WASHINGTON: The State Department has begun providing media training to a handful of Iraqi dissidents who will help make the Bush administration's argument for the removal of Saddam Hussein.
The move is the most recent in a number of US diplomatic efforts to boost sagging public support for an invasion of Baghdad (PRWeek, August 26).
The 17 Iraqis, described as leaders among dissidents in North America and Europe, are being taught how to communicate through the press. Among the skills being taught are how to write effective op-eds and speeches, and how to speak to television and radio reporters.
According to a State Department spokeswoman, the lessons go beyond methods of communicating, however. The Iraqis are also receiving directions on what to speak about in order to convince the public of the need to topple Hussein. "The message is democracy, she said. "The message is open and free elections. The message is what we have in our basic Bill of Rights."
She stressed, however, that this is not the first time the State Department has helped train foreigners in the ways of the international press. "One of the most stellar examples was with Hamid Karzai, who's now the interim authority President in Afghanistan, she said. "It's been done for years."