Monday, October 13, 2003

"Form Letter From Iraq"

Form Letter Makes News Pages

A colleauge of mine today (Thanks Mike Evans) showed me this interesting item: If you go to Google or Yahoo and paste "I have been serving in Iraq for over five months now," into the search field, the result is the publication of the exact same letter in various publications around the U.S., describing remarkable and unreported progress in Iraq. There are of course a lot of media reports discussing a PR offensive on the part of the administration, but I didn't think local media outlets were part of this offensive. I guess local papers don't vet Letters to the Editor, like other papers do. They should.

There is actually a story on these form letters in the Great Falls Tribune which indicates that letter writers are asked to include a phone number with their submission so authorship can be verified. In any case, six soldiers reached by the paper, directly or through their families said:

"they agreed with the letter's thrust, but none of the soldiers said he wrote it, and one said he didn't even sign it. A seventh soldier didn't know about the letter until his father congratulated him for getting it published in the local newspaper in Beckley, W.Va."

"When I told him he wrote such a good letter, he said: 'What letter?' " Timothy Deaconson said Friday, recalling the phone conversation he had with his son, Nick. "This is just not his (writing) style."

He spoke to his son, Pfc. Nick Deaconson, at a hospital where he was recovering from a grenade explosion that left shrapnel in both his legs.

Sgt. Christopher Shelton, who signed a letter that ran in the Snohomish, Wash., paper, said Friday that his platoon sergeant had distributed the letter and asked soldiers for the names of their hometown newspapers. Soldiers were asked to sign the letter if they agreed with it, said Shelton, whose shoulder was wounded during an ambush earlier this year.

I hope things in Iraq are going as smoothly as these letters indicate so that American troops can return to the U.S., back to safety, and back to their families.


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