Pentagon clears 3-star general of alleged misdeed

AP News
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Posted: Jul 27, 2011 5:02 PM
Pentagon clears 3-star general of alleged misdeed

The three-star Army general in charge of training Afghan security forces has been cleared of allegations that he improperly used soldiers trained in psychological operations to influence American senators to get more money for the war.

The office of the Defense Department inspector general wrote in a memorandum dated July 22 that it agreed with an Army probe that concluded that the allegations against Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV were not substantiated. The Army probe was ordered by Gen. David Petraeus, then the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. It was completed March 25 but has not been made public.

A copy of the IG's memo was provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The controversy began with the publication of an article by Rolling Stone magazine Feb. 23, titled "Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators."

Petraeus, who relinquished command in Afghanistan last week to become director of the CIA, approved the Army probe's findings on May 12. The Army concluded that there was no psychological operations unit in Caldwell's organization and that the soldiers' preparation of packages of information about visiting congressional delegations and other distinguished visitors was not illegal or improper, according to the IG's memo.

But the episode underscores how murky the dividing line can be between information operations and public affairs officers _ one the Pentagon has wrestled with in recent years as it struggled to win the hearts and minds of populations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The IG memo said a second aspect of the allegations raised by the Rolling Stone article _ that Caldwell retaliated against two officers who questioned the legality of the effort to gather information about the visiting congressional delegations _ is now being investigated by a Military Reprisal Investigations Directorate.

The IG said that on July 21 the acting director of the reprisal investigations directorate determined that Caldwell "was not implicated" and is not the subject of that investigation.

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AP National Security Writer Anne Gearan contributed to this report.