The Upshot news blog writes: Buried among the 92,000 classified documents released by WikiLeaks yesterday is some intriguing evidence that the US military in Afghanistan has adopted a PR strategy that got it into trouble in Iraq: Paying local media outlets to run friendly stories.
Several reports from Army psychological operations units and Provincial Reconstruction Teams - civilian-military hybrids tasked with rebuilding Afghanistan - show that local Afghan radio stations were under contract to air content produced by the United States. Other reports show US military personnel apparently referring to Afghan reporters as “our journalists” and directing them in how to do their jobs. Such close collaboration between local media and US forces has been a headache for the Pentagon in the past: In 2005, Pentagon contractor the Lincoln Group was caught paying Iraqi newspapers to run stories written by American soldiers, causing the United States considerable embarrassment.
In one of the WikiLeaks documents, a PRT member reports delivering “12 hours of PSYOP Radio Content Programming” to two radio stations in the province of Ghazni in 2008, and paying one of them “$3,900 for Radio Content Programming air time for the month of October.”