Sunday, June 12, 2005

Psychological warfare effort to be outsourced

Psychological warfare effort to be outsourced
Army command hires three firms to sway Afghans and Iraqis
Friday, June 10, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Special Operations Command has hired three firms to produce newspaper stories, television broadcasts and Web sites to spread American propaganda overseas.

The Tampa-based military headquarters, which oversees commandos and psychological warfare, may spend up to $100 million for the media campaign in the next five years.

The Pentagon backed away from a similar campaign in 2002.

The use of contractors in psyops is a new wrinkle. But psychological warfare expert Herb Friedman said he is not surprised.

With only one active-duty and two reserve psyops units remaining, Friedman said, "The bottom line is, they don't have the manpower."

Federal law prohibits sending propaganda to Americans, and some experts worry that psychological warfare messages, especially disinformation efforts, might blow back to American audiences via the Internet and satellite news channels.

"In this age of the Internet and instant access, it's of great concern," said Nancy Snow, a propaganda expert at California State University-Fullerton. "If you plant false stories, how can you control where that story goes? You can't."

Others question whether the money could be better spent....