In the run-up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon planned to create a 'Rapid Reaction Media Team' (RRMT) designed to ensure control over major Iraqi media while providing an Iraqi 'face' for its efforts, according to a 'White Paper' obtained by the independent National Security Archive (NSA) which released it Tuesday.
The partially redacted, three-page document was accompanied by a longer power point presentation that included a proposed six-month, 51 million-dollar budget for the RRMT operation, apparently the first phase in a one-to-two-year ''strategic information campaign''.
Among other items, the budget called for the hiring of two U.S. ''media consultants'' who were to be paid 140,000 dollars each for six months' work. A further 800,000 dollars were to be paid for six Iraqi ''media consultants over the same period.
Both the paper and the slide presentation were prepared by two Pentagon offices -- Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, which, among other things, specialise in psychological warfare, and the Office of Special Plans under then undersecretary of defence for policy, Douglas Feith -- in mid-January, 2003, two months before the invasion, according to NSA analyst Joyce Battle.
The above is from Jim Lobe's "'Pentagon Moved to Fix Iraqi Media Before Invasion'" (IPS). We're starting with reality before turning to the fantasy that is John F. Burns' "Cheney Visits Baghdad and Presses Leaders on Political Progress" in this morning's New York Times. The laughs start coming when Burns flat out lies about the privatization of Iraq's oil: "an oil law that assures a fair distribution of revenue to the different population groups." Not only have the op-eds offered a more realistic appraisal, so have the actual reports the paper has run (by comparison). John F. Burns may be without his fellow go-go boy Dexy Filkins but he seems determined to Go Wild in the Green Zone all by himself.
Burnsie tells readers: "Just this week, the largest Sunni Arab bloc threatened to pull out of Parliament in frustration at what it described as Shiite disregard for their interests, but backed off after a personal intervention by President Bush." Did they back off? Or did they give a one week ultimatum? And shouldn't Burns know about that as the senior correspondent in Baghdad?
Lloyd noted Joshua Partlow's "Cheney Pushes Iraqis for Quick Action" (Washington Post) and from that:
During his day in Baghdad, Cheney also met with Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni who is one of Iraq's two vice presidents. At the meeting, Hashimi asked for the release of detainees who are languishing in custody without being charged and called for greater Sunni participation in the Shiite-led government, according to Ayad al-Samarrae, a parliament member from Hashimi's political party. Sunni leaders recently threatened to step down from the government if they do not see more cooperation.
"We don't want to destroy the political process, we don't want to blackmail the others, but at the same time we can't be responsible for great mistakes in the process," Samarrae said. "We feel we are slipping toward a dictatorship once again."
Doesn't sound like al-Hashimi's May 15th deadline is off, does it?
Burnsie quotes Cheney but misses Cheney's snarling at the press: "This is just a photo spray." The press also overheard snarling Cheney growl, at another photo op, "Then we kick the press out." You would know that if you heard Robert Knight's "The Knight Report" on KPFA's Flashpoints Radio yesterday. You just won't find out about it in the Times. You will get this laughable passage:
"We talked about the challenges we are facing in our own political process," Mr. Maliki said, with Mr. Cheney standing beside him. He then embarked on a brief discourse about all that Iraq had achieved in the past four years, as though to remind the Americans that Iraq's was a sovereign government, for all the help it has received from the United States. "We have achieved our own Constitution, we have achieved freedom, we have achieved democracy, and we have achieved sovereignty throughout our country," he said.
Burnsie doesn't bother to question any of those (false) assertions. A Constitution? Ha. The puppet's the last to brag about the Constitution, or should be, considering he violated it by missing the Constituationally mandated deadline (by weeks!) to set up his ministry. After missing that, the Constitution did not kick in as required, al-Maliki just tacked on additional weeks as though the Constitution was meaningless which it obviously was. Achieved democracy? How many examples are necessary for that lie to be exposed? But sovereignty is the funniest of all. "We have achieved sovereignty throughout our country." This from the man who stated the wall would not be constructed, stated that from Egypt, and was ignored. Not just by the US military (and controllers) but also by the Iraqi military who are supposed to follow his orders. (Instead, they took to mocking him and saying al-Maliki didn't know what he was talking about, didn't understand the situation . . . .)
It's the sort of lies you'd think Burnsie would have gotten out of his system after the public hanging he'd been craving finally happened. But no.
Now we're not supposed to talk about it but the Times got a lot of flack not that long ago from the US military. So maybe Burnsie's trying to get in their good graces? If so, might we suggest reporters report on the paper's time and save a reach around for after hours?
Yesterday, the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed by gunfire in Diyala Province, Tuesday." That brought the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 3381 and 30 for the month thus far.
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