Propaganda Contractor Admits to Running Smear Campaign Against USA Today Reporters (UPDATE)
Camille Chidiac, the minority owner of Leonie Industries, which we identified last month as the Pentagon information operations contractor that ran an operation against two critical journalists, has admitted playing a role in the subterfuge.
“I take full responsibility for having some of the discussion forums opened and reproducing their previously published USA Today articles on them,” Chidiac said of USA Today reporters Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker in a statement released to the newspaper. “I recognize and deeply regret that my actions have caused concerns for Leonie and the U.S. military. This was never my intention. As an immediate corrective action, I am in the process of completely divesting my remaining minority ownership from Leonie.”
Vanden Brook and Locker wrote a highly critical story about Pentagon information operations in general, and Leonie Industries in particular, last February. As he was reporting the story, Vanden Brook realized that someone had registered TomVandenBrook.com, established a Twitter account in his name, and begun editing his Wikipedia page to highlight an erroneous report he filed about survivors of the Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia in 2006—an error that virtually every other news outlet covering the incident made at the same time, since it was sourced to false information provided by the governor. Locker got similar treatment.