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US Army may have used PSYOP against senators. How is that different from PR?

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“If found to be true, these revelations are alarming. Using U.S. military intelligence assets designed for manipulating our enemies against our own elected officials is a brazen and chilling abuse of power that directly threatens the core democratic principle of civilian control over the military," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, in a statement released Friday.

While the prospect of an officer trained to manipulate psyches using those skills on elected members of Congress is galling to some within the military, others wonder whether it was an innocent mistake or even all that wrong.

Context is key, says Matt Armstrong, a specialist on military strategic communications with the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California.

Rolling Stone claims that Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who is in charge of training Afghan troops, asked his team of PSYOP officers to create profiles of a visiting congressional delegation, including their voting records, “likes and dislikes,” and “hot button issues.” It's a common request of public affairs officers, who routinely put together dossiers that include a biographical sketch and articles written by visiting officials, for example.

“You could argue that he was just being prepared,” says USC's Mr. Armstrong.

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