U.S. Army wants 'focus groups' in Iraq

Oct. 12, 2008 at 11:44 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Sen. James Webb, D-Va., wants the U.S. military to suspend new contracts to produce print, radio and television stories for entertainment and news in Iraq.

"At a time when this country is facing such a grave economic crisis ... it makes little sense for the Department of Defense to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to propagandize the Iraqi people," Webb said last week in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Webb, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, opposes the military's $100-million-a-year effort to produce content for Iraqi media, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The U.S. military plans to spend an additional $15 million a year during the next three years on polling and focus groups to help "build robust and positive relations with the people of Iraq, the Post reported, quoting a proposal seeking private contractors for the program.

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