Military personnel from the Fourth Psychological Operations Group based at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, have until recently been working in CNN’s hq in Atlanta.
CNN is up in arms about our report in the last issue of CounterPunch concerning the findings of the Dutch journalist, Abe de Vries about the presence of US Army personnel at CNN, owned by Time-Warner. We cited an article by de Vries which appeared on February 21 in the reputable Dutch daily newspaper Trouw, originally translated into English and placed on the web by Emperor’s Clothes. De Vries reported that a handful of military personnel from the Third Psychological Operations Battalion, part of the airmobile Fourth Psychological Operations Group based at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, had worked in CNN’s hq in Atlanta.
De Vries quoted Major Thomas Collins of the US Army Information Service as having confirmed the presence of these Army psy-ops experts at CNN, saying, “Psy-ops personnel, soldiers and officers, have been working in CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta through our program, ‘Training with Industry’. They worked as regular employees of CNN. Conceivably, they would have worked on stories during the Kosovo war. They helped in the production of news.”
This particular CounterPunch story was the topic of my regular weekly broadcast to AM Live, a program of the South Africa Broadcasting Company in Johannesburg. Among the audience of this broadcast was CNN’s bureau in South Africa which lost no time in relaying news of it to CNN hq in Atlanta, and I duly received an angry phone call from Eason Jordan who identified himself as CNN’s president of newsgathering and international networks.
Jordan was full of indignation that I had somehow compromised the reputation of CNN. But in the course of our conversation it turned out that yes, CNN had hosted a total of five interns from US army psy-ops, two in television, two in radio and one in satellite operations. Jordan said the program had only recently terminated, I would guess at about the time CNN’s higher management read Abe de Vries’s stories.
When I reached De Vries in Belgrade, where’s he is Trouw’s correspondent, and told him about CNN’s furious reaction, he stood by his stories and by the quotations given him by Major Collins.For some days CNN wouldn’t get back to him with a specific reaction to Collins’s confirmation, and when it did, he filed a later story for Trouw, printed on February 25 noting that the military worked at CNN in the period from June 7, (a date confirmed by Eason to me) meaning that during the war a psy-ops person would have been at CNN during the last week.