FW: Pentagon Propaganda Plan Is Undemocratic, Possibly Illegal

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Wed Feb 27 11:35:38 MST 2002

Yesterday, the U.S. government said they are putting this idea on the self.

Note: In the twisted world of "PSYOPS" and social systems engineering of the
intelligence services of the U.S., where truth becomes lie and lie becomes
"truth", there is a technique known as "poisoning the well." When one cannot
control obvious and dangerous truths from coming out and being publicized,
as total control of the media is impossible, especially in the age of
internet and proliferation of alternate media, it is possible to announce a
campaign of ["justifiable"] lies and disinformation ostensibly designed to
confuse or counter propaganda of "the enemy", the real intention or
predictable effect of which is to call into question everything--including
ugly truths--thus making the differentiation of lie versus truth more
difficult and thus undermining the effects and exposure of the ugly truths
[the real target of the campaign].

Since foreign news is quickly picked-up and adopted by "domestic" news, and
vice versa, especially in the age of "globalization", Federal laws against
targeting the U.S. citizenry with U.S. lies and propaganda are easily
circumvented by giving the lies and propaganda to foreign sources knowing
they will be picked up and given exposure in the domestic media. This not
only allows for getting around supposed Federal laws against domestic
propaganda and media manipulation, this also causes suspicions of everything
in the media--domestic and foreign--thus undermining--and dampening/damaging
the coverage of--ugly truths in need of exposure--"poisoning the well."

Another PSYOPS technique is called the "poison pill" as was used for
example, in the "October Surprise" story about Reagan's clique cutting a
deal with the Iranian Government under Khomeini to hold on
to U.S. hostages until after the 1980 election (they were released fifteen
minutes after Reagan took the oath thus planting on the record of history
the connection between the delay in release of the hostages, further
discrediting of Carter and the election of Reagan). In this case, where
conspiracies or scandals are being progressively exposed through unravelings
of cover-ups, the idea is to plant a "credible source" to bring in salacious
and damaging stuff for the opposition, giving more credibility and force to
the opposition and their charges, making the plant a celebrity in the
opposition, and then, carefully, the plant's own credibility is blown
through facts showing part of the plant's story or legend to be bogus thus
not only undermining the credibility and legend (credentials and background)
of the plant, but also undermining the credibility of the whole story and
charges--even those aspects not associated with that brought in by the plant
(see case of Richard Brenneke). This is the so-called poison pill technique.

Jim Craven

Pentagon Propaganda Plan Is Undemocratic, Possibly Illegal

February 19, 2002

The New York Times reported today that the Pentagon's
Office of Strategic Influence is "developing plans to
provide news items, possibly even false ones, to
foreign media organizations" in an effort "to influence
public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and
unfriendly countries."

The OSI was created shortly after September 11 to
publicize the U.S. government's perspective in Islamic
countries and to generate support for the U.S.'s "war
on terror." This latest announcement raises grave
concerns that far from being an honest effort to
explain U.S. policy, the OSI may be a profoundly
undemocratic program devoted to spreading
disinformation and misleading the public, both at home
and abroad. At the same time, involving reporters in
disinformation campaigns puts the lives of working
journalists at risk.

Despite the OSI's multi-million-dollar budget and its
mandate to propagandize throughout the Middle East,
Asia and Western Europe, "even many senior Pentagon
officials and Congressional military aides say they
know almost nothing about its purpose and plans,"
according to the Times. The Times reported that the
OSI's latest announcement has generated opposition
within the Pentagon among those who fear that it will
undermine the Defense Department's credibility.

Tarnished credibility may be the least of the problems
created by the OSI's new plan to manipulate media-- the
plan may compromise the free flow of information that
democracy relies on. The government is barred by law
from propagandizing within the U.S., but the OSI's new
plan will likely lead to disinformation planted in a
foreign news report being picked up by U.S. news
outlets. The war in Afghanistan has shown that the 24-
hour news cycle, combined with cuts in the foreign news
budgets across the U.S., make overseas outlets like Al-
Jazeera and Reuters key resources for U.S. reporters.

Any "accidental" propaganda fallout from the OSI's
efforts is troubling enough, but given the U.S.
government's track record on domestic propaganda, U.S.
media should be pushing especially hard for more
information about the operation's other, intentional

According to the New York Times, "one of the military
units assigned to carry out the policies of the Office
of Strategic Influence" is the U.S. Army's
Psychological Operations Command (PSYOPS). The Times
doesn't mention, however, that PSYOPS has been accused
of operating domestically as recently as the Kosovo

In February 2000, reports in Dutch and French
newspapers revealed that several officers from the 4th
PSYOPS Group had worked in the news division at CNN's
Atlanta headquarters as part of an "internship" program
starting in the final days of the Kosovo War. Coverage
of this disturbing story was scarce (see
http://www.fair.org/activism/cnn-psyops.html), but
after FAIR issued an Action Alert on the story, CNN
stated that it had already terminated the program and
acknowledged that it was "inappropriate."

Even if the PSYOPS officers working in the newsroom did
not directly influence news reporting, the question
remains of whether CNN may have allowed the military to
conduct an intelligence-gathering mission against the
network itself. The idea isn't far-fetched-- according
to Intelligence Newsletter (2/17/00), a rear admiral
from the Special Operations Command told a PSYOPS
conference that the military needed to find ways to
"gain control" over commercial news satellites to help
bring down an "informational cone of silence" over
regions where special operations were taking place. One
of CNN's PSYOPS "interns" worked in the network's
satellite division. (During the Afghanistan war the
Pentagon found a very direct way to "gain control"-it
simply bought up all commercial satellite images of
Afghanistan, in order to prevent media from accessing

It's worth noting that the 4th PSYOPS group is the same
group that staffed the National Security Council's now
notorious Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD), which
planted stories in the U.S. media supporting the Reagan
Administration's Central America policies during the
1980s. Described by a senior U.S. official as a "vast
psychological warfare operation of the kind the
military conducts to influence a population in enemy
territory" (Miami Herald, 7/19/87), the OPD was shut
down after the Iran-Contra investigations, but not
before influencing coverage in major outlets including
the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington
Post (Extra!, 9-10/01).

The OPD may be gone, but the Bush administration's
recent recess appointment of former OPD head Otto Reich
as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere
affairs is not reassuring. It suggests, at best, a
troubling indifference to Reich's role in orchestrating
the OPD's deception of the American people.

Indeed, as the Federation of American Scientists points
out, "the Bush Administration's insistent efforts to
expand the scope of official secrecy have now been
widely noted as a defining characteristic of the Bush
presidency" (Secrecy News, 2/18/02). The
administration's refusal to disclose Enron-related
information to the General Accounting Office is perhaps
the most publicized of these efforts; another is
Attorney General John Ashcroft's October 12 memo urging
federal agencies to resist Freedom Of Information Act

In addition, the Pentagon's restrictive press policies
throughout the war in Afghanistan have been an ongoing
problem. Most recently, Washington Post reporter Doug
Struck claims that U.S. soldiers threatened to shoot
him if he proceeded with an attempt to investigate a
site where civilians had been killed; Struck has stated
that for him, the central question raised by the
incident is whether the Pentagon is trying to "cover
up" its actions and why it won't "allow access by
reporters to determine what they're doing here in
Afghanistan" (CBS, "The Early Show," 2/13/02).

Taken together, these incidents and policies should
raise alarm bells for media throughout the country.
Democracy doesn't work if the public does not have
access to full and accurate information about its

           Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
      Media analysis, critiques and activism

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