Building on the success of his “The Runaway General” article that led to President Obama firing Stanley McChrystal, Michael Hastings returns to the pages of Rolling Stone with “Another Runaway General“, where he exposes information operations, or Psy-Ops, on dignitaries including US Senators as they visited Afghanistan on “fact-finding” trips.
What should not be missed when contemplating the illegal and immoral aspects of this information operation directed against the citizens of the country and high level government officials is that it is just one more instance in an ongoing pattern of information manipulation and outright deception on the part of the military in recent years. A few recent examples include the use of retired generals posing as independent military analysts to spout information coordinated by the Pentagon, intentional deception to cover up Special Operations troops digging bullets out of the bodies of pregnant women they killed in a night raid and the more recent claim by General Petraeus that parents intentionally burned their children in order to exaggerate injuries received in a US attack, to name just a few.
Here is how Hastings describes the operation and the backlash experienced when those tasked with the information operation tried to resist:
The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in “psychological operations” to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.
The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as “information operations” at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.
A three-star general ordered U.S. soldiers specializing in “psychological operations” to manipulate Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and several other lawmakers and top officials, in order to get more resources for the war in Afghanistan, Rolling Stone magazine is reporting.
The article gives testimony from Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of an “information operations” team at Camp Eggers in Kabul, who says Army Lt. Gen. William Caldwell ordered his team to use their training on senators and other officials visiting Afghanistan.
Holmes said that Caldwell ordered his team to conduct background briefings on visiting officials that went beyond the norm — to provide a “deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds,” Holmes said.
A spokesperson for Caldwell told Rolling Stone that the general “categorically denies the assertion that the command used an Information Operations Cell to influence Distinguished Visitors.”
The article gives no evidence that any actual “psychological operations” were ever carried out. Using propaganda or psychological tactics to influence Americans would be a serious and direct violation of federal law.
The article was written by Michael Hastings, whose explosive profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal last year cost the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan his job.
via – CBS News.