February 24th, 2011
12:45 PM ET

Rolling Stone: Army manipulated visiting VIPs in Afghanistan

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is ordering an investigation into a scathing Rolling Stone magazine report that says the Army ordered soldiers trained in "psychological operations" to manipulate visiting lawmakers to secure more troops and funding for the war, the military said Thursday.

A lieutenant colonel told the magazine that a military team at Afghanistan's Camp Eggers was ordered by Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops, to perform psychological operations on visiting VIPs over a four-month period last year.

When the team devoted to what is known as information operations refused on grounds that it was illegal, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation, the magazine said.

"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," Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the head of the "information operations" unit, told Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings, who also wrote an article last year that led to the dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

"I'm prohibited from doing that to our own people," he said. "When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you're crossing a line."

Holmes said he was reprimanded for refusing to carry out orders.

The military statement Thursday said Petraeus would order a probe but said that "it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time."

Full story on CNN's Afghanistan Crossroads Blog

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Afghanistan • Raw Politics
February 24th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #766 'Prepare for future shock'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The White House continues keeping track of all that is happening in the Middle East, which is a little like a state trooper trying to keep track of who hit whom in a 40 car pile up. Thank goodness all I have to do is write my daily letter.

Dear Mr. President,

I wish you had called this afternoon, as busy as you are, because I really want to hear your thoughts on a basic question: How do you think the situation is going to end up in the Middle East? With Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Algeria…and on and on and on. Because frankly I’ve talked to some real hard core experts on the region and they seem to think we can try to analyze the situation or we could deal the tarot cards. Either way, our odds of predicting the outcome will be about the same.

Which is pretty frightening.

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