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Kiriakou writes: "If you've been to a professional baseball or football game anytime in the past decade, you may have noticed some changes."

John Kiriakou. (photo: The Washington Post)
John Kiriakou. (photo: The Washington Post)

The Pentagon's Propagandization of American Sports

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

26 September 17


onald Trump’s divisive rhetoric condemning NFL football players exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression has plunged the country into a social and political crisis. Our fearless leader simply cannot abide those with whom he disagrees having a voice that is contrary to his own.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem last season was more than the president could handle. Other players following him was even worse for Trump. And so he did what he always does — he doubled down. Now whole teams, from 8-year-olds in the peewee league to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and others, are either kneeling a la Kaepernick or are refusing to even come out on the field during the national anthem.

Trump, a draft dodger who refused to serve his country in any capacity whatsoever during the Vietnam War and who intimated that former prisoner of war John McCain was a coward, is calling for anybody and everybody who does not stand at attention during the national anthem to be “fired.”

The whole thing has whipped the country into a frenzy. Kaepernick’s protest is an important one. But it shouldn’t be the only one. We’re overlooking a very important issue — one that is not solely from Trump’s knee-jerk nationalistic patriotism. We saw it through all eight years of the Obama administration and we saw it during George W. Bush’s second term, as well.

That’s the issue of Defense Department propagandization of national sporting events. You see, the DOD has largely taken over professional sports.

If you’ve been to a professional baseball or football game anytime in the past decade, you may have noticed some changes. At every major league baseball game, “color guards” representing the most obscure organizations, like the Washington, DC subway system’s police department, or the George Washington University campus police, now present the flag, march out onto the field, perform a flag ceremony, and stand there while the national anthem is played.

At some events, military recruits are enlisted right on the field. Reunions of soldiers, sailors, marines, and their families play out in front of a stadium full of fans. It’s choreographed patriotism run amok. And who pays for all of this? The Pentagon does.

Arizona’s Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, announced two years ago that between 2012 and 2016, the Pentagon had spent at least $6.8 million for Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and other professional sports to “honor” troops with cheap stunts at sporting events. The details are listed in a published Senate Report.

The McCain-Flake report also notes that the tally could be more than $10 million — and could even reach $100 million — if you count the military’s marketing deals with NASCAR. The senators call this military marketing “paid patriotism.”

The reality is that it’s not really the Pentagon that’s paying for it. You and I are paying for it. It’s our tax money that’s going to propagandize the American people at every major sporting event in the country. And it’s not just flag ceremonies. The Pentagon is buying things like ceremonial first pitches for recent veterans, club level seats for vets at football games, and airport greetings for returning service members.

I, for one, sincerely appreciate the sacrifice that our veterans make. My dad was a veteran and served during the Korean conflict. But as John McCain says in his report, “We appreciate if they honor men and women in uniform, but not to get paid for it. If the most compelling message about military service we can deliver is the promise of game tickets, gifts, and player appearances, we need to rethink our approach to how we are inspiring qualified men and women to military service.”

Some of us see standing for the national anthem as patriotic. Some of us see kneeling as patriotic. But none of us should sit idly by while the Pentagon tricks us into its own paid form of patriotism. It’s un-American.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+17 # giraffee23 2017-09-26 14:01
Trump said we have fought wars and Americans have died.... for our flag.... Well, we fought against the Nazis and Americans died in that fight also.... But Trump did not say condemn the Nazi march in Charletsville. We fought a civil war where many Americans died and the side against slavery won.... but Trump does not condemn the KKK (or other white whatever).... My point? Racism in the white house? Trump does not want the Russian interference in our 2016 election investigated... ..And, let's not leave out Trump's trying to start WWIII with No. Korea. OK House Republicans ----- is $$ really more important than impeaching Trump. Just pick any one of these and other reasons to stop this madman. Don't forget to call you rep and senator daily and make sure you tell them what you want from them. VOTE.
+33 # jimsanta 2017-09-26 14:29
All this talk about the reactions around the nation is all well and good. But tell me, if the owners are even showing THEIR solidarity with the players over this issue, then WHY IS COLIN KAEPERNICK STILL NOT IN UNIFORM FOR AN NFL TEAM? Everything the owners say and do right now is utterly meaningless if they still keep the ORIGINAL practitioner of free speech among them from donning a league uniform! Until someone signs him, it is the owners who deserve to be protested by every player!
+1 # PCPrincess 2017-09-27 18:58
+19 # progressiveguy 2017-09-26 15:26
Long ago Howard Cosell lectured about the same thing, the propagandizatio n of national sporting events. What else is new?
+12 # elizabethblock 2017-09-26 16:58
"Paid Patriotism." I like it!
+9 # Saberoff 2017-09-26 17:41
I think it is important that the athletes state specifically what it is they are protesting. Is it that kids and innocents are being shot and killed by the police? Is it military interventionism all over the globe? Is it the drone killings? How about the propagandizing of the People itself? (Through American education; Hollywood; The mass media? Print: Newspaper, fiction, magazines, journalism? The electronic media: Radio, television, the internet soon enough)?

My kid is 15 years old. He wanted to play in the school band: a tuba, which has him marching around on a sports field; He is a boy scout (he likes camping, etc), but of course the scouts has him reciting all kinds of jingoistic nonsense, barking orders and conducting outrageous flag ceremonies. Then, of course, there's the institution of education in America from kindergarten up. In kindergarten, each morning first thing, the little tikes are shown how to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Someone (often, I'm told, it was my son) taken to the office to lead the whole school, in unison, over the intercom! (I told the principal to ask any of those kids what "allegiance" even means!)

It's damn well child abuse.

And the Reason for the knee.. What exactly are the players asking for? What do they want? I would ask these good Americans (athletes) to make that point clearly. Like any List of Demands.
+12 # Working Class 2017-09-26 18:13
While I support the point the athletes and others are making with their symbolic protest, both at football games opening ceremonies there is one thing that need to be said. Too many, like Hohn Kiriakou, keep saying the protesters are expressing their Constitutional right of free speech, granted under the 1st Amendment. Actually they are doing something much braver, because they are taking a stand at their workplace, which is not really protected by the Constitution. The rights granted under the Constitution protect us from our government, not the employer. Specifically the right of freedom of speech, of freedom of expression stops at the property line when you report to your job. If you doubt that, ask what would happen if you go to work and call your boss as asshole, tell him/her they should drop dead. You can be subject to termination on the spot for exercising your "freedom". Once again, I totally support the point the athletes are making, and admire it even more because it is not protected as some are saying. That makes the stand they are taking all the more righteous.
0 # John S. Browne 2017-09-27 02:58

B.S.! Yes, I know that the Supreme Court ruled decades ago that we supposedly don't have free speech on private property and at our places of work; but if we are born with these rights, and they are innate and inalienable to us, in other words can't be taken away from us, than how in God's name do we supposedly only have them some of the time, and only in some places, but not others? That's a rhetorical question, folks; because, the answer is obvious, and it is absurd that we possess an inalienable right, but supposedly don't possess it in all places and at all times. Free speech can't be limited, nor can we be alienated from it at any time or in any place.

The Supreme Court hasn't always been right, and/or truly constitutional in its decisions. We're told that we have to bow to their decisions when they're unconstitutiona l and wrong, as if they're final and the last word. But, in truth, We the People are supposed to be the determiners of what is and is not constitutional, unless we too claim things are "unconstitutiona l" that are really constitutional, and/or "constitutional " that are really unconstitutiona l. We are not to bow to government as if it is inerrant, because government is NOT inerrant. It is made up of errant human beings, particularly those in power who abuse their power all the time, who make incorrect decisions and don't put the best good of the people as a whole ahead of other interests that falsely seem more important to them.

(Continued below)
0 # John S. Browne 2017-09-27 03:04

Patriots and Protesters Should Take a Knee for the Constitution

By John W. Whitehead, J.D.
The Rutherford Institute
September 25, 2017

+1 # Working Class 2017-09-27 07:49
Sorry John it your wordy, lofting sounding arguement about the freedom of speech and other Bill of Rights features applying in the workplace are just that- words. An employer can demand to search your person and property while you are at work and restrict your speech there, especially if it effects their business or is an impediment to their vision of the desired work environment of other employees. All your indignation does not change that fact. I spend close to forty years. defending workers who thought like you, and only if we could prove extenuating circumstances did the employee keep their job. The Bill of Rights were written to protect us from the government. PS: God has nothing to do with it.
0 # John S. Browne 2017-09-27 15:25

Whether you or most people know it or not, God has EVERYTHING to do with EVERYTHING. But, you know what, I didn't say what you said was B.S., and you're exaggerating my "indignancy" (forgive me, I like making up new words). I was saying that the belief that we supposedly don't have free speech EVERYPLACE, and at ALL times, is B.S., for as I made quite clear, though you're only looking at it from the very limited worldly, sold-out-to-Sat an, point of view which most people are a part of, and acceptance of that and/or those Satanic limitation(s), again like most people do, freedom of speech is inalienable, meaning that we have it at ALL times; for, obviously, if it's inalienable, it CANNOT be taken away from us AT ANY TIME(S) OR IN ANY PLACE(S). Otherwise, it wouldn't be inalienable.

Yes, Satan's and/or man's system of laws supposedly limit free speech; which, again, the vast majority of people accept because they are bowed down to man's and Satan's world, and their interpretation( s) of things, allowing themselves, even choosing, also whether they know it consciously or not, not to be set free by the truth, and to be limited by that evil system of things. Well, "fine", that's their choice, and everyone is given free will and freedom of choice; so, if they choose Satan, this world and evil over God the Father through Jesus the Christ, that is their free right; but, it's too bad, because they will lose their souls for all eternity...

(Continued below)
0 # John S. Browne 2017-09-27 15:44

...(N)ever knowing anything but the opposite of True Freedom.

Thank God I am disabled and retired; because, if an employer tried to force me to submit to searching me and/or my property against my will and in violation of my rights, I would quit on the spot and not allow them to touch me. And if some security guard(s) and/or cops assaulted me and forced me to be searched, again against against my will and in violation of my rights, I would sue them for everything I could. Yes, again, it's man's system, so I might not win, but they would likely settle out of court with me for at least several thousand dollars, if not more.

You are clearly a servant of Satan and completely sold out to this evil world. You remind me of "public 'defenders'", sellouts all, who convince their clients that they supposedly have little or no rights, or choice; and, unless they want to be convicted at trial as they likely would be, they should choose to (bow down and) accept a plea negotiation and plead "guilty". I fell for that evil decades ago, but I will never do so again, ever; especially if I'm innocent. And if, as a result, I ended up convicted at trial and ended up with even more years behind bars, I would trust God that He would work it all out for good in the long run, as He did when I was railroaded thirty-two years ago (and again since then in misdemeanor "railroadings").

(Continued below)
0 # John S. Browne 2017-09-27 16:02

Unlike you and most people, I don't bow down to Satan, WHATSOEVER. You and your ilk can choose to do so, but not me.

The Bill of Rights was written, made law, and made the SUPREME law(s) of the land, along with all of the rest of the U.S. Constitution, second only to God's Word(s) and Law(s), to protect us from the government AND to delineate our rights that are God-given and that we have in ALL PLACES AND AT ALL TIMES. You and most people can falsely choose to accept that those rights are limited if you so desire, but you do so because you are bowing down to evil. Again, that's up to you; but, in your choosing to do so, you are not only jeopardizing yourself(ves) and the liberty(ies) and freedom(s) of this entire country, and everyone in it, you are jeopardizing your very soul(s).

"It is written, thus says the Lord [God the Father through Jesus the Christ, the Word(s) of God and the Maker / Creator of all things except evil]...":

"...Get... behind (Jesus the Christ), Satan[ist(s)].. ."! "...You are of your (lord and master) the devil, and the lies of your (lord and master, Satan) you... (perpetrate and perpetuate)..." ! "...(Truly, fully and completely) (r)epent, for the kingdom of (God and of) heaven is (very near) at hand..."! [Matthew 16:23, John 8:44 and Matthew 4:17; etc.; clarification(s ), emphasis and/or paraphrasing provided by me.]

+8 # ericlipps 2017-09-26 18:29
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem last season was more than the president could handle. Other players following him was even worse for Trump. And so he did what he always does — he doubled down. Now whole teams, from 8-year-olds in the peewee league to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and others, are either kneeling a la Kaepernick or are refusing to even come out on the field during the national anthem.
Trump, a draft dodger who refused to serve his country in any capacity whatsoever during the Vietnam War and who intimated that former prisoner of war John McCain was a coward, is calling for anybody and everybody who does not stand at attention during the national anthem to be “fired.”
It sounds as through Trump can't tell the difference anymore between reality and reality TV.

Or maybe he thinks now that he's president of the United States he can have anyone fired as in his glory days as a corporate CEO. Hmmm--I wonder how long it'll be before he starts trying to fire uppity members of Congress?
+8 # John S. Browne 2017-09-26 18:41

We're being falsely-propaga ndized right and left, at every turn. Anything to get more "bullet stoppers" and "cannon fodder" to carry out and die in the U.S. government and military's illegal endless wars of aggression, "the supreme international (AND U.S.) crime" according to BOTH international AND U.S. law(s), and to get the American people to increasingly become nationalistic fascists who blindly support the foregoing and just about everything "their" government and military does, no matter how immoral, "war-criminal" and mass-murderous of mostly innocent civilians, which is what these wars of aggression mostly are.

There is NO true patriotism in all of this fascist nationalism and blind false "patriotism" like the citizens of Germany had who bowed down to Nazism, and like others of additional countries like China, North Korea and others carry out in praise of their mass-murderous governments who have mostly mass-murdered millions of their own people, and still do so through organ transplants and slave labor. We in America are supposed to see through all of this, and stand up against it, not increasingly take part in our own form(s) of it.

(Continued below)
0 # John S. Browne 2017-10-04 10:42


...organ HARVESTING...
+9 # John S. Browne 2017-09-26 18:42

Welcome to the land of those who can no longer truly think freely, but blindly fall for enslavement in a nation that is more and more about endless wars of aggression, war crimes, mass-murder, crimes against humanity, crimes against the peace, and increasing human rights violations all over the world, and in the U.S. as well, and then blindly worship it all. That's not American, but the exact opposite, yet that is the spectacle that we are increasingly witnessing, and more and more nationalized and nationalistic fascist society like in Nazi Germany, etc., that we are also increasingly seeing, in America.

Dear God, please help us and save us from all of this madness!


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