Michael Hastings has struck again.
The reporter whose story for Rolling Stone forced the resignation of former Gen. Stanley McChrystal has a new story out, this time focusing on what he calls “psyops” employed against elected officials by yet another “runaway general.”
However, when told to target high-profile individuals such as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Al Franken (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI) and even Adm. Mike Mullen — one unit resisted, citing federal law that information warfare not be used against Americans.
“At minimum,” Hastings writes, “the use of the [information operations] team against U.S. senators was a misue of vital resources designed to combat the enemy.”
The report added that documents provided to the magazine showed the operations cost taxpayers over $6 million.
Those that resisted, the report said, were targeted for retaliation.
Lt. Gen. William Caldwel, Hastings noted, had on multiple occasions attempted to merge the military’s public affairs and information operations units, effectively tearing down the wall between media relations and psyops. He even went so far as to suggest that the information operations teams be split up, the report said, so that each general could have “their own personal spokesperson with psy-ops training.”
The general was also an advocate of expanding the military’s use of widely known information platforms, like Wikipedia, to expand the military’s influence over public opinion.
In one instance, Rolling Stone‘s informant said he was tasked to carry out psyops against every single “distinguished visitor” who stopped by, which a military lawyer later agreed was against policy.
Caldwell’s office, the report noted, issued a rebuttal that “categorically denies the assertion that the command used an Information Operations Cell to influence Distinguished Visitors.”
After the order was reported, the language was allegedly amended to stipulate that distinguished visitors’ profiles be created only from publicly available records.