Sunday, July 23, 2017

Today's Links

Russiagate--New frontiers of state propaganda--USG takes a more activist role in disseminating fake news that promotes geopolitical interests


QUOTE FROM BUZZFEED: The new law would give sweeping powers to the government to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. “It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”

An amendment tagged on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 would allow for the United States government to create and distribute pro-American propaganda within the country’s own borders....Such material may be made available within the United States and disseminated, when appropriate, pursuant to sections 502 and 1005 of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1462 and 1437), except that nothing in this section may be construed to authorize the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors to disseminate within the United States any program material prepared for dissemination abroad on or before the effective date of section 1078 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s long term effort to control the news, has shifted into overdrive.

Our enemies are using foreign propaganda and disinformation against us and our allies, and so far the U.S. government has been asleep at the wheel,” Portman said. “But today, the United States has taken a critical step towards confronting the extensive, and destabilizing, foreign propaganda and disinformation operations being waged against us by our enemies overseas. With this bill now law, we are finally signaling that enough is enough; the United States will no longer sit on the sidelines. We are going to confront this threat head-on. I am confident that, with the help of this bipartisan bill, the disinformation and propaganda used against us, our allies, and our interests will fail.”



1--(archive) The NDAA Legalizes The Use Of Propaganda On The US Public


The newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes an amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on the American public, reports Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed.

The amendment — proposed by Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and passed in the House last Friday afternoon — would effectively nullify the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at influencing U.S. public opinion.


Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, who released a highly critical report regarding the distortion of truth by senior military officials in Iraq and Afghanistan, dedicated a section of his report to Information Operations (IO) and states that after Desert Storm the military wanted to transform IO "into a core military competency on a par with air, ground, maritime and special operations."


Davis defines IO as "the integrated employment of electronic warfare (EW), computer network operations (CNO), psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), and operations security (OPSEC), in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own."

IO are primarily used to target foreign audiences, but Davis cites numerous senior leaders who want to (in the words of  Colonel Richard B. Leap) "protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will" by repealing the Smith-Mundt Act to allow the direct deployment of these tactics on the American public.


Davis quotes Brigadier General Ralph O. Baker — the Pentagon officer responsible for the Department of Defense’s Joint Force Development (i.e. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) — who defines IO as activities undertaken to "shape the essential narrative of a conflict or situation and thus affect the attitudes and behaviors of the targeted audience" and equates descriptions of combat operations with standard marketing strategies: 


For years, commercial advertisers have based their advertisement strategies on the premise that there is a positive correlation between the number of times a consumer is exposed to product advertisement and that consumer’s inclination to sample the new product. The very same principle applies to how we influence our target audiences when we conduct COIN.


Davis subsequently explains the "cumulative failure of our nation’s major media in every category" as they continually interviewed only those senior U.S. officials who had top-level access, even as the officials given that clearance were required to stick to "talking points" given to them by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.


If the NDAA goes into effect in its current form, the State Department and Pentagon can go beyond manipulating mainstream media outlets and directly disseminate campaigns of misinformation to the U.S. public.


2--Congressmen Seek To Lift Propaganda Ban

Propaganda that was supposed to target foreigners could now be aimed at Americans, reversing a longstanding policy. "Disconcerting and dangerous," says Shank....


“I just don’t want to see something this significant – whatever the pros and cons – go through without anyone noticing,”
“ says one source on the Hill, who is disturbed by the law. According to this source, the law would allow "U.S. propaganda intended to influence foreign audiences to be used on the domestic population."

The new law would give sweeping powers to the government to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. “It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”
According to this official, “senior public affairs” officers within the Department of Defense want to “get rid” of Smith-Mundt and other restrictions because it prevents information activities designed to prop up unpopular policies—like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Critics of the bill point out that there was rigorous debate when Smith Mundt passed, and the fact that this is so “under the radar,” as the Pentagon official puts it, is troubling.
The Pentagon spends some $4 billion a year to sway public opinion already, and it was recently revealed by USA Today the DoD spent $202 million on information operations in Iraq and Afghanistan last year. ...

In December, the Pentagon used software to monitor the Twitter debate over Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing; another program being developed by the Pentagon would design software to create “sock puppets” on social media outlets; and, last year, General William Caldwell, deployed an information operations team under his command that had been trained in psychological operations to influence visiting American politicians to Kabul.

A U.S. Army whistleblower, Lieutenant Col. Daniel Davis, noted recently in his scathing 84-page unclassified report on Afghanistan that there remains a strong desire within the defense establishment “to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to "protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will," he wrote, quoting a well-regarded general.
The defense bill passed the House Friday afternoon.

3--U.S. Government Repeals Ban - Opens Floodgate to Mass Agitprop Meant for Domestic Consumption

One thing is crystal clear though, the blurring of the lines between truth and agitprop will now become even more opaque for an American audience that, for whatever reason, doesn't really make too much of an effort to stay informed. The potential for government misuse here is substantial. To me, it's just another in a series of concerted, subtle efforts by the U.S. government to control the retail dissemination of information in America.

4--Turley on Hastings--"a new law would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public.” " archive 


The upshot, at times, is the Department of Defense using the same tools on U.S. citizens as on a hostile, foreign, population.


Hastings says that “the new law would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public.” One Pentagon official who is concerned about the amendment told Hastings, “It removes the protection for Americans. It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.” The official added that there are “senior public affairs” officers in the Department of Defense who would like to “get rid” of the Smith-Mundt Act “and other restrictions because it prevents information activities designed to prop up unpopular policies—like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”...


Michael Hastings:
The evaporation of Smith-Mundt and other provisions to safeguard U.S. citizens against government propaganda campaigns is part of a larger trend within the diplomatic and military establishment.
In December, the Pentagon used software to monitor the Twitter debate over Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing; another program being developed by the Pentagon would design software to create “sock puppets” on social media outlets; and, last year, General William Caldwell, deployed an information operations team under his command that had been trained in psychological operations to influence visiting American politicians to Kabul.

5--CIA Will Now Openly Propagandize Americans

“Among the chief executives who helped the CIA were William Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time, Arthur Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier-Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service,” write Amy Goodman and David Goodman in Unreality TV, The Mighty Wurlitzer, Hijacking Public Media, a chapter from the book Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back. “The leading TV networks, including ABC and NBC, and the wire services-AP, UPI, Reuters, along with Hearst Newspapers, Scripps Howard, Newsweek, the Miami Herald, and the Saturday Evening Post all had dealings with the spy agency. The CIA’s most valuable associations were with the New York Times, CBS, and Time Inc.”

This media penetration by the CIA is not merely a baseless conspiracy theory as some might argue, but is backed up by CIA office memos released under FOIA revealing the placement of “important assets” inside every major news organization in the country. “It was not until 1982 that the Agency openly admitted that reporters on the CIA payroll have acted as case officers to agents in the field,” writes Alex Constantine.

“Most consumers of the corporate media were – and are – unaware of the effect that the salting of public opinion has on their own beliefs,” Constantine continues. “A network anchorman in time of national crisis is an instrument of psychological warfare in the MOCKINGBIRD media. He is a creature from the national security sector’s chamber of horrors. For this reason consumers of the corporate press have reason to examine their basic beliefs about government and life in the parallel universe of these United States.”...

In fact, this “larger trend” has been in effect since the imposition of the National Security Act in 1947 and the establishment of the National Security Council, the principal forum used by the financial elite and their intelligence apparatus to dictate policy to the president of the United States and the State Department

6--The Washington Post published a “fake news” story on how the Russians used American websites to push anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda in the 2016 election....

The Washington Post reported on Thursday there are now scientific studies that show how the Russians influenced the 2016 election.

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of Web sites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.

Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House. The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem.
The Washington Post then cites the Propaganda or Not website as their source for the list of Russian propaganda sites.
The list includes several popular conservative websites:
The Drudge Report
Zerohedge
Infowars
Wikileaks
PrisonPlanet
American Lookout
(Gateway Pundit’s sister site)
The entire list is here and includes several conservative websites along with several satirical fake news websites.

7--Obama Quietly Signs The "Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act" Into Law

Recall that as we reported in early June, "a bill to implement the U.S.’ very own de facto Ministry of Truth had been quietly introduced in Congress. As with any legislation attempting to dodge the public spotlight the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016 marks a further curtailment of press freedom and another avenue to stultify avenues of accurate information. Introduced by Congressmen Adam Kinzinger and Ted Lieu, H.R. 5181 seeks a “whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions” to counter “foreign disinformation and manipulation,” which they believe threaten the world’s “security and stability...

“Surprisingly,” Portman continued, “there is currently no single U.S. governmental agency or department charged with the national level development, integration and synchronization of whole-of-government strategies to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.” 

Long before the "fake news" meme became a daily topic of extensive conversation on such discredited mainstream portals as CNN and WaPo, H.R. 5181 would task the Secretary of State with coordinating the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to “establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response,” which will pinpoint sources of disinformation, analyze data, and — in true dystopic manner — ‘develop and disseminate’ “fact-based narratives” to counter effrontery propaganda.

In short, long before "fake news" became a major media topic, the US government was already planning its legally-backed crackdown on anything it would eventually label "fake news..

“Our enemies are using foreign propaganda and disinformation against us and our allies, and so far the U.S. government has been asleep at the wheel,” Portman said. “But today, the United States has taken a critical step towards confronting the extensive, and destabilizing, foreign propaganda and disinformation operations being waged against us by our enemies overseas. With this bill now law, we are finally signaling that enough is enough; the United States will no longer sit on the sidelines. We are going to confront this threat head-on. I am confident that, with the help of this bipartisan bill, the disinformation and propaganda used against us, our allies, and our interests will fail.”

the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which authorizes $611 billion for the military in 2017.
In a statement, Obama said that:
Today, I have signed into law S. 2943


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