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Leaflets Guide Iraqis During Attacks - 2003-03-21


One weapon of the American armed forces being used in Iraq is paper leaflets dropped from U.S. Navy F-18 Fighters over Iraqi territory with messages for both civilians and soldiers. Margaret Kennedy is aboard the aircraft carrier Constellation in the Persian Gulf where the leaflets are printed and loaded onto planes.

This machine cuts and trims leaflets that are being dropped over Iraq. The messages tell people to stay away from dangerous areas and for soldiers not to fight, but to go home and take care of their families. Lieutenant Kurt Mole is in charge.

KURT MOLE
"To date, we've printed over five and a half million. Within 24 hours, we can go from printing to dropping. It's a Vietnam-era munition that had bomblets in it. The bomblets have since been removed and you put in leaflets where the bomblets used to be."

The messages are composed by a U.S. Army unit in charge of psychological warfare. This sample is in English, but actual messages are in Arabic. Technicians here receive the contents by computer, and use a standard copier to print the two sides. I asked why the forms were marked "secret."

TECHNICIAN
"Because when we get them, they are secret. Like those over there are still secret because we haven't dropped them yet."

KURT MOLE
“We package the leaflets in a roll. And you can get about 3,000 or so per roll. So you can get 20 rolls in each canister for about a 60 thousand mix."

Sailors pack the leaflets into canisters not far away in a mess hall. The work parties are drawn from throughout the ship's company. The paper is heavy so the leaflets can flutter far and wide, but not rip. On the Constellation, the printing machines seem as busy as the flight deck.

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