Yesterday, the National Security Archive (NSA) released a 3 page pre-war Pentagon memo and an accompanying slideshow presentation that revealed the Bush administration’s desire to create a “Rapid Reaction Media Team” (RRMT) to control major Iraqi media while providing an Iraqi “face” for its efforts.
Both the memo and the slide presentation were prepared by two Pentagon offices: 1) The Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, which specializes in psychological warfare, and 2) The Office of Special Plans under then undersecretary of defense for policy, Douglas Feith. The memo explained the mission of the rapid response teams as follows:
After the cessation of hostilities, having professional U.S.-trained Iraqi media teams immediately in place to portray a new Iraq (by Iraqis for Iraqis) with hopes for a prosperous, democratic future, will have a profound psychological and political impact on the Iraqi people. [...]
In addition, a re-constituted free Iraqi domestic media can serve as a model in the Middle East where so much Arab hate-media are themselves equivalent to weapons of mass destruction.
The memo envisioned deploying a team of U.S. and U.K. media experts with a team of “hand selected” Iraqi media experts to “communicate immediately with the Iraqi public upon liberation of Iraq.” These Iraqi experts would “train the Iraqi broadcasters and publishers (‘the face’) for the USG/coalition sponsored information effort,” while an “ensuing ‘strategic information campaign‘ would be part of a ‘likely 1-2 years…transition’ to a representative government.”
UPDATE: The January 2003 Pentagon White Paper:
UPDATE II: Inter Press Service’s Jim Lobe reports, “The NSA Tuesday also released an audit by the Pentagon’s Inspector-General regarding two dozen, mostly non-competitive contracts totalling 122.5 million dollars awarded by the defence department to three defence contractors that carried out media-related activities in Iraq after the invasion.” Those contractors included the Rendon Group, the Lincoln Group, and Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the same company that employed World Bank communications staffer Shaha Ali Riza. SAIC has said it was directed by Doug Feith to hire Riza.