In the latest scandal to emerge out of the “War on Terror,” the Pentagon paid more than $650 million dollars to a British public relations firm to fabricate Al Qaeda videos.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed Sunday that the Pentagon contracted the controversial British Bell Pottinger PR firm to create short propaganda films and segments during the Iraq War. The intention of the contract was to monitor and analyze the individuals who watched the videos.
Lord Tim Bell affirmed the Bureau’s story, confirming that the PR firm had worked on a ‘covert’ military operation ‘covered by various secrecy agreements.’ He noted that the firm was ‘proud’ of the work they did in Iraq.
The multiple contracts started in 2006, amid the sentencing of U.S. Army and CIA officials convicted of physical and sexual abuse, torture, rape and murder of prisoners at Abu Gharib, and ended in 2011 as U.S. troops left Iraq. Bell Pottinger reported directly to the Pentagon, CIA, and National Security council regarding this work in Iraq. Now resigned General David Petraeus provided ultimate sign-off on the content of the firm.
Video Editor Martin Wells, who no longer works for Pottinger, provided the first media interview given by any Bell Pottinger employee regarding the Black Ops. You can watch the video below.
Former Pottinger chairman, AKA Margaret Thatcher’s former PR head, Lord Tim Bell, affirmed the Bureau’s story, confirming that the PR firm had worked on a “covert” military operation “covered by various secrecy agreements.” He noted that the firm was “proud” of the work they did in Iraq.
The propaganda footage would be embedded in an easily-read format onto a CD, dropped in the middle of home raids, and monitored for analytics showing where, when, and by whom the film was being circulated.
The Pentagon has confirmed that Bell Pottinger was hired under the Information Operations Task Force, but insists that the fabricated content was “truthful.” However, some of the work was conducted by the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force, according to Wells. At a certain point, more than 300 Iraqi and British staffers supported this project.
The content of the segments took several phony production forms, according to a former Bell Pottinger employee who came forward with news of this operation, Martin Wells.
- TV commercials presenting Al Qaeda adversely.
- News pieces made to look as if they were created by “Arabic TV.”
- Al-Qaeda propaganda footage.
The propaganda footage would be embedded in an easily-read format onto a CD, dropped in the middle of home raids, and monitored for analytics showing where, when, and by whom the film was being circulated. Analytics showed that the segments were seen in Iran, Syria, and the U.S. — from a simple placement during a raid.
Glen Segell, currently a Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa, worked on an information operations task force in Iraq back in 2006. In 2011, he published an article highlighting the prudence of the United States in contracting a U.K. firm – as it is illegal for the U.S. government to use propaganda on its domestic population.