US Army Used Psy-Ops Tactics Against Powerful Americans to Push War

Illustration for article titled US Army Used Psy-Ops Tactics Against Powerful Americans to Push War

Psychological operations are important to the US military. Two highly unpopular wars are being fought among highly unfriendly populaces. But, under federal law, it's illegal to use American psy-ops influence against other Americans. That hasn't stopped us, Rolling Stone reports.

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According to statements made by members of the Army with psy-ops training—the strategy of both propagandizing, influencing, and extracting information from others—a military team in Afghanistan used their powers against visiting politicians, including several prominent senators. On the list? John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Al Franken, Rep. Steve Israel from the enormously important House Appropriations Committee, and Admiral Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Top brass. To what end? Money.

These are politicians who've got the cash in their hands, and you can't have a war without plenty of it. So the Army decided to play dirty (and illegally), claims Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes. When bigwigs arrived in Kabul, Holmes—whose self-described job is to "play with people's heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave—was directed by General William Caldwell to do just that. Get inside their heads:

According to Holmes, the general wanted the [Information Operations] team to provide a "deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds." The general's chief of staff also asked Holmes how Caldwell could secretly manipulate the U.S. lawmakers without their knowledge. "How do we get these guys to give us more people?" he demanded. "What do I have to plant inside their heads?"

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Which is illegal. When Holmes balked, he found himself the target of both an internal investigation and a formal reprimand, and a found the backs of his superiors turned against him.

Whether effective or not, the mere existence of psy-ops warriors is serious business. Even if mind control methods are bunk, the fact that the government would be determined to wield this weapon against itself is ominous—and on your tax dollar dime. [Rolling Stone]

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DISCUSSION

I find it interesting that this is somehow deemed worse than any other information planting or extraction tactics used in every single second by civilians. I agree that it's not the highest of ethical practices but in my opinion, it's no different than any of the debt consolidation, miracle weight loss pill, or $1 house sale commercials found on TV at all times.

It all comes down to the way people are incentivized. It's interesting to me that people who are trained to be almost sociopathic for the good of our country are then judged when they use what their taught to work towards the incentives presented to them.

To me, it's like training a person not to regret killing and manipulating, telling them how great of a job their doing in the killing and manipulating business by promoting them, then giving them the incentive to manipulate you and getting mad about it when they do. Oh wait, that's exactly what happened.