The Pentagon, Information Operations, and International Media Development

December 02, 2010
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm


Peter Cary
Author, The Pentagon, Information Operations, and International Media Development

With comments by

Rosa Brooks
U.S. Department of Defense

Jeanne Bourgault
Internews Network

Moderated by

Bill Leonard
National Endowment for Democracy

As part of its post-9/11 strategy, the Department of Defense (DoD) has launched a multi-front information war, both to support its troops on the ground and to counter the propaganda of extremists. The DoD’s global public relations war, however, has fostered criticism that the department has over-reached and tarred the efforts of U.S. organizations doing media development work abroad.

The department has overseen a large budget for such media operations, which are not always open to public scrutiny and whose effectiveness often cannot be measured.

The report analyzes the impact of DoD information operations on international media development efforts and offers recommendations. Peter Cary, a veteran journalist with extensive experience reporting about the U.S. military, presented a summary of his report for CIMA, The Pentagon, Information Operations, and Media Development, and examined DoD’s evolving role in media development worldwide.

About the author

Peter Cary is a consultant who specializes in writing, editing, and public relations projects. He is a former managing editor, investigative editor, and Pentagon reporter at U.S. News & World Report magazine. Cary worked at several newspapers, including the Bergen Record and the Miami Herald, before joining U.S. News in 1987. He began there as a national reporter, then became the magazine’s Pentagon correspondent, and covered the 1991 Gulf War. He co-wrote Triumph Without Victory, the magazine’s book about that war, and subsequently moved to the U.S. News investigative team, which he later led. In his final years at U.S. News, he was the managing editor for news and administration and helped launch several new business ventures. He has won numerous awards for his investigative work, including a Sigma Delta Chi award for an article on the explosion aboard the battleship U.S.S. Iowa in 1989.

About the participants

Rosa Brooks is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and international humanitarian policy and senior advisor to the under secretary of defense for policy.  She is currently on a public service leave from her position as a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, where she specializes in international law.  From 2005 to 2009, Brooks was a foreign policy columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her career has spanned positions in government, academia, and non-governmental organizations, including at the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; Yale Law School; the Open Society Institute; and Human Rights Watch, among others. She also has served on numerous boards and advisory groups, including the board of directors of the National Security Network, the steering committee of the White Oak Foreign Policy Leaders’ Project, the board of directors of Amnesty International USA, and the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.  Brooks earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree from the University of Oxford (where she was a Marshall Scholar), and a law degree from Yale Law School.

Jeanne Bourgault is president of Internews Network, which she joined in 2001 as vice president for programs. From 1990-1996, she served with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), including spending three years supporting democracy programs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Following that, Bourgault worked in the former Yugoslavia, serving as a strategic advisor for media development programs in post-war Kosovo, as well as manager of community development projects in Serbia and Montenegro.  In late 2000, Bourgault re-opened USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives program in Belgrade following the fall of Slobodan Milosevic. She has consulted on international development program design and evaluation for the Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, among others. Bourgault speaks Russian and holds master’s degrees in international studies and public affairs from the University of Washington.

J. William (Bill) Leonard is the chief operating officer at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Before coming to the NED, Leonard was the director of the information security oversight office at the National Archives, where he served under Allen Weinstein, who was a key figure in the NED’s history and directed the study group that led to its founding. Prior to that, Leonard served as a senior policymaker and senior program manager at the Department of Defense, where he rose to the rank of deputy assistant secretary of defense for security and information operations and was involved in policy, guidance, and oversight of the department’s information operations programs. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history at St. John’s University, and a master’s degree in international relations from Boston University. Leonard has taught as an adjunct professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.