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A Juxtaposition I Just Can't Resist

I've got a lot of things to do today and Elizabeth has been home sick with a cold and has been helping me not to do them, but I just can't resist juxtaposing these two articles:

• The Washington Post: Changes Behind the Barbed Wire: New Standards Are in Place for the Oversight of Contract Workers at Abu Ghraib Prison A very long article (pointed out to me by Thomas Nephew) which remarks:

Employees of two government contractors, CACI International Inc. of Arlington and Titan Corp. of San Diego, were implicated in some of the abuses, according to two reports produced by Army generals. Both companies faced a barrage of critical news reports and questions about how they handled their contracting responsibilities.

The allegations rocked CACI, sending shares of the company down 18 percent the month after the first report implicating one of its employees was leaked, although the stock has since recovered. Executives at the company said they received hate-filled e-mails and demonstrators picketed outside their headquarters.

But in the months since, the evidence that has been detailed so far in military reviews indicates that contractor employees played a more limited role in abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib than initially suggested. . A panel of generals, led by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, assigned blame for committing abuse or failing to report it to 42 military personnel and six civilian contractor employees.

(All of you wanting the opportunity to invest in this sort of thing, this is the PR all clear signal to call your broker.)


• The New York Times: Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena

The Pentagon is engaged in bitter, high-level debate over how far it can and should go in managing or manipulating information to influence opinion abroad, senior Defense Department civilians and military officers say.

Such missions, if approved, could take the deceptive techniques endorsed for use on the battlefield to confuse an adversary and adopt them for covert propaganda campaigns aimed at neutral and even allied nations.

Critics of the proposals say such deceptive missions could shatter the Pentagon's credibility, leaving the American public and a world audience skeptical of anything the Defense Department and military say - a repeat of the credibility gap that roiled America during the Vietnam War.

The efforts under consideration risk blurring the traditional lines between public affairs programs in the Pentagon and military branches - whose charters call for giving truthful information to the media and the public - and the world of combat information campaigns or psychological operations.

The question is whether the Pentagon and military should undertake an official program that uses disinformation to shape perceptions abroad. But in a modern world wired by satellite television and the Internet, any misleading information and falsehoods could easily be repeated by American news outlets.

Once when I was 17, I was in the Dallas Airport waiting for a plane with several other teenagers. The Hare Krisnas were out in force and we found an abandoned Hare Krisna hardcover book. We were bored and tried defacing pictures in the book to entertain ourselves. But the guys in the book really didn't look much different with Martian horns and crossed eyes. It was frustrating.

Having learned from the experience, I won't even try to make sarcastic remarks about these juxtaposed news stories. There's just nothing I can add.