Coming soon to media near you...This article was dated February 19th.
Pentagon plans media campaign
U.S. military wants to sway public opinion overseas
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon is planning to launch a media campaign that critics fear could end up spreading false information overseas and in the United States.
The campaign aimed at swaying public sentiment overseas in favour of the United States would be handled by the Office of Strategic Influence, a little known operation set up after the Sept. 11 attacks on America, defence officials said Tuesday.
The office has come up with a number of proposals, including placing news items -- false if need be -- with foreign news organizations, one official said. It also is thinking about having an outside organization distribute the information so it won't be immediately apparent the information is from the Department of Defence, he said.
The office already has hired the Washingtom-based Rendon Group consulting firm, which has done extensive work for the Central Intelligence Agency, the New York Times said in Tuesday editions.
Though planting disinformation against hostile regimes is a longtime tactic in military information warfare, the new Pentagon office wants to broaden the mission into allied countries in the Middle East, Asia and even western Europe, the newspaper said.
Critics fear a backlash from allies. They also worry that false information released to sway people in foreign countries will be picked up and spread back to America by international news organizations.
The office was established because the administration felt it was losing the public relations battle overseas when Osama bin Laden alleged that what America has called a war on terrorism is really a war on Islam.
The White House has set up special information offices and the State Department bolstered its public efforts since the attacks. Since it is the Pentagon's war effort, one official said, it was thought the Pentagon should have a campaign.