Pentagon overseas propaganda plan stirs controversy
Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAYShare
November 20. 2012 - WASHINGTON - Senior officers at the Pentagon are being advised on countering Taliban propaganda by a marketing expert whose company once weeded out reporters who wrote negative stories in Afghanistan and helped the military deceive the enemy in Iraq, according to military documents and interviews.
Since 2000, the military has paid the Rendon Group more than $100 million to help shape its communications strategy, analyze media coverage, run its propaganda programs and develop counter-narcotics efforts around the world, Pentagon documents show.
One aspect of the company's work is aimed at changing attitudes of U.S. adversaries through messaging and advertising. Some Pentagon officials, including retired admiral Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reject that, preferring instead to provide information and context about military operations.
He offers advice "to people who face tough challenges and choices in a complex global information environment." A government watchdog found Rendon's access to Pentagon decision makers troubling.