Thursday, December 01, 2005

By now you know, via the L.A. Times or New York Times, that the U.S. is paying to plant pro-American articles in the Iraqi press. ("'Absolute truth was not an essential element of these stories,'" said the senior military official who spent this year in Iraq," the L.A. Times notes.) Well, if you're concerned about "blowback" to Western media outlets from this program, a Knight Ridder report assures us it's already happening:

In addition to the Army's secret payments to Iraqi newspaper, radio and television journalists for positive stories, U.S. psychological-warfare officers have been involved in writing news releases and drafting media strategies for top commanders, two defense officials said.

On at least one occasion, psychological warfare specialists have taken a group of international journalists on a tour of Iraq's border with Syria, a route used by Islamic terrorists and arms smugglers, one of the officials said.

Usually, these duties are the responsibility of military public-affairs officers.

In Iraq, public affairs staff at the American-run multinational headquarters in Baghdad have been combined with information operations experts in an organization known as the Information Operations Task Force.

The unit's public affairs officers are subservient to the information operations experts, military and defense officials said.

The result is a "fuzzing up" of what's supposed to be a strict division between public affairs, which provides factual information about U.S. military operations, and information operations, which can use propaganda and doctored or false information to influence enemy actions, perceptions and behavior.

Lovely. And not the least bit surprising.

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