U.S. Investigates Alleged Info Operations Improprieties
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2005 Senior U.S. military leaders in Iraq are now investigating allegations that information about U.S. operations in Iraq was improperly placed in Iraqi newspapers, according to a Multinational Force Iraq news release today.
"Recent news coverage concerning information operations in Iraq has generated concerns regarding military communications objectives and procedures," the release stated.
U.S. commanders in Iraq consider information operations an important communications tool, the news release stated.
"Serious allegations have been raised that suggest the process may be functioning in a manner different than is intended or appropriate," the news release stated.
The issue surfaced in a Los Angeles Times article published today that alleges 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.
"As part of our operations, we have offered articles for publication to Iraqi newspapers, and in some cases articles have been accepted and published as a function of buying advertising and opinion/editorial space, as is customary in Iraq," the release stated. The procedures for doing so undergo policy and legal review to ensure compliance with the law and regulations, the release stated.
"MNFI is reviewing these allegations and will investigate any improprieties," the release stated. "If any part of our process does not have our full confidence, we will examine that activity and take appropriate action.
"If any contractor is failing to perform as we have intended, we will take appropriate action," the release stated.
Earlier today, DoD spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters that Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has taken a personal interest in the matter. DoD has been coordinating with MNFI to obtain more information, Whitman said.
"Ever since this issue arose there have been various parts of this department that have been interested in it and seeking information and seeking clarification," Whitman said.