemed almost treasonous; trillions of U.S. tax dollars were diverted to military budgets; aggressive war became an easy option for American political leaders.
While great for the neocons and their military-industrial friends, the costs were enormous for the United States and people around the world.
Indeed, it is impossible to understand how someone as unfit as George W. Bush could become President for eight years and lead the nation into so many catastrophes without factoring in the neocons' success in manipulating information - and the failures of other key Washington institutions to resist.
But an upside to these disasters was the emergence of a number of ex-intelligence analysts and some battered journalists who refused to stay silent. Instead, they found ways to speak out - often via the Internet or in other venues outside the increasingly sterile mainstream.
Slowly, "an intel-journo alliance" began developing.
Over the past few years, for instance, Consortiumnews.com - which was founded in 1995 as a way for journalists to get important information to the public - opened its Web pages to the work of courageous ex-analysts, the likes of Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley, Sam Provance and Peter Dickson.
Besides publishing their work, Consortiumnews.com provided editing and research support - and just as importantly paid for their articles so their work could continue.
This collaboration has proved vital. Many of these articles were picked up and re-posted across the Internet, reaching millions of people.
And something else began to happen. Just as timidity and careerism contributed to the political climate that made George W. Bush possible, the courage and the patriotism represented by these brave ex-analysts helped create today's less-fearful political climate that finally turned back the neocons and many of their policies.
But how much further Consortiumnews.com's "intel-journo alliance" can grow depends on readers who agree with us that the only way to defeat lies, propaganda and fear is with facts, honesty and guts. Money is important, too, because people need to feed their families and pay their bills while they do this important work.
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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 as the Internet's first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media.
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