U.S. commander in Afghanistan orders probe of scandal   2011-02-25 08:11:20 FeedbackPrintRSS

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Gen. David Petraeus, commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, will order an investigation into a report that some military officers used illegal means to solicit more funding for the war there, a Pentagon spokesman said on Thursday.

An article, published on the Rolling Stone magazine early Thursday, alleges that Army Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three- star general in charge of training Afghan troops, used information operations officers in an attempt to influence distinguished visitors to the battleground.

The investigation "is not focused on any particular person other than determining the facts and circumstances that were raised in that story," said Pentagon spokesman Dave Lapan.

The Rolling Stone article alleges that the U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in "psychological operations" to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war.

Soldiers were directed to collect dossiers including basic background information as well as a "deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds," the article says.

According to the Defense Department's definition, " psychological operations" -- the use of propaganda and psychological tactics to influence emotions and behaviors -- are supposed to be used exclusively on "hostile foreign groups," the report says. Federal law forbids the military from practicing psy- ops on Americans, and each defense authorization bill comes with a "propaganda rider" that also prohibits such manipulation.

"The incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U. S. command in Afghanistan is to spin American civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war," the article adds.

Special Report: Afghanistan Situation

Editor: Xiong Tong
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