The military's shadowy "counterpropaganda" efforts, known as psychological operations or "psyops," have historically been limited to war zones outside of the domestic United States and tasked with strategically spreading information (and misinformation) in order to disrupt US adversaries. But recently, a Somali American living in Minnesota learned through a Google Alert that his online news aggregator was in the sights of a military contractor involved in “information operations to engage local populations and counter nefarious influences” in Africa and Europe.
The blurry territory between domestic policing and foreign military operations
The Washington Post reports that the United Somalia news aggregator, run by a recently-naturalized immigrant named Abdiwali Warsame, was labeled "extremist" by the North Virginia-based Special Ops contractor Navanti Group, whose CEO said it wasn't initially aware the site was based in the US. However, Navanti's report — which was posted publicly on OpenSource.gov and picked up by Warsame's Google Alerts — states otherwise, citing information gleaned from secondary sources living in Minnesota.
Navanti delivered a copy of their dossier on Warsame and his website to the FBI, and recommended the Defense Department use the website to conduct “Military Information Support Operations” — the PR-friendly term for psyops — to target Somali audiences across the globe. In light of recent disclosures on the NSA's domestic data-collecting activities, Warsame's case seems to exist in the same increasingly blurry territory between domestic policing and foreign military operations in a world of global online communications. Click through to The Washington Post for the full story.