Army general cleared of charges that he sought to use psy ops on U.S. senators

July 27, 2011

An Army general has been cleared of allegations that he inappropriately used members of a psychological operations team in efforts to persuade U.S. senators visiting Afghanistan to provide more funding for the war.

A memo from the Defense Department inspector general’s office says investigators concluded that allegations against Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the head of the U.S. and NATO training operation for Afghan forces, were “not substantiated.” In doing so, they said they were affirming the finding of an earlier Army investigation that was never publicly released.

This past winter, Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the top military commander in Afghanistan, ordered the Army investigation after the publication of a Rolling Stone article in which a lieutenant colonel who served under Caldwell’s command alleged that he had been ordered to find ways to manipulate visiting lawmakers. The lieutenant colonel also alleged that he had been subjected to retribution when he resisted the assignment.

The letter from investigators, first reported by the Associated Press, says the probe determined that there was no “psychological operations unit” under Caldwell’s command and that while service members were tasked with preparing “information packages” on congressional delegations and other visitors, the orders were neither illegal nor improper.

It is common, the letter noted, for the military to compile information on the backgrounds and interests of visitors.

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