RE: Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Wed Feb 20 2002 - 11:43:41 GMT

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad
    Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 11:43:41 -0000
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    They've been doing this for decades. I'm amazed anybody is buying this as a
    genuine "new" development.

    > ----------
    > From: Wade T.Smith
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2002 16:07 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: Fwd: Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad
    > February 19, 2002
    > Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad
    > nt
    > WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 - The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news
    > items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part
    > of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both
    > friendly and unfriendly countries, military officials said.
    > The plans, which have not received final approval from the Bush
    > administration, have stirred opposition among some Pentagon officials
    > who say they might undermine the credibility of information that is
    > openly distributed by the Defense Department's public affairs officers.
    > The military has long engaged in information warfare against hostile
    > nations - for instance, by dropping leaflets and broadcasting messages
    > into Afghanistan when it was still under Taliban rule.
    > But it recently created the Office of Strategic Influence, which is
    > proposing to broaden that mission into allied nations in the Middle
    > East, Asia and even Western Europe. The office would assume a role
    > traditionally led by civilian agencies, mainly the State Department.
    > The small but well-financed Pentagon office, which was established
    > shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was a response to concerns
    > in the administration that the United States was losing public support
    > overseas for its war on terrorism, particularly in Islamic countries.
    > As part of the effort to counter the pronouncements of the Taliban,
    > Osama bin Laden and their supporters, the State Department has already
    > hired a former advertising executive to run its public diplomacy office,
    > and the White House has created a public information "war room" to
    > coordinate the administration's daily message domestically and abroad.
    > Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, while broadly supportive of the
    > new office, has not approved its specific proposals and has asked the
    > Pentagon's top lawyer, William J. Haynes, to review them, senior
    > Pentagon officials said.
    > Little information is available about the Office of Strategic Influence,
    > and even many senior Pentagon officials and Congressional military aides
    > say they know almost nothing about its purpose and plans. Its
    > multimillion dollar budget, drawn from a $10 billion emergency
    > supplement to the Pentagon budget authorized by Congress in October, has
    > not been disclosed.
    > Headed by Brig. Gen. Simon P. Worden of the Air Force, the new office
    > has begun circulating classified proposals calling for aggressive
    > campaigns that use not only the foreign media and the Internet, but also
    > covert operations.
    > The new office "rolls up all the instruments within D.O.D. to influence
    > foreign audiences," its assistant for operations, Thomas A. Timmes, a
    > former Army colonel and psychological operations officer, said at a
    > recent conference, referring to the Department of Defense. "D.O.D. has
    > not traditionally done these things."
    > One of the office's proposals calls for planting news items with foreign
    > media organizations through outside concerns that might not have obvious
    > ties to the Pentagon, officials familiar with the proposal said.
    > General Worden envisions a broad mission ranging from "black" campaigns
    > that use disinformation and other covert activities to "white" public
    > affairs that rely on truthful news releases, Pentagon officials said.
    > "It goes from the blackest of black programs to the whitest of white," a
    > senior Pentagon official said.
    > Another proposal involves sending journalists, civic leaders and foreign
    > leaders e-mail messages that promote American views or attack unfriendly
    > governments, officials said.
    > Asked if such e-mail would be identified as coming from the American
    > military, a senior Pentagon official said that "the return address will
    > probably be a dot-com, not a dot- mil," a reference to the military's
    > Internet designation.
    > To help the new office, the Pentagon has hired the Rendon Group, a
    > Washington-based international consulting firm run by John W. Rendon
    > Jr., a former campaign aide to President Jimmy Carter. The firm, which
    > is being paid about $100,000 a month, has done extensive work for the
    > Central Intelligence Agency, the Kuwaiti royal family and the Iraqi
    > National Congress, the opposition group seeking to oust President Saddam
    > Hussein.
    > Officials at the Rendon Group say terms of their contract forbid them to
    > talk about their Pentagon work. But the firm is well known for running
    > propaganda campaigns in Arab countries, including one denouncing
    > atrocities by Iraq during its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
    > The firm has been hired as the Bush administration appears to have
    > united around the goal of ousting Mr. Hussein. "Saddam Hussein has a
    > charm offensive going on, and we haven't done anything to counteract
    > it," a senior military official said.
    > Proponents say the new Pentagon office will bring much-needed
    > coordination to the military's efforts to influence views of the United
    > States overseas, particularly as Washington broadens the war on
    > terrorism beyond Afghanistan.
    > But the new office has also stirred a sharp debate in the Pentagon,
    > where several senior officials have questioned whether its mission is
    > too broad and possibly even illegal.
    > Those critics say they are disturbed that a single office might be
    > authorized to use not only covert operations like computer network
    > attacks, psychological activities and deception, but also the
    > instruments and staff of the military's globe- spanning public affairs
    > apparatus.
    > Mingling the more surreptitious activities with the work of traditional
    > public affairs would undermine the Pentagon's credibility with the
    > media, the public and governments around the world, critics argue.
    > "This breaks down the boundaries almost completely," a senior Pentagon
    > official said.
    > Moreover, critics say, disinformation planted in foreign media
    > organizations, like Reuters or Agence France-Presse, could end up being
    > published or broadcast by American news organizations.
    > The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency are barred by law from
    > propaganda activities in the United States. In the mid-1970's, it was
    > disclosed that some C.I.A. programs to plant false information in the
    > foreign press had resulted in articles published by American news
    > organizations.
    > Critics of the new Pentagon office also argue that governments allied
    > with the United States are likely to object strongly to any attempts by
    > the American military to influence media within their borders.
    > "Everybody understands using information operations to go after
    > nonfriendlies," another senior Pentagon official said. "When people get
    > uncomfortable is when people use the same tools and tactics on
    > friendlies."
    > Victoria Clarke, the assistant secretary of defense for public
    > information, declined to discuss details of the new office. But she
    > acknowledged that its mission was being carefully reviewed by the
    > Pentagon.
    > "Clearly the U.S. needs to be as effective as possible in all our
    > communications," she said. "What we're trying to do now is make clear
    > the distinction and appropriateness of who does what."
    > General Worden, an astrophysicist who has specialized in space
    > operations in his 27-year Air Force career, did not respond to several
    > requests for an interview.
    > General Worden has close ties to his new boss, Douglas J. Feith, the
    > under secretary of defense for policy, that date back to the Reagan
    > administration, military officials said. The general's staff of about 15
    > people reports to the office of the assistant secretary of defense for
    > special operations and low-intensity conflict, which is under Mr. Feith.
    > The Office for Strategic Influence also coordinates its work with the
    > White House's new counterterrorism office, run by Wayne A. Downing, a
    > retired general who was head of the Special Operations command, which
    > oversees the military's covert information operations.
    > Many administration officials worried that the United States was losing
    > support in the Islamic world after American warplanes began bombing
    > Afghanistan in October. Those concerns spurred the creation of the
    > Office of Strategic Influence.
    > In an interview in November, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the
    > Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained the Pentagon's desire to broaden its
    > efforts to influence foreign audiences, saying:
    > "Perhaps the most challenging piece of this is putting together what we
    > call a strategic influence campaign quickly and with the right emphasis.
    > That's everything from psychological operations to the public affairs
    > piece to coordinating partners in this effort with us."
    > One of the military units assigned to carry out the policies of the
    > Office of Strategic Influence is the Army's Psychological Operations
    > Command. The command was involved in dropping millions of fliers and
    > broadcasting scores of radio programs into Afghanistan encouraging
    > Taliban and Al Qaeda soldiers to surrender.
    > In the 1980's, Army "psyop" units, as they are known, broadcast radio
    > and television programs into Nicaragua intended to undermine the
    > Sandinista government. In the 1990's, they tried to encourage public
    > support for American peacekeeping missions in the Balkans.
    > The Office of Strategic Influence will also oversee private companies
    > that will be hired to help develop information programs and evaluate
    > their effectiveness using the same techniques as American political
    > campaigns, including scientific polling and focus groups, officials said.
    > "O.S.I. still thinks the way to go is start a Defense Department Voice
    > of America," a senior military official said. "When I get their
    > briefings, it's scary."
    > Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
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