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SAIC had been contracted by the Pentagon to run the Iraqi Media Network (IMN), which would compromise the national television station, a national radio station, and a newspaper printed six times a week. SAIC had not experience running media operations in a post-conflict environment; it specialized in designing computer systems for the Defense Department and intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, the Pentagon offered the Iraqi media contract to SAIC without inviting other firms to bid. The contract was written by Doug Feith's office. Feith's deputy, Christopher Ryan Henry, had been a vice president at SAIC before joing the Pentagon. SAIC hired Robert Reilly, a former Voice of America director, to head the IMN project. During the Reagan administration, Reilly had headed a White House information operations campaign in Nicaragua to drum up sipport for the Contra rebels.

Don North's first task for SAIC was completed on American soil. He helped produce a documentary bout Saddam's crimes against humanity that the U.S. government wanted broadcast in Muslim nations to build support for the war.
Upon reaching Baghdad, he [North] and two Iraqi exiles liked up with a army unit that had a radio transmitter. Within a day, they were broadcasting news reports and public-service announcements in Arabic.  The setup was primitive: one of the Iraqi exiles listened to the BBC on a shortwave and wrote news blurbs that North edited and the other Iraqi exile read on the air. a week later, when Jay Garner was scheduled to hold his first news conference, North's team figured they should cover it. But when North asked his SAIC colleagues for a tape recorder, he was told there was none.
To North and his Iraqi colleagues, IMN was supposed to be like the BBC, a government-funded television-and-radio network that retained editorial independence. Iraqi journalists, with initial assistance from Americn advisers, would decide how to cover the new. But to some in the CPA, IMN was a propaganda tool: we're paying for it , so we can decide what airs. SAIC managers, North said, didn't want to rock the boat. If the CPA wanted to control what went on air, that was just fine by them. [Chandrasekaran:131-134]

Zygmunt Bauman, Mortality, Immortality and Other Life Strategies

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by Cat on Thu Jan 9th, 2020 at 06:03:52 PM EST
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