Iraq Communications Desk
|This article is part of SourceWatch and Congresspedia coverage of the
Bush administration's war in Iraq
The Iraq Communications Desk at the Pentagon—running 24 hours a day, seven days a week—"will pump out data from Baghdad — serving as what could be considered a campaign war room" in advance of the September 15, 2007, "progress report" on the war in Iraq from Gen. David Petraeus, "the top U.S. commander in Iraq," and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the Associated Press reported August 24, 2007.
"Other reports are expected from Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, retired Gen. James Jones — who will examine the progress of the Iraqi security forces — and the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, which will review whether the Iraqi government has hit security and political benchmarks outlined by Congress," the AP wrote.
"According to a memo circulated [August 23, 2007,] and obtained by" the Associated Press, Dorrance Smith, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, at the request of Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, is "looking for personnel for what he called he high-priority effort to distribute Defense Department information on Iraq," the AP wrote.
"Defense officials familiar with the plan said it will provide information to other federal agencies, including the White House and State Department, so that officials can speak more consistently and accurately about the war," the AP reported. "The plan would put a team of people in the Joint Chiefs of Staff top-secret operations center."
"war room" déjà vu
In an earlier memo obtained by the Associated Press, it reported October 31, 2006, that it had learned that the Pentagon "[beefed] up its public relations staff and [started] an operation akin to a political campaign's war room" as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "[faced] intensifying criticism over the Iraq war and the public [was] increasingly disenchanted with the conflict." The "operation [was] modeled after a political campaign ... calling for a 'Rapid Response' section that quickly answers opponents' assertions." ASD for Public Affairs Dorrance Smith said "new teams of people will 'develop messages' for the 24-hour news cycle and 'correct the record'."
Earlier "war rooms"
- 2001: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "[kept] the press in line with carefully calibrated leaks and themes of the day."
- 2001: The Coalition Information Center, the Bush administration's "propaganda wing of Operation Enduring Freedom known among journalists who tried to cover the war in Afghanistan as a veritable disinformation center", was a "rapid response" team "created to wage the propaganda war" against Osama bin Laden.
- 2002: The Office of Strategic Influence was established as a response to concerns in the Bush administration that the U.S. was "losing public support overseas for its war on terrorism, particularly in Islamic countries."
- 2002: After the OSI was "closed down", the Information Operations Task Force took its place.
Resources and articles
In particular, the following predate the ICD:
- Combined Press Information Center (CPIC in Iraq)
- Department of State "rapid response office"
- fake news
- Freedom's Watch
- John Rendon / Rendon Group
- Lincoln Group
- Vets for Freedom
- war propaganda
- White House Iraq Group
- "Pentagon to start 24-hour Iraq info desk. Office to distribute data ahead of military progress report due in Sept.," Associated Press (MSNBC), August 24, 2007.
- Lolita C. Baldor, "Pentagon beefing up public relations efforts, staff," Associated Press (FindArticles.com), October 31, 2006.
- Rick Newman, "Rumsfeld's propaganda war," Salon, November 2, 2001.
- Roger Ricardo Luis, "A Pretty Face for the United States," Granma Internacional], August 22, 2002.
- Martha Brant "Bush's New War Room. Tired of losing the propaganda battle, a 'rapid response' White House is now fighting bin Laden word for word," Newsweek (MyWire.com), November 12, 2001.
- James Dao and Eric Schmitt, "Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad," New York Times (Common Dreams), February 19, 2002.
- KingOneEye, "Pentagon's New Propaganda Office Led By Bush Cronies," The Daily Kos, August 24, 2007.
- Frank Rich, "As the Iraqis Stand Down, We’ll Stand Up," New York Times (truthout), September 9, 2007.