...the New York Times reported that a new group within the Pentagon, the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), was "developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations." Headed by Brigadier General Simon P. Worden, the OSI had a multi-million-dollar budget and "has begun circulating classified proposals calling for aggressive campaigns that use not only the foreign media and the Internet, but also covert operations," the Times stated. "General Worden envisions a broad mission ranging from 'black' campaigns that use disinformation and other covert activities to 'white' public affairs that rely on truthful news releases, Pentagon officials said. 'It goes from the blackest of black programs to the whitest of white,' a senior Pentagon official said."

The proposal was controversial even within the military, where critics worried that it would undermine the Pentagon's credibility and blur the boundaries between covert operations and public relations. Moreover, disinformation planted in foreign media organizations could end up being published and broadcast to U.S. audiences. The Times report sparked an uproar in Congress and outraged newspaper editorials, and within a week the White House closed down the OSI, disavowing any intent to ever use disinformation. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that he had "never even seen the charter for the office," even though the OSI's assistant for operations said otherwise.

In fact, however, Rumsfeld seemed to care quite a bit about preserving the functions of an office whose charter he claimed never to have seen. Nine months later, he made the following remark during an airplane flight to Chile: "And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence. You may recall that. And 'Oh, my goodness gracious, isn't that terrible, Henny Penny, the sky is going to fall.' 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."

[Excerpt from Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq. Read the rest of that excerpted chapter on]

I don't remember which comedian or pundit put it in these terms, but this quote from Rumsfeld really proves that the first major disinformation spread by the OSI was their claim that the OSI shut down.

I picture a guy who screws around with dozens of women, telling each one, "You're my best girl. I'd never lie to you like I do to them other bitches."


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