|12-15-2005, 06:01 AM||#1|
I WANT DEFENSE!
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Always Hoping
The Good News...Bought and paid for
U.S. pays for good news in Iraq
By Helen Thomas
© 2005 Hearst Newspapers
WASHINGTON - Are there any other American values that the Bush administration won't upend in its conduct of the war in Iraq?
It wasn't enough to defend torture as an interrogation tool. We now learn that the U.S. is paying Iraqi journalists to spread the good news about the war. All this in the name of promoting democracy in the Middle East!
I suppose it should not come as a surprise. When news leaks forced Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2003 to shut down the Pentagon's disinformation operation - the Office of Strategic Influence - he muttered that there were other ways to get the word out. The purpose of that office was "to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign news organizations," according to an unnamed official who spoke to The New York Times.
The newest incarnation of the Pentagon's propaganda operation was revealed by The Los Angeles Times in a story that told how the Defense Department pays contractors to bribe the Iraqi press to publish the "good news" about how well American forces are doing in Iraq.
The payments to the Iraqi news media range from $40 to $2,000 an article.
A bonanza contract for $6 million went to the Lincoln Group, a defense contractor that reportedly planted more than 1,000 articles in the Arab press and placed propaganda pieces on an Iraqi web site.
In addition, the U.S. Army has psychological operations units that pay Iraqi TV stations to broadcast unattributed "news" items or to push its viewpoint in opinion columns.
The U.S. has no ban on distribution of government propaganda abroad but it is verboten at home, though the case of broadcaster Armstrong Williams appears to have crossed that line.
You'll recall that Williams was paid by the Bush administration to promote the "No Child Left Behind" education program to American audiences. When the story broke about the Williams scandal, the White House ran for cover, investigations were launched and the administration quickly disavowed the bogus broadcasting that it had paid for.
Pentagon propaganda specialists have been busy creating fictional heroes and heroines since the start of the Iraq war.
The sad story of Pvt. Jessica Lynch is an example. Hats off to Lynch, who suffered injuries when her Army team was ambushed and captured during the U.S. invasion. She was taken to a hospital where she was later rescued by the U.S. Special Forces. Upset with false reports that she had been mistreated in captivity, Lynch later went public with her real story, saying she had been well treated by Iraqi physicians. She is a woman of integrity.
Then there was the tragic story of pro football player Pat Tillman, who enlisted in the Army after the 9-11 attacks. The U.S. military initially portrayed his death as the result of a firefight with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Only later did the Army reluctantly disclose that Tillman had been killed by friendly fire.
And then there's been the Bush administration's war with al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arab television network, which has been a thorn in the administration's side since the start of the war.
Both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor Colin Powell unsuccessfully pressured Qatar to shut the network down. The U.S. bombed its offices in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2001, and later shelled its offices in Iraq. Its correspondent Tareq Ayoub was killed in Baghdad.
Talk about managing the news! All the incidents were dismissed by the U.S. as "accidents."
More recently, a leaked British government memo claimed that Bush had proposed bombing al-Jazeera's headquarters last year but he was dissuaded from doing so by Prime Minister Tony Blair.
When the latest U.S. disinformation efforts in Iraq came to light, both the White House and the Pentagon at first proclaimed ignorance. Rumsfeld protested to reporters - ludicrously, I thought - that, after all, how was he expected to know what goes on thousands of miles away in Iraq?
Having lived under the rule of Saddam Hussein and a controlled press, I doubt the Iraqis believe much of what they read in newspapers or see on television. The Bush administration's clumsy propaganda efforts don't add to the credibility of the Iraqi media - or ours.
|12-15-2005, 05:33 PM||#2|
Mo' holla fo' yo' dolla!
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: In a bunker in an undisclosed location
"Well, yes, the Intel was mistaken and everybody but me was wrong and to blame. I'm still lily white, but I cannot afford to lose a single congressional seat, so I'll say ANYTHING Rove tells me to so I'm not hated by my constituents. Yes, there was wrong done, but SEE IT'S REALLY RIGHT BECAUSE EVERYTHING'S BETTER NOW. HEY, AM I THE MAN?? I'M THE MAN!! SEE I'M THE MAN!! SEE MY HANDS ARE CLEAN, NO BLOOD HERE!!" - Bush