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The U.S. Deploys its Third Major Attempt to Destabilize the Government of Evo Morales

Resumen

August 1, 2018

By Hugo Moldiz Mercado

 

Using the 2019 elections as the pretext, The United States, through different means and actors, is activating its third major plan to destabilize Evo Morales’ government, block the indigenous leader’s project of political-electoral continuity and interrupt the process of change.

However, far from coming from a position of strength, these external actions against the process of change in Bolivia reveal the deep weakness of the internal opposition, which seeks to gain from outside the country what it has not yet been able to gain from within.

The interventionist plan of the United States is obvious. There is no reason why U.S. imperialism would not activate plans and measures to meddle in Bolivia’s internal affairs, just as it has done against all the progressive and leftist governments of Latin America.

It started with the weakest, such as Honduras and Paraguay, then it carried out a new type of coups, that they applied against the strongest; Brazil, where there was a coup in two stages. The first was a parliamentary coup against Dilma Rousseff, and the second, a judicial coup against Lula.  Against others, whose common trait is that they have carried out more profound changes through their Constituent Assemblies, as in the cases of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. It failed in its attempt to overthrow them through violence, although in the case of Ecuador, without Rafael Correa, it has so far successfully activated a passive regression with Lenin Moreno as president.

In fact, as the Consensus of Our America, approved by the XXIII Meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum that took place in Managua in 2017 and ratified at the XXIV Meeting of the same forum in Havana in July of this year,  the left has only been defeated by the electoral means in Argentina. In the rest, as noted above, it did so by non-democratic means, as it continues to try against Venezuela.

The counter-revolutionary and restorative offensive began during the Obama administration and continues, in a more perverse way, with the government of Donald Trump, who is trying to prevent the United States from ceasing to be the world hegemony and obviously to not lose control of Latin America. In fact, to be more precise, it seeks to re-establish its domination and hegemony in that part of the planet that, according to the Monroe doctrine, is considered its “backyard”. The fact that countries such as Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela and others have been the main forgers of innovative criteria for Latin American integration and unity through ALBA, UNASUR and CELAC is something that the United States is not willing to tolerate.

This conservative restoration project is encountering active resistance, to a greater or lesser degree, from the revolutionary processes of Cuba -which Evo Morales described in Havana as the mother of all revolutions-, Venezuela and Bolivia, but also from El Salvador. To this list Mexico must be added, which starting in December will be governed by Manuel López Obrador, who won a historic electoral victory at the beginning of July.

Well, Bolivia is no exception. From ideological reasons to geopolitical factors, the United States is working to end governments of countries where revolutions are taking place in the context and conditions of the 21st century. It has already taken care of almost all of the progressive governments, with only Uruguay and El Salvador left. And Bolivia, we reiterate, is no exception.

Against the process of change, led by indigenous leader Evo Morales, all actions of oligarchic and imperial destabilization have been deployed from the beginning. Without mistake we can observe three huge attempts to interrupt the deepest political process in the entire history of this country located in the heart of South America.

The first attempt to overthrow Morales came early in the 2006-2009 period.  Concerned about a government that from the outset nationalized oil, recovered natural resources and companies for the State, convened a Constituent Assembly, began to exercise State sovereignty in all fields, committed to the multilateral nature of international relations and promoted, together with other countries in the region, innovative mechanisms of political integration and coordination (Alba and Unasur), the United States maintained its conspiracy machinery. To do this, it used the DEA – which was dedicated to political espionage with the CIA – and installed the capacity within its embassy in La Paz to organize and promote the plans for territorial divisions, which was the concrete way in which the leftist government was to be overthrown.

The coup attempt was defeated by the capacity of the government and social movements to mobilize its base rather than by the institutional actions of their police and the armed forces. The effect of that defeat turned out to be hard on the United States; Ambassador Philip Golberg was expelled and so was the DEA. Months later, already weakened, the Bolivian far-right would suffer another defeat when a terrorist cell was dismantled, with foreign members whose plans included the assassination of President Evo Morales.

The second attempt was carried out between December 2015 and February 2016. Faced with the government project to modify article 168 of the Political Constitution of the State by referendum that would enable Evo Morales-Álvaro García Linera to run in the 2019 elections, a political-media conspiracy activated by the United States through Carlos Valverde – former national intelligence director of the Paz Zamora government (1989-1993) and a permanent link with the United States, as confirmed by the WikiLeaks – succeeded in breaking the emotional bond of a percentage of the population that had always voted for Morales (2005, 2009 and 2014).  The Bolivian president denounced the day and hour when Chargé d’Affaires Peter Brennan and Valverde had met in Santa Cruz to fine-tune the plan that called into question the moral authority of the top leader of the Bolivian revolution. Several mistakes made in an effort to clarify the denunciation – which ultimately turned out to be false – contributed to the confusion and facilitated the electoral setback for the ruling party.

But the U.S. and the right did not fully achieve what they wanted. The narrow margin by which the YES lost, preventing stopping the calls for Morales to resign. However, this was the first time that the opposition parties had penetrated into the so-called “citizen platforms” and destabilizing actions of a media group, as well as the active social networking movement.

Failing to refute the success of the Bolivian economic model, which for the fourth consecutive time reached the highest growth rate in the region in 2017 and is expected to do the same thing this year through good management. This comes despite facing problems including the drop in the prices of raw materials.

Currently the United States and the Bolivian right are deploying their third major attempt to reverse the Bolivian revolution. The reason used this time is the defense of the result of the referendum of February 21, 2016 that would disallow Evo from running in the 2019 elections. The underlying reason is to interrupt the continuity of the process of change. The tools being used are “citizens’ platforms”, being financially supported by opposition parties and US agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and others. There is also evidence that right wing European organizations are involved.

This third major destabilizing attempt is also on its way to structuring an international front of interference, through the OAS and the IACHR, the U.S. government and Congress.  That is why it is no coincidence that at the end of November last year, the Trump administration and Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen voted against the constitutional amendment that, on the basis of the Constitution and the American Convention, authorizes all elected authorities, national and sub-national, to run for indefinite reelection.  OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, an active militant against the Venezuelan revolution and all leftist governments, has also spoken out against the Bolivian Constitutional and Plurinational Tribunal

The drafting of a report by the Vienna Commission at the request of the OAS, which states that re-election is not a human right, is one of the conditions the Bolivian right is pushing.

What is striking is that since 2006, this is the first time the State Department has issued a statement urging Morales to withdraw his candidacy in 2019. “The people of Bolivia have spoken out. The United States supports them and urges the current Bolivian government to respect the outcome of these referendums,” the Trump administration went on to say there has been a “step backwards in Bolivian democracy.”

Twice the arch right Republican Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has stated that the United States should not remain silent and should “send a clear message of support to the Bolivian people“.

It is clear that the pronouncement of the U.S. State Department, the positions of the OAS Secretary General and the movement in the U.S. Congress undoubtedly represents an interventionist action plan against the process of change. This is just beginning.

Original Source: Cuba Debate.

http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2018/08/01/eeuu-despliega-su-tercer-gran-intento-desestabilizador-contra-evo/#.W2eRkFVKiUl

FURTHER READING:

Evo Morales Rejects Militarization of Bolivia-Argentina Border: “On August 17, the Argentine Government set up a military base in the border city of La Quiaca, near Bolivia, framed in the plan for a reform of the Armed Forces.” [Source: TeleSUR]

 

WATCH: UKRAINE ON FIRE

UKRAINE ON FIRE – The Real Story. Full Documentary by Oliver Stone (Original English version)

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“Ukraine. Across its eastern border is Russia and to its west—Europe. For centuries, it has been at the center of a tug-of-war between powers seeking to control its rich lands and access to the Black Sea. 2014’s Maidan Massacre triggered a bloody uprising that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych and painted Russia as the perpetrator by Western media. But was it?

Ukraine on Fire by Igor Lopatonok provides a historical perspective for the deep divisions in the region which lead to the 2004 Orange Revolution, 2014 uprisings, and the violent overthrow of democratically elected Yanukovych. Covered by Western media as a people’s revolution, it was in fact a coup d’état scripted and staged by nationalist groups and the U.S. State Department. Investigative journalist Robert Parry reveals how U.S.-funded political NGOs and media companies have emerged since the 80s replacing the CIA in promoting America’s geopolitical agenda abroad.

Executive producer Oliver Stone gains unprecedented access to the inside story through his on-camera interviews with former President Viktor Yanukovych and Minister of Internal Affairs, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, who explain how the U.S. Ambassador and factions in Washington actively plotted for regime change. And, in his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Stone solicits Putin’s take on the significance of Crimea, NATO and the U. S’s history of interference in elections and regime change in the region.” [Source: Ukraine on Fire website]

 

Fighting US Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) in Cyber Warfare & Winning

Tortilla Con Sal

August 9, 2018

By Lauren Smith

 

The CIA, NSA, FBI and DOD are your “friends” on Facebook

Social media and Google serve three strategic purposes for the United States government. First, they allow Washington to conduct espionage; second, they facilitate the spread of disinformation campaigns, and third, they serve as conduits for the transmission of social contagions. In deploying thought control against the users of social media and Google, the US government regulates civil unrest both domestic and abroad. As such, social media and Google can best be understood as unconventional weapons (UW). In this capacity, they can be used in proxy wars against the governments of non-compliant Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) nations to accomplish regime change.

Through geopolitical manipulations that eliminate opposition, the United States government can actualize the ruling elites’ vision of a corporate controlled global economy without the deployment of troops. This model of “non-violence” or “soft-coup” as a method of unconventional warfare can be traced to Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution. It is organized through the efforts of the NGOs it oversees such as Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). And, it can be observed in the various Color Revolutions that occurred in Eastern European countries, the Middle East and now Latin America.

The NED is the coordinating Washington agency for regime destabilization and change. It is active from Tibet to Ukraine, from Venezuela to Tunisia, from Kuwait to Morocco in reshaping the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union into what George H.W. Bush in a 1991 speech to Congress proclaimed triumphantly as the dawn of a New World Order.”

Within this context, activists and the NAM must consider Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google hostile territory that is ultimately controlled by the United States Intelligence Community (IC) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Despite user-friendly packaging and attractive advertisements, social media and Google remain militarized programs. As such, activists and NAM users must enter with caution, prepared to do battle to win at PSYOPS in cyber warfare.

Using the US DoD model, cyber warfare can be upgraded to a department on par with the NAM armed forces. In this regard, Polytechnic universities are strategic and can be controlled by NAM governments and their operatives, as they are in the US by the IC and DoD. NAM military institutions can recruit cyber warfare teachers/activists, develop educational curriculum, set career paths and train cyber soldiers to counter US engagements. Useful information can be taken directly from any of the US military’s cyberspace recruitment sites, which promise to develop capabilities to defend national security as well as to create effects in cyberspace to achieve national objectives.

The first step for the NAM is to create public awareness of the threat that social media possesses to protect users and the NAM governments against its influence. In doing so, a cadre of civilian cyber PSYOP content monitors can be created. Additionally, software is now commercially available that can search, monitor, analyze and manage social media content. Presently, large corporations as well at the IC and DoD are using this social media software – since it is useful in business marketing strategies. NAM governments can deploy this software in their communication offices. Through vigilance, PSYOP efforts against NAM governments by social media and Google can be thwarted.

Concurrently, it is critical to guard against cyber invasion through the passing of cyber laws with strong penalties, as done by Germany with its groundbreaking Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG). Also, it is key to ensure through news media communications that workers in the IT industry understand the ramifications of the work in which they engage as well the nefarious intent of their respective employers. The “Never Again Pledge” taken by US tech workers in 2017 is promising.

Germany’s Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG)

Germany has blazed a trail for the NAM against PSYOPS in social media with its Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) and it’s setting of fines of up to $50 million euros.ii The NAM must immediately follow suit with the setting of robust laws and fines against: the dissemination of propaganda; the encouragement of violent offences endangering the state; treasonous forgery; public incitement to crime; breaching of the public peace by threatening to commit offences; the forming of criminal or terrorist organizations.

Never Again Pledge

As reported by the New Yorker in its March 14, 2017 article titled: Why Protesters Gathered Outside Peter Thiel’s Mansion This Weekend, a group of about fifty tech workers, attorneys and anti-surveillance activists stood outside the home of Peter Thiel. Thiel is co-founded of Palantir Technologies, a Trump advisor, and was Facebook’s first investor. He remains a board member of Facebook as well as a member of the Bilderberg Steering Committee. The protest was organized to bring attention to software developed by Plantir called Investigative Case Management that is used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for mass deportation. Amongst other data sources to identify and track a given target, it uses social media content.

Since the presidential election, nearly three thousand tech workers signed the Never Again Pledge, promising to not work on databases that the Trump Administration might use to target vulnerable groups. The name is a nod to I.B.M.’s alleged role, during the Second World War, in systematizing Nazi genocide by providing punch-card technology.

The banality of evil today is the person sitting in a cubicle in San Francisco, or in Silicon Valley, building the tools of digital fascism that are being used by those in Washington,”

To understand the US governments offensive against unfavorable NAM regimes, it is important to understand two things: first, the origin of Facebook and Google; and second, the influence they collectively wield over human motivation through coercion and the spread of social contagions through distorted reality. Within this context, it is of primary concern that activists become adept at the stealth guerilla tactic of hit-and-run, as flexibility and anonymity become key to survival. With the stakes of financial ruin, imprisonment and death so high under the USA Patriot Act, no dissident remains safe.

USA Patriot Act

As dissent and protest both international and domestic becomes increasingly illegal in the United States, and the governmental powers to investigate “terrorism” expand and morph under the USA Patriot Act, activists and the NAM must develop and foster skill sets that protect sympathetic Internet hosts, contributors and content against attack wherever they reside. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Patriot Act increases the government’s surveillance powers in four areas:

  1. Records searches. It expands the government’s ability to look at records on an individual’s activity being held by a third party. (Section 215)

  1. Secret searches. It expands the government’s ability to search private property without notice to the owner. (Section 213)

  1. Intelligence searches. It expands a narrow exception to the Fourth Amendment that had been created for the collection of foreign intelligence information (Section 218).

  1. “Trap and trace” searches. It expands another Fourth Amendment exception for spying that collects “addressing” information about the origin and destination of communications, as opposed to the content (Section 214).

Accordingly, as described by the ACLU:

  • The government no longer has to show evidence that the subjects of search orders are an “agent of a foreign power,” a requirement that previously protected Americans against abuse of this authority.

  • The FBI does not even have to show a reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity, much less the requirement for “probable cause” that is listed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. All the government needs to do is make the broad assertion that the request is related to an ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation.

  • Judicial oversight of these new powers is essentially non-existent. The government must only certify to a judge – with no need for evidence or proof – that such a search meets the statute’s broad criteria, and the judge does not even have the authority to reject the application.

  • Surveillance orders can be based in part on a person’s First Amendment activities, such as the books they read, the Web sites they visit, or a letter to the editor they have written.

  • A person or organization forced to turn over records is prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone. As a result of this gag order, the subjects of surveillance never even find out that their personal records have been examined by the government. That undercuts an important check and balance on this power: the ability of individuals to challenge illegitimate searches.

The ACLU also describes non-surveillance provisions in the Act, which remain the most serious as they enable the indefinite detention of non-citizens without trial. The provisions:

  • Give the Director of Central Intelligence the power to identify domestic intelligence requirements. As the director is appointed by the president, this extraordinary unchecked executive power opens the door to the same abuses that took place in the 1970s and before, when the CIA engaged in widespread spying on protest groups and other Americans.

  • Create a new crime of “domestic terrorism.” The Patriot Act transforms protesters into terrorists if they engage in conduct that “involves acts dangerous to human life” to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” The words “influence” and “coercion” have a wide range of meanings and allow for unbridled discretion. Furthermore, the law gives the attorney general and the secretary of state the power to detain or deport any non-citizen who belongs to or donates money to a broadly defined “domestic terrorist” group.

  • Allow for the indefinite detention of non-citizens. The attorney general can order detention based on a certification that he or she has “reasonable grounds to believe” a non-citizen endangers national security. Tangible proof is not a requirement, only a “reasonable belief”. Worse yet, if the foreigner does not have a country that will accept them, they can be detained indefinitely without trial.

 

US News Media: Counterpunch, Alice Donovan & the FBI

On December 25, 2017, a troubling article appeared in Counterpunch, a US media news outlet, regarding the writing of an alleged journalist/Russian troll, Alice Donovan.  Links to an additional article appeared on Counterpunch’s Facebook page on July 27, 2018. Overall, the articles allege Donavan is either an unimaginative writer that committed plagiarism as a sport, or that she is a Russian troll. However, Donavan’s transgressions and intent are irrevelant, what the story revealed in all its gory horror is how the US government concocts justifications to learn the identity and location of a given dissident, and how easily it scared an independent and alternative US news media outlet into become its slobbering accomplice.

In this case, the FBI alleged Donovan was a Russian agent that spread disinformation in the Clinton/Trump presidential campaign with the intent of effecting the national election, despite the fact that she did not submit articles specifically on Clinton or Trump. What the US government’s fishing expedition also revealed is that all US news media can’t be trusted, even ones with cute sounding reactionary names, such as Counterpunch. As Counterpunch not only admitted to bending over backwards to cooperate with the FBI, it also proudly declared its decision to up-the-ante and conduct its own investigation and exposé. Counterpunch analyzed the transmission times and IP address of Donovan’s submission emails; it included photos of the alleged Alice Donovan from other media sources in its articles about her; it interviewed other news media that hosted Donovan’s articles, and most outrageously actually asked Donovan to call them by phone and send a photo of her utility bill disclosing her physical location. Without surprise, Donovan declined both requests stating: “security reasons.” If there was ever a reason to give up US hosted media, write under a nom de plume, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), and accept payment only in crypto currency, this is it!

As anyone honestly committed to telling the truth will explain, it’s not about the messenger; it’s about the message. Under the Patriot Act, writers are safer in anonymity. But as anyone committed to telling the truth will also explain, when you eliminate one activist, ten are energized to take their respective place. Contrary to what PSYOPS wants the 99 percent to believe, there is strength in numbers. While imperialist greed through big payoffs may make for fast friendships, the shared love of truth and justice is priceless. It engenders a loyalty so strong it overcomes setbacks and hardship.

Origin of Facebook & Google

While the development of the Internet, data collection, surveillance and the global positioning system (GPS) can be attributed to the Department of Defense (DoD), Facebook and Google are also inexplicably linked to the CIA’s non-profit venture capital corporation, In-Q-Tel (IQT).

Within this context, Facebook can best be understood as the “friendly” replacement of DoD’s unpopular Information Awareness Office (IAO) which was created by its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2002 and defunded shortly thereafter in February 2003 by congress, due to public criticism that the development and deployment of its technology could potentially lead to an Orwellian styled mass surveillance system. The timing of Facebook’s development from the standpoint of DoD can at minimum be understood in regard to continuity as fortuitous if not planned – since Zuckerberg is credited with having launched Facebook on February 4, 2004 (within one year of IAO’s defunding).

Information Awareness Office (IAO) the Precursor to Facebook

As the precursor to Facebook, the Information Awareness Office (IAO) brought together several DARPA projects focused on applying surveillance with information technology by creating enormous computer databases to gather and store the personal information of everyone in the United States, including personal e-mails, social networks, credit card records, phone calls, medical records, and numerous other sources, without any requirement for a search warrant.

This information was then analyzed to look for suspicious activities, connections between individuals, and threats with the goal to increase the probability that authorized agencies of the United States could preempt adverse actions. It is important to note that adverse actions within this context are nebulous and thereby include any action that is perceived to counter US corporate short-term interests and security. Adverse actions as defined can include protests on both international and domestic issues by groups or individuals in thought, word or deed. Thus, internationally, those seeking to defend NAM countries against destabilization, invasion and occupation are engaged in adverse actions; and domestically, those seeking to protect human rights, constitutional rights and the environment are involved in adverse actions.

Just like IAO, Facebook invades and collects the email and telephone numbers of its users’ contacts in its Messenger component. Additionally, Facebook logs all photos and communications. Through its facial recognition component, Facebook links physical identities with names, locations, dates and times for easy surveillance. It also has a payment option, which allows Facebook to gain access to the financial institutions of its users. Groups centered on medical topics are densely populated on Facebook, and they encourage users to share their medical issues upon joining.

Facebook encourages its users to “complete their online profile” and list highly personal information such as: birthdate, gender, family members, school, workplace, intimate relationship, interests, religious and political views, hometown, current city as well as group affiliations. Through the recording of “likes” a granular sense of its users’ values and interests is also made known. This information, when taken in aggregate, allows for a profile so detailed and comprehensive that it amounts to a DoD agent’s wet dream.

According to Dave Chaffey in the Global Social Media Research summary, the number of social media users worldwide in 2018 is 3.196 billion. Statista claims Facebook has 2.2 billion active monthly user accounts; YouTube has 1.9 billion; Instagram has 1 billion; and Twitter has 336 thousand. Within this context, social media’s sphere of influence is enormous, as the earth’s population is estimated to be 7.6 billion in 2018, according to Worldometers.

Cutting Edge Social Media Metadata Scanning, Analysis and Management Software

Realizing anything written on this topic is already expired and anything truly mind-bending is classified and beyond reach, there is still a nifty development worth mentioning regarding social media data scanning, analysis and management software. Clearly NAM can benefit by utilizing social media software of this ilk to transmit communications to constituents, gauge reactions to proposed initiatives, and most importantly in the context of this article, quickly identify and stave off destabilizing social media surprise attacks by imperialist powers and their agents. This technology can be considered a 2018 anti ballistic missile (ABM) to social media attacks.

According to Wired media, in its 2009 article titled U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm that Monitors Blogs & Tweets, the CIA’s venture capital nonprofit, IQT wanted Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media, to keep track of foreign social media, and provide early-warning detection on how issues are playing internationally. With this technology it is also possible for intelligence agencies to compile information on political figures, critics, journalists or others, and to exploit such information for political advantage. Visible’s foreign languages capabilities include Arabic, French, Spanish and nine other languages.

According to G2 Crowd, a Software & Services marketing firm, the latest 2018 must-have in business software is a Social Media Suite. The suite has the capability to manage, monitor, and analyze information related to one or multiple social media accounts through a single product. As such, it can:

  • Plan and publish digital content via social media

  • Engage with communities via social media

  • Report on effectiveness of social media practices

  • Track regions and demographics of audience

  • Analyze performance of posts and campaigns

  • Monitor for related mentions and trends

Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Through third parties, Facebook, alike its forerunner IAO, permitted the analysis of its users data. In the Cambridge Analytica (CA) scandal it was revealed that Facebook exposed the personal data of 87 million users to a political consulting firm in which Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, was its vice president and founder. The intent was to use personal data against users to influence their respective vote in the 2016 US presidential election in favor of Trump. The work of CA was done by the SCL Group, its parent company. SCL describes its capabilities as Vox’s Andrew Prokop writes:

“SCL tends to describe its capabilities in grandiose and somewhat unsettling language – the company has touted its expertise at ”psychological warfare” and “influence operations.” It’s long claimed that its sophisticated understanding of human psychology helps it target and persuade people of its clients’ preferred message.”

It is important to note that SCL’s main client is NATO and the defense department of its member states. Another company that was involved in this scandal is Palantir. Peter Thiel, is Palantir’s chairman and founder, as well as a major contributor in the Trump campaign. Palantir not only has numerous contracts with the US Intelligence Community and Department of Defense like the SCL Group, but Thiel was Facebook’s primary investor, and he remains on its board of directors.

CA whistleblower Chris Wylie told British Members of Parliament that senior Palantir employees worked with the firm on the Facebook data to help it build models off of the dataset to use for political ad targeting purposes.

Facebook’s Social Contagion Study Scandal

Another known scandal involving Facebook is the Social Contagion Study, which was undertaken in 2012 by researchers from Facebook, Cornell University, and the University of California.

In the study, the posts of approximately 700,000 unsuspecting users of Facebook were secretly manipulated, for a week, to determine how emotional states were transmitted over the platform. In the experiment, Facebook altered the news feed content of users to control the number of posts that contained words with positive or negative charged emotions to spy on the users’ reactions. They found negative feeds resulted in the user making negative posts, where as positive feeds resulted in the user making positive posts.

The team concluded its study by saying that emotions are spread via contagion through social networks.

The study appeared in the June edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists (PNAS) under the title: Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. According to the researchers:

Emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.”

Facebook was publicly condemned when it became known that it conducted this Orwellian thought policing on unsuspecting users. The attack against Facebook worsened when it was discovered that one of the researchers of Facebook’s mind control study, Jeffrey T. Hancock of Cornell University, also received funding from the DoD’s Minerva Research Initiative to conduct a similar study entitled “Modeling Discourse and Social Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes”.

Additionally, Cornell University was engaged with the Minerva Initiative and had a study funded through 2017 managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, which aimed to develop an empirical model “of the dynamics of social movement mobilization and contagions”.

The project aimed to determine the “critical mass” (tipping point) of social contagions by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.”

Facebook’s social contagion scandal also illustrates the disturbing ease that US educational facilities have in cooperating with the US military in experiments on human subjects without their knowledge or permission, in violation of ethical standards and protections.

DoD & the Minerva Initiative

The stated goal of the Minerva Initiative is to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S. The program seeks to achieve this by sponsoring research designed to bring together universities, research institutions, and individual scholars. In 2008, the project was provided $50 million by the United States Department of Defense. The journalist Nafeez Ahmed has expressed concern that Minerva research, in its effort to understand mass mobilization, may be targeting peaceful activists, NGOs and protest movements.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) & Unconventional Warfare (UW)

According to LTC Glenn Johnson, CW4 Maurice Duclos, Mr. Dan LeRoy in their article tittled: Mapping the Human Terrain: Applying Social Network Analysis (SNA) to an Unconventional Warfare (UW) Framework:

“Without a detailed understanding of the human terrain the Unconventional Warfare (UW) planner is uninformed about key aspects of the operating environment. SNA can provide the human terrain map needed to plan and execute UW operations. By developing a map of the human domain, SNA helps provide a description and picture of the resistance, opposition, or neutral entities, and can uncover how the population is segmented and how members interact with one another. SNA focuses on people’s behavior and how it is profoundly affected by their ties to other people and the social networks in which they are embedded.

Using SNA provides visualizations of people within their social spaces and assists in ranking their potential ability to influence those social spaces. This provides an understanding of the organizational dynamics of a resistance, insurgency, or counterinsurgency and highlights how to best influence, coerce, support, attack or exploit them. Collecting human terrain data to support SNA must be driven by commanders through focused efforts and should be conducted during every engagement with a foreign country.”

Examples of Social Network Analysis (SNA) & Unconventional Warfare (UW)

The US funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is credited for numerous destabilization efforts in NAM nation states under the guise of “democracy” or imperialist subjugation as it is better known and practiced, has some great information in its numerous articles discussing the tactical use of social media to fight proxy wars. Only in the examples it provides and resources it cites, just the Chinese and Russians and NAM nation states utilize this technology. NED remains absolutely silent on its US sponsor’s activities.

According to a brief prepared by Dean Jackson for NED through the International Forum for Democratic Studies: The velocity and volume of disinformation in the contemporary information space has amplified its effectiveness and left many members of the public increasingly angry, fearful, or disoriented. This leaves the public even more vulnerable to future manipulation, resulting in a cycle of declining public trust in objective sources of information which some analysts call truth decay.

According to NED, effective ways to use social media as an unconventional weapon in proxy wars is to:

  • React or create crisis by flooding information space and drowning out discussion via online trolling, harassment, and distraction, especially with highly active automated accounts. These techniques push independent voices out of public spaces and are can be considered a new form of political censorship.

  • Falsify evidence, push misleading narratives, and spread falsehoods. Use media and diplomatic resources concurrently to promote false stories at times of rising anti-government sentiment.

  • Create accounts that are partially automated and partially controlled by human users to avoid detection. These are often referred to as cyborg or sock puppet accounts.

  • Use preexisting divides within target societies to produce content for which there is societal demand. Disinformation is more effective when it’s amplifying existing political beliefs and divisions, as opposed to introducing new narratives into the public sphere. 

  • Use proactive disinformation campaigns to achieve real-world impact by influencing the actions of consumers.

  • Use disinformation around elections to influence citizens’ decisions to vote or to abstain from voting.

  • Use disinformation to promote a larger narrative over time or to degrade civic discourse by promoting division or cynicism.

 

Role of Social Media in Arab Uprisings

In an article by Heather Brown, Emily Guskin and Amy Mitchell titled: the Role of Social Media in the Arab Uprisings they state that the Arab uprisings could be deemed

Facebook or Twitter revolutions” as the news media focused heavily on young political opposition protesters mobilizing in the streets, armed with smartphones.

As almost immediately after the Arab uprisings began, there was debate over the role and influence of social media in the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the overthrow of Mubarak. “Social media indeed played a part in the Arab uprisings. Networks formed online were crucial in organizing a core group of activists, specifically in Egypt. Civil society leaders in Arab countries emphasized the role of the internet, mobile phones, and social media in the protests.”

Reality becomes distorted when all social media reference points endlessly repeat the same message concurrently. Within this context, civil unrest is born out of social contagion frenzy. An Egyptian man, who was a student protestor against Mubarak in 2011, confided in me that a crescendo of social media chatter goaded him into taking part in the protests. While he had been beaten by Mubarak’s police in an earlier incident and had personal reasons to protest, he still believes he was driven and manipulated through social media – especially since the locations to which he and his friends were led were followed by film crews and riot police too quickly after their arrival to have been un-staged.

Looking back, he now regrets taking part in the protests, as the removal of Mubarak created a power vacuum that led to greater economic and social struggle, and allowed imperial powers to take advantage of Egypt’s resources.

Personal Account of Facebook’s use of Unconventional Warfare (UW)

On April 18, 2018, I witnessed the Facebook Nicaragua expatriate groups I belong to transform its sleepy pages, that focused on advertising the best music and drink specials in town, to revolutionary pages seeking to overthrow the democratically elected sovereign government of Nicaragua.

Having just returned from Nicaragua two weeks earlier, after spending two peaceful months in San Juan Del Sur, I was shocked at the sudden and widespread vitriol controlling my newsfeed. First, I read how the government was corrupt in making changes to their social security system, and then I read how the government was murdering protestors. I knew from my understanding of Nicaragua’s history; President Ortega’s longstanding commitment to the country; its highly successful model of community policing; and the international context Nicaragua is forced to operate in due to repressive IMF loans and trade agreements, that there was more to this story.

Yet, there was no analysis anywhere to be found, only baseless accusations from predominantly white men and an occasional white woman living in Miami, Texas and Costa Rica. A number of Latinos from various locations in the United States later joined in the chatter claiming they were born in Nicaragua and thus justified in posting hostilities, when engaged in debate.

Property owners I personally knew also spoke against the government and joined in with inflammatory remarks. It is important to understand that President Ortega and the FSLN did not conduct purging campaigns to remove its bitter rightwing enemies/Somozistas. Under President Ortega’s compassionate and practical leadership, Nicaragua even forgave the Contras that its FSLN fought against once they agreed to lay down their arms.

Everywhere I looked the message of hate was the same, be it Facebook, Twitter or mainstream news media from the mouths of rightwing senators Marco Rubio and Ileana Ross-Lehtinen who staged meetings with protestors as well as alternative media such as Democracy Now and the Guardian. The understated president, Daniel Ortega, went from being an astute and beloved aged revolutionary hero to a merciless dictator in social media and the press within a few hours. The news feed was so similar, overwhelming, relentless and well packaged, that it seemed immediately like an expertly orchestrated massive disinformation campaign set by the imperial United States to remove President Ortega and the FSLN from office yet again.

Anytime I questioned the prevailing narrative on the Facebook expatriate groups, 10 to 15 users, with questionable profiles, ganged up on me. I was personally insulted, told to remove my posts, and threatened. They feared my comments. Additionally, my Facebook friends were contacted and insulted and told to “make me remove my posts”. I received phone calls on Facebook Messenger despite the fact that my friend’s list is hidden.

The questionable profiles that contacted me often listed present employment with an obscure non governmental organization (NGO), and/or prior employment with the US State Department, US military, or in one case a user listed his job as a “private investigator” that just returned from “doing security in Venezuela.”

Yet, what was most troubling to me was that people I knew from San Juan Del Sur were brainwashed by the massive and unrelenting wave of disinformation. PSYOPS temporarily worked. They began repeating hostile catch phrases against the government as if it was Holy Scripture. They would not read or watch anything in favor of the government, despite my best efforts through verbal and written communication. They made up their minds, based on social media and Google’s distorted reality, that revolution was what the majority of people in Nicaragua wanted. This distortion couldn’t be farther from the truth, as President Daniel Ortega was elected with over 70 percent of the vote. However, the barrage of repeating fake propaganda videos resulted in social contagion frenzy, similar to that experienced by the Arab students in Egypt.

As it turned out, many of the photos and videos posted and used to incite violence were actually taken in Mexico and Honduras years earlier and many of the “dead” were found resurrected in other parts of Nicaragua alive and well. However, armed criminal mercenaries called “peaceful student protestors” by the news and social media did murder police and civilians. Fortunately, distorted reality can only last a short time.

In Nicaragua, the government had control over the county within three months, as the news and social media lies became apparent to citizens and foreigners. Essentially, the criminal mercenaries that infiltrated the protests were not content to restrict their activities to the ones dictated by their US government employers. To supplement their wages, they robbed, raped and pillaged the communities to which they held hostage, and were systematically removed by local residents as well as the police.

Facebook’s Biased Reaction

Facebook automatically flagged and blocked my posts on Nicaragua’s expatriate groups, and group administrators removed the ones that slipped through. My posts merely explained the US government’s longstanding disinformation campaigns against Nicaragua. Then, Facebook and/or group administrators removed my access to the pages. Eventually, due to threats, I deleted my Facebook profile. However, PSYOPS did not succeed in silencing me; instead, it encouraged me to write for a larger audience.

Control over Dissent Using Facebook

In late July 2018, I created a new Facebook profile and began again to monitor Nicaragua expatriate news groups and post articles that support its sovereign government against slanderous untruths. On July 29th, Facebook removed and considered spam two articles that I posted: “The Case Against Daniel Ortega” by Chuck Kaufman hosted on the Libya360.Worldpress.com website and “Opposition Beyond the Violence in Nicaragua” by John Perry hosted on The Guardian website. Both articles non-violently support the sovereign government of Nicaragua. Fortunately, I was able in both instances to get the posts restored after clicking a few buttons. Yet I still remain unable to get Facebook or group administrators to remove articles that promote violence against the government. Despite my flagging of these fake articles for deletion under the Facebook categories: terrorism, violence, harassment, and hate speech, Facebook allows this vitriol to remain.

After posting a third article titled: “After the Failed Coup, After All the Lies, Nicaragua Rebuilds” by Tortilla Con Sal, hosted on the Telesur website, Facebook locked me out of my user account. The article I posted promoted peace and reconstruction. For the record, none of the articles I posted were ever in violation of Facebook’s community standards.

To unlock my user account, Facebook required me to upload a close-up photo of my face. Facebook’s clear bias against the content of my posts coupled with its desire to invade my physical privacy proved intimidating. Facebook, a corporate behemoth, had me vulnerable and exposed, as I could not access my account to delete it without first revealing my personal identity. Facebook is like the mighty Wizard of Oz in that its master is concealed behind a curtain and unreachable. Facebook lists no email address or phone number for “customer service”.

Did Facebook’s version of Orwell’s Thought Police flag my account? After a few deep breaths, I took a chance that Facebook would use its facial recognition software to confirm my physical identity against an Internet search. So, I found a close-up photo online that corresponded with the fake name I used to open my Facebook account, and uploaded it hoping for the best. It worked. I had access to my profile by the next morning. However, I continue to wonder if Facebook was fooled or if I am merely being given more opportunity to violate the Patriot Act in thought and word? Are my CIA, NSA, FBI and DoD “friends” continuing their surveillance of my personal communications on Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp applications just more closely? Under the Patriot Act, Facebook is mostly prohibited from disclosing law enforcement surveillance. According to Facebook, in its summary of its 2017 transparency report, it states:

“The US government requests for account data remained roughly even at 32,742, of which 62% included a non-disclosure order prohibiting Facebook from notifying the user, which is up from 57% during the first half of 2017.”

Other transparency report findings of note for Google, Verizon and AT&T are as follow:

“Google received 48,941 government data requests affecting 83,345 user accounts in the first six months of 2017.” And, “In the reporting period between 2016 and 2017, local, state and federal government authorities seeking information related to national security, counter-terrorism or criminal concerns issued more than 260,000 subpoenas, court orders, warrants, and other legal requests to Verizon and more than 250,000 such requests to AT&T.”

On May 24, 2018, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out how agencies like the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are collecting and analyzing content from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Government surveillance of social media can have serious consequences, whether you’re a U.S. citizen, a lawful resident, or are seeking to immigrate to or visit the United States. The FBI appears to be using social media as a basis for deciding who to interview, investigate, or target with informants or undercover agents. A single Facebook post or tweet may be all it takes to place someone on a watch list, with effects that can range from repeated, invasive screening at airports to detention and questioning in the United States or abroad.”

With the proliferation of US government non-discloser surveillance, the use of facial recognition software, and the requirement to upload close-up photos to gain access to existing profiles, the velvet gloves are completely off Facebook as an iron fisted US government spy tool. The justification that this intrusive level of policing is merely to remove “fake profiles” doesn’t fly. There are alternate methods that do not compromise our constitutional and civil rights. This is a ruse, engineered by the NSA. Be warned.

Facebook Facial Recognition Software and the US National Security Agency (NSA)

As discussed by James Risen and Laura Poitras in their May 31, 2014 article titled: N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images, the National Security Agency (NSA) is actively harvesting massive amounts of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance efforts for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. The agency intercepts millions of images per day including about 55,000 facial recognition quality images which translate into tremendous untapped potential, according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden.”

In-Q-Tel (IQT)

In early 1999, with funding directed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), input from Silicon Valley consultants and Norman Augustine, a former CEO of Lockheed-Martin, In-Q-It, a non-profit corporation was formed. Its core mission to improve the data collection and analysis capabilities of the CIA through access and control over emerging Information Technology (IT) remains intact to date. By March of 1999, the corporation received its first contract. In 2000, its name was changed to In-Q-Tel (IQT).

IQT invests in areas where there is both a CIA need and private sector interest. Examples of commercial applications that also support intelligence functions are: data warehousing and mining, knowledge management, profiling search agents, geographic information systems, imagery analysis and pattern recognition, statistical data analysis tools, language translation, targeted information systems, mobile computing, and secure computing.

Though IQT, the CIA has the option of purchasing products directly from the vendor or launching Research & Development (R&D) projects. While IQT’s present budget remains secret, its first year budget was $28 million. According to a 2013 Fox Business News report, IQT claims that for every dollar it invests in a company, the venture community invests over $9. Further, it claimed that it had leveraged more than $3.9 billion in private-sector funds.

R&D remains the core of its activities. Sometimes IQT assembles teams of companies to create the solution it seeks; other times it is a co-investor in a fledgling company with additional business partners. IQT also uses request for proposal. Essentially, IQT is empowered to use whatever model meets its objective.

In the area of R&D, the CIA’s agreement with IQT allows it and/or its partners to retain title to the innovations created, and to freely negotiate the allocation of Intellectual Property (IP) derived revenues. The only major stipulation is that the CIA retain traditional “government purpose rights” to the innovations. This agreement has allowed IQT to amass considerable financial resources secretly over the last nineteen years since its inception. Also, this agreement has permitted collaborating and beholden individuals to become extremely wealthy and powerful.

To restrict contracting to specific entities, and to achieve privacy from oversight authorities, IQT uses DARPA’s contract model called “Other Transactions” (OT). OT contracts enable IQT to bypass Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), which requires competition in federal contracting.

Because of the clandestine nature of IQT’s work and its key relationship to the CIA, both entities remain extremely vulnerable to security risks during solution transfer.

Origin of Facebook

While no record of the CIA directly funding Facebook through IQT is apparent, members of IQT’s top management are founding members and/or board members of Facebook. Some of Facebook’s allure to users is that Mark Zuckerberg and his friends started the company from a Harvard dorm room and that he remains the chairman and chief operating officer. If he didn’t exist, he would need to be invented by Facebook’s marketing department. Primarily, the legend and image of a fresh faced Zuckerberg provides a palatable context that entices young people to voluntarily part with their constitutional right to privacy for social acceptance. Though subtle coercion, young people come to believe that in order to be “liked” by their peers, they need to be part of the Facebook brand.

A few months after Facebook was formed in 2004, it received its first capital injection from Peter Thiel, a member of the Steering Committee of the exclusive Bilderberg Group, the drivers of globalization. Members include political leaders, key members from the intelligence community, and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media. According to Global Research’s Stephen Lendman, in his May 2014 article titled: The True Story of the Bilderberg Group and What they May Be Planning Now:

“Bilderbergers want to supplant individual nation-state sovereignty with an all-powerful global government, corporate controlled, that’s check-mated by militarized enforcement.”

In August of 2004, Thiel acquired a 10.2% stake in Facebook for $500,000. The next two capital injections were $12.7 million from Thiel and Accel Partners in May 2005 and then $27.5 million from an Accel-led round of financing that included Thiel, Accel and Greylock Partners in April 2006. In 2012, Thiel sold the majority of his shares for over $1 billion, but remains on the board of directors.

Essentially, IQT is linked to Facebook through Thiel, and Thiel is linked to IQT through his firm Palantir. So, to understand Facebook it is first necessary to understand Palantir, then Thiel.

Palantir

According to Wikipedia, Palantir was started in 2004. Its only outside backer was the CIA’s nonprofit venture capital firm, IQT. Through pilots facilitated by IQT with computer scientists and analysts from intelligence agencies, Palantir’s technology was developed over a three-year period. A document leaked to TechCrunch revealed that Palantir’s clients as of 2013 included at least twelve groups within the U.S. government, including the CIA, DHS, FBI, CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point, the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization and Allies, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Peter Thiel

According to Wikipedia, Peter Thiel was born in Germany and holds German, American and New Zealand citizenship. Besides being a member of the Bilderberg Group’s Steering Committee as referred to earlier, Thiel is the co-author of an anti-multicultural book titled “The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus”, where his racist and misogynist bias is apparent in his argument that multiculturalism in colleges is hurting education and that some cases of alleged date rape are actually seductions that are later regretted.

Despite his apology, issued 20 years after the book was published, he gave $1.2 million to the campaign of then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who ran on a white nationalist campaign. Thiel is also is a member of the super PAC called: Make America Number 1. The super PAC is credited with donating funds to Steve Bannon, via a shell company he heads named Glittering Steel. Bannon is widely considered a racist, anti-Semite and white nationalist. The supper PAC also donated funds to rightwing Senator Ted Cruz. With Thiel’s clear intent and bias, it should be no surprise that the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal favored Trump in the election, and that the violent prevailing narrative against Nicaragua, supported by Ted Cruz, is impossible to remove from Facebook’s expatriate group pages.

Accel Partners: In 2004, Accel partner James Breyer sat on the board of directors of military defense contractor Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) with IQT’s CEO Gilman Louie. BBN is known for essentially helping to create email and the Internet for the DoD. Breyer is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Greylock Partners: Howard Cox, the head of Greylock, served on IQT’s board of directors. Before Greylock, Cox served two years in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Origin of Google

Launched in 1998, Google is one of the world’s largest media companies. While the Department of Defense (DoD), CIA, NSA and Google’s marketing department would like users to believe that its founders, Stanford University students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed software independent of the DoD, the truth is they didn’t. They were both on the payroll of the National Science Foundation (NSF) while working on its Stanford Digital Library Project (SDLP). This library project is similar to Google in that it involved the creation of search algorithms to scan large quantities of data to find relationships.

The NSF is funded by the US federal government and expresses in its mission statement its intention to “secure the national defense”. NSF has a longstanding relationship with the DoD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Nothing requiring serious funding and real paychecks involving Information Technology and US Universities is done without DARPA knowledge as detailed below:

“In the 1970s, the agency responsible for developing emerging technologies for military, intelligence, and national security purposes the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) linked four supercomputers to handle massive data transfers. It handed the operations off to the National Science Foundation (NSF) a decade or so later, which proliferated the network across thousands of universities and, eventually, the public, thus creating the architecture and scaffolding of the World Wide Web.”

Not only was Google’s development nurtured by NSF/DARPA, but Google was also was aided by the secretive Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDS) program which was administered by private contractors for the CIA and NSA. The MDDS program sought to identify the digital fingerprints of users inside the World Wide Web so information requests could be tracked, sorted and aggregated to reveal individual proclivities and that of like-minded others with the intention of assembling target groups for easy surveillance so as to predict and counter their plans. The MDDS project was named Birds of a Feather with the thinking that like-minded individuals will engage in coordinated action together, just as birds fly in predictable V-formations. Predictability is key to the CIA in its efforts to weaponize social unrest. MDDS is considered to have helped create the design breakthrough that Google was built upon

Google has been an obvious partner with the CIA since 2004 when the company bought Keyhole from IQT, the CIA’s venture capital nonprofit. EarthViewer, Keyhole’s mapping technology software, became Google Earth.

Google and Social Media’s Influence

Besides geographic and locational tracking, Google assists the government in its efforts to write, and rewrite, history. According to its Google’s transparency report, the US government has named 79,901 items for removal since 2009. To add perspective to this number, consider that for this same period in time, Venezuela has named 10 items for removal, and Nicaragua has named 1 item for removal.

Content Placement in Social Media and Google

Olivia Solon and Sam Levin detail, in their December 16, 2016 article for The Guardian, How Google’s Search Algorithm Spreads False Information with a Rightwing Bias. According to the authors, search and autocomplete algorithms prioritize sites with rightwing bias, and far-right groups trick it to boost propaganda and misinformation in search rankings. As described below, the authors uncovered this bias in environmental as well as social and political examples:

“Following a recent investigation by the Observer, which found that Google’s search engine prominently suggests neo-Nazi websites and anti-Semitic writing, the Guardian has uncovered a dozen additional examples of biased search results. Google’s search algorithm and its autocomplete function prioritize websites that, for example, declare that climate change is a hoax, being gay is a sin, and the Sandy Hook mass shooting never happened.”

To test this allegation out, I entered the following text: “Socialism is…” Autocomplete added: “…is for figs.” The full sentence with autocomplete then read: “Socialism is for figs.” Photos of a red t-shirt appeared. On the t-shirt is a drawing of Che Guevara, a limp wrist, and text. Upon review, I found that an extreme rightwing group is marketing this t-shirt. The word “figs” in the text is written with a missing “I” that is replaced with the drawing of a fig hanging from a tree branch. Because of drawing of a limp wrist, this text can be interpreted by the reader to mean that socialism is for “fags.” In the US, the word “fag” is a derogatory name for homosexuals, and a limp wrist is a derogatory symbol. This supports the Guardian’s observation of Google’s bias against homosexuals as well its bias against socialists. Additionally, the fig fruit represents the name of the village in Bolivia where Che Guevara was captured and murdered. Thus, the fig represents a death threat against socialists. Hopefully, a socialist cyber activist can remove this blight against a beloved revolutionary hero.

Google’s Influence in Elections

As explained by Robert Epstein, from the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, Google has the power to rig elections through something he calls the search engine manipulation effect (SEME). Based on his four years trying to reverse engineer Google’s search algorithms, he concludes that:

“We know that if there’s a negative autocomplete suggestion in the list, it will draw somewhere between 5 and 15 times as many clicks as a neutral suggestion,” Epstein said. “If you omit negatives for one perspective, one hotel chain or one candidate, you have a heck of a lot of people who are going to see only positive things for whatever the perspective you are supporting. Even changing the order in which certain search terms appear in the autocompleted list can make a huge impact, with the first result drawing the most clicks, he said.”

Appearing on the first page of Google search results can give websites undue authority and traffic.

These platforms are structured in such a way that they are allowing and enabling, consciously or unconsciously, more extreme views to dominate,” said Martin Moore from Kings College London’s Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power.”

Epstein believes these two manipulations work together and have a profound impact on people, since they are unaware it is being done. He believes this is compounded by Google’s personalization of search results. This means users see different results based on their interests.

According to politico.com, the problem is that more than 75 percent of all online searches in the United States are conducted on Google. Thus, if Google’s CEO, a rogue employee or the search algorithm favors one candidate, there is no way to counteract that influence. Politico’s research shows that even when people do notice they are seeing biased search rankings, their voting preferences still shift in the desired directions toward the bias. It’s as if the bias is serving as a form of social proof. The thinking is that if the search engine prefers one candidate, that candidate must be the best. Biased rankings are hard for individuals, regulators and election watchdogs to detect as SEME is easy to hide through customized search results.

In Wired’s 2010 article titled: Exclusive: Google, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring, it discusses the company Recorded Future, that is funded by both the CIA’s IQT non-profit and Google. Both IQT and Google Ventures have seats on Recorded Future’s board. Not only does the software, Recorded Future, scour websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents in the present, but also in the future. In looking at the invisible links between documents that mention similar or related entities and events, it can figure out the participants, the location, and predict when it might occur. According to Recoded Future, the software can assemble actual real-time dossiers on people. Recoded Future maintains an index with more than 100 million events.

“The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases,” says company CEO Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in computer science.”

Content Placement in Social Media and Google

Besides taking proactive security measures, activists and the NAM can benefit by controlling the technology that decides the placement of supportive material on social media and Google. As most involved in the drafting and dissemination of content already know, everything that departs from the prevailing imperialist narrative is automatically considered subversive and blocked. While quality content continues to exist, locating it on the Internet is like finding a needle in a haystack, even when one already knows what is being sought, by whom, and from where.

The latest trick is for a news item of interest to be blocked by a message warning of an “expired security certificate” and threatening “a virus upon opening”. This was found on an article titled: Cyber warfare: Challenge of Tomorrow, by none other than Counterpunch’s plagiarist spy Alice Donovan.

The Cost of US Cyber Warfare

The United States 2019 proposed intelligence budget at $73 billion has nearly doubled since 2005. This figure includes the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget at $54.6 billion and Military Intelligence Program (MIP) budget at $18.4 billion. Back in 2005, there was no MIP budget. The total NIP Budget was $39.8 billion, which is still an exorbitant amount of money.

The NIP funds Intelligence Community (IC) activities in six Federal Departments and two independent agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Energy, the Department of Treasury, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

As described in by the Washington Post in its article titled: “The Black Budget”, the CIA, NSA and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) received more than 68 percent of the 2013 black budget. The CIA received $14.7 billion, the NSA $10.8 billion, and NRO $10.3 billion. Within its funding mission categories, $20.3 billion was for Warning U.S. leaders about critical events and $17.2 billion was for Combating Terrorism.

In looking at the new 2019 MIP budget, one can better understand how new initiatives and training in cyber warfare are being funded. Take for example the US Air Force Cyberspace Defense Operations (IB4X1) Summary description:

“Personnel in the Cyber Warfare Operations specialty perform duties to develop, sustain, and enhance cyberspace capabilities. These capabilities are used to defend national interests from attack and to create effects in cyberspace to achieve national objectives.” “They conduct both offensive and defensive cyberspace operations. They act to protect cyberspace systems from adversarial access and attack. They execute command and control (C2) of assigned cyberspace forces and de-conflict cyberspace operations. They will partner with Department of Defense, interagency, and Coalition Forces.”

While the US government clearly takes the lead in unconventional warfare technology, due to its massive resources and funding, it leaves in its wake tons of technological opportunities ripe to be exploited. What can’t be appropriated can be protested. Just don’t post anything tactical on the Internet or use smart phones, because your “friends” in the US government are watching. Take heart, this elaborate surveillance system was devised because the ruling elite is outnumbered. Knowledge is power.

[Lauren Smith, author of historical fiction, has a BA in Politics, Economics and Society from SUNY at Old Westbury and an MPA in International Development Administration from New York University. Her novel on Nicaragua’s 1979 revolution is due out in 2019.]

U2’s Bono and The CIA: The Dangers of Celebrity Activists

American Herald Tribune

August 2, 2018

By Thomas C Mountain

 

U2’s Bono picked a Capo Grande from the US intelligence community to run his “One” NGO, choosing Gayle Smith, who as Senior Director of the US National Security Council and Special Advisor to President Barack Obama used to tell the CIA what to do, especially when it came to Africa.

Ms. Smith, also known as “Obama’s Quiet Consigliere”, is infamous for her heart felt eulogy based on over 30 years of friendship at the funeral for Meles Zenawi, today Ethiopia’s “No.1 Most Hated Person”.

Previously head of USAID, known in Cuba as USCIA, Ms. Smith got her start putting time in the front lines for the agency, fresh out of college, spending years as a “journalist” (clergy and journalists are two of the CIA’s favorite covers) in the Horn of Africa of all places.

After years of paying her dues “where diarrhea is a way of life”, she became a favorite of Madeline Albright and was awarded the Chief of Staff position at USAID in 1994 only three years after ending her journalism career. Think about it, “Award Winning Journalist” to day to day control of some 10,000 employees and Billion$ to spend in only 3 years? USAID or USCIA?

+++

Bono, who recently found himself forced to apologize after his “One” staff in South Africa sued them for sexual harassment, makes sure those that labor for his good causes are well compensated, at least at the top, with Ms. Smith pulling down close to $500,000 a year.

Speaking of ethics Bono’s name turned up in the Panama Papers, hey, the guy hates taxes, who doesn’t?

Of course for NGO’s fighting on the right side, fat salaries and juicy perks are S.O.P. with “overhead” accounting for 50% or more of expenditures.

Gayle Smith has put the CIA and a pretty impressive list of NGO’s on the same page and was the person most responsible for founding the Center for American Progress, whose boss, John Podesta chaired the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign. Then there is the Enough Project as in “Enough of the CIA’s Enough Project in Africa” and its mouthpiece, George Clooney, founded by Ms. Smith and infamous for occasionally emitting brays of outrage regarding some crime in Africa, often times over matters long past. Does the name John Prendergast ring a bell?

Ms. Smith’s proved her value to the Clinton Mafia as head of the Africa desk at the National Security Council in 1998-2000 under Tony Lake, Clinton’s National Security Adviser, when the Ethiopian gangster government under Meles Zenawi invaded Eritrea, a crime today’s Ethiopian P.M. has apologized for. Close to 150,000 dead and 40% of Eritreans refugees, Gayle Smith and Tony Lake were out to get newly independent Eritrea on its knees where it belonged and tried to use Ethiopia to do its dirty work. And when war didn’t work they brought on UN Security Council sanctions against Eritrea in 2009 when Ms. Smith returned to the White House as “Barry O’Bomber’s” right hand and saw that Susan Rice was turned loose at the UN to threaten and cajole enough votes at the UN Security Council.

The history of most of the crimes directed by Gayle Smith remain buried deep in the bowels of the US intel community, with yet unknown acts of sabotage and destabilization committed by “humanitarians” working for the USAID in politically troubled spots on the planet.

One thing is for sure that when celebrity activists like Bono and George Clooney get involved in the 3rd World, those supposedly benefiting by their charity had better watch out for celebrity wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing

.

*(Bono Vox (U2) Toronto Int. Film Festival 2011 Image credit: Marco Manna/ flickr)

 

 

[Thomas C. Mountain is an independent journalist in Eritrea, living and  reporting from here since 2006. See thomascmountain on Facebook or  best contact him at thomascmountain at g mail dot com.]

Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats

Black Agenda Report

March 29, 2018

By Glen Ford

Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats
 

In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter.”

 

Cops “have the right to shoot us, they get away with it every day,” said a despairing Dawnya Walker, one of 300 community residents that descended on Sacramento, California’s city hall to protest the police killing of Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard . The numbers show that Walker is correct: U.S. police enjoy near-absolute impunity to gun down young Black males without any reasonable fear of punishment. Eight years of a Black, Democratic president in the Oval Office made not the slightest dent in that American reality, despite the re-emergence in 2014 of an incipient social justice movement under the heading of Black Lives Matter.

The youthful insurgency lost momentum — waylaid by the inexorable pull of Democratic Party politics and corporate philanthropy — long before Donald Trump entered the White House and installed a pure Dixiecrat as attorney general. Trumpian malevolence cast an orange chill across Black America. “It has been a long time since any victim was given as much attention as Stephon Clark,” writes Margaret Kimberley, in the current of issue of BAR.

“We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought.”

There is “movement” afoot in the U.S., but it does not “arc towards justice.” Ever since Trump’s electoral victory, the collective national consciousness has been smothered in a maddening fog of manic, industrial-scale propaganda, spewed non-stop by corporate communications conglomerates working hand-in-glove with the most aggressive elements of the surveillance-intelligence “community” and the bi-partisan War Party. We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought, distorting and subverting even the most progressive-minded “movements” struggling to find a way towards human dignity under late stage capitalism in a profoundly racist country. Voices for peace and social justice are asphyxiated in the pestilential plume — unless they find their own air.

Damn right, there is a conspiracy — possibly the loudest one in history! — megaphoned by a billionaire-owned media screaming “War, War, War” day and night, fouling the public mind with pure reactionary malice. The duopoly contest has devolved into a dance of death between Donald Trump’s raw white supremacist nationalism and Democratic Party corporate imperial warmongering. Only fools claim there is space for progressive maneuver in the interstices between such forces.

“The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police in this century.”

What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction. There is no lesser evil in this house of fear and apocalyptic brinksmanship. The Democrats have colluded in a budget whose gargantuan military outlays will inevitably doom what’s left of the U.S. social safety net — that is, if the human race is not annihilated, beforehand. They have replaced and outshouted the John McCain’s and Lindsay Graham’s of the Republican Party in demonizing, not just Vladimir Putin, but every government and movement in the world that resists U.S. lawlessness and aggression.

The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police at unprecedented levels in this century through the Pentagon’s 1033 program. In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter and the accompanying political evisceration of Black America.

Yes, it is certain that Trump’s very presence encourages the most swinish elements of the police. But it is also true that the Democrats — including Black Democrats — have controlled the city governments that maintain the police state in Black neighborhoods and relentlessly disperse our people through gentrification.

“What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction.”

And now it is the Democrats that take the lead in purging the Internet of dissenting political views, under the guise of defending fragile American minds against foreign manipulation. Silicon Valley — the big business sector most supportive of Clinton/Obama Democrats — is thus given license to shape reality in ways that make corporate dictatorship appear both logical and inevitable. Trump’s troglodytes could never finesse such a hijacking of fundamental democratic rights, but the Democrats are pulling it off with alarming speed. There’s nothing “lesser” about this evil.

When the Democrats got their wish, that Trump win the Republican presidential nomination, they became the predominant party of the U.S. ruling class and the most aggressive defenders of empire. Into Hillary Clinton’s campaign “Big Tent” slivered the dregs of the national security state, for whom peaceful coexistence among nations is anathema. Bernie Sanders cannot purge them from their central position in the party. The World Socialist Web Site reports that “an extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.” By WSWS’s count, if the Democrats capture a majority of seats in the House this November, “candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress.”

Such a party is incompatible with any domestic social justice agenda — and a threat to the survival of the species. The Left’s job is to disentangle our people from the political clutches of the ruling class and to build independent people’s organizations. The Republicans are a white people’s problem, but Black activists cannot confront the police, the oligarchs or the warmongers without fighting the Democrats.

 

[BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com]

Is It Time to Critically Interrogate Nonviolence & Nonviolent Direct Action?

Black Agenda Report

March 15, 2018

By Doug Henwood

time to question nonviolence

Time to question nonviolent direct action as the path to change.

Activism. Democracy. Change through nonviolent direct action. These, Doug Henwood points out, have been fetishes for much of the US left for quite some time, especially that portion of the US left that takes its marching orders from corporate funders. Gene Sharp, the founder of the Albert Einstein Institute who passed away at the end of January was regarded as the father of American nonviolent direct action.

I usually write a weekly piece for Black Agenda Report, but this time I’m going to use that space to republish somebody else’s work, easily the most important thing I’ve heard so far this month. It’s an hour long Doug Henwood interview for the weekly radio show Behind The News on KPFA radio. Doug talks with Marcie Smith, who is writing a book on Sharp’s long and problematic career in the service of the US national security apparatus. Smith is an adjunct econ professor at John Jay College. She reveals how Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institute which he founded weaponized and deployed nonviolent direct action in the service of successful and unsuccessful US attempts to overthrow the governments of the Soviet Union, Ukraine, China, Myannmar, Iran, Egypt during the Arab Spring, Venezuela, the former Yugoslavia and the Baltic States.

Besides deploying nonviolent direct action to topple governments standing in the way of Uncle Sam’s global empire, Gene Sharp and his funders have mentored a good deal of what some regard as the US left – at least those parts of it under the influence of one-percenter philanthropy – in the tactics and what passes for the philosophy of nonviolent direct action. According to Sharp’s and the Albert Einstein Institute’s peculiar philosophy, property destruction is violence, while the ravages of poverty and deprivation, of economic blockades and lack of medical care just to name a few phenomena, are not. Sharp’s views on the methods and importance of nonviolent direct action are highly influential in such quarters as Moral Monday and the so-called New Poor Peoples Campaign, parts of the environmental movement, and other places. Whether or not we embrace or espouse nonviolent direct action as an occasional tactic or a bedrock and fundamental strategy we owe it to ourselves to understand the origin of this idea, why the national security state promotes it, how and for whom it works and does not work, and why.

It’s time to critically interrogate the fetishes of nonviolence and nonviolent direct action as a path to the world we need to build. This great interview is a good start to that conversation. Here is the link. Click to listen or download it.

 

[You can find Doug Henwood’s Behind the News shows archived for the last several years at http://leftbusinessobserver.com .]

Propaganda: How Neocolonial Progressives Support Western Imperialism

Libya 360 | Tortilla con Sal

January 7, 2017

20 July 1979: Nicaraguan leftist Sandinista rebels exult in Managua after entering the city and overthrowing Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. General Somoza whose family ruled Nicaragua since 1933, finally surrendered 20 June to the Sandinista rebels. Somoza left a country devastated by civil war, with thousands of people killed in June and July 1979 and half a million, one-fifth of the country’s population, displaced from their homes. Somoza was assassinated in exile in Asuncion, Paraguay in 1980 by a left-wing Argentinian Trotskyst rebel group. Picture: AFP/Getty

 

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America.

 

Almost all Western reporting of foreign news constitutes a permanent drip-feed of poisonous disinformation accumulating into a deep, broad, toxic propaganda wave drowning out rational critical analysis. That process has been very clear in reporting of international affairs from Libya to Ukraine, to Venezuela and Syria – anywhere the interests of Western elites encounter resistance. The collaboration of alternative media in that process has been evident in Libya, Syria and Ukraine and is certainly very evident in the case of Nicaragua.

Here, the constant underlying false message is that President Ortega is a dictatorial leader crushing dissent in Nicaragua to impose an anti-democratic regime run by his family. This false message creates a context justifying arbitrary measures by the US authorities and their allies, like the recent NICA legislation, attacking Nicaragua’s economy and intervening heavily in the country’s internal affairs in favor of Nicaragua’s right wing opposition. To flesh out that keynote psychological warfare message, Western media attacks focus on whatever current events they can manipulate to align with the overall falsehood.

All through 2016, the attacks consisted mainly of distorted or downright false reports covering the 2016 national elections. But two other associated media offensive fronts have been established, namely, developments relating to the proposed Interoceanic Canal and also continuing land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast. A good example of the complete collapse of conventional reporting standards in Western progressive media is this headline news summary from Democracy Now of a recent protest demonstration against Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal:

“In Nicaragua, activists say federal police attacked a campesino caravan heading to the capital Managua Wednesday, opening fire with both live and rubber bullets and throwing tear gas. The caravan was heading to the capital to protest the construction of a $50 billion canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Campesinos say the project could displace up to 120,000 people.”

Democracy Now’s editors ran this classic psychological warfare propaganda beneath a photograph supposedly of a rural worker wounded in an allegedly peaceful protest. Democracy Now omits that six police officers were reported to be wounded after being attacked by violent protesters. The summary report also omits that the “activists” are militant anti-Sandinistas of the misnamed MRS Sandinista Renewal Movement, funded by the US and allied governments and associated NGOs. Likewise, the suggestion that 120,000 people may be displaced by the proposed Canal is completely false, the real figure is under 10,000 people, all of whom are entitled to complete indemnification.

A flurry of reports in corporate and alternative media alleged that the government of Daniel Ortega tried to repress national protests against the Canal timed to coincide with a visit to Nicaragua’s capital Managua by Luis Almagro, right wing Secretary General of the Organization of American States. In fact, it seems that only the incident in Rio San Juan involved violent exchanges between protesters and the police. The national demonstration itself passed off peacefully, with a modest total of several thousand people demonstrating in Managua’s center against the proposed Canal.

The incident in Nicaragua’s south-western Rio San Juan department provoked angry condemnation from the local bishop Socrates René Sándigo, certainly no friend of the Sandinista government. Bishop Sándigo remarked, “The MRS has always been out there manipulating our rural families and non governmental organizations who involve our rural workers in demands that may well be legitimate but they take these rural workers and put them at the head of their attacks...” Given that context, Democracy Now’s headline summary can be seen as all of a piece with its similarly false reporting, for example, of the conflict in Syria, favoring anti-Russian US government propaganda.

Much less prestigious than Democracy Now, the Intercontinental Cry web site purports to represent the views and interests of indigenous peoples around the world. But in the case of Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast its reports are written in the worst neocolonial tradition by North American academics and writers with a very clear anti-Sandinista agenda . One of these writers is the PhD anthropologist Courtney Parker whose widely published inaccurate report in July 2016 carefully omitted relevant information inconvenient to her account. International Cry later supplemented Parker’s July report with a disingenous, misleading attack on us at Tortilla con Sal, evading our criticism that they recycle propaganda of the local Yatama political party, effectively covering up Yatama’s own role in the violent events Parker and others fail to report fairly and honestly.

To make their phony case against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, Intercontinental Cry’s reports consistently omit two essential facts. Firstly, Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega is the first administration since the revolutionary Sandinista government of the 1980s to guarantee indigenous people’s land rights. As a result, indigenous peoples in Nicaragua now have statutory land rights to a third of Nicaragua’s national territory. So it is completely counterfactual and deceitful of Intercontinental Cry to publish reports implicitly claiming that the Sandinista government deliberately seeks to deprive indigenous peoples of their land. Intercontinental Cry’s reports are based on allegations of Yatama political party supporters whose leadership themselves have faced serious allegations of complicity in the illegal sale of their own peoples’ land.

The second fact obscured by Intercontinental Cry’s reports is that Yatama is not the only representative of the region’s Miskito and other indigenous peoples. In 2013, a large group of the region’s Miskito population rejected the Yatama leadership and now support the Myatamaran political movement allied with the Sandinista government. That omission indicates just how skewed and neocolonial Intercontinental Cry’s reporting on Nicaragua really is by creating an inaccurate, image of a united Miskito people, hapless victims of relentless alien oppression. The history of the Miskito people itself shows up that kind of account as a ridiculous neocolonial construct. Reports in Intercontinental Cry seem to deliberately omit the fact that extremist Miskito groups have attacked and murdered rural workers’ families in the area in conflict.

Historically, some components of the Miskito people allied with British colonial forces and were themselves cruel oppressors preying on weaker ethnic groups to sell them as slaves to British plantation owners in Jamaica and other British Caribbean colonies. Furthermore, Miskito groups in Jinotega along the Rio Wangki, have a somewhat different history to that of Miskito groups along Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. So even in historical terms it is false to suggest that the Miskito indigenous people share a uniformly homogenous history and cultural identity. None of that is reflected in the neocolonial accounts rendered by the writers for Intercontinental Cry.

To the contrary, despite the complicated political reality in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, Courtney Parker’s July report and Brett Spencer’s November 11th report both falsely suggest that Yatama is the only organization representative of Miskitos in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast and the only opposition movement to the Frente Sandinista Front for National Liberation. In fact, the right wing Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) has always had significant support in the interior of the northern Caribbean region area and won a seat in the legislative elections along with Yatama’s caudillo Brooklyn Rivera. The third seat was won by the FSLN.

Both Courtney Parker and Brett Spencer write essentially as propaganda shills for Yatama, portraying Yatama’s violent supporters as victims. Spencer manages that difficult task even in his report on how Yatama destroyed and looted the offices of the regional authority in Bilwi and violently intimidated local people and businesses. Spencer in particular implicitly tries to justify those attacks by alleging that Yatama caudillo Brooklyn Rivera “was ousted from office in September of 2015, following a rise in violence over an endemic land conflict between the Miskito and Sandinista settlers known to the Miskito as colonos.”

Spencer neglects to mention that Rivera was stripped of his status as a legislator following very serious allegations that he and his Yatama colleagues were illegally selling Miskito land. Spencer turns that reality on its head by alleging that the rural farming families trying to settle Miskito land sold to them illegally are “Sandinista”. Intercontinental Cry have no factual basis at all for publishing that kind of malicious smear which is pure Yatama propaganda diverting attention away from the questionable dealings of their leadership. For her part Courtney Parker published another pro-Yatama propaganda piece exploiting the terrible murder of three members of a family on their isolated farmstead. Parker suggests on the basis of hearsay that the murder was committed by marauding settlers, arbitrarily excluding the possibility of inter-ethnic violence by Yatama extremists or some other sinister interests.

Despite Intercontinental Cry’s very clearly biased coverage of the complex conflict in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, their team of writers has still managed to co-opt other alternative media so as to broaden the reach of their attacks on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Influential progressive Western alternative outlets like Truth Out and the Ecologist published Parker’s flawed reports which break just about every rule of academic rigor and basic reporting. Intercontinental Cry’s editors have finally explicitly acknowledged their anti-Sandinista agenda, overtly attacking Telesur, and openly avowing their sympathy with US and allied government funded Nicaraguan anti-Sandinista NGOs and media like Confidencial and CENIDH.

Given that clear ideological alignment it was perfectly natural for the neocolonial progressives at the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) to publish yet another propaganda attack on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government this time authored by International Cry writer Brett Spencer and US anthropologist Laura Hobson Herlihy. Their NACLA article repeats every main talking point of the US sponsored centre right Nicaraguan opposition as follows:

 

NACLA, Brett Spencer and Laura Hobson Herlihy offer precisely zero evidence for their claims of electoral fraud apart from the claims of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. The apparently authoritiative link by the foreign funded CENIDH human rights outfit leads to a fact-free opinion piece by veteran anti-Sandinista Carlos Tunnerman Bernheim. NACLA’s article alleges inconsistencies in results published in Nicaragua’s official La Gaceta and the Electoral Council’s web site apparently in ignorance of the Electoral Council’s reporting procedures which consists of presenting first preliminary results, then provisional results and, only when all challenges have been processed, the final results.

Here are the final results from the Electoral Council’s web site which enables visitors to scrutinize results right down to those of the local voting centres. The Yatama party for which Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer propagandize is a regional party which only participates in Nicaragua’s departmental elections for the National Assembly. The results completely contradict Yatama’s claims of electoral fraud. In the three municipalities where indigenous people predominate, Yatama prevailed easily against a strong minority vote in favor of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation.

But only in Prinzapolka did Yatama get a really overwhelming vote of over 60%. In the region’s interior so-called mining municipalities, Siuna, Rosita and Bonanza, Yatama was wiped out. The main opposition there came from Nicaragua’s national right wing parties led by Maximino Rodriguez’s Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) which maintained its traditional support, including winning overall in the municipality of Mulukuku. Here are the departmental legislative election results for Nicaragua’s North Caribbean region in which Yatama participated:

Bilwi Waspan Prinzapolka Rosita Siuna Bonanza Mulukuku Average

Yatama

51 57 63 6 0.6 4 1.4 30.26

FSLN

42 38 27 72 68 85 43 55.33

PLC

2.9 2 1 17 29 7 51 9.81

 

In the other elections where the Yatama party was not involved, the Yatama vote went mainly to the traditional right wing parties, especially the PLC, which may or may not indicate Yatama’s broader ideological position:

Presidential elections: FSLN 73%; PLC 19%; Other right wing parties 8%.

National legislative elections: FSLN 65.86%; PLC 15.3%; Other right wing parties 18.89%.

Central American Parliament elections: FSLN 74.3%; PLC 18.86%; Other right wing parties 6.84%.

Yatama claim to have an important presence in the Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean region but in the municipalities Yatama contested there, they were wiped out by support for the right wing PLC as the departmental legislative election results for the region where Yatama participated clearly indicate:

La Cruz
Grande
Laguna de Perlas Bocana de Paiwas El Tortuguero Bluefields Kukra Hill Average

PLC

65 25.06 62.93 81.77 16.56 20.81 45.35

FSLN

30 52.85 32.61 16.75 59.9 73.54 44.27

YATAMA

0.65 18.89 0.2 0.19 15.46 3.05 6.4

 

That was the reality of the elections beyond NACLA’s vague, hazy propaganda message and the predictable complaints of Nicaragua’s inept, dishonest political opposition parties, duly parroted by Western media.

A look at NACLA’s other anti-Sandinista allegations reveals how disingenuous is the case they are trying to make. The allegation that the National Assembly abolished term limits in 2014 is categorically false. The link in the NACLA article leads to an ill-informed, factually incorrect report from the pro-US government Qatari news outlet Al-Jazeera which writes “The latest reform would allow President Daniel Ortega to follow in the footsteps of his ideological ally, late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and a string of other Latin American nations to give presidents power extending beyond their traditional limits.”

In fact, the term limits for almost all Nicaragua’s institutions, the Presidency, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Electoral Council and the Auditor General’s office all remain unchanged at five years. Rather than checking their facts, NACLA and Al Jazeera have lazily recycled the false accusations of Nicaragua’s miniscule centre right social democrat movements who have proved incapable of developing a credible political opposition to Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega. By linking to this inaccurate Al Jazeera report, NACLA, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer show up the categorical falsity of their argument.

Equally false is their accusation that no foreign observers took part in Nicaragua’s electoral process. In fact, a group of extremely prestigious foreign electoral specialists accompanied the whole process starting in May 2016. Their reportthoroughly vindicated the professionalism and impartiality of Nicaragua’s electoral authorities throughout the electoral process as well as the efficiency and transparency of the elections on November 6th. The neocolonial demand by Western progressives for foreign electoral observers is one not raised in the case of the United States or other Latin American governments like  Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay whose example Nicaragua has now followed by excluding a role for interventionist electoral observation missions.

Similarly, the accusation that Daniel Ortega effectively ran unopposed is belied by the NACLA report itself and the election results too. Nationally the total opposition vote would have been well over 30% if the right wing parties had overcome their petty internecine divisions, thus enabling a much more effective opposition in the legislature. As has been the case for years now, the weakness of political opposition to the FSLN government in Nicaragua resides in the right wing’s own divisions and their inability to mount a credible political program capable of matching the success of President Ortega’s Sandinista government’s National Development Plan.

Turning to the falsehood that President Ortega’s family occupy high governmental positions, the reality is again completely different from NACLA’s mendacious assertion. Four children from Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s family work in posts associated one way or another with the government. None of them occupy ministerial positions. Rafael Ortega works as a personal assistant to Daniel Ortega. Daniel Edmundo Ortega heads the Sandinista media outlet El 19 Digital. Camila Ortega is a personal assistant to her mother Rosario Murillo. Laureano Ortega is an executive of Nicaragua’s investment promotion authority ProNicaragua. None of them has an executive position at the head of any central government Ministry. NACLA’s accusation is completely false.

Laura Herlihy-Hobson and Brett Spencer follow up the falsity of their broad accusations against President Ortega’s Sandinista government by repeating the claims made by Courtney Parker and Spencer in Intercontinental Cry’s series of articles through 2016. They even allege that “settlers have invaded and now illegally occupy half of the Muskitia rainforest region”. The link there is to a New York Times article that offers nothing to support the claim in Herlihy Hobson’s and Spencer’s NACLA article.

To the contrary, the New York Times article shows the Nicaraguan government is trying to combat the violent land conflicts in the northern Caribbean Coast but with limited success. Nor does NACLA offer any other support for their article’s false allegation. More clearly than in the Intercontinental Cry series of psy-warfare articles, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer cursorily acknowledge the controversial role of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. But they play down the political opportunism that has marked Rivera’s career ever since his days as a collaborator with the US government funded Contra terrorist campaign in the 1980s.

An interesting point from the NACLA article which will certainly figure in similar future psy-warfare attacks is the effort to link the land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with opposition to the proposed Interoceanic Canal, even though the Canal lies many hundreds of kilometres to the south of Yatama’s strongholds. The NACLA article and its writers studiously avoid noting that the Nicaraguan authorities have already reached agreement with indigenous people’s organizations in the areas likely to be affected by the route of the Canal. But the efforts to connect Yatama to the Canal protests tie in with Democracy Now’s dishonest coverage of the most recent Canal protest, representing a coordinated alternative media agenda similar to that of Western corporate media. That agenda is very clearly one of neocolonial divide and rule, fomenting violence in any countries with a progressive government, not just Nicaragua but in the other Bolivarian Alliance countries like Bolivia, Ecuador and, most notoriously perhaps, Venezuela.

NACLA’s and Intercontinental Cry’s blatant propaganda in defense of Yatama’s repeated aggressive violence promotes Yatama’s sectarian political agenda in a self-serving, sensationalist way evidently calculated to maximize the potential for conflict. This is very much in line with the experience of the Ecuadoran government, faced with vicious attacks from the CONAIE indigenous people’s organization or the experience of the Bolivian government faced with murderous attacks by indigenous mining cooperative organizations.

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America. That is why it is entirely correct to characterize as neocolonial the psychological warfare role of supposedly progressive alternative media that recycle propaganda material like that of Intercontinental Cry.

The Work of Revelations: Snowden, the Torture Report, and the Diminishing Returns of Info-Spectacles

Popaganda

January 2, 2015

 

omidyar-lede

Omidyar, right, with (clockwise from left) Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, and Laura Poitras. Illustration by Matthew Woodson. Photo: Matthew Woodson. Image: THE PIERRE OMIDYAR INSURGENCY [Source]

 

“An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come,” wrote Victor Hugo. Isn’t that ultimately the message of Les Misérables? In contrast to the revolutionaries hopelessly slaughtered en masse at the barricades, it’s Jean Valjean’s unimpeachable righteousness alone that ultimately drives his longtime tormentor to suicide. I dreamed a dream…

Rather than just being the domain of French Romantics and office motivational posters, the notion that information alone has transformative power is the cornerstone of establishment left thinking. It stems from liberal enlightenment ideals that configure history as a linear progression—embodied in the apocryphal quote about the moral arc of the universe. It goes one way, and that’s forwards towards progress. This coincides happily with the preponderance of lawyers in the ranks of mainstream human rights and civil liberties groups, for whom information is the sine qua non of preparing briefs and mounting cases.

There’s a more controversial theory that information isn’t inherently good. Even revelatory information—stuff the powerful don’t want you to know—ostensibly in the service of a progressive goal, can be used for right-wing ends if it obscures or moderates a more radical prescription. If information is getting used to co-opt a more radical course of action, then that project is reactionary.

For its part, progressive e-magazine TruthDig doesn’t want people messing with this line of thinking in the case of the Senate Torture report: “When the truth is spoken by politicians…skeptics are right to suspect it’s not merely the truth. It is always tailored to redound to some benefit to the speaker. But there are moments in history when that doesn’t matter.”

We’re being told it’s one such moment now. The Senate Intelligence Committee has released a heavily redacted, heavily abridged “Executive Summary” of its 6,000 page report on CIA torture. Adding to the report’s mystique is the fact that the White House and CIA wanted to suppress the information contained within, with the CIA even hacking the computers of Senate staffers compiling the report. The torture report seems like the most illicit kind of revelatory information, so it’s created an enormous amount of commentary and condemnation.

However, with the exceptions of some specific ghoulish details, most of the information was already known. The most horrific facts—that the CIA raped prisoners, that torture was used to fabricate justifications for the War in Iraq, that human beings were tortured to death, that almost a quarter of torture cases were the result of mistaken identity—had all been reported on within the last decade.

There’s a disconnect between the content of the torture report and the narrative that now surrounds the event itself. When TruthDig called for putting skepticism aside, it was in a piece hailing Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain as their progressive heroes of the week. Feinstein’s fingerprints are on many of the US’s worst abuses of this century, and McCain is one of the most bloodthirsty figures in the US government, and by extension the planet. Given that these newly minted progressive heroes are some of the worst imperialists, and the torture report’s aura doesn’t reflect reality, this seems like exactly the right moment for those meddlesome skeptics to be asking questions.

The journalists and public figures who promote the torture report present it as transformative information, but it’s shaping up to be a spectacle that sets the left back yet again. The report has followed many parallels with the last time this happened, the spectacle surrounding Ed Snowden’s leaks to Glenn Greenwald et al. The Snowden drama provided a useful template for how dissent is going to be managed, channeled, and moderated going forward. The way the NSA leaks were handled has provided the elites a scalable model for taking the release of even revelatory information and using it to come out on top and consolidate their power.

***

Fortunately, last October Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media had an acrimonious public divorce with once-hire Matt Taibbi. If Taibbi had been someone with less social capital, then the failure of Racket might’ve just been a momentary hiccup for the internet’s hottest journalistic “insurgency.” As it stands, the fact that people want to be in Taibbi’s orbit has opened up a lot of space for analysis of Omidyar’s would-be media empire, where the establishment consensus was once airtight. It’s certainly vindicated what Taibbi said about journalists being akin to an easily spooked herd of deer, who only get around to asking the right questions “eventually. But far after the fact.”

When the leaks began, they painted a complete picture of a monster whose contours had only previously been hinted at. Stories about warrantless wiretapping and the size of “Top Secret America” had won their authors Pulitzers and hinted that the US government was spying on all of us. There were reports of a secret government data-storage facility of gargantuan proportions being built in Utah. Stories had periodically cropped up in unexpected places about the government’s ability to record and store all our communications. However, now the public knew the truth definitively. There was excitement, talk of change, reform, maybe even something more drastic. Soon, the whistleblower went public. More stories came out, about more countries.

However, there were problems from the outset. Tarzie, one of maybe 3 or 4 people asking the right questions from the outset, drew these threads out in August 2013 in his “Fuck the Guardian” series. Some of the serious problems were a zeal for secrecy and redactions, an over-emphasis on one set of actors at the expense of the bigger picture, and a single-minded devotion to “debate” and reform as the ideal solution. There were plenty of other problems, like the smearing of Chelsea Manning and a near-monopoly on information, all of which spoke to having surrendered ground to the very enemies being exposed. The entire event was taking place on the state’s terms, and as Arthur Silber wrote, “when the state floods the zone, any chance for reform is dead.”

However, the state weren’t the only interested parties. There was a big story to be told, after all, and a billionaire patron chose to underwrite the project. The consensus that instantly emerged–and remained firmly in place until Racket’s collapse–was that Pierre Omidyar was a “civic minded billionaire.” What was being exchanged between Omidyar and Greenwald was a paycheck for prestige. As Tarzie pointed out at the beginning, PayPal had conducted an extrajudicial corporate blockade against WikiLeaks that hobbled the organization, and Greenwald lied about Omidyar’s involvement.

When it came out that Omidyar had funded regime change in Ukraine and the election of a fascist PM in India, and would profit handsomely for it, this revelatory information wasn’t enough to tarnish the “civic-minded” gloriole. “Since the rich man in question has demonstrably been involved in funding imperialist activities,” explained Patrick Higgins, the Snowden leak keepers were now “by extension, running interference on imperialism’s behalf.” A typical imperialist oligarch bought a bulletproof reputation as a civic-minded hero, for only $250 million (of which only $50 million has actually been paid so far). To get an idea of what a robust return on investment this is, Bill Gates has to spend billions of dollars a year in order to be seen as a humanitarian while defending capitalism’s brutality and making Malthusian calls for population reduction in Africa and Asia.

Snowden eventually came out of his self-imposed media exile and played a part in the vaunted debate. It’s been reported that whistleblowers tend to be conservative individuals, and this makes sense. Someone who thinks the CIA is an organ of state terrorism is unlikely to get hired there, nor would they seek to restore it to an imagined past if they joined up and eventually found this to be the case. That explained phenomena like Snowden’s insistence that information be mediated by “responsible journalists and government stakeholders,” and a whole slew of reactionary statements he made as the spectacle went on.

As Snowden explained, he was “still working for the NSA” in spirit, seeking to reform temporarily disoriented agencies. For anyone hoping that substantive change would result, this is a death sentence. As Chris Floyd said, “the system itself is not under threat [when] the only goal of any revelations will be ‘reform.’ ‘Reform’ and ‘debate’ can always be managed by those who control the levers of power.”

In the end, the public accrued very limited benefits if any. There were stories that essentially recapitulated the same theme of mass government data collection, told with some different details but committed salesmanship. Long after most of the world has moved on, The Intercept’s reporters still use the same breathless promotional language. In mid-December 2014 Jeremy Scahill was promoting a “Blockbuster” story at The Intercept that’s basically a longer version of a story already reported at Der Spiegel 14 months ago. There wasn’t even reform, either, with one failed bill widely derided as a “sham.” Even First Look supporters concede that the NSA ultimately “retained its powers.” And they might have stronger defenses against future leakers in place now, thanks to Ed Snowden. As reported in a Wired cover story, as Snowden took documents from NSA servers, he did so in a way that “[gave] the government time to prepare for leaks in the future,” in case anyone more radical than him came along.

If anyone benefitted from the event, besides the leak’s owners and the state, it was the tech sector. Snowden updated Thomas Jefferson for the disruptor set when he recommended restraining government surveillance with “the chains of cryptography.” He announced the Reset the Net initiative on June 5th, 2014. By unveiling it a year after the Guardian released its first Snowden-sourced story, the event was marketed as the solution to government surveillance, the logical endpoint of the events that have preceded it. According to Wired, Reset the Net is “a coalition of more than two-dozen tech companies,” i.e. former partners in government spying who would now be the vanguards of privacy. When Trevor Timm, a board member of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation with Greenwald, listed “Four Ways Edward Snowden Changed The World,” two reasons were essentially sales pitches for the tech industry. To hear left celebrities orbiting the Snowden trove tell it, all Silicon Valley had to do was suffer a mild public shaming in order to become zealous guardians of their users’ privacy.

***
Obviously, some factions of the state and oligarch class* would rather the public know nothing. However, if this isn’t an option, then there are ways to accrue benefits from the information release. The Snowden spectacle has shown how the guilty parties can create positive outcomes for themselves, coming out even better than before. The common threads include:

  1. A distracting, singular focus on one set of actors at the expense of other guilty parties.
  2. An erasure of related and often more serious crimes.
  3. The lionizing of deeply reactionary figures.
  4. Right-wing, power-serving “solutions.”
  5. The erasure of leftist ideas from the left.
  6. A further fetishizing of the transformative power of revelation.

In the Snowden spectacle and the torture report, there are two situations in which information is released to the public. It’s been known, but now there are specific details and official confirmations. This is presented as a revelation, and re-stated in different permutations to retain public interest. From there, the ruling class will create an unexpected victory.

  1. Distracting Focus on One Set of Actors

In the case of the Snowden leaks, over a year of reporting focused almost exclusively on the NSA. There was almost no reporting done on the private sector, or the 16 other government agencies that comprise the Intelligence Community—from the FBI and DEA to Army intelligence and the National Reconnaissance Office.

In the case of the Senate torture report, the focus has been exclusively on CIA torture authorized and directed by the Bush administration and its lawyers. Dick Cheney has come out of the shadows to issue ghoulish pronouncements about torture’s goodness, acting as a cartoonish, literally heartless proxy for the entire cast of villains.

However, the focus on the Bush administration has erased contemporary Democratic culpability in the torture program. The 2002 briefing of House Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller by the CIA was, according to CIA war criminal and noted sociopath José Rodriguez, “short and sweet.” Though Democrats at the at the time adduced torture as a reason to vote for Democrats, it was, like anti-war opposition, cheap posturing to score political points.

A few years later, it was rising Democratic star Barack Obama’s turn to sweep torture under the rug after exploiting it for electoral reasons. In a tremendously revealing statement that received scant attention at the time, then-Senator Obama said that impeachment was off the table because it was reserved for “serious breaches” of the President’s authority. The statement was a clear indication that Obama didn’t—and doesn’t—consider torture to constitute a serious offense, at least when committed by the United States. Though candidate Obama made overtures to investigate torture, his 2008 behavior on FISA showed how hollow these promises were. On the campaign trail, the Senator declared that he would filibuster TeleCom immunity, before voting for it once it was politically expedient. When Obama was elected and made “look forwards, not backwards” his mantra, the Democratic leadership owned torture as much as Bush.

Just like the NSA was the sole focus of the Snowden cache, a casual observer would think that the CIA were the sole perpetrators of torture after 9/11. The singular focus on the CIA has erased the fact that the US military was responsible for many of the most horrific abuses of the War on Terror. Abu Ghraib, for instance, was born out of a policy to “’Gitmoize’ Iraq,” applying the brutal torture policies of America’s Cuban hellhole to the entire nation of Iraq. Military installations were the sites of countless crimes, like Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base or Iraq’s Camp Nama, whose name was backronymed to mean “Nasty-Ass Military Area.”

The Senate torture report has successfully cordoned off torture as the work of one agency and one set of elites, when the entire political class and national security apparatus is guilty.

  1. Erasure of Related and More Serious Crimes

The Snowden event brought us dozens of stories that reiterated essentially the same point. Less publicized was Reuters’ August 2013 report on NSA-DEA “parallel construction,” where the NSA was giving warrantlessly surveilled information to the DEA, who then build up a criminal case under the pretense that the information had been lawfully obtained. In this case, abstract reports on government abuse were crowding out concrete reports of government abuse. The narrative around the Senate report has taken this aspect of the Snowden drama to a much higher degree. There is a constellation of American crimes that are being erased, whitewashed, and legitimized by the focus on the CIA torture report.

The Obama administration and the CIA saw the kind of legal and political mess that came from indefinite detention, and concluded that assassination was easier. A 2004 report from the CIA’s inspector general warned that “The agency faces potentially serious long-term political and legal challenges as a result of” the torture regime. “The report was the beginning of the end for the program,” according to journalist Mark Mazzetti. “The ground had shifted, and counterterrorism officials began to rethink the strategy for the secret war. Armed drones, and targeted killings in general, offered a new direction.”

Consequently, the Obama administration has waged a far more vicious assassination campaign than Bush ever did, with thousands killed in drone strikes and even American citizens targeted for extrajudicial murder. Obama’s theory of executive power was best summarized by Attorney General Eric Holder explaining that “due process” didn’t need to involve a trial by jury, but could be achieved by the President deciding to murder you in one of his “Terror Tuesday” meetings.

That’s not to say that torture isn’t still practiced. Torture is still common practice in Guantánamo Bay, where inmates are subjected to excruciating force-feedings. The experience of having a feeding tube slid through the nasal cavity and down into the prisoner’s stomach is usually compared to having a razor blade shoved through the nostril and down the throat.

Obama’s vaunted torture ban has also not banned torture, merely returned it to the grey-area status it enjoyed before the Bush administration codified it. The CIA has long practiced torture, like under the Phoenix program in Vietnam or taught at the notorious School of the Americas. Today, the CIA maintains its “extraordinary rendition” and secret prison programs, with loopholes in place for torture to continue more covertly. Torture is still allowed for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and since expanding JSOC’s operational scope has been a cornerstone of Obama’s war-fighting policies, some inductive reasoning indicates that it’s expanded into those dark corners. As the blog Moon of Alabama points out:

The Army Field Manual 2 22.3. Appendix M is still in force and it allows “interrogation techniques” which the UN’s Committee against Torturesays (PDF) amount to torture. The White House is also still believing that using torture abroad is not covered by the UN Convention Against Torture and thereby permissible.

This, together with Appendix M, lets me assume that the U.S. is still torturing people abroad. Why else would it keep those legal holes open?

All this is only to discuss how torture is still practiced in prosecuting the War on Terror (or as it’s called now, the Overseas Contingency Operations). It’s an entirely different story about the United States practicing torture in its system of mass incarceration through solitary confinement, which “human beings experience…as torture,” according to Dr. Atul Gawande.

  1. Reactionary Heroes

The release of the torture report has lead to some strange scenes. Teju Cole, for instance, a longtime critic of American imperialism, thanked Dianne Feinstein “for [her] service” in the pages of the New York Times. Dianne Feinstein has long been a supporter of almost every imperialist venture the US has embarked upon. Her husband’s status as a member of a lucrative government contractor also makes her, quite literally, a war profiteer.

As for John McCain, this release affords him to playact the maverick that the media needs to remind everyone that he is. It’s also erased the fact that in 2008 McCain fought to exempt the CIA from a torture restriction.

Besides Feinstein and McCain, the biggest hero in the release of the torture report has been John Kiriakou, the CIA case officer who first blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program. As is typical of National Security whistleblowers, Kiriakou is deeply conservative, a “patriotic” spy whose “Letters from Loretto” penitentiary spend a lot of time railing against the FBI. A common theme of his letters are slams against the FBI for their dishonesty, positioning the CIA—who’ve spent over a decade running a global torture and assassination program—as the honest Agency.

At least the Snowden case gave Americans a fresh face, who only exposed his retrograde beliefs gradually. The Senate torture report has boosted “heroes” who are some of the past decade’s most imperialist figures.

  1. Power-Serving Solutions

Jane Mayer, who’s written more about America’s post-9/11 torture regime than any other journalist, wrote in the New Yorker that “torture is becoming just another partisan issue.” Particularly given the incoming Republican-majority Senate, torture accountability seems like a position that the Democrats can own after having tacitly endorsed it. According to Mayer, Feinstein “proved that Congress can still perform its most basic Madisonian function of providing a check on executive-branch abuse,” while “By contrast, the new report, even before it was released, came under attack from Republicans.” Soon, newly minted transparency and accountability heroine Feinstein will be out, replaced by Republican Richard Burr, “a staunch defense and surveillance hawk,” according to Joshua Eaton at Al Jazeera. “At the same time, one of the intelligence community’s most outspoken voices, Mark Udall, will leave the committee after losing re-election last month.” The departure of the Democrats “threatens to stall attempts to reform the nation’s surveillance laws and avoid transparency about the CIA’s controversial interrogation program,” Eaton says. The narrative, as it’s taken hold, paints a clear distinction between Democrats and Republicans on this issue.

For a Democratic party seeking to reinvigorate its increasingly apathetic base after what Dr. Cornel West calls “a Wall Street and drone presidency,” this is a great branding opportunity. One of Obama’s first decisions in office was to immunize torturers. However, with a Republican Congressional majority imminent, this is a perfect chance for the soon-to-be-helpless Democrats to act like they’d been champions of transparency all along.

For those who remember the now-ancient years of Bush’s second term, the reason proffered to vote for Democratic representatives in 2006 was to stop the Bush agenda. Then, Democrats still couldn’t do anything without a Democrat in the White House. Once Americans gave the Democratic party the veto-proof Democratic supermajority that they needed for some sweet Change, they discovered that relatively little could get done in the face of Republican intransigence. Increasing numbers of Americans see little hope in the two-party system, but the torture report provides a golden opportunity for the Democrats to burnish their image anew.

The report puts torture back in the contested category it once enjoyed. Democrats can once again compel their supporters to go to the polls to vote against torture and in favor of transparency—just like they did in 2006 and 2008, and by recycling the exact same rhetoric. That Hillary Clinton is making a public show of denouncing torture and praising the report’s release is a sign that this is exactly what’s going to happen. Clinton, who supported torture and is “a walking profanity” embodying the worst American corporatism and imperialism, signals that the Democrats are interested in play-act opposition to torture once again, after years of tacit approval.

Beyond just the Democrat/Republican modality, the torture report is functioning as a whitewash for the entire American project. There’s the predictable “rally ‘round the flag” effect—the idea that only America could produce a work of decency and introspection like a report on its own torture program.

Then there’s the hand-wringing over how aberrant torture is—how America lost its way—and accompanying appeals to return to an imagined past. “When I was growing up,” a typical missive goes, “Americans thought of torture as a tactic used by history’s villains.” It’s true, America thought of torture as a uniquely evil tactic, while committing it covertly and teaching it to its proxies. While the author of the above passage was growing up, learning that torture was the sole domain of dictators and terrorists, the US was exporting torture expertise throughout the Southern Cone.

Torture has been with the US since its foundation—what could the treatment of African slaves be called besides that? Overseas torture programs also date back at least to the counterinsurgency to subjugate the Philippines at the birth of the 20th century. So the idea that the CIA torture program was a unique, momentary evil that erupted from the minds of Dick “work the dark side” Cheney and John “the President can crush a baby’s testicles” Yoo serves to conveniently whitewash America’s history as a white supremacist and imperial entity. The release of the torture report is propagating these narratives even as it seems to challenge power.

  1. An Erasure of Substantive Leftist Beliefs

Adolph Reed has written about how one of the ideological functions of neoliberalism is to erase substance from politics, and leave only empty signifiers. “Being a progressive is now more a matter of how one thinks about oneself than what one stands for or does in the world.” The Snowden drama was remarkable for how much it divorced substantive leftist politics from a position called “leftist.” Leftists went to the mattresses for a journalist’s right to redact, hoard, and genuflect to NatSec concerns. “Marxists, anarchists, libertarians and Occupy activists now call a billionaire by his first name”:Pierre. The Snowden leaks told the left some information about bulk collection in exchange for dragging it rightward.

The torture report is so far succeeding in erasing more of the left. Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, published a New York Times op-ed calling for Obama to pardon the Bush administration. “If the choice is between a tacit pardon and a formal one, a formal one is better. An explicit pardon would lay down a marker, signaling to those considering torture in the future that they could be prosecuted.” Besides the obvious inversion of reality evinced by Romero’s position, and the childish treatment of “the law” as some supernatural Platonic construct, it’s literally the ACLU advocating pardons for war crimes. Stephen Walt reiterated this position in a Foreign Policy piece that compared Chelsea Manning to Dick Cheney. A few days later, he tweeted this:

Merry Christmas, torturers. #empathy

A few days after Romero’s op-ed, the ACLU published a piece titled “CIA Agents Said ‘No’ to Torture.” The reason people are discussing the torture report is because CIA personnel said “yes” to torture, but the ACLU is here to remind Americans that #NotAllSpies chose to commit this offense to human dignity. These case officers and analysts the ACLU is celebrating held fast to their day jobs assassinating people, subverting foreign democracy, or otherwise manifesting “the ruling class’s determination to retain power and privilege.”

Those who did torture were, shockingly, not even trained torturers. This is according to one narrative that’s cropped up, echoed by progressive outlets like Mother Jones and lawyers for prisoners’ rights group Reprieve. Deferring to the state’s euphemisms for torture, Mother Jones says that “Extreme interrogations…went on for more than three months before CIA officers received any sort of training in the new techniques from anyone.” For some, evidently, the problem is that CIA torturers hadn’t been briefed on proper torture techniques. This probably resulted in total amateur mistakes like threatening to murder their mothers instead of sisters, or blasting Metallica for 8 hours when they should’ve been blaring Marilyn Manson. Maybe liberal outlets were too quick to pounce on the $80 million payments to those two torture psychologists, since there were too few torture-professionals rather than too many.

Whatever the celebrity left believes their positions to be, many of their concerns don’t seem particularly left-wing. Even less than a month into the torture report drama, we’ve seen calls for pardons, celebrations of CIA spies, and a focus on improper torture techniques and insufficiently trained torturers. With heroes like Feinstein and McCain at the center of this, there’s no rightward boundary for how far the left can slide.

  1. The Fetishizing of Information

In the end, the fetish for information above all else is reified. If only the public learns the truth, if only the lawyers who overwhelmingly staff human rights groups have more direct evidence, something will change. Each revelatory event is also presented as the proverbial Big One, restarting the cycle from scratch. There have been diminishing returns, but the salesmanship is just as enthusiastic.

Shahid Buttar, the executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, called the torture report “the most important document revealing crimes of the intelligence agencies since the Pentagon Papers.” The Snowden leaks, Wikileaks and Cablegate, the Washington Post’s “Top Secret America”—all these events didn’t accomplish much since this is the event we’ve been waiting for. Buttar harkens back to the Pentagon Papers, which have become the Ur-Leak Event in all these conversations. Daniel Ellsberg himself adds to the mystique of each event by coming out and saying he’s been waiting his whole life for it (free idea for The Onion: “Daniel Ellsberg can’t remember all the people who are the next Daniel Ellsberg”).

The narrative that This Is The Leak Event We’ve Been Waiting For serves to keep the public interested in supporting leftish groups like the ACLU, whose lawyers can now meet standing requirements and prepare the relevant briefs. It also resets the clock, convincing a new group of people that justice is imminent while the ruling class manages increasingly favorable outcomes. The Snowden spectacle worked out so well that the torture report offers more reactionary ideas for even less new information.

The idea that information itself, especially information you’re not supposed to possess, is its own good is an article of faith. There’s additional pressure because pointing out that revelatory information is already publicly available is associated with the political right. When someone points out that the information isn’t “new,” it’s usually a crass attempt at smarmy self-promotion or a diversionary tactic from a party with some stake in derailing the inquiry (Mark Ames once wrote “you can always tell a paid troll by their ‘nothing new here’ nonsense”).

However, the left can’t embrace these events without interrogating them more than is going on now. As it stands, the ruling class is being strengthened by these spectacles, and seeing their power further entrenched. Most insidiously, with each info-drama, the left is being purged of actual leftist substance. The idea that’s reflexively invoked, “at least now we know,” is wrong—there’s more than that going on. As Chris Floyd said:

Yet revelations of these machinations, of government/corporate crime or “excesses,” have made no difference. Nothing changes, because the commanding heights of politics and media are in the hands of people deeply committed to preserving the system that gives them wealth and power.

We live in an age of revelation. There has never been era in which so much clear and glaring evidence of so many horrific crimes and abuses by state and private power has been so widely and freely available. Year after year, the revelations pile up. None of it makes any difference. Instead, power doubles down.

The truth alone might not set us free. Powerful entities are working to see it does nothing, or even make us less free in the end.

Update: additional reading– “Liberals vs. Radicals on the Power of Information

Enough of CIA’s ‘Enough Project’ in Africa! [Avaaz, International Crisis Group, Center for American Progress]

Libya360 | Internationalist News Agency

Cross-posted from TeleSUR

October 7, 2016

By Thomas C. Mountain

The “Enough Project” claims it’s mission is to prevent genocide in Africa, but has been conspicuously silent when it comes to the genocidal famine in Somalia.

enough-ngo-partners

WKOG editor: As people finally become aware of Avaaz – as a key instrument of empire – watch for the Enough Project which could, if embraced by the public, become the new NGO assigned to create acquiescence for the destabilization of targeted countries. The Enough Project was co-founded by the Center for American Progress (see below) and the International Crisis Group in 2007. Key partners include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam and UNHCR. Enough is a project of the New Venture Fund, and is based in Washington, DC. Its co-founders are John Prendergast (former Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council) and Gayle Smith (current administrator of the United States Agency for International Development).


enough-avaaz-co-founder-tom-perriello

“ENOUGH operates under the umbrella of the Democratic Party’s corporate funded propaganda and influence peddling operation, The Center for American Progress (CAP).” Former Democratic congressman and Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello served as President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and as a Counselor for Policy at Center for American Progress until July of 2015 when he was appointed Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa by the White House.

“The Enough Project focuses on Africa” – Sudan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern Uganda, and the Horn of Africa.

enough-project

The Enough Project has worked hand-in-hand with Avaaz in the past.

Perriello and Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel also co-founded and co-directed DarfurGenocide.org which officially launched in 2004. “DarfurGenocide.org is a project of Avaaz co-founder Res Publica, a group of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance and virtuous civic cultures.”Today, this organization is now known as “Darfurian Voices”: “Darfurian Voices is a project of 24 Hours for Darfur.” The U.S. Department of State and the Open Society Institute were just two of the organization’s funders and collaborating partners. Other Darfurian Voices partners include Avaaz, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Centre for Transitional Justice, Darfur Rehabilitation Project, Humanity United, Darfur People’s Association of New York, Genocide Intervention, Witness, Yale Law School, The Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Bridgeway Foundation. Of all the listed partners of DarfurGenocide.org, with the exception of one located in London, England, all of the entities involved are American and based on U.S. soil.

enough-project-appauds-avaaz-cofounder-tp

Despite the carefully crafted language and images that tug at your emotions, such NGOs were created for and exist for one primary purpose – to protect and further American policy and interests, under the guise of philanthropy and humanitarianism.

 

+++

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.aljazeera.com/mritems/Images/2011/7/16/2011716213159717734_20.jpg

Enough of the CIA’s “Enough Project” in Africa!http://s2.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20110730&t=2&i=469259260&w=580&fh=&fw=&ll=&pl=&r=2011-07-30T121232Z_01_BTRE76T0XWX00_RTROPTP_0_SOMALIA-FAMINE

EP, as it is known, was founded by senior U.S. Intel “spook” Gayle Smith, former Senior Director of the National Security Council under President Obama and now head of the USAID/CIA.

Today EP is headed by Ms. Smith’s protégé John Prendergast whose history as head of EP is one of subterfuge and lies in service to Pax Americana.

EP claims it’s mission is to prevent genocide in Africa, as in the name “Enough Project”, yet has been conspicuously silent when it comes to the genocidal famine in Somalia during the Great Horn of Africa Drought in 2011-12 where 250,000 Somali children starved to death.

Recently George Clooney was enjoying 15 minutes of fame as a humanitarian claiming to have exposed massive corruption in South Sudan when he should have been warning the world of the U.N.’s next genocide in Somalia as in 300,000 starving children. Soon the genocide in Somalia will hit its peak with hundreds, up to 1,000 children a day dying from hunger with only a deafening silence emanating from the CIA’s Enough Project.

https://i0.wp.com/www.aljazeera.com/mritems/Images/2011/7/26/2011726144345181734_20.jpg

EP, with support from its big brother the Center for American Progress, only once in its history raised a real genocide, that back in 2007-8 when Gayle Smith was out to political pasture, she being a rabid democrat during the Bush Jr. years in office. Then she was part of the Democrat “opposition” to the Bush regime and oh so briefly raised the food and medical aid blockade in the Ogaden in Ethiopia, where the only instance of both the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders being expelled from a famine stricken region has been allowed.

Once Ms. Smith jumped on the Obama For President bandwagon, no further mention of the genocide in the Ogaden was heard.

http://i1.wp.com/richardfalk.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/somalia-famine-2011.jpg?resize=250%2C250 Today EP is proving its loyalty to Pax Americana by playing huckster for regime change in South Sudan, as in denying China access to African oil via the invasion of “peacekeepers” in the name of Responsibility To Protect of Libyan infamy. The USA has abandoned former “rebel leader” Riek Machar in favor of direct military intervention by the U.N. and the USA’s gendarme in Africa, the African Union.

The Chinese have started to expand their oil production so expect to hear louder cries of outrage from the likes of EP about various crimes and even “genocide” in South Sudan followed by demands for more foreign military intervention in the country.

With all their lies and subterfuge, don’t you think that we here in Africa have had enough of the CIA’s Enough Project?

 

 

[Thomas C. Mountain is an independent journalist in Eritrea living and reporting from here since 2006.]

 

Further reading:

Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part IV

US Behind Massacres in Beni, Congo

http://www.anngarrison.com/audio/creating-south-sudan-george-clooney-john-prendergast-and-george-w-bush

 

 

The US Is Preparing to Oust President Evo Morales

Strategic Culture Foundation

September 6, 2016

By Nil Nikandrov

 

The US Is Preparing to Oust President Evo Morales

 

US intelligence agencies have ramped up their operations intended to remove Bolivian President Evo Morales from office. All options are on the table, including assassination. Barack Obama, who sees the weakening of Latin America’s “hostile bloc of populist states” as one of his administration’s foreign-policy victories, intends to buoy this success before stepping down.

Washington also feels under the gun in Bolivia because of China’s successful expansion in the country. Morales is steadily strengthening his financial, economic, trade, and military relationship with Beijing. Chinese businesses in La Paz are thriving – making investments and loans and taking part in projects to secure a key position for Bolivia in the modernization of the continent’s transportation industry. In the next 10 years, thanks to Bolivia’s plentiful gas reserves, that country will become the energy hub of South America. Evo Morales sees his country’s development as his top priority, and the Chinese, unlike the Americans, have always viewed Bolivia as an ally and partner in a relationship that eschews double standards.

The US embassy in La Paz has been without an ambassador since 2008. He was declared persona non grata because of his subversive activities. The interim chargé d’affaires is currently Peter Brennan, and pointed questions have been raised about what agency he truly works for. He was previously stationed in Pakistan, where “difficult decisions” had to be made about assassinations, but most of his career has been spent handling Latin American countries. In particular, Brennan was responsible for introducing the ZunZuneo service into Cuba (an illegal program dubbed the “Cuban Twitter”). USAID fronted this CIA program, under the innocent pretext of helping to inform Cubans about cultural and sporting events and other international news. Once ZunZuneo was in place, there were plans to use this program to mobilize the population in preparation for a “Cuban Spring”. When reading about Brennan one often encounters the phrase – “dark horse”. He is used to getting what he wants, at any cost, and his tight deadline in Bolivia (before the end of Obama’s presidency) is forcing Brennan to take great risks.

Previously, Brennan had “distinguished himself” during the run-up to the referendum on allowing President Evo Morales to run for reelection in 2019, as well as during the vote itself. To encourage “no” votes, the US embassy mobilized its entire propaganda machine, roused to action the NGOs under its control, and allocated considerable additional funds for the staging of protests. It is telling that many of those culminated in the burning of photographs of Morales wearing his presidential sash. A record-setting volley of dirt was fired at the president. Accusations of corruption were the most common, although Morales has always been open about his personal finances. It would have been hard to pin ownership of “$43 billion in offshore accounts” on him, as was done to Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro.

Brennan also has agreements in place with Washington about other operations to compromise the Bolivian president. An attack was launched by the CIA agent Carlos Valverde Bravo, a well-known TV journalist and former agent with Bolivia’s security services. In his Feb. 3 program he accused Morales’s former companion, Gabriela Zapata, the commercial manager of the Chinese company CAMC Engineering Co, of orchestrating shady business deals worth $500 million. Insinuations simultaneously began circulating on the Internet about the Bolivian president’s involvement in those, although Morales completely broke ties with Zapata back in 2007 and has spared no individual, regardless of name and rank, in his battle against corruption.

The “exposés” staged by the US embassy continued until the day of the referendum itself on Feb. 21, 2016. The “no” votes prevailed, despite the favorable trend that had been indicated in the voter polls. Morales accepted defeat with his Indian equanimity, but in his statements after the referendum he was clear that the US embassy had waged a hostile campaign.

The investigation into Gabriela Zapata revealed that she had capitalized on her previous relationship with Morales to further her career. She was offered a position with the Chinese company CAMC and took possession of a luxury home in an upscale neighborhood in La Paz, making a big show of her “closeness” to the Bolivian leader, although he played no role in any of this. This was the same reason she tried to initiate a business and personal relationship with the president’s chief of staff, Juan Ramón Quintana. He has categorically denied having ever met Zapata.

Gradually, all the CIA’s fabricated evidence disintegrated. Zapata is now testifying, and her lawyer has holed up abroad because his contacts with the Americans have been exposed. The American agent Valverde Bravo has fled to Argentina. Accusations against Morales are being hurled from there with renewed vigor. The attack continues. It’s all quite logical: a continually repeated lie is an effective weapon in this newest generation of information warfare. The latest example was the ouster of Dilma Rousseff, who was accused of corruption by officials whom her government had identified as corrupt!

The US military has been increasing its presence in Bolivia in recent months. For example, Colonel Felando Pierre Thigpen visited the department of Santa Cruz, where there are strong separatist leanings. Thigpen is known to be involved in a joint program between the Pentagon and CIA to recruit and train potential personnel for American intelligence. In commentary by Bolivian bloggers and in publications about Thigpen, it isnoted that the colonel was dispatched to the country on the eve of events related to “the impending replacement of a government that has exhausted its potential, as well as the need to recruit alternative young personalities into the new leadership structure.” Some comments have indicated that Thigpen is overseeing the work of diplomats Peter Brennan and Erik Foronda, a media and press advisor at the US embassy.

The embassy responded by stating that Thigpen had arrived in Bolivia “at his own initiative”, but it is no secret that he was invited to “work with youth” by NGOs that coordinate their activities with the Americans: the Foundation for Leadership and Integral Development (FULIDEI), the Global Transformation Network (RTG), the Bolivian School of Heroes (EHB), and others. So Thigpen’s work is not being improvised, but is rather a direct challenge to Morales’s government. Domestically, the far-right party Christian Democratic Party provides him with political cover.

The US plans to destabilize Bolivia – which were provided to Evo Morales’s government by an unnamed friendly country – include a step-by-step chronogram of the actions plotted by the Americans. For example: “To spark hunger strikes and mass mobilizations and to stir up conflicts within universities, civil organizations, indigenous communities, and varied social circles, as well as within government institutions. To strike up acquaintances with both active-duty and retired military officers, with the goal of undercutting the government’s credibility within the armed forces. It is absolutely essential to train the military for a crisis scenario, so that in an atmosphere of growing social conflict they will lead an uprising against the regime and support the protests in order to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy.”

The program’s first fruits have been the emergence of social protests (recent marches by disabled citizens were staged at the suggestion of the American embassy), although Evo Morales’s administration has evinced more concern for the interests of Bolivians on a limited income than any other government in the history of Bolivia.

The scope of the operation to oust President Morales – financed and directed by US intelligence agencies – continues to expand. The Americans’ biggest adversary in Latin America has been sentenced to a fate of “neutralization”. Speaking out against Evo Morales, the radical opposition has openly alluded to the fact that it has been a long time since the region has seen a really newsworthy air crash involving a politician who was hostile to Washington…