“US Army may have used PSYOP against senators. How is that different from PR?” Anna Mulrine, writing at the Christian Science Monitor, quoted Matt Armstrong:
While the prospect of an officer trained to manipulate psyches using those skills on elected members of Congress is galling to some within the military, others wonder whether it was an innocent mistake or even all that wrong.
Context is key, says Matt Armstrong, a specialist on military strategic communications with the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California.
Rolling Stone claims that Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who is in charge of training Afghan troops, asked his team of PSYOP officers to create profiles of a visiting congressional delegation, including their voting records, “likes and dislikes,” and “hot button issues.” It’s a common request of public affairs officers, who routinely put together dossiers that include a biographical sketch and articles written by visiting officials, for example.
“You could argue that he was just being prepared,” says USC’s Mr. Armstrong. …
According to Rolling Stone, Caldwell asked Lt. Col. Michael Holmes, a National Guardsman and MISO specialist, “How do we get these guys to give us more people? … What do I have to plant inside their heads?”
Was that an explicit request for ways to manipulate the visiting senators? Caldwell “may simply have meant, ‘I want to know what Senator McCain was thinking, so I can answer his question,” says Armstrong. …