The Lincoln Group
Last November, the Los Angeles Times first revealed that the US military was secretly planting stories in the Iraqi press. Articles written by U.S. military “information operations” are translated into Arabic and then placed in Iraqi newspapers with the help of Washington-based defense contractor the Lincoln Group. The articles are presented to an Iraqi audience as unbiased news accounts written by independent journalists. The Lincoln Group’s contract is worth up to $100 million dollars over five years.
I was particularly interested to hear about the group’s founder:
They were set up five or six years ago, essentially, by a young British guy called Christian Bailey. That wasn’t his first name; his first name was Christian Jozefowicz. He changed his name whilst he was at university at Oxford, and since then, it seems his career has been one of shifting and moving and perhaps not being as forthcoming about the truth as one would hope. He’s only a young chap; heâ€™s 30, 31. Heâ€™s got no experience in public relations, and yet last summer he landed a $100 million contract for planting faux news stories, should we say, within the Iraqi media.
So imagine my suprise that I got to meet him tonight. It was at a party at the UAE Embassy held by the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce. My meeting was very brief – I can confirm that he is indeed a “charming young man” – but it followed a half hour conversation with an ex-marine who now works for the company. I’m grateful for the time and insight he gave me.
The ex-marine did point out to me several things that the coverage of the company had not mentioned. First, newspapers in Iraq regularly receive payments to publish content, and payers including Muqtada al-Sadr. Furthermore, if the stories published were identified as being from an American source, the lives of the newspaper’s publisher and staff would be at risk. So I do not really know what to think about the company or its activities, but this is another grim reminder that the situation in Iraq really is tragic.