Army probe looks into alleged 'mind control' of lawmakers
American Army unit in Kabul ordered to use psychological tricks to extract needed resources, report says
- By Alysha Sideman
- Feb 25, 2011
An Army unit accused of playing mind games on senators to get more troops and federal aid is now being investigated, according to a Rolling Stone magazine report
Specifically, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops ordered his soldiers, who are experts in psychological operations, to turn their focus away from the enemy and instead “maniupate” the U.S. senators visting Camp Eggers in Kabul, the magazine said.
Trained in mind tricks to control the enemy, the soldiers were told to organize comprehensive dossiers on the visiting senators and get to know them intimately -- their likes, dislikes and voting records.
According to reports, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell ordered the operation. When Lt. Col. Michael Holmes, leader of the Information Operations (IO) unit, tried to call a halt to the action, he was given an official reprimand.
“My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” Holmes told Rolling Stone. “I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressmen, you’re crossing the line."
Now General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistran, is preparing to order an investigation into the allegations, reports Federal News Radio. According to reports, it is possible that the action is illegal.
According to the Associated Press, Lt. Col. Caldwell’s office denied that the command used IO to trick the visitors.
Targeted senators included, according to the report: John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Other targets, according to the report, were: Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y) of the House Appropriations Committee, the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan, the German interior minister, and various think tank analysts.
Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.