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The Word at War

"You can compliment the Pentagon for at least trying," he says of the military's outsourcing to Lincoln. "I think the agency [CIA] should have been engaged in this a long time ago."

"I suppose the historical parallel would be the agency's efforts during the Cold War to fund magazines, newspapers and journalists who believed that the West should triumph over communism," he says. "Much of what you do ought to be covert, and, certainly, if you contract it out, it isn't."

The Truth of the Matter

Craig and Garfield make much of their assertion that they traffic in the truth. It's as if they think truth and propaganda are mutually exclusive. But consider this:

"For a long time, propagandists have recognized that lying must be avoided," wrote Jacques Ellul in his classic 1965 work, "Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes." For the masses to believe it, "propaganda must be based on some truth that can be said in a few words and is able to linger in the collective consciousness."

But truth can be elastic, even inconvenient. For instance, Garfield says Lincoln really had no choice but to hide the authorship of those upbeat "news" stories.

Had they been identified as products of the U.S. government, someone could have gotten killed. And just how receptive would Iraqi readers have been to a U.S. government product anyway?

"You wouldn't look at them objectively," says Garfield, projecting what an Iraqi reader might think. "You wouldn't give them a fair hearing."

He says: "How do you get a fair hearing when (a) the audience is preconditioned to respond negatively to anything you say, and (b) just as importantly, there's a whole bunch of people out there who will do whatever they can to prevent that fair hearing? If you just stand up and say, 'I stand for truth and freedom and you should listen to me because of it,' forget it. You're dead. Do you not engage in an argument with those people because it doesn't say, 'Paid for by the United States'?"

So, yes, there was that deception.

"But the aim is not deceit," he says.

It's just a means to an end in wartime.

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