US Army fakes letters from Iraqi front?

Check out the BBC article

I know that the Beeb has been accused of anti-US bias in the past, but if this is true, it appears that the US is determined to do all it can to put a positive spin on the situation in Iraq, even if it means forging letters back home from their own troops…

The Commander in question hasn’t denied it, but I’m not sure whether the troops knew about it either. All in all, it looks mighty fishy to me…

This has been discussed here already.

One of these letters appeared in a small town newspaper signed by a local man. The father of the man commended his son for such a wonderful letter. The son knew nothing about it, but said that he agreed with the contents of the letter.

Others have said that they were given copies of the letter to sign or not – whatever they wished. (I think they were handed out by someone of higher rank.)

It this was done for the purpose of swaying public opinion, it is against the law. I don’t know if that is military law or civil law.

I can’t think of another reason that it would have been done unless the newspapers had sent out requests for “filler.” :rolleyes:

I’ve also noticed – especially on the local news – that there seems to be an increased in good PR from Iraq. It wouldn’t have been so obvious if it hadn’t have happened on several channels at once.

I’m ready for good news. I just want it to be the truth and not government propoganda or part of a re-election campaign.

Damn. Thought I got in with the scoop there.


Okay, then, would a Mod mind closing this one down?


I doubt this one was the result of a Bush Administration effort. But it’s both wrong and dumb for the commander to do this, if he’s indeed the one.

It’s wrong because he has no business essentially setting a party line on how things are going, and encouraging his soldiers to parrot it in their letters home - regardless of their freedom to disagree. It’s still an abuse of position.

It’s dumb because it undermines the credibility of soldiers’ genuine letters home, which ought to be one of our better sources of info for how things really look on the ground there, day in and day out. (Similarly for this soldier, who, though apparently acting on his own, simply parroted Paul Bremer, rather than writing about the things he’d personally seen and experienced.)

**Memo to US soldiers in Iraq: **

  1. Write your own letters.
  2. Write about the things you actually see and know about personally.

This is where you have irrefutable credibility. Write about that in your letters to your local papers, and whether the news is good or bad, it will be believed, and will give us a better picture of what things are really like over there.

But when you participate in someone else’s propaganda efforts, even the most well-meaning ones, and it’s found out (which is increasingly likely, in the Age of Google), it’ll make people skeptical about not just your own ill-conceived letters, but about the legitimate ones as well.

I thought this bit amusing:

"One . . . said she knew it was not her son’s words as he did not have the linguistic ability. "
Yours Sincerely, Barbara Bush

Why are genuine letters from soldiers good sources? We’re only going to read the positive ones - they’re not allowed to criticise the commander or the war effort (as shown by the furore a couple of months back about the guy asking for Rummy’s resignation). You’re not going to see letters saying “Things are shit out here, we all wish we were at home and so do the Iraqis,” whether there are soldiers who think that or not.

Gex Gex

Never thought of that. Does the US army actually censor the troops letters home?

Rule Number One of writing letters home: Only Good News.

Do you think a soldier will send a letter to mommy and daddy or his wife that he thinks he might be shot anytime soon ? He might complain a bit… but he certainly wouldnt give a bleak picture and get his family sick with worry. Even if things are more or less ok… you still send rosy letters.

As for censorship... officers have been reprimanded for talking too much to the press. Whenever you hear "bad new" from officers its usually off the record from what other threads have posted.

 Overall I think the Bush admin is being pretty coherent... they lied about the election... they lied about the reasons for the war... they lied about the WMDs... they lied about the realistic results of the invasion... they are now lying about soldiers letters. Coherent.

It’s a good thing that the pentagon shelved plans for its Office for Strategic Influence. Otherwise, folks might find this bogus letter campaign a little suspicious. They promised not to direct misinformation at americans.

The “good news” dictum is not always followed. During the early days of the Viet Nam war, soldiers wrote home asking for rifle cleaning oil and equipment, as the shit they were issued was inadequate and led to jamming. You can be assured that fires were lit under the appropriate asses.

If it’s any help, according to the evening news, some lieutenant-colonel in one of the airborne units has fessed up. He is reported to have had his staff draft up the letter for distribution to the troops as an example of what they might want to write to their hometown news paper to counter all the negative information on the occupation/reconstruction.

Now, it’s a long time since I’ve been a soldier but in the old days even a drafted rear-rank high private knew that when the first sergeant appeared with a piece of paper that he and the battalion commander would both like you to seriously think about signing it was a lot like being solicited to contribute to the Red Cross or the Army Relief Fund. If you knew what was good for you, you did just what the first shirt and the CO thought you ought to consider–if you were going to contribute to the RC and the ARF, or you were going to write the editor of the East Harness Buckle Weekly Bugle-Banner anyway, all the better.

Dropzone, are you out there? Are you surprised that this idea originated in the mind of a career jumper?

As horrible as war is, regardless of its reason or necessity, I think that it can produce some unexpectedly beautiful monuments to our individual humanity. A soldier’s letter to home is one of them. I love going through Civil War diaries and letters, for example; and my father recently found my grandfather’s letters to my grandmother during WWII. They’re such awesome portals into the minutiae of historical events.

From that standpoint, I find these form letters repugnant. Imagine if, in watching Ken Burns’ The Civil War, we found that some of the most gutwrenching letters were in fact just a duplicated memo. It strips away so much and destroys profundity.

Even if the Iraq war turns out to be based on manufactured causes, must the sentiments of our soldiers be manufactured as well? Have they no drive to express their weariness, hope and courage than simply signing off on someone else’s PR glurge? I hope not. All those letters are private moments that become public only years later, when historians collate them. I just hope in the end they find something to gather besides excuses typed up in Washington, D.C. office.

Eeeek! A misconception! My username came from the name on the mailbox I used when I was freelancing–where people dropped off work orders was the “dropzone,” get it?–and when I signed up here I just grabbed the name because I figured I might want to stay anonymous. I never expected to stick around, much less leave the impression that I would ever in a million years jump out of a perfectly functional aircraft. I though I had made that clear several times here, along with my own lack of direct military experience. (They invited me but there was a shooting war on so as long as they weren’t insisting with a letter that began with “Greetings” I continued to decline the invitation.)

Or did they?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the schmoe behind this was operating on a general order coming down the pipeline: “We need more positive news about the war effort! Make sure we get it!” Some mid-level manager type simply came up with an extra-stupid way to generate propaganda.


Sorry, man. For years I’ve assumed that you were, like an ex-Marine or an ex-Jesuit, an old airborne guy who just could not get over that few moments of horror as you hurtled through emptiness depending on a theory of air resistance for you continued existence. My fault.

It is worth noting that being a jumper does have a permanent adverse effect on brain function. Some can compensate for it, other, like our LTC with the 501st , can’t. Happy landings!

No prob! Just glad somebody thought I’m tougher than I am. :smiley:

I can see why they might have those adverse effects. Dangling in midair while people shoot at you will do that. :eek: