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[] James Der Derian zum Tod des Office of Strategic Influence,

Der bekannte Postmodernist, Wired-Autor und Direktor des Projets "Info
Tech, War and Peace fasst in einem aktuellen Kommentar die Ereignisse um
das OSI zusammen und ordnet sie ein. 
Die Webseite ist übrigens immer eine interessante
Quelle für etwas andere Sichtweisen auf das Thema Militär, Medien und

INFOinterventions # Monday, March 4, 2002 


James Der Derian, Director, ITWP

James Dao and Eric Schmitt of The New York Times broke the story on
February 19: 'The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news items,
possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a
new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both
friendly and unfriendly countries.' It seems (since even now the facts
remain murky) that the Pentagon shortly after 9.11 set up a special
media unit called the 'Office of Strategic Influence.' Its purpose was
to bolster support for the war effort in Western Europe, and to counter
growing antipathy toward the U.S. in Asia and the Middle East (since
confirmed beyond expectations by a recent Gallup poll). Its operations
would range, said one senior Pentagon official, from 'the whitest of
white' (influencing foreign press and internet audiences through open
news releases) to 'the blackest of black' (conducting covert mis- and
dis-information campaigns overseas).
financing, described as 'substantial' and in the 'multimillion dollar
range', would be drawn from the October $10 billion emergency supplement
voted by the Congress, who seemed not to have a clue that there were
funds were going to the likes of OSI. The infowar was on, by the
Pentagon against the media -- and, upon disclosure of the existence of
OSI, by the media against the Pentagon.
 The choice of title stacked the deck against the Pentagon. 'Orwellian'
competed with 'Kafkaeque' as the media's metaphor du jour. Yet the title
made perfect sense. As part of the vaunted transformation of the
military, the avant garde of the Pentagon prides itself in making war as
one might conduct business, from just-in-time inventories and commercial
off-the-shelf equipment to net-work centric warfare and full information
spectrum dominance. Most likely, some (now) hapless Pentagon official
appropriated the title from the world of consultants who offer
communication strategies and information resources to a corporate world
buffeted by rapid change and public relations crises. It could in fact
have been the Rendon Group, the communications consultancy hired by OSI
, who provided the concept. Indeed, perhaps a sense of patriotism, or
the principle of eminent domain, protected the Pentagon from a legal
challenge from one such firm which had gone so far as to trademark the
concept (see Towhey Consulting Group -- 'Leaders in Strategic
 The setting up of the OSI was all part of a multi-front infowar that
reached well beyond the Pentagon. Protestations emanating from the White
House about the OSI rang somewhat hollow, considering the early
establishment of a media war room in the Indian Treaty Room of the Old
Executive Office, or National Security Advisor Condi Rice's telephone
calls to network executives warning them off the airing of the Bin Laden
videotapes. The OSI was all part of a piece, set in motion shortly after
9.11 when Karl Rove, the President's special adviser, went out to LA to
enlist Hollywood in the war effort. On day after the OSI story broke,
another bombshell dropped: the Pentagon and Hollywood were collaborating
to produce a 13-part 'reality-TV' series on the life of troops in the
battle against terrorism. After the entertainment division of ABC (owned
by Disney) was promised day-to-day access to the troops in Afghanistan
(more than promised the news division throughout the war, adding cause
to an internal turf struggle), Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of "Black
Hawk Down" and "Pearl Harbor", and Bertram van Munster, creator of the
reality series "The Amazing Race" and "Cops", signed on to the primetime
 In the week that followed, the news media, fueled by further Pentagon
leaks (most likely from within the Public Affairs Office which felt
bureaucratically challenged if not epistemologically undermined by the
OIS), fought back. Strategic deception was one thing, as, for example,
the WWII propaganda campaign to fool Hitler about the D-Day landing site
(Churchill's saw about 'truth being guarded by a bodyguard of lies' was
trundled out like an old war engine by the Secretary Rumsfeld and others
on just about every Sunday news program). But the prospect of outright
lying to the press, friendly or not, not only challenged DOD credibility
but also raised the likelihood for some nasty 'blowback'.
 The proof favored by the press was the Reagan administration
disinformation campaign to destabilize Libya's Moammar Ghadafi, which
the Wall Street Journal had picked up and ran as true story. I think a
much better case would be the reporting on terrorism in Europe in the
1970s and 1980s. A short version goes like this (a longer documented
version can be found in Der Derian, Antidiplomacy: Spies, Speed, Terror
and War, Blackwell, 1992, pp. 26-7): former New York Times reporter
Claire Sterling writes The Terrorist Network, declaring that the KGB was
the mastermind behind just about every terrorist attack in Europe; the
new CIA director, William Casey, waving the book in front of CIA
analysts, claims he learned more from Sterling's book than from all of
them; further motivated by Sterling's second book, The Time of
Assassins, he orders a commission headed by Robert Gates to look into
alleged KGB links to the papal assassination; not until the Senate
Committee hearings for Gates' confirmation to replace Casey was it
publicly revealed that Sterling's evidence was largely derived from an
earlier CIA disinformation campaign: a classic case of blowback that
should give pause to the backers of 'Strategic Influence.'
 This week, after Secretary of Defense Rumsfled declared the Office of
Strategic Influence dead (at least officially) upon arrival, ITWP
collects the press saga of its brief efflorescence. It is but one battle
in what appears to be a sustained infowar. In the spirit of Paul
Virilio's Information Bomb (Verso, 2000, p. 108), we value a policy of
disclosure and critique over 'duck and cover':
 'Thus after the atom bomb and the deployment for over forty years of
generalized nuclear deterrence, the information bomb which has just
exploded will very soon require the establishment of a new type of
deterrence -- in this case, a societal one, with 'automatic
circuit-breakers' put in place capable of avoiding the over-heating, if
not indeed the fission, of the social cores of nations.'

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