Amongst the 92,000 files leaked by WikiLeaks this week is evidence that
the U.S. military paid Afghan media outlets to run positive, friendly
“Several reports from Army psychological operations units and provincial reconstruction teams (also known as PRTs, civilian-military hybrids tasked with rebuilding Afghanistan) show that local Afghan radio stations were under contract to air content produced by the United States. Other reports show U.S. military personnel apparently referring to Afghan reporters as “our journalists” and directing them in how to do their jobs.
“Such close collaboration between local media and U.S. forces has been a headache for the Pentagon in the past: In 2005, Pentagon contractor the Lincoln Group was caught paying Iraqi newspapers to run stories written by American soldiers, causing the United States considerable embarrassment.”
Yahoo reports on three military statements related to paid content, found within the recently leaked Afghan war logs, including one that indicated the military paid $3,900 to two radio stations in the province of Ghazni to air 12 hours of prepared content. The excerpt reads:
“The PRT provided 12 hours of PSYOP Radio Content Programming to Radio Ghaznwyan FM Station and Radio Ghazni AM/FM Station for week of 6-12 Nov. Topics included Afghanistan History, Law, and Human Rights in both Dari and Pashto, and a spreadsheet with the specific radio content programming for the week of 6-12 Nov will be forward sepcor to SPARTAN. Additionally, PRT paid Radio Ghaznwyan $3,900 for Radio Content Programming air time for the month of October.”
Another report quotes an Army information operations officer, who describes the Afghan journalists as “very pro-CF [coalition forces]” and surmises that “there is a lot they are willing to do for the CF.”
“Two other messages seem to show U.S. soldiers referring to local Afghan media as extensions of their own units rather than independent reporters. In 2007, after insurgents attacked an Afghan National Police convoy, a member of Task Force Rock wrote that “we … had our journalist conduct an interview with the Afghan National Police District Chief who condemned the attacks on their fellow countrymen.” In another 2007 message, a Task Force Diablo soldier reported that after Taliban gunmen assassinated a local businessman, leading village elders to question the Afghan police’s ability to keep the peace, “we were able to send the journalist in with our cultural advisor to speak to the elders.”
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