Stop the Post from Sponsoring Military Propaganda

Dear AFSC friend,

This coming September 11, The Washington Post will risk its credibility to co-sponsor the Defense Department’s “America Supports You Freedom Walk” in Washington, DC. (Defense contractor Lockheed Martin is among the other sponsors.)

Send an email to the publisher and top editors of the Post asking that the paper withdraw from the walk and avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

It doesn’t seem right for a national newspaper to co-sponsoring an event with a government agency that it covers. Worse still, this “Freedom Walk” cannot help but have an impact on public opinion about the Iraq War.

The event is part of the Defense Department’s “America Supports You” initiative, launched after the 2004 Presidential election. According to its website, America Supports You is “a nationwide program launched by the Defense Department to recognize citizens’ support for military men and women.”

A press release on the event maintains that “This is not a statement about the war in Iraq or about any policy decisions ?¢‚Ǩ¬¶.” This seems a bit too feeble of a denial from an Administration that has more than doubled agency public relations spending.

For instance, the “Freedom Walk” will conclude with a free concert on the Mall featuring country singer and war supporter Clint Black whose song, “Iraq and Roll” includes the lyrics:

You can wave your signs and protest
against America taking a stand,
the stands America’s taking
are the reason that you can.

The song goes on to imply that those who oppose the war support Saddam Hussein.

Does this sound like an event that one of America’s most influential newspapers should be sponsoring?

The Post already ran a story on Thursday juxtaposing the DOD/Clint Black concert with the pro peace events that are scheduled for DC on the weekend of September 24-5. The Post story quoted Donald Rumsfeld saying that, “The walk and concert will remind participants ‘of the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation that has so successfully defended our freedoms?¢‚Ǩ¬¶.'” But the story neglected to mention that the Post is also a sponsor of the march.

The Bush Administration is tentatively planning to use September 11 for the President to sign the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act. How can the Post cover the events of the day if it appears to be sponsoring part of the Administration’s PR backdrop?

Please take two minutes to send a letter to the publisher and top editors of the Post asking that the paper withdraw from the walk and avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

Make your voice heard today by asking the Post to reconsider its judgment in this matter.

For peace,
The Wage Peace Campaign Team

P.S. Please forward this message to all your friends and family. The bigger the response, the stronger we can say the peace community is.

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