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Iraq Propaganda Program Cleared by Military Inquiry. But Is It Right?

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An inquiry released today found that Lincoln Group, a US public relations firm, didn't violate military policy by paying Iraqi news outlets to print positive articles. Now, the Pentagon says they want to do a little tinkering to get their efforts out of the spotlight.

I get the impression that Rumsfeld knows their Iraq propaganda program is going to explode in their faces if they don't cut the Lincoln group off, but I don't think for a moment that either the Pentagon or the White House is abandoning their plans to achieve what they envision as 'information superiority'.

Rumsfeld spoke recently on the need to control information surrounding their expansive wars. "U.S. military public affairs officers must learn to anticipate news and respond faster, and good public affairs officers should be rewarded with promotions," he said.

"The Pentagon's propaganda machine still operates mostly eight hours a day, five days a week while the challenges it faces occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week." he lamented. He then complained that the "vast media attention about U.S. abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq outweighed that given to the discovery of "Saddam Hussein's mass graves."

However, he was just upset that there were pictures, proof of their crimes. That's the control they want with the press that surrounds their imperialism. Their concern with the news isn't just about protecting soldiers or catching al-Qaeda, although there are those things going on in the military planning room that may involve legitimate security. The thrust of their efforts is to create a zone of 'good news' that will permeate the airwaves and print media, and obscure the bloody images and alarming reports which provide the public with a clear view of the realities of the disaster in Iraq.

Bush revealed his own desire to shade the news to reflect his rosy outlook on Iraq in his news conference yesterday:

"It's -- confidence amongst the Iraqis is what is going to be a vital part of achieving a victory," he said, "which will then enable the American people to understand that victory is possible. In other words, the American people will -- their opinions, I suspect, will be affected by what they see on their TV screens . . .

The Pentagon and Bush expect for the images that they pay for and feed into their purchased press in Iraq to trickle into the mainstream media to be quoted and disseminated around the world as a counter to the realties expressed by the daily images of violence and despair coming from the occupied nations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's what makes this finding irrelevant. The Army guidelines and law say that this type of activity is legitimate for the battlefield, but only outside of the US. Any of this found going on within our borders and we'd be looking at a major scandal. It's just a technicality, though, that keeps the propaganda program in Iraq legitimate. As the article states, the actions of the Lincoln Group were not expressly prohibited by its contract or military rules. But, there should be a concern about what information is being pushed, what it's source is, and who is doing the broadcasting.

In January, a top Army general mused that information is critical as 'firepower' in 'long war'. The American people must remind themselves every day that the United States is at war, the general said.

Fighting the 'war on terror' is these militarists' bread and butter. They have a vested interest in seeing enemies everywhere. Anyone who they regard as an obstacle to their cabal's consolidation of power is the enemy.

Notice how concerned they are with our perception of their war. They want to get us on board in their paranoid grab for power with a campaign of propagandized fear. Their 'war' is only authorized by Congress to pursue the 'perpetrators of 9-11", not an open ended license to conquer the world and hijack our hard earned sacrifices to generations of militarism. The only way they can perpetuate that is to lie.

The realities of these military interventions don't support their rhetoric about defending democracy, spreading freedom, or defeating terror. All they are left with after three years of oppression in Iraq and Afghanistan is more violence and more 'enemies' bent on our destruction. Planting 'good news' about the wars won't change that.

The Pentagon has its own 'intelligence' branch is headed by an old crony and Rumsfeld pal, Stephen Cambone, and has had its influence elevated by a change in the order of succession which demoted the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy to place the new Pentagon spy unit within arm's reach of Karl Rove and the White House operators. This propaganda program in Iraq is their invention. They will use the fake media to attempt to control dissent and disarm their critics by focusing only on what they perceive as successes.

The Bush regime has an obsessive compulsion to control every bit of media that shows any disagreement with their policies or actions. The attacks on 9-11 later provided cover for their military takeover of our democracy. But it's not just what they have done that's outrageous- I would suspect most anyone in that office would covet unlimited power if granted by a weak and compliant Congress as this president has enjoyed- it's the lack of will or interest in our leaders in exercising their responsibility to check the Executive's authority. The real 'enemy' of the state is either one of apathy by our leaders, complicity, or both.

We can't expect Rumsfeld or the Pentagon to police themselves and reform their own meddling. With the full force of our nation's military deployed in a seemingly intractable conflict in Iraq, the rest stationed in Afghanistan and around the globe as mercenaries of the new American imperialism, and Bush's eye on Iran, there is no time to wait and see if they cross the line into suppressing dissenting views here in the US, or muddling them with disinformation abroad which ultimately ends up in the mainstream press here and elsewhere.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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