Wednesday, November 30, 2005

International: US Soldiers Pretending to Be Iraqi Journalists?

The LA Times reports that “the US military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to print stories written by US soldiers in an effort to polish the image of the American mission in Iraq.”

But what led the Times to suspect that US Army personnel were secretly planting stories in the Iraqi press?

Well, the first tip-off was a review of “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire” that appeared in the “Movies” section of the Baghdad Times-Picayune last Friday. Careful linguistic analysis led reporters to believe that the purported author (“Abdul the Film Critic”) might in reality be a covert member of the US Armed Forces.

For example, the author of the review describes the “mission” of Hogwarts Academy as “training student personnel to deliver spells (type: magic) against specific targets when authorized.” The author went on to say that “Magic-capable units disperse, move or secure supernatural capabilities using appropriate logistical procedures in accordance with applicable Hogwarts regulations, theater directives, and technical manuals.” The author of piece also singled out “Goblet of Fire Special Effect (GOBFI-FX)” as “unacceptable and tending to degrade and/or detract from total cinematic mission capability (TCMC).”

Another indication that US soldiers might be posing as Iraqi journalists was this excerpt from the “Sports” section of the Basra Sun-Sentinel. The Sun-Sentinel’s sports columnist, “Omar, Master of All Sports Knowledge”, printed a piece containing phrases and terms more characteristic of a member of the American armed forces than a native Iraqi:

“This journalistic operative concedes that this journalistic operative’s prediction re: the New York Rangers (NHL Hockey-Capable Personnel) is no longer operative. But this journalistic operative observes that other authorized journalistic personnel (sports) also reached similar erroneous conclusions re: the New York Rangers/Playoff Contention (PLAYCON). All this journalistic operative’s statements re: the Ottawa Senators/Stanley Cup (OTTSEN/STANCUP) continue to remain operative at this point in time.”

Finally, there is this excerpt from the “Home and Garden Page” of the Fallujah Bee:
“Gardening-capable personnel will maintain Azaleas and Rhododendrons (AZRHO) to achieve splashes of color (type: bold). Gardening-capable personnel will avoid subjecting same to unauthorized or inadvertent acts which may degrade their performance. There are no formal requirements, however, for documenting administrative procedures for AZRHO in wartime. Gardening-capable personnel may supplement AZRHO with appropriate Shade Shrubs (SHASHR) in accordance with applicable operator and organizational maintenance manuals. Emergency destruction (ED) may be necessary to prevent capture of Purple Beautyberry (PUBEA) or Dwarf Fothergilla (DWAFOTH) shrubs by the enemy. Gardening-capable personnel also should detect and identify land mines prior to ground engagement in order to ensure mission completion.”

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