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Tell Congress To Investigate The Psyops Propaganda Generals

Once upon a time, it was widely believed that one of the greatest sins the U.S. government or its temporary political masters could commit was to turn a propaganda machine loose on the American people.

Congress viewed this so seriously that every appropriations bill passed since 1951 has contained language that says no public money "shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States" without the lawmakers’ prior approval.

Veteran war correspondent Joe Galloway

During his recent Book Salon visit to Firedoglake, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told our readers that Senate leaders were looking into the possibility of holding investigative hearings on the Pentagon’s program to flood the media, print and broadcast alike, with prowar propaganda. When asked if they were looking into hearings, Reid replied:

The answer is yes. I have personally spoken to Chairman Levin and he is tremendously concerned as I. And we are proceeding accordingly.

Since then, nothing has been heard, though of course these matters sometimes take awhile to bubble upward. But in the meantime, even more has more emerged, including the revelation from ThinkProgress that the Pentagon was coaching its right-wing "think tank" allies to lie about the program, as well as today’s revelation that Gen. David Petraeus was also an avid participant.

All of this makes congressional hearings not just a compelling idea but absolutely necessary.

So we’ve prepared a letter for you to sign urging not just Harry Reid but the rest of the Democratic congressional leadership — House Speaker Nancy, House Armed Service Committee Chair Ike Skelton, Senate Armed Service Committee Chair Carl Levin, and House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs Chair John Tierney — to open an official investigation into the matter.

Go here to sign it.

And to help spread the word, we’ve prepared a page that helps you invite your friends and colleagues to add their signatures.

In the original New York Times reportage about the matter, some of these figures let slip what was going on in fact:

“I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops."

The word "psyops" immediately springs a host of conspiracy theories to mind, but the hard fact is that "psychological operations" have been an important component of every American military operation since World War II — though in all that time, these operations were always directed against the enemy populace.

This time, it’s been directed against the American public. And that, folks, is a crime — both literally and morally.

Here’s the e-mail we’ve sent out:

For the first time in our history, the American military has turned its operational apparatus upon the American public. And it’s high time that it stop.

On April 21, the New York Times ran a shocking expose on a Pentagon program to generate favorable news coverage of the Iraq war. Starting with the run-up to the war and continuing to this day, the program fed talking points and information to a set of retired military officials who appeared on TV thousands of times parading as objective pundits.

We’re teaming up with some other groups like Freepress to send a letter to the five members of Congress – Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Armed Service Committee Chair Ike Skelton, Senate Armed Service Committee Chair Carl Levin and House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs Chair John Tierney – who can start up Congressional hearings on this despicable program.

Add your name to the letter:

Psychological operations like this may not leave shell craters, but they are strategic military operations with a specific military purpose – in this case altering American public opinion. That’s why it’s against the law to use programs like this against Americans.

It’s up to Congress to step in and do something to end this program and hold those responsible for it accountable. Please take a moment to send a powerful message to our Congressional leaders that we will not stand idly by to be manipulated by our own government.

Thank you for taking action,

Jane Hamsher and the Firedoglake Action Team

Please join us.

UPDATE: The House has passed an amendment calling for hearings. [h/t to jeffreyw]

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David Neiwert

David Neiwert

David Neiwert is the managing editor of Firedoglake. He's a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author/editor of the blog Orcinus. He also is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.