Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

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Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:08 am

Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators
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By Michael Hastings
FEBRUARY 23, 2011 11:55 PM ET
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 Runaway General: The Rolling Stone Profile of Stanley McChrystal That Changed History

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.

"My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave," says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. "I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line."

King David's War: How Gen. Petraeus Is Doubling Down on a Failed Strategy

The list of targeted visitors was long, according to interviews with members of the IO team and internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone. Those singled out in the campaign included senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Rep. Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan; the German interior minister, and a host of influential think-tank analysts.

The incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U.S. command in Afghanistan is to spin American civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war. According to the Defense Department’s own definition, psy-ops – the use of propaganda and psychological tactics to influence emotions and behaviors – are supposed to be used exclusively on "hostile foreign groups." Federal law forbids the military from practicing psy-ops on Americans, and each defense authorization bill comes with a "propaganda rider" that also prohibits such manipulation. "Everyone in the psy-ops, intel, and IO community knows you’re not supposed to target Americans," says a veteran member of another psy-ops team who has run operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It’s what you learn on day one."

The Insurgent's Tale: A Soldier Reconsiders Jihad

When Holmes and his four-man team arrived in Afghanistan in November 2009, their mission was to assess the effects of U.S. propaganda on the Taliban and the local Afghan population. But the following month, Holmes began receiving orders from Caldwell’s staff to direct his expertise on a new target: visiting Americans. At first, the orders were administered verbally. According to Holmes, who attended at least a dozen meetings with Caldwell to discuss the operation, the general wanted the IO unit to do the kind of seemingly innocuous work usually delegated to the two dozen members of his public affairs staff: compiling detailed profiles of the VIPs, including their voting records, their likes and dislikes, and their "hot-button issues." In one email to Holmes, Caldwell’s staff also wanted to know how to shape the general’s presentations to the visiting dignitaries, and how best to "refine our messaging."

Congressional delegations – known in military jargon as CODELs – are no strangers to spin. U.S. lawmakers routinely take trips to the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they receive carefully orchestrated briefings and visit local markets before posing for souvenir photos in helmets and flak jackets. Informally, the trips are a way for generals to lobby congressmen and provide first-hand updates on the war. But what Caldwell was looking for was more than the usual background briefings on senators. According to Holmes, the general wanted the IO team to provide a "deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds." The general’s chief of staff also asked Holmes how Caldwell could secretly manipulate the U.S. lawmakers without their knowledge. "How do we get these guys to give us more people?" he demanded. "What do I have to plant inside their heads?"
According to experts on intelligence policy, asking a psy-ops team to direct its expertise against visiting dignitaries would be like the president asking the CIA to put together background dossiers on congressional opponents. Holmes was even expected to sit in on Caldwell’s meetings with the senators and take notes, without divulging his background. "Putting your propaganda people in a room with senators doesn’t look good," says John Pike, a leading military analyst. "It doesn’t pass the smell test. Any decent propaganda operator would tell you that."

At a minimum, the use of the IO team against U.S. senators was a misue of vital resources designed to combat the enemy; it cost American taxpayers roughly $6 million to deploy Holmes and his team in Afghanistan for a year. But Caldwell seemed more eager to advance his own career than to defeat the Taliban. "We called it Operation Fourth Star," says Holmes. "Caldwell seemed far more focused on the Americans and the funding stream than he was on the Afghans. We were there to teach and train the Afghans. But for the first four months it was all about the U.S. Later he even started talking about targeting the NATO populations." At one point, according to Holmes, Caldwell wanted to break up the IO team and give each general on his staff their own personal spokesperson with psy-ops training.

It wasn’t the first time that Caldwell had tried to tear down the wall that has historically separated public affairs and psy-ops – the distinction the military is supposed to maintain between "informing" and "influencing." After a stint as the top U.S. spokesperson in Iraq, the general pushed aggressively to expand the military’s use of information operations. During his time as a commander at Ft. Leavenworth, Caldwell argued for exploiting new technologies like blogging and Wikipedia – a move that would widen the military’s ability to influence the public, both foreign and domestic. According to sources close to the general, he also tried to rewrite the official doctrine on information operations, though that effort ultimately failed. (In recent months, the Pentagon has quietly dropped the nefarious-sounding moniker "psy-ops" in favor of the more neutral "MISO" – short for Military Information Support Operations.)

Under duress, Holmes and his team provided Caldwell with background assessments on the visiting senators, and helped prep the general for his high-profile encounters. But according to members of his unit, Holmes did his best to resist the orders. Holmes believed that using his team to target American civilians violated the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which was passed by Congress to prevent the State Department from using Soviet-style propaganda techniques on U.S. citizens. But when Holmes brought his concerns to Col. Gregory Breazile, the spokesperson for the Afghan training mission run by Caldwell, the discussion ended in a screaming match. "It’s not illegal if I say it isn’t!" Holmes recalls Breazile shouting.

In March 2010, Breazile issued a written order that "directly tasked" Holmes to conduct an IO campaign against "all DV visits" – short for "distinguished visitor." The team was also instructed to "prepare the context and develop the prep package for each visit." In case the order wasn’t clear enough, Breazile added that the new instructions were to "take priority over all other duties." Instead of fighting the Taliban, Holmes and his team were now responsible for using their training to win the hearts and minds of John McCain and Al Franken.

On March 23rd, Holmes emailed the JAG lawyer who handled information operations, saying that the order made him "nervous." The lawyer, Capt. John Scott, agreed with Holmes. "The short answer is that IO doesn’t do that," Scott replied in an email. "[Public affairs] works on the hearts and minds of our own citizens and IO works on the hearts and minds of the citizens of other nations. While the twain do occasionally intersect, such intersections, like violent contact during a soccer game, should be unintentional."

In another email, Scott advised Holmes to seek his own defense counsel. "Using IO to influence our own folks is a bad idea," the lawyer wrote, "and contrary to IO policy."

In a statement to Rolling Stone, a spokesman for Caldwell "categorically denies the assertion that the command used an Information Operations Cell to influence Distinguished Visitors." But after Scott offered his legal opinion, the order was rewritten to stipulate that the IO unit should only use publicly available records to create profiles of U.S. visitors. Based on the narrower definition of the order, Holmes and his team believed the incident was behind them.






Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

By Sara Sorcher
Thursday, February 24, 2011 | 7:25 a.m.

Rolling Stone reports today that a U.S. Army unit specializing in "psychological operations" in Afghanistan was ordered to manipulate American senators visiting the country into providing more troops and funding for the war.
Psy-ops are intended to target “hostile foreign groups,” and are banned by federal law for use on on Americans, the magazine reports. When Lt. Col. Michael Holmes, the leader of the information operations unit tried to deflect the Army order given by Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops, he then found himself the target of a military investigation to investigate his bevahavior, which allegedly included alcohol use and having an "inappropriate" relationship with a subordinate.
Holmes said the operations was initially intended to include "seemingly innocuous" work, such as compiling detailed profiles of special visitors to Afghanistan, profiles that included voting records and their personal preferences.
Caldwell's chief of staff is reported to have asked Holmes how the military could secretly manipulate the lawmakers without their knowledge. In an email, Caldwell’s staff commissioned Holmes' team for information to shape the general’s presentations to the visitors and to "refine our messaging." Holmes said that the team was supposed to provide a "deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds."
Among those singled out in the campaign: Sens John McCain, R-Ariz., Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Al Franken, D-Minn. and Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Rolling Stone won the prestigious George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting on Tuesday because of reporter Michael Hastings’ last piece, a controversial profile last year of U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then-commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal was fired by President Obama shortly thereafter.
Three weeks after the exchange, however, Holmes learned that he was the subject of an investigation, called an AR 15-6. The investigation had been ordered by Col. Joe Buche, Caldwell’s chief of staff. The 22-page report, obtained by Rolling Stone, reads like something put together by Kenneth Starr. The investigator accuses Holmes of going off base in civilian clothes without permission, improperly using his position to start a private business, consuming alcohol, using Facebook too much, and having an "inappropriate" relationship with one of his subordinates, Maj. Laural Levine. The investigator also noted a joking comment that Holmes made on his Facebook wall, in response to a jibe about Afghan men wanting to hold his hand. "Hey! I’ve been here almost five months now!" Holmes wrote. "Gimmee a break a man has needs you know."

"LTC Holmes’ comments about his sexual needs," the report concluded, "are even more distasteful in light of his status as a married man."

Both Holmes and Levine maintain that there was nothing inappropriate about their relationship, and said they were waiting until after they left Afghanistan to start their own business. They and other members of the team also say that they had been given permission to go off post in civilian clothes. As for Facebook, Caldwell’s command had aggressively encouraged its officers to the use the site as part of a social-networking initiative – and Holmes ranked only 15th among the biggest users.

Nor was Holmes the only one who wrote silly things online. Col. Breazile’s Facebook page, for example, is spotted with similar kinds of nonsense, including multiple references to drinking alcohol, and a photo of a warning inside a Port-o-John mocking Afghans – "In case any of you forgot that you are supposed to sit on the toilet and not stand on it and squat. It’s a safety issue. We don’t want you to fall in or miss your target." Breazile now serves at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he works in the office dedicated to waging a global information war for the Pentagon.

Following the investigation, both Holmes and Levine were formally reprimanded. Holmes, believing that he was being targeted for questioning the legality of waging an IO campaign against U.S. visitors, complained to the Defense Department’s inspector general. Three months later, he was informed that he was not entitled to protection as a whistleblower, because the JAG lawyer he consulted was not "designated to receive such communications."

Levine, who has a spotless record and 19 service awards after 16 years in the military, including a tour of duty in Kuwait and Iraq, fears that she has become "the collateral damage" in the military’s effort to retaliate against Holmes. "It will probably end my career," she says. "My father was an officer, and I believed officers would never act like this. I was devastated. I’ve lost my faith in the military, and I couldn’t in good conscience recommend anyone joining right now."

After being reprimanded, Holmes and his team were essentially ignored for the rest of their tours in Afghanistan. But on June 15th, the entire Afghan training mission received a surprising memo from Col. Buche, Caldwell’s chief of staff. "Effective immediately," the memo read, "the engagement in information operations by personnel assigned to the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan is strictly prohibited." From now on, the memo added, the "information operation cell" would be referred to as the "Information Engagement cell." The IE’s mission? "This cell will engage in activities for the sole purpose of informing and educating U.S., Afghan and international audiences…." The memo declared, in short, that those who had trained in psy-ops and other forms of propaganda would now officially be working as public relations experts – targeting a worldwide audience.

As for the operation targeting U.S. senators, there is no way to tell what, if any, influence it had on American policy. What is clear is that in January 2011, Caldwell’s command asked the Obama administration for another $2 billion to train an additional 70,000 Afghan troops – an initiative that will already cost U.S. taxpayers more than $11 billion this year. Among the biggest boosters in Washington to give Caldwell the additional money? Sen. Carl Levin, one of the senators whom Holmes had been ordered to target.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby hanshan » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:24 pm

....



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.



:rofl: The American Way...gotta love it


...
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby StarmanSkye » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:25 pm

:shock:


Man oh Man oh Man oh Man oh Shit ...

That's how it goes, stupider and idiotic, corrupt and foul.

Lost in the noise is the deceit and fraud that obscures the complete lack of basis for the stated reason the war was waged in the first place.

BTW: Ditto on 'the American Way' alright!
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby Nordic » Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:49 pm

Man, my 2nd day of weirdness with CNN.

I never watch it. But the last couple of days, in the middle of the day, I've checked it out.

Yesterday was all about why it would be a disaster if Kadaffi fell, and why the U.S. might need to step in and "help".

Well today there's a story about this right now, the psyops.

Except they're not using the term PSYOPS, they're using the term "brainwashing."

It seems they are deliberately avoiding the term PSYOPS. I'm sure this is because they don't want anyone to google this or to learn that the militaries have established PSYOPS divisions, that PSYOPS (it's just easier to spell in caps for some reason) are a standard, old-school way of doing business, and that we're doing it right now all around the world.

They're acting like "wow, this is SO weird! The military brainwashing people! That's so out there!"

But then, oddly enough, they bring up Mitt Romney's father, who (I didn't know) was a "Presidential hopeful" years ago, and who claimed he got the best brainwashing you could imagine about Vietnam, from both the military and the diplomatic corps.

Damn, CNN is so WEIRD.

I really need to start doing my taxes, or something ....... or, I know! Get a job! Oh yeah, I forgot to get one for this week .....
"He who wounds the ecosphere literally wounds God" -- Philip K. Dick
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:25 pm

Fire Lt. Gen. Caldwell NOW and End the "Psy-Ops" War Against Congress
by Tom Andrews
Lt. General William Caldwell needs to be fired. Now. General Caldwell, a three star general in charge of training Afghanistan troops allegedly ordered that the Army’s arsenal of psychological weapons of war be trained on Members of Congress and other “VIPs” in order to manipulate them into giving the Army more money and troops for its Afghanistan operation.

According to Rolling Stone, the head of an Army “Information Operations” unit in Afghanistan, Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, has been under orders from Caldwell to find “pressure points” to use against the visiting Congressional delegations and secretly manipulate them without their knowledge. Holmes quoted the general’s Chief of Staff: “What do I have to plant inside their heads?”

General Caldwell should face court marshal proceedings for violating his oath of office and US law. The Justice Department should launch an immediate investigation to determine just how widespread this propaganda operation is and how high up the chain of command it goes. Congress should act immediately as well. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees should schedule public hearings and the investigative arms of both houses, as well as the General Accounting Office, should launch investigations.

This latest Rolling Stone bombshell needs all the attention that the Obama administration and the Congress gave reporter Michael Hastings’ last story on an out-of-control General, Stanly McChrystal. This is worse. General McChrystal was guilty of frat boy style insubordination. Lt. General Caldwell, and whoever else was involved in this outrage, was attempting a form of military coup by attacking elected civilian leaders through psychological warfare. If you are frustrated by civilian control over your military, take them out. In this case the weapon of choice was the arsenal available to them by the Army’s psychological warfare operation.

As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I was cognizant of the Pentagon’s use of spin to get the result that they wanted. I was in office for less than a month when I was invited for a personal “consultation” with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I am certain that Chairman Powell was less interested in my views of military strategy than he was of my vote.

You can also see this dynamic at play in Bob Woodward’s account of President Obama’s “war” with the Pentagon when he was formulating his Afghanistan strategy. According to “Obama’s Wars”, the President was incensed and frustrated by generals who would only provide him with options that were anything but. As Woodward put it, “This was a contest that pitted the president against the military establishment.” The contest ended with the announcement of a significant escalation of US forces in Afghanistan.

The manipulation described in the Rolling Stone article, however, is different. This is the wholesale use of a weapon of war – “psy ops” in the military vernacular – to take out the independent judgment of those who are responsible for overseeing and holding accountable the US military. As Lt. Col. Holmes put it “My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave.” To Lt. Gen. Caldwell, the enemy was not al-Qaeda or even the Taliban, but the U.S. Congress.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby Luther Blissett » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:34 pm

Nordic wrote:Man, my 2nd day of weirdness with CNN.

I never watch it. But the last couple of days, in the middle of the day, I've checked it out.

Yesterday was all about why it would be a disaster if Kadaffi fell, and why the U.S. might need to step in and "help".

Well today there's a story about this right now, the psyops.

Except they're not using the term PSYOPS, they're using the term "brainwashing."

It seems they are deliberately avoiding the term PSYOPS. I'm sure this is because they don't want anyone to google this or to learn that the militaries have established PSYOPS divisions, that PSYOPS (it's just easier to spell in caps for some reason) are a standard, old-school way of doing business, and that we're doing it right now all around the world.

They're acting like "wow, this is SO weird! The military brainwashing people! That's so out there!"

But then, oddly enough, they bring up Mitt Romney's father, who (I didn't know) was a "Presidential hopeful" years ago, and who claimed he got the best brainwashing you could imagine about Vietnam, from both the military and the diplomatic corps.

Damn, CNN is so WEIRD.

I really need to start doing my taxes, or something ....... or, I know! Get a job! Oh yeah, I forgot to get one for this week .....


I watched Glenn Beck for the weirdness last night, and it certainly was … weird. I can see how ignorant people can get sucked in. There is a ton of blatant lying / ommittance of obvious facts … facts Beck is not ignorant of, but the absence of which conflates huge lies.

Every commercial was about buying gold. Hilarity.
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby DrVolin » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:44 pm

Good morning Senator. How about a nice game of solitaire.
all these dreams are swept aside
By bloody hands of the hypnotized
Who carry the cross of homicide
And history bears the scars of our civil wars

--Guns and Roses
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby AhabsOtherLeg » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:56 pm

The Men Who Stare At Scrotes.
"The universe is 40 billion light years across and every inch of it would kill you if you went there. That is the position of the universe with regard to human life."
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby stoneonstone » Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:08 pm

Sooo many money shots. One that immediately jumps at me:

"Putting your propaganda people in a room with senators doesn’t look good," says John Pike, a leading military analyst. "It doesn’t pass the smell test. Any decent propaganda operator would tell you that."

No laughter or sense of, well, irony, in the transcript. But hilarious!
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby LilyPatToo » Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:07 pm

Came here to post about this wee slippage of MC into the MSM, only to find a nice thread on it. I love this place :lovehearts:

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George Romney on “Brainwashing”

Postby MinM » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:52 am


viewtopic.php?f=13&t=33932

Romney describes tactics eerily similar to those revealed in the op by Rolling Stone. :offair:
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby crikkett » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:39 am

Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators

See, the Bush administration didn't need the subtlety. They just outright blackmailed Senators.
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:28 pm

crikkett wrote:
Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators

See, the Bush administration didn't need the subtlety. They just outright blackmailed Senators.


Anthrax & Wellstone?
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Re: Rolling Stone: Army Used Psy-Ops on Senators

Postby MinM » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:06 pm

JackRiddler wrote:
crikkett wrote:
Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators

See, the Bush administration didn't need the subtlety. They just outright blackmailed Senators.


Anthrax & Wellstone?

Personal foibles. :oops:

Probably all of the above.
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Re: George Romney on “Brainwashing”

Postby elfismiles » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:42 pm

MinM wrote:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=33932

Romney describes tactics eerily similar to those revealed in the op by Rolling Stone. :offair:


Thanks MinM.

Manchurian Romney
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=34251
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