Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wire: Democrat Lawmakers Challenge Pentagon Information Ops Budget as 'Propaganda' Costs

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that the Democrat led Congress is beginning to challenge the Pentagon’s rapidly expanding, nearly $1 billion Information Operations (IO) budget, saying the end product is often ineffective "propaganda" and a costly distraction from the military’s core mission.

The House Appropriations Committee fired the first shot Tuesday, ordering deep cuts from the 2010 budget and the termination of many IO activities now underway. Altogether the Pentagon’s $998 million request would be cut in half, and the remaining funds frozen until the Defense Department submits a fuller accounting of its plans and where the money has been going since 2005, the Politico news and politics blog said.

Politico noted the following details:
Within the Senate Appropriations Committee, there has been increasing concern as well about the direction of the IO programs. The severe House cuts are unlikely to stand as a practical matter. But the concerns are real, and the House bill is accompanied by an unusually blunt assessment in its legislative report.

"Much of the content of what is being produced, and certainly some of the largest cost drivers in these programs, is focused so far beyond a traditional military information operation that the term non-traditional military information operation does not justly apply," the House report reads.

"At face value, much of what is being produced appears to be United States Military, and more alarmingly non-military propaganda, public relations, and behavioral modification messaging. The Committee questions the effectiveness of much of the material being produced with this funding, the supposed efforts to minimize target audience knowledge of United State’ Government sponsorship of certain production materials, and the ability of the Department to evaluate the impact of these programs."
"We are in a battle for hearts and minds, and information operations is a vital tool," Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, told Politico. Iran, for example, has its own anti-American information campaigns in both countries, Morrell said, and the U.S. effort is important to U.S. commanders trying "to level the battlefield."

(Report from newswire sources.)

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