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WASHINGTON - As it fights two wars, the Pentagon is steadily and dramatically increasing the money it spends to win what it calls "the human terrain" of world public opinion. In the process, it is raising concerns of spreading propaganda at home in violation of federal law.
An Associated Press investigation found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year, according to Department of Defense budgets and other documents. That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006.
Pentagon clashes with media over control of information
The Pentagon now spends more than $550 million a year — at least double the amount since 2003 — on public affairs, and that doesn't including personnel costs. Public affairs officers are, in the words of the military's training manual, a "perception management tool." Their job is to provide facts but not spin to American audiences and the American media.
Over the past two years, the number of public affairs officers trained by the Defense Information School has grown by 24 percent to almost 3,500. The military is also expanding its Internet presence from 300 to 1,000 sites and increasing its free cable programming on the Pentagon Channel by 33 percent to 2,080 programs.
Along with putting out its own messages, the public affairs arm tries to regulate what other media put out.
increasing its free cable programming on the Pentagon Channel by 33 percent to 2,080 programs.
AP CEO: Bush turned Military into propaganda machine
LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Bush administration turned the U.S. military into a global propaganda machine while imposing tough restrictions on journalists seeking to give the public truthful reports about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Associated Press chief executive Tom Curley said Friday.