Rumsfeld's Roadmap to Propaganda
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 177
Edited by Kristin Adair
Posted - January 26, 2006
The Information Operations Roadmap
, a 30 October 2003 document approved personally by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, "provides the Department with a plan to advance the goal of information operations as a core military competency" and "stands as an another example of the Department's commitment to transform our military capabilities to keep pace with emerging threats and to exploit new opportunities afforded by innovation and rapidly developing information technologies." The plan was developed by an oversight panel led by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Resource and Plans) and representatives from the Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Special Operations Command, among other organizations.
The Roadmap was personally approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The Roadmap presents as one of its key assumptions the importance of Psychological Operations (PSYOP), particularly in wartime: "Effectively communicating U.S. Government (USG) capabilities and intentions is an important means of combating the plans of our adversaries. The ability to rapidly disseminate persuasive information to diverse audiences in order to directly influence their decision-making is an increasingly powerful means of deterring aggression. Additionally, it undermines both senior leadership and popular support for employing terrorists or using weapons of mass destruction." The military defines PSYOP generally as "planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals."
The newly-released Information Operations Roadmap, with the goal of expansion and central coordination of Pentagon PSYOP and public diplomacy operations, also recognizes the legal conundrum presented by the use of overseas propaganda in the information age. But while the document recognizes the need for boundaries-referred to as "[l]anes"-between U.S. public diplomacy and foreign propaganda, it fails to provide any such limits:
"The likelihood that PSYOP messages will be replayed to a much broader audience, including the American public, requires that specific boundaries be established for PSYOP. In particular:
The discussion of the relationship between public diplomacy and IO neither cites the applicable legal restrictions nor institutes specific guidelines, but references only the "intent" of the U.S. government in "targeting" either foreign or domestic audiences: