It's always fascinating to hear where our tax dollars are going. According to a recent FT article, the U.S. is secretly paying the Iraqi press to run favourable stories about the U.S. mission in Iraq. The articles, written by U.S. military “information operations” troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor. Many of these articles are then presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The entire operation has been designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military.
We learn this as the State Department is training Iraqi reporters in basic journalism skills and Western media ethics, including one workshop titled “The Role of Press in a Democratic Society.” In fact, Rumsfeld, that tireless protector of democracy and freedom, recently cited the proliferation of news organizations in Iraq as one of the country’s great successes since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
To the defense establishment's credit, some notice the glaring hypocrisy. A senior Pentagon official, commenting on the practice, point out:
“Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we’re breaking all the first principles of democracy when we’re doing it.”