Anyone who reads this site regularly knows that both Hugh Fitzgerald and I have some disagreements with the President about the most effective ways to defend the United States and the West against the global jihad, and the role of the Iraq war in that defense. But both his and my considerations on this question are worlds away from the appeasement strategy favored by so many on the Left, and I have nothing but contempt for the New York Times’ continual attempt to kneecap our defense against the jihad by exposing covert operations.
This whole article sounds as if it could have been written by Al-Jazeera, starting with the headline, “Muslim Scholars Were Paid to Aid U.S. Propaganda.”
U.S. what? Well, as it turns out, U.S. efforts to convince Iraqis not to support the jihadists and to participate in the elections. Should the U.S. pay Islamic scholars to try to convince Muslims to reject the jihad? I don’t see why not, as a temporary measure, if Islamic scholars are willing to be paid. Of course, the larger questions of whether they reject the jihad ideology of expansionism, supremacism and subjugation would ultimately have to be addressed, and I am of course still unconvinced that just getting people in Iraq to participate in voting will actually solve anything, but certainly I favor the dissemination of anti-jihad ideas, however limited.
Would Pinch Sulzberger have the U.S. engage in no covert ops whatsoever? Is he unaware of the vastness and sophistication of such efforts by the jihadists? Would he have us stand as a lamb in a world of wolves?
WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 – A Pentagon contractor that paid Iraqi newspapers to print positive articles written by American soldiers has also been compensating Sunni religious scholars in Iraq in return for assistance with its propaganda work, according to current and former employees.
The Lincoln Group, a Washington-based public relations company, was told early in 2005 by the Pentagon to identify religious leaders who could help produce messages that would persuade Sunnis in violence-ridden Anbar Province to participate in national elections and reject the insurgency, according to a former employee.
Since then, the company has retained three or four Sunni religious scholars to offer advice and write reports for military commanders on the content of propaganda campaigns, the former employee said. But documents and Lincoln executives say the company’s ties to religious leaders and dozens of other prominent Iraqis is aimed also at enabling it to exercise influence in Iraqi communities on behalf of clients, including the military.
“We do reach out to clerics,” Paige Craig, a Lincoln executive vice president, said in an interview. “We meet with local government officials and with local businessmen. We need to have relationships that are broad enough and deep enough that we can touch all the various aspects of society.” He declined to discuss specific projects the company has with the military or commercial clients.
“We have on staff people who are experts in religious and cultural matters,” Mr. Craig said. “We meet with a wide variety of people to get their input. Most of the people we meet with overseas don’t want or need compensation, they want a dialogue.”
Internal company financial records show that Lincoln spent about $144,000 on the program from May to September. It is unclear how much of this money, if any, went to the religious scholars, whose identities could not be learned. The amount is a tiny portion of the contracts, worth tens of millions, that Lincoln has received from the military for “information operations,” but the effort is especially sensitive.
Sunni religious scholars are considered highly influential within the country’s minority Sunni population. Sunnis form the core of the insurgency.
Each of the religious scholars underwent vetting before being brought into the program to ensure that they were not involved in the insurgency, said a former employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Lincoln’s Pentagon contract prohibits workers from discussing their activities. The identities of the Sunni scholars have been kept secret to prevent insurgent reprisals, and they were never taken to Camp Victory, the American base outside Baghdad where Lincoln employees work with military personnel….
Mr. Rubin was quoted last month in The New York Times about Lincoln’s work for the Pentagon placing articles in Iraqi publications: “I’m not surprised this goes on,” he said, without disclosing his work for Lincoln. “Especially in an atmosphere where terrorists and insurgents – replete with oil boom cash – do the same. We need an even playing field, but cannot fight with both hands tied behind our backs.”
Much as the New Duranty Times would like to tie them.