Office of Strategic Influence
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. 
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." 
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." 
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. 
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." 
"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." 
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)." 
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."
- "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.
Resources and articles
Related SourceWatch articles
- Coalition Information Center
- Iraq Communications Desk
- Loose Cannon Pentagon
- Office of Net Assessment
- Office of Special Plans
- Office of Strategic Communication
- Office of Strategic Initiatives
- Office of the Secretary of Defense
- Strategic Communication Policy Coordinating Committee (SCPCC)
- Team B Strategic Initiatives Panel
- Total Information Awareness
- James Dao and Eric Schmitt, "Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad," New York Times, February 19, 2002; also posted on Common Dreams website.
- Damian Whitworth, "Pentagon 'ready to lie' to win War on Terror," London Times, February 20, 2005.
- "New Pentagon office to spearhead information war," CNN, February 20, 2002.
- James Dao, "A Nation Challenged: Hearts and Minds" (abstract), New York Times, February 21, 2002: "New Agency Will Not Lie, Top Pentagon Officials Say."
- Vernon Loeb and Dana Milbank, "New Defense Office Won't Mislead, Officials Say," Washington Post, February 21, 2002.
- Mike Allen, "White House Angered at Plan For Pentagon Disinformation," Washington Post, February 25, 2002.
- "Pentagon closes down controversial office," CNN, February 26, 2002.
- News Release: DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers, Department of Defense, February 26, 2002.
- James Dao and Eric Schmitt, "A 'Damaged' Information Office Is Declared Closed by Rumsfeld," New York Times, February 27, 2002.
- Rachel Coen, "Behind the Pentagon’s Propaganda Plan," FAIR, April 2002.
- Karen DeYoung, "Bush to Create Formal Office To Shape U.S. Image Abroad," Washington Post, July 30, 2002: "The Bush White House has decided to transform what was a temporary effort to rebut Taliban disinformation about the Afghan war into a permanent, fully staffed 'Office of Global Communications' to coordinate the administration's foreign policy message and supervise America's image abroad, according to senior officials. ... The new office is the brainchild of senior Bush adviser Karen P. Hughes, architect of the administration's efforts to ensure a uniform message on domestic policy."
- News Release: Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability En Route to Chile, Department of Defense, November 18, 2002.
- "The Office of Strategic Influence Is Gone, But Are Its Programs In Place?" FAIR, November 27, 2002.
- "A secretive office stands up for U.S. version of events. Focusing on Iraqi claims about U.S.," Associated Press (CNN), March 10, 2003.
- Ari Berman, "Ideas the Pentagon Wishes It Never Had," The Nation, August 23, 2003.
- David E. Kaplan, "Hearts, Minds, and Dollars: In an Unseen Front in the War on Terrorism, America is Spending Millions...To Change the Very Face of Islam", U.S. News, April 25, 2005.
- AltHippo, "'Freedom Walk' 'Truth Tour' Have Much in Common," TPM Cafe, August 19, 2005: Is it possible that "the Office of Media Outreach and America Supports You are just the Office of Strategic Influence under a new name"?
- Arab Media markets and outreach and strategies
- Office of Strategic Influence in the Wikipedia.