Drp yr WMDs now plse! – debunking Iraqi text psyops
As we already noted on Monday, Pentagon-inspired leaks suggesting that the US will send bogus SMS text messages to Iraq's generals defy any plausibility, but that hasn't stopped the media here from repeating them incredulously.
"Imagine Iraqi commanders getting misleading text messages on their cell phones," burbled AP, in a story that's subsequently been reprinted - thanks to the trickle-down media pyramid - in regional papers.
Baghdad has only just taken delivery of a new GSM phone system from a Chinese supplier. Kurdtel operates a GSM network in the 900Mhz band that works only within a 50km radius of one town in the autonomous Northern region. Autonomous because of the absence of Iraqi commanders, of course.
It isn't clear if the 1800Mhz system, which has capacity for 100,000 subscribers, is yet live. (You can read details of the UN tender here [Google PDF translation].)
GSM is in theory encrypts transmissions, but the encryption isn't very highly regarded.
How much more effective it would be, we humbly suggest, if the Iraqi generals were subscribed to any one of the US cellular networks. Then, after several days of random billing, tariff slamming, incomprehensible contracts and dropped calls, the Iraqi communications infrastructure would be on its knees.
So all in all, then, another junk story emanating from official Washington sources. But the media here loves them, because they're as easy as copying out a press release.
Of 414 network TV news stories on Iraq between September and February, all but 34
originated from the White House, Pentagon or State Department. And reporters who indulge in their traditional duty of raising hell find themselves ostracized. So it's much easier to bed down for what promises to be a ratings spectacular, and provide more war porn for the armchair warbloggers.
But war or no war, telecoms vendors are anticipating growth in the region:-
"Current players on the technocrat level inside Iraq are keen to maintain their positions and prove indispensable to whatever new regime emerges. Thus many of the present executives of the Iraqi Public Telecommunications Company (IPTC) will make a compelling case for holding onto their jobs, and are likely to seek out ties with multinational companies as soon as circumstances permit," we're advised.
New regime - same as the Old One? ®