Thursday, February 24, 2011

Did the U.S. military use "psy-ops" against senators and other officials?

Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings has a stunning -- but, when you think about it, not all that surprising, given what we know the military is capable of -- report on the use of so-called "psy-ops" against high-ranking American and foreign targets:

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.


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.

Yes, and it's an indication of just what the U.S. military -- or parts of it, anyway -- think of the civilian leadership under which it supposedly serves.

It seems a bit like science fiction, but of course it's not. Psychological warfare -- "operations" against human targets -- is very real, even if poorly understood, not least by the public, and Steve Clemons, a commentator whom I respect a great deal, thinks it might even have worked, at least on Sen. Carl Levin. As Steve adds:

Caldwell should be fired. What he did, if Hastings has his details is right, is really outrageous and a further testament to the wobbliness of civilian control over the military in today's world.

But bigger question is whether any psy-ops operations were directed at the President of the United States and/or his direct team.

Someone needs to ask that in the White House press briefing.

Agreed on all points. If the allegations are true, the civilian leadership must assert its lawful authority and get rid of Caldwell and anyone else involved, just as it must assert its authority generally -- what else is the U.S. military doing that it shouldn't be, what else is it getting away with?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, as it's not clear what exactly happened, or even whether it happened. But questions do need to be asked, including of Obama and top military brass, and a serious investigation needs to be launched.

Because if it happened in any way like the way Hastings reports it did, even if happened just a little bit, with "psy-ops" used against U.S. and foreign officials, nothing less than American democracy itself was, and may still be, threatened.

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  • Ofcourse they did! These people that control our military and the upper levels of the government are truly sinister, new world order cronies that do not care about anything but furthering their reach and power over the people's will for peace! The military industrial complex has outgrown even itself and is totally subverting the rights of the people and the rule of law! This fight against lawful and constitutional practices, and against the people has only just begun!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:09 AM  

  • The short answer is: yes. Of course the U.S. Army is using psy-ops on senators and citizens. They have PSY-OPS units for a reason.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:18 AM  

  • This article and the comments are just ignorant. How about thinking that maybe the story just isn't true? Oh, wait, I forgot what a well-known, well-written reporter Hastings is. A truly remarkable reputation...LOL! Can we say "against the war much!" He's on a mission to take down our top military commanders one by one and it's just despicable. This latest attempt is a disgrace!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:53 PM  

  • Of course you can say "Against the war much" but it isn't a sentence and it doesn't mean anything, nor does your own fame and talent for erudition recommend you for a Pulitzer. In fact the "well-written reporter" phrase says it all. Such effrontery!

    "Just ignorant?" Ironic, isn't it, or didn't you notice?

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 9:24 AM  

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