Pentagon Sued For Records on Propaganda, Psy-Ops and “Perception Management” Targetting U.S Civilians
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking records under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. ‘ 552, from the Department of Defense concerning Pentagon funded programs engaged in “strategic influence, perception management, strategic information warfare and/or strategic psychological operations” through media consultants, “think tanks,” foreign expatriate political organizations and Internet sites. Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request with the Pentagon on March 23, 2004. Following eight (8) requests for a status update, several phone calls and Judicial Watch offers to accept incremental production of the requested records, the Pentagon produced only two (2) spreadsheets listing Defense Department contracts. Judicial Watch was forced to file suit on February 25, 2005.
Judicial Watch is seeking, among other matters; information on a “peace movement” Internet site that reportedly was funded and established by the Pentagon called “Empower Peace.” The site was developed by The Rendon Group, a media consultancy firm the Pentagon has paid more than $40 million dollars to since 2001, and targets participation of American school age children, teachers and schools in what appears to be a “grassroots” peace movement. The Rendon Group’s relationship with the Pentagon has been reported in the New York Times and public relations trade magazines. “Empower Peace” offers “cultural awareness,” interactive web broadcasts between New York and Jordan, as well as Boston and Bahrain, and interaction with school age children of Islamic countries. There is no indication on the site that it is a project of the U.S. Defense Department.
The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. ‘ 1461), forbids the domestic dissemination of U.S. government authored or developed propaganda or “official news” deliberately designed to influence public opinion or policy. The Pentagon has made aggressive use of various information warfare techniques, developing new programs and hiring outside media consultants in executing their various missions in the Global War on Terror.
“Programs such as ‘Empower Peace,’ in addition to their dubious value, may be in violation of U.S. law,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.