Glenn Greenwald, a journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, and author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, has been working with NBC News in publishing a series of articles on how covert government agents infiltrate the Internet to “manipulate, deceive, and destroy reputations.”
The information is based on documents leaked by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald’s article, How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations, is based on four classified documents produced by the British spy agency GCHQ, and presented to the NSA and three other English speaking agencies reportedly part of “The Five Eyes Alliance.”
In this shocking piece, Greenwald publishes a copy of a spy training manual used entitled: “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.” Greenwald writes that agencies like the NSA are “attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.” Greenwald writes:
Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.
While this kind of counter-intelligence activity may not sound surprising given the objectives of spy agencies going after terrorists, what disturbs Greenwald (and many others) is that the discussion regarding these techniques have been greatly expanded to include the general public:
Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.
The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes.
No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption.
And while these leaked documents concern the British spy agency, Greenwald is quick to point out that the Obama administration has actually been open and forward about using such techniques in the U.S.:
Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-“independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.
Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House, one that – while disputing key NSA claims – proceeded to propose many cosmetic reforms to the agency’s powers (most of which were ignored by the President who appointed them).
Trolls Used by Big Pharma to Attack Vaccine Objectors
Have you ever been on an Internet forum, blog, or Facebook Page where all of a sudden, out of nowhere, several people appear to contradict the main topic being discussed, especially if it is regarding a controversial topic like vaccines? Well it is entirely possible, and even likely, that it is not coincidence, and that it is a well-coordinated attack by “trolls”. As Greenwald reveals in his recently published article, there are definitely programs in place in government spy agencies to do just that.
This tactic of trained trolls can be used by those outside of government also, and Big Pharma seems to be one business sector that employs this tactic as well, especially targeting publishers who report on the dangers of vaccines.
Of course it should also be pointed out that the distinction between the government and the pharmaceutical industry is a very hazy one. As we have pointed out several times in the past, the vaccine industry cannot survive in a free market, but needs the government to prop them up. In the 1980s there were so many lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for vaccine damages, that the vaccine industry blackmailed Congress by threatening to get out of the vaccine business unless they passed legislation protecting them from lawsuits. Congress obliged, and legislation was passed preventing the public from suing pharmaceutical companies for damages due to vaccines, and this law was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011. The pharmaceutical industry now has a free pass to put as many vaccines into the market place as they want to, regardless of efficacy or dangerous side effects, since there is no accountability left in the judicial system.
Today, the pharmaceutical industry is practically a branch of the government. The government awards grants from your tax dollars to research new vaccines, the FDA approves them, and then government organizations like the CDC and UNICEF purchase the vaccines with your tax dollars. The CDC even holds patents and earns royalties on vaccines, and many of the top scientists work for both the government and the pharmaceutical companies. Julie Gerberding, for example, was the head of the CDC from 2002 to 2009, and then took over as head of the pharmaceutical company Merck’s vaccine division overseeing billions of dollars in sales. The government definitely has a vested interest in protecting the vaccine market.
So it should surprise no one that there are coordinated efforts to infiltrate and discredit those who publish the truth about vaccines, which may lead to fewer people wanting to purchase or receive them.
Consider the following comments appearing on a blog post from a pro-Pharma site discussing how to target sites and Facebook Pages who publish the alternative view of vaccines. Advice is given on how to infiltrate and flood discussions about vaccines by pretending to be victims of diseases because they failed to get vaccinated. I am not going to mention the name of the website and give them publicity, but it has already been established that this site is financed by those with clear ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Here are some comments that appeared in a blog post that was trying to convince readers that outbreaks of diseases were due to “anti-vaccinationists”:
Use emotional warfare on anti-vax blogs. Tell emotional stories full of tears and sobbing and unbearable grief and terror, about people in your own family or people you read about, who were sick with or died of terrible diseases. Don’t hold back details about bodily fluids and suchlike: the more gross the better. This stuff has a way of infiltrating the minds of readers and subtly influencing their decisions, in a manner similar to advertising.’
‘Go in there and “agree with them” and then say things that appear thoroughly delusional, overtly nuts, blatantly and obviously wrong even to nincompoops, etc. Occasional spelling and grammar errors are also useful but don’t over-do. The point of this exercise is to create an impression that drives away undecideds who may come in to check out these sites. It helps to do this as a group effort and begin gradually, so the sites appear to be “going downhill slowly.”‘
‘But it is useful to have an email address that can’t be traced back, for certain legitimate and ethical uses, just as it is useful to have a mail box at say the UPS store.’ …