----- Forwarded message from Matthieu Crocq <mcq at pobox.com> -----
> Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
> Media analysis, critiques and news reports
> ACTION ALERT: WHY WERE GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA EXPERTS
> WORKING ON NEWS AT CNN?
> March 27, 2000
> 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
> 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
> 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."
> ACTION: Please write to CNN and ask why the network
> allowed government
> propaganda specialists to work in their news
> As always, please remember that letters are taken
> more seriously if they
> maintain a professional tone. Please cc-copies of
> your correspondence to
> fair at fair.org.
> Eason Jordan
> President, CNN International Networks and
> mailto:cnn.feedback at cnn.com
> Fax: 404-827-3134
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