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WASHINGTON, ATLANTA - For a short time last year, CNN employed military specialists in 'psychological operations' (psyops). This was confirmed to Trouw by a spokesman of the U.S. Army. The military could have influenced CNN's news reports about the crisis in Kosovo.
"Psyops personnel, soldiers and officers, have been working in CNN's headquarters in Atlanta through our program 'Training With Industry,'" said Major Thomas Collins of the U.S. Army Information Service in a telephone interview last Friday. "They worked as regular employees of CNN. Conceivably, they would have worked on stories during the Kosovo war. They helped in the production of news.''
These military, a "handful" according to Collins, stayed with CNN for at least a couple of weeks "to get to know the company and to broaden their horizons''. Collins maintains that "they didn't work under the control of the army." The temporary outplacement of U.S. Army psyops personnel in various sectors of society began a couple of years ago. Contract periods vary from a couple of weeks to one year.
CNN is the biggest and most widely viewed news station in the world. The intimate liaisons with army psyops specialists raise serious doubts about CNN's journalistic integrity and independence. The military CNN-personnel belonged to the airmobile Fourth Psychological Operations Group, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. One of the main tasks of this group of almost 1200 soldiers and officers is to spread 'selected information'.
American psyops troops try with a variety of techniques to influence media and public opinion in armed conflicts in which American state interests are said to be at stake. The propaganda group was involved in the Gulf war, the Bosnian war and the crisis in Kosovo.
So far CNN has not commented on the allegations. "I don't believe that we would employ military personnel; it doesn't seem like something we would normally do," said CNN-spokeswoman Megan Mahoney on Friday evening. But when the U.S. Army Information Service confirmed the news, Mahoney said she would have to contact CNN's senior officials. However, on Sunday evening CNN still could not provide an official statement to Trouw.
CNN's coverage of the war in Kosovo, and that of other media, has attracted criticism from several sides as having been one-sided, overly emotional, over-simplified and relying too heavily on NATO officials. On the other hand, journalists have complained about the lack of reliable information from NATO; for almost all of them it was impossible to be on the battlefield and file first-hand reports.
or more on the connection between CNN and U.S. Army opinion-control operations, see 'The American army loves CNN'
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