According to documents released by Edward Snowden, and reported by Glenn Greenwald, western governments actively pose as various people on the internet in order to discredit “enemies”, create confusion, and shape attitudes. The information was presented by the British government in a slide show to the US government. The report proves that government intelligence agencies target individuals who have not been convicted or even charged with a crime. This is further reason, in case the Fourth Amendment is not enough for you, to not trust the capabilities of the NSA and other agencies to collect and store data on innocent Americans.
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.
This information should come as no surprise to anyone well versed in the history of US intelligence. Long before the internet was invented, the CIA ran Operation Mockingbird to discredit sources, stir tensions, and create false information. Soviet agents inside and outside of the US have also long used this tactic, at one point paying a stunning number of mainstream journalists as their doorway into manipulating the media.
Today government agents can be found on message boards manipulating the discussion. They pose as “victims” of whoever the government agency wants to discredit. Agents will hack Facebook and email accounts to disrupt the personal lives of their victims. And this could happen to anyone, because the targets of these operations are not criminals, they are not terrorists, they have committed no crimes.
The spy agencies of various governments will also attempt to take down businesses they do not like–maybe they contribute to the wrong politician, or make the wrong product, or speak out against a government agency. Confidential information that agencies like the NSA illegally steal from their victims will then be leaked in order to scare away investors, lower stock values, and distance customers.
All that jazz about, “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about” is absolute bull: you could be targeted for any reason, and confidential and sensitive material about you or created by you will be leaked to inflict damage–and it doesn’t necessarily have to be something illegal, immoral, or even embarrassing. Financial information about companies can ruin them by empowering their competitors and ruining other opportunities which require confidentiality. And people still think Snowden is the bad guy!
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).
We are seeing the rise of real life thought police. We saw one of their first contemporary victims when General Petraeus was shamed out of his command; a tactic I have described as a modern form of execution: the social firing squad. Documents also detail how the spy agencies plan to divide and conquer.
So the arena and degree of abuse by our government has changed, but not much else. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, you cannot trust the government. Don’t trust the government. Never trust the government. I just wanted to repeat that for anyone who didn’t have parents that taught them this growing up. Never has their been a government you could trust. The only answer is to drastically reduce the power government has over our lives: decentralize it, defund it, and move previous government responsibilities to the private sector where companies must find willing consumers to fund their enterprises.
Reason, history, and anecdotal evidence should have told us that most of this was going on, though now we have the smoking gun. I do love when information proves what VigilantVote has long logically inferred.