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[infowar.de] Kritik II-NYT 19.2.2002:Concern At Pentagon Over 'Strategic Influence' Plan
New York Times
February 19, 2002
Concern At Pentagon Over 'Strategic Influence' Plan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense officials on Tuesday expressed concern at
a Pentagon plan to provide news items and possibly false information
directly to foreign journalists and others to bolster U.S. policy and
the war on terrorism.
The officials told Reuters they feared the Defense Department's shadowy
Office of Strategic Influence, established after the Sept. 11 attacks on
America and headed by an Air Force general, could damage the credibility
of the department's long-standing public affairs office.
``We shouldn't be in that business. Leave the propaganda leaks to the
CIA, the spooks,'' one of the defense officials, who asked not to be
identified, said in response to a New York Times report on Tuesday about
the new effort.
There was little detailed information about the new office under
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, but one official
confirmed that it could include ``disinformation'' as well as true
reports emailed to foreign journalists, government officials and civic
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has become a media star in
briefings at the Pentagon on the war in Afghanistan, promised two weeks
after the September attacks never to lie to reporters.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke,
spokeswoman for the Pentagon and Rumsfeld, confirmed that the new office
had been established but said her public affairs section was not
'Mandate Still Unclear' -- Pentagon Spokeswoman
``It is a work in progress and the mandate is still unclear,'' she told
Reuters, declining to discuss details or to comment on any controversy
that the new effort might be causing at the Pentagon.
But some other defense officials said even the suggestion of mixing
clandestine activities with the traditional work of public affairs could
create major questions of credibility.
One confirmed that the new office, headed by Air Force Gen. Simon
Worden, was considering a broad-ranging effort, perhaps including
``black'' disinformation and other covert activities in addition to
accurate news releases.
``The saying goes that 'all's fair in love and war','' the official told
Reuters. ``But if we (the Pentagon) get the reputation for spreading
false information, then what is anyone to believe and not believe that
comes out of this building?''
A senior Pentagon official told the Times that one proposal being
considered involved sending journalists, civic leaders and foreign
officials e-mail messages that promote U.S. views or attack unfriendly
``The return address will probably be a dot.com, not a dot.mil,'' the
official was quoted as saying.
Coordination With State Department
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Tuesday his building
was aware of the Pentagon plan.
``We coordinate in all kinds of ways with other agencies on information
activities, particularly when it comes to the war on terrorism,'' he
told a news briefing.
``But ... this (Pentagon) office, as I understand it, is not fully
defined yet, and we would leave it to the Pentagon to describe it better
than I can,'' Boucher added.
Asked for the State Department's policy on providing misinformation, he
replied, ``We provide information. We provide accurate and truthful
One senior State Department official, who asked not to be identified,
stressed that the Pentagon's planning was incomplete.
``They're still working on exactly what these people will do. But as we
understand it, it's really targeted on theaters of war and enhancing and
developing capabilities to get information out to civilian
populations,'' the official said.
The official said the State and Defense departments were coordinating
and that Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Charlotte Beers had been in touch with the Pentagon at high levels.
Dipl. Pol., wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
HSFK Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Leimenrode 29 60322 Frankfurt a/M Germany
Tel +49 (0)69 9591 0422 Fax +49 (0)69 5584 81
Mobil 0172 3196 006
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