strategic target remains our population," General Conway said. "We can
lose people day in and day out, but they're never going to beat our
military. What they can and will do if they can is strip away our
support. And you guys can help us not let that happen."
"General, I just made that point on the air," an analyst
"Let's work it together, guys,"
General Conway urged.
The full dimensions of
this mutual embrace were perhaps never clearer than in April 2006,
after several of Mr. Rumsfeld's former generals -- none of them network
military analysts -- went public with devastating critiques of his
wartime performance. Some called for his resignation.
On Friday, April 14, with what came to be called the
"Generals' Revolt" dominating headlines, Mr. Rumsfeld instructed aides
to summon military analysts to a meeting with him early the next week,
records show. When an aide urged a short delay to "give our big guys on
the West Coast a little more time to buy a ticket and get here," Mr.
Rumsfeld's office insisted that "the boss" wanted the meeting fast "for
impact on the current story."
day, Pentagon officials helped two Fox analysts, General McInerney and
General Vallely, write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal
defending Mr. Rumsfeld.
"Starting to write
it now," General Vallely wrote to the Pentagon that afternoon. "Any
input for the article," he added a little later, "will be much
appreciated." Mr. Rumsfeld's office quickly forwarded talking points
and statistics to rebut the notion of a spreading revolt.
"Vallely is going to use the numbers," a Pentagon official
reported that afternoon.
secrecy notwithstanding, plans for this session leaked, producing a
front-page story in The Times that Sunday. In damage-control mode,
Pentagon officials scrambled to present the meeting as routine and
directed that communications with analysts be kept "very formal,"
records show. "This is very, very sensitive now," a Pentagon official
On Tuesday, April 18,
some 17 analysts assembled at the Pentagon with Mr. Rumsfeld and
General Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
A transcript of that session, never before disclosed, shows a
shared determination to marginalize war critics and revive public
support for the war.
"I'm an old intel
guy," said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers' names.) "And I
can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops.
Now most people may hear that and they think, "Oh my God, they're trying
to brainwash.' "
"What are you, some
kind of a nut?" Mr. Rumsfeld cut in, drawing laughter. "You don't
believe in the Constitution?"
little discussion about the actual criticism pouring forth from Mr.
Rumsfeld's former generals. Analysts argued that opposition to the war
was rooted in perceptions fed by the news media, not reality. The
administration's overall war strategy, they counseled, was "brilliant"
and "very successful."