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Gates Orders Review of All Pentagon Information-Operations Programs

Remember Michael D. Furlong, the Pentagon official under investigation for allegedly using a government information program to launder money for an off-the-books spying operation? His case has led Defense Secretary Robert Gates to open a wide-ranging review of all Pentagon information-operations programs. Here’s Geoff Morrell, the chief Pentagon spokesman, in his press briefing yesterday:

[T]he secretary has directed a small team of senior military and Defense officials to conduct a quick-look assessment of DOD information operations programs, operations and procedures. The results of this assessment are designed to provide the secretary with a factual baseline from which to determine whether or not systemic problems exist, and if so proper scope and focus of subsequent corrective action.

This survey phase he has mandated be complete within 15 days. So they have embarked on their work and are due to report back to him — I guess that would be early the second week of April.

Information operations bedeviled Gates’ predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, whose efforts to create an “Office of Strategic Influence” crashed and burned — leading him to hire a contract firm to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers. The U.S. continues to spend nearly half a trillion dollars annually on Defense Department information-operations programs, though Morrell said the current budget request for next year is a relatively low $384 million.

Morrell added that the new review’s focus is going to cover both the programs themselves and “whether or not there is proper oversight, guidelines and that sort of thing.”

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