Information Operations Task Force
The Information Operations Task Force (IOTF) is described as a unit -- "deeper in the Pentagon's bureaucracy" -- which assumed much of the operations of the Office of Strategic Influence after it was shut down in February 2002. According to "Pentagon documents, the Rendon Group played a major role in the IOTF. The company was charged with creating an 'Information War Room' to monitor worldwide news reports at lightning speed and respond almost instantly with counterpropaganda," James Bamford reported November 17, 2005, in Rolling Stone magazine.
In his February 6, 2002, "Posture Statement" before the 107th Congress House Armed Services Committee, General Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "The second aspect of information operations highlighted by the Afghan campaign is the importance of a well-integrated information campaign. To that end, the Department of Defense (DOD) activated an information operations task force focused on winning the information campaign against global terrorism. This task force is committed to developing, coordinating, deconflicting, and monitoring the delivery of timely, relevant, and effective messages to targeted international audiences."
- Regarding the demise of the Office of Strategic Influence, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters November 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." 
"Among the missions proposed for the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence was one to 'coerce' foreign journalists and plant false information overseas. Secret briefing papers also said the office should find ways to 'punish' those who convey the 'wrong message.' One senior officer told CNN that the plan would 'formalize government deception, dishonesty and misinformation'," Bamford wrote.
"According to the Pentagon documents, John Rendon would use his media analysis to conduct a worldwide propaganda campaign, deploying teams of information warriors to allied nations to assist them 'in developing and delivering specific messages to the local population, combatants, front-line states, the media and the international community.' Among the places Rendon's info-war teams would be sent were Jakarta, Indonesia; Islamabad, Pakistan; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Cairo; Ankara, Turkey; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The teams would produce and script television news segments 'built around themes and story lines supportive of U.S. policy objectives.'
"Rendon was also charged with engaging in 'military deception' online -- an activity once assigned to the OSI. The company was contracted to monitor Internet chat rooms in both English and Arabic -- and 'participate in these chat rooms when/if tasked.' Rendon would also create a Web site 'with regular news summaries and feature articles. Targeted at the global public, in English and at least four (4) additional languages, this activity also will include an extensive e-mail push operation.' These techniques are commonly used to plant a variety of propaganda, including false information," Bamford wrote.
The Los Angeles Times' Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi reported November 30, 2005, that, "[a]s part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written" by American "information operations" troops, which are then "translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers ... in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq."
"The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. The Pentagon has a contract with a small Washington-based firm called Lincoln Group, which helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group's Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets," Mazzetti and Daragahi wrote. "The military's effort to disseminate propaganda in the Iraqi media is taking place even as U.S. officials are pledging to promote democratic principles, political transparency and freedom of speech in a country emerging from decades of dictatorship and corruption."
Military officials who are "familiar with the effort in Iraq" and "spoke on condition of anonymity because they are critical of the effort and were not authorized to speak publicly about it" said that it was "being directed by" the Information Operations Task Force in Baghdad, part of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq commanded by Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines."
Mazzetti and Daragahi wrote the "arrangement with Lincoln Group is evidence of how far the Pentagon has moved to blur the traditional boundaries between military public affairs — the dissemination of factual information to the media — and psychological and information operations, which use propaganda and sometimes misleading information to advance the objectives of a military campaign."
Resources and articles
Related SourceWatch articles
- Combined Press Information Center (CPIC in Iraq)
- fake news
- Information Operations Roadmap
- information warfare
- Iraq Communications Desk
- Iraqi Media Engagement Team (IMET)
- Lincoln Group
- National Clandestine Service
- war propaganda
- Capt. Mark D. Peasley, "Concepts and Doctrine. Force XXI: USAIC&FH Support to Information Operations," Military Intelligence Bulletin TRADOC, 1996. Posted by Federation of American Scientists.
- "Executive Summary for the Joint Peace Operations Seminar 2002," U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, PA.
Articles & Commentary
- Gar Smith, "America's Ministry of Propaganda -- Part Four: Black Programs and the Future of Propaganda," The Edge (envirosagainstwar.org), December 23, 2003.
- David Miller, "The Domination Effect," Guardian (UK), January 8, 2004: "The Pentagon is reportedly coordinating an 'information operations road map', drafted by the Information Operations Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ... information operations would be directed against an 'adversary'."
- Thomas Donnelly, Summary: "Winning Hearts and Minds: Information Warfare in the Global War on Terror," American Enterprise Institute, December 2004.
- "Pentagon Propaganda Shop Lives on, 'LA Times' Reports," Editor & Publisher, (Global Policy), December 1, 2004.
- Mark Mazzetti, "PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror," Los Angeles Times (TruthOut), December 1, 2004.
- "Pentagon debate rages over 'information operations' in Iraq," CNN, December 2, 2004.
- Joseph L. Galloway, "Truth be told, lies are part of Pentagon strategy," Knight Ridder Newspapers (Military.com), December 9, 2004.
- Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, "Hearts and Minds: Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena," New York Times (backup posted by Global Exchange), December 13, 2004.
- Charles Adlinger, "Pentagon Wants to Polish U.S. Image Abroad," Capitol Hill Blue, December 14, 2004.
- Ehsan Ahrari, "Odds are even in the 'information' war," Asia Times, December 16, 2004.
- Maj. Norman Emery, U.S. Army; Maj. Jason Werchan, U.S. Air Force; and Maj. Donald G. Mowles Jr., U.S. Air Force, "Fighting Terrorism and Insurgency: Shaping the Information Environment," Military Review, January/February 2005.
- Pamela Hess, "Analysis: Zarqawi target of info-ops campaign," UPI (Middle East Times), May 10, 2005.
- James Bamford, "The Man Who Sold the War. Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war," Rolling Stone, November 17, 2005.
- Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi, "U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press: Troops write articles presented as news reports. Some officers object to the practice," Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2005.
- "Pentagon looking into report military paid to plant news in Iraqi press," Agence France Presse, November 30, 2005.
- Jonathan S. Landay, "U.S. military pays Iraqis for positive news stories on war," Knight Ridder Newspapers, November 30, 2005.
- "US Military plants propaganda in Iraq - FOX News Contributor Bill Cowan advisor," News Hounds, November 30, 2005.
- Josh White, "Military Planting Articles in Iraq Papers. U.S. Officers Defend Program as Response to 'Information War' by Insurgents," Washington Post, December 1, 2005.
- Jeff Gerth and Scott Shane, "U.S. Is Said to Pay to Plant Articles in Iraq Papers," New York Times, December 1, 2005.
- Jonathan S. Landay, "White House expresses concern about paid-for news in Iraq," Knight Ridder Newspapers, December 1, 2005.
- Richard Edelman, "Pay for Play Back for A Second Run in Baghdad," Edelman.com, December 1, 2005.
- "Planted Propaganda," Washington Post, December 2, 2005.
- Kate Randall, "Made in the USA 'free press' in Iraq. US military covertly pays to plant stories in Iraqi media," WSWS, December 2, 2005.
- Clay Waters, "NYT: U.S. Defying 'Freedom of the Press' in Iraq," NewsBusters, December 2, 2005.
- Tim Leslie, "The U.S. Military and the Age of 'Perception Management'," Common Dreams, December 2, 2005.
- Lolita C. Baldor, "Pentagon to brief senators on propaganda program," Associated Press (Seattle Times), December 2, 2005. Also posted by Boston Globe.
- "Update 4: Military Explains News Propaganda in Iraq," Associated Press (Forbes.com), December 2, 2005.
- "Sparse coverage of Iraq-aganda-gate," News Hounds, December 2, 2005.
- Editorial: "All the News That's Fit to Plant," Denver Post, December 2, 2005.
- Eric Schmitt and David Cloud, "Senate Summons Pentagon to Explain Effort to Plant News Stories in Iraqi Media," New York Times, December 2, 2005.
- Walter Jajko, "It's propaganda time," Los Angeles Times, December 2, 2005.
- Paul McLeary, "When Spooks Were Reporters and Reporters Were Spooks," CJR Daily, December 2, 2005.
- Jason Vest, "And Now, the Fake News From Iraq. Our top 10 suggested headlines for the Pentagon's new, new journalism," Village Voice, December 2, 2005.
- Eric Schmitt, "Military Admits Planting News in Iraq," New York Times, December 3, 2005.
- Mark Mazzetti, "Planted stories scandal sets off furore," The Age, December 3, 2005.
- Mark Mazzetti, "Secret Program May Have Erred, Pentagon Says: Officials say they'll look into any violations in placement of pro-U.S. articles in Iraqi papers," Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2005.
- David Isenberg, "It's propaganda (shock, horror)!" Asia Times, December 3, 2005.
- Les Payne, "Truth is First Casualty of War Reporting," Newsday (Common Dreams), December 4, 2005.
- William Fisher, "The Unintended Consequences of Fake News," Common Dreams, December 5, 2005.
- Christopher Hitchens, "Secrets and Lies: The DoD's disgraceful plot to plant rosy stories in the Iraqi press," Slate, December 5, 2005.
- Peter Preston, "Propaganda and Bribery. The Bush Administration Will Pay Both at Home and in Iraq for Buying Puff Pieces in the Media," Guardian (UK) (Common Dreams), December 5, 2005.
- Syed Saleem Shahzad, "Media wars: Weapons of choice," Asia Times, December 7, 2005.
- Jonathan Alter, "The Real Price of Propaganda. Exporting a bunch of budding Jayson Blairs simply feeds the unhelpful image of Americans as inept and hypocritical puppetmasters," Newsweek, December 12, 2005 (issue).
- Matt Kelley, "Pentagon rolls out stealth PR. $300M effort aims to spread pro-U.S. messages in foreign media," USA Today, December 14, 2005: "The three companies handling the campaign include the Lincoln Group, the company being investigated by the Pentagon for paying Iraqi newspapers to run pro-U.S. stories. ... Military officials involved with the campaign say they're not planning to place false stories in foreign news outlets clandestinely. But the military won't always reveal its role in distributing pro-American messages."
- Mark Mazzetti and Kevin Sack"Planted PR Stories Not News to Military. U.S. officials in Iraq knew that a contractor was paying local papers. Discretion was the key," Los Angeles Times, December 18, 2005.