IRAQ: Another Contract for Company That Planted News in Iraq

Publisher Name: 
Associated Press

A public relations company that participated in a United States military program that paid Iraqi newspapers for articles favorable to allied forces has been awarded another multimillion-dollar media contract with American forces in Iraq.

The public relations firm, the Lincoln Group, won a two-year contract to monitor a number of English and Arabic news outlets and to produce public-relations products like talking points or speeches for American forces in Iraq, officials said Tuesday.

"Lincoln Group is proud to be trusted to assist the multinational forces in Iraq with communicating news about their vital work," a company spokesman, Bill Dixon, said in a statement.

Details about the contract were confirmed by the United States military spokesman in Iraq, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, and were described in documents posted on a federal government Web site outlining contracts awarded.

The contract is worth roughly $6.2 million per year over a two-year period, Colonel Johnson said.

The idea, according to contract documents, is to use the information to "build support" in Iraqi, Arab, international and American audiences for what the military describes as its goals in Iraq, such as destroying the insurgency and helping Iraqis build a democracy.

The list of news outlets to be watched includes The New York Times, Fox Television and the satellite channel Al Arabiya.

There was considerable debate last year when it became known that the Lincoln Group had been part of a United States military operation to pay Iraqi newspapers to run positive articles about coalition activities.

Colonel Johnson would not comment on how the Lincoln Group was chosen, saying it was a "standard contracting process." He said the contract did not include any provisions to purchase favorable coverage or pay for favorable articles. The Lincoln Group, based in Washington, would not comment on the contract beyond the statement issued.

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering