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U.S. Military and the Iraqi Media

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"The [U.S.] military has paid money to try to place favorable coverage on television stations in three Iraqi cities," the Washington Post reported in December 2005. The military gave one station "about $35,000 in equipment," is "building a new facility for $300,000," and pays $1000 to $2400 a month "for a weekly program that focuses positively on U.S. efforts." An Army National Guard commander confirmed his officers "suggest" stories for the weekly program and review it, before it is aired. The payments are not disclosed to viewers. At least two bloggers have been embedded with U.S. military units; Michael Yon with the Army in Mosul and Bill Roggio (who was credentialed by the American Enterprise Institute) with the Marines in Anbar province. Insurgent propaganda has included "rifle-toting guerrillas" in Ramadi telling reporters "to publish accounts claiming the city had been taken over," and "erroneous tips from insurgents to reporters," including video purporting to be of a December 3 attack in Fallujah. [1]

"Almost three-quarters of Americans think it was wrong for the Pentagon to pay Iraqi newspapers to publish news about U.S. efforts in Iraq, a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows. USA TODAY reported earlier this month that the Pentagon plans to expand beyond Iraq an anti-terrorism public relations campaign that has included secret payments to Iraqi journalists and publications who printed stories favorable to the USA. ... The global program will be part of a five-year public relations campaign costing up to $300 million. The poll shows that most Americans don't approve of such programs. Of the 1,003 people surveyed Dec. 16-18, 72% said it would be inappropriate for the U.S. military to secretly pay Iraqi media to publish stories favorable to the USA. And almost two-thirds said such payments would bother them a 'fair amount' or a 'great deal.' " The Pentagon has used the Lincoln Group to plant fake news in Iraq. [2]

In January 2006 the Guardian reported that U.S. troops in Baghdad "blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist" working with British media outlets on an investigation of "claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated."

The troops fired into the room where Dr. Ali Fadhil, an award-winning journalist, and his family were sleeping, then hooded and detained him for a few hours. The troops also took videotapes related to the documentary, which have not yet been returned. Callum Macrae, the director of the documentary, called "the timing and the nature" of the raid "extremely disturbing," as it came days after they explained the project to U.S. authorities. "We need a convincing assurance from the American authorities that this terrifying experience was not harassment and a crude attempt to discourage Ali's investigation," said Macrae. [3]

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