Congress campaign to get the good news out of Iraq

WASHINGTON: The White House and Republicans in Congress have launched a media relations offensive in a bid to improve the supply of stories of American progress in Iraq to the media.

While flagging public support for the US presence in Iraq is a major impetus for the push, a more immediate objective is the passage of President George Bush’s request from Congress – made on 7 September – for more than £50bn to help rebuild and stabilise Iraq.

Roy Blunt, communications director for Tom Delay, leader of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, said: ‘Members of Congress came back [from the August recess] frustrated that the positive stories weren’t being told, or at least weren’t being heard.

‘In the House of Representatives, you have 229 Republican members who haven’t been utilised,’ he added.

Part of the weekly conference call between the Republican leadership and senior White House aides has also been set aside to deal specificawlly with the issue of Iraq.

Last week reporters were invited to an open meeting at Capitol Hill, where members who had been to Iraq cited examples of US progress and Iraqi appreciation.

One such example was a letter signed by 3,000 Iraqi farmers thanking US forces for repairing their irrigation system.

‘There has been some great progress made that just hasn’t been shared,’ said Blunt.

Last week Bush – whose ratings have fallen in recent polls – used a televised address to argue that the US must stay the course in Iraq.

Criticism of the US’s handling of security in Iraq has increased after the bomb at the UN headquarters last month and mounting attacks on US troops in the country.

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