Case #556
Title: US Pentagon planned a media campaign of dis-information
Summary: Washington D.C.: The (US) 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, military officials said. The plan envisions a broad mission ranging from "black" campaigns that use disinformation and other covert activities to "white" public affairs that rely on truthful news releases. As of mid-February, 2002, the plans have not received final approval from the Bush administration. The military has long engaged in information warfare against hostile nations - for instance, by dropping leaflets and broadcasting messages into Afghanistan when it was still under Taliban rule. But it recently created the Office of Strategic Influence, which is proposing to broaden that mission into allied nations in the Middle East, Asia and even Western Europe. The office would assume a role traditionally led by civilian agencies, mainly the State Department. The small but well-financed Pentagon office, which was established shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was a response to concerns in the administration that the United States was losing public support overseas for its war on terrorism, particularly in Islamic countries.
Comments: The long-held US ideal of an open and truthful public media is greatly challenged by this article. Be careful what you read in the mainstream media is the moral and it's apparently applicable to any place in the world. A lesson for activists - the power of the press is significant in forming public opinion and therefore public actions. Use it and use it wisely.

Update, 4/02/02: After unintended public disclosure and an ensuing outcry, this planned was dropped (officially at least).
Location: US
Action: Other
Setting: Developed World
Extent of Action: International
Categories: Other
Year(s): 2002
Outcome failed (but potentially successful in other circumstances)
Source: The New York Times, February 19, 2002
Contacts:
Prepared By: sl, 4/02
Rating: 1