Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post
Posted: November 11th, 2006
[April 10, 2006] The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have...helped the Bush administration tie the war to...Sept. 11. Although Zarqawi and other foreign insurgents in Iraq have conducted deadly bombing attacks, they remain "a very small part of the actual numbers," [said] Col. Derek Harvey, who...was one of the top officers handling Iraq intelligence issues on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Our own focus on Zarqawi has enlarged his caricature...made him more important than he really is." One briefing slide about U.S. "strategic communications" in Iraq, prepared for Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, describes the "home audience" as one of six major targets of the American side of the war. There were direct military efforts to use the U.S. media to affect views of the war. One slide in the same briefing, for example, noted that a "selective leak" about Zarqawi was made to Dexter Filkins, a New York Times reporter. Filkins's resulting article...ran on the Times front page. U.S. propaganda efforts in Iraq in 2004 cost $24 million. "Villainize Zarqawi" one U.S. military briefing from 2004 stated. It listed..."PSYOP," the U.S. military term for propaganda work. One internal briefing, produced by the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq, said..."The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date."