WASHINGTON – President Bush signed an executive order Tuesday formalizing the role of the White House Office of Global Communications, which works to improve America's image abroad by better conveying U.S. policies.
The office played a central role in a generating a document to be released later Tuesday that catalogues administration charges on how Iraq has long tried to deceive the international community.
The Office of Global Communications has been up and running for at least six months, quietly working with foreign news media outlets to get the American message out. It was an outgrowth of an earlier administration effort to build public support overseas for the war on terrorism.
Bush's signature on the executive order Tuesday will make the office more effective, said Tucker Eskew, who oversees the office of about a dozen people.
"Having the president's formal stamp of approval on our creation strengthens our ability to coordinate across agencies and integrate his needs," Eskew said.
The order reflects the importance that Bush "places on conveying America's message to the world," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
"The president believes that better coordination of our international communications will help convey the truth about America and the goals we share with people everywhere," Fleischer said. "He knows that we need to communicate our policies and values to the world with greater clarity and through dialogue with emerging voices around the globe."
In February 2002, the Pentagon shut down a new office meant to influence global opinion, particularly about opponents such as the Taliban and al-Qaida. The office proposed internally to use the Internet and other media to spread false information.
Eskew said the White House Office of Global Communications will not use disinformation.
"In part, our mission is to shine a light on others' disinformation, such as that of the Iraqi regime," Eskew said. "We are here to use accurate, truthful and overt communications to advance American and coalition interests."
The administration's effort comes at a time when sentiment against a possible U.S.-led war in Iraq is running high abroad.
Thousands of people marched in Europe, Asia and the Middle East to protest a war.