CIA backed news site targets militant strikes

Website allegedly supported by CIA funds

The New York Times reported today that a website – Afpax – was set up by a contractor using CIA money, and allegedly used to gather information that was used to kill militants in Afghanistan.

The story is ostensibly simply another example of US funds being misspent. However, it also raises serious issues for those of use who believe in the importance of media and communications to support peace.

A broader concern is the impact  this will have on Afghan perceptions of real journalists, who are often already suspected of spying for the Americans. How can they do their job of holding the Afghan government, the US and its allies if people suspect they arent real journalists and perhaps looking for assassination targets?

It also makes the stabilisation effort harder, as it makes other media organisations subject to suspicion. Its well recognised that communications is critical to resolving the conflict (particularly countering propaganda). That the US and its allies are not doing it well is also recognised – McChrystal said. This kind of strategic communications work only makes the conflict worse.

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