Saturday, December 03, 2005
The News Wire is replete with stories yesterday and today about the least shocking secret of the Iraq war, that the Department of Defense is salting paid propaganda into the Iraqi Press. The Lincoln Group, the private contractor providing the propaganda support in behalf of the Coalition, has at least two contracts with the military to provide media and public relations services. One contract, for $6 million, is for public relations and advertising work in Iraq. The other Lincoln contract, which is with the Special Operations Command, is worth up to $100 million over five years for media operations with video, print and Web-based products.
Senator Warner and General Peter Pace, Chairman of the JCS, defended the program.
"Things like this happen. It's a war," Warner said. "The disinformation that's going on in that country is really affecting the effectiveness of what we're achieving, and we have no recourse but to try and do some rebuttal information."
Lt. Col. Barry Johnson spoke of the "information battlespace" which is
"... contested at all times and is filled with misinformation and propaganda by an enemy intent on discrediting the Iraqi government and the coalition, and who are taking every opportunity to instill fear and intimidate the Iraqi people,"
Just a few days ago the world learned about The Rendon Group who was paid $100 Million funded by the CIA and the Pentagon to sell the war and its perception to the World, including the United States. John Rendon who has been a paid propagandist for years bills himself as an "Information Warrior..."
All this makes me wonder about any newspaper. Where is it deployed in the "information battlespace"? The role of reporters Judith Miller (New York Times) and Bob Woodward (Washington Post) in the “information war” on behalf of the Bush Whitehouse proves that no news organization is above manipulation, no matter how prestigious. This makes me question anything I hear from my government.
If I believe my government and then support my child's deployment to Iraq and she comes back damaged for what turns out to be a lie, does that make our family "collateral damage" in the “information war"?
And what is my favorite newspaper’s role in this, since I read it every day? Is my favorite morning paper an information warrior? Or is it an information stooge?
Senator Warner and the Military Establishment are quick to point out that War-Is-Hell and that "the enemy" is publishing "lies" about us so we need to "balance" those "lies" with the "Truth".
I would be interested to know what those lies spread by "the enemy" are. Are you?
I know Al-Jazeera publishes photographs of babies and women seared to the bone by white phosphorous bombs that first the military denied and then admitted were used offensively in Fallujha. I have read that local papers publish the names of civilians killed by BOTH insurgents and coalition forces. Stories are also printed of the forcible entry into homes by Coalition forces and Iraqi "Police" (who look like combat soldiers) in search of combatants. I have also read that a common practice among feuding Iraqi families is to "report" the target home to the Coalition and stand around and watch the fun as the forces break down doors and ransack the house. This is reported as well by the small, local presses as well.
Perhaps the "lies" that "the enemy" tells include stories like the story of Ayad Allawi.
In an interview published late last month, Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite Muslim, told the London newspaper The Observer that fellow Shiites are responsible for death squads and secret torture centers and said brutality by elements of Iraqi security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police.
"People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same thing," the newspaper quoted Allawi as saying.
Allawi's allegation of widespread human rights abuses follows the discovery this month of up to 173 detainees, some malnourished and showing signs of torture, in a Shiite-led Interior Ministry building in Baghdad.
"People are doing the same as Saddam's time and worse," he said. "It is an appropriate comparison."
It is on our own President's watch and under his command that the sewage of disinformation sloshes so prodigiously about the world: from crudely forged documents in Italy to support the pre-War case for invading Iraq, to crudely forged documents designed to discredit Bush and Blair critic, M.P. George Galloway, to secret prisons in foreign countries, to torture at Abu Ghraib, to the revelations about the Rendon Group and the Lincoln Group and on and on.
If truth is the first casualty of war, then “Truth, Inc.” is its living, Evil Twin.