Casey Awaits Results of Iraq Information Operations Review
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2006 An investigation of alleged improprieties conducted by U.S. military information operations activities in Iraq is nearly complete for presentation to the Multinational Force Iraq commander, a senior Defense Department spokesman told reporters here today.
Navy Rear Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk, a member of Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.'s staff, is in charge of the review that began in early December. Casey, the commanding general of Multinational Force Iraq, is now in Washington along with other military commanders for senior-level meetings with Pentagon officials.
"My understanding of it is that Admiral Van Buskirk is about at the stage where he's ready to brief the MNFI commander soon," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
The issue had been raised in a Nov. 30, 2005, Los Angeles Times story alleging that articles written by U.S. forces highlighting anti-terrorist and reconstruction successes and mounting anti-insurgent sentiment in Iraq had been improperly planted in Iraqi media outlets.
The Times article also alleged that a U.S. contractor translated the articles into Arabic and paid Iraqi media outlets to run the articles.
Findings from Van Buskirk's preliminary investigation showed no evidence of wrongdoing, Casey said from his headquarters in Iraq during a Dec. 16 satellite news conference with Pentagon reporters.
"We concluded that we were operating within our authorities and the appropriate legal procedures," Casey told reporters. The general also said he instructed the admiral to notify him of any suspected improprieties.
"Scott has the direction that if at any time through the course of his investigation he comes across something that we're doing that makes him feel uncomfortable, that he should bring it directly to me and we'll evaluate it and take appropriate action," Casey said during the satellite news conference.
Casey also said he hadn't suspended any of the information operations processes in question, because Van Buskirk's preliminary review had so far provided them with a clean bill of health.
The issue may not be totally resolved, Whitman told reporters today, as Casey may have more questions for Van Buskirk after receiving the admiral's final report.
"He may have other things he wants them to look at," Whitman said. "So it's dynamic, it's ongoing. And I suspect it's not anything that I'd look for this week or next week, probably."
Casey likely would be briefed on Van Buskirk's final report soon after the general returns to his command in Iraq, Whitman said.