Following the release of today’s article about news organizations junking the “Pentagon Papers Principle,” reader Ben O’Neill made a good observation that should have been in the piece. In the newly-found summary emailed by an Aspen Institute figure in September 2020, “Partnership for a Healthy Digital Public Sphere,” the section about “hack-and-dump” exercises asks [emphasis mine]: “What happens when fabricated documents are released alongside genuine (stolen) content? How can social feeds avoid serving as promoters of foreign or other adversarial entities?”
First of all, this notion that there may be fabrications mixed in with real content is a suggestion that pops up somewhere in nearly every one of these leak stories, even if all the material proves to be real (old friend Malcolm Nance did the job in 2016 in suggesting the Podesta leaks were “riddled with forgeries”). More importantly however, that last line is a great example of what former cybersecurity official and Foundation for Freedom Online head Mike Benz calls the “foreign-domestic switcheroo.”
It’s the basic rhetorical trick of the censorship age: raise a fuss about a foreign threat, using it as a battering ram to get everyone from congress to the tech companies to submit to increased regulation and surveillance. Then, slowly, adjust your aim to domestic targets. You can see the subtlety: the original Stanford piece tries to stick to railing against “disinformation” and information from “foreign adversaries,” but the later paper circulated by Aspen slips in, ever so slightly, a new category of dubious source: “foreign or other adversarial entities.”
These rhetorical devices are essential. It would be preposterous to form (as Stanford did) an “Information Warfare Working Group” if readers knew the “war” being contemplated was against domestic voices. It would likewise seem outrageous to suggest, as Stanford did, that journalists respond to a domestic threat by taking a step as drastic as eliminating intra-title competition, and “forming partnerships with other organizations to pool resources.” But if you start by focusing on Russians and only later mention as an afterthought “other adversarial entities,” you can frame things however you want, from espionage to warfare. As reader O’Neill correctly pointed out, “they are now getting close to being explicit about the fact that their motivation for suppressing news is to fight domestic political adversaries.”
One other small note I left out for space reasons. The “Information Warfare Working Group” that produced the original paper by Janine Zacharia proposing the end of the “Pentagon Papers Principle” includes such anti-disinformation luminaries as Renee DiResta and Michael McFaul. In that summer of 2019, the working group also put out a paper by Dr. Amy Zegart, titled, “Spies, Lies, and Algorithms.” Her co-author? Michael Morell.
This story stinks, folks. There are almost too many angles to count. In any case, thanks to one of this site’s many attentive readers for a key observation.
This is exactly what 'crazy people' like Ron Paul said would happen with the Global War on Terror in general and with the USA PATRIOT Act in particular.
And here we are.
I would like to humbly suggest that we subscribers here to Matt's Racket be officially christened as Other Adversarial Entities. I bet it would even look good stitched on the back of a bowling shirt or velvet jacket.
I grew up in socialist former East Germany and know exactly what a state controlled media is and what it does. I’m familiar with the tools to keep the populous uneducated, dived and spying on each other for government handouts. It’s all about domestic control and nothing else. I came to the US almost 30 years ago and it’s shocking to see such familiar tactics used today in the so called Land of the Free.
And Renee DiResta worked with American Engagement Technologies, which, the Washington Free Beacon reported, is a “tech company that created fake online personas to stifle the Republican vote in the 2017 special Senate election in Alabama.” Yet she's a "disinformation" expert despite having engaged in an actual disinformation campaign.
By hyping imaginary threats, hawks create real threats. Since hawks need threats (or else they'd have to get real jobs), this is treated as a win-win.
Great post script, Matt! “ There are almost too many angles to count. “... however many years ago, the now over used expression “ into the weeds” appeared in political lingo... almost always inferring a “ heads up folks, this might be above your IQ level”... from the first time I heard that expression, I immediately thought... “and that is completely intentional and their goal”...make the sequence of events so crazy and convoluted that connecting the dots takes way too much effort and attention. Well played and shame on all of you willing participants! And kudos to your reader who did indeed go into the weeds!
Absolutely the Nazi playbook on display here.
Tell the the people we're under attack. Attack anyone who criticizes as working with the enemy. Keep the people in line from all sides.
I'm so grateful to be part of this group... It's one part of the internet that's still free.
The entire Government should be dismantled & smaller. This just keeps happening & “we the people “ are being highjacked by frauds. Both sides of the aisle
I had an epiphany (maybe I'm slow and naive) listening to the latest podcast with Walter in which he said many (most?) "journalists" now are just political operatives masquerading as such. As in - what a brilliant strategy for Dems (is it just them?) to manoeuvre their people into that space so they can simply control and dictate the narrative instead of having those damn pesky regular journalists keep poking their nose where it shouldn't be. They will truly stop at NOTHING to win and stay in power.
I feel like we need to capture one of these high level people (aliens?) and waterboard them until they sufficiently explain their motive (joke... well, partially).
I have been ping-ponging around all the information sharing places where the left species hang out. For example, I finally got banned from Robert Reich's substack... not for personal attacks, but for challenging their "logic" and asking them questions that made them uncomforable. I live in a blue state in a hard-blue college town and so I live among them and have gotten to know them like the back of my hand. So I know of their views and behavior... but nothing about their motives... other than to feel like their politics are winning and that is very important to them. However, it does not seem like enough... enough to support the end of free speech and to support a censorship regime... which most of my liberal progressive friends and neighbors seem to support tacitly.
I need to know why and it is driving me crazy that there are no good answers. Why the hell are so many people on the left of politics involved in, or supportive of, this really bad and clearly destructive censorship behavior?
I know there are liberal Democrats out there that claim they are on the side of opposition to these attacks on our First Amendment rights. Matt and Michael are examples, but frankly... I find very few examples. Either there are motives we are not talking about... not understanding... or there is some mass psychosis going on causing people to just be destructive and bad.
In related news, Biden said to roaring applause at the correspondents dinner, the “free press” is not “the enemy.” My thought was, well, yeah, obviously, the mainstream press is not YOUR enemy. To the contrary, they’re your private PR agency. The mainstream press is the enemy of independent journalists, civil libertarians, Trump and his supporters, anti-war voices, medical freedom advocates, ordinary people trying to figure out what is happening in the world, etc.
Similarly, the phrase “adversarial entities” begs the question of adversarial to who? The fact that everyone at the correspondents dinner instinctively knows who the press (meaning the segment of the press that gets in invited to these sorts of events) is not “the enemy” OF and everyone at the tabletop exercise knows who the “adversarial entities” are adversarial TO tells you all you need to know about the world we’re living in. There is an Establishment, a Deep State, a Uniparty. When people in the Establishment use words like “enemy” and “adversary,” they do not use them in relation to anything like the USA or We the People writ large. They use them in relation to their club, the Establishment. If you are anti-establishment of any flavor, you are the “adversarial entity.”
From the beginning the policy intent was to censor domestic opponents and control narratives. Obama knew how important controlling social/digital media is and was alarmed at Trump’s successful use of it. Congress got fooled by all of the Russia stole the election nonsense (which we now know was deliberately overblown by Brennan and the Obama administration) to pass a law that funded censorship and speech control.
I remain mystified by the notion that it's acceptable to censor what Americans view or read, provided that the source of the censored information is non-American. I can't think of a redder herring. The issue is whether officials have the right to circumscribe the information world one inhabits. What possible bearing could the internal geography of that world have on this issue? To enter into a foreign-vs.-native debate is to be seduced into an irrelevant side excursion that doesn't intersect with freedom of access arguments and principles at any point.
My concerns are the relative completeness and coherence of my information world. I couldn't care less what percentage of contributors to it are Americans, Canadians, Germans, French, Russians, men, women, etc.; but I do care if, unknown to me, someone is systemically intercepting contributions. Inevitably, there are natural barriers to information flow; we don't need anyone increasing the distortion by deliberately erecting artificial ones.
Great catch and insight. Heads up to all, including Matt, for the acknowledgement.
Is there any non-depressing news out there?
Thank you, Matt and Ben!
The elite laptop class are all but openly saying they're going weaponize the news against the working class and populist population, with the explicit purpose of suppressing them to keep and maintain their money and power. It's the aristocrats crushing the plebs for demanding a seat at the table.
Absolutely wonderful, a reader is the protagonist of this article. Ben the READER is in the very title of the article. This is JOY. I don't know how to say this right.....
Good old fashioned...or, should I say, well fashioned cluster fuck.
it would be great if substack app could allow users to highlight article text to add comments directly.
Just a quick question. I listened to your podcast with Walter Kirn discussing Morell getting the prompt from Blinken to put the letter together regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop. And now we have Blinken categorically denying he was the starting point for the letter. Is Blinken engaging misinformation or disinformation? Asking for a friend...
These people are so busy destroying America - busy, busy bees.
War-speak is now being firmly left in the control of the litigious minds of lawyers and their legalese word salads. They seem to be in every aspect of the war machine now.
in 2001 russ feingold , democrat , opposed the patriot act. where would he be on this today?
we need to make an argument that mere document dumps are a kind of passive journalism. passive, but legitimate, journalism in its own right. or else not writing a word is a problem.
sorting what is released can be part (this is off topic, but important.) then the argument that motives do not matr if thr is a public interest defense can be made. & why does it 'feel' more ok if someone wrote a graph, or 1k words, summarizing the information as well. is it that qualitatively different? what if you breached national security to drop documents to your pre teen discord pals: does the 'motives do not matr' apply? what about the no writing. _JC
It seems like a lot of really disturbing and politically dangerous stuff comes out of Stanford University and especially the Institute. Something smells really bad about how that place seems to be connected with so really frightening ideas and people. Thoughts?
The whole idea of labeling any idea or position 'foreign' is an insult to the public.
If the same idea was proposed by a local, does it make it a different idea?
It's a ploy by sore losers and those who want to control others to claim some ideas are harmfil without actually arguing or explaining what the harm is.
I wonder what's the next war-gamed tabletop exercise these sociopathic elites are cooking up for us?
Do they have an industry organization they network through? Linked in must be rife with their sanctimony. They must convince themselves that censorship and their jobs are saving the world. Maybe we should start one for them and call it SACS. Sanctimonious Asshole Sensors Society.
Just Think …
The Vaxxed Doctors
That Graduated Medical School
Are What The Average Call
- Above Average.
Just follow the Pegasus project, it will telll you everything if it doen't get you killed.
Matt these are excellent contributions being made to advance our understanding of the predicament within which we presently find ourselves. The degree of advanced psychological warfare tactics being deployed against Americans by individuals who we are told are Americans, is mind-boggling. The obvious question arises: to what end are they coordinating and orchestrating these attacks on the public Mind? Who are they, really? Are these individuals ideologues merely sharing some common set of beliefs and principals they think they MUST impose on the rest of us using an ends-justify-the-means philosophy that includes not only ignoring the US Constitution and Rule of Law but also basic human ethics and morality? I do not believe what we are seeing is merely “Deep State” and its puppet-masters & minions running amok. Do people like Renee DiResta think they are Gods (or working for “gods”) in EDEN that they can “go down amongst them and confuse their language, lest they become as us!” This thing is going Biblical! The level of moral depravity, emotional deficit, contempt for human beings and pure malevolence powering these activities designed to confuse and mislead people involves destruction of not only trust between humans necessary for civilization to survive, but destruction of language and communication itself is EVIL.
These psychopathic amoral creatures are purposefully coordinating & pushing a Tower of Babbel moment. The question is: to what end? It cannot be that they are only “mistaken.” This activity is detailed, purposeful and deliberate. Calculating. Is it merely destruction for destruction’s sake? Is it some kind of weird quasi-religious sect of zealots united in some strange diabolical belief system? The intention obviously is to destroy the civilization we have based on trust and language and replace it with WHAT, exactly?
Who ARE these “people” really? What are the up to? What are they? What, exactly do they intend to replace us and our civilization with?
Based on documentable remorselessness and ruthlessness, total belief that they are special and can operate without fear of punishment outside Law, ethics and morality, based on their documented complete lack of empathy for those they are harming and killing in large numbers these creatures collectively accurately can be called “psychopaths.” But are they merely mentally and emotionally defective beings that are simply naturally coalescing together with like-minded beings “doing their thing” due to similar psychologies and natural affinity? What, exactly are these things up to?
I think we need to recognize the common thread between all the individuals and their activities is psychopathy. They all are psychopaths bent on mounting a civilization based on psychopathy hostile to at least 96% of biological humanity, culture, history and civilizations. This commonality cuts across all political, ideological, religious, ethnic, cultural or racial differences and unites them against the rest of us. They disdain us, have no problem weaponizing even our best human qualities against us.
The question is: WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
Way back in 2001 when the Patriot Act was introduced, my natural skepticism wondered why an axe was being used when a scalpel was all that was necessary. Our enemy was Osama Bin Laden. Kill or capture him should have been the sole mission. Thanks to the war profiteers Cheney, Rumsfeld and the likes of Halliburton, a global war was fought against people who were not our enemies but became our enemies.
Also at the same time, people in the Bay Area where I worked were now saying "Thank You For Your Service" when 25 years before they would treat me like crap when I wore my uniform. The War Mongers ramped up the propaganda to get support for their wars. Libya? Really?, Syria? The people in those call the USA the Great Satan. I can hardly blame them. Big surprise, they want revenge. I hate that the war mongers send the Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen to fight these bogus wars.
Sorry-back to the surveillance state aka the Patriot Act. It wasn't patriotic, it was a repudiation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Another example of how Congress loves to name Bills whose effects are opposite of the title.
Walter Kirn (from Lost In The Meritocracy) speaking about Admiral Uncle :
"He'd shown me the world and where I stood in it and how it related to where others stood. He'd taught me to love learning for it's own sake, as a way to feel less lost.... Knowledge is a reckoning, he taught me, a way to assess your location, your true position, not a strategy for improving your position."
It brings a tear to my eye how far we've fallen short....
Great piece, great catch! From the commencement of the “ Russia, Russia, Russia” idiocy, I was curious as to when Russia became such an obsessive focus. The last I remember Russia as the greatest danger and tyrannical enemy of the free world was during the Cold War.Trump’s campaign platform suggesting a decent relationship with Putin could be a positive was a factor in gaining my support. Flynn had been negotiating a deal that would pull Putin from Iran and Syria in exchange for guaranteeing an end to NATO build up and encroachment A normalization of relations minus our meddling, false flags , Color Revolutions and provocations. Putin was considering it. He had no Islamist leanings.He had a good relationship with Israel and there was a sub Rosa agreement with Syria to help rid Syria of terrorist extremists , ie Al Qaeda an ISIS.
Putin thrice warned US Intel about the Tsarnaeavs planning a terror attack. Brennan, Comey,Panetta,Mueller did NOTHING! Isn’t it ironic how quickly the FBI identified the Tsarnaevs after the Boston Marathon bombing? The agencies that missed all the signals of 9/11 , Parkland. San Bernardino,the New Mexico cell with the dead child, the Strawberry Festiival, Anthrax, Pulse Nightlub,Sandy Hook, Gabby Giffords, the Atlanta planned bombing at Olympic Park,Oklahoma City, the Wisconsin Christmas Festival, the Buffalo massacre, the Tree Of Life synagogue , the California synagogue hostage situation… what did each major event have in common? The FBI had been forewarned and did NOTHING! Or in the cases of the Pulse Nightclub and Boston Marathon bombing, there were family members who were “ protected” foreign nationals.
Meanwhile, we don’t protect Americans . We persecute and prosecute or “ disappear” them.
The most influential and corrupt “ Think Tanks”, NGOs , charities, civil rights orgs and “ philanthropies” are Aspen, Atlantic Council, Cato Institute, Brookings, all things Soros, ACLU, SPLC, NAACP, ADL Catholic Charities, CAIR, Red Cross. Rockefeller Foundation, Carnegie Institute, Clinton Foundation , Sedona Foundation ( McCain) USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies,,Greenpeace,Media Matters, Confucius Society, Penn Biden Center, Bilderberg,NABU, WEF,,BLM, Lawfare and all things UN… nearly forgot! The DNC and RNC
Ironically, one of the best ways to guard against random hack-and-dumpers is to have a reliable repository that we know vets content, like, say WikiLeaks, where people can release material knowing it will be checked out and cleaned up before release.
All i can think of with this line of investigation is that if Clinton and her slimeballs had actually found something when they tried to hack Trump's server Re: the Alfa bank thing, it would have been breathlessly published all over the place and those exercises would have never happened.
The pursuit of Information Age narrative control is like any other compulsive habit. The abusers inevitably succumb to the addiction- no matter how much control they achieve, it will never be enough to satisfy their cravings.
Thanks for pointing this out. It echoes exactly my reaction to the words (which you rightly place in bold letters) "or other adversarial entities" - yea, those "adversaries" who oppose the candidate who has been anointed as the "rightful winner" by the establishment. I am a long time progressive (not to be confused with a "liberal" pledged to vote for whatever terrible candidate the right wing Democratic Party puts on the ballot) who despises Trump. However, anyone who supports the politicization of the intelligence agencies and their interference in domestic politics is opposed to democracy. Not that we have a democracy anyway, but let us continue to pretend that we do.
Great addition to the article. The weaponization of “rhetorical devices” have done so much damage to our civil society.
Hell yeah Ben O’Neill! Very cool of you, Matt, to name him! This is an awesome place!!!
Brilliant, as always.
Thanks for the keen eye, Ben O’Neill. This is a great additional insight.
Oh nooooo! Not Mike Morrell. He’s like a mushroom. Grows in the dark.
Does anyone doubt that if, say, Democrat operatives were caught tomorrow breaking into Republican Party headquarters located in an office building - let’s just say an office building called Watergate - and Biden was then caught on tape plotting how to cover it all up, that today’s “media” would proclaim it all “Russian disinformation” and screech about “right wing conspiracy theories”?
" As reader O’Neill correctly pointed out, “they are now getting close to being explicit about the fact that their motivation for suppressing news is to fight domestic political adversaries.”"
I think they have already past that. As noted in the original piece:
"Again, none of the media or academic figures involved with this story commented for the record, but one tabletop attendee who asked not to be named did defend the decision, saying: “It was just arguing for discretion over whatever sells,” adding, “The race to the bottom is what got us 2016.”"
The issue with 2016 of course is that the wrong candidate won. It's not about misinformation, hacking or any of the other justifications being offered. It's solely to stop the wrong person from winning the election.
Don't forget the concept of mission creep. The turn towards domestic enemies was necessary to preserve and justify expanded budgets. In the current climate, attention would naturally be focused on political enemies of the Deep State, liberal or conservative.
Amid the uproar, a moment of silence for Gordon Lightfoot. Thank you. Please resume your regular programming.
All I can say is keep writing