More astroturf? Form letters to the editor—from our soldiers

The Olympian: Many soldiers, same letter: Newspapers around US get identical missives from Iraq. The letter apparently was handed out by the platoon leader, who asked soldiers to sign it; speculation is that someone is trying really hard to put a positive face on the war. Some of the soldiers were unhappy that their signatures appeared on papers that weren’t their own thoughts:

2nd Battalion soldier [Sgt. Shawn Grueser] said he did not sign any letter.

Although Grueser said he agrees with the letter’s sentiments, he was uncomfortable that a letter with his signature did not contain his own words or spell out his own accomplishments.

“It makes it look like you cheated on a test, and everybody got the same grade,” Grueser said by phone from a base in Italy where he had just arrived from Iraq.

Infothought has a follow-up that shows how to search for all the astroturfed letters on Google. About fourteen hits from different papers.

Here’s Instapundit on the astroturfs: most of the letters seem to be sent out voluntarily, even if they were all the same.

Compare this with the GOP astroturf campaign a few months back. I know it’s common practice, but you know, it still smells. A few of the papers did features on the letters from the front, as though the boys that signed them had actually written the letters.