The timeline of the activity tracks USA TODAY’s reporting on the military’s “information operations” program, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan — campaigns that have been criticized even within the Pentagon as ineffective and poorly monitored.
For example, Internet domain registries show the website TomVandenBrook.com was created Jan. 7 — just days after Pentagon reporter Tom Vanden Brook first contacted Pentagon contractors involved in the program. Two weeks after his editor Ray Locker’s byline appeared on a story, someone created a similar site, RayLocker.com, through the same company.
If the websites were created using federal funds, it could violate federal law prohibiting the production of propaganda for domestic consumption.
South Korean activists floated another cluster of balloons packed with pro-democracy and anti-regime news into North Korea today, defying the Hermit Kingdom’s threats to shell them into oblivion for the aerial info-war tactic. Voice of America’s ace Asia correspondent Steve Herman tweets that this latest balloon salvo also carries some nastygrams making fun of Kim Jong Il and his family.
Activists have used a variety of methods to make sure the balloons pop over a specific target. Senders have used everything from acid timers that eat through the payload’s tether after a given period to electric and clockwork timers in order to hit a target area. One anti-Kim group has even used GPS devices to track the balloons — which seems like it could risk either North Korean GPS jamming or tracking by North Korean authorities.