As a member of said American public, allow me to officially lend my whole-hearted endorsement to the efforts of the military to spread disinformation about their actual plans via the fifth column--er, fourth estate. Terrorists watch CNN too, you know. Better I know too little before the fact than that they know too much.
Although most of the work remains classified, officials say that some of the ongoing efforts include having U.S. military spokesmen play a greater role in psychological operations in Iraq, as well as planting information with sources used by Arabic TV channels such as Al Jazeera to help influence the portrayal of the United States.
Other specific examples were not known, although U.S. national security officials said an emphasis had been placed on influencing how foreign media depict the United States.
These efforts have set off a fight inside the Pentagon over the proper use of information in wartime. Several top officials see a danger of blurring what are supposed to be well-defined lines between the stated mission of military public affairs — disseminating truthful, accurate information to the media and the American public — and psychological and information operations, the use of often-misleading information and propaganda to influence the outcome of a campaign or battle.
Well, of course they did. Brave, brave dissenters.
Several of those officials who oppose the use of misleading information spoke out against the practice on the condition of anonymity.
(Linked by Jonah Goldberg in the Corner.)
And for those who think we went to war in Iraq because we wanted to take over their oil fields, or because the president is seeking petty revenge for an assassination attempt on his father (perhaps if he'd attempted to assassinate Bill Clinton the high dudgeon of the left might have been stirred), or because the current crop of US warmongers just really enjoy blowing the crap out of other cultures, read the following very carefully:
Mr. Annan was at the helm of the U.N. for all but a few days of the Oil-for-Food program, and he must, therefore, be held accountable for the U.N.'s utter failure to detect or stop Saddam's abuses. The consequences of the U.N.'s ineptitude cannot be overstated: Saddam was empowered to withstand the sanctions regime, remain in power, and even rebuild his military. Needless to say, he made the Iraqi people suffer even more by importing substandard food and medicine under the Oil-for-Food program and pawning it off as first-rate humanitarian aid.I'm not saying the US has acted out of pure-minded altruism in Iraq. I am saying it acted out of reasonable self-interest, and that ought to be enough justification for our present labors.
Since it was never likely that the U.N. Security Council, some of whose permanent members were awash in Saddam's favors, would ever call for Saddam's removal, the U.S. and its coalition partners were forced to put troops in harm's way to oust him by force. Today, money swindled from Oil-for-Food may be funding the insurgency against coalition troops in Iraq and other terrorist activities against U.S. interests. Simply put, the troops would probably not have been placed in such danger if the U.N. had done its job in administering sanctions and Oil-for-Food.