Office of Strategic Influence

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The Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) was "established shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a response to concerns in the administration that the United States was losing public support overseas for its war on terrorism, particularly in Islamic countries." public relations campaigns. [1]

In a February 19, 2002, New York Times article, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld let it be known that, while he was "broadly supportive of the new office," he had "not approved its specific proposals and [had] asked the Pentagon's top lawyer, William J. Haynes, to review them." [2]

OSI, headed by Air Force Brig. Gen. Simon P. Worden, began "circulating classified proposals calling for aggressive campaigns that use[d] not only the foreign media and the Internet, but also covert operations." Worden envisioned "a broad mission ranging from 'black' campaigns that use[d] disinformation and other covert activities to 'white' public affairs that rely on truthful news releases," according to Pentagon officials. "'It goes from the blackest of black programs to the whitest of white,' a senior Pentagon official said." [3]

The Pentagon's announcement, including that the OSI planned "to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries," gave immediate rise to negative publicity. [4]

On February 26, 2002, Rumsfeld announced that the OSI was closed, telling reporters that "The office has clearly been so damaged that it is pretty clear to me that it could not function effectively, ... So it is being closed down." [5]

Rendon Group

"The Pentagon had hired the Rendon Group, an international communications firm, to help the new office. Pentagon officials said that the firm, headed by John W. Rendon Jr., a former campaign aide to President Jimmy Carter, would continue to be paid about $100,000 a month to do work for other Pentagon offices." [6]

OSI Reborn

Some argue that due to its nature and stated purpose, the (non-)existence of such an agency would be hard to determine. OSI is said to have been reorganized, with all its original functions reassigned to the Office of Global Communications, [Information Awareness Office] (IAO), and the newly reactivated Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team (Counter-Information Team)." [7][8][9]

In a November 18, 2002, press gaggle while en route to Chile, Rumsfeld said:

"And then there was the office of strategic influence. [...] I went down that next day and said fine, if 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 gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have."

Relevant Quotes

  • "Doug Feith indicated to me that he has decided to close down the Office of Strategic Influence. [...] So it's being closed down." --Donald Rumsfeld, February 26, 2002.
  • "The Office of Strategic Information. Unlike the recently discovered OSP, the OSI drew immediate criticism after its inception shortly after 9/11. As part of an effort to sway the Islamic world in America's favor, the OSI planned to plant 'disinformation' in the foreign newsmedia and engage in 'covert deception.' ... 'If you liked the lie about the murder of Kuwaiti babies after Iraq's invasion of the oil-rich emirate in 1990, you'll love the [OSI],' UPI wrote. The office shut down almost immediately after its existence became publicly known last February." --Ari Berman, August 23, 2003.

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