Iraq Gets A Dose Of U.S. Style Propaganda

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories intended to portray operations there in a positive light. The stories are not disclosed to the local media as having been written by American troops. This is a valuable lesson in clandestine propaganda that the U. S. is offering, even as they publicly promote their efforts to train Iraqis in basic journalism, including a workshop titled “The Role of Press in a Democratic Society.” I would guess that the first day of class would be a lecture warning the students to, “Do as we say, not as we do.”

The irony is stretched even further with the knowledge that just yesterday, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld held a press conference where he said about Iraq…

“The country is — has a free media, and they can — it’s a relief valve. They could have hundred-plus papers.”

This breaking news about Iraq’s free media comes from the same great free press advocate that appeared before the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April of last year to say that…

…the United States was founded “on the notion that an unchecked government is a major obstacle to human freedom.” and that American leaders must be “challenged, internally through the complex constitutional system of checks and balances, and externally by a free and energetic press.”

Then, the next month, he famously declared that…

… “I’ve stopped reading newspapers…You’ve got to keep your sanity somehow. I’m a survivor.”

That was in response to the media coverage of the release of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos.

What a shining example of consistency and integrity. The behavior of this Secretary of Defense makes the disclosure of the planted stories in Iraqi newspapers somewhat less than surprising. And this cabinet department is not alone as a producer of propaganda. Both the Education and Health and Human Services Departments have been found to be engaging in unlawful propaganda here at home. This must be what Bush means when he says he wants to export American democracy to the rest of the world.