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       Wednesday, September 20, 2006

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The Lincoln Group

Willem Marx's article in Harpers Magazine this month entitled "Misinformation Intern" highlights his summer working in Iraq for US based The Lincoln Group distributing propaganda for the US military.

You know, this is nothing new. I was expecting to read an article replete with outrageous revelations about our military and their use of propaganda to sway Iraqis. Not so much, typical wartime bolstering of US mission type stuff. Instead, what I found most interesting/disturbing was the amount of money spent by the US military (www.harpers.org) and the child-like writing the US military writers-posing-as-Iraqi-citizen-writers produced.

First, the money. Holy Cow. Here is a breakdown from Mr. Marx's article:

$19 Million spent with The Lincoln Group over a two month period for:

1. 16 TV Spots (unique)
2. 20 Radio Spots
3. 80 1/2 page color ads (newspaper)
4. 32 Op/Ed pieces
5. 140,000 Posters
6. 9 internet news sites (run by US - posing as Iraqis)
7. 5 DVDs

You know, I come from a media/advertising background and $19 million dollars for the above list of services is way, way out there by US standards. Mr. Marx goes on to explain that $19 million is in fact even further out by Iraqi standards. The best example of this is: $16 of the $19 million US military spend was allocated for the TV spots - again - 16 unique spots to be produced and aired. The actual cost of production, distribution, airing was $12,000. Again, Holy Cow. So that comes out to a $8.8 million dollar surplus for the TV spots alone. Perhaps that surplus, instead of going to the incredibly sketchy Lincoln Group (www.lincolngroup.com and http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Lincoln_Group) could have gone to buy body armor, or to forgive a dead soldier the $800 bill his/her widow(er) receives when the body armor isn't returned or reimburse parents who bought their sons and daughters' body armor since the military didn't provide it (http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0930/dailyUpdate.html).

Secondly, the simplistic (and arguably condescending) tone of the US Military writers. Here is an excerpt from Mr. Marx's article. This blurb was written by an unidentified military official to be reviewed and passed of to Iraqi interpreters for translation the publication in various newspapers. "History does not fondly remember murderers and destroyers. history reveres the people who stand up against pain and risk of death to say 'no' to the murderers and destroyers". Come on. It sounds like a Mommy lecturing little Billy before his first day of school. To one US military official's credit, he did question this by stating ' not ONCE have they (the military writers) consulted one Arab on the best way to write the THOUGHT in Arabic. they forget that it is the message that we are trying to get across, not the word".

Andy Kopsa is a Chicago Based writer. Please visit www.ladytime.squarespace.com for further reading and information.



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posted by andykopsa at 10:11 AM  

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