A member of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday threatened an amendment to block funding for Pentagon propaganda efforts, citing reports critical of their management and others exposing the Pentagon’s contractor for tax evasion.
Recent reports published by USA Today exposed the dubious nature and exorbitant costs of the Pentagon’s “Information Operations,” (IO) which the newspaper described as “the modern equivalent of psychological warfare,” or war propaganda.
Subsequent USA Today reports exposed the Pentagon’s top contractor for IO for failing to pay up to $4 million in federal taxes, even as they were receiving government contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Just days after these reports came to light, the USA Today reporters were targeted in a coordinated misinformation campaign, with false Facebook and Twitter accounts created in their names and Wikipedia entries and dozens of message board postings about them.
The reporters suspected the IO contractors were involved, and became even more suspicious when the sites disappeared as soon as the Pentagon made formal inquiries. If it was done using federal funds, it could violate federal laws prohibiting the production of propaganda for domestic consumption.
Now, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), is threatening to target the information operations program, calling it a “fiasco” and saying contracts with the largest propaganda contractor, Leonie Industries, should be immediately suspended.
Johnson also called for an investigation into the apparent retaliation attacks against the USA Today journalists reporting on the program, whom he said were “targeted in a possibly criminal disinformation and reputation attack.”