To The Jungle: US Military Psychological Operations And You
By Heather Wokusch
12 August, 2007
people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being
incapable of any other."-
Benjamin Franklin, on the Constitution, 1787
say that if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water it will immediately
jump out, but that if you raise the pot's heat gradually, the frog won't
The US public has been on
a slow boil since 2001. This administration's rollbacks have been so
consistent and so egregious that it's no surprise many Americans feel
And that begs the question:
What exactly would it take to get the US public spurred into action?
Sentient World Simulation
(SWS) may have an answer. It's a computer-based project designed to
"generate alternative futures" and no surprise, the US Defense
Department is actively involved.
According to one of the project's
developers, Purdue University professor Alok Chaturvedi, "SWS will
consist of a synthetic environment that mirrors the real world in all
it key aspects - Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information,
and Infrastructure." The goal is to copy each person on earth into
the SWS parallel universe, and then see how they respond to external
events such as natural disasters or political upheavals.
The concept paper Chaturvedi
co-authored additionally notes, "SWS provides an environment for
testing Psychological Operations (PSYOP)," to help the military
"develop and test multiple courses of action to anticipate and
shape behaviors of adversaries, neutrals, and partners."
To anticipate and shape behaviors
of adversaries, neutrals, and partners.
Blurring the lines between
military and civilian Psychological Operations is nothing new. In 1989,
US forces in Panama blasted Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle"
into the Vatican Embassy during negotiations for the handover of General
Manuel Noriega, and from 1998-1999, US military PSYOP personnel interned
at both CNN and NPR.
More recently, a 2003 Pentagon
document called Information Operations Roadmap detailed the US military's
approach to exploiting information in order to "keep pace with
warfighter needs and support defense transformation." Personally
approved by former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the document was declassified
in 2006 and covers everything from the Pentagon's plans for Computer
Network Attack ("We Must Fight the Net") to beefing up the
use of Psychological Operations ("We Must Improve PSYOP")
to manipulating information through means including: "Radio/ TV/Print/
Web media designed to directly modify behavior and distributed in theater
supporting military endeavors in semi or non-permissive environment."
While The Smith-Mundt Act
of 1948 forbids US propaganda intended for foreign audiences from being
used domestically, Information Operations Roadmap acknowledges that
"information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy
and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa."
The 2003 Pentagon document
adds, "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes
more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information
Perhaps that's why a top
US general ordered public affairs to be joined with combat PSYOP into
one "strategic communications office" in Iraq in the summer
Domestically, it doesn't
help that SWS and other developments in military Psychological Operations
are accompanied by rollbacks in the right to dissent and bipartisan
support of government surveillance of American citizens.
Makes you wish our cyberspace
clones could tell us how best to fight the Matrix.
At the very least, we must
become more vigilant about the ongoing use of military PSYOP and misinformation
- the Pat Tillman case is a perfect example. Holding the Defense Department
and media accountable for every mislead regarding the Bush administration's
military adventurism is more important than ever.
1. For a great database on
the Bush Administration's misleads about Iraq head over to Rep. Henry
A. Waxman's, "Iraq on the Record." (http://oversight.house.gov/IraqOnTheRecord/)
2. One Defense Department
group particularly especially interested in these topics is The Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The site of its Information
Exploitation Office, for example, is focused on "shaping the battlespace
before conflict" and filled with snappy computer graphics reminiscent
of militaristic video games (http://dtsn.darpa.mil/ixo/). Your taxpayer
dollars hard at work.
3. For media watchdog groups,
visit Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (www.fair.org) and Media
Matters for America (http://mediamatters.org).
4. Had enough? E-mail, call
or write the President, Congress or state and local government at http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/
Share Your Insights
it! And spread the word!
Here is a unique chance to help this article to be read by thousands
of people more. You just Digg it, and it will appear in the home page
of Digg.com and thousands more will read it. Digg is nothing but an
vote, the article with most votes will go to the top of the page. So,
as you read just give a digg and help thousands more to read this article.