Michael Hastings has a disturbing report reposted at Information Clearing House:
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, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.
The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as "information operations" at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.
"My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave," says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. "I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line."
The list of targeted visitors was long, according to interviews with members of the IO team and internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone. Those singled out in the campaign included senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Rep. Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan; the German interior minister, and a host of influential think-tank analysts.
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. According to the Defense Department’s own definition, psy-ops – the use of propaganda and psychological tactics to influence emotions and behaviors – are supposed to be used exclusively on "hostile foreign groups." 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. "Everyone in the psy-ops, intel, and IO community knows you’re not supposed to target Americans," says a veteran member of another psy-ops team who has run operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It’s what you learn on day one."
That should result in immediate Congressional hearings. And if it doesn't happen, I'd say that's very telling about how much democracy we have left and how much concern our Congress really has because you'd think at least they would be outraged by an orchestrated attempt to play them. If nothing else, you'd think that would bother them.
So there should be an immediate inquiry into it.
Now consumer issues. Last night, I posted "Site warning" and a number of you e-mailed to find out if Tony was able to get that virus off his computer because you hadn't had that luck. Tony thinks it's off. I'm not sure if it is. After we finished the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin, I talked to C.I. about this for about 20 minutes.
First off, it's not a virus. "Spyware Protection" is malware. McCaffee, newly installed, will generally block it. However, it will not prevent you from getting it again. So if you do and you run McCafee and it doesn't find it the second (or third) time, you need to instead install something else. There are a number of things and C.I. went through them with me. I stopped her when she got to "and you can download, for free . . ." Maleware Bytes. That has a free version and a pay version that offers a lot more. But if you get "Spyware Protection," you can download "Maleware Bytes" free version and it will find it and it will remove it from your computer.
C.I. always thinks she's a computer idiot -- she's not. She's not trained in the area but she knows so much. If any of us have a problem, she's our first call. But she said go check with UK Computer Gurus and I got one of them on the phone and he said that would be the best choice "Maleware Bytes" and he would recommend the free version over anything you can buy at an Office Depot or whatever. He said it works really well and asked if C.I. talked about "Defender." Yes, she did. Ann's "Spyware and other problems" noted it and I did too.
He said that was good because if you go for instructions online, you'll be told you need to go into Safe Mode and then download something (similar to Maleware Bytes but they must suggest something else) and your problem will be that a lot of stuff will not work in SafeMode because Safe Mode is supposed to protect your computer. So by instead following C.I.'s advice -- which is not in the instructions at other sites online -- you can download what you need.
Repeating on that, you get "Spyware Protection" on your computer. It's malware. It will tell you that you have viruses. It will list them every few seconds. It tries to get your credit card information. It wants you to panic and 'agree to buy their product' to get you to enter your credit card information, hand it over to them. And a lot of your browsers will stop working during this.
You can go into SAFE MODE via restart but you don't need to. (And if you try to download in that, you'll be asked by many sites -- reliable ones -- to change your firewall so they can get in.)
Instead, restart but as soon as your windows window loads, go to task manager (ALT, Control, Delete held down together) and then choose "Task Manager" and it will list all the processes. Highlight "Defender" and then kill that process. You'll be able to run your computer normally for that session.
(In fact, if you need to surf for awhile -- even days -- you can follow C.I.'s instructions in the paragraph above and not even worry about the Malware immediately.)
So I hope that helps. I had no idea it was such a concern to so many or had effected so many until I was reading the e-mails tonight. So far, knock wood, I haven't ended up with it. I'm apparently in the minority.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"