Friday, March 9, 2007
"The State Department has hired two native Arabic speakers to monitor Arabic political discussion forums on the Internet and to overtly participate in them in an effort to correct misperceptions about U.S. policy in the Middle East.
The small "digital outreach team," which also includes a supervising Foreign Service officer, was created in December by Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, as part of her campaign to prevent mistakes and speculation about the United States from being accepted as truth, officials said.
"We want to make sure that U.S. views are present in the Arabic cyberspace," said Jeremy Curtin, acting coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs at the State Department.
"The two people who were hired just before Christmas monitor Arabic sites on current affairs in the Middle East and other issues we are interested in," he said. "They identify themselves as U.S. government employees."
Mrs. Hughes, a close friend and former adviser to President Bush, was appointed in 2005 to help improve perceptions of the United States overseas, particularly in the Arab and Muslim world, which suffered because of the Iraq war and other U.S. policies......"