Office of Strategic Influence

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The Office of Strategic Influence, or OSI, was a department created by the United States Department of Defense on October 30, 2001, to support the War on Terrorism through psychological operations in targeted countries, which did not include the United States because the Pentagon is barred from PSYOPs in the U.S. [1] Although the closure of the office was announced by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld soon after its existence became publicly known, later comments by Secretary Rumsfeld imply that the actual operations of the OSI have continued unabated.[2][3] Some sources say OSI was authorized to use "military deception" against the public by "presenting false information, images, or statements",[4] other sources say "This type of action was not in OSI’s charter, and [this] charge was never substantiated." [5]

The OSI would have been a center for the creation of propaganda materials, but according to the leaked source there were no plans[6] to mislead enemy forces or foreign civilian populations. After information on the office spread through US and foreign media in mid February 2002, intense discussions on purpose and scope of the office were reported. Some argue that due to its secretive nature and stated purposes the existence of such an agency would be hard to determine. The office was closed by Rumsfeld due to the controversy.[7] Some of its foreign responsibilities were moved to the Office of Information Activities. [8]


Timeline[edit]

  • February 19, 2002: Major US news organizations report that the Department of Defense had set up the Office of Strategic Influence. These reports quote an unnamed official, who is discussing the advantages and dangers in setting up such an office. [9]
  • February 20, 2002: After discussions on the purpose of the Office in the US media, Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, assures the public in an interview that Defense Department officials will not undermine the credibility of US institutions by lying to the public, and states that the exact mandate of the office is under review.[10]
  • February 26, 2002: Rumsfeld announces the decision by Douglas Feith to close the Office of Strategic Influence.[11]
  • November 18, 2002: Rumsfeld states in a press briefing that the Office of Strategic Influence was closed down only in name, that the activities of the office still continue. Rumsfeld:

    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.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Under law, the Pentagon operation can only work outside the United States. Sources said that it may involve targeting international media but not U.S. media outlets. http://articles.cnn.com/2002-02-19/us/gen.strategic.influence_1_commando-solo-broadcasts-office-of-strategic-influence?_s=PM:US
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Quoting Rumsfeld "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" Krakauer, Jon. Where Men Win Glory. Doubleday: New York, 2009. p.238
  4. ^ Id. at 206.
  5. ^ In a classic example of the internecine battles that have always plagued strategic influence, OSI was sabotaged internally within DoD and abolished by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld less than five months after its establishment. Someone in DoD leaked information to the press that OSI intended to plant false messages and misinformation in overseas media, news that would then be reported in the U.S. as factual. This type of action was not in OSI’s charter, and the charge was never substantiated. Nonetheless, Rumsfeld felt that the damage caused by the media controversy and exposure were too great to overcome, and he closed the office. http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/gough.pdf
  6. ^ Although "information deception" -- deliberately spreading false or misleading information -- is a part of information warfare policy and doctrine, the Pentagon has no specific plans to undertake deceptive operations using the international news media, the official said. http://articles.cnn.com/2002-02-19/us/gen.strategic.influence_1_commando-solo-broadcasts-office-of-strategic-influence?_s=PM:US
  7. ^ This type of action was not in OSI’s charter, and the charge was never substantiated. Nonetheless, Rumsfeld felt that the damage caused by the media controversy and exposure were too great to overcome, and he closed the office. http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/gough.pdf
  8. ^ Glough, Susan L LTC. April 7, 2003. "The Evolution of Strategic Influence". 'US Army War College'. <http: http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/gough.pdf
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ [4]
  12. ^ [5]
  13. ^ CP

External links[edit]