Government Actively “Trolls” to Shape Online Discourse

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Evidence of Benghazi Coverup

More information has been found on the government coverup of what exactly happened in Benghazi last September 11th when Ambassador Chris Stevens and other Americans were killed at the American consulate in Libya. After initially claiming for weeks that a video depicting Muhammed had led to a spontaneous protest in the streets, the Obama administration was forced to admit that the video had nothing to do with this organized attack on the American embassy. Still, officials were not forthcoming with information, and much of what happened in Libya on that night has been left in the dark. Now, some details are emerging on American witnesses who were there on the night of the attack, and why it was so important to keep what was happening secret.

A video clip from CNN suggests that there were about 35 Americans working for the government on the ground in Benghazi on September 11 2012, the night of the attack. About 21 of these people were working at the CIA office and it is unclear exactly the role of the others, or even who they are, although as many as 7 were injured, some seriously. This is because, according to some sources, the American witnesses are being hushed in order to hide something that was happening. Some evidence suggests the CIA was in the process of running weapons taken from the former Libyan government, in order to place them in the hands of Syrian rebels fighting the regime of Bashir Al Assad.

 

According to the report, one “insider source” told CNN’s investigative team that speaking out on the attack and subsequent coverup does not just “jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well”. This is in addition to the widespread belief that speaking out on the attack will end one’s career in the CIA or State Department. And another source claims, “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation”. Some of this pressure includes monthly polygraph tests, something that usually only happens if the polygraph division suspects misconduct; otherwise polygraphs typically take place for CIA employees every 3 or 4 years. The CIA shot back with a typical statement saying this is all blown out of proportion and that they allow anyone to speak to congress, and are aware of no suppression of witnesses to the events.

Still, you have got to wonder why none of these witnesses have spoken in front of congress. One member of congress, Rep. Frank Wolf, in the video even claims that survivors of the attacks asked to testify before congress under oath, but have since pulled out because of the intimidation from the CIA. One thing is certain, that the pressure must remain on this administration to allow the truth about what happened to be released. If witnesses are in fact being threatened and suppressed, this is a serious violation their rights, and would require a massive investigation and firing of anyone who inititated or participated in the cover up.

The Thought Police Have Arrived

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Many of the revelations and various scandals over the last couple months have been a treasure trove for affirming everything that libertarians believe and have been warning about. The government is already big enough to violate our rights wholesale, and more information about the scope  of their surveillance and data collection hits the news everyday. The latest is about the top secret NSA program PRISM, exposed in a leak of the classified document which details the program. Apparently the FBI, CIA, and NSA have back door access to the servers of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Skype, Facebook, AOL, Youtube, and Apple, and can collect user information at will. The Guardian obtained the leaked document and exposed the vast, “1984” style surveillance which has been growing in the United States exponentially since Obama took office, but was first initiated under President Bush.

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

The program costs about $20 million per year, in order to give government the ability to violate our Fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The Constitution is quite clear that for the government to be able to collect data on its citizens, they must go through due process, first showing probable cause that a crime has taken place, and obtaining a warrant to further investigate the suspect. No warrants or due process is involved in this collection and storing of innocent civilians’ data. The whole PRISM program gives insight into why the NSA built the new gigantic data storage facility which was recently completed in Utah. The FAA, Fisa Amendments Act, is the surveillance law used to justify the PRISM program, which was renewed in December of 2012.

When the law was enacted, defenders of the FAA argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA’s inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the PRISM program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies’ servers.

When the NSA reviews a communication it believes merits further investigation, it issues what it calls a “report”. According to the NSA, “over 2,000 PRISM-based reports” are now issued every month. There were 24,005 in 2012, a 27% increase on the previous year.

In total, more than 77,000 intelligence reports have cited the PRISM program.

That means 77,000 investigations have been initiated based on evidence illegally obtained by the government, without court orders or warrants. Government is too big, and the latest scandals have shown us that their good intentions cannot be trusted. The government will in fact, and has been caught, harassing reporters, intimidating political organizations, suppressing free speech, subverting due process, and spying on average, everyday innocent American civilians. The checks and balances need to be restored in this country, starting with eliminating whole agencies at the federal level. It is time states step up and reclaim their rights, so that our strong centralized government cannot hide what it is doing, and get away with violating the Constitution on a regular basis.

Repealing the 16th amendment which funds the excess of federal government through the authorization of the income tax, would be a great place to start, as well as eliminating the back door tax through inflation initiated by the Federal Reserve. This would mean the federal government would need to roll back their unconstitutional programs and agencies in order to continue funding their real responsibilities laid out in the Constitution. And the best way to begin restoring states rights would be to repeal the 17th amendment, which made it so U.S. Senators are now elected by popular vote in their states, where as they used to be elected by each state legislature. This process of giving the legislatures a voice in the federal government made it so that state governments were represented in the federal government, and could kill legislation harmful to states, or enact legislation which protected states’ rights. Decentralizing control, and decentralizing our government will provide more checks in our system, to make sure our rights are not violated by governments who have grown too big and strong to be stopped from violating individuals’ rights.

What more abuse of power will it take to convince the American people that our federal government has moved beyond its role, and grown too big? What will it take for people to suspect the government of wrongdoing enough to limit their powers? I hope it doesn’t have to get much worse than this.

Obama Admin Wants to Expand Spy Agencies’ Access to Banking Database

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Did you know that banks are required to report any personal cash transactions of over $10,000 to FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network? More than 15 million “suspicious activity reports” are filed by banks each year, according to Reuters. The suspicious activity being reported also includes “suspected incidents of money laundering, loan fraud, computer hacking or counterfeiting”. The data is then stored in a massive database which the FBI can dig through at will. Now, the Obama administration wants to give all U.S. spy agencies including the CIA, and NSA the same ability to peruse the illegally stored data. It is being stored illegally, because it was collected without a warrant with banks facing possible criminal discipline if they refuse to comply with the reporting requirements. The Fourth Amendment enshrines Americans’ rights to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure.

If spy agencies have the right to dig through Americans’ financial information, without a warrant, before anyone has been indicted with a crime, this clearly violates the Constitutional rights of those citizens. Furthermore, banks massively over report suspicious activity for fear of breaking federal law reporting requirements.

The requirements for filing are so strict that banks often over-report, so they cannot be accused of failing to disclose activity that later proves questionable. This over-reporting raises the possibility that the financial details of ordinary citizens could wind up in the hands of spy agencies.

As I write this, I recall a phone call from my bank a few years ago. I was informed that a large amount of money had been deposited into my investment account, and suspecting it was a mistake, they asked if I was expecting any transfers. After joking, “well, that depends, how much was it?” the man on the phone gave a nervous chuckle, and reminded me that the phone call was being recorded. I laughed and said no, I was not expecting any deposits, and by the time I checked my account there was no trace of any money, other than my own, entering or leaving my account. It sounds to me that under federal requirements, the bank would have faced possible penalties for not reporting the incident, complete with my name, account numbers, and social security number. I am guessing that this information is now floating around in the FinCEN database, just waiting to prove that I’m a terrorist.

Since I was never informed of any collection of my information by the federal government, if the bank did in fact report the incident, that constitutes an unreasonable seizure of my financial records and information, and an unreasonable, warrent-less search of my papers and effects. The Fourth Amendment continues that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. Banks are forced to report incidents based on a blanket rule, therefore no warrant has been obtained to collect the information, and certainly the particular place (account) being searched or information being seized has not been specified by the government.

This would be akin to a federal requirement that all houses using more than a certain amount of water be reported by the water company to the EPA, so that the EPA could see if any crimes had been broken. Or what if a black-box recorded everything you did in your car, and sent that information to the government without informing you. 5 years later you are charged for a list of crimes including speeding, rolling through stop-signs, running a red light, failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, texting while driving, reckless driving, and endangering a child. You lose your license for life, are forced to pay $5,000 in fines, and serve a 6-month jail sentence. This situation is no different than the government collecting all information about transactions over $10,000 and trolling through the data until they find a financial crime, or at least what looks like it could be a case. The point of the rights of the accused in the bill of rights is that there has to be suspicion of a crime before information is collected on someone. In fact, according to an article on justice.gov:

If law enforcement officers in this country believe a crime has been committed and wish to conduct a related search, they must first request a search warrant from a court. A search warrant is a court order that allows limited exploration and inspection in an effort to obtain evidence in support of the crime alleged. Before a judge issues a search warrant, she must be convinced that the requested search, whether it is for a home, car, or other personal property, will likely lead to evidence of the crime.

The legal basis for collecting this information and sharing it between agencies comes from the Banking Secrecy Act, and the USA PATRIOT Act. It is up to vigilant citizens to hold the government accountable for their violations of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We also need to hold the politicians accountable who approve bills like the Banking Secrecy Act and USA PATRIOT Act. It is our responsibility as citizens not to elect the type of leaders who would pass unconstitutional bills, and act like that is all the justification they need to violate our rights.

State Media: Post and Times Keep Drone Base Secret

On Monday I posted about a CIA program started in the 1950’s called Operation Mockingbird. In the post, I explained that the CIA operation paid reporters, editors, and other media personal to write and cover favorable stories about pro-CIA politicians, to exclude stories that would embarrass or bring scrutiny on the CIA, and influence public opinion about any number of things by including or excluding certain stories in the media. Although the program was “officially” ended in 1976, the emerging news about an American drone base in Saudi Arabia, and the fact that the media kept this quiet for a year, caught my eye.

The reason I linked this suppression of news to the CIA operation, is because one article specifically mentioned that The Washington Post, and The New York Times knew about the drone base, but decided not to publish anything on it, because of “pressure from the Obama administration”, and “national security concerns”. The Washington Post and New York Times were two of the first papers to be included in the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird when it began. Could their ties still exist today, just under more secrecy than Operation Mockingbird originally afforded?

Experts and the public essentially agree that the drone base in Saudi Arabia was not a national security concern–in fact Obama’s own release of information, and the timing of the release, on the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden was more of a national security failure than the American public finding out about the drone base. In reality Obama probably wanted to keep the base under wraps to shelter himself from criticism over his drone program. Dr. Jack Lule, who is a professor of journalism and communication at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, said:

We have two partners’ participation in the secrecy of the drone programme: the government and the news media. If we are looking to open it up to scrutiny, where do we go?

It happened at the top ranks of the media, too. We look to digital media, but they do not have the contacts and the resources to look at this. They should have been leading the pack in calling for less secrecy. For them to give up that post is terrible.

All the more concerning about the complicity of the media and government in keeping facts hidden from the public, is that Obama’s National Security Adviser, John Brennan, has been tapped to become the next head of the CIA. Some disconcerting things that Brennan has said in the past, include that he is “in favor of some degree of government censorship”. So now we can put some puzzle pieces together. The New York Time and Washington Post, who at one time had a number of reporters and editors on the CIA payroll under Operation Mockingbird to influence public opinion, did not publish anything about the Saudi Arabia drone base, because of supposed national security concerns. Obama’s National Security Adviser, John Brennan, will likely become the head of the CIA; the CIA, of course, having initiated Operation Mockingbird for the purposes of spreading propaganda across America, and throughout the world. John Brennan has stated in the past that he agrees with some amount of government censorship.

According to Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, commenting on the secrecy of the drone base:

To public perception, it begins to appear that those decisions were made not for national security reasons but to provide cover for the administration. That is the tightrope that news organisations walk in these situations.

The whole brouhaha has become so complex over what the implications are for John Brennan, and whether the Post has done this for political reasons.

We have people in the White House and other government agencies that are opposed to transparency, and hostile to independent media. There should be no doubt that the mainstream media in this country is utterly untrustworthy. If they are taking their directions from the government, then we might as well just have government media. At least then, we would know it was coming from the government, but under current circumstances many people are still led to believe that the media is reporting independently. In fact many media outlets simply pour government propaganda into the public sphere, although that is becoming harder with the internet. No doubt the internet is on the list of things to censor; for “national security” purposes of course. Red flags should be going up in all of our minds about the government working with the media to influence public opinion about drone strikes, and limit public information regarding drone strikes. Already we have seen the DOJ under Obama, coordinate with Media Matters to attack specific people critical of the administration and DOJ’s handling of “Operation Fast and Furious”.

If the public is not allowed to have the proper information, than we can not have a proper debate, and make proper decisions about whether or not the drone program, and the practice of targeting individuals for assassination, should be allowed and continue. Shame on The Washington Post and New York Times for keeping facts hidden from the public, and shame on the Obama administration for putting pressure on news sources to keep his policies out of the public realm. So much for “the most transparent administration in history”.

Operation Mockingbird: CIA’s Propaganda Machine

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The Central Intelligence Agency in the United States is widely known by the public to have had roles in various secret operations at home and abroad. People may debate whether or not the CIA has had an overall positive or negative role in terms of influencing American security, but what we can agree on is that the government agency is one of the most secretive. Some would say their very nature as an effective intelligence agency requires certain amounts of secrecy, while others point to evidence of the CIA’s abuse of power at home or abroad. Some sketchy operations and practices of the CIA have even been officially recognized as existing or having existed. One such operation was designed to inundate the public with propaganda, while maintaining the facade of an independent media.

Operation Mockingbird began in the 1950’s a with the official purpose of producing, “propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.” The Wikipedia entry on Operation Mockingbird compiles information from a number of books written about the CIA and this particular subdivision, including a book called American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate, and Beyond which was written by E. Howard Hunt, one of the convicted “Watergate” architects who spent time in prison over the scandal. The operation was meant to influence foreign and domestic media in order to control the dissemination of information according to the CIA’s standards.

Frank Wisner was appointed to direct the Office of Policy Coordination within the CIA, which would run the propaganda operations later named Mockingbird. The first person Wisner recruited to run the industry side of the project was Phil Graham, the publisher of The Washington Post. Respected employees of the New York Times, CBS, Newsweek and other media outlets were reportedly “owned” by Wisner and his Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) by the early 1950’s. Operation Mockingbird appeared to recruit mainly reporters and editors who dealt with foreign affairs, and international news, but the information was also officially acknowledged to have influenced the American public increasingly as time went on.

In 1977, a year after “Congressional hearings in 1976 proved the CIA had been paying off editors and reporters in most mainstream media outlets”, People Magazine ran an article detailing how imbedded Operation Mockingbird already was in America.

[O]ne of the most important journalists under the control of Operation Mockingbird was Joseph Alsop, whose foreign affairs articles appeared in over 300 different newspapers. Other journalists alleged by People Magazine to have been willing to promote the views of the CIA included Stewart Alsop who headed the international bureau of the New York Herald Tribune, Ben Bradlee, the foreign affairs correspondent for Newsweek, James Reston for the international section of the New York Times, Charles Douglas Jackson, the foreign photo-journalist for Time Magazine, and international correspondents such as Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, Charles Bartlett of the Chattanooga Times and William C. Baggs and Herb Gold of The Miami News.[7] According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman), these journalists sometimes wrote articles that were commissioned by Frank Wisner. The CIA also provided them with classified information to help them with their work.[8]

The way the CIA operated under this operation, was to develop reports based on intelligence, and then disseminate those reports to “witting or unwitting reporters”. In the 1950’s Operation Mockingbird had about 3,000 salaried or contract employees working on the project, and had extreme influence over at least 25 print and wire media outlets. With this type of control established, the CIA was not only able to place stories in the media, but prevent others from being released; such as CIA plans to overthrow the government of Iran. There was reportedly no limit to the money that was allowed to be spent by the CIA, or the activities the CIA was allowed to engage in, in order to influence foreign and domestic media. This included bribes and payoffs, with no accountability to Congress or the American public.

When FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover became jealous of the CIA’s growing power, he looked into their past revealing ties to left wing and progressive politics of the 1930’s. This information was relayed to Senator Joseph McCarthy, who started his famous quest to root out communists and security threats within the CIA, which many referred to as a “witch hunt”. With the knowledge of the existence of Operation Mockingbird, Senator McCarthy’s accusations become more legitimate, as Hollywood and the media had indeed been infiltrated by propaganda masters–even though it was the CIA instead of Soviet Russia. Given that McCarthy considered the CIA to be a “sinkhole of communists”, he may have considered their influence exerted over the media to be on par with the Soviets.

McCarthy began targeting members of the Office of Public Coordination with information about their past ties and sympathies. Frank Wisner and another early employee of the OPC, Cord Meyer, were early targets of McCarthy’s investigations. What happened next with Operation Mockingbird may well explain the views most American’s currently hold on McCarthyism and his supposed “witch hunt”.

Contrary to statutory and legal limitations, once the network in authority in the CIA saw its interests threatened, Wisner was directed to unleash Mockingbird on McCarthy. Drew Pearson, Joe Alsop, Jack Anderson, Walter Lippmann and Ed Murrow all engaged in intensely negative coverage of McCarthy, whose political reputation was permanently damaged by the press coverage orchestrated by Wisner.[15]

Once Operation Mockingbird took out the main opposition, Senator McCarthy, the potential of this propaganda machine had been demonstrated. President Eisenhower was later skeptical of the CIA’s covert activities’ importance and legality, and commissioned a report. The report argued that the CIA’s covert operations were

“responsible in great measure for stirring up the turmoil and raising the doubts about us that exists in many countries in the world today.” Bruce [the author] was also highly critical of Mockingbird. He argued: “what right have we to go barging around in other countries buying newspapers and handing money to opposition parties or supporting a candidate for this, that, or the other office.”[17]

By the 1960’s some books and documentaries began to emerge, detailing the CIA’s propaganda crusade and linking it to such operations as the Bay of Pigs, and covert operations in Vietnam. The CIA had a hard time containing these reports, however with Operation Mockingbird at their disposal, they continued to plant editorials about pro-CIA politicians, and run articles such as I’m glad the CIA is ‘Immoral’, defending their secret activity as important for American security. The author, Thomas Braden, justified the illegal activities of the CIA by saying that they were necessary for protecting America in the early days of the cold war, when congress would never have dreamed of approving some of their CIA schemes. Of course, there is a reason why organizations such as the CIA need congressional approval, to avoid abuses of power such as Operation Mockingbird. In 1972 Cord Meyer, who worked for the OPC, was exposed as trying to suppress the publication of a book critical of the CIA.

In 1975 and 1976 the Church Committee investigation fully exposed the CIA operation to influence media, and a congressional report stated the following:

The CIA currently maintains a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets.

The propaganda efforts of the CIA were estimated at the time to cost taxpayers $265 million annually. George H. W. Bush who was the recently appointed CIA director in 1976, said that effective immediately, the CIA would no longer pay or enter into contracts with reporters or the media, but would continue to “‘welcome’ the voluntary unpaid cooperation of journalists”. Case closed, right? Obviously something this widespread would not be as easily ended as this. Bush’s words were an act of cooling out the public, so that the CIA could lay low, and continue its campaign of propaganda on the American people. Maybe they changed the name of the Operation, but we can be sure the framework and existence of the CIA propaganda machine continues to this day, under a similar design to the original Operation Mockingbird.

And that is much of what we know about Operation Mockingbird. This brings new meaning to the phrase, “biased media”. I hope this will make people realize that our government has in the past, and almost certainly still does, directly influence the media that we see on television, on the internet, and in newspapers. The relationship that politicians have to the media should be disconcerting, for example the vast number of reporters scooped up into the Obama Administration as a reward for positive coverage during the 2008 election. Or the recent coordination between the Department of Justice and Media Matters to attack anyone critical of the DOJ. Also, take a look at some of the comments made by John Brennan, nominee for CIA Chief, about censorship. Clearly with this type of government-media relationship we cannot hope to get unbiased, accurate news from the typical sources, which is why we must meet all news with scrutiny, and logically assess whether it is likely to be accurate.

The internet is helping the public to figure out which information is true, and which is lies, but the line is easily blurred. That is why we must remain vigilant, and never allow ourselves to be whipped into a frenzy by media hysteria. Whether it is justifying a new war, outlawing guns, or supporting corrupt politicians, state media can be seen through the cracks of many media outlets, attempting to shape public opinion on particular issues. I just hope this shines light on the fact that our government has, and still does engage in producing and disseminating propaganda to the American people, in order to carry out their ulterior motives.

Next CIA Head: “I am in Favor of Some Degree of Government Censorship”

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Many people involved in politics will hide their true feelings about any number of subjects, so that public opinion does not disqualify them from participating in government. Often, however, there are ways to dig beneath the politically correct surface of a politician or bureaucrat, and get a feel for their real world view. John Brennan currently serves as President Obama’s national security adviser, and has been nominated by the President to head the Central Intelligence Agency. With that kind of power at Brennan’s fingertips, some opinions of his expressed in his graduate thesis in 1980 at the University of Texas at Austin, are quite concerning. This Daily Caller article exposed his thesis.

First of all, democracy seems to be the ultimate good according to Brennan, because throughout the thesis, arguments against inalienable rights abound in order to preserve democracy–or in the case of the papers’ subject Egypt, attain democracy. I have explained in the past that democracy is not synonymous with freedom, liberty, or inalienable rights, and that the system has many pitfalls, such as mob rule–the 51% dictating to any minority. We do not live in a democracy–if we did we would all have just voted on whether or not to approve the “fiscal cliff” deal–we live in a representative republic. Politicians try to introduce more democracy into our political system to further their own ends, and retain political power.

“[I]f democracy is a process rather than a state, the democratic process may involve, at some point, the violation of personal liberties and procedural justice”, Brennan wrote. That alone is a good enough reason not to have democracy as a political system. Who cares about preserving democracy if the rights of the people are violated? That should be the ultimate goal of any political system or government, to protect humans’ natural, inalienable rights against violations by other individuals or groups, including governments. Yet Brennan bizarrely concludes that “I don’t feel that the possible forfeiture of rights under certain circumstances precludes their inalienability”.

Well, seeing as the word inalienable means “not to be separated, given away, or taken away”, I must disagree with John Brennan; inalienable rights preclude any possibility of them being forfeited–unless Brennan meant that someone’s rights could be taken away only if they first violated another’s rights. But Brennan wasn’t talking about taking away an individual’s right because he violated another person’s rights, he was talking about a country like Egypt violating the people’s rights on the whole, in order to bring about democracy–which is apparently considered an ultimate good in and of itself.

“[I]f democracy is a process rather than a state, the democratic process may involve, at some point, the violation of personal liberties and procedural justice,” he wrote. “[Anwar] Sadat’s undemocratic methods, therefore, may aim at the ultimate preservation of democracy rather than its demise.”

Brennan justified Sadat’s use of emergency powers to crack down on protests from communists because Egyptian citizens’ “exercis[e] of democratic rights would have an adverse affect on stability and even on democracy itself. This implies that too much freedom is possible and in the end, even detrimental to the cause of democracy.”

“Since the press can play such an influential role in determining the perceptions of the masses, I am in favor of some degree of government censorship”, wrote Brennan. This means that the perceptions of the masses will be dictated by government, instead of by press. Lately we have seen this come to fruition with Obama’s Justice Department coordinating with Media Matters to attack anyone who criticized the Justice Department, and Eric Holder over the failures regarding the botched gunrunning operation “Fast and Furious”. It looks like an independent media is attacking the Attorney General Eric Holder’s political foes, but in reality it was a directed attack from the government–John Brennan has got his wish.

So far we have learned a few things about the opinions of Obama’s national security adviser; democracy is the ultimate good, it is okay for governments to violate the rights and freedoms of an individual or whole groups of people if it will preserve stability, preserve or advance democracy, or prevent the provocation of “mass opposition [to the government] and possible violence”. It is also okay for governments to use censorship of the press in order to shape public opinion. It seems to me that Brennan is writing more about how to hold onto power and preserve one’s rule, rather than set up a positive system of government for individuals living under the system.

Brennan then admits that his argument for why human rights can sometimes be violated “can provide a convenient excuse for any authoritarian leader in any country of the world.” So the opinions of Obama’s national security adviser, and possibly the next leader of the C.I.A. could be used as a convenient excuse to violate individual inalienable rights. But we all trust the C.I.A. and the American government enough to know that they would never abuse their power, or do anything which is in opposition to the greater good of humanity… right?

Human rights, therefore, does [sic] not take precedence over all other political goals,” Brennan concluded. “Since absolute rights do not exist, any attempt by a nation to apply a human rights test to another nation (e. g. Carter administration human rights policy) is extremely difficult. Such a policy would be full of inconsistencies and therefore its implementation would be onerous.

What a scary person to have in a position of power, especially one of the most powerful positions on earth, the head of the C.I.A. Human rights don’t take precedence over political goals? Actually this makes a lot of sense when you consider the actions of this administration. I can see Brennan whispering in Obama’s ear before killing Bin Laden, who cares about trials, think of the political praise you will get for executing this criminal before anyone has a chance to hear what he has to say, before public opinion can be influenced by anything but the government story. Or how about when the September 11, 2012 attack on Benghazi happened and the marines who were boarding a plane to respond to the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya, were told to first change out of their marine uniforms, causing a 90 minute delay in aide. Do the political benefits of having marines change their clothes outweigh the deaths of 3 Americans? Based on Brennan’s political philosophy, yes, anything can be justified because human rights do not take precedence over all political goals. This is also why the public was misled on the true nature of the Benghazi attack, so that Obama wouldn’t have to deal with tough questions going into an election.

No doubt Brennan would enjoy more government censorship of the press, so that embarrassing things like Benghazi can be re-tuned, and the public won’t be stirred into “mass opposition and possible violence”. Wholly ignored is the possibility that mass opposition has its place in a healthy political system. But mass opposition does not fit into Brennan’s ideal political goal where the people control the government through democracy, and the government controls the people through censorship of information. When government censorship over the press is included in Brennan’s political system, then we see the true reason for his love of democracy. Government controls the media, which controls the masses, which control the government. All that has to be done is correctly control the media so that our democracy delivers the correct kind of government, according to those who are already in power. Again, Brennan seems far more interested in how to retain political power, than how to organize a beneficial political system.

And this is probably why Brennan has the favor of the Obama administration–he knows how to hold onto power. The government and people currently in power just need to exert enough control over information and the media in order to shape the views of 51% of the public. This 51% of the public will then translate their government controlled ideas into votes that will keep the current government in power. The closer we get to direct democracy, the wider the door is opened to this kind of abuse of power, and the influence on our system by people like John Brennan. We should not allow people like John Brennan to run our government, because we will be dragged into this circular system where the government feeds the masses lies, and the masses then vote for the government’s prescribed solution. Unfortunately once the government controls 51% of the population, it may be too late.