Military considered hiring bloggers to "pass the U.S. message"

The propaganda potential of blogs -- noted by former Bush adviser Dan Bartlett, who said many conservative sites "regurgitate exactly" what the administration tells them -- isn't lost on the U.S. government: in 2006, the military's Joint Special Operations University explored the possibility of covertly paying prominent bloggers or training and promoting new bloggers to "pass the U.S. message."

Cowritten by James Kinniburgh and Dorothy Denning, the report "Blogs and Military Information Strategy" [revealed by the website Cryptome and available as a pdf], parses the benefits and notes the many drawbacks of enlisting bloggers, both here and abroad, in information campaigns. "Hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering," it states.

The military says the paper was just an academic exercise, and co-author Denning emailed Wired magazine: "I got some positive feedback from people who read the article, but I don't know if it led to anything." Yet given some of the tactics described -- "pass[ing] false or erroneous information through the media... in support of military deception activities," for example -- it seems unlikely the Pentagon would be open were it impementing the plan.

While the document doesn't specifically name friendly blogs it could seek to channel its message, it does note the roles of conservative blogs like The Drudge Report, Little Green Footballs, Townhall.com and Free Republic forums, without listing any centrist or left-leaning blogs.

We shouldn't be surprised that the Bush administration considered paying bloggers to tout its messages, writes Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report. After all, we've seen its propaganda attempts again and again and again.

1 comment:

Ed Kohler said...

I think this is like the opposite of "The truth will set you free."