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Iraqi Ministry Sets Up Team to Monitor News Reports


An interesting development in response to the CENTCOM vs. AP dispute:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Iraq’s Interior Ministry said Thursday it had formed a special unit to monitor news coverage and vowed to take legal action against journalists who failed to correct stories the ministry deemed to be incorrect.

Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the ministry, said the purpose of the special monitoring unit was to find “fabricated and false news that hurts and gives the Iraqis a wrong picture that the security situation is very bad, when the facts are totally different.”

He said offenders would be notified and asked to “correct these false reports on their main news programs. But if they do not change those lying, false stories, then we will seek legal action against them.”

Khalaf explained the news monitoring unit at a weekly Ministry of Interior briefing. As an example, he cited coverage by The Associated Press of an attack Nov. 24 on a mosque in the Hurriyah district in northwest Baghdad.

The AP threw in this paragraph at the end:

Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, the government imposed censorship on local media and severely restricted foreign media coverage, monitoring transmissions and sending secret police to follow journalists. Those who violated the rules were expelled and in some cases jailed.

The reporter appears to be implying that this utterly banal PR initiative is a return to the bad old days of Saddam. Doesn’t anyone at the AP read this stuff and think, “Wow. If we run something this hyperbolic, we’re going to look really, really foolish.” Apparently not. (h/t Mark E.)


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