I had missed the piece on the 'planted stories' story written by Jonathan Landay of Knight-Ridder, which is unfortunate since he significantly advanced the story.
A few points stood out for me, particularly those relating to potential disinformation blowback ...
Under military rules, information operations are restricted to influencing the attitudes and behavior of foreign governments and people. One form of information operations - psychological warfare - can use doctored or false information to deceive or damage the enemy or to bolster support for American efforts.
Many military officials, however, said they were concerned that the payments to Iraqi journalists and other covert information operations in Iraq had become so extensive that they were corroding the effort to build democracy and undermining U.S. credibility in Iraq. They also worry that information in the Iraqi press that's been planted or paid for by the U.S. military could "blow back" to the American public.
Moreover, the defense and military officials said, the U.S. public is at risk of being influenced by the information operations because what's planted in the Iraqi media can be picked up by international news organizations and Internet bloggers.
In addition to the Army's secret payments to Iraqi newspaper, radio and television journalists for positive stories, U.S. psychological-warfare officers have been involved in writing news releases and drafting media strategies for top commanders, two defense officials said.
On at least one occasion, psychological warfare specialists have taken a group of international journalists on a tour of Iraq's border with Syria, a route used by Islamic terrorists and arms smugglers, one of the officials said.
Usually, these duties are the responsibility of military public-affairs officers.
In Iraq, public affairs staff at the American-run multinational headquarters in Baghdad have been combined with information operations experts in an organization known as the Information Operations Task Force.
The unit's public affairs officers are subservient to the information operations experts, military and defense officials said.
The result is a "fuzzing up" of what's supposed to be a strict division between public affairs, which provides factual information about U.S. military operations, and information operations, which can use propaganda and doctored or false information to influence enemy actions, perceptions and behavior.
Information operations are intended to "influence foreign adversary audiences using psychological operations capabilities," according to a Sept. 27, 2004, memo sent to top American commanders by the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers.
Myers warned that putting public affairs and information operations in the same office had "the potential to compromise the commander's credibility with the media and the public."
There's a lot of good stuff in this piece. And in excerpting portions of it, there's hard to find stuff I don't want to highlight. But there's also seem interesting information about the origins of what happened ...
The payments to Iraqi journalists originally were intended to nurture a fledgling domestic press corps by rewarding Iraqi journalists who put their lives and the safety of their families at risk by attending U.S. military briefings in the high security Green Zone in Baghdad, where American officials live and work.
"These guys had to take extraordinary risk to cover our stories," said a U.S. military officer in the United States who's familiar with the program.
The effort, however, "has gotten out of hand," said an American military official in Baghdad.
"The Iraqis learned that if they reported stuff we liked, they'd get paid, and our guys learned that if they paid the Iraqis, they'd report stuff we liked," the former senior defense official said.
I've excerpted a lot; but there's a good bit more. Go give it a look.