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[] NYT: Pentagon plant "propaganda push",

New York Times
December 16, 2002
Pentagon Debates Propaganda Push in Allied Nations

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 =97 The Defense Department is considering 
issuing a secret directive to the American military to conduct covert 
operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policy makers in 
friendly and neutral countries, senior Pentagon and administration 
officials say.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has not yet decided on the 
proposal, which has ignited a fierce battle throughout the Bush 
administration over whether the military should carry out secret 
propaganda missions in friendly nations like Germany, where many 
of the Sept. 11 hijackers congregated, or Pakistan, still considered a 
haven for Al Qaeda's militants.

Such a program, for example, could include efforts to discredit and 
undermine the influence of mosques and religious schools that have 
become breeding grounds for Islamic militancy and anti-
Americanism across the Middle East, Asia and Europe. It might 
even include setting up schools with secret American financing to 
teach a moderate Islamic position laced with sympathetic depictions 
of how the religion is practiced in America, officials said.

Many administration officials agree that the government's broad 
strategy to counter terrorism must include vigorous and creative 
propaganda to change the negative view of America held in many 

The fight, one Pentagon official said, is over "the strategic 
communications for our nation, the message we want to send for 
long-term influence, and how we do it."

As a military officer put it: "We have the assets and the capabilities 
and the training to go into friendly and neutral nations to influence 
public opinion. We could do it and get away with it. That doesn't 
mean we should."

It is not the first time that the debate over how the United States 
should marshal its forces to win the hearts and minds of the world 
has raised difficult and potentially embarrassing questions at the 
Pentagon. A nonclandestine parallel effort at the State Department, 
which refers to its role as public diplomacy, has not met with so 
much resistance.

In February, Mr. Rumsfeld had to disband the Pentagon's Office of 
Strategic Influence, ending a short-lived plan to provide news items, 
and possibly false ones, to foreign journalists to influence public 
sentiment abroad. Senior Pentagon officials say Mr. Rumsfeld is 
deeply frustrated that the United States government has no coherent 
plan for molding public opinion worldwide in favor of America in its 
global campaign against terrorism and militancy.

Many administration officials agree that there is a role for the 
military in carrying out what it calls information operations against 
adversaries, especially before and during war, as well as routine 
public relations work in friendly nations like Colombia, the 
Philippines or Bosnia, whose governments have welcomed 
American troops.

In hostile countries like Iraq, such missions are permitted under 
policy and typically would include broadcasting from airborne radio 
stations or dropping leaflets like those the military has printed to 
undermine morale among Iraqi soldiers. In future wars, they might 
include technical attacks to disable computer networks, both military 
and civilian.

But the idea of ordering the military to take psychological aim at 
allies has divided the Pentagon =97 with civilians and uniformed 
officers on both sides of the debate.

Some are troubled by suggestions that the military might pay 
journalists to write stories favorable to American policies or hire 
outside contractors without obvious ties to the Pentagon to organize 
rallies in support of American policies.

The current battlefield for these issues involves amendments to a 
classified Department of Defense directive, titled "3600.1: 
Information Operations," which would enshrine an overarching 
Pentagon policy for years to come.

Current policy holds that aggressive information tactics are "to affect 
adversary decision makers" =97 not those of friendly or even neutral 
nations. But proposed revisions to the directive, as quoted by senior 
officials, would not make adversaries the only targets for carrying 
out military information operations =97 abbreviated as "I.O." in the 
document, which is written in the dense jargon typical of military 

"In peacetime, I.O. supports national objectives primarily by 
influencing foreign perceptions and decision-making," the proposal 
states. "In crises short of hostilities, I.O. can be used as a flexible 
deterrent option to communicate national interest and demonstrate 
resolve. In conflict, I.O. can be applied to achieve physical and 
psychological results in support of military objectives."

Although the defense secretary is among those pushing to come up 
with a bolder strategy for getting out the American message, he has 
not yet decided whether the military should take on those 
responsibilities, the officials said.

There is little dispute over such battlefield tactics as destroying an 
enemy's radio and television stations. All is considered fair in that 
kind of war.

But several senior military officers, some of whom have recently left 
service, expressed dismay at the concept of assigning the military to 
wage covert propaganda campaigns in friendly or neutral countries. 
"Running ops against your allies doesn't work very well," Adm. 
Dennis C. Blair, a retired commander of American forces in the 
Pacific, advised Pentagon officials as they began re-examining the 
classified directive over the summer. "I've seen it tried a few times, 
and it generally is not very effective."

Those in favor of assigning the military an expanded role argue that 
no other department is stepping up to the task of countering 
propaganda from terrorists, who hold no taboo against deception.

They also contend that the Pentagon has the best technological 
tools for the job, especially in the areas of satellite communications 
and computer warfare, and that the American military has important 
interests to protect in some countries, including those where ties with 
the government are stronger than the affections of the population.

For example, as anti-American sentiment has risen this year in 
South Korea, intensified recently by the deaths of two schoolgirls 
who were crushed by an American armored vehicle, some Pentagon 
officials were prompted to consider ways of influencing Korean 
public opinion outside of traditional public affairs or community 
outreach programs, one military official said. No detailed plan has 
yet emerged.

Those who oppose the military's taking on the job of managing 
perceptions of America in allied states say it more naturally falls to 
diplomats and civilians, or even uniformed public affairs specialists. 
They say that secret operations, if deemed warranted by the 
president, should be carried out by American intelligence agencies.

In addition, they say, the Pentagon's job of explaining itself through 
public affairs officers could be tainted by any link to covert 
information missions. "These allied nations would absolutely object 
to having the American military attempt to secretly affect 
communications to their populations," said one State Department 
official with a long career in overseas public affairs.

Even so, this official conceded: "The State Department can't do it. 
We're not arranged to do it, and we don't have the money. And 
U.S.I.A. is broken." He was referring to the United States Information 
Agency, which was absorbed into the State Department.

One effort to reshape the nation's ability to get its message out was 
a proposal by Representative Henry J. Hyde, an Illinois Republican 
who is chairman of the House International Relations Committee. 
Mr. Hyde is pushing for $255 million to bolster the State 
Department's public diplomacy effort and reorganize international 
broadcasting activities.

"If we are to be successful in our broader foreign policy goals," Mr. 
Hyde said in a statement, "America's effort to engage the peoples of 
the  world must assume a more prominent place in the planning and 
execution of our foreign policy."

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