Leaked files indicate U.S. pays Afghan media to run friendly stories
Several reports from Army psychological operations units and provincial reconstruction teams (also known as PRTs, civilian-military hybrids tasked with rebuilding Afghanistan) show that local Afghan radio stations were under contract to air content produced by the United States. Other reports show U.S. military personnel apparently referring to Afghan reporters as "our journalists" and directing them in how to do their jobs.
"The PRT provided 12 hours of PSYOP Radio Content Programming to Radio Ghaznwyan FM Station and Radio Ghazni AM/FM Station for week of 6-12 Nov. Topics included Afghanistan History, Law, and Human Rights in both Dari and Pashto, and a spreadsheet with the specific radio content programming for the week of 6-12 Nov will be forward sepcor to SPARTAN. Additionally, PRT paid Radio Ghaznwyan $3,900 for Radio Content Programming air time for the month of October."
Radio Ghaznawiyaan was established and funded by the Agency for International Development, but USAID has described it in the past as a success story for local independent journalism launched with American help. So its listeners may be surprised to learn that it is an outlet for paid U.S. "PSYOP radio content."
"Kapisa team met with a Kabul radio representative at the Kapisa TV and Radio Station. Met with Rahimullah Samander, news director for Wakht News Agency and president of the Afghan Independent Journalists Association. He provided information about his organizations and proposed a partnership with the PRT. He offered to include PRT news articles and photos on his news service. The PRT IO recommended a conference including Afghan and US military journalists to collaborate and share ideas. Samander hopes to increase the presence of his agency in Kapisa province."
"The TF has a new PSYOP contract with RTA and a continuing PSYOP contract with Shaiq Network; additionally, these are key IO mediums. The purpose of the meetings were to introduce new HQ PSYOP members to the RTA and Shaiq managers, provide initial payment for the RTA contract, receive a PRT Advertising Campaign contract bid proposal from Shaiq (for the pending garbage removal initiative in Jalalabad), and tour both facilities."
The report, written by an Army information operations officer, describes the Afghan journalists as "very pro-CF [coalition forces]" and surmises that "there is a lot they are willing to do for the CF."
— John Cook is senior national reporter/blogger for Yahoo! News.