Report: Army targeted senators with psyops
General sought to manipulate VIPs in order to elicit more funding, troops, according to Rolling Stone article
updated 1 hour 19 minutes ago
The U.S. army reportedly deployed a specialized "psychological operations" team to help convince American legislators to boost funding and troop numbers for the war in Afghanistan.
The operation was ordered by three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, Rolling Stone Magazine reported in a story published late on Wednesday.
An officer in charge of the unit objected when he was ordered to pressure the visiting senators and was harshly reprimanded by superiors, according to the magazine.
"My job in psyops is to play with people's heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave," the officer, Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, told Rolling Stone.
"I'm prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you're crossing a line," he added.
Among those targeted were senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin, as well as Representative Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee, the magazine said.
The team also targeted Admiral Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
'Inside their heads'
According to Holmes, he and his four-man team arrived in Afghanistan at the end of 2009 in order to determine the effects of American propaganda on Afghans and the Taliban, the magazine reported.
Soon, though, Caldwell ordered the unit to gather profiles of visiting dignitaries, including their likes and dislikes and "hot-button issues," the magazine reported.
Holmes was asked how the general could secretly manipulate the lawmakers, Rolling Stone said.
"How do we get these guys to give us more people?" Caldwell asked, according to the magazine. "What do I have to plant inside their heads?"
U.S. law bars the military from using psyops on Americans, and every defense authorization bill explicitly prohibits the manipulation, the magazine reported.
"Everyone in the psyops, intel ... knows you're not supposed to target Americans," a veteran member of similar team told Rolling Stone. "It's what you learn on day one."
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