Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
I rise in support of the Hinchey-Kucinich amendment, which would prohibit funds from being used in this bill to fund Pentagon contracts with the Lincoln Group.
The Lincoln Group is a controversial PR firm that has been awarded major Pentagon contracts, worth over $100 million, to help the Pentagon covertly place dozens of pro-U.S. stories, written by U.S. military ``information operations'' troops in Iraqi news outlets. Lincoln would help write and translate these stories and then have them placed in Iraqi newspapers, without revealing the Pentagon's role. Staff for the Lincoln Group would even at times pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives
when delivering propaganda stories to Iraqi media outlets. That is according to the L.A. Times of November 30, 2005.
There has been much controversy over the Pentagon's dissemination of propaganda to foreign media outlets. We appear hypocritical when on one hand we advocate democracy and freedom in Iraq, including freedom of the press, and on the other hand, we manipulate the Iraqi press to achieve our own aims. This hypocrisy not only damages the United States' reputation abroad, but it places our soldiers in greater harm's way when we come to believe our own propaganda.
Yet the contract with Lincoln also goes beyond this controversy and is symptomatic of the familiar problems with the Pentagon's use of private contractors in the war: waste, fraud, and abuse.
The Lincoln Group earned its Pentagon contracts partially by misrepresenting its contacts to the Pentagon. The group has claimed to have partnerships with major media and advertising companies, former government officials and former military officers. According to the New York Times, some of those companies and individuals say their associations were fleeting or even nonexistent. For example, Lincoln Group said that it worked with the ad conglomerate Omnicom Group, but Omnicom has no knowledge
of such a relationship.
The Lincoln Group has also run into problems delivering on work for the Pentagon. After earning a contract in 2004 to get Iraqi publications to run articles written by the U.S. military, Lincoln admitted to the Pentagon that it had not yet fully staffed and had not yet acquired necessary media monitoring software.
According to a former strategic adviser for the Lincoln Group, they, and this is a quote, ``The Lincoln Group appear very professional on the surface; then you dig a little deeper and you find that they are pretty amateurish.''
Well, not only has this amateurish work come to this country, it has come at a not-so-amateurish price of $100 million. It is also likely that the Lincoln Group's contract is in violation of a Pentagon directive and maybe even in violation of U.S. law.
A recently classified Pentagon directive, signed by Secretary Rumsfeld on October 30, 2003, prohibited U.S. troops from conducting psychological operations targeting the news media. According to one senior Pentagon official, based on the language of the 2003 directive, the Lincoln Group operation seemed to violate Pentagon policy. That from the L.A. Times, January 7, 2006.
While the Pentagon has initiated two investigations into the Lincoln Group's work in relation to this directive, the group's contract, get this, has not even been temporarily suspended. Moreover, if the Pentagon's dissemination of propaganda for Iraqi media is picked up by other foreign news organizations, like Reuters, for example, it could then [Page: H4304]
easily be picked up by American news organizations. Yet U.S. law has banned the Pentagon from propaganda
activities in the United States since the mid-1970s. The Lincoln Group's work could be in violation of this law.
Now, this is a question of tens of million of dollars being misspent. It is also a question of official deception, of a real effort to try to fool the American people, to try to fool the people of Iraq, to try to fool the foreign press.
Our soldiers know what is going on in Iraq. They know when they read these stories or the stories come to them of a totally different situation than what they are living with. They know it is a lie.
We should make our decisions in this Congress based on the truth, not on fiction written by individuals who never have to deal with the real reality. Think of how unconscionable this is. They reveal a garden in the Iraqi media while our soldiers are in a desert of hell. How wrong that is.
That is why the Hinchey-Kucinich amendment is important. That is why we must prohibit funds in this bill from going to the Lincoln Group.