Aug 31, 10:29 PM EDT
Pentagon Moves Toward Monitoring Media
AP Business Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. command in Baghdad is
seeking bidders for a two-year, $20 million public
relations contract that calls for monitoring the tone
of Iraq news stories filed by U.S. and foreign media.
Proposals, due Sept. 6, ask companies to show how
they'll "provide continuous monitoring and near-real
time reporting of Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international,
and U.S. media," according to the solicitation issued
Contractors also will be evaluated on how they will
provide analytical reports and customized briefings to
the military, "including, but not limited to tone
(positive, neutral, negative) and scope of media
The winner of the contract will likely also be
required to develop an Arabic version of the
multinational force's web site.
Attempts by The Associated Press to contact officials
connected to the project via telephone and e-mail were
not successful Thursday night.
The program comes during what has appeared to be a
White House effort, before the fifth anniversary of
the Sept. 11 attacks, to take the offensive against
critics at a time of doubt about the future of Iraq.
President Bush addressed the American Legion's
national convention in Salt Lake City on the issue
Thursday, stressing that a U.S. pullout from iraq
would lead to its conquest by America's worst enemies.
He continued a theme set by both Defense Secretary
Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice when they spoke to the administration-friendly
group earlier in the week.
The military last year was criticized for a public
relations program in Iraq that included hiring a
consulting firm that paid Iraqi news media to carry
news stories written by American troops.
Pentagon officials have defended the program as a
necessary tool in the war on terror. But critics have
said it contradicts American values of freedom of the press.