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Just What Iraq Needs: More U.S. Propaganda
Gen. David Petraeus, "the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has asked for changes that would allow" the blending of public affairs -- the military's truth-telling function -- with "information operations," or propaganda. In response, Pentagon officials are reconsidering 2004 guidelines drafted by Gen. Richard Myers, which directed that the two be separate. (However, the Lincoln Group's covert planting of U.S. military-written articles in Iraqi newspapers occurred under the Myers guidelines.) "Many brigades in Iraq already have placed public affairs and information officers in adjoining offices," reports Julian Barnes. A "senior military official close to Petraeus" said the two "should work out of the same planning cell," to ensure that they do not "work at cross purposes." The official added that the military's credibility would not be undermined by such blurring, because "public affairs officers will not be involved in deception operations." Skeptics point to a 2004 incident where a Marine public affairs officer told CNN that a U.S. assault on Fallouja, Iraq, had started, three weeks prior to the actual operation, in order "to gauge the reaction of insurgents." O'Dwyer's reports that the U.S. Army command in Iraq is seeking a PR firm for a new $11 to 25 million contract, "to produce a marketing campaign for its electrical sector reconstruction unit, based in Baghdad."