"A key part of Ottawa's public relations campaign" in support of its controversial military mission in Afghanistan is frequent phone calls where "senior federal officials ... plot strategy." All Afghan mission matters "are vetted through the Privy Council Office, the bureaucratic wing of the Prime Minister's Office," leading to charges of top-down media management. "It's not about communications," said one anonymous Canadian official. "It's about keeping the press gallery at bay." Recently, a panel led by former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley criticized Canada's approach to Afghanistan. The panel called for "franker and more frequent" public briefings, and a greater emphasis on diplomacy and reconstruction. In the United States, the controversial Pentagon program "America Supports You" (ASY) is reviewing its PR contract, reports O'Dwyer's. ASY, which is under investigation for its financial practices, currently works with the PR firm Susan Davis International. The Pentagon will ask Washington DC firms to submit proposals for ASY's "national strategy and outreach program, web and interactive work, events and PSAs." It's not clear if Susan Davis will be invited to, or would choose to, submit a proposal to continue its work with ASY.
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