Is Office of Strategic Influence Gone?
The following article from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting looks at the issue of official propaganda. http://www.fair.org/press-releases/osi-followup.html.
The Office of Strategic Influence Is Gone, But Are Its Programs In Place?
Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting
November 27, 2002
The Federation of American Scientists has pointed to a startling revelation by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that mainstream media have missed: In remarks during a recent press briefing, Rumsfeld suggested that though the controversial Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) no longer exists in name, its programs are still being carried out (FAS Secrecy News, 11/27/02, http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/2002/11/112702.html).
The OSI came under scrutiny last February, when the New York Times reported (2/19/02) that the new Pentagon group was "developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations." The news was met with outrage, and within a week the Pentagon had closed down the OSI, saying that negative attention had damaged the office"s reputation so much "that it could not operate effectively" (AP, 2/26/02).
The plan was troubling for many reasons: It was profoundly undemocratic; it would have put journalists" lives at risk by involving them in Pentagon disinformation; and it"s almost certain that any large-scale disinformation campaign directed at the foreign press would have led, sooner or later, to a falsified story being picked up by U.S. media. (See Extra! Update 4/02, "Behind the Pentagon's Propaganda Plan.")
At the time, Rumsfeld claimed that he had "never even seen the charter for the office," but Thomas Timmes, the OSI"s assistant for operations, said that Rumsfeld had been briefed on its goals "at least twice" and had "given his general support" (New York Times, 2/25/02).
Now, in remarks made at a November 18 media briefing, Rumsfeld has suggested that though the exposure of OSI's plans forced the Pentagon to close the office, they certainly haven't given up on its work. According to a transcript on the Department of Defense website, Rumsfeld told reporters:
"And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence. You may recall that. And 'oh my goodness gracious isn't that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is going to fall.' I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have."
A search of the Nexis database indicates that no major U.S. media outlets-- no national broadcast television news shows, no major U.S. newspapers, no wire services or major magazines-- have reported Rumsfeld's remarks.
Rumsfeld's comments seem all the more alarming in light of analysis presented by William Arkin in a recent Los Angeles Times opinion column (11/24/02), in which he argues that Rumsfeld is redesigning the U.S. military to make "information warfare" central to its functions.
This new policy, says Arkin, increasingly "blurs or even erases the boundaries between factual information and news, on the one hand, and public relations, propaganda and psychological warfare, on the other." Arkin adds that "while the policy ostensibly targets foreign enemies, its most likely victim will be the American electorate."
It is essential that media follow up this story, particularly now, as the country faces a possible war with Iraq and reporters rely even more heavily than usual on Pentagon information.
To read the full transcript of Rumsfeld's remarks, see:
To read William Arkin's Los Angeles Times article:
(Link expires December 1.)
General Fair Use Notice
This reposted page may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Globalissues.org is making this article available in efforts to advance the understanding of the workings, impact and direction of various global issues. I believe that this constitutes a “fair use” of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use,” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
This article is part of the following collection:
- War on Terror Mainstream Media and Propaganda
- Here we go again
- New Slogan in Washington: Watch What You Say
- No To US-demanded Crackdown on Free Media
- Attempts to influence flow of news in Middle East
- The Media’s Battle Cry
- CNN of the Arab World
- War Needs Good Public Relations
- The War on Journalism
- Pushing the Media Right
- Where no news is good news
- The media missed the story in Afghanistan
- Are The Media Ready For A New War?
- Patriotism and Censorship
- Beyond Good and Evil
- Why does John Malkovich want to kill me?
- Bush team enlists Madison Avenue in war on terror
- Branding New and Improved Wars
- Muslim-as-Apple-Pie Videos Are Greeted With Skepticism
- Shredding the First Amendment
- Is Office of Strategic Influence Gone?
- Killed by friendly fire in US infowar
- Whatever Happened to Homeland Security?
- What the US papers don’t say
- The 'Prop-Agenda' At War
- Pentagon Rolls Out Stealth PR
- Hearts, Minds, and Dollars
- Blair Using Fear and Spin for War on Terror
- The Trouble with Bush’s “Islamofascism”
- Hijacking 9/11
- “Have You No Sense of Decency, Sir?”
- “Fascism” Frame Set Up by Neocon Press
- As Others See U.S.—The “War on Terror”
- The Statistical Invisibility of Islamist 'Terrorism' in Europe
- Journalists Held in US Military Prisons
- What US Lobbyists Do for Dictators
Back to top