A $400 million Pentagon psychological warfare operation includes plans to place pro-American messages in foreign media outlets without disclosing the U.S. government as the source, USAToday reported on Wednesday.
Citing one of the military officials in charge of the program, the newspaper said the media campaign was being designed to counter terrorist ideology and sway foreign audiences to support U.S. policies.
The report said the program, run by psychological warfare experts at the U.S. Special Operations Command, would operate throughout the world, including in allied nations and in countries where the United States is not involved in armed conflict.
The description of the program by Mike Furlong, deputy director of the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, provides the most detailed look to date at the Pentagon’s global campaign, USAToday said.
The newspaper said the three companies handling the campaign include the Lincoln Group, a company under investigation by the Pentagon for paying Iraqi newspapers to run pro-U.S. stories.
Military officials involved with the campaign said they did not plan to place false stories in foreign news outlets clandestinely. But Furlong told the newspaper that the military would not always reveal its role in distributing pro-American messages.
“While the product may not carry the label, ‘Made in the USA,’ we will respond truthfully if asked” by journalists, Furlong told the newspaper in a videoconference interview.
The newspaper said Furlong declined to give examples of specific products, which he said would include articles, advertisements and public service announcements.
A Pentagon spokesman was not immediately available for comment.