I realize there is nothing more important to the American Republic than Franklin Foer's editorial judgment in the Scott Beauchamp matter. But there is a secondary issue in this story that is being ignored -- how the U.S. military, like everything else, is becoming rapidly politicized, fully incorporated into and following the model of the Republican right-wing noise machine.
Throughout this year, the U.S. military in Iraq has become staffed with pure Republican political hacks -- including long-time Bush/Cheney P.R. hack Steve Schmidt and former White House aide Gen. Kevin Bergner. These are the most partisan and politically-motivated people around shaping U.S. military conduct. And it shows, as the Army's behavior in the Beauchamp case is exactly what one would expect from an increasingly politicized, Republican-controlled division of the right-wing noise machine.
As the Beauchamp/TNR "story" demonstrates, the U.S. military is using the standard GOP/right-wing model for trying to shape the news in politically beneficial ways -- feeding supposedly secret and classified documents to Matt Drudge; using The Weekly Standard as its primary propaganda outlet, and working hand-in-hand with their apparent comrades in the most extremist precincts of the right-wing blogosphere. From the beginning, the U.S. military has refused to answer questions from the press, cut off The New Republic, cited classified and secrecy doctrines to suppress information, and all the while, worked secretly through selective leaks and back-channels with the most rabid right-wing partisans to shape the story in the most politicized way possible. Doesn't that merit at least some commentary?
This is hardly the first time this has happened. After right-wing blogs loudly complained for months about the supposedly Terrorist-sympathizing journalism of Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein in Iraq, the U.S. military in Iraq detained him with no charges (and, just by the way, continues to detain him for a year-and-a-half now with no charges). While the military refused to talk to A.P. or any other press outlets about its photojournalist, they leaked the story of his detention to Michelle Malkin -- one of the principal agitators who had spent months calling Hussein a Terrorist-lover and calling for his arrest -- and then, with her military-delivered scoop, she excitedly announced his detention.
Gen. David G. Petraeus is the Most Honorable Man ever to live. Saying otherwise merits formal condemnation by the U.S. Congress. But perhaps someone writing endlessly about the gossipy, catty parts of this story -- such as "media critic" Howard Kurtz -- might want to examine the fact that the behavior of our "apolitical military" in Iraq is becoming indistinguishable from every other arm of the Bush/Cheney right-wing noise machine. The overt politicization of our military in Iraq -- working closely and in secret only with Drudge, The Weekly Standard and right-wing blogs -- seems at least as important as the monumental issue of what Franklin Foer knew and when he knew it.