Gen. David Petraeus seems to be taking allegations seriously that a U.S. “psychological operations” unit targeted members of Congress. The general, who is in charge of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, released a statement saying he’ll investigate the charges laid out in a Rolling Stone article. Reporter Michael Hastings says Lt. Gen. William Caldwell directed a psy-ops unit in Afghanistan to target visiting senators and other politicians from the U.S. rather than Taliban fighters. Federal law prohibits this—Americans are protected against propaganda—but Caldwell nevertheless ordered the four-man team to target visitors like Joe Lieberman, John McCain, Jack Reed, and Al Franken, seeking to manipulate them into further supporting the war effort. "We called it Operation Fourth Star," says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, who led the unit and was eventually reprimanded for bucking orders. "Caldwell seemed far more focused on the Americans and the funding stream than he was on the Afghans. We were there to teach and train the Afghans. But for the first four months it was all about the U.S. Later he even started talking about targeting the NATO populations." Petraeus became the top general in Afghanistan when an earlier story by Hastings led to the firing of the previous commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
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