PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror

A U.S. military spokesman deliberately misled CNN as part of "an elaborate psychological operation - or 'psy-op' - intended to dupe insurgents in Fallouja," the Los Angeles Times reports. Hoping to prompt a reaction from guerrillas, the Marines told CNN on Oct. 14 that "Troops crossed the line of departure," indicating the start of the Fallouja offensive. In reality, the offensive did not begin until three weeks later. "Officials at the Pentagon and other U.S. national security agencies said the CNN incident was not an isolated feint - the type used throughout history by armies to deceive their enemies - but part of a broad effort underway within the Bush administration to use information to its advantage in the war on terrorism," the Times writes. Some top officials, however, object to the use of deceptive information. "Pentagon officials say [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Richard B.] Myers is worried that U.S. efforts in Iraq and in the broader campaign against terrorism could suffer if world audiences begin to question the honesty of statements from U.S. commanders and spokespeople," the Times writes.