A front group is an organization that purports to represent one agenda while in reality, it serves some other party or interest whose sponsorship is hidden or rarely mentioned.
A front group typically has some (but not necessarily all) of the following characteristics:
- Avoids mentioning its main sources of funding. Note that this does not necessarily mean absolute concealment of sponsorship.
- Is set up by and/or operated by another organization, (particularly a public relations, grassroots campaigning, polling or surveying firm or consultancy)
- Engages in actions that consistently and conspicuously benefit a third party, such as a company, industry or political candidate(s);
- Effectively shields a third party from liability/responsibility/culpability
- Re-focuses debate about an issue onto a new or suspiciously unrelated topic, (e.g., secondhand smoke as a property rights issue)
- Has a misleading name that disguises its real agenda, such as the National Wetlands Coalition, which opposed policies to protect U.S. wetlands, or Citizens for a Free Kuwait, which purported to represent U.S. citizens but was actually funded almost entirely by the royal family of Kuwait. Sometimes a front group’s name might seem to suggest academic or political neutrality (“Consumers’ Research,” “American Policy Center“), while in fact it consistently turns out opinions, research, surveys, reports, polls and other declarations that benefit the interests of a company, industry or political candidate.
- Has the same address or phone number as a sponsoring corporation, or a similar group that has since disbanded, or been forced out of business by exposure, lawsuits, etc.
- Consists of a group of vocal, “esteemed” academic “experts” who go on national tours, put on media events, give press conferences, seminars, workshops, and give editorial board meetings around the country, etc., who ordinarily would not seem to have the budget or financial means to carry out such events
- Touts repeatedly in communications that it is “independent,” “esteemed,” “credible” etc.
Psychological operations (PSYOP) are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.
The purpose of United States psychological operations is to induce or reinforce behavior favorable to U.S. objectives. They are an important part of the range of diplomatic, informational, military and economic activities available to the U.S. They can be utilized during both peacetime and conflict. There are three main types: strategic, operational and tactical. Strategic PSYOP include informational activities conducted by the U.S. government agencies outside of the military arena, though many utilize Department of Defense (DOD) assets.
PSYOP can encourage popular discontent with the opposition’s leadership and by combining persuasion with a credible threat, degrade an adversary’s ability to conduct or sustain military operations. They can also disrupt, confuse, and protract the adversary’s decision-making process, undermining command and control.
Psychological operations units
The bulk of U.S. military psychological units are in the Army. White PSYOP can come from the Voice of America or regional radio/TV. Central Intelligence Agency units are apt to have responsibility, on a strategic level, for black and some gray propaganda. White propaganda, especially at the strategic level, comes from the Voice of America or United States Information Agency.