That's the name of a intelligence document published daily by the U.S. military in Iraq with the goal of chronicling "the latest street talk in the Iraqi capital, however ill founded, bizarre or malevolent." As described in today's New York Times by Thom Shanker,
The Mosquito began last fall after American military leaders realized that rumors themselves had become a security problem, and decided to fight back. It is distributed via e-mail to an elite group of military officers and policy planners and is posted on the military's classified Web server. …
Seven days a week, a staff of Iraqis and Americans compile and analyze local press and satellite television reports. And once a week, in what has become required reading for senior American officials in Baghdad and a devoted readership in Washington, The Mosquito produces an exclusive collection of rumor, gossip and chatter called, "What's the Word on the Streets of Baghdad?"
The Baghdad Mosquito is an organized and quite brilliant effort to monitor and understand conspiracy theories in order to master and exploit them.
The Mosquito's buzz has already helped refine the information campaigns being run by the military and occupation authorities here, said a senior officer. "These people, after living 35 years under a very brutal regime, allow us to better understand what really are the concerns of the citizens on the streets of Baghdad," said Brig. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, assistant commander of the First Armored Division, which is responsible for the security of Baghdad and central Iraq.
General Hertling said The Mosquito's reports helped the division fine-tune advertisements, posters and billboards that focus on new Iraqi security forces. "The feedback we received from The Mosquito was especially helpful in our design of a campaign countering the belief that all Iraqi police officers are corrupt and work contrary to the service of the citizens," he said.
This fulfills advice I gave in a long 1992 article about dealing with Middle East conspiracy theories, which I summed up this way: "As a rule, do not play games; but be aware of vulnerabilities created by the conspiracy mentality and, on special occasions, exploit these to the maximum." (March 23, 2004)
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