Sometimes I hate being right.
WASHINGTON — As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.
The articles, written by U.S. militaryinformation operationstroops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country. …
And, just in case you were wondering:
The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. The Pentagon has a contract with a small Washington-based firm called Lincoln Group, which helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group’s Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets. …
Some of the newspapers, such as Al Mutamar, a Baghdad-based daily run by associates of Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi, ran the articles as news stories, indistinguishable from other news reports. Before the war, Chalabi was the Iraqi exile favored by senior Pentagon officials to lead post-Hussein Iraq.
Others labeled the stories asadvertising,shaded them in gray boxes or used a special typeface to distinguish them from standard editorial content. But none mentioned any connection to the U.S. military.
The going rate seems to be as much as US $1,000 – $1,500 per story, although a few papers ran the articles for as little as US $50.
Military officials familiar with the effort in Iraq said much of it was being directed by theInformation Operations Task Forcein Baghdad, part of the multinational corps headquarters commanded by Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were critical of the effort and were not authorized to speak publicly about it.
A spokesman for Vines declined to comment for this article. A Lincoln Group spokesman also declined to comment.
One of the military officials said that, as part of a psychological operations campaign that has intensified over the last year, the task force also had purchased an Iraqi newspaper and taken control of a radio station, and was using them to channel pro-American messages to the Iraqi public. Neither is identified as a military mouthpiece.
These days, so many news accounts hardly need commentary. …
Welcome to the mainstream news media for the new millennium, in which Noam Chomsky has become obsolete: they aren’t even trying to hide it anymore. Interlocking interests and subtle mechanisms of control aren’t even the point anymore; the Bush machine and its clients now pass out government-manufacturednewssegments and lucrative tax-funded bribes for useful political commentators. The Bush League may not be making government smaller, but they are making radical critique simpler–may God help us all.