When USA Today began investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors, a bizarre harassment campaign commenced against reporter Tom Vanden Brooke and his editor. Websites and user accounts were registered in their names. A defamatory Wikipedia article was created. Bogus comments were posted to make them look bad.
The hare-brained misinformation efforts, directed against America's second-highest circulation daily newspaper, ended with a phone call.
"We're not aware of any participation in such activities, nor would it be acceptable," said Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman.
A Pentagon official confirmed that the military had made inquiries to information operations contractors to ask them about the Internet activity. All denied it, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiries were informal and did not amount to an official investigation.
The websites were taken down following those inquiries.
Ever wondered why U.S. propaganda efforts abroad are such a joke? Now you can stop wondering.
Update! Gawker (among others) figured it out: it's Leonie Industries. Get a load of these guys:
It was founded in 2004 by a Lebanese-American brother and sister, Camille Chidiac and Rema Dupont, and has cobbled together $130 million in Pentagon contracts … An Army colonel told the USA Today reporters that the stuff the Pentagon was paying Leonie to was "gimmicky" and "unserious." …
According to a 2010 lawsuit filed … the brother and sister had no experience at all in Middle East affairs when they founded the company, and in fact stole Leonie from their father after he asked them to establish it to house a family business. Chidiac, the lawsuit claims, left Boston University under a cloud in 2002 after accusations of "serious academic misconduct and/or plagiarism," which Chidiac blamed on a "Jew professor."