"Once the war starts, the [Bush] administration plans to fill every information void in the 24-hour worldwide news cycle, leaving little to chance or interpretation," writes the Washington Post's Karen DeYoung.
So confident is the U.S. military about a swift victory in Iraq that plans are already afoot to fly a CNN correspondent and a BBC reporter to the southern Iraqi city of Basra the moment it falls. "I'm not doing this so that the CNN correspondent gets another $100,000 in their salary," he said. "I'm doing it because the regime watches CNN. I want them to see what is happening." The plan is part of a psychological warfare campaign that the British officer called "white pys-ops." "Yes, we are using them," he said.
Within six months of going on the air Radio Sawa -- Sawa is the Arabic word for "coming together" -- has more listeners than BBC and local stations in Jordan according to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. government agency that oversees Radio Sawa and the Voice of America. The station broadcasts 24 hours-a-day from seven transmitters throughout the Middle East and features a mix of Arabic and Western pop music with news headlines every half-hour.
"A Cold War-era office with a shadowy name and a colorful history of exposing Soviet deceptions is back in business, this time watching Iraq," reports Connie Cass. "The Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team's moniker is more impressive than its budget. It's a crew of two toiling in anonymity at the State Department, writing reports they are prohibited by law from disseminating to the U.S. public. The operation has challenged some fantastic claims over the years -- a U.S.
U.S. Military public affairs officers at Central Command in Qatar are putting the finishing touches on their media center. USA Today reports that a $250,000 briefing stage has been shipped in from Chicago at a cost of $47,000. "Painted battleship-gray and backed by a 38-foot repeating world map, the set has five plasma screens, two rear screen projectors, two podiums and five digital clocks, including one giving Baghdad time. Behind the set is a state-of-the-art control room that requires at least three service members to operate," USA Today writes.
The U.S. has already launched psychological warfare operations in Iraq, including "leafleting, radio and TV broadcasts, even personal phone calls and e-mails, as well as secret techniques the public knows little about," reports Michael Kilian. "Since Jan. 18, U.S.
"On February 24, Newsweek broke what may be the biggest story of the Iraq crisis," FAIR writes. "In a revelation that 'raises questions about whether the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist,' the magazine's issue dated March 3 reported that the Iraqi weapons chief who defected from the regime in 1995 told U.N. inspectors that Iraq had destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles, as Iraq claims." The CIA denied the Newsweek story.
"The budget request for the State Department for 2004 reflects the changing foreign policy priorities of an administration set on winning the global war on terrorism and the hearts and minds of the countries where terrorists recruit," UPI's Eli J. Lake writes. "It includes $30 million to launch the Middle East Television Network, an Arabic language satellite station. Also, the budget will double funding for the Voice of America's Indonesia channel. ... Big losers in the budget include both big and small programs.
HBO Films has finally gotten around to admitting what PR Watch readers knew all along: "allegations of Iraqi soldiers taking babies from incubators (in 1990) ...
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).