It has already been well-documented that the Pentagon spent a substantial amount of money on propaganda during the occupation of Iraq, running pro-occupation commercials and also covertly getting pro-occupation news stories into the media around the region. It turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.
It has now been revealed that there was a third program ongoing, in which a London-based PR agency was paid $540 million to make fake al-Qaeda propaganda videos for Pentagon use. The videos were intended to use existing al-Qaeda footage, and to be in RealMedia format, and burned onto CDs.
Then, during the many US military raids going on during the occupation, a few of the fake propaganda CDs were scattered around here or there in the wreckage of smashed-up houses and compounds. Officially, the goal was for al-Qaeda sympathizers to get ahold of them.
Which is why RealMedia format was used, as the player for the proprietary format would automatically connect to the Internet. The video was linked to a Google Analytics account, through which the Pentagon could get the IP address of every computer that watched the fake propaganda.
It’s unclear what this ultimately amounted to, but those involved in the project praised the effort as collecting a substantial list of IP addresses, including some that ended up in other countries like Iran, Syria, and even the United States.
Unspoken within the reports as they’ve emerged so far, having “al-Qaeda propaganda” laying around in the wreckage of US raid targets was likely also an end unto itself, as anyone who came to investigate after the fact would see them and assume the raid was on an actual al-Qaeda target, never suspecting the US troops were planting the discs.