Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Memo to Pentagon: Fallujah imagery is a strategic weapon. Use it.

US troops on the ground in Fallujah are adroitly exposing the horrors of the Islamist forces who had occupied the city: atrocities against women who failed to wear the hijab, dismemberment and mutliation of western-looking people, and slaughterhouses where the terrorists beheaded their hostages.

It isn't enough simply to show the sites to embedded reporters and move on. American and free Iraqi forces must preserve that information and give it the widest possible distribution on a constant, ongoing basis, to make it clear to the world the evil that they are uprooting.

As these words are written, America's enemies are hyping an NBC video clip of a US Marine, who had just been shot in the face the day before, shooting to death a wounded terrorist who he feared was pretending to be dead and might have a weapon. The incident took place in a mosque. World reaction is predictable.

Back in Washington, the Pentagon and the administration overall have run their strategic information operations and public affairs activities in ways that can be described most charitably as amateurish and inept. Less charitably but perhaps more accurately, I would describe some of them as criminally negliglent if not outright acts of sabotage.

For the past year or more, the enemy has dominated the propaganda war in Iraq and elsewhere while political appointees in the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon have obsessed over controlling the message instead of getting the message out.

This must stop. Information - facts, reports, graphics, still images, audio, video - is a strategic weapon. It's time the Bush administration got serious and used it as such.


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