By Dennis Loo (7/10/13)
In Part 1 of this article I argued that the actual target of the U.S. government’s universal spying is not terrorists but us, the public, or more specifically, whistleblowers, investigative journalists, dissenters, and the public.
The public relies wholly upon the information and exposés that whistleblowers, investigative journalists, and dissenters provide. Without these the public is entirely vulnerable to being preyed upon by tyrants. What whistleblowers et al do is look behind the curtain and under the surface of official pronouncements. They have more highly developed abilities, training, instincts, courage, and/or access to inside information that allows them to reveal the actual interests and actions in play better than the average citizen can.
Tyrants, after all, don’t announce themselves to the people about their true goals to those that they seek to seduce. They don’t declare openly their intentions to exploit, deceive and suppress. They instead present themselves as the people’s greatest friends and defenders. They wrap themselves in the flag and call other people traitors and treasonous. They become outraged when people disagree with them. This last behavior, by the way, is a sure indicator that they should not be trusted. Those who get excited about those who disagree with them and try to shut them up rather than engage in open debate are the ones you have to worry about. These are the people you want to keep from holding positions of power. Anyone who says that you shouldn’t look too closely at what they’re doing and that you can trust them at their word alone is not to be trusted. Who you can trust are those who open their books to you and invite you to supervise them and participate directly in politics and other affairs. They encourage others to engage themselves directly and intensely in the details as well as the larger picture and issues because they want people to be involved and not passive spectators and when such leaders are wrong they want to be told this so that they can correct what they’re doing instead of shutting their critics up. Critics are indispensable to any good society. Even when specific critics are mostly wrong, they can still offer insights and shed light on areas that can otherwise escape attention. Critics are to be cherished rather than eliminated.
A must read article appeared in The Nation in June 2013, “The Strange Case of Barrett Brown.” It discusses not only the government’s horrid suppression of investigative journalist Barrett Brown with prison but also Anonymous’ uncovering the plans by security firm HBGary to destroy Wikileaks’ credibility on behalf of Bank of America. As Peter Ludlow describes it:
[The emails included] a plan to neutralize Glenn Greenwald’s defense of Wikileaks by undermining them both. (“Without the support of people like Glenn, wikileaks would fold,” read one slide.) The plan called for “disinformation,” exploiting strife within the organization and fomenting external rivalries—“creating messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization,” as well as a plan to submit fake documents and then call out the error.” Greenwald, it was argued, “if pushed,” would “choose professional preservation over cause.”
Other plans targeted social organizations and advocacy groups. Separate from the plan to target Greenwald and WikiLeaks, HBGary was part of a consortia that submitted a proposal to develop a “persona management” system for the United States Air Force, that would allow one user to control multiple online identities for commenting in social media spaces, thus giving the appearance of grassroots support or opposition to certain policies.
Here is HBGary’s “persona management” system as HBGary itself describes it:
Persona management entails not just the deconfliction of persona artifacts such as names, email addresses, landing pages, and associated content. It also requires providing the human actors technology that takes the decision process out of the loop when using a specific persona. For this purpose we custom developed either virtual machines or thumb drives for each persona. This allowed the human actor to open a virtual machine or thumb drive with an associated persona and have all the appropriate email accounts, associations, web pages, social media accounts, etc. pre-established and configured with visual cues to remind the actor which persona he/she is using so as not to accidentally cross-contaminate personas during use…
To build this capability we will create a set of personas on twitter, blogs, forums, buzz, and myspace under created names that fit the profile (satellitejockey, hack3rman, etc). These accounts are maintained and updated automatically through RSS feeds, retweets and linking together social media commenting between platforms. With a pool of these accounts to choose from, once you have a real name persona you create a Facebook and LinkedIn account using the given name, lock those accounts down and link these accounts to a selected of previously created social media accounts, automatically pre-aging the real accounts…
Using the assigned social media accounts we can automate the posting of content that is relevant to the persona. In this case there are specific social media strategy website RSS feeds we can subscribe to and then repost content on twitter with the appropriate hashtags. In fact using hashtags and gaming some location based check-in services we can make it appear as if a persona was actually at a conference and introduce himself/herself to key individuals as part of the exercise, as one example. There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious personas.
When you rule as our rulers do, they can see that what they are doing and what its actual effect will be will spark mass disaffection if they don’t work extremely hard at derailing the blowback to their policies by propaganda, infiltration, disruption, diversion, dirty, underhanded, and covert tricks, and repression. This is why both major parties are carefully and relentlessly outlawing facts and truth and developing the means and rationales for violent repression (e.g., drones, preventive and indefinite detention, labeling as terrorists anyone who interferes with business as usual, mass incarceration, police running amok, violently suppressing women).
What too many people don’t yet understand is how the outer trappings of politics - elections, political parties’ platforms and official statements, press conferences, public officials’ speeches and so on - are meant to mislead rather than to inform and that these fora do not provide you the means by themselves to really grasp why and how political decisions are actually made. It is possible to infer what’s going on through paying attention to these matters as part of a larger analysis, but you certainly can’t understand what’s going on by taking things at their face value.
One of the things most people don’t see because it’s not obvious at this point, but that those who rule see very clearly and are intensely afraid of, is the basis for mass protests and upheaval. You may not think that revolution is possible in the USA but the people who rule us think it’s very possible which is why they’re doing what they’ve been doing. This is why they rely on a panoply of deceitful and criminal acts such as what HBGary does: they have to carry out their evil deeds in the dark as much as they can because their rule and system would otherwise end through the outraged actions of the people.
The obverse side of the coin of the argument I’m making here about the people being the real enemy as the government sees it is that they see us as their primary foe because we are in fact the ones with the greatest potential to undo their plans. They aren’t picking on us because they are seeking to neutralize their least fearsome enemy. They are picking on us precisely because they correctly see that we are their most significant foe. This is not because the people are in full-scale arousal mode in this country at this point, because obviously they are not - though the people ARE in such a state of arousal in several other hotspots in the world and there are distinct rumblings afoot here in the U.S.
Too many people at this point see reality through the lens of paradigms that interfere with their ability to see what’s really happening. For example, I’m thinking of those who see their only choices as siding with one or the other cop, “good” or “bad” cop. Or those who think that the only role for the people is to be pressure groups on those who really run things rather than the people coming to play their fullest role as the governors of their own lives. Democracy as too many people understand it means elections and lobbying rather than the people themselves together with their revolutionary leaders developing the forms to govern themselves and to increasingly take hold of and run all of society. The latter form that I’m describing cannot even really be accurately called democracy. It’s something else much greater than that…