Information Warfare: February 7, 2005

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The U.S. Department of Defense is investigating allegations that American Information Warfare operations included  paying journalists to write pro-American stories for web sites that are read by many in Moslem countries. This sort of thing is always controversial in the United States, but during the Cold War the communists bought foreign journalists on a large scale. It wasnt hard to do, as in most parts of the world, reporters regularly take money from people who want a more favorable story. Actually, this practice goes back to the beginning of modern journalism two centuries ago. The concept of independent reporting is largely an American one. However, in the United States, favorable media coverage is still bought. Its just that cash is rarely used. Publicists and spin masters trade favors and influence to get the stories they want. 

In wartime, manipulating the media is considered just another desperate measure necessary to win the battle and save American lives. The problem with the war on terror is that it is a rather more murky conflict. Although Islamic terrorists pulled off a Pearl Harbor in the form of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and are every bit as cruel and murderous as the World War II nazis and Japanese, there are many Americans who disagree on what tactics are permissible for fighting the war. Moreover, this is not the 1940s. Times, and attitudes, have changed. But bribing journalists, in parts of the world where the enemy is doing it, is more self-defense than anything else. If you dont do it, you just put more Americans at risk. Thus defending such practices becomes yet another battle in the war on terror.

 


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