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Petraeus names officer in charge of "psy-ops" story investigation

Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, has named Lt. Gen. William Webster, commander of Third Army/ U.S. Army Central, as the investigating officer to look into claims about Lt. Gen. William Caldwell raised in a Feb. 23 online Rolling Stone article.

In “Another Runaway General,” author Michael Hastings wrote that “orders from the command of” Caldwell instructed members of an Information Operations team to use psy-ops techniques to try to manipulate visiting dignitaries, including several senators, into providing more funds and U.S. troops for the war in Afghanistan.

Such a use of psy-ops would be prohibited under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which was passed by Congress to prevent the State Department from using Soviet-style propaganda techniques on U.S. citizens.

Lt. Col. Michael Holmes, the leader of the information operations cell tasked with the assignment and the story’s primary source, told the Wall Street Journal in a subsequent interview that what he had been asked to do was “pretty innocuous stuff,” but maintained that it was improper and illegal.

Webster began his investigation on Feb. 25.

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