Correction to This Article
A Dec. 26 article misstated the accreditation of Web journalist Bill Roggio when he was embedded with U.S. Marines in Iraq. He was accredited by the Weekly Standard. The article said that Roggio was embedded with the Marines at the time of publication, but Roggio had returned to the United States. The article also described Roggio as a retired soldier; he served four years on active duty and two years with the National Guard, which is short of the 20-year minimum for retirement.
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Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War

"The American media seems to be either unaware or unconcerned that when it carries video of an [improvised bomb attack], it is running terrorist video and thus doing their work for them," Kuehl said.

On Dec. 2, in an incident reported by media outlets around the world, insurgents briefly massed in the streets of Ramadi, the violence-plagued capital of Anbar province. Some reporters at the scene were told by rifle-toting guerrillas to publish accounts claiming the city had been taken over by insurgents. The Marines said the incident, which ended when insurgents left the streets after only minor clashes with U.S. troops, was staged to influence media coverage.

"We were told in no uncertain terms by several news organizations that Ramadi was lost and subsequently asked what our plan to retake the city was," said Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool, public affairs officer for the 2nd Marine Division, which is based in Ramadi. "This was clearly a propagandist victory for the insurgents and further reinforced the perception that the media is biased against coalition forces."

A few days later, after an insurgent bomb attack on Marines at a factory complex in the city of Fallujah, some television networks aired what they described as a video showing the attack. In it, a large explosion consumed an American Humvee and some troops walking beside it.

The military quickly issued a statement calling the tape "disinformation."

"The circumstances of the IED attack near Fallujah do not match those shown on the video," the statement said, using the military acronym for improvised explosive device, or makeshift bomb. "While we are unable to discern if the video is authentic, the statement claiming that the video shows the Dec. 3 IED attack near Fallujah is false."

At the same time, the military also put out false information about the Fallujah attack and later corrected it. In an initial statement, it said the bombing targeted a "foot patrol." A subsequent release said the Marines involved were holding a promotion ceremony in a local factory complex when the bomb went off.

Pool said he spends a growing portion of his time working to dispel what he calls erroneous tips from insurgents to reporters, including regular reports of Marines taken captive or helicopters downed.

"We now take all of these rumors seriously," he said. "We also use different [media] to get our messages out."

He said he recently began distributing his news releases to military bloggers and organizations such as veterans associations. The Marines also took a more direct approach by inviting Roggio to cover their operations.

"A thorough review of his work was taken into account before authorizing the embed," said Pool. "Overall, it has worked out really well."

Pool also praised the work of Michael Yon ( http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/ ), an independent author and blogger who embedded for almost a year with a U.S. Army unit in the northern city of Mosul.

"His reporting was objective, credible and compelling. But most of all, it was independent," Pool said. "He didn't have to worry about some editor back in the States altering what he wrote before it got published. Plus, he had no competition from other news sources to churn out a 'marketable' product on a day-to-day basis."

After military officials in Baghdad said Roggio could not be issued media credentials unless he was affiliated with an organization, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning research organization in Washington, offered him an affiliation, according to an entry on Roggio's blog. He and two other bloggers launched a new Web site a month ago ( http://threatswatch.com/ ), where he has posted many stories about his time with the Marines. Most provide detailed accounts of patrols or other outings on which he accompanied U.S. forces.

When news organizations began reporting about the insurgent activity in Ramadi on Dec. 1, Roggio posted "The Ramadi Debacle: The Media Bites on Al Qaeda Propaganda."

"The reported 'mini-Tet offensive' in Ramadi has turned out to be less than accurate," he wrote, citing information provided by Pool. "In fact, it has been anything but."

On Dec. 15, when Iraqis voted in nationwide elections, Roggio reported from Barwana, a Western town where turnout was far heavier than in Iraq's constitutional referendum held Oct. 15.

"Barwana, once part of Zarqawi self declared 'Islamic Republic of Iraq,' " he wrote, "is now the scene of al-Qaeda's greatest nightmare: Muslims exercising their constitutional right to chose their destiny."


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