Office of Strategic Influence

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The Office of Strategic Influence, or OSI, was a department created by the United States Department of Defense on October 30, 2001, to support the War on Terrorism through psychological operations in targeted countries, including the United States. Although the closure of the office was announced by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld soon after its existence became publicly known, later comments by Secretary Rumsfeld imply that the actual operations of the OSI have continued unabated.[1] OSI was authorized to use "military deception" against the public by "presenting false information, images, or statements."[2] The OSI would have been a center for the creation of propaganda materials, for the stated purpose of misleading enemy forces or foreign civilian populations. After information on the office spread through US and foreign media in mid February 2002, intense discussions on purpose and scope of the office were reported. The discussions culminated in a public statement by Rumsfeld in late February that the office has been closed down.[citation needed]

Some argue that due to its secretive nature and stated purposes the existence of such an agency would be hard to determine. In fact, in November 2002, Rumsfeld stated in an interview that only the name of the office was abolished, that it still exists and continues to fulfill its original intended purposes.[3] Much of the OSI's responsibilities were shifted to the Information Operations Task Force.[4]



  • February 19, 2002: Major US news organizations report that the Department of Defense had set up the Office of Strategic Influence. These reports quote an unnamed official, who is discussing the advantages and dangers in setting up such an office. [5]
  • February 20, 2002: After discussions on the purpose of the Office in the US media, Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, assures the public in an interview that Defense Department officials will not undermine the credibility of US institutions by lying to the public, and states that the exact mandate of the office is under review.[6]
  • February 26, 2002: Rumsfeld announces the decision by Douglas Feith to close the Office of Strategic Influence.[7]
  • November 18, 2002: Rumsfeld states in a press briefing that the Office of Strategic Influence was closed down only in name, that the activities of the office still continue. Rumsfeld:

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