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US Military Explored Hiring Bloggers As Propagandists 355

Posted by Zonk
from the meme-warfare-has-been-going-on-for-a-while dept.
Zeinfeld writes "Wired reports that one time Clipper Chip supporter Dorothy Denning wrote a report on using blogs for information warfare in 2006 (a report available from cryptome). Amongst the proposals were hiring bloggers directly as propaganda agents and using military media resources to 'make' a blogger posting favorable material. Notably, and most unfortunately absent from the report, is the very real question of whether the military should be manipulating domestic media." Is meme warfare just another battleground, or is this dirty pool?
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US Military Explored Hiring Bloggers As Propagandists

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  • Cool (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So there will finally be propagando to counter the countless other bloggers who spew out nonsense about the war.
    • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:51PM (#22931724)
      Who needs propaganda bloggers when you have fools like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly?
      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:27PM (#22935674) Homepage Journal

        Who needs propaganda bloggers when you have fools like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly?
        Anyone who want to reach people under 30?
      • Re:Cool (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Zeinfeld (263942) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:39PM (#22936354) Homepage
        Point of information here, when I submitted the story I did not use the term 'propaganda'. Zonk seems to think it makes for a snappier title but it is also wrong. The issue here is not that the GOP is peddling propaganda, its using public money and in particular using the military to do this that is the problem.

        Politicizing the military is a real problem in a democratic society. During the 1930s through 70s a whole succession of army generals and colonels decided that they could do a better job than the democratic governments of their countries. Thats how Hitler tried to come to power the first time (the beer hall putsch) and how Franco came to power.

        The people who complain about the 'liberal media' seem to believe that anything that does not toe the GOP party line as Hanity, Limbaugh etc. do must be biased.

        The establishment media in the US is all biased towards the right. Every Sunday the network news shows feature talk show guest lists where Republicans outnumber Democrats by two to one. And when a Democrat does appear, Lieberman is far more likely to appear than Ted Kennedy. Not one of the panels reviewing the first five years of Bush's war in Iraq had a commentator who had been publicly opposed to the war at the start. That is a pretty clear pro-GOP bias. One would expect that a Kos or a Josh Marshall would have earned a slot or Juan Cole who actually can claim to be an expert on the politics of the region. Instead we saw the same myopic pundits who were dead wrong at the start of the war and have learned nothing since.

        You can be pretty certain that something similar will happen when they have panels discussing the sub-prime meltdown. Krugman, Atrios have been predicting that it would occur for years now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      Are you referring to the bloggers who are against the war, or thise who support the ill-concieved travesty that has done nothing except kill 4,000 troops and bring Al Quaida, our sworn enemies, into it?

      If all the bloggers are against the war maybe that might suggest that folks aren't too keen on our being there and ought to leave? OTOH if all the bloggers are for the war then they should stop whining about taxes, especially those with "support the troop" stickers.

      But I think if you had more than three brain
      • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) * on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:52PM (#22932378) Journal

        OTOH if all the bloggers are for the war then they should stop whining about taxes, especially those with "support the troop" stickers.

        I'll go one further. Anybody that supports the war should volunteer to pay more taxes to finance it.

        This is one of my biggest pet peeves with the Bush Administration. If the 'War on Terror' is worth fighting then it's worth paying for. FDR didn't respond to Pearl Harbor with a tax cut. Hell during WW2 the highest tax rate reached ninety-four percent. And Bush wouldn't even consider reversing his own ill advised tax cuts to help pay for the war.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sm62704 (957197)
          Agreed. It especially annoys me when somebody has one of those yellow stickers on their SUV (yellow is ironically the color of cowardice) or one of the red white and blue ribbons with the stars disrespectfully on the RIGHT that say "support our troops" with another bumper sticker whining about taxes. Where do they think the kevlar and bullets come from?

          Actually anybody who is FOR the Iraq war should volunteer to go over there and fight it.

          If we had all the money being spent in Iraq we wouldn't have to argue
        • Re:Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

          by letxa2000 (215841) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @03:17PM (#22933418)

          I'll go one further. Anybody that supports the war should volunteer to pay more taxes to finance it.

          Sure, I'll do that. As long as I can reduce the amount I pay in taxes to things I don't support.

          FDR didn't respond to Pearl Harbor with a tax cut.

          Neither did Bush. Bush responded with a tax cut to try to help a struggling economy and because lowering taxes is the right thing to do even with a healthy economy.

          Hell during WW2 the highest tax rate reached ninety-four percent.

          Which is patently absurd. And JFK realized that and started the reduction of taxes to non-socialistic levels. Seriously, if I were paying 94% taxes on each dollar earned, I'd stop working until the end of the year when my time would immediately become more valuable. There is nothing progressive about a progressive tax--it's absolutely destructive. Especially at such confiscatory levels like 94%.

          And Bush wouldn't even consider reversing his own ill advised tax cuts to help pay for the war.

          Slowing the economy by increasing taxes isn't going to help generate income. It's just going to further slow the economy and hurt everyone, rich and poor, and create less tax revenue because the economy is being further punished by a destructive tax policy.

        • by JavaLord (680960)
          I'll go one further. Anybody that supports the war should volunteer to pay more taxes to finance it.

          Then how about anyone who is for the department of education, welfare, etc pay more in taxes to support those programs?
          • Re:Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

            by The Angry Mick (632931) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @04:09PM (#22934036) Homepage

            Then how about anyone who is for the department of education, welfare, etc pay more in taxes to support those programs?

            Gladly. This country needs more education.

            Education produces smart citizens. Smart citizens are good for the economy (smart consumers don't start dot com or housing bubbles), good for business (intelligent employees streamline processes and reduce overhead), but above all they are good for the country. Like it or not, reputation matters - would you rather the U.S. be known as a nation of idiots, or would you rather we be respected as a nation of intelligence and honour?

            As for welfare, you can't call yourself a Christian nation if you don't believe in helping your fellow man. See: Luke 4:18-19, 18:18-30, 14:13 Matthew 19:16-30, 25:31-46, Mark 8:1-13, 6:30-44, 10:17-31 (or just read the Bible). We're a so-called "Christian" country, that cherry picks the Old Testament and ignores the teachings of Christ (at least until the indictments come down - when that happens, Jesus is suddenly the man).

            So, yes. I'd gladly pay more taxes to improve the lot of my fellow men, women and children. I'd even go so far as to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should consider spending far less on defense. The money we save there could go to education and social security - programs that improve our lives as opposed to destroying others. And the best part is: we wouldn't even have to raise taxes.

        • This is one of my biggest pet peeves with the Bush Administration. If the 'War on Terror' is worth fighting then it's worth paying for.

          I agree with that 100%. But the same is true for every other government project - entitlement programs, pork-barrel projects, everything. There's no reason to mortgage our kids' future just because the politicians in both parties refuse to accept responsibility for deciding what expenses are actually priorities.

          I'll go one further. Anybody that supports the war should volunteer to pay more taxes to finance it.

          Are you similarly willing to say that anyone who supports welfare/entitlement programs should pay more taxes to finance them? I suspect you might get quite a number of folks willing to pay more fo

  • by binaryspiral (784263) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:23PM (#22931408)
    Blogging is just another form of published media - it can be used for any reason. People have just been lured into believing blogs are personal posts from individuals.

    Someone [xkcd.com] is going to be very busy...
    • by jtev (133871) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:28PM (#22931472) Journal
      Very good point. Blogs aren't nearly as driven-snow pure as people think. Remeber folks, the reason politicians love Democracy (or forms of government resembling it) so much is because it is the easiest form of government to maniupulate.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:25PM (#22932066) Homepage Journal
        Who thinks blogs are pure as the driven snow? Who thinks any media is pure? Those suckers deserve to get scammed.

        One good development from the popularity of blogs and other unreliable (but testable for corroboration) online media is that more info consumers are less likely to believe what they read (and see/hear in pics and video). Soon enough we'll have services that let us point at something published to search for similar or related items, and trace the memes. We'll be able to see who believes it, who repeats, whether we'd believe what they believe. Our healthy skepticism is just getting its wings. Soon enough it will have the kind of bionics that just reading and writing now have.

        And since media has always suffered from a scarcity of skepticism and the means to act on it, we'll be much better off than we were before.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by doom (14564)

      binaryspiral wrote:

      Blogging is just another form of published media - it can be used for any reason. People have just been lured into believing blogs are personal posts from individuals.

      They were "lured" into this because it used to be almost exclusively true, but once the medium became popular, it became infested (note: it could be I'm editorializing here) with pseudo-human beings, hired to push different products and causes.

      The question, I would say, is how is the on-line community going to react to

    • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:25PM (#22932070) Homepage Journal
      And I'm glad to see that they finally declassified my third military occupation, so now the world can know we milbloggers have been on the front lines in the War On Terror.

      Every time you see a foreign propaganda piece in the Saudi Times and read a comment by Al Rashid, that was our brave comrades in arms, fighting the real fight for Democracy.

      Every time you read the Pakistani Journal of Objective Theological Criticism and read the online commentary by Pashtun seperatists, it was Chief Petty Officer Nunzia writing that post.

      The few, the proud, the frequently anonymous - Blog Warriors!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by timeOday (582209)

      Blogging is just another form of published media - it can be used for any reason.
      That's missing the point entirely. We have every right to instruct our military not to propagandize us. We're not talking about a private individual or private company doing this, we're talking about how tax dollars are spent. Allowing the military to get involved in politics is a one-way street to disaster, so we should absolutely put a stop to it.
  • by Prien715 (251944)
    While we think propaganda is bad, the alternative is almost always worse. Gandhi never thought we'd rid ourselves of conflict, but instead envisioned wars in his utopia being fought by "propaganda armies". In the same way, would we prefer the army to use propaganda on its own citizens to convince us of its message or perhaps we would prefer being thrown in a secret prison for descent? Also, would anyone really have a problem with this if said bloggers were clearly labeled rather than astro-turfing?
    • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:32PM (#22931526) Journal

      Yes - I'd have a problem. The role of the government and the military is to serve and protect us as the people who pay for them both. The role of these bodies is not to try and manipulate my judgement in their favour. When that happens, you know that they consider YOU a threat to themselves. And that strongly implies that your interests are not their interests.
      • Very well said. Please mod parent up.
      • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:37PM (#22931584) Journal

        And as regards Ghandi, I'm not familiar with him saying the above, but I imagine that if it is correct, that he was advocating propaganda as an alternative to warfare, not a means of persuading people to support it.
      • by c_forq (924234)
        Yes and no. Think about the propaganda in World War II, for example "loose lips sink ships". Now it could be in your best interest (in the short term for sure, maybe in the long term too if it didn't change the final outcome of the war) to make some money giving some information to the Germans, Italians, or Japanese. That is definitely not in the best interest for the military, government, or fellow countrymen you may be endangering. The question isn't if you are a possible threat (for there you can alw
        • by h4rm0ny (722443)

          What you are talking about has to do with suppressing information to foreign enemies. This story is about governments using propaganda to manipulate its own people.

          Your weird choice of "I'd prefer signs rather than monitored labour camps" is not a choice that is in any way presented by this story.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by c_forq (924234)
            This story is about governments using propaganda to manipulate its own people.

            That is exactly what Rosie the Riveter, Wendy the Welder, Loose Lips, Buy War Bonds, and a myriad of other campaigns were about.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Scrameustache (459504)

              This story is about governments using propaganda to manipulate its own people.

              That is exactly what Rosie the Riveter, Wendy the Welder, Loose Lips, Buy War Bonds, and a myriad of other campaigns were about.

              I don't mind open, honest propaganda.

              I mind secret manipulation through obfuscated means, passing it as the open, honest opinions of unrelated individuals or groups.

              P.S. Before Pearl Harbor, Superman for for truth and justice. Period. That I mind a bit more than clever posters.

        • by xappax (876447) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:21PM (#22932032)
          Frankly I would rather have signs above the area where everyone clocks in rather than controlled and monitored labour camps.

          You present a false choice between being deceived into obeying the government and being coerced into obeying the government. Your entire premise is based on the assumption that the government is always correct, and must get its way somehow or another.

          However, sometimes the government is wrong, and it uses propaganda techniques to conceal its errors and suppress or disparage those who present embarrassing information. The choice in these situations is between being deceived into obeying the government and having the information you need to decide independently whether to obey the government.
          • by c_forq (924234)
            I was trying to say something more to the effect of the government/military is always going to perceive threats, and if it going to respond I would prefer the least intrusive method. I don't think anyone believes the government is always right, but I also think anyone would be a fool if they think the government isn't going to try and preserve itself.
        • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:33PM (#22932168) Homepage Journal
          Except "loose lips sink ships" is not propaganda; it's just pithy advice.

          Telling people Sadaam killed babies so he could loot their hospital incubators was propaganda. It would not have been if it were true, but in fact it was a story fabricated by the Kuwaitis and knowingly propagated by the first Bush administration to whip up support for the invasion of Kuwait. And before people get their noses bent out of shape, I supported the first Gulf war and still do. That doesn't mean I have to endorse the government lying to me.

          With respect to psychological warfare, this is something any US officer, sworn to uphold the Constitution, must question. The Constitution puts the military under the control of the civilian government, but the subtle point here is that it does it in the way that the military is not an agent of the government, it is an agent of the Constitution and the people it protects. This is what makes the US military different from, say, the North Korean military, which is a creature of the party, and ultimately the Dear Leader. It is not the role of the military to put one over on the American people for their own good.

          We can draw a parallel with keeping secrets, or even tactical bluffing. In a democracy's military, these are necessary evils. You have to ask this question: are the American people uniformed, or misinformed, in a substantive way? It makes very little difference in the lives of Americans whether a ship convoy is steaming east or west, but it makes a great deal of difference if it does so to provoke a war under false pretenses. That's the key: are we undermining the sovereignty of the voter?

          There is simply no point to democracy if government officials have unlimited power to feed the public with lies, and to force the cooperation of civil servants and the military. The people can't rule themselves if they are making political decisions based on phony stories being fed to them, even indirectly.

          It's not that trying to sway public opinion in foreign countries with psy-ops isn't often advantageous, even if it does give Americans a distorted view of the situation. People don't make wrong decisions when those decisions have nothing to recommend them. What makes it wrong is that you can't have the advantages of being a democracy without ceding some of the advantages that totalitarian states enjoy. The question is whether you believe the advantages of freedom outweigh the inconveniences.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by c_forq (924234)
            Except "loose lips sink ships" is not propaganda; it's just pithy advice.

            American Heritage Dictionary
            propaganda
            n.
            1) The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.
            2) Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause: wartime propaganda.
            3) Propaganda Roman Catholic Church A division of the Roman Curia that has authority in the matter of preaching the gospel, of establishing
      • The role of these bodies is not to try and manipulate my judgement in their favour.

        Agreed, but realistically the horse ran out of the barn quite a long time ago and this issue with bloggers is just natural incrementalism.

        Military agencies plants stories overseas all the time and due to the way news propagates it doesn't take long for them to come back here and be reported as facts.

        "Fact finding" junkets are run continually for reporters, pols, clergy, etc., but the military makes sure only one side's

      • by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:38PM (#22932222) Journal
        The role of these bodies is not to try and manipulate my judgement in their favour. When that happens, you know that they consider YOU a threat to themselves. And that strongly implies that your interests are not their interests.

        FBI tracked King's every move [cnn.com]

        Hoping to prove the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was under the influence of Communists, the FBI kept the civil rights leader under constant surveillance.

        The agency's hidden tape recorders turned up almost nothing about communism.

        But they did reveal embarrassing details about King's sex life -- details the FBI was able to use against him.

        The almost fanatical zeal with which the FBI pursued King is disclosed in tens of thousands of FBI memos from the 1960s.

        The FBI paper trail spells out in detail the government agency's concerted efforts to derail King's efforts on behalf of the civil rights movement.

        The FBI's interest in King intensified after the March on Washington in August 1963, when King delivered his "I have a dream speech," which many historians consider the most important speech of the 20th century. After the speech, an FBI memo called King the "most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country."

        You are entirely right. But it appears that they (the rich people who run our plutocracy) have been pulling this disgusting stuff for most of my life, or more likely since before I was born.

        And people wonder why I don't want to vote Democrat or Republican! How can we change our plutocratic republic back into a democratic republic?

        -mcgrew
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Zeinfeld (263942)
        Yes - I'd have a problem. The role of the government and the military is to serve and protect us as the people who pay for them both.

        I have a real problem with the idea that the military is simply an arm of the governing party spin machine. I also have a big problem with the idea that the blogosphere can be managed with Rovian spin techniques. The evidence shows otherwise.

        Blogswarms are a real phenomena. If only they were as accurate in their targets as the paper assumes. The paper is rather too willing

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by AioKits (1235070)

      Gandhi never thought we'd rid ourselves of conflict, but instead envisioned wars in his utopia being fought by "propaganda armies".
      So, have we always been at war with Oceana or do I have to pull a 72 hour stint to change the history books to properly reflect this?
    • to shape conflict into less arbitrary and deadly tactics. not prevent conflict. as gandhi implies, this is impossible. mankind will always live in conflict. but does he resport to bombs? or resort to airing his grievances in words and a court system? obviously the latter is better than the former, and the whole point of progress. so, in a perverse way, resorting to ideological blogs and propaganda is superior to real warfare, and a GOOD development, not a nefarious one

      i would rather someone lie to me than k
      • by h4rm0ny (722443)

        i would rather someone lie to me than kill me. so bring on the propaganda, from all directions. let it flow freely. beats suicide bombs and bombs from the sky

        Are we really reduced to these two options?
        • mankind will always be in conflict. all you get to choose is the manner of the conflict. words or bombs. take your pick

          an ideological battlefield of lies, demagoguery, propaganda, half-truths, manipulations, etc., is superior to bombs and guns

          blood on the streets or lies in the mind. you choose

          because choosing no conflict whatsoever is not possible, if you truly understand the human condition as it always was and always will be

          i subscribe to the theory of catharsis: when you scream your vile emotions, you a
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        [I] would rather someone lie to me than kill me.

        But what if someone else kills you because they believed the lies?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130)
        i would rather someone lie to me than kill me. so bring on the propaganda, from all directions. let it flow freely. beats suicide bombs and bombs from the sky

        Except the purpose of the propaganda is to get you to agree that someone else needs to be killed, and that your tax dollars need to be spent to do it.

        It is not in any way, shape, or form about reducing the amount of violent conflict. The thing that reduces the amount of violent conflict in our society is the democratic process, whereby leaders who try
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076)
      In the same way, would we prefer the army to use propaganda on its own citizens to convince us of its message or perhaps we would prefer being thrown in a secret prison for descent?

      I'd prefer they'd do neither. There is no reason any military anywhere should be involved in politics at all. Period.

      The military should be separate from the civilian government and should have no need to get the people to go along with it. In fact, the military should be be under the command of the civilians government which sho
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      In the same way, would we prefer the army to use propaganda on its own citizens to convince us of its message or perhaps we would prefer being thrown in a secret prison for descent?

      Wait ... either I'm parsing that incorrectly, or are you suggesting an either or choice of being "lied to by your own military or thrown into prison for dissent" -- that can't be right.

      If it is going to become US domestic policy to subvert and pollute the domestic media as a propaganda campaign -- just set off all the nukes now a

    • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:43PM (#22931654) Homepage Journal

      would we prefer the army to use propaganda on its own citizens to convince us of its message or perhaps we would prefer being thrown in a secret prison for descent?
      1. That's a wonderful false dichotomy you have there. Brainwashing or being disappeared. Though choice, huh?
      2. The word is "dissent".
      3. "Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."
        "There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."
        "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

      4. In a totalitarian state, it doesn't matter what people think, since the government can control people by force using a bludgeon. But when you can't control people by force, you have to control what people think, and the standard way to do this is via propaganda (manufacture of consent, creation of necessary illusions), marginalizing the general public or reducing them to apathy of some fashion.
                    -- Noam Chomsky
    • Also, would anyone really have a problem with this if said bloggers were clearly labeled rather than astro-turfing?

      In a world full of splogs, shills, and guerilla marketers why would you take any blog at face value? The problem is that people want to judge the usefulness or correctness of information they receive based mostly upon their preconceived notions about the source instead of thinking for themselves. It is a trained response that is branded (pun intended) into the minds of young people from an early age by relentless marketing, consumer-oriented public education, and paternalistic government programs and polic

    • by Vellmont (569020)

      In the same way, would we prefer the army to use propaganda on its own citizens to convince us of its message or perhaps we would prefer being thrown in a secret prison for descent?

      What I really just can't even fathom is why you think these are the only choices here.

      I've got one for you.. would you prefer to be:

      Killed outright.
      or
      Have your left hand cut off?

      Cuz those are the only two possible choices.

      I guess my choice would be to have a military that protects the people, and doesn't engage in propaganda cam
    • by jd (1658)
      Count me in on having a problem. Governments are elected officials who are accountable to the people. But how can you be accountable if you are the one making up all of the truthiness? Generals and the military in general are far less accountable, with almost zero successful prosecutions for war crimes against Americans, and yet are appointed to protect citizens against outside threats. Uhhh, and who decides what is an outside threat? Oh, the people with no accountability. Buy One Red Scare, Get One Free. P
  • Why hire? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by taxman_10m (41083)
    Most bloggers on the right do it for free.
  • So what's new? (Score:5, Informative)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:28PM (#22931462)
    The U.S. government and military have routinely engaged in propaganda and information control at least since WWII (and, more informally, since long before that). Hell, they had an entire agency [wikipedia.org] that did nothing but this sort of stuff (an agency which John McCain wants to bring back [johnmccain.com] , incidentally).

    How on earth anyone could be shocked by this at this point is beyond me. This kind of stuff is fairly benign next to the kind of stuff they do in SECRET. It's when they actually start talking about killing reporters to silence dissent [wikipedia.org] that they REALLY get nasty.

    • i just wonder at the point of criticizing the usa alone for what every country does, has ever done, and will always do

      american? [wikipedia.org]

      american? [wikipedia.org]

      american? [wikipedia.org]

      american? [wikipedia.org]

      all of your complaints are valid in the context of bad HUMAN nature. they are invalid in the context of bad AMERICAN nature. what is the intellectual value in your mind of prosecuting the usa alone for crimes all of humanity is guilty of?

      you need to be morally and intellectually honest. or you are just another useless pointless partisan. the world has enou
    • This kind of stuff is fairly benign next to the kind of stuff they do in SECRET.
      FTFA: Military Report: Secretly 'Recruit or Hire Bloggers'
      A study, written for U.S. Special Operations Command, suggested "clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers."
    • Four-Minute Men (Score:3, Informative)

      by Belisarivs (526071)
      It goes back, formally, at least to Woodrow Wilson and his Committee on Public Information. They recruited 75,000 - 100,000 (called Four-Minute Men [wikipedia.org]) volunteers to give four-minute speeches supporting the case for war against Germany - including before hostilities between the nations.
    • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:59PM (#22931808)

      It's when they actually start talking about killing reporters to silence dissent [wikipedia.org] that they REALLY get nasty.


      During the Kosovo crisis Serbian State TV (equivalent to the BBC) was showing the effects of NATO bombing on civilians. To stop this NATO bombed the Serbian State TV station killing 15 civilians. NATO justified this by saying that the station was a tool of propaganda. By this rational, if the US/UK go to war with Iran, the BBC and many American news outlets will be viable targets. General Wesley Clark was confronted with this war crime during a conference and he seemed very sheepish about it and resorted to saying that his orders had come from the top.
    • by homer_ca (144738)
      There's a big difference. Of course psy-ops has a long history going back to WWII, however, it was always directed at foreign media, never at US media.

      In this age of Google News, it's easy for a propaganda story planted in a foreign paper to make its way back to US readers. You can call that psy-ops collateral damage. Targeting psy-ops stories specifically at US citizens is 100% illegal. I'm not talking about press conferences and interviews. Those are still ok, regardless of the truthiness of information d
  • The future is now (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Higaran (835598)
    This is just basically an updated version of dropping propaganda phamplets from air planes, just it's a digital format instead of analog.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by h4rm0ny (722443)

      Slight difference - they're "dropping" the propaganda pamphlets on us.
      • I think others said it already, but I also think it's worthwhile to point it out again: what makes you think this is a first? This is propaganda at its most basic: get people who are supposed to be independent to make speeches for you. This is the same thing as an unnamed Clinton campaign staffer saying things that Clinton does not want to be associated with, but which she thinks will harm her opponents (substitute campaign of your choosing). This is the same thing as paying people to demonstrate for you, p
  • Yeah Right (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I don't know what country you guys are from, but this would never happen in my beloved U.S. of A. We're above that kind of thing.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:29PM (#22931482) Journal
    C'mon folks, if you're getting your "hard facts" from blogs, you're already toast. Everybody has an agenda, it's just that some folks get paid for it. Don't think of them as military propaganda arms, think of them as paid public lobbiests (aka astroturfers) . Whole different form of slime, but slime nonetheless.
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:29PM (#22931490)
    Notably, and most unfortunately absent from the report, is the very real question of whether the military should be manipulating domestic media.

    The rest of our media is manipulated...why not blogs? Compared to the other forms of media, blogs are notoriously easy to manipulate. With the ever-growing cacophony of voices on the internet, it's more and more difficult for Joe Sixpack to adequately fact-check a given story...so they increasingly just believe what they hear from their mouthpiece of choice. I personally have to debunk all of the ridiculous stories my wife's family mindlessly forwards around to each other without question....the latest was that Obama is Muslim.
  • Depends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charcharodon (611187) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:33PM (#22931540)
    It really depends on what news they publish and how they spin it.

    If the military hired bloggers post mostly postive news stories that's fine, because typically those stories are completely ignored by main stream media.

    The problems begin if they start putting heavy spin on bad news to make it sound good, fabricating stories, or pretend there is no bad news and not report it, then we have a problem.

  • When the "enemy" is doing it, you need to do it to some extent as well.
    • by techpawn (969834)

      When the "enemy" is doing it, you need to do it to some extent as well.
      I'll remember that when they're doing deplorable acts to their own peoples mothers that you have no problem with me doing it to yours.
      • by Ogive17 (691899)
        Is this a new low on /., not even reading the article's title? I was referring to propaganda, not war crimes. Sheesh.
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:33PM (#22931548)
    This doesn't seem to compare to "Operation Mass Appeal" which was a programme by M16 to plant stories in the British media in the run up to the Iraq War. They needn't have bothered really though since the Mainstream Media is quite capable of printing flimsy government accusations as fact without the intervention of the Secret Service.
  • Is this kind of the same as when they used Jeff Gannon [wikipedia.org] or was he just lucky [rawstory.com]?
  • "blogs are a continuation of war by other means"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_von_Clausewitz#Cultural_References [wikipedia.org]
  • by aquatone282 (905179) * on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:37PM (#22931586)

    . . . to place their propaganda on the internet (ahem, Huffington Post [huffingtonpost.com], DailyKos [dailykos.com], etc, ad nauseum), then why can't the military use bloggers to post its point of view?

    Seems like another double-standard to me.

    • by Shados (741919) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:41PM (#22931624)
      Independent pro-military groups can have as much fun as they want. The problem happens when public funds are spent, really.
      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:14PM (#22931944) Journal
        The problem is that it is much easier to write antiwhatever propaganda than it is to write prowhatever propaganda.

        Really, it is.

        Nobody is "pro-war". Well, no reasonable person is. However, there is a time and place for war. So while even I hate war, I also realize that there is a time and place for it. If you are "Anti-war", you can speak against war, generally or specifically, and it is quite easy. And if you speak in general enough terms, I might even agree with much of what you say.

        For an exercise in application, try to write a pro-war piece. Most people would have an awful time trying. Now write an Anti-war piece. Just about everyone could.

        And no, I'm not making excuses for GWB. In fact, if you want to blame anyone for this, blame congress, who has the power to declare wars and such. And who exactly are we at war with now anyway? It surely isn't the current Government of Iraq, is it? :-D
    • First of all, please try not to use the pejorative term "anti-military". We're all pretty sick of that straw man.

      Second, we're not talking about a "pro-military org" placing propaganda, as opposed to your "anti-military org". We're talking about THE MILITARY. If you can't see the difference, there's little point in continuing this conversation.
  • Is, to some extant, against the tenants of democracy. My reading on democracy is that there are rules about what people are allowed to do to eachother physically, but no rules about memes. I think it's questionable as to whether using physically coercive means such as taxes to further memetic warfare directed at our own citizens is at all valid within this framework. The government here is trying to enforce rules about memes on its own citizens.

  • by pla (258480) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @12:52PM (#22931740) Journal
    Notably, and most unfortunately absent from the report, is the very real question of whether the military should be manipulating domestic media.

    Not to mention the legality... The Hatch act still exists, to the best of my knowledge. And although people generally interpret it somewhat more liberally than intended, this seems like exactly the form of corruption targetted thereby... The executive branch, using federal funds to make the war look better, to improve the chances of McCain getting in come November.

    Then again, since when has the current administration bothered with obeying all those pesky little laws? "Four more years - Why should the constitution matter this time?"
    • I'm sad to say it, but if this Hatch Act is a law against military or government propagandising its own people, it's a law that doesn't amount to squat, given the evidence lately.
  • I think my eyesight is getting worse.

    I read the headline as "US Military Hired Exploding Bloggers As Propagandists" !
  • Shills are shills. They have always been with us. We know how to deal with a guy who stands up and takes a position because he's being paid to -- we expose his bias and smart people stop paying attention to him thereafter.

    What is not OK is lying. (1) Making a false statement about whether he's accepting funds or (2) making up a fake person to be the speaker are both impermissible.
  • by MrNaz (730548) *
    "Notably, and most unfortunately absent from the report, is the very real question of whether the military should be manipulating domestic media."

    What does it matter whether or not the military thinks they *should* be doing this? They are, and have been for a long, long time.
  • the very real question of whether the military should be manipulating domestic media.

    [Following message is US centric. My apologies to non-US citizens, and hopefully similar sentiments work for you in your country, but trying to make this generally applicable weakens the message.]

    The very simple answer is another question: Is the government the subject of the people or are the people the subjects of the government? If the government knows better than we then the military should engage in information manipul
  • manipulating domestic media

    Crappy media outlets are easily manipulated. Some media outlets are masters at manipulation. How about good old honest reporters and media outlets that actually research and verify stories, and actually do their best to be unbiased and fair? Is that too much to ask?

    Half these sites have regular folks providing "news items" via video, text msgs, blogs etc. For the military to hire bloggers to "manipulate" the media, well...more power to them.
  • When you hand your kids over to the government for 8+ hours a day, 5+ days a week, for an entire child hood of propaganda and social conditioning, it is a bit silly to worry about the government manipulating bloggers as an effective means of propaganda.

    The government says jump, you *WILL* jump. The government says something is good, you *WILL* believe it is good. The brainwashing is too strong.

    The only reason there is any sort of anti-war movement at all, is because there are brainwashed citizens of countri
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mox-Dragon (87528)

      he government says jump, you *WILL* jump. The government says something is good, you *WILL* believe it is good. The brainwashing is too strong.

      Oh, thank god. I though I might have to take responsibility for my ridiculous actions and beliefs. Now, I can just blame the government!

      Much in the same way a free society needs a strict separation of church and state, a free society also needs a strict separation between education and state.

      I'd much rather have a McEducation or a Pepsi-brand bachelors in the Delic

  • by longacre (1090157) * on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:48PM (#22932332) Homepage
    I always had a sneaking suspicion that the icanhascheezburger cats were just TOO pro-America to be real. Now I understand.
  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @03:57PM (#22933890) Homepage
    When they open their mouth, they lie.

    It's that simple.

    They should be forced by law to have "ombudsmen" embedded in every office who can tell the real story without any risk of being disciplined because they're outside the chain of command. The same should apply to every other government office. Of course, the next problem is how to get the "ombudsmen" to tell the truth...

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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