The U.S. Department of Defense spent an average of more than US$626 million annually on propaganda, more than all other federal government agencies combined, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.
The report, released last week showed that from 2006-2015, the Pentagon was allocated 66 percent of the US$1 billion annual federal spending on public relations. The next biggest sector to receive funding was the Department of Health and Human Services, with US$117 million, equivalent to 10 percent of the overall budget.
The GAO audit stated that “with the increased popularity and accessibility of expanded media platforms, the federal government’s ability to publicize information has changed rapidly, but the total scope of federal public relations activities is largely unknown.”
Pentagon employees account for 40 percent of the federal public relations workforce and also have the highest combined salaries, the audit revealed.
A number of department employees were exposed for spent a total of more than US$1 million at casinos and strip clubs with Pentagon travel credit cards, according to an inspector general’s report from August. Additionally, the report stated that Pentagon officials did not take appropriate action to prevent it happening.
As well as the Pentagon using “advertising as a tool to help influence to consider military service,” the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that the department paid Bell Pottinger, a British-based public relations company to produce fabricated al-Qaida propaganda videos after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Between May 2007 and December 2011, transactions of up to US$540 million between the department and Bell Pottinger, were revealed by the Bureau’s investigation.