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Firm That Planted Stories Gets Deal

September 27, 2006|From the Associated Press

BAGHDAD — A public relations company known for its role in a controversial U.S. military program that paid Iraqi newspapers to publish stories favorable to coalition forces has been awarded another multimillion-dollar media contract with American forces in Iraq.

Washington-based Lincoln Group won a two-year contract to monitor English and Arabic media outlets and produce public relations-type work, such as talking points or speeches, for the American military in Iraq, officials said Tuesday.

"Lincoln Group is proud to be trusted to assist the multinational forces in Iraq with communicating news about their vital work," company spokesman Bill Dixon said in a statement.

Details about the contract were also confirmed by Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, and were described in documents posted on a federal government website.

The contract is worth about $6.2 million a year over a two-year period, Johnson said.

The idea is to use the information to "build support" among Iraqi, Arab, international and U.S. audiences for what the military describes as its goals in Iraq, such as ending the insurgency and helping Iraqis build a democracy, according to contract documents.

The list of media outlets to be watched includes the New York Times, Fox Television and satellite channel Al Arabiya.

The Lincoln Group, whose website says it was formed in 2003, was mired in controversy last year when it became known that the company had been part of a U.S. military operation to pay Iraqi newspapers to run positive stories about coalition activities.

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