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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.]

Reagan Documents Shed Light on U.S. ‘Meddling’

Consortium News

September 13, 2017

By Robert Parry

 

President George W Bush visits CIA Headquarters, March 20, 2001.

 

Special Report: “Secret” documents from the Reagan administration show how the U.S. embedded “political action,” i.e., the manipulation of foreign governments, in ostensibly well-meaning organizations, reports Robert Parry.

“Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.

Partially obscured by President Reagan, Walter Raymond Jr. was the CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw “political action” and “psychological operations” projects at the National Security Council in the 1980s. Raymond is seated next to National Security Adviser John Poindexter. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the U.S. government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.

Instead of continuing to rely heavily on the CIA, President Reagan and his national security team began offloading many of those “political action” responsibilities to “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that operated in a more overt fashion and received funding from other U.S. government agencies.

But secrecy was still required for the involvement of these NGOs in the U.S. government’s strategies to bend the political will of targeted countries. If the “political action” of these NGOs were known, many countries would object to their presence; thus, the “secret” classification of the 1982 White House memos that I recently obtained via a “mandatory declassification review” from the archivists at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

In intelligence circles, “political action” refers to a wide range of activities to influence the policies and behaviors of foreign nations, from slanting their media coverage, to organizing and training opposition activists, even to setting the stage for “regime change.”

The newly declassified memos from the latter half of 1982 marked an ad hoc period of transition between the CIA scandals, which peaked in the 1970s, and the creation of more permanent institutions to carry out these semi-secretive functions, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was created in 1983.

Much of this effort was overseen by a senior CIA official, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to Reagan’s National Security Council’s staff where he managed a number of interagency task forces focused on “public diplomacy,” “psychological operations,” and “political action.”

Raymond, who had held top jobs in the CIA’s covert operations shop specializing in propaganda and disinformation, worked from the shadows inside Reagan’s White House, too. Raymond was rarely photographed although his portfolio of responsibilities was expansive. He brought into his orbit emerging “stars,” including Lt. Col. Oliver North (a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal), State Department propagandist (and now a leading neocon) Robert Kagan, and NED President Carl Gershman (who still heads NED with its $100 million budget).

Despite his camera avoidance, Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fit the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who controlled various high-powered inter-agency task forces.

Earlier declassified documents revealed that Raymond also was the conduit between CIA Director William J. Casey and these so-called “pro-democracy” programs that used sophisticated propaganda strategies to influence not only the thinking of foreign populations but the American people, too.

This history is relevant again now amid the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in last year’s U.S. presidential elections. If those allegations are true – and the U.S. government has still not presented any real proof  – the Russian motive would have been, in part, payback for Washington’s long history of playing games with the internal politics of Russia and other countries all across the planet.

A Fight for Money

The newly released memos describe bureaucratic discussions about funding levels for The Asia Foundation (TAF), with the only sensitive topic, to justify the “secret” stamp, being the reference to the U.S. government’s intent to exploit TAF’s programs for “political action” operations inside Asian countries.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey at the White House on Feb. 11, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Library)

Indeed, the opportunity for “political action” under TAF’s cover appeared to be the reason why Reagan’s budget cutters relented and agreed to restore funding to the foundation.

William Schneider Jr. of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Sept. 2, 1982 memo that the Budget Review Board (BRB) had axed TAF funding earlier in the year.

“When the BRB last considered this issue on March 29, 1982, it decided not to include funding in the budget for a U.S. Government grant to TAF. The Board’s decision was based on the judgement that given the limited resources available for international affairs programs, funding for the Foundation could not be justified. During that March 29 meeting, the State Department was given the opportunity to fund TAF within its existing budget, but would not agree to do so.”

However, as Schneider noted in the memo to Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, “I now understand that a proposal to continue U.S. funding for the Asia Foundation is included in the ‘political action’ initiatives being developed by the State Department and several other agencies.

“We will, of course, work with you to reconsider the relative priority of support for the Foundation as part of these initiatives keeping in mind, however, the need for identifying budget offsets.”

A prime mover behind this change of heart appeared to be Walter Raymond, who surely knew TAF’s earlier status as a CIA “proprietary.” In 1966, Ramparts magazine exposed that relationship and led the Johnson administration to terminate the CIA’s money.

According to an April 12, 1967 memo from the State Department’s historical archives, CIA Director Richard Helms, responding to a White House recommendation, “ordered that covert funding of The Asia Foundation (TAF) shall be terminated at the earliest practicable opportunity.”

In coordination with the CIA’s “disassociation,” TAF’s board released what the memo described as “a carefully limited statement of admission of past CIA support. In so doing the Trustees sought to delimit the effects of an anticipated exposure of Agency support by the American press and, if their statement or some future expose does not seriously impair TAF’s acceptability in Asia, to continue operating in Asia with overt private and official support.”

The CIA memo envisioned future funding from “overt U.S. Government grants” and requested guidance from the White House’s covert action oversight panel, the 303 Committee, for designation of someone “to whom TAF management should look for future guidance and direction with respect to United States Government interests.”

In 1982, with TAF’s funding again in jeopardy, the CIA’s Walter Raymond rallied to its defense from his NSC post. In an undated memo to McFarlane, Raymond recalled that “the Department of State underscored that TAF had made significant contributions to U.S. foreign policies through fostering democratic institutions and, as a private organization, had accomplished things which a government organization cannot do.” [Emphasis in original]

Raymond’s bureaucratic intervention worked. By late 1982, the Reagan administration had arranged for TAF’s fiscal 1984 funding to go through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) budget, which was being used to finance a range of President Reagan’s “democracy initiatives.” Raymond spelled out the arrangements in a Dec. 15, 1982 memo to National Security Advisor William Clark.

“The issue has been somewhat beclouded in the working levels at State since we have opted to fund all FY 84 democracy initiatives via the USIA budgetary submission,” Raymond wrote. “At the same time, it is essential State maintain its operational and management role with TAF.”

Over the ensuing three and half decades, TAF has continued to be  subsidized by U.S. and allied governments. According to its annual report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, TAF said it “is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, competitively bid awards from governmental and multilateral development agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and by private foundations and corporations,” a sum totaling $94.5 million.

TAF, which operates in 18 Asian countries, describes its purpose as “improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.” TAF’s press office had no immediate comment regarding the newly released Reagan-era documents.

Far From Alone

But TAF was far from alone as a private organization that functioned with U.S. government money and collaborated with U.S. officials in achieving Washington’s foreign policy goals.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

For instance, other documents from the Reagan library revealed that Freedom House, a prominent human rights organization, sought advice and direction from Casey and Raymond while advertising the group’s need for financial help.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that “Leo Cherne [another senior Freedom House official] has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available.”

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s and Raymond’s thinking when it came to the most effective ways to deliver the CIA’s hardline foreign policy message to the American people and to the international community.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House.

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote, “We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations. Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by USIA Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack group.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”

[For more on the Murdoch connection, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit.”]

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so in his words “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a permanent funding mechanism to support private organizations that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would be a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but added: “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate.”

document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

What the documents at the Reagan library make clear is that Raymond and Casey stayed active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism throughout its early years. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

Lots of Money

Since its founding, NED has ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to NGOs all over the world, focusing on training activists, building media outlets, and supporting civic organizations. In some geopolitical hotspots, NED may have scores of projects running at once, such as in Ukraine before the 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touched off the New Cold War with Russia. Via such methods, NED helped achieve the “political action” envisioned by Casey and Raymond.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

From the start, NED also became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (before the 2014 coup) and Russia.

NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing NGOs inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they try to crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce a law passed by the Russian parliament requiring Russian recipients of foreign political money to register with the government. Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The long history of the U.S. government interfering covertly or semi-covertly in the politics of countries all over the world is the ironic backdrop to the current frenzy over Russia-gate and Russia’s alleged dissemination of emails that undermined Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The allegations are denied by both Putin and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who published the Democratic emails – and the U.S. government has presented no solid evidence to support the accusations of “Russian meddling” – but if the charges are true, they could be seen as a case of turnabout as fair play.

Except in this case, U.S. officials, who have meddled ceaselessly with their “political action” operations in countries all over the world, don’t like even the chance that they could get a taste of their own medicine.

 

[Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).]

 

US-Funded NGO in Ecuador Accused of ‘Political Meddling’

TeleSUR

September 10, 2015

 

A composite image shows a number of tweets issued by Fundamedios that Ecuadorean official allege show the political nature of the work by the NGO.

A composite image shows a number of tweets issued by Fundamedios that Ecuadorean official allege show the political nature of the work by the NGO. | Photo: El Telegrafo

Ecuadorean officials allege that Fundamedios has engaged in “partisan political activities.”

The U.S.-funded non-governmental organization Fundamedios received notice that a state regulator in Ecuador has begun the process for the dissolution of the organization, saying the organization was not sticking to its mandate.

The National Secretariat of Communication, known as the Secom, claims that Fundamedios has deviated from its stated mission, intervening in political matters; something that is prohibited by Ecuadorean law and the organization’s own internal statutes.

Fundamedios says on its website that its “main task is to support media and journalists through its network of monitoring threats to freedom of expression and association.” The organization began its activity shortly after Rafael Correa took the presidency in 2007.

According to the Secom, Fundamedios engaged “partisan political activities” by sharing material on its social media accounts, publishing articles unrelated to its stated mission and inserting itself into political debates in the country.

On repeated occasions Fundamedios has declared its support for political organizations and personalities opposed to the government of Rafael Correa on matters completely unrelated to freedom of expression.

Decree 16, issued by the Ecuadorean government, states that organizations that deviate from their mission are subject to dissolution. The organization has 10 days to argue its case.

“Fundamedios is a political actor in this era that the country is living in,” Orlando Pérez, director of public newspaper El Telegrafo, told the Andes news agency.

However, in an interview with El Comercio, the organization’s director denied the charges, saying, “We did not deviate a millimeter from our statutes, we are fulfilling our objectives.”

Fundamedios’ Impartiality Questioned

The work of the organization mostly consists of issuing “alerts” regarding alleged attacks against journalists in Ecuador.

The organization is funded in part through a US$84,000 grant from the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy. U.S. Ambassor to Ecuador Adam Namm told El Telegrafo that Fundamedios received US$300,000 in 2012 from USAID, which receives its funds from the U.S. government.

In a press conference called to denounce the decision by the Secom, the director of Fundamedios, Cesar Ricaurte said that the decision to dissolve his organization constituted an “attack against the press.”

However, Ricaurte is openly hostile toward journalists who work for public media outlets, on one occasion calling a journalist an “agent of the state” who was guilty of “persecution” by virtue of her work for a public outlet.

Many of the alerts regarding alleged “attacks” on the press involve directives issued by a state regulatory agency known as the Supercom, which is tasked with ensuring that outlets respect Ecuadorean media laws. The law ensures that sensitive material is broadcast at appropriate times and that outlets report news accurately.

When media outlets contravene the law, Supercom has the authority to mandate the outlet comply by publishing corrections.

Fundamedios is also selective about the cases it chooses to champions, only coming to the aid of journalists who work for private media outlets and declining to support journalists who work for state-run media.

Several journalists were the victims of physical attacks by demonstrators during often-violent opposition protests that took place in Ecuador in August. The situation was so dire that several journalists called a press conference to denounce the attacks, Fundamedios declined to support these journalists and failed to issue any “alerts” regarding these aggressions.

The organization issued an “alert” over alleged attacks against Fernando Villavicencio, a former opposition politician now working as a journalist. Villavicencio was a fugitive from justice for over a year after being found guilty of slandering president Rafael Correa, accusing him of orchestrating the 2010 coup. Villavicencio was caught on camera physically assaulting Jose Luis Quinteros, a journalist with a public TV outlet. Fundamedios remained silent on this issue.

A number of other NGOs hostile to the government of Rafael Correa, such as Human Rights Watch and Freedom House, have come to the defense of Fundamedios.

Updates:

September 13, 2015:

Journalists in Ecuador Back Decision Against US-Funded NGO

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Journalists-in-Ecuador-Back-Decision-Against-US-Funded-NGO-20150913-0027.html

September 16, 2015:

Media Experts Criticize Ecuadorean NGO for Political Posturing

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Media-Experts-Criticize-Ecuadorean-NGO-for-Political-Posturing-20150916-0028.html

September 26, 2015:

US-Funded Media NGO Given Reprieve by Ecuadorean Authorities

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/US-Funded-Media-NGO-Given-Reprieve-by-Ecuadorean-Authorities-20150926-0015.html

Further reading:

March 12, 2015:

How the US Funds Dissent against Latin American Governments

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/How-the-US-Funds-Dissent-against-Latin-American-Governments-20150312-0006.html

Stranger Danger: The Infiltration of Dissident Communities by Freedom House’s Sarah Kendzior

Anti Social Media

 

Stranger Danger - Not A Game

I can forgive you if you can’t recognize a hustle when you see one, let alone identify when you yourself are being targeted by that very hustle. Con artists, after all, rely on your confidence and trust in order to get what they want from you.

Cons, however, are something I know a little bit about; I once made my living playing poker – a game where exploiting the confidence of your opponents is crucial to survival.  To win at poker, you need your opponents to have confidence in their own hands, to overestimate their odds against you and to believe so much in your weakness that they’ll actually put their own survival on the line against you – when, in fact, you’re actually in a position of strength. You want to “get it in good;” to manipulate your opponents to ensure that you do and then hope your odds hold up. There is no other way to win. Eventually, everyone has to go “down to the felt.”

In poker, recognizing the tricks, feints and gambits that your opponents use against you, as well as, of course – their “tells” – is an indelible part of the game. Constant observation is key to differentiating a trick from a tell and also discerning their meaning. After all, trusting the way an opponent presents oneself is never a good barometer of who they are or what they’re doing. The only thing one knows for sure is that everyone is an enemy. A good poker player, then, is always asking herself, “What does that mean? What is my opponent trying to tell me?”

Overwrought flattery, wry smiles, winks, trembling hands, a tremulous voice, belabored breathing, heavy sighs, the shuffling of chips and other tells (both deliberate and incidental) are all part of the mystifying tapestry collectively woven at a table that a player must rend – thread by perplexing, individual thread – if they’re intent on winning the game. The woman in the Cartier bracelet spinning yarns about her wealth may be overplaying a bad hand with the very last dollars to her name, while the guy with dirty fingernails in the grungy hoodie who hasn’t said shit all night is often a professional shark sitting on a monster hand and waiting for his chance to clean you out. It takes studied observation over time to identify who is trying to trick you and who is telling you information you can use to win.

Performance of identity is an integral aspect of poker itself – and that performance is all about deception. Who am I today? Am I presenting as the brash, overconfident rube – the backwards-hat-wearing frat boy that I’m not – but am performing in order to agitate my opponents so they go “on tilt?” Or am I really that asshole? Who is to tell? A good player will keep you guessing.

While deceit is an inextricable part of poker, poker players have agreed on certain parameters; secret collusion amongst players is forbidden, for example. Furthermore, the goal of the game is apparent to everyone playing at the outset: win the last pot and take home everyone else’s money. There’s no confusion there. That’s why everyone came to the table to begin with.

Activists and organizers who use Twitter or other social media tools as part of their strategy to organize against power aren’t so lucky. The myriad ideological or personal goals of the many players involved in this space aren’t openly agreed upon or even known and, in fact, they may actually be in very real conflict, even if they don’t seem so at first glance. Let’s face it – we’re not all here for the same reason. There are, as there always have been, strangers amongst us on the internet.

So, without conclusive evidence that a player in the game isn’t playing above board – that they may, in fact, be working against your interests – it’s crucial to consider the patterns of behavior and the results of those behaviors themselves rather than to speculate about the motives behind them. Of course, if a player at the table openly says they work for the fucking casino itself, it’s probably important to consider that information, too.

 

 

“All these scattered Uzbek dissidents began having blogs, began using social media, began having all these political conversations they’d never been able to have in a public space before and so I thought that was, you know, that was very interesting, and I wanted to continue to track that.– Sarah KendziorWe’re not playing a game, here, folks – this isn’t poker – and those who continue to treat online organizing as a game (or merely as something to paternalistically observe, “track” and comment on exclusively when it services their personal, career trajectory) put those of us arrayed against the state at very real risk. Their professional distance and detachment from struggle itself and their far-too-often, far-too-cavalier attitudes about our collective security (our reputations, our ideological coherence, our pseudonymity and our ability to effectively organize) should be cause enough for alarm.

This alarm, the spine-tingling feeling that something is amiss – that someone is out of place and is doling out social capital or public discipline to obscure that simple fact – is a phenomenon I’ll call “stranger danger.” If you’ve felt this feeling, a gut-wrenching unease I’ve felt about Sarah Kendzior for some time now, it’s time we actually heed that alarm.

Sarah Kendzior has consistently tugged on the heartstrings, flattered the egos and promised (or actually delivered) real, material aid to an entire cadre of misguided, naive and demonstrably dangerous flacks whose personal investment in the public artifice of “Sarah Kendzior” has too often led them to viciously slander anyone they deem a threat to her unassailable #brand. This brand investment, one that seemingly leads otherwise intelligent folks to abandon all critical reason, is something we need to constantly examine in these spaces and a task OLAASM always committed ourselves to exploring.

Members of “Generation Like,” it seems sadly, can now seemingly be bought off for trifles like “Retweets” or “Favs,” and this cheap dispensation of social capital has been Kendzior’s stock and trade as long as I’ve followed her on Twitter. If you are in her social media orbit and have been instrumentalized by Kendzior to defend her on this or any of the patternized occasions where she relied on others to help obscure her politics, I urge you to reflect on one question: is it possible you’ve been hustled? What did you get for it? How cheap was your own complicity for her purchase?

This shouldn’t be a cause for shame, of course. In Edward Bernays’ seminal text Propaganda, Bernays – the master manipulator – observes:

 

“If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway.”

 

Bernays continues:

 

“The group mind does not think in the strict sense of the word… In making up its mind, its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader.”

 

If Kendzior selected you for flattery, cajolery or any of the other promises a stranger will often use to curry your future favor – it probably means, as a propagandist, she has identified you as a “leader.” Don’t be ashamed. It’s a compliment! Of course it’s embarrassing to get fooled, but we all get hustled eventually. Every poker player has once been fooled and it’s almost always their own ego that fools them in the end.

This is, unfortunately, a demonstration of how power always operates: carrots are dispensed for the select few who play along, sticks are wielded against the recalcitrant masses – swung all the more harshly against those whose very existence alone threatens power the most. Kendzior’s recent, scurrilous and unprincipled attack on the character of Doug Williams should serve as a clarion call to anyone committed to using social media spaces toward collective organizing. The attacks on him have been unscrupulous lies and ignoring those lies in deference to her well-cultivated, essential “victimhood” seems now nothing but the boilerplate deflection tactic of a well-coordinated PR blitz.

We must confront this behavior – a well-documented history of gossip, slander and character assassination – before it hurts anyone else, or before it further impairs our ability to organize ourselves against the greatest power known in human history: the kyriarchy that maintains the US empire itself. To that end, it’s important to consider the source of so many left-bashings in this space herself – Sarah Kendzior.

How have I come to think Sarah Kendzior is a lynchpin in this always-left-obliterating superstructure of social capital dispensing/destroying Twitter fuckery? Why am I singling her out? Studied observation. Again, this isn’t my first poker game.

 

– – – –

 

I used to support Sarah Kendzior’s work. As Williams himself keenly observed recently in The New Inquiry, her “discourse is wrapped in the language of concern and the language of the ally.” This a seductive affectation for anyone who believes intercommunal solidarity is essential to all our struggles. It’s also effective simply because I fucking care and can be confused by others who seemingly do, too.

I have come, however, to see Kendzior’s adept use of this discourse as little more than “mirroring;” a fraudulent co-optation of language insidiously employed only to insinuate herself within dissident communities. This is all the more dangerous because it obscures her very dangerous, reactionary politics.

Remember: Sarah Kendzior is – by her own admission in a recent interview  – a professional infiltrator of online, dissident communities. Her extensive, PhD-level career training as an anthropologist itself may very well reinforce what Diane Lewis called Anthropology’s “professional exploitation of subject matter” that itself is “an academic manifestation of colonialism.”

What does Kendzior do to actually challenge – let alone subvert – this inherently colonial power dynamic in her field? As a white Western observer, reporting through the very real “white gaze”, Kendzior occasionally gestures at inclusivity in media. That’s nice. But let’s remember: she does this while occupying an elite-and-whiteness-enabled perch within mass media herself – and while also seemingly never deconstructing how she herself got to that position or stepping back from her own privilege in any way to actually make space for others.

Disagreeing with how she wields her inordinate privilege is one thing, of course, but it strains credulity to believe that someone who earned a PhD studying a Uzbek dissident group’s use of social media can continue to be the source of so much strife within our own, dissident online community without knowing exactly what she is doing. That an “awww, shucks” cacophony continues to accompany Kendzior’s near-constant, bad faith provocations in this space belie her obvious intelligence and abundant, scholarly training in this very field.

Kendzior has proven herself immensely capable of utilizing social media spaces and wielding them to serve her will, to promote her own work and those of others whose politics she wants centered. That Kendzior is, yet again, not to be held accountable for her lies, manipulations, smears, state-serving politics and neoconservative-think-tank-funded red-baiting because she is a “she,” is a perilous position for any radical to take. How are her politics and how she embodies them not to subject to the same scrutiny we’d give a Brandon Darby?

Further, regardless of whether the wreckage Kendzior consistently creates in her wake is a result of naive disregard or willful sabotage, it should still be enough to just look at the wreckage itself and move to distance ourselves from a very obvious wrecking ball. So, let’s look at that wreckage.

—–

 

The first time I became aware of Sarah Kendzior, she had written perhaps one of the most unethical, slanderous and unprofessional hatchet jobs ever posted, even to a mere blog. She got a lot of clicks for what is essentially little more than cherry-picked, blog-mining libel of another woman struggling to raise a family and share her own struggles. Kendzior decontextualized everything “Anarchist Soccer Mom” had written about over years of blogging, slapped it down under her own masthead to serve her own, finger-wagging narrative and essentially demanded her readers despise their author rather than empathize with her struggle. Is this the ethical stuff our media heroes are to be made of?

I don’t know anything about the subject of motherhood, so I didn’t really delve into it then – but what fascinates me now is not the subject of that kerfuffle itself, but rather how Kendzior responded to the inevitable pushback against her horrifyingly libelous screed:

 

The Mommy Blogger community has a threat problem...

Anonymous email threats. Go on an unethical, smeary attack – then retreat into the sanctity of unquestionable victimhood. Remember that. It might be relevant later.

So, I continued to follow Kendzior on Twitter, like some 31 thousand others, because she covers topics of interest to me and has a concise style that resonates there. It’s actually hard to avoid her in that space, so widespread is her reach. Anyway, I usually like smart people, particularly ones who seem to have an inclination toward leftist politics and (seem to) articulate the same. It wasn’t until May of 2014 that I was given real cause to suspect her politics weren’t at all what I had been led to believe they were.

On May 21, 2014 – the SEIU held a large demonstration at McDonald’s headquarters as part of their “Fight for Fifteen” campaign. That campaign, however, has taken real criticism from comrades like Scott Jay, who observed that while assuring “low-wage workers in Oakland, and elsewhere, are very likely going to get a long overdue raise,” the SEIU’s organizing tactics themselves seemed “to weaken such struggles and not further them.”

To compound suspicion, as the arrests themselves were unfolding that day, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry took to Twitter to thank police for their “diligence and service” in arresting workers! Labor historians don’t need to dig too deep to tell you that the police are the historical antagonist of collectivized, worker action. But as Jay had previously noted, it seemed obvious that SEIU was once again manufacturing “the veneer of struggle while limiting the power and political consequences of their actions.”

Enter Kendzior, who had written a middling, Jacob Riisian effort to propagandize the SEIU’s “Fight for Fifteen” campaign in April and hopped on Twitter to promote her previous work, as any brand manager might. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nobody took issue with her over boosting the minimum wage workers’ struggle while the SEIU action was unfolding. It’s an important fight and it’s good that it’s getting attention.

Then, as part of a series of tweets promoting her article from April (ostensibly to generate page-views in conjunction with the ongoing SEIU action that day), Kendzior tweeted this:

"Not All Corporations"

I’m not a scholar™ – but I’m pretty sure many of my comrades might take issue with this individualistic/moralistic pablum delivered as a grossly imprecise, absolutist pseudo-platitude. Criticism of the tweet was swift and ran the gamut from my own, “height of liberalism” riposte to more measured, anticapitalist exposition. What happened to the more engaging, left criticism – you might ask? Kendzior went on an immediate uninformed, disingenuous and eventually ad hominem attack:

Multi-generational, East Coast elite says worker only  supports "labor as an abstraction."

Now, I don’t know where Kendzior got the notion that “Emma Quangel” only supports “labor as an abstraction” or that disagreeing with Kendzior’s liberal assessment of corporations meant she did “not appear to support workers.” From my vantage point, both of these were bad faith attacks that grossly misrepresented Quangel’s position and cast doubt on her legitimacy as a worker. If I were Quangel, I would’ve been furious. This, of course, would only prove more absurd coming from Kendzior after I investigated her highly privileged background, but I digress. Glass houses and whatnot…

But this back-and-forth is when the “rape threat” of Jacobingazi legend apparently was emailed to Kendzior. Now, I’m not concerned with whether she got a threat or not. I imagine she did because she says she did and prominent women are continually harassed in ways meant to silence them. But I do want to address two things that weren’t adequately addressed during that Social Media upheaval.

First, what purpose would threatening Kendzior serve to anyone trying to actually get her to go on the record with what are clearly, at best, her atrocious liberal, “#NotAllCorporations” politics? Threats of violence are attempts to silence people. Nobody I know wants Kendzior silenced. I want to know exactly what her politics are – and threats of violence, particularly gender violence in this space – undeniably prevent that from happening.

Second, and this is important: by Kendzior’s own account, she received an “anonymous email.” Keep in mind that she had just written (in April) a piece uncritically lauding the SEIU’s “Fight for Fifteen” and was arguing on behalf of fast food workers when she was threatened. And yet immediately, she identified the source of the threat to who? “Brocialists”:

Mocking threats

Now, overlooking the “mocking” tone that Kendzior herself first employed above (for her own, political purposes), anyone with even a cursory understanding of counterintelligence knows that “anonymous letters” were the bread and butter of the US’ COINTELPRO operations against domestic dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s. I’d be hard-pressed to imagine similar strategies aren’t at work today in these spaces. Kendzior, however, a PhD whose focus was on Uzbek dissidents using social media, took the allegedly leftist (anonymous) author at their word and began mocking “brocialists.” And that was that. A star was born.

The “left” now had a wholly manufactured “rape threat” problem (which, of course it does have – because the world has a rape problem), despite the utter impossibility of assigning an anonymous email to anyone (of any political ideology) at all. And, despite giving her space, nobody ever got Kendzior to further articulate her “not all corporations” inanity. Then “Bro Bash” was published and the shitstorm of lies went “full tilt.”

Why nobody stopped to ask how anyone knew the rape threat had emanated from a leftist, I’ll never know. What I do know is that I observed, dishearteningly, as many organizers and activists stoked fires of outrage against my hated/beloved “left” over an anonymous, wholly-unsourceable email. At the outset, assigning it to a “brocialist” was unverifiable. This, of course, was the first thing that rang my “stranger danger” alarms about Kendzior. It didn’t (and still doesn’t) add up.

So I started doing research and kept paying attention.

– – – –

 

“The performative anti-sexist is certainly capable of learning and navigating those very same grammars to his advantage. It’s many a “good leftist guy” who has done all the reading, learned all the terminology, and used it as evidence of his harmlessness.” – Amber A’Lee Frost, Bro Bash

 

Having now seen a few of Kendzior’s “tells” up close, I stepped back. I observed. At Molly Crabapple’s private urgings, I publicly denounced “rape threats.” (Who wouldn’t?) But as I sat back and watched, I thought a lot about Frost’s words: “capable of learning and navigating those very same grammars” struck me as particularly significant. I wondered if they could be applied to other folks touring in anti-oppression communities. Scholars? Activist Journalists? Over-hyped doodlers?

I kept an eye on the Celebrity Left and, as always, engaged them – as I would and have anyone, really – whenever their rhetoric struck a discordant note. The way radical language and ideas are churned up by power, stripped of their revolutionary potential, sanitized and then redeployed by liberals has always interested me, so I pay attention to it. Further, any “anarchist” can tell you what it’s like to spar with “Libertarians” or “Anarcho-Capitalists” who continue to encroach on our identifying words, “Libertarian Socialism” and “Anarchism.” It’s a constant struggle against the churning machine of appropriation.

Then in early August, Mike Brown was brutally murdered by the pigs in Ferguson and the people rose up. I hate cops, so I paid rapt attention.

Doug Williams, the target of Kendzior’s most recent libel, apparently noticed some of the same things I saw as events unfolded in Missouri. Kendzior (among many others, to be sure) dropped any pretense of gesturing at leftism and began parroting dangerous, historically racist language and even cited white supremacist websites to back her claims. She “othered” anarchists, exposing my comrades to more scrutiny by the hyper-violent state (and the self-appointed “peace police”) at a time when the focus should’ve been wholly on the cops and the white supremacist system they undoubtedly serve.

Williams, of course, openly addressed similar concerns in both Jacobin and The New Inquiry. So as Kendzior wrote “After Ferguson,” sang “We Shall Overcome” and ushered folks into her friend Antonio French’s Democratic Party Premature Healing Campaign while National Guard soldiers still patrolled its streets, Williams articulated observations I myself could all but stammer angrily on Twitter.

In Love Me, I’m A Liberal, he wrote:

 

As seen in the responses to Ferguson, many liberals today excel at aping leftist aesthetics in order to earn trust into a community while simultaneously resurrecting anti-leftist slurs like “outside agitator.” They pulverize words like “intersectionality” into a meaningless oblivion, and turn them into signals that, yes, they have also taken a Sociology 201 class. They “get it.”

 

Williams’ words reminded me, almost immediately, of Frost’s “performative anti-sexist,” only with Kendzior “aping leftist aesthetics in order to earn trust into a community” instead of a “good leftist guy.” Could Kendzior be “capable of learning and navigating those very same grammars” in order to insinuate herself into our dissident communities, online and in Ferguson? Well. Isn’t that exactly what her PhD trained her to do?

I think now, upon further study, that Kendzior’s knee-jerk reversion to state-supporting narratives at the height of the rebellion in Ferguson betrayed her neoconservative, colonial tourism that is otherwise so expertly swaddled in left-gesturing niceties. This is of concern to me, because as Williams observed in Nothing Short of A Revolution, I agree that:

 

Language matters. The forces of reaction, repression, and revanchism have long understood this, and they have used it to their advantage. Let us use our own language, that of liberation, working-class power, and revolution, to ensure that Michael Brown’s death was not in vain.

Sarah Kendzior knows language matters. She’s a PhD who had to learn a relatively obscure, Central Asian language out of necessity during the course of her studies in order to gain access to Uzbek dissidents on social media. She hails from a long line of Ivy-educated, Connecticut Yankees who have had important, government careers defending police from charges of wrongdoing and murder. Her grandfather worked for Wendell Willkie, the founder of Freedom House – a notorious, neoconservative NGO Kendzior would later work for that was expressly founded to propagandize US imperial adventures… Wait, what?

%22Opportunistic Communist%22 torch

Yup. Sarah Kendzior, who openly bashed communists in Ferguson worked for Freedom House, an organization that “took up the struggle against the… great twentieth century totalitarian threat, Communism” and is widely considered “a flak producing machine”, “an infamous CIA/State Department outfit” and “nothing but a façade for the special services of the United States.”

Is it possible she’s learned our radical Twitter language, too? Mastered hip, liberal white feminist “intersectionality” to either study it or destroy it, or just use it as a tool to further her career as a colonial observer? I can’t imagine leftist Twitter jargon is as difficult to learn as Uzbek, is it?

Now know this: I don’t want any harm to come to Sarah Kendzior of any kind and I definitely don’t want her “silenced.” I want her to actually start talking. As Joe Macaré has said, “be accountable.” If the damage she has done was accidental, she could start by apologizing to the hardworking comrades she has smeared relentlessly for the past year and acknowledge the issues raised above. She could start with Doug Williams and work her way back to Jacobingazi.

She could explain how working for Freedom House didn’t challenge her ethics, but writing under revised editorial guidelines at Al Jazeera did. She could address working for Freedom House at all. She could articulate any politics whatsoever other than a general, progressive headnod. She could explain what “Not All Corporations” means. She could explain why she linked to white supremacist website to smear communist organizers. She could explain why she seems so driven to get on to the healing in Ferguson, despite Gary Younge’s observation after the Zimmerman verdict that “Those who now fear violent social disorder must ask themselves whose interests are served by a violent social order in which young black men can be thus slain and discarded.”

She could do all of this, but I doubt she will. Because she isn’t a part of our community and doesn’t feel a need to be accountable to it. Because it isn’t “infighting” if you’re questioning the political opportunism of a libel-spewing neocon. And her neoconartist brand has not yet once apologized for any of its abuses.

And if she won’t be more forthright, the wreckage she has created and the troubling fact that she has openly played for the casino itself is enough for me to cash out of this game and to tell all my comrades to avoid playing with her or anyone who continues to play with her. Is she a paid, government provocateur? I can’t say for sure. But I, for one, won’t get hustled by someone playing at the table with house money. I know those are terrible odds.

It’s not a game.

ERITREA: The Modern Day Carpetbaggers and Scalawags-Final

From Where I Sit…

September 13, 2014

Sophia Tesfamariam

On 5-7 September 2014 Jay Taber’s Counterpunch article, “Imperial Civil Society, False Fronts for Wall Street”, Taber writes about “compromised NGOs” such as Avaaz and Amnesty International, the foundations and other entities that fund them,  and how they have become “imperial civil society” cow towing to Wall Street, and being used to “justify privatization, austerity, and military aggression by NATO and the US”.

In his article, Taber writes about the relationship between these international NGOs, Corporate America and the Government. The two salient points presented are:

  1. “…With corporate and government funding, often laundered through banks and foundations, international NGOs inspire pathos by constantly producing images of despair—thus allowing them to dominate discourse from an emotional vantage point. As a market-oriented institutional apparatus, this vast bureaucracy works hand in hand with military and finance authorities, thus functioning as Trojan horses on a par with transnational organized crime…As a fifth column of fascism, imperial civil society – funded by such entities as Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Ford Foundation, and Soros Open Society Institute – operates worldwide (in tandem with official false fronts like USAID, National Endowment for Democracy, and U.S. Institute for Peace) to subvert sovereignty and derail democracy in favor of US hegemony…”
  1. “…Overthrowing and destabilizing governments, using NGOs like Avaaz as provocateurs, puts authentic non-profits and journalists at risk. Indeed, the imperial network of financiers like Soros makes NGO entrepreneurs in the pro-war champagne circuit accomplices in crimes against humanity. As frontline opportunists in the psywar waged against public consciousness, these false fronts legitimate “humanitarian warfare” and “free-market environmentalism,” employed against indigenous peoples and independent states…”

So the reader might be asking what or how that has anything into do with Eritrea and in this sitting, the author will present the facts and allow the readers to make their own determinations…

The Carpetbaggers

Carpetbaggers and Scalwags collage 2The bulk of the articles, reports, books that advance the narrative on Eritrea disseminated through academia, media and policy making institutions in the United States and Europe have been generated by a handful of individuals and the “NGOs” that they are associated with. There may be others, but these are the repeat offenders…and the “wonks” who have made Eritrea their forte-lucrative one at that…and who work and collaborate with each other on the Eritrean Project…

  • Tricia Redeker Hepner– Funded by the Social Science Research Council and the Wenner-Gren Foundation began her research of Eritreans in the Philadelphia area and today, as Eritrea expert at Amnesty International has been at the forefront of the anti-Eritrea campaign. Her involvement with Eritrean politics is fishy from the get go. How is it that a young American college graduate on her very first trip to Eritrea finds herself entangled in Eritrean politics?
  • Dan Connell– Grassroots international, RootsNet and the Cape Ann Forum and Freedom House-Recipient of several grants including the MacArthur Foundation. This is the same Foundation that funds Human Rights Watch and other “NGOs”.
  • Frank Smyth-Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ)-Too numerous to list here-Annual Report[1] has details of the individuals and corporations that fund this outfit-with Dan Connell, is a staple in the Eritrean political scene
  • David Bozzini-self professed expert on Eritrea- Funded by the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, which is funded by the federal and the 16 state governments of Germany
  • Victoria Bernal– Bernal has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from Wenner-Gren, Fulbright, the Rockefeller Foundation and others
  • Maryan Van Reisen-European External Policy Advisors (EEPA)-self professed expert on Eritrea-Clients include the European Parliament, various organs of the UN, various NGOs[2] including Caritas, Human Rights Watch, Action Aid, Save the Children etc. etc. Might explain the reluctance of the UN to conduct an independent investigation into the trafficking of Eritrea’s youth. As we shall see later, Van Reisen, like her counterparts, also has an interest in prolonging the agony of asylum seekers and Eritrean migrants.
  • Jennifer Riggan-Came to Eritrea through the Peace Corps as an “English Teacher” in 1995-but now is an expert on Eritrea, and like the others “prepares affidavits and testifies on behalf of asylum seekers. Eritrea’s education system is her main target
  • Sara Dorman-Came to Eritrea as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Asmara.  The new graduate claims “They needed a political scientist and I needed a job. It seemed like a great way to bridge the transition from student-hood to the real world”.  Today, she “studies” the behavior of Eritreans in social media and judging from the papers produced about Eritrea in the past, she will insist on painting a bleak picture of Eritrea and its leadership.
  • Kjetil Tronvoll-A Norwegian researcher with the  Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights (OCPHR) is in a new “Struggle for Freedom in Eritrea”, and has worked closely with the EQL-His papers, books and articles on Eritrea are too numerous to list here. He is also one of the first western anthropologist to enter Eritrea in 1991-to conduct “research”. An avowed anti-EPLF westerner, he insists on defining Eritrea and the needs of her people.

Those who have followed developments in Africa and especially the Horn of Africa for the last 25 years are familiar with these agencies and their “work” in Africa, but none has experienced as an aggressive campaign by groups funded by the “false fronts”, as the State of Eritrea and its people…(Zimbabawe comes close)

The carpetbaggers, dual hatted researchers, “anthropologists” by day, and “hired intellectuals” by night, have become a staple at every conference, forum, meeting, seminar, workshop etc. held about Eritrea. The many “by invitation only” conferences and presentations are made at academic institutions and forums and are never known with the Eritrean people in Eritrea or in the Diaspora. The idea is to “sensitize” the American and European public so that any actions of their governments will then become easily accepted.

Sometimes, one gets the feeling that Eritrea is a European state… as those around the table are almost always Caucasians, with the members of the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL) serving as the “Eritrean faces”. Most of the papers are placed in “academic journals” and other repositories not easily accessible to the general public, and if they were, the Eritrean public was not aware of their existence. Heck, even the Eritrean Studies Association is run by scalawags and carpetbaggers…hence its slow demise.

Matthew McClearn of the Canadian Business Magazine Attacks Eritrea – White Washes Slavery

In Depth Africa, Zimbabwe

April 30, 2014

By Sophia Tesfamariam,

Who is this Matthew McClearn and what is it that he presumes to know about Eritrea, the people and leadership? Labeling their hard work and sacrifice as “slavery”, a term used only by those who want to white wash slavery and all that it entails, says more about him than it does about Eritrea or her people.

http://i1.wp.com/www.tesfanews.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/the-slaves-of-eritrea.jpg

The gallant Eritrean young men and women are not slaves and should never be labeled as such-by anyone, least of all by those responsible for the decades long pain and suffering of the Eritrean people.

WHEN an acquaintance at the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry sent me an advance copy of the article, “The Slaves of Eritrea”, written by Matthew McClearn for the Canadian Business Magazine (understand he also sent a copy to the Canadian Embassy in Ethiopia), I did not find anything new… at least not something worth sharing. My acquaintance labeled the journalist as another “dedeb ferenji” – dumb foreigner – taken for a ride by the Woyane regime. I disagree with that label. I believe Matthew McClearn knew what he was writing and should be held to account by “every tax-paying Canadian citizen”.

The article’s intentions are transparent and McClearn is certainly not doing this because he gives a hoot about Eritrea’s youth, rather, he seems to be doing the bidding on behalf of the minority regime in Ethiopia and others who are intent on vilifying the government of Eritrea and its people for ulterior political agendas.

It should be recalled that a recent document leaked by from the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry calls for an increase in anti-Eritrea propaganda and activities to strengthen the illegal sanctions against Eritrea. Eritrea’s mining sector has been targeted by the regime in Ethiopia and its handlers who have left no stones unturned to stop its development. McClearn attempts to use unsuspecting “tax paying Canadian citizens” to do its bidding by claiming they are profiting from “slavery in a far off land”.

USAID Subversion in Latin America Not Limited to Cuba

Che-Guevara-Cuba-Drawings-On-The-Wall-Graffiti-720x1280

cepr

April 4, 2014

by Dan Beeton

A new investigation by the Associated Press into a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project to create a Twitter-style social media network in Cuba has received a lot of attention this week, with the news trending on the actual Twitter for much of the day yesterday when the story broke, and eliciting comment from various members of Congress and other policy makers. The “ZunZuneo” project, which AP reports was “aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government,” was overseen by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). AP describes OTI as “a division that was created after the fall of the Soviet Union to promote U.S. interests in quickly changing political environments — without the usual red tape.” Its efforts to undermine the Cuban government are not unusual, however, considering the organization’s track record in other countries in the region.

As CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot described in an interview with radio station KPFA’s “Letters and Politics” yesterday, USAID and OTI in particular have engaged in various efforts to undermine the democratically-elected governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Haiti, among others, and such “open societies” could be more likely to be impacted by such activities than Cuba. Declassified U.S. government documents show that USAID’s OTI in Venezuela played a central role in funding and working with groups and individuals following the short-lived 2002 coup d’etat against Hugo Chávez. A key contractor for USAID/OTI in that effort has been Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI).

More recent State Department cables made public by Wikileaks reveal that USAID/OTI subversion in Venezuela extended into the Obama administration era (until 2010, when funded for OTI in Venezuela appears to have ended), and DAI continued to play an important role. A State Department cable from November 2006 explains the U.S. embassy’s strategy in Venezuela and how USAID/OTI “activities support [the] strategy”:

(S) In August of 2004, Ambassador outlined the country team’s 5 point strategy to guide embassy activities in Venezuela for the period 2004 ) 2006 (specifically, from the referendum to the 2006 presidential elections). The strategy’s focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.

Among the ways in which USAID/OTI have supported the strategy is through the funding and training of protest groups. This August 2009 cable cites the head of USAID/OTI contractor DAI’s Venezuela office Eduardo Fernandez as saying, during 2009 protests, that all the protest organizers are DAI grantees:

¶5. (S) Fernandez told DCM Caulfield that he believed the [the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Corps’] dual objective is to obtain information regarding DAI’s grantees and to cut off their funding. Fernandez said that “the streets are hot,” referring to growing protests against Chavez’s efforts to consolidate power, and “all these people (organizing the protests) are our grantees.” Fernandez has been leading non-partisan training and grant programs since 2004 for DAI in Venezuela.”

The November 2006 cable describes an example of USAID/OTI partners in Venezuela “shut[ting] down [a] city”:

11. (S) CECAVID: This project supported an NGO working with women in the informal sectors of Barquisimeto, the 5th largest city in Venezuela. The training helped them negotiate with city government to provide better working conditions. After initially agreeing to the women’s conditions, the city government reneged and the women shut down the city for 2 days forcing the mayor to return to the bargaining table. This project is now being replicated in another area of Venezuela.

The implications for the current situation in Venezuela are obvious, unless we are to assume that such activities have ended despite the tens of millions of dollars in USAID funds designated for Venezuela, some of it going through organizations such as Freedom House, and the International Republican Institute, some of which also funded groups involved in the 2002 coup (which prominent IRI staff publicly applauded at the time).

The same November 2006 cable notes that one OTI program goal is to bolster international support for the opposition:

…DAI has brought dozens of international leaders to Venezuela, university professors, NGO members, and political leaders to participate in workshops and seminars, who then return to their countries with a better understanding of the Venezuelan reality and as stronger advocates for the Venezuelan opposition.

Many of the thousands of cables originating from the U.S. embassy in Caracas that have been made available by Wikileaks describe regular communication and coordination with prominent opposition leaders and groups. One particular favorite has been the NGO Súmate and its leader Maria Corina Machado, who has made headlines over the past two months for her role in the protest movement. The cables show that Machado historically has taken more extreme positions than some other opposition leaders, and the embassy has at least privately questioned Súmate’s strategy of discrediting Venezuela’s electoral system which in turn has contributed to opposition defeats at the polls (most notably in 2005 when an opposition boycott led to complete Chavista domination of the National Assembly). The current protests are no different; Machado and Leopoldo López launched “La Salida” campaign at the end of January with its stated goal of forcing president Nicolás Maduro from office, and vowing to “create chaos in the streets.”

USAID support for destabilization is no secret to the targeted governments. In September 2008, in the midst of a violent, racist and pro-secessionist campaign against the democratically-elected government of Evo Morales in Bolivia, Morales expelled the U.S. Ambassador, and Venezuela followed suit “in solidarity.” Bolivia would later end all USAID involvement in Bolivia after the agency refused to disclose whom it was funding in the country (Freedom of Information Act requests had been independently filed but were not answered).  The U.S. embassy in Bolivia had previously been caught asking Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright scholars in the country to engage in espionage.

Commenting on the failed USAID/OTI ZunZuneo program in Cuba, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) commented that, “That is not what USAID should be doing[.] USAID is flying the American flag and should be recognized around the globe as an honest broker of doing good. If they start participating in covert, subversive activities, the credibility of the United States is diminished.”

But USAID’s track record of engaging in subversive activities is a long one, and U.S. credibility as an “honest broker” was lost many years ago.

How Oppositionist Organizations Act Worldwide – From Egypt to Venezuela

The American Revolution

The American Revolution (June 18, 2012)  | Written by Natalia Viana of Pública | Republished in English on the website  In Serbia by Vladimir Stoiljkovic on  Nov 24, 2013.

[*This article has been translated by a volunteer translator. Read the original article in Portuguese here. ]

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In one of the Wikileaks leakage – in which Pública (not-for-profit investigative journalism center in Brazil, founded by a team of women journalists) had access – shows the founder of this organization communicating often with analysts from Stratfor, an organization that mixes journalism, political analysis and espionage methods to sell “intel analysis” to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical – who monitored environmentalists’ activities who opposed them – as well as U.S. Navy.

Greenbacks for Blue Buckets: USAID Support for Instability in Russia

Strategic Culture Foundation

January 13, 2014

By Wayne Madsen

One «themed revolution», for which the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its allied operatives of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the George Soros Open Society Institute have become so infamous, went virtually unnoticed in the English language Western media.

In 2010, anti-Russian government provocateurs, financed by Western non-governmental organizations (NGOs), staged a number of protests featuring plastic blue buckets. The buckets were meant to symbolize the portable flashing blue lights, known in Russian as migalki, used atop many vehicles for Russian VIPs, including government officials and private businessmen.

The themed blue bucket protests were directly linked to the «pro-democracy» activities of USAID in Russia. American-backed provocateurs began placing blue buckets on top of their cars to mock the use of blue lights by officials. In response, three parties represented in the State Duma, United Russia, A Just Russia, and the Liberal Democratic Party, proposed a bill to crack down on the use of the blue buckets by protesters who were intent on causing traffic problems, sometimes resulting in vehicle accidents.

U.S. NGO support for the «blue bucket» revolution preceded by a year the nomination by President Barack Obama of anti-Russian activist Michael McFaul as the U.S. ambassador to Russia. McFaul began his tenure in Moscow by opening up the U.S. embassy to all sorts of anti-Russian political activists, provocateurs, and troublemakers.

Getting It Right: Hugo Chávez and the “Arab Spring”

Zero Anthropology

April 14,  2013

by Maximilian Forte

 

“The new Libya has apparently placed racist atrocity in the pantheon of “human rights.” All those who wash their mouths with terms like “genocide prevention” have apparently left the room. With a new Libya come new spelling conventions: the correct way to spell “oppression” is now liberation. What part of this Arab Spring do you support?”

 

chavezgaddafi

Some opening vignettes might set the right tone for properly appreciating the question of “who was right” about the so-called Arab Spring. (The notion of there having been an “Arab Spring,” a term first coined by U.S. neoconservatives such as Charles Krauthammer back in 2005, is one that has been subject to radically diverse interpretations, from marking in generic terms some sort of struggle for “freedom” and “democracy” [as if there is only one kind of democracy], to views of a covertly directed process of U.S. political intervention, and direct military intervention. Nonetheless, this article is aimed at those who, even now, are still enchanted with the positive aura of the Arab Spring idea.) As usual, my focus will be on Libya.