U.S. Special Operations Command awarded three five-year contracts in June for contractors to develop slogans, advertisements, newspaper articles, radio spots and television programs to build support for U.S. policies overseas. Each contract has a maximum value of $20 million per year for a total of $300 million.
The psychological warfare officials overseeing the project say the messages will be true, if not always attributed to the U.S. military.
"Always true". Chortle!
Contracting records show that contractors were worried about scrutiny by U.S. and foreign reporters.
During the bidding process for federal contracts, potential contractors can ask questions and make suggestions that are answered by contracting officials. One question for this contract was whether the command would "protect them from U.S. and foreign media inquiries into this project."
Gee, if the propaganda is "true", what do these companies need protection from? Surely the truth can bear investigation.
During the Cold War, we had a media outfit called Radio Free Europe that beamed American propaganda to eager listeners behind the Iron Curtain. I don't think they were ever investigated by the Press. One difference was that the audience wanted to hear about life outside the wire. It didn't need much promotion. I think it pushed our ideals more to the fore than our policy. This outfit was perpetually underfunded, but all they needed was a good transmitter and some personnel.
The big difference was that we were trying to undermine and overthrow from within, if possible, unpopular regimes instead of trying to create one.
The things that bear investigation in this Iraq propaganda deal are: the questionable policies of our government in the first place; the fact that the Pentagon is in charge rather than the State Department; and the multi-million dollar no-bid good-ol'-boy contracts. I think the contractors are just worried that scrutiny may derail the gravy train.