"What would Americans think if they knew that their best newspaper, The New York Times, had allowed one of its national-security reporters to negotiate a book deal that needed the approval of the CIA?" writes Allan Wolper. "What would they say if they knew the CIA was editing the book while the country is days or weeks away from a war with Iraq and is counting on the Times to monitor the intelligence agency?"
The Pentagon is training civilian reporters on its military bases for war reporting. "One hundred twenty journalists trained last November at the Quantico Marine Corps Base and the Norfolk Naval Station; another wave of reporters trained last month at Fort Benning, and another session is scheduled this month at Fort Dix in New Jersey," Democracy Now reports.
Last week U.N. weapons inspectors swooped in to inspect the Iraqi manufacturing plant that U.S. planes bombed in 1991. Iraq said the plant made infant milk formula; the U.S. said it made biological weapons. Mark Crispin Miller examines the evidence and concludes that Iraq's version was correct. Nevertheless, "Iraq, in trying to publicize the targeting of its civilian infrastructure, had engaged in clumsy propaganda (which backfired in the West), while the US counter-propaganda was apparently disinformation (which succeeded).
"The Bush administration has put a much tighter lid than recent presidents on government proceedings and the public release of information, exhibiting a penchant for secrecy that has been striking to historians, legal experts and lawmakers of both parties," writes Adam Clymer in a detailed report on the administration's new and wide-ranging secrecy policies.
"At a press briefing Dec. 18, State Dept. public diplomacy chief Charlotte Beers announced that her division has asked author Ken Pollack to interrupt a book tour and travel overseas to talk about his book 'The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq.' Turns out the State Dept. also has been courting foreign journalists over the past year.
"The administration's fight to keep a tight hold over government information is far from over," reports Vanessa Blum. "Watchdog groups continue attempts to penetrate the inner sanctum of the executive branch using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other open government laws." Numerous FOIA fights are currently underway against the White House and Justice Department. "It's absolute trench warfare," says Georgetown University Law Center professor David Vladeck.
"The United States edited out more than 8,000 crucial pages of Iraq's 11,800-page dossier on weapons, before passing on a sanitized version to the 10 non-permanent members of the United Nations security council," reports the UK's Sunday Herald. Apparently the report includes embarrassing evidence of U.S. and European culpability in aiding the Iraqi weapons programs, dating back to before the Gulf War, but covering the period of Saddam Hussein's rise and his worst crimes.
The National Security Archive (NSA), a nonprofit research institute, has published a collection of documents detailing an early Cold War campaign to win hearts and minds in the Middle East, launched 50 years before current efforts to achieve United States "public diplomacy" goals in the region. Methods that were utilized included graphic displays, manipulation of the news, books, movies, cartoons, activities directed at schools and universities, and exchange programs. "The documents show that many of the factors that generated resentment of the U.S.
"The Total Information Awareness System (TIA), the controversial Pentagon research program that aims to gather and analyze a vast array of information on Americans, has hired at least eight private companies to work on the effort," reports the Center for Public Integrity.
"The Defense Department is considering
issuing a secret directive to the American military to
conduct covert operations aimed at influencing public
opinion and policy makers in friendly and neutral
countries, senior Pentagon and administration officials
say. ... Some are troubled by suggestions that the military might
pay journalists to write stories favorable to American
policies or hire outside contractors without obvious ties
to the Pentagon to organize rallies in support of American