The U.S. Army “illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in ‘psychological operations’ to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.”
The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as “information operations” at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.
The list of targeted visitors was long, according to interviews with members of the IO team and internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone. Those singled out in the campaign included senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Rep. Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan; the German interior minister, and a host of influential think-tank analysts.
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who chairs the Armed Services Committee, has issued the following press release statement in response:
“For years, I have strongly and repeatedly advocated for building up Afghan military capability because I believe only the Afghans can truly secure their nation’s future. I have never needed any convincing on this point. Quite the opposite, my efforts have been aimed at convincing others of the need for larger, more capable Afghan security forces, and that we and NATO should send more trainers to Afghanistan, rather than more combat troops. I am confident that the chain of command will review any allegation that information operations have been improperly used in Afghanistan.”
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a member of the Armed Services Committee, responded on MSNBC this morning.
If the U.S. Army used psychological tricks to manipulate Sen. Jack Reed to back more money and troops for Afghanistan war, he certainly wasn’t aware of it.
“I didn’t feel anything unusual going on,” Reed (D-R.I.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said during an interview on MSNBC Thursday morning.
Reed didn’t call for congressional hearings on the psy-ops program, but said he was confident the Pentagon would conduct a full investigation and issue “suitable punishments” if any laws or policies were violated.
“Charges of this nature are very serious and disturbing and they have to be fully investigated,” Reed said. “I assume the Department of Defense — particularly when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is involved — will take it seriously and conduct a thorough investigation and determine if there is any appropriate action that’s necessary.”