As part of its plan to expand online "information operations," the Pentagon is launching "a global network of foreign-language news websites ... and hiring local journalists to write current events stories and other content that promote U.S. interests," reports Peter Eisler. The Pentagon launched Matawani.com last year, an Arabic-language site with Iraq news; other sites are being developed for Asian and Latin American audiences. Like the Pentagon's older "news" sites, aimed at North Africa and Southeast Europe, the new sites only disclose U.S. Defense Department involvement on a single page reached via a small "about" link at the bottom of the site. The goal of the Pentagon's "Trans Regional Web Initiative" is to launch "a minimum of six" websites run by regional U.S. military commands. Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers said, "Our adversaries use the Internet to great advantage," so the Pentagon must counter their messages with "truthful information, and these websites are a good vehicle." Harvard University's Marvin Kalb called the websites "deliberate deception" that "weakens the image of journalism as an objective bystander."
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