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So Who is Behind Planting Stories in Iraqi Press?
December 01, 2005

NEW YORK So what, exactly, is this Lincoln Group that helped plant pro-American propaganda in the Iraqi press, a phenomenon that has made front-page news this week and has now been denounced by everyone from top military leaders to journalism ethicists? And what about its sub-contractor, BKSH & Associates?

The story starts with the Washington D.C.-based Lincoln Alliance Corporation, a "business intelligence company' that also handles services related to commercial real estate in Iraq. It set up an offshoot called Iraqex last year, but its name was later changed to Lincoln Group.

It now has four offices, including ones in Baghdad and Basra, and it develops video, podcasts, and print publications, purchases TV and radio time, and has a three-year contract to oversee public affairs and advertising for the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I), all aimed at backing the U.S. effort there.

The Lincoln Group's Web site says it "brings a unique combination of expertise in collecting and exploiting information; structuring transactions; and mitigating risks through due diligence and legal strategies."

A June 11, 2005, Washington Post article reported that the Pentagon had just awarded three contracts, potentially worth up to $300 million over five years (if the effort panned out), to three companies to handle "psychological operations" to improve foreign public opinion about the United States, particularly the military. The contract winners: Lincoln Group, Science Applications International Corporation, and SYColeman, Inc., a subsidiary of L-3 Communications.

O'Dwyer's, a leading trade publication in the public relations field, reported in July that BKSH & Associates, one part of the giant communications company, Burson-Marsteller's, had been hired by The Lincoln Group, "one of three firms selected last month by the U.S. Special Operations Command to wage psychological warfare on behalf of the Pentagon in Iraq and other hot spots. BKSH has experience on the Iraqi front earned from work for Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress. Col. James Treadwell, director of the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, said TLG was selected to develop 'cutting-edge types of media,' including radio/TV ads, documentaries, text messages, Internet spots and podcasts for the U.S. military."

BKSH & Associates is a Washington-based firm that provides government relations services for domestic and international clients. It's headed by Charles R. Black Jr., a leading Republican political strategist and former advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

The New Yorker magazine reported as long ago as February 2004 that Black was considering setting up an office in Baghdad. "One week you go to Baghdad, and they say the decisions are being made at the Pentagon," he said. "Then you go to the Pentagon, and they say the decisions are being made in Baghdad. Only Halliburton is making money now!" He added: "Is there too much cronyism? I just wish I could find the cronies."

In September 2005, O'Dwyer's reported that the Lincoln Group was looking to hire "senior media and PR professionals to guide an advertising and PR campaign to inform the Iraqi people of "the Coalition's goals and to gain their support."

There it stood, until earlier this week when the Los Angeles Times was first to report that the Lincoln Group was helping the Pentagon covertly place pro-United States stories in Iraqi news outlets. Dozens of articles written by U.S. military "information operations" troops were placed during 2005, according to the paper. "The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military," the Times reported. The Lincoln Group "helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group's Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes poses as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets."

The New York Times reported today: "In addition to paying newspapers to print government propaganda, Lincoln has paid about a dozen Iraqi journalists each several hundred dollars a month, a person who had been told of the transactions said….

"The Lincoln Group, whose principals include some businessmen and former military officials, was hired last year after military officials concluded that the United States was failing to win over Muslim public opinion….

"Citing a 'fundamental problem of credibility' and foreign opposition to American policies, a Pentagon advisory panel last year called for the government to reinvent and expand its information programs….

"The Pentagon's first public relations contract with Lincoln was awarded in 2004 for about $5 million with the stated purpose of accurately informing the Iraqi people of American goals and gaining their support. But while meant to provide reliable information, the effort was also intended to use deceptive techniques, like payments to sympathetic 'temporary spokespersons' who would not necessarily be identified as working for the coalition, according to a contract document and a military official.

"Laurie Adler, a spokeswoman for the Lincoln Group, said the terms of the contract did not permit her to discuss it and referred a reporter to the Pentagon. But others defended the practice."
E&P Staff (letters@editorandpublisher.com)

To understand what really happened in Iraq we have to define some of the groups and people in this article. The "Iraqi National Congress" was a front group set up by the CIA. It was responsible for giving the CIA and the Bush White House fake intelligence. The entire operation was set up by a man by the name of John Rendon of the Rendon Group. The Rendon Group was hired by the CIA to sell the war to the American people. Ahmed Chalabi was the leader of the Iraqi National Congress (IRC). BKSH worked for Ahmed Chalabi and the IRC. Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war

Rendon pulled together a wide spectrum of Iraqi dissidents and sponsored a conference in Vienna to organize them into an umbrella organization, which he dubbed the Iraqi National Congress. ...the target was Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the agency's successor of choice was Ahmad Chalabi, a crafty, avuncular Iraqi exile beloved by Washington's neoconservatives.