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ZGram - 12/13/2004 - "Galloway: Truth be told, lies are part of Pentagon strategy"

zgrams at zgrams.zundelsite.org
Thu Dec 16 08:08:00 EST 2004

Zgram - Where Truth is Destiny:  Now more than ever!

December 13, 2004

Good Morning from the Zundelsite:

"The first casualty when war comes is truth." So said Sen. Hiram 
Johnson, a California Republican, in the year 1917:


Truth be told, lies are part of Pentagon strategy
Knight Ridder Newspapers

There is a struggle inside the Pentagon over where to draw the line 
in conducting so-called information operations or propaganda in the 
wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and who will be involved. On one side 
are the information warfare activists, led by Defense Secretary 
Donald H. Rumsfeld and Assistant Secretary Douglas Feith. On the 
other are those who believe that telling lies to the media is wrong 
and military public affairs officers should never be involved in that.

The wrangling has been going on since soon after the 9/11 attacks in 
2001 when a Pentagon war planner, speaking anonymously, told a 
Washington Post reporter, "This is the most information-intensive war 
you can imagine. We're going to lie about things."

Not long afterward the Pentagon opened its controversial Office of 
Strategic Influence amid reports that its mission included planting 
false news stories in the international media. A public outcry led to 
the hasty shuttering of that office, but Rumsfeld served notice that 
while the office may have been closed, its mission would be continued 
by other entities.

The defense secretary told reporters on Nov. 18, 2002: "Fine, 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 going to keep doing every 
single thing that needs to be done, and I have."

This week the Los Angeles Times reported that CNN had been targeted 
in an information war operation three weeks before the start of the 
attack against Fallujah. On Oct. 14 Marine 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert, a 
public affairs spokesman, went on camera to declare that "troops 
crossed the line of departure" - that the Fallujah operation was 
under way.

It was not. The U.S. commanders obviously hoped that the false news 
broadcast by CNN would trigger certain moves by the insurgents and 
foreign terrorists holding the Sunni city - moves that then could be 
analyzed to gain information on how they would defend Fallujah.

Marine sources in Iraq flatly deny that Lt. Gilbert's statement to 
CNN was a deception operation or part of a larger psy-war operation. 
They say the distinction between public affairs and information 
operations is very clear and jealously guarded by the public affairs 

Also this week the Washington Post brought new attention on the 
friendly-fire killing of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a former NFL 
football star who gave up the spotlight to become a soldier. For days 
after the death of Tillman, military commanders and spokesmen both in 
Afghanistan and at Fort Bragg left out any mention of his having been 
killed by American bullets as they spun the story of a hero killed in 

That incident brought to mind the false stories about the rescue and 
heroism of Pvt. Jessica Lynch foisted on reporters during the opening 
days of the attack into Iraq. The official picture painted initially 
was of a young woman who fought to the last bullet before being 
wounded and captured. The truth was that Pvt. Lynch was injured when 
the vehicle in which she was riding crashed and she was knocked 
unconscious. She never fired a shot.

An investigation of the Tillman death and the information given to 
the media is presently under way, according to an Army spokesman. 
Defense Department spokesman Larry DiRita says he has asked his staff 
for "more information" on how the Oct. 14 Marine incident came to 

Critics point to one troubling recent development: the decision by 
commanders in Iraq in mid-September to combine information 
operations, psychological operations and public affairs into a single 
strategic communications office run by an Air Force brigadier general 
who reports directly to Gen. George Casey, the American commander.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote a 
letter in late September warning American commanders of the problems 
of lumping military public affairs in with information operations.

Myers warned that public affairs and information operations must 
remain separate. But his warning seems to have fallen on deaf ears in 
Iraq because civilian leaders in the Pentagon and the National 
Security Council insisted on a blended effort of both public affairs 
and psy-ops to woo Iraqi and Arab support for America's efforts in 

In the old days of the Cold War America's propaganda war was fought 
by the U.S. Information Agency, which was strictly forbidden from 
distributing any propaganda inside the United States. USIA was first 
gutted and then folded into the State Department during the mid-1990s.

Everyone involved in this argument would do well to heed Gen. Myers' 
warning against mixing the liars and the truth-tellers in one pot. 
That distinction was blurred during the Vietnam War and the image the 
American public carried away was of the Five O'Clock Follies, the 
daily official news briefing in Saigon where lies and spin were 
dispensed along with the facts.

Believe me, we do not want to go there again.


Joseph L. Galloway is the senior military correspondent for Knight 
Ridder Newspapers and co-author of the national best-seller "We Were 
Soldiers Once ... and Young." Readers may write to him at 
jgalloway at krwashington.com


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