Acting Director of Defense Media Activity: Who Is Bryan Whitman?
Monday, May 28, 2012
Upon the retirement of Melvin W. Russell, who served as acting director of the Defense Media Activity (DMA) from October 2009 until April 30, 2012, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Bryan G. Whitman was appointed acting director of DMA. Formerly known as the American Forces Information Service, DMA is the communications media propaganda arm of the Department of Defense, employing 2,400 active duty military, civilian, and contract personnel at 8 U.S. locations and 33 permanent overseas sites. It is headquartered at Ft. Meade, Maryland.
The fact that Whitman would find himself in charge of spreading military propaganda during the presidential administration of Barack Obama says a lot about the workings of the Department of Defense, considering that during the administration of President George W. Bush, Whitman repeatedly defended the worst illegal and immoral policy excesses of his boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, including policies which candidate Obama criticized.
Born circa 1958, Bryan George Whitman earned a B.S. in Photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Master’s Degree in Communications from the University of Oklahoma. As a U.S. Army Special Forces officer, Whitman commanded five different combat units, with his last combat tour in 1994 as the commander of all Special Forces operations in Somalia during the final withdrawal of United Nations Forces. Whitman also had public affairs assignments, including postings in the Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Whitman was the director of Government and Public Affairs for the United Service Organization (USO) World Headquarters in Washington, where he was responsible for legislation and communications. From 1995 to 1997, he was a public affairs specialist in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, where, during the height of the Gulf War Illnesses controversy, he headed up a public affairs team to address the concerns of veterans. From August 1997 to May 2002, Whitman served in the Pentagon Press Office as the deputy director for Press Operations.
From May 2002 to May 2010, Whitman served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Media Operations and also served as a senior spokesman for the Defense Department and its secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.
Numerous unpleasant tasks fell to Whitman, such as acknowledging and defending the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib and Afghan prisoners at Bagram; the hiding of prisoners from the Red Cross; the practice of military interrogators deceiving prisoners into thinking they were from the FBI; and the hiring of retired military officers to defend Bush-Rumsfeld policies on television without revealing they were paid to do so.
When candidate Barack Obama claimed, during a Democratic Party debate on February 21, 2008, that an Army platoon, short on supplies, took weapons from the Taliban because they were easier to obtain than U.S. arms, it was Whitman who defended the supplying of U.S. troops. He told the media that Obama’s account was “pretty hard to imagine.”
On May 23, 2010, Whitman was appointed principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Public Affairs, responsible for the release of national security and defense information to the public.
-Matt Bewig, David Wallechinsky
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