Monday, December 13, 2004

The New York Times : Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena

The New York Times > Washington > Hearts and Minds: Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena

The Bush administration already has a global reputation for playing fast and loose with the truth. And it is not a reputation unearned.

Misinformation is one of the keystones of this adminstration, at least since the buildup to the US invasion of Iraq. "Strategic" information is a logical next step.

Is there real compunction about the possibility of misleading not only our "enemies," but also the American people? Officially, yes. But you be the judge.

An excerpt:

"This is tough business," said General Kimmitt, who now serves as deputy director of plans for the American military command in the Middle East. "Are we trying to inform? Yes. Do we offer perspective? Yes. Do we offer military judgment? Yes. Must we tell the truth to stay credible? Yes. Is there a battlefield value in deceiving the enemy? Yes. Do we intentionally deceive the American people? No."

The rub, General Kimmitt said, is operating among those sometimes conflicting principles.

"There is a gray area," he said. "Tactical and operational deception are proper and legal on the battlefield." But "in a worldwide media environment," he asked, "how do you prevent that deception from spilling out from the battlefield and inadvertently deceiving the American people?"

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