The Islamic State/Social Media – US Military/Popular Entertainment

For all of the government sponsored hysteria over the use of social media by the Islamic State, there has been no, repeat no hard evidence of its being “successful.”

Or at least not by any rational definition of “successful.” OK, so one or two impressionable teens in the UK attempt to join the Islamic State. How is that level of threat even marketable?

The situation is even worse in the United States where the FBI badgers emotionally unstable people into saying they want to go help the Islamic State and then arrest them for attempting to provide material assistance. That’s a real stretch.

Why not compare the “success” of the US military in using popular entertainment to carry its message versus that of the Islamic State using social media?

Tom Secker has recently produced a treasure trove of documents on the influence of the US military on popular entertainment, especially television shows.

From his post:

In the biggest public release of documents from the DOD’s propaganda office I recently received over 1500 pages of new material. Just under 1400 pages come from the US Army’s Entertainment Liaison Office: regular activity reports covering January 2010 to April 2015. Another over 100 pages of reports come from the US Air Force’s office, covering 2013.

The request I filed asked for all such reports since the last release covering 2005-2006 (Army documents here, Air Force documents here) but due a variety of excuses the release was limited to these 1500 pages. The Air Force said that no documents were available from 2015 ‘due to ongoing computer outages in the Los Angeles office’. If you believe that then you’ll believe anything. While the Army documents are fully digitised and easily searchable, the Air Force ones are mid-resolution scans of printed out emails/online network files.

Meanwhile, the documents between 2006-2010 (Army) and 2006-2013 (Air Force) appear to have been destroyed in keeping with the file retention policy. We already knew that the DHS only retains documents from their entertainment office for six years before shredding them like a CREEP finance report. For the military it appears to be even less than that, though given the absurd excuse offered by the Air Force it is possible they have a lot more records than they are admitting to having.

Nonetheless, this is the largest and most up-to-date release of documents from the world of Entertainment Liaison Offices. It substantially increases our knowledge of the scale and type of involvement the US military has in popular entertainment, particularly TV shows. However, details of changes to films and TV shows requested by the DOD in exchange for their co-operation are conspicuously absent (no surprises there).

Given the disparity in the size and scope of the United States versus Islamic State media campaigns, it appears the United States cannot tolerate any challenge to its world-view.

As a lifelong US citizen, I don’t find that surprising (disappointing but not surprising) at all.

PS: Be sure to check out the documents that Tom has obtained!

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