Brendan Demelle wrote at DeSmogBlog back in 2011:
At the “Media & Stakeholder Relations: Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative 2011” conference last week in Houston, Matt Pitzarella, Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at Range Resources, revealed in his presentation that Range has hired Army and Marine veterans with combat experience in psychological warfare to influence communities in which Range drills for gas.
As CNBC reported, Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella boasted to the audience:
“[“…looking to other industries, in this case, the Army and the Marines. We have several former PSYOPs folks that work for us at Range because they’re very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments. Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that. But very much having that understanding of PSYOPs in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.”
At that same conference, Matt Carmichael, External Affairs Manager at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, suggested three things to attendees during his presentation:
“If you are a PR representative in this industry in this room today, I recommend you do three things. These are three things that I’ve read recently that are pretty interesting.
“(1) Download the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual [audible gasps from the audience], because we are dealing with an insurgency. There’s a lot of good lessons in there, and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable. (2) With that said, there’s a course provided by Harvard and MIT twice a year, and it’s called ‘Dealing With an Angry Public.’ Take that course. Tied back to the Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency [Field] Manual, is that a lot of the officers in our military are attending this course. It gives you the tools, it gives you the media tools on how to deal with a lot of the controversy that we as an industry are dealing with. (3) Thirdly, I have a copy of “Rumsfeld’s Rules.” You’re all familiar with Donald Rumsfeld — that’s kind of my bible, by the way, of how I operate.”
Carmichael is also the former Senior Manager of External Communications for Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton, which at one point had over 15,000 mercenaries placed in Iraq, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Counterinsurgency (COIN) Field Manual [PDF] devotes an entire chapter to PSYOPs, confirming its utility as a major element of a counterinsurgency campaign. The COIN manual is the current U.S. military doctrine in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
USE OF PSYOPs PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE ON U.S. CITIZENS IS ILLEGAL
PSYOPs is the military short-hand for “psychological operations,” used extensively in U.S. wars abroad, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of this work is carried out by Army reserve personnel, who travel from village to village dropping leaflets and offering financial incentives in an attempt to convince residents not to support the insurgency. This often entails using psychological tactics to “win hearts and minds.”
As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported about PSYOPs in Iraq:
“…reservists in psychological operations typically do communications with the local folks. In the beginning, they distribute millions of leaflets and do loudspeaker broadcasts. They also spend a lot of time talking with people.”
The use of PSYOPs by active military personnel on U.S. citizens is illegal and a violation of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, as Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone explained in his February 2011 investigative story uncovering the fact that U.S. military generals had used PSYOPs on members of Congress. The Smith-Mundt act “was passed by Congress to prevent the State Department from using Soviet-style propaganda techniques on U.S. citizens.”
Hastings wrote in Rolling Stone:
“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.” (emphasis added)
JAMES CANNON – RANGE PSYOPS SPECIALIST IN PA
Range’s dominance in the Marcellus fracked gas rush is hardly surprising – Range Resources was the first company to begin drilling for unconventional gas in the Marcellus Shale, back in 2004. Range says on its website that “In 2011, Range is directing 86% of its capital budget toward development drilling in the region.”
It certainly has every reason to protect that investment, but hiring an Army PSYOPs specialist?
Range Resources’ Local Government Relations Manager in Pennsylvania is James Cannon, a former Marine and Army Reservist whose unit conducted PSYOPs during Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to his personal website and LinkedIn page, Jim Cannon says he is still an active reservist with the 303rd Psychological Operations Company, who served under the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
One of his colleagues in the 303rd Psychological Operations Company discussed the unit’s PSYOP experiences in Iraq in April 2003. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, “Since October , a massive public information campaign has been under way in Iraq. American and British planes have dropped 36 million leaflets in Iraq. They have distributed scores of solar-powered and hand-crank short wave radios with instructions for tuning in to Arabic-language broadcasts that urge cooperation with coalition troops. Trucks with loudspeakers have been used to spread the message that America is in Iraq to liberate, not to occupy the nation.”
What if the same techniques that the Army used to weaken the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan are being used by the gas industry to intimidate U.S. citizens in Pennsylvania? Of course they wouldn’t need the Black Hawk helicopters, the U.S. Postal Service can drop letters just fine. But the tactics of using financial incentives and disseminating propaganda designed to pit neighbor against neighbor?
Jim Cannon’s company Range Resources has deployed these PSYOP-inspired tactics in Pennsylvania, sending threatening letters to the citizens of Mt. Pleasant Township in hopes of dividing the community, and attempting to sway the township supervisors to do industry’s bidding.
Read more here.