TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Information Operations andCounterterrorismAll governments attempt to advance their own interests by influencing foreignand domestic audiences through messaging. In the United States, thisofficial messaging ranges from that performed by benign public affairs sectionsof various government departments, to public diplomacy practiced by theDepartment of State, to the more aggressive information operations, influenceoperations and information warfare undertaken by the Department of Defenseand certain intelligence agencies. Complicating matters is that, in its effortsto influence foreign audiences, the US government must be kept from inappropriatelyinfluencing American citizens.Since the global nature of communications today allows state and non-stateactors to amplify their messages to an extent unprecedented in history, it isimportant to understand the legal framework that constrains the US government.This is especially true given that the domestic press often picks up informationaimed at overseas audiences. This chapter focuses upon the broadestof the official messaging categories—information operations (IO) for foreignaudiences—and its intersection with US law and counterterrorism efforts. Itwill also examine how the US attempts to counter terrorist messaging efforts.Defining Information OperationsUsing information to influence foreign audiences is an essential tool in projectingUS power. While crafting official messages to influence foreign nationalsand governments has long been a staple of American statecraft, its applicationhas only recently been used to advance US interests in fighting terrorism.Given current US wartime efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the Pentagonhas become the main disseminator of IO. The DoD dryly defines it as:Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Harvard Kennedy School83

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