Pentagon Doesn't Plan to 'Disinform' Public
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today that Pentagon officials have no intention to provide "disinformation" to foreign media.
Rumsfeld spoke to the press today while in Salt Lake City to visit military Olympic athletes and service members providing security and other support to the 2002 Winter Games there.
"The United States of America has long had policies with respect to public information, and we have policies where certainly we make a practice of assuring that what we tell the public is accurate and correct," Rumsfeld said. "And if in any event somebody happens to be misinformed and say something that's not correct, they correct that at the earliest opportunity."
The secretary was responding to reporters' questions regarding a Feb. 19 article in The New York Times that outlined an alleged plan by the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence. The plan purportedly called for Pentagon officials to leak stories -- not necessarily true stories -- to foreign media to sway public opinion in America's favor.
He explained how common psychological operations tactics have been used to the benefit of American forces in Afghanistan. Leaflet drops and Commando Solo radio broadcasts, for instance, have been used to reassure the Afghan public that humanitarian rations dropped by U.S. troops are safe and to offer rewards for help in capturing terrorist suspects.
The U.S. military makes no bones about practicing deception in the classic military sense. As an example, he said if Special Forces soldiers wish to enter an area from the west, they might do things to make the enemy think they are coming from the north.
"That would be characterized as 'tactical deception,'" Rumsfeld said.
The secretary assured reporters they would get only the truth from him and his staff. "Government officials, the Department of Defense, this secretary and the people that work with me tell the American people and the people of the world the truth," he said.