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Strategic Perspectives 11, 2012

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Strategic Perspectives 11, 2012 Deception, Disinformation, and Strategic Communications: How One Interagency Group Made a Major Difference

By Fletcher SCHOEN and Christopher J. LAMB

This study explains how one part-time interagency committee established in the 1980s to counter Soviet disinformation effectively accomplished its mission. Interagency committees are commonly criticized as ineffective, but the Active Measures Working Group is a notable exception. The group successfully established and executed U.S. policy on responding to Soviet disinformation. It exposed some Soviet covert operations and raised the political cost of others by sensitizing foreign and domestic audiences to how they were being duped. The groups work encouraged allies and made the Soviet Union pay a price for disinformation that reverberated all the way to the top of the Soviet political apparatus. It became the U.S. Governments body of expertise on disinformation and was highly regarded in both Congress and the executive branch.