By Aaron Kesel
The U.S. wants to use the military’s Pentagon arm to police fake news online; what can possibly go wrong?
According to reports, the Pentagon’s DARPA research agency has announced it will deploy online cyber forces to watch for “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks,” using specialized software to detect deep fakes of photos, videos and audio clips, Bloomberg reported.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants custom software that can unearth fakes hidden among more than 500,000 stories, photos, video and audio clips. If successful, the system after four years of trials may expand to detect malicious intent and prevent viral fake news from polarizing society.
U.S. officials have been working on plans to prevent outside hackers from flooding social channels with false information ahead of the 2020 election. The drive has been hindered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider election-security legislation. Critics have labeled him #MoscowMitch, saying he left the U.S. vulnerable to meddling by Russia, prompting his retort of “modern-day McCarthyism,” Bloomberg wrote.
Independent journalist and Newsbud contributor Kurt Nimmo reports:
The target is not Russians per se, it’s millions of American citizens the state and its secret political police, the FBI, are attempting to prevent from participating in social media and the larger political discussion that is ostensibly democratic but is, in fact, a form of hippodroming, that is to say rigging the political process for a favored outcome by the fixers.
Meanwhile, the state and its Silicon Valley partners are picking off targets one by one, the latest victim being Daniel McAdams at the Ron Paul Institute. His account was permanently suspended for the crime of criticizing Sean Hannity.
As Nimmo expresses, the target isn’t any state actor; it’s American citizens who are sharing controversial information that combats a narrative. In other words, the U.S. military wants to police free speech and thoughts online.
Here’s a friendly reminder for the reader that the blurred line between the CIA and Pentagon exists from what was formulated during the Obama administration. Although, in the more distant past, the CIA has run clear disinformation operations on the American public during Operation Mockingbird.
Besides the CIA, other agencies in the U.S. government are allowed with impunity to run Press Packages (paid government releases) i.e. propaganda.
In fact, then U.S. President George W. Bush himself exposed what are known as “Government press packages” in the early 2000s when Ken Harman of Cox News Service questioned him on the use of government-produced pieces aired on television stations across the U.S.
As Harman pointed out, “there is no disclaimer that these stories sent to air on television stations around the U.S are provided by the government raising several ethical questions.” Essentially these are pieces of propaganda, something the American public was supposed to be protected from under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which barred the federal government from producing sensationalized content to manipulate the public, but was amended in 2012.
That wasn’t the first time that journalists were paid to produce fake stories, now commonly deemed “fake news.” During the Church Committee in 1975, a congressional panel found the CIA paid journalists to produce fake stories during the Cold War era 1950s through 1970s. They also funded student and cultural organizations and magazines as front organizations. This CIA operation became known as Operation Mockingbird and was mentioned in the infamous CIA family jewels’ collection.
Suspected murdered journalist Michael Hastings also exposed propaganda operations in Afghanistan in an article, entitled: “The Afghanistan Report the Pentagon Doesn’t Want You to Read.”
The article was surrounding a leaked unclassified Pentagon report. The report took the shroud off of the U.S. military’s psyops operation command MISOC, which stands for “Military Information Support Operations Command.”
The article revealed several techniques the group uses in psychological warfare to manipulate the public, including but not limited to fake intelligence information, lack of information and social media manipulation, according to Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis. Hastings also accused MISOC of deploying psychological operations on U.S. senators in another report and on video with Democracy Now before his coincidental death.
Smith-Mundt was repealed under the Obama administration as an initiative within the NDAA 2012 bill. As Hastings said “Smith-Mundt had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.”
With all that stated, it’s worth further mentioning that 90% of U.S. media was owned by only 6 companies in 2012, including GE, NewsCorp, Disney, Viacom, TimeWarner, CBS. Which, as a fun fact, the CFR owns the media. As former Army Major Todd Pierce described, the CFR acts as “primary provocateurs” using “’psychological suggestiveness’ to create a false narrative of danger from some foreign entity with the objective being to create paranoia within the U.S. population that it is under imminent threat of attack or takeover.”
Council on Foreign Relations links to major media holdings
— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) January 28, 2018
A fact which imprisoned journalist Julian Assange also pointed out in a tweet before had his internet was cut last year.
Now just imagine if those operations were allowed to flourish unimpeded due to the military policing information online?
It’s one thing to have some obscure site like Snopes accuse information of being disinformation or misinformation; it’s a whole other story to have the military do so.
The other blaring issue is that the U.S. military already deploys its own disinformation agents online as paid trolls (JTRIG.) We know this definitively from Edward Snowden, and before the NSA contractor decided to blow the whistle from an old report by the Guardian discussing military social media operations two years before in 2011, which stated that the military had ‘sock puppet’ software to creates fake online identities in order to spread pro-American propaganda.
Combined efforts between the CIA, FBI (who has also been caught running disinformation operations posing as journalists), or any other agency with the Pentagon, could be a match made in hell and a living nightmare.
We already saw an effort to control the flow of information a little more sly and slight of hand with a company called “NewsGuard.”
NewsGuard is an extension that tells the user whether or not a story is credible or not credible with 5 indicators and an information box judging the website. However, they attempted to push the extension to be built into devices and software by default like Microsoft’s Edge browser on iOS, Android and Microsoft phones.
NewsGuard blatantly had connections to intelligence agencies and former government officials on their advisory board, as Activist Post reported.
Those list of board members and advisers include Tom Ridge, the former secretary of Homeland Security; Richard Stengel, former editor of Time magazine and Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy (Obama administration); (Ret.) General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA, former Director of the National Security Agency and former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (George W. Bush administration); Don Baer, chairman of Burson, Cohn & Wolfe and former White House Communications Director (Clinton administration); Elise Jordan, political analyst, NBC, and former speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
As an additional fun fact, Stengel admitted his role in life at a previous discussion last year hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). At the event Stengel described his past position at the State Department as a “chief propagandist” and further stated that he is “not against propaganda” and it was needed.
“Every country does it and they have to do it to their own population and I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful,” Stengel said.
— ⒶK #FreeAssange #BOT(₿) (@An0nAKn0wledge) September 3, 2019
However, this latest attempt is more in our faces and is a danger to the future of our democracy and a free society. We’re in trouble if the military controls what is allowed to be spread on social media and oversees discussions. And we can only expect a stronger arm of the U.S. military industrial complex to come down harder than ever before.
Yes, disinformation and deep fakes are a problem as Activist Post has highlighted, but the solution isn’t the U.S. military becoming a Ministry Of Truth online. George Orwell is rolling over in his grave.
Provide, Protect and Profit from what’s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.