Retired Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely is a former military analyst for Fox News and is the host of the conservative radio show, "Stand Up America."1 Vallely, who serves on the boards of a number of hawkish policy groups that have pushed interventionist U.S. policies in the Middle East as part of the "war on terror," was one of several retired military figures who was involved in a controversial Pentagon program aimed at disseminating favorable views of U.S. policies in the Iraq War by debriefing analysts like Vallely before their appearances on TV news programs.2
According to the New York Times, which broke the story in April 2008, the Pentagon program, which ran from 2002 until this year, was initially aimed at pushing public support for the Iraq War. The program focused specifically on retired military men because as analysts on TV programs, they "often got more airtime than network reporters, and they were not merely explaining the capabilities of Apache helicopters. They were framing how viewers ought to interpret events. What is more, while the analysts were in the news media, they were not of the news media. They were military men, many of them ideologically in sync with the administration's neoconservative brain trust, many of them important players in a military industry anticipating large budget increases to pay for an Iraq war."3
When the U.S. occupation of Iraq began deteriorating into a bloody counterinsurgency war in mid-2003, Vallely and other analysts in the Pentagon program where flown to Iraq to get a look at "the real situation on the ground." Although Vallely would later tell the Times that he "saw things were going south," his message on Fox News shortly after the trip was altogether different. He told Fox's Alan Colmes, "You can't believe the progress," and predicted that within months the insurgency would be "down to a few numbers."4
In early 2006, after several retired generals issued scathing critiques of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's performance and demanded his resignation, the Pentagon hurriedly planned a damage-control meeting between its invited analysts and Rumsfeld. On April 17, 2006, just a few days before the scheduled meeting, Vallely and three other retired military officers penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal titled "In Defense of Donald Rumsfeld." Its text and talking points came at least in part from the Pentagon. According to the Times, after Vallely sent a note to the Pentagon saying that any help with his draft "will be much appreciated," 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."5
In their opinion piece, Vallely and his coauthors argued, "In the end [Rumsfeld's] the man in charge and the buck stops with him. As long as he retains the confidence of the commander in chief he will make the important calls at the top of the department of defense. That's the way America works. So let's all breathe into a bag and get on with winning the global war against radical Islam."6
"Stand Up America"
Vallely hosts "Stand Up America," a staunchly right-wing radio program (also available on the internet) that regularly invites as guests neoconservatives and hardline policy wonks, including Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, Brigitte Gabriel, Mike Evans, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Mark Steyn, Kenneth Timmerman, and Ann Coulter, Brad Blakeman of Freedom's Watch, and Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
In a November 2006 show, Valley argued, "People want to see victory, they want to see victory in this war on terror.... It's like a football game. We've got to cross the goal line, we have to win, because this radical Islam that is spreading and wants to destroy America, destroy us, is very real.... The course of radical Islam to destroy democracy, the Western world as it is—America being the primary target—is real, and also Europe being the target."7
Vallely has worked with rightist figures and serves on the boards of several hardline advocacy groups, many of which promote a Likudnik line on Middle East peace, including Family Security Matters, Rachel Ehrenfeld's American Center for Democracy, the Jerusalem Summit, the International Intelligence Summit, and Brigitte Gabriel's American Congress for Truth (ACT), which is "dedicated to educating millions of uninformed Americans about the threat of radical Islam to world peace and national security." Vallely is co-chair of the Military Committee of Raymond Tanter's Iran Policy Committee and chair of the Military Committee of Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy.
In August 2005, Vallely coauthored with Ehrenfeld an article for David Horowitz's online news site FrontPageMagazine.com. In it, they conflated all Islam-related terrorist groups and argued that peace efforts in Israel could threaten global security, writing, "Even now, as law enforcement agencies are busy tracking and exposing Islamist terrorist cells and world leaders are condemning terrorism, Israel is conspicuously absent from everybody's list as a country victimized by terrorism. This 'oversight' is consistent with the fact that Israel is being pushed to surrender to Islamist terrorism and reward Palestinian Jihadists who are committed to the destruction of the Jewish state....
"Giving Palestinian Islamist terrorists a territory in and from which they can operate freely would only contribute directly to the escalation of terrorist attacks, suicidal or otherwise, around the world. With this in mind, the United States should reconsider its pressure on Israel to appease terrorism."8
Questions on Credibility
In 2005 Vallely made a startling claim regarding the Valerie Plame case (in which Plame was revealed as a CIA operative to members of the press). Vallely declared that Plame's husband, Amb. Joseph Wilson, had revealed his wife's role to Vallely in 2002 as they were chatting in the greenroom at Fox's studios,9 well before Plame's identity was apparently leaked to reporters by administration officials in July 2003. (Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis Libby was charged with five felony counts related to this case and convicted in March 2007 of lying to government investigators before having his sentence commuted by President George W. Bush.) "[Wilson] was rather open about his wife working at the CIA," Vallely asserted. Immediately after Vallely's claims were published online, Wilson demanded a retraction from both Vallely and the website that ran the story, the conservative WorldNetDaily.com.10
The media watchdog site Media Matters questioned Vallely's credibility on the matter, noting that he changed his story about his encounters with Wilson and reporting that, "Vallely's allegations have come nearly two years after the beginning of [U.S. Attorney Patrick] Fitzgerald's high-profile investigation. Despite widespread reporting about the seriousness of Fitzgerald's investigation, Vallely apparently did not feel compelled to share his story until more than a week after Libby's indictment."11
Vallely has made other somewhat unusual or dubious statements. In a 2005 interview he gave to the Executive Intelligence Review—the publication founded by the notorious conspiracy-monger Lyndon LaRouche—Vallely claimed to have intelligence on the Middle East that was superior to what the CIA had collected. "I've got better intelligence coming out of the Middle East," he told the interviewer. "I've got a guy from the Department of Defense that is assigned to me now, an intelligence guy, to process all the information that I'm getting directly out of the Middle East, including the sighting of bin Laden back in November, last year." It was not clear how Vallely, a private citizen outside of government, could have a Defense analyst assigned to him.
Vallely has championed taking military action against Iran, citing wildly speculative claims as a rationale. According to Executive Intelligence Review, Vallely said that "he knew that Osama bin Laden was in Iran, and that Ken Timmerman (author of Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran), had learned from Iranian dissidents in Europe that Iran already had nuclear weapons. 'All roads lead to Tehran,' Vallely said."12
In September 2007, the Iran Policy Committee published Baghdad Ablaze: How to Extinguish the Fires in Iraq, which Vallely coauthored with IPC founder Raymond Tanter, retired Air Force Lt. Thomas McInerney (another of the military analysts who the Pentagon gave briefings to, as revealed in the April 2008 Times article), and Bruce McColm. They held their book launch event on September 11, 2007, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Vallely and McInerney also coauthored the 2004 book Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the Iraq War. McInerney and Vallely also sit on a number of boards together, including ACT and the ICP; both are Intelligence Summit speakers, and both are Fox News analysts.
Vallely's most notorious work is the 1980 U.S. Army Reserve paper, "From PSYOP to MindWar: The Psychology of Victory," which he coauthored with Maj. Michael Aquino. The unusual paper was intended as a "staff study" or "talking paper." The authors wrote (emphasis in the original): "We shall rid ourselves of the self-conscious, almost 'embarrassed' concept of 'psychological operations.' In its place we shall create MindWar. The term is harsh and fear-inspiring, and so it should be: It is a term of attack and victory—not one of the rationalization and coaxing and conciliation. The enemy may be offended by it; that is quite all right if he is defeated by it. A definition is offered: MindWar is the deliberate, aggressive convincing of all participants in a war that we will win that war."13 In a 2003 introduction, Aquino stated about the study: "It was with some fascination that I saw specific [sic] of its prescriptions applied during the first Gulf War, and recently even more obviously during the 2003 invasion of Iraq."