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We're From the Government; You Can Trust Us

By® Staff

Originally Posted

Well, the news media have done it again.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld blames media for his decision to close the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence, which masterminded a plan to spread false information abroad on behalf of the U.S. government. Rumsfeld said the bright light of news coverage and commentary has made it impossible for the agency to do its job.

Media reports said the office, established after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to counter false information being spread overseas about the U.S. war on terrorism, had issued classified documents proposing to use the Internet and "black ops" to spread lies and misinformation.

We'd never do that, Rumsfeld said. We'd do other stuff. We might use strategic or tactical deception -- we might "do things" to confuse or mislead an enemy -- but we'd never actually lie, he deadpanned.

Actually, it is formal Defense Department policy to avoid knowingly or deliberately disseminate false information to the U.S. or foreign media or publics.

With a staff of 15 and a Pentagon-sized budget of millions, OSI was set to use the "psy-ops" folks of the Army's Psychological Operations command, among others. The office had planned what they termed "informational operations" -- dropping leaflets and broadcasting radio messages in battlefield areas. Now the Pentagon will have to find other means of getting its messages across overseas.

"While much of the thrust of the criticism and the cartoons and comment has been off the mark,' Rumsfeld said, "the office has been damaged so much that it could not operate effectively.'

We anticipate more cartoons.

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