Reports in the Dutch newspaper Trouw (2/21/00, 2/25/00) and France's Intelligence Newsletter (2/17/00) have revealed that several officers from the US Army's 4th Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) Group at Ft. Bragg worked in the news division at CNN's Atlanta headquarters last year, starting in the final days of the Kosovo War.
In the U.S. media, so far only Alexander Cockburn, columnist for The Nation and co-editor of the newsletter CounterPunch, has picked up on the story. Cockburn's column on the subject is available at www.counterpunch.org
The story is disturbing. In the 1980s, officers from the 4th Army PSYOPS group staffed the National Security Council's Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD), a shadowy government propaganda agency that planted stories in the U.S. media supporting the Reagan Administration's Central America policies.
A senior US official described OPD as a "vast psychological warfare operation of the kind the military conducts to influence a population in enemy territory." (Miami Herald, 7/19/87) An investigation by the congressional General Accounting Office found that OPD had engaged in "prohibited, covert propaganda activities," and the office was soon shut down as a result of the Iran-Contra investigations. But the 4th PSYOPS group still operates.
CNN has always maintained a close relationship with the Pentagon. Getting access to top military officials is a necessity for a network that stakes its reputation on being first on the ground during wars and other military operations.
What makes the CNN story especially troubling is the fact that the network allowed the Army's covert propagandists to work in its headquarters, where they learned the ins and outs of CNN's operations. Even if the PSYOPS officers working in the newsroom did not influence news reporting, did the network allow the military to conduct an intelligence-gathering mission against CNN itself?
For instance, one PSYOPS officer worked in CNN's satellite division. According to Intelligence Newsletter, rear admiral Thomas Steffens, a psychological warfare expert in the Special Operations Command, recently told a PSYOPS conference that the military needed to find ways to "gain control" over commercial news satellites to help bring down an "informational cone of silence" over regions where special operations were taking place.
An unofficial strategy paper published by the U.S. Naval War College in 1996 and written by an Army officer ("Military Operations in the CNN World: Using the Media as a Force Multiplier") urged military commanders to find ways to "leverage the vast resources of the fourth estate" for the purposes of "communicating the [mission's] objective and endstate, boosting friendly morale, executing more effective psychological operations, playing a major role in deception of the enemy, and enhancing intelligence collection."
Just adding to this - here is a direct link to that document referenced above, "Military Operations in the CNN World: Using the Media as a Force Multiplier"
Extremely revealing stuff.
Military Operations in the CNN World: Using the Media as a Force Multiplier - 1996http://en.scientificcommons.org/17104283
Direct download link: http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA307447
Using the media for psy-ops, deception operations, it's all in here. And to think people still buy the crap that the CIA or the Defense Department for that matter CANNOT, and WILL NOT psy-op its own people - I mean, it says right here in this document that they DECEIVED the public as to what the hell was going on during Operation Desert Storm as part of a strategic deception maneuver to outflank the Iraqi forces. So, that constitutes a mass psy-op and deception operation right there.
Another extremely revealing document:
Media - The Force Multiplier In Operations - 2007http://cdm.ap.nic.in/dissertations/dissvol419/Media-the%20force%20multiplier%20in%20the%20operation.pdf
In democracies like ours the freedom of speech is enshrined in our constitution and is a fundamental right. In addition, the media takes upon itself the pious duty of being the watch dog for the three pillars of democracy; namely the legislature, the executive and the judiciary and thus guards its freedom zealously. If we couple this with the tremendous capability of the media to mould opinions and perceptions media becomes a very potent means of controlling the way the populations think. It is said that "absolute power corrupts completely"; so is the case with media. Though media is so powerful yet it needs the money to be viable and thus the commercial angle cannot be ignored. Where the aspect of commerce is included the possibilities of malpractices and economic hijack cannot be ruled out. Issues of readership and TRP ratings of commercials on television cannot be ignored. It is this delicate balance between commercial compulsions and need for circulations that needs to be continuously monitored. It is thus not with no reason that the rules of mass media reporting or the ethics of journalism are stringent. What is however to be seen is that the media is averse to external controls and censorship. It banks on self censorship.
So the military regards itself as a liberating force freeing the public from the oppressive forces that is the media - by INCORPORATING the media into its vast governing structure - the end result being even more oppression of the people for purposes they do not understand, and will never ever understand if they put themselves at the mercy of the vast Fourth Estate of the government.
The Colonel who wrote this, BTW, is from the 'Behavioral Sciences' department. This is what these guys are involved in...