Thursday, December 02, 2004

The OSI lives

Summarizing a recent LA Times story, E&P reports that Doug Feith and the Pentagon are still running the Office of Strategic Influence:

The Pentagon in 2002 was forced to shutter its controversial Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) when it became known that the office planned to plant false news stories in the media. But now officials say that much of its mission, including using misinformation in the Iraq war and the war on terrorism, has been taken over by other offices within the government, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

“Some of the ongoing efforts include having U.S. military spokesmen play a greater role in psychological operations in Iraq, as well as planting information with sources used by Arabic TV channels such as Al Jazeera to help influence the portrayal of the United States,” the Times revealed.

It cited an incident on Oct. 14 when a Marine spokesman announced, via CNN, the start of the Fallujah offensive, which did not actually happen for another three weeks. The idea was to see in advance how the insurgents would respond. The Times referred to this as just one of the “psy-op” episodes so far.

“These efforts have set off a fight inside the Pentagon over the proper use of information in wartime,” the newspaper reported. “Several top officials see a danger of blurring what are supposed to be well-defined lines between the stated mission of military public affairs -- disseminating truthful, accurate information to the media and the American public -- and psychological and information operations, the use of often-misleaing information and propaganda to influence the outcome of a campaign or battle.
This shouldn't be too much of a surprise. As FAIR noted two years ago, Rumsfeld admitted that the Pentagon would still engage in OSI-like activities, even after promising to shut the office down.