Report: Army General illegally ordered psy-ops officers to influence public officials

A high-ranking U.S. General in Afghanistan illegally ordered psychological operations officers to influence political figures, Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings reports.

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the man charged with the training of the Afghan government’s troops, ordered a group of “information operations” specialists led by Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes to help influence visiting Senators and Congressmen and garner more political support for the unpopular war. Holmes tells the magazine that when he and his fellow intelligence officers resisted the order, Caldwell’s staff and military investigators set out to ruin their careers.

“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 says. “I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line.” An officer attached to another psy-ops team in Afghanistan agreed: “Everyone in the psy-ops, intel, and IO community knows you’re not supposed to target Americans. It’s what you learn on day one.”

According to Holmes, his unit’s targets included Senators Jack Reed, John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Congressman Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Afghanistan and Germany’s interior minister; and even Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen.

Holmes says that Caldwell, an ambitious three-star general, ordered him to profile members of visiting congressional delegations and provide “deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds.” The general’s chief of staff also asked Holmes what they would need to “plant inside their heads” to get more troops sent to the country.

“We called it Operation Fourth Star,” Holmes says. “Caldwell seemed far more focused on the Americans and the funding stream than he was on the Afghans. We were there to teach and train the Afghans. But for the first four months it was all about the U.S. Later he even started talking about targeting the NATO populations.”

Federal law forbids the use of psychological operations on U.S. citizens, and every defense authorization bill includes a “propaganda rider” reiterating the point. Holmes also suspected that Caldwell’s orders were in violation of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, passed by Congress to ensure that U.S. citizens would never become subject to Soviet-style propaganda campaigns. Col. Gregory Breazile, the spokesperson for Caldwell’s operation, disagreed with Holmes’ assessment. “It’s not illegal if I say it isn’t!” Holmes recalls Breazile shouting when the two discussed the legality of Caldwell’s order.

Caldwell’s chief of staff then launched an investigation of Holmes that reported the Colonel drank alcohol, dressed in civilian clothing, improperly tried to start a business, made jokes of a sexual nature (“LTC Holmes’ comments about his sexual needs are even more distasteful in light of his status as a married man”), and carried on an “ inappropriate” relationship with a Maj. Laurel Levine. According to the Maj. Levine, who has received 16 service awards in her 19 years with the military and has a spotless record, Caldwell’s vendetta against Holmes “will probably end my career.”

The whole experience has left Holmes seemingly heartbroken by the military he served in. “My father was an officer, and I believed officers would never act like this,” he says. “I was devastated. I’ve lost my faith in the military, and I couldn’t in good conscience recommend anyone joining right now.”

A spokesperson for Caldwell denied all of Holmes’ charges to the magazine.

UPDATE: Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of Allied forces in Afghanistan, has now ordered an investigation into the Caldwell/Psy-Ops case.

  • D8ve

    SO he tried to influence people for his cause, why is that news? seems to me that every add on tv or magazine, including Rolling Stone does the same. They try to get in your head, that their product is something that needs your attention. Big whoo!

    • kingfish

      EXCEPT that the General and his staff’s actions were ILLEGAL, and he DESTROYED the lives of 2 people.

    • kingfish

      The general’s illegal “direct orders” to conduct psy-op activities on ELECTED OFFICIALS negatively affect every American. He’s trying to divert money to the perpetual war machine, as if they haven’t stolen enough and hired mercenaries to do their jobs to boot. It’s NOT this or any other general’s prerogative to thwart the will of the people; he’s a self-serving jerk who needs to be removed. AMERICANS DON’T WANT MORE MONEY SPENT ON WARS — the generals all know it!

      • D8ve

        Yeah you think about that when you and your family are sleeping safe at night… wars do have consequences, but one of them is your security!

        • kingfish

          The military’s neocon plans to create perpetual false flags to keep terrorism and themselves in the money forever doesn’t make us feel “safe”…far from it. We AND other countries have to worry about what they might do NEXT in conjunction with “our friends the Israelis”. Looks like 911, Oklahoma, WACO, Lockerbie, Beirut, Flt 800, Katrina, Hurricane Andrew? etc. etc. wasn’t ENOUGH! What’s next? HAARP earthquakes and FEMA camps, under the guise of military “exercises”?

          Griggs part 1

  • kingfish

    I’ve known the JCS and top Pentagon generals were CROOKS for a long time. You only have to look at the way they treat their soldiers. For decades they’ve DENIED Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, Vaccine and Depleted Uranium poisoning were “service related”. THAT IS A BALD-FACED LIE AND THEY KNOW IT. They “use our soldiers up”, then kill them early with these diseases (denying them medical care in many instances, and CERTAINLY compensation) to avoid retirement and disability pay.

    General Caldwell, his Chief of Staff, and Col. Gregory Breazile should be FIRED immediately! It’s been clear to me for years that there is WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION in the very top ranks of our military. If there weren’t, 911 could never have been pulled off…there were four E-4B command aircraft in the sky that day supposedly conducting excercises. Gen Myer was promoted to JCS immediately; another general was “killed” on the D.C. subway.

    Another indication of widespread corruption is the never-ending plight of women being raped in the military and the ongoing coverups by the generals.

    Then there’s the money. $4 trillion went missing at the Pentagon days before 911 (Rumsfeld announced $2.3 but audits showed more). The Pentagon had an Israeli Comptroller Dov Zakheim loyal to Israel. He was never investigated – just walked off with TAXPAYER money.
    They “lost” $800 billion last year, and other amounts other years. What happened to the two military “planeloads of cash” sent to Iraq for rebuilding the country – it was never rebuilt. What happened to all the GOLD and cash in the Iraq bank?

    The Pentagon also orders brand new airplane engines and parts, the “salvages” them to give to Israel. THAT’S TAXPAYER MONEY, FOLKS.

    And finally, here we are with the 2 longest wars in history. The PENTAGON GENERALS have NO STRATEGY and NO INTENTION of every leaving….notice how Mullen and Petraeu are saying we’ll be in Iraq another 10 years, etc. IT’S THEIR WAY OF DIRECTING TAXPAYER MONEY TO THE MILITARY INDEFINITELY, despite the fact that Americans are homeless, jobless, and penniless.


    I would send my son out of the country rather than fight for these CRIMINAL GENERALS, who reflect the degradation of the White House and Congress. LTC Holmes should be praised and promoted for his ethics in the face of TYRANNY. I’m glad to know there’s a “few good men”.
    I wouldn’t doubt that at least half all those so-called military “suicides” are murders of those who wouldn’t go along, just like the six or more at Minot AFB

    KAY GRIGGS, wife of Chief of Staff to GEN GRAY (names names)