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US Army targeted interior minister with 'psy-ops'

The Local · 25 Feb 2011, 11:52

Published: 25 Feb 2011 11:52 GMT+01:00

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A three-star general in command of training Afghan troops, Gen. William Caldwell, allegedly ordered a team of soldiers specializing in “information operations” to manipulate de Maizière and others including the Czech ambassador, Rolling Stone magazine reported this week.

The unit was told to persuade US lawmakers and foreign officials to provide more funding and troops for the war in Afghanistan. The article only lists “the German interior minister,” but the time frame in 2010 means that de Maizière was the target.

Unit leader Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes told the magazine that when he resisted the orders because they went against official policy, he was reprimanded.

"My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave," Holmes said. "I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line."

US Defence Department protocols define psy-ops as the use of psychological methods and propaganda to influence “hostile foreign groups,” and federal law makes it illegal to practice such tactics on American citizens, the magazine said.

"We called it Operation Fourth Star," Holmes told the magazine. "Caldwell seemed far more focused on the Americans and the funding stream than he was on the Afghans.

"We were there to teach and train the Afghans. But for the first four months it was all about the US. Later he even started talking about targeting the NATO populations."

Holmes took his complaints to the spokesman for the Afghan training mission led by Caldwell, Col. Gregory Breazile, who allegedly became enraged.

"It’s not illegal if I say it isn’t!" Breazile reportedly shouted.

Military lawyers told Holmes that they disagreed, and Caldwell denies using the information operations unit to manipulate politicians.

Story continues below…

But Holmes subsequently became the target of a military investigation that accused him of a litany of violations, including inappropriate relations with a woman officer that both parties deny, Rolling Stone reported.

Both Holmes and the woman were formally reprimanded by the US Army.

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Your comments about this article

12:23 February 25, 2011 by pepsionice
Kind of comical from a dozen views.

First, this outstanding reporting comes from Rolling Stone magazine. This is the one publication that still thinks the Bangles were a top-ten group in the 1980s.

Second, the psy-ops type of folks here? It's the same type folks that Republicans, Democrats, SPD, CDU, FDP and various other parties use in putting out their message to the voters.

Third, are the political figures that run off to the war-zone that naive that they can't recognize psy-ops commentary in the first place?

Fourth, if you had a choice of believing something....which psy-ops group would be more believable....the Islamic psy-ops guys or the western psy-ops folks?

At the end of the day....wouldn't it be best to ask Rolling Stone to go back to reporting on the art of music and Madonna?
12:31 February 25, 2011 by Surferjoe
Yes consider the source and laugh. Rolling Stone is a pop music magazine that think the band Chicago with its 40+ year history as a rock and pop icon unworthy of inclusion into the RR hall of fame. Ignorance is bliss and investigative journalism a bridge too far for the editorial staff at Rolling Stone.
12:44 February 25, 2011 by auniquecorn
I remember that, Rolling Stone Mag.was their to interview the U.S. Army Europe Soldiers Chorus, who were putting on a show for the troops during that time frame,

Maybe one of the authors plagerized another reporters work. and published it before he even read what it was about.
12:49 February 25, 2011 by idiot
best psy-op is the good old money.
12:51 February 25, 2011 by Landmine
You are reporting this story based on an article from Rolling Stone magazine????

Given the seriousness of the accusation, one would think The Local would use a reliable source for their story rather than Rolling Stone. How about using 17 magazine too? It is probably just as reliable...

13:00 February 25, 2011 by zeddriver
I'm glad to see one of our troops turning in someone that was giving him orders to break federal law. When I went to leadership school in the Air Force. They made a point to teach us that a higher ranking person is not allowed to order a military member to break a law or military regulation "period"
13:04 February 25, 2011 by LiberalGuy
Rolling Stone magazine did get the last US commander in charge of Afghanistain fired too remember
13:30 February 25, 2011 by zeddriver

That may be true.

But in the end that commander shot a hole in his own boat by inviting the press to party with him, Then upon alcoholic lubrication someone proceeded to talk a little to much.
13:54 February 25, 2011 by So36
You people haven't got a clue. RS has a long tradition of solid investigative journalism. The story LiberalGuy mentions is a case in point: what other reporting has gotten a high ranking general fired recently?
14:02 February 25, 2011 by freechoice
LSD, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana and other ingredients could make your heads go into the filth dimensions and connect with the unknown!!
14:08 February 25, 2011 by Frenemy
For credibility's sake thelocal should have used AP as the source:

14:53 February 25, 2011 by So36
You mean like how AP is citing Rolling Stone since they're the ones that broke the story? Sheesh.
15:11 February 25, 2011 by Frenemy
Seriously? Damn....my opinion of AP just crashed...
15:54 February 25, 2011 by wood artist
Most of these comments seem to be the good old "Shoot the messenger" programs. While I agree that Rolling Stone isn't the first rag I think of when looking for investigative reporting on foreign affairs, that doesn't automatically mean they're wrong. After all, they had the report of General McCrystal (sp?) and he ended up getting fired for what he said to them.

As for AP? Well, if they're simply reporting "this is what Rolling Stone" said, there's nothing wrong with that. They correctly attribute the story to the source, and let the reader go from there. If they didn't report it, and then it blew up, they'd look like they ignored breaking news, wouldn't they?

Sadly, in looking at this without worrying about the source, I find myself saying "It could well be true" and that's troubling. I guess we'll see.

16:21 February 25, 2011 by livingintomania
Reminds me of the film - 'Men who stare at goats'
18:19 February 25, 2011 by Ebolter
Really? I suggest you all send me money then- There, that was easy .
18:48 February 25, 2011 by Curmudgeon
Why wouldn't people believe the article to be true. The US spied on its allies to mould the UN to its liking. Rolling Stone outed Goldman Sachs, in 2009, as being behind all of the "bubbles" in the economy over the last 80 years: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405

Not long ago, an American "diplomat" in Pakistan chased and shot dead two Pakistanis. When arrested, the "diplomat" had sophisticated spy-like equipment on him.

Do not confuse the American Government with Americans. Most Americans would find this type of alleged behaviour to be un-American.
05:47 February 26, 2011 by dr.makni49
This story or the similar one has appeared already in US press also.

No worry, German are not the material that would pick up psy ops soak that readily.

It it is true, I agree with some that it is US Govt and not Americans who never fail in vetting their own Govt deeds, and criticize thread bare if necessary.

In any case a kind of psy ops is an important character of diplomacy, only the mode may differ and it is known since ages.

06:35 February 26, 2011 by proclusian
Some of you guys (and gals?) need to get a clue. I'm looking at you, @pepsionice and you @Surferjoe.

As far as I can tell, Rolling Stone is one of the few publications which is still telling it like it is in Afghanistan (and domestically in the U.S., Matt Taibbi's articles on foreclosure and bankster fraud have been superb).

They are not like numerous reporters in Afghanistan and Iraq, who were "embedded" to the point of merely passing along the press releases from the military.

In fact, didn't we get started on that whole misadventure in Iraq, at least in part, thanks to Achmed Chalabi, Judith Miller, and the good old New York Times?

Yes, the "real" press is doing such a great job, we hardly need Rolling Stone at all, do we?
11:37 February 26, 2011 by Surferjoe
Misadventure in Iraq? I don't think so. Saddam and his "arab brother" in Libya had a lot in common. Taking care of those problems separately made much more sense. As to Rolling Stone, its merely a rock and roll magazine with pretensions to serious reporting. They should relax and run another story on Jerry Lee Lewis.
20:00 February 26, 2011 by Ich
If the object was to squander money on a pile of camel dung, $1.1 trillion was way too successful for anything our generals did intentionally. Probably just dumb luck. As for psy-ops, our liberal media has to be the worst offender.
04:26 February 27, 2011 by Talonx
typical american political scheme, manipulate the world.
14:48 February 27, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
What I find humourous is that the intended target, de Maiziere, is the Minister of the Interior - head of German Intelligence, n'est pas? I seriously doubt some US intel major is going to play with his head: rather like trying to outfox the fox. (Not to mention the German Intel folks whose job it will be to keep an eye on such)...reminds me of the Bible verse:

How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds! Proverbs 1:17
10:49 February 28, 2011 by Surferjoe
They are manipulating the world to the best of their ability, Talonx, and aren't you lucky! If you live in the west get on down on your knees everyday and thank your God there's someone like US you can resent.
11:03 February 28, 2011 by michael4096
sounds like psy-ops worked on at least one person
16:31 February 28, 2011 by Talonx
Yay wars and destabilization!

Thank's America!
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