Who's Running the Information War?

Gates Seeks Review of Information Programs - Craig Whitlock, Washington Post.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has ordered a review of the military's information operations programs in response to allegations that private contractors ran an unauthorized spy ring in Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Tuesday that Gates had instructed a small group of senior officials to determine whether there were any "systemic problems" with the operations, which include electronic warfare, psychological operations and other noncombat programs and have a budget this year of more than $500 million.

Gates's decision was prompted by reports that a senior Defense Department official, Michael D. Furlong, hired contractors to run a $24 million intelligence-gathering program to track down suspected insurgent leaders in Afghanistan. The program was shut down late last year after the CIA and some military officials complained that Furlong was operating an off-the-books spy network...

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Caution Lights for the Military's 'Information War' - David Ignatius, Washington Post opinion.

It has become commonplace since Sept. 11, 2001, to speak of the "war of ideas" between Muslim extremists and the West. But there has been too little attention paid to the U.S. military's mobilization for this war, which is often described by the oxymoronic phrase "information operations."

To populate this information "battle space," the military has funded a range of contractors, specialists, training programs and initiatives - targeted on the hot wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the broader zone of conflict in the Middle East and Central Asia. Gen. David Petraeus, the Centcom commander who oversees that region, has been one of the military's most vocal proponents of aggressive information operations.

The potential problems were highlighted on March 14, when the New York Times revealed that a Pentagon official from the "strategic communications" realm had funded contractors to gather intelligence in Afghanistan. Last week also brought a report by The Post's Ellen Nakashima that the military, in an offensive information operation, had shut down a jihadist Web site that the CIA had been monitoring for intelligence purposes. In both cases, it seemed the military was wandering into the covert-action arena traditionally reserved for the CIA...

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