from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 14
February 24, 2002


The Defense Department adamantly rejected media reports that its new Office of Strategic Influence would consider planting false news stories in foreign media outlets.

"The Department of Defense does not now and has no plans to conduct any disinformation campaigns or to promulgate false or inaccurate or misleading information to domestic or foreign audiences," said Defense Secretary Rumsfeld at a February 21 press briefing. "Any suggestion to the contrary would not be correct."

"Under no circumstance will that Office [of Strategic Influence] or its contractors, for that matter, knowingly or deliberately disseminate false information to the American or to foreign publics," Rumsfeld said. See:

See also "New Defense Office Won't Mislead, Officials Say" by Vernon Loeb and Dana Milbank in the February 21 Washington Post:


Secrecy News (02/20/02) mistakenly reported that the Pentagon Office of Strategic Influence was set up in October 2001. According to a Pentagon press release, it was actually created in November 2001:

To give credit where it is due, the existence of the new Office was first reported not by the New York Times on February 19 but by Federal Times and Defense News on November 12, 2001:

Secrecy News also did an injustice to the new Office's director, BGen. Simon P. Worden, by glibly characterizing his record and quoting a jibe from one of his opponents without context or balance. Among his various positive achievements, Worden was responsible for the Clementine lunar probe, as space policy expert Dwayne Day has observed. This successful program helped inaugurate the "faster, better, cheaper" approach at NASA. A recent bio of Gen. Worden may be found here:


Tom Clancy's 1984 novel "The Hunt for Red October" was once the unlikely vehicle for a deliberate U.S. Navy disinformation effort targeted at the Soviet Union.

According to Sherry Sontag's and Christopher Drew's 1998 book "Blind Man's Bluff," Clancy's novel about the search for a rogue Soviet submarine, which was first published by the U.S. Naval Institute, underwent prepublication review by the Navy.

Upon review, the Navy found "that about two-thirds of the technical information was on target and the rest was wrong, and that it typically overstated U.S. abilities," Sontag and Drew wrote.

But "rather than blocking publication of the book, or attempting to correct the misperceptions, when Clancy submitted his manuscript to the Navy for clearance, [CNO Admiral James D.] Watkins said he decided to let the book go forward as it was."

"'The Hunt for Red October' did us a service," Adm. Watkins told Sontag and Drew. "The Soviets kind of believed it, and we won the battle, and therefore it was a significant part of the noncostly deterrence of submarines." ("Blind Man's Bluff," page 322).


The death of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan, feels like a personal loss even to many who never knew him.

"Daniel Pearl devoted his life to the noble pursuit of informing our free and open society," said Attorney General John Ashcroft in a February 21 statement. "He paid the ultimate sacrifice for his commitment to that freedom." See:

Pearl's family and the Wall Street Journal have established a foundation "to support charities focused on causes to which Pearl dedicated his life," according to the Associated Press. Donations may be sent to:

Daniel Pearl Family Foundation
c/o Wall Street Journal
P.O. Box 300
Princeton, NJ 08543


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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