Report: Petraeus memo sparks Pentagon dispute over aiming propaganda at Americans
WASHINGTON — Since the end of the Vietnam war, the military's public affairs officials have tried to rebuild the Defense Department's credibility by putting distance between themselves and Pentagon efforts that use deception, propaganda and other methods to influence foreign populations.
A 2004 memo by Gen. Richard B. Myers, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, codified the separation between public affairs, which communicates with the press and public, and "information operations," which attempts to sway people in other countries.
But Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has asked for changes that would allow the two branches to work more closely. His request has unleashed a debate inside the Pentagon between those who say the separation has made the Defense Department less agile and those who believe that restructuring the relationship would threaten to turn military spokesmen into propaganda tools.
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