Photo: Rolling Stone
Want to validate print magazines? Look no further than Rolling Stone. Michael Hastings, the RS journo whose article on Gen. McChrystal resulted in his immediate firing (and just won the Polk award) just posted a new piece on RS this morning that promises to send new waves.
Related: Interesting to note how they didn’t wait for the next print issue to publish this time around.
The story, which went up at midnight last night, revealed that Lt. General William Caldwell, the three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops in Afghanistan, ordered the psychological operations (also “psy-ops”) unit in his command to illegally manipulate “visiting dignitaries.”
Back in late 2009, shortly after his arrival in Afghanistan, Caldwell ordered psy-ops, whose job is to “play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” to influence U.S. senators like John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Al Franken, as well as Admiral Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others to push for additional funding and troops from the U.S. government.
Not only does that read like the plot for a bad Matt Damon movie, it also happens to be very illegal under the “Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which was passed by Congress to prevent the State Department from using Soviet-style propaganda techniques on U.S. citizens.”
Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, who was the head of the intelligence team that received the orders, also known as th IO team, tells Rolling Stone that when he challenged the legality of this order, he was soon met with a Kenneth Starr-style investigative report that accused him of inappropriate behaviour, rampant drinking, and “using Facebook too much.”
No good, responsible, ethical, deed…etc.
Hastings concludes that “there is no way to tell what, if any, influence it had on American policy.” However! He also notes that one of the “biggest boosters” in Washington to give Caldwell an additional $2billiion this year for additional troops in Afghanistan was Sen. Carl Levin…”one of the senators whom Holmes had been ordered to target.”
Rolling Stone Executive editor Eric Bates was on Morning Joe this morning to discuss the article, a video excerpt is below.
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