Now a journalist, Naval Special Warfare vet Tom Wyatt examines the life as an anti-disinformation contractor he could have led
The best word to describe it is the original word: propaganda. “Information operations” is a euphemism, and George Carlin explained the problem with euphemisms better than anybody else. What is propaganda? The definition is simple: the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbols. So it’s an activity, and as such, can be used for good or for evil. The government can use it to discourage smoking, or to enlist the youth to fight and die abroad. The problem is when government and news media unite to carry out propaganda internally, against their own population. The twitter files expose this. But the elephant in the room is the summer of flames of the george floyd protests. Despite the “right reasons” to protest, there’s a high chance FBI/Twitter fanned the flames and violence to prime the Biden vote. If there is any evidence of this in the twitter files, it would be the biggest “information operation” scandal in the history of the USA.
I'm glad I wasn't drinking something when I read this " .... would mean a natural decrease in the defense budget ....". A natural decrease? Has anyone ever witnessed such a rare event or is it a prong off the theory of evolution?
"Being the most powerful military ...", on paper anyway. Given the neocon approach, stomping a third-rate opponent may give the impression of might but in reality much of it could be illusion fed by multiple "information operations" as well as "Collective Paranoia".
"Since the military is reactive by nature, .... ". More theoretical perception? Many think there is ample evidence of involvement with the sole intention of fomenting conflict(s).
It seems possible the only hope for the future of the US is the fact of " ... the distrust many Americans have for the government." exist.
Thanks for an interesting read. It might seem I'm trying to be critical of this piece but that's not my intent, just adding a bit of contrast. I worked on the outer edge of the MIC for more than 25 years and much of what is written here is spot on.
Like 'Islamophobia,' a word that attempts to recast a natural aversion to terrorist atrocities as an irrational psychological aberration in the minds of objectors, 'misinformation' and 'disinformation' are terms of deliberate evasion. Saying we've been misinformed is a convenient ellipsis for claiming that information we've been given is inaccurate, incomplete, or unreliable in some other way. It doesn't follow there's such a thing, ontologically, as misinformation: everything that comes to our attention qualifies as information. The propositions by means of which we exchange information can be classified as true, false, helpful, harmful, etc., but the set of propositions that are non-propositions has no members.
Let's stop acquiescing in having this ontologically vacuous vocabulary foisted on us. The truth status, accuracy and utility of propositions conveying information are our true and legitimate concerns, and the pre-emptive labeling of such propositions as 'misinformation' and 'disinformation' is a transparent attempt to forestall exactly the kind of investigation needed to ascertain such propositional accuracy and truth value. 'Misinformation' as a classification is a treacherous deceit that pretends we already have answers to questions we haven't even been allowed to ask yet.
Fabulous article, Tom -- thanks, and welcome to Racket News! (Though I fear you still retain a bit too much optimism... There is no escape from the Orwellian nightmare ;-) .... May as well get used to a permanent boot-print face tattoo!)
Excellent work, and weaving in a scene from Josey Wales made it even better.
a turning of the tide? Let's hope so.
This. Is. Exactly. Why. We. Need. A. Real. Media. Not lap dogs and parrots.
The government can generate an honest narrative, but it requires being truthful, and no bureaucracy wants that. The bureaucracy (leadership and all of the people in it) want stability, and if that requires obscurantism rather than transparency - no problem. You want a perfect example, the author gives it to us:
"With Yonder, you can slice through streams of social media to gain contextual intelligence on narratives – including their authenticity and likely trajectory of amplification…Understanding the intent, affiliations, and influence of adversarial networks provides you with critical insight into emerging topics and events before they go viral."
That is a marketing pitch that says nothing. And the bureaucracy, and political leadership, love it.
The problem with all government acquisition, not just DOD, is that politics drives the process and there are no metrics of performance that are ever meaningful, nor is there any real 'return on investment'. You really can't ever know was this money well spent; you can only know did it satisfy some constituency (which is usually not completely thus we must spend even more).
Ecce Homo . . .
"In Scotland also witch-finding became a trade. They were known under the designation of “common prickers,” and, like Hopkins, received a fee for each witch they discovered. . . . These common prickers became at last so numerous that they were considered nuisances. The judges refused to take their evidence; and in 1678 the privy council of Scotland condescended to hear the complaint of an honest woman who had been indecently exposed by one of them, and expressed their opinion that common prickers were common cheats. . . .
"But such an opinion was not formed in high places before hundreds of innocent persons had fallen victims. The parliaments had encouraged the delusion both in England and Scotland; and by arming these fellows with a sort of authority, had in a manner forced the magistrates and ministers to receive their evidence."
-The Witch Mania, EXTRAORDINARY POPULAR DELUSIONS AND THE MADNESS OF CROWDS,
Charles McKay, England, published 1852
The presumed and intimidating authority of these complicated AI algorithms and their ludicrous fallibility and imprecision -- and I know how they work statistically and mathematically at the code level and how fallible they can be without sober interpretation -- are a version of the "common prickers" of our time.
Our nation certainly DOES have a legitimate role in shining the disinfectant of sunlight on wildly destructive innuendo. But making the cure worse than the disease -- or even worse, a disease unto itself -- is no solution, regardless of the profit opportunity.
For hundreds, if not a thousand, or more years haven’t the weapons of war been for those of moral decrepitude a way to enrich themselves and seek power? No thought or caring for the general populace. Or worse, distain for the average person that justifies their use as fodder in their pursuits. These power hungry and mind twisted beings continue to create and implement more and more destructive weaponry. Whether it is directed at physical destruction or mental servitude. Peace to them is only a word to be used deceptively to further their aims. Just as the Green movement has been co-opted by the same greed. This psychopathy is so far from the best of what humans could be focused on. The cooperative and life enhancing activities that would be a source of contentment and environmental welfare. There is a “Better Way” .
Another industry where “cooperative federalism” needs to form around the information technology moving at speed of light, with engineering trumping PR and the new emerging form of information depravity.
From May 10 Substack
Peter A. McCullough MD
By JOHN LEAKE
The Intercept recently reported the creation of two new federal offices to combat disinformation. The Pentagon will oversee the “Influence and Perception Management Office,” which is consistent with the fact that “Perception Management” is an old DoD euphemism for psychological warfare and deception. According to the investigative journalist Robert Parry, who covered the Iran-Contra Affair, the Reagan and first Bush Administrations adopted the techniques of “Perception Management” for the objective of overcoming the American public’s “Vietnam Syndrome”—that is, its reluctance to get involved in foreign military adventures that were widely perceived as fruitless and likely to end badly.
Given that the federal government is already a Leviathan of agencies for conducting propaganda, influence, and surveillance operations, one wonders why it is necessary to create new offices for these activities. The new Biden Administration offices are purportedly to keep the homeland and its people safe from dangerous foreign adversaries. More likely they will work round the clock to keep our people insulated from outside sources of information that would serve to counterbalance U.S. government and MSM propaganda.
Redirecting the massive security apparatus built after 9/11 from foreign to domestic threats did not mean redressing all perceived domestic threats equally. Instead, it meant that there was political and financial power to be gained based on who could most clearly identify the fringe of their political opposition as the most dangerous extreme. Needless to say, the Left won.
“It’s been politicized. Even though disinformation has a distinct definition, it’s now being used as a label for any unwelcome information that someone doesn’t like, even when that information is true.”
I used to think that most people involved in the info wars generally knew when they were spouting lies. Now I understand that the scope of danger from a censorship regime is related to the fact that many people lack the self-awareness to separate beliefs from facts.
Also, there is a great disconnect related to the left media shift. If disinformation is such a threat to national security (inferring that people are very easy to manipulate and hence we must spend, spend, spend to prevent foreign ideological enemies from influencing the people) then any coordinated bias in media should be considered corruption of the minds of the people and hence interfering in the democratic process.
Either disinformation is a threat or it is not. The political establishment today is having its cake and eating it too. If it is a real important threat, then we need to deal with the coordinated bias of the mainstream media and big tech.
"The operators and ground-pounders on the frontlines get a real-world education in the necessary fluidity of such tactics, but the military monolith is often slow to adopt lessons gleaned from battle. To further complicate the matter, there are always plenty of defense industry opportunists promoting their tactics as dogma..."
Good explanation for why the US kept creating the same mess over and over again. There is a truth in frontlines "real-world education", and that takes time. Patton once said (paraphrasing) that every battle plan can be followed to the letter, until the first shot is fired. After that, it's complete chaos. And the defense industry opportunists aren't the only ones promoting. There were many high ranking military brass that green-lighted a lot of it.
Do you think it's possible for this country to NOT have a national enemy? I've given up on that. I think we must have our "Wicker Man" every so often. Just like male chimpanzees that mob-up every so often and inexplicably go on murder sprees.
Thanks for widening my horizon by widening yours to include this guest