Army Deploys Psy-Ops On U.S. Senators

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell

Proving that some magazines are still able to practice important investigative journalism, Rolling Stone‘s Michael Hastings shows how the U.S. Army deliberately misled Senators on a fact-finding visit to Afghanistan. You might think this kind of plotting by the military against its own government only happens in places like Egypt and Libya … but you’d be wrong:

The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in “psychological operations” to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.

The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as “information operations” at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.

“My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. “I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line.”

The list of targeted visitors was long, according to interviews with members of the IO team and internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone. Those singled out in the campaign included senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Rep. Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan; the German interior minister, and a host of influential think-tank analysts.

The incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U.S. command in Afghanistan is to spin American civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war. According to the Defense Department’s own definition, psy-ops – the use of propaganda and psychological tactics to influence emotions and behaviors – are supposed to be used exclusively on “hostile foreign groups.” Federal law forbids the military from practicing psy-ops on Americans, and each defense authorization bill comes with a “propaganda rider” that also prohibits such manipulation. “Everyone in the psy-ops, intel, and IO community knows you’re not supposed to target Americans,” says a veteran member of another psy-ops team who has run operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s what you learn on day one.”…

[continues in Rolling Stone]

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  • MoralDrift

    I applaud LTC Holmes for his integrity

    • Hadrian999

      hopefully his reprimand will be removed because his orders were illegal

  • Anonymous

    I applaud LTC Holmes for his integrity

  • Hadrian999

    hopefully his reprimand will be removed because his orders were illegal

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    That guy deserves another star…honesty like that doesn’t come cheap…and its rarer than gold or diamonds among men of rank…because uncompromising virtue and dedication can stand in the way of a productive career. I don’t necessarily approve of PsyOps in any case…but that becomes moot when it comes to tolerating its use to manipulate seated US politicians. UCMJ 101 would paint any such act as a literal crime…and obeying any order to commit such a crime is a punishable infraction. Serious courtsmartial hearings should be held for any individual who uttered such orders…and for any who participated by following them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Siragusa/682282532 Mark Siragusa

      But…what about Men Who Stare At Goats? =P

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    That guy deserves another star…honesty like that doesn’t come cheap…and its rarer than gold or diamonds among men of rank…because uncompromising virtue and dedication can stand in the way of a productive career. I don’t necessarily approve of PsyOps in any case…but that becomes moot when it comes to tolerating its use to manipulate seated US politicians. UCMJ 101 would paint any such act as a literal crime…and obeying any order to commit such a crime is a punishable infraction. Serious courtsmartial hearings should be held for any individual who uttered such orders…and for any who participated by following them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Siragusa/682282532 Mark Siragusa

    But…what about Men Who Stare At Goats? =P

  • MrPINKi

    It looks like we are fastly approaching a stasi-esk operation in the U.S. It’s shit like this that will bring this country down. I commend that unit for refusing. A good example of this is the movie “The Lives of Others”. Great movie, although in German I highly recomend watching it.

  • MrPINKi

    It looks like we are fastly approaching a stasi-esk operation in the U.S. It’s shit like this that will bring this country down. I commend that unit for refusing. A good example of this is the movie “The Lives of Others”. Great movie, although in German I highly recomend watching it.

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