Vets for Freedom: Website
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
|This article is part of the SourceWatch coverage of Vets for Freedom (VFF) and
Vets for Freedom Action Fund (VFF-AF).
Vets for Freedom is "the sort of web site that, like its Pentagon counterparts, cribs the same camouflage colors and PR hues of soldiers posing with Arab children, though among the 40,000-some Iraqis killed [thus] far, compliments of Operation Iraqi Freedom, it’s a mathematical certainty that more Iraqi children have had the pleasure of dying from American ordnance than have had the honor of posing with GIs to garland the fabrications of Stateside web sites. Knowing of course how the Pentagon’s contractors of deceit, like the Rendon Group, operate, it’s perfectly likely that even those pictures of smiling Iraqi children (which have odd similarities with those rightfully lambasted images of pre-invasion, kite-flying children in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11) are as staged, posed, touched up, and faked as every other report of American success that steals its way out of Iraq," Pierre Tristam wrote in response to Owen West's Memorial Day New York Times' Op-Ed "The Troops Have Moved On" published Sunday, May 29, 2006.
According to a WHOIS search, the Vets for Freedom.org and Veterans for Freedom.org websites were created December 20, 2005, by Registrant Nicolle Boren (See Nicollyne.com) and Registrant Organization WildWires, LLC of Harrisonburg, Virginia (See WildWiresOnline.com).
Stacy Cowley of IDG News Service reported October 10, 2004, that net surfers "outside the U.S." who were interested in President George W. Bush's re-election strategy weren't "able to learn about it from his campaign Web site. Visitors from a number of international locations reported hitting 'access denied' errors as they tried to reach the site ... Surfers in the U.S. reported no problems."
Cowley reported that the "U.K. analysis firm Netcraft Ltd. said the Bush site appear[ed] to be using network management technology from Akamai Technologies Inc. to restrict access. Netcraft monitors Web site response times from several locations, four in the U.S. and three outside."
Netcraft said that on October 21, 2004, GeorgeWBush.com "began using Akamai to manage site traffic" and an "Akamai spokeswoman declined to comment on the operations of GeorgeWBush.com and referred questions to the site's hosting company, Chattanooga, Tennessee-based SmarTech Corp."
On August 22, 2004, SMARTech Corp (smartechcorp.net) announced that it would be "hosting" the Republican National Convention in New York City, providing "convention speeches, video-on-demand 'streams' and live shots of events through powerful Web servers, most of which are at Smartech’s headquarters in downtown Chattanooga." The announcement stated that the "company also hosts the Bush-Cheney campaign Web site, at www.georgewbush.com, and the national committee’s site, www.GOP.com."
The official domain name/web site for Bush-Cheney '04 Inc. is GeorgeWBush.com. The domain, registered May 5, 1997, through Network Solutions, LLC, is due to expire May 6, 2008, if not renewed. The domain servers listed for GeorgeWBush.com/GOP.com—and VETSFORFREEDOM.ORG—are SMARTECHCORP.NET and TRESPASSERS-W.NET. 
Note that GeorgeWBush.com now redirects to GOP.com. As of April 12, 2006, according to current Network Solutions registration information, the web site title is "GOP.com | Republican National Committee :: Home".
As jaming commented, "To me this just further proves www.vetsforfreedom.org is a prop for the Republican Party."
Previously, the Vets for Freedom website was mirrored at the Campaign Solutions website at http://web.campaignsolutions.com/vets/, thus adding yet another connection to the company. However, when checked August 14, 2006, the link to the mirror page connects to an error page.
While the organization claims to be nonpartisan, the privacy notice on its website suggested otherwise, reading (on May 30, 2006): "Use of information: If you choose to provide any personal information, such as your mailing address or phone number, we may use that information to contact you. We may from time to time share the information our visitors provide with other Republican candidates and other like-minded organizations. " (Emphasis added.)
"Purple Finger For Freedom"
An unattributed photograph on the Vets for Freedom home page shows an Iraqi woman holding up her purple finger after voting in Iraq's January 30, 2005, elections. The photograph, appearing cropped on the VFF web page, was not properly credited to Associated Press photographer Andrew Parsons.
On another Donatelli Group client's website—the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary's fairjudiciary.com—the photograph was cropped to highlight only the inked purple finger. The photograph, obviously a common icon for the Group, was not properly credited.
The existence of a login page to the VeriSign Inc. PAC, hidden on the VFF's website might appear to suggest a connection with VeriSign Inc.'s political action committee. However a plausible alternative explanation for the page is that VFF's developer also was involved in developing the VeriSign PAC site and copied the entire site across.
Located in the same respective place at another web site which appears to have been created by Campaign Solutions, there is a similar login, such as this one at Jim Talent's web site. This, combined with similarity of the privacy statement (see above), suggests that a programmer for Campaign Solutions copied over much of the code from other client web sites.
Resources and articles
- lambert, "Rove Photo Fake Artists and Disinformation Experts Pose with Bush," Corrente Wire, April 4, 2007. re SmarTech and Coptix
- ^ Hidden login page to VeriSign PAC on the VFF website. Undated, accessed May 31, 2006.
- ^ Hidden login-request page for VeriSign PAC on the VFF website. Undated, accessed May 31, 2006.