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It should come as no surprise that the DOD’s technology wing has caught on that social media can and is being used as a weapon, not just of mass influence, but of aggression, as demonstrated by the increasingly dangerous flash mobs on our doorstep in Chicago’s Gold coast to inciting revolution in the Arab Spring in Egypt and across the Middle East.

The U.S. military has long monitored media where it’s been concerned about public unrest. When I was a young information officer in the Army, and there were protests of nuclear missile batteries along Chicago’s lakefront, to protect us from Russian bombers and missiles, we monitored local radio and TV stations and sent daily reports into the Pentagon.

The real question is what technology the military might develop and mount to compromise the power of today and tomorrow’s social media, if social instability were at stake.

I’m beginning to wonder whether we may have been taken in a bit by the Rolling Stone and a disgruntled psy-ops reserve officer. While the psy-ops folks in Afghanistan may well have been brought in to help prepare dossiers and background materials for VIP visits by senators and such, it may have been only to help, from a manpower standpoint, with the very normal and legitimate work along these lines by General Caldwell’s public affairs staff. Might the psy-ops lieutenant colonel just have been miffed to be asked to do this routine work, rather than the slight of hand stock in trade of brainwashing the enemy? I don’t know — we haven’t seen any specifics of any psychological manipulation, and the senators named have said they didn’t recall being manipulated out of their previously held convictions. The background information from other sources indicates that the role of psy-ops in the Afghanistan training command had already been minimized before these accused incidents took place. We need better-sourced information than the Rolling Stone has provided to date to believe ethical lines have been crossed by the military command. So, this jury remains out.

August 2022

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