“I wonder about Trump’s antagonism towards China. Is he emphasizing it for the wrong reasons?
See below from Pepe Escobar. In the past, Escobar has been on-point as to US geopolitical conflicts. Could this be the darkest side of the story? Could we have started a biological attack on China’s economy and it backfired? I’d rather believe not, but past research at Fort Detrick, Maryland, now recently shut down, has done the world a lot of harm, going back to our Swine Flu fever attack on Cuba under Nixon. We wiped out the entire pig population of an island we’re still aggressively sanctioning, as we are Iran and Venezuela. Now China? Is the US losing its cool?”
The fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak puts Beijing and Washington on a collision course, writes Pepe Escobar.
Among the myriad, earth-shattering geopolitical effects of coronavirus, one is already graphically evident. China has re-positioned itself. For the first time since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in 1978, Beijing openly regards the U.S. as a threat, as stated a month ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yiat the Munich Security Conference during the peak of the fight against coronavirus.
Beijing is carefully, incrementally shaping the narrative that, from the beginning of the coronavirus attack, the leadership knew it was under a hybrid war attack.
The terminology of President Xi Jinping is a major clue. He said, on the record, that this was war. And, as a counter-attack, a “people’s war” had to be launched.
China’s President Xi Jinping visits Wuhan community, meets residents and frontline workers, March 10, 2020. (YouTube)
When Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, voiced in an incandescent tweet the possibility that “it might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan” – the first blast to this effect to come from a top official – Beijing was sending up a trial balloon signaling that the gloves were finally off. Zhao Lijian made a direct connection with the Military Games in Wuhan in October 2019, which included a delegation of 300 U.S. military.
He directly quoted U.S. CDC Director Robert Redfield who, when asked last week whether some deaths by Coronavirus had been discovered posthumously in the U.S., replied that “some cases have actually been diagnosed this way in the U.S. today.”
Zhao’s explosive conclusion is that COVID-19 was already in effect in the U.S. before being identified in Wuhan – due to the by now fully documented inability of the U.S. to test and verify differences compared with the flu.
Adding all that to the fact that coronavirus genome variations in Iran and Italy were sequenced and it was revealed they do not belong to the variety that infected Wuhan, Chinese media are now openly asking questions and drawing a connection with the shutting down in August last year of the “unsafe” military bioweapon lab at Fort Detrick, the Military Games, and the Wuhan epidemic. Some of these questions had been asked– with no response – inside the U.S. itself.
Extra questions linger about the opaque Event 201 in New York on October 18, 2019: a rehearsal for a worldwide pandemic caused by a deadly virus – which happened to be coronavirus. This magnificent coincidence happened one month before the outbreak in Wuhan.
Event 201 was sponsored by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the CIA, Bloomberg, John Hopkins Foundation and the UN. The World Military Games opened in Wuhan on the exact same day.
Irrespective of its origin, which is still not conclusively established, as much as Trump tweets about the “Chinese virus,” COVID-19 already poses immensely serious questions about biopolitics (where’s Foucault when we need him?) and bio-terror.
The working hypothesis of coronavirus as a very powerful but not Armageddon-provoking bio-weapon unveils it as a perfect vehicle for widespread social control — on a global scale.
Staff monitoring passengers’ body temperature in Wuhan railway station during the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. (China News Service, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)
Cuba Rises as Biotech Power
Just as a fully masked Xi visiting the Wuhan frontline last week was a graphic demonstration to the whole planet that China, with immense sacrifice, is winning the “people‘s war” against COVID-19, Russia, in a Sun Tzu move on Riyadh whose end result was a much cheaper barrel of oil, helped for all practical purposes to kick-start the inevitable recovery of the Chinese economy. This is how a strategic partnership works.
The chessboard is changing at breakneck speed. Once Beijing identified coronavirus as a bio-weapon attack the “people’s war” was launched with the full force of the state.Methodically. On a “whatever it takes” basis. Now we are entering a new stage, which will be used by Beijing to substantially recalibrate the interaction with the West, and under very different frameworks when it comes to the U.S. and the EU.
Soft power is paramount. Beijing sent an Air China flight to Italy carrying 2,300 big boxes full of masks bearing the script, “We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers from the same garden.” China also sent a hefty humanitarian package to Iran, significantly aboard eight flights from Mahan Air — an airline under illegal, unilateral Trump administration sanctions.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic could not have been more explicit: “The only country that can help us is China. By now, you all understood that European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale on paper.”
Under harsh sanctions and demonized since forever, Cuba is still able to perform breakthroughs – even on biotechnology. The anti-viral Heberon – or Interferon Alpha 2b – a therapeutic, not a vaccine, has been used with great success in the treatment of coronavirus. A joint venture in China is producing an inhalable version, and at least 15 nations are already interested in importing the therapeutic.
Now compare all of the above with the Trump administration offering $1 billion to poach German scientists working at biotech firm Curevac, based in Thuringia, on an experimental vaccine against COVID-19, to have it as a vaccine “only for the United States.”
Social Engineering Psy-Op?
Sandro Mezzadra, co-author with Brett Neilson of the seminal “The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism,” is already trying to conceptualize where we stand now in terms of fighting COVID-19.
We are facing a choice between a Malthusian strand – inspired by social Darwinism – “led by the Johnson-Trump-Bolsonaro axis” and, on the other side, a strand pointing to the “requalification of public health as a fundamental tool,” exemplified by China, South Korea and Italy. There are key lessons to be learned from South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.
The stark option, Mezzadra notes, is between a “natural population selection,” with thousands of dead, and “defending society” by employing “variable degrees of authoritarianism and social control.” It’s easy to imagine who stands to benefit from this social re-engineering, a 21st century remix of Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.”
Amid so much doom and gloom, count on Italy to offer us Tiepolo-style shades of light. Italy chose the Wuhan option, with immensely serious consequences for its already fragile economy. Quarantined Italians remarkably reacted by singing on their balconies: a true act of metaphysical revolt.
St. Corona by the Master of the Palazzo Venezia Madonna in the National Gallery of Denmark.(Wikimedia Commons)
Not to mention the poetic justice of the actual St. Corona (“crown” in Latin) being buried in the city of Anzu since the 9th century. St. Corona was a Christian killed under Marcus Aurelius in 165 AD, and has been for centuries one of the patron saints of pandemics.
Not even trillions of dollars raining from the sky by an act of divine Fed mercy were able to cure Covid-19. G-7 “leaders” had to resort to a videoconference to realize how clueless they are – even as China’s fight against coronavirus gave the West a head start of several weeks.
Shanghai-based Dr. Zhang Wenhong,one of China’s top infectious disease experts, whose analyses have been spot on so far, now says China has emerged from the darkest days in the “people’s war” against Covid-19. But he does not think this will be over by summer. Now extrapolate what he’s saying to the Western world.
It’s not even spring yet, and we already know it takes a virus to mercilessly shatter the Goddess of the Market. Last Friday, Goldman Sachs told no fewer than 1,500 corporations that there was no systemic risk. That was false.
New York banking sources told me the truth: systemic risk became way more severe in 2020 than in 1979, 1987 or 2008 because of the hugely heightened danger that the $1.5 quadrillion derivative market would collapse.
As the sources put it, history had never before seen anything like the Fed’s intervention via its little understood elimination of commercial bank reserve requirements, unleashing a potential unlimited expansion of credit to prevent a derivative implosion stemming from a total commodity and stock market collapse of all stocks around the world.
Those bankers thought it would work, but as we know by now all the sound and fury signified nothing. The ghost of a derivative implosion – in this case not caused by the previous possibility, the shutting down of the Strait of Hormuz – remains.
We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism. What’s certain is that the whole global economy has been hit by an insidious, literally invisible circuit breaker. This may be just a “coincidence.” Or this may be, as some are boldly arguing, part of a possible, massive psy-op creating the perfect geopolitlcal and social engineering environment for full-spectrum dominance.
Additionally, along the hard slog down the road, with immense, inbuilt human and economic sacrifice, with or without a reboot of the world-system, a more pressing question remains: will imperial elites still choose to keep waging full-spectrum-dominance hybrid war against China?
Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times. His latest book is “2030.” Follow him on Facebook.
“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high-degree of sophistication,” Pompeo told the press in a statement.
“The United States will defend its forces, interests, and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability. And we call upon all nations threatened by Iran’s provocative acts to join us in that endeavor,” Pompeo concluded before hastily shambling off, taking exactly zero questions.
Here are seven reasons to be extremely skeptical of everything Pompeo said:
1. Pompeo is a known liar, especially when it comes to Iran.
Pompeo has a well-established history of circulating blatant lies about Iran and the behavior of the Iranian government, and he recently told an audience at Texas A&M University that when he was leading the CIA, “We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses.”
2. The US empire is known to use lies and false flags to start wars.
The US-centralized power alliance has an extensive and well-documented history of advancing preexisting military agendas using lies, false flags and psyops to make targeted governments appear to be the aggressors. This is such a well-established pattern that “Gulf of Tonkin” briefly trended on Twitter after the Gulf of Oman incident. Any number of government agencies could have been involved from any number of the nations in this alliance, including the US, the UK, the KSA, the UAE, or Israel.
3. John Bolton has openly endorsed lying to advance military agendas.
I wrote an article about this last month because the Trump administration had already begun rapidly escalating against Iran in ways that happen to align perfectly with the longtime agendas of Trump’s psychopathic Iran hawk National Security Advisor. At that time people were so aware of the possibility that Bolton might involve himself in staging yet another Middle Eastern war based on lies that The Onionwas already spoofing it.
“Now I want to make the case for secrecy in government when it comes to the conduct of national security affairs, and possibly for deception where that’s appropriate,” Bolton said. “You know Winston Churchill said during World War Two that in wartime truth is so important it should be surrounded by a bodyguard of lies.”
“Do you really believe that?” asked an incredulous Napolitano.
“Absolutely,” Bolton replied.
“You would lie in order to preserve the truth?”
“If I had to say something I knew was false to protect American national security, I would do it,” Bolton answered.
4. Using false flags to start a war with Iran is already an established idea in the DC swamp.
Back in 2012 at a forum for the Washington Institute Of Near East Policy think tank, the group’s Director of Research Patrick Clawson openly talked about the possibility of using a false flag to provoke a war with Iran, citing the various ways the US has done exactly that with its previous wars.
“I frankly think that crisis initiation is really tough, and it’s very hard for me to see how the United States president can get us to war with Iran,” Clawson began.
“Which leads me to conclude that if in fact compromise is not coming, that the traditional way that America gets to war is what would be best for US interests,” Clawson added. “Some people might think that Mr. Roosevelt wanted to get us into the war… you may recall we had to wait for Pearl Harbor. Some people might think that Mr. Wilson wanted to get us into World War One; you may recall we had to wait for the Lusitania episode. Some people might think that Mr. Johnson wanted to get us into Vietnam; you may recall we had to wait for the Gulf of Tonkin episode. We didn’t go to war with Spain until the USS Maine exploded. And may I point out that Mr. Lincoln did not feel that he could call out the Army until Fort Sumter was attacked, which is why he ordered the commander at Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolinians said would cause an attack.”
“So if, in fact, the Iranians aren’t going to compromise, it would be best if somebody else started the war,” Clawson continued. “One can combine other means of pressure with sanctions. I mentioned that explosion on August 17th. We could step up the pressure. I mean look people, Iranian submarines periodically go down. Some day, one of them might not come up. Who would know why? [Smattering of sociopathic laughter from the crowd.] We can do a variety of things, if we wish to increase the pressure (I’m not advocating that) but I’m just suggesting that this is not an either/or proposition — just sanctions have to succeed or other things. We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier at that.”
5. The US State Department has already been running psyops to manipulate the public Iran narrative.
Outrage on Capitol Hill over completely unacceptable US-funded scheme to shape Iran debate. The @IranDisinfo troll campaign targeted American citizens critical of Trump’s Iran policy and accused them of being loyal to Tehran regime.
State Department officials admitted to Congressional staff at a closed-door meeting on Monday that a $1.5 million troll farm had gone “beyond the scope of its mandate” by aggressively smearing American critics of the Trump administration’s Iran policy as propagandists for the Iranian government, according to a new report from The Independent. That “mandate” had reportedly consisted of “countering propaganda from Iran”, also known as conducting anti-Iran propaganda.
“Critics in Washington have gone further, saying that the programme resembled the type of troll farms used by autocratic regimes abroad,” says The Independent.
“One woman behind the harassment campaign, a longtime Iranian-American activist, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State Department over the years to promote ‘freedom of expression and free access to information,’” the report reads.
6. The Gulf of Oman narrative makes no sense.
Here we go again. US Empire creating a pretext to go to war with Iran. It makes no sense that Iran would provoke a war with US Empire while Iran tries to salvage the nuclear deal with Europe. This situation looks manufactured as hell. The pro-war US media can’t wait to sell this.
One of the ships damaged in the attacks was Japanese-owned, and the other was bound for Japan. This happened just as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran attempting to negotiate a de-escalation between the US and Iran with Trump’s blessing , and just after Iran had released a prisoner accused of conducting espionage for the US in what many took to be a gesture of good faith.
Iran has been conducting itself with remarkable restraint in the face of relentless sanctions and provocations from the US and its allies; it wouldn’t make much sense for it to suddenly abandon that restraint with attacks on sea vessels, then rescue their crew, then deny perpetrating the attacks, during a time of diplomatic exchanges and while trying to preserve the nuclear deal with Europe. If Tehran did perpetrate the attacks in order to send a strong message to the Americans, it would have been a very mixed message sent in a very weird way with very odd timing.
7. Even if Iran did perpetrate the attack, Pompeo would still be lying.
Pompeo’s statement uses the words “unprovoked” twice and “Iran’s provocative acts” once, explicitly claiming that the US empire was just minding its own business leaving Iran alone when it was attacked out of the blue by a violent aggressor. Sometimes the things put out by the US State Department feel like they’re conducting experiments on us, just to test the limits of our stupidity.
As noted in this article by Moon of Alabama and this discussion on the Ron Paul Liberty Report, the US has been provoking Iran with extremely aggressive and steadily tightening sanctions, which means that even if Tehran is behind the attacks, it would not be the aggressor and the attacks would most certainly not have been “unprovoked”. Economic sanctions are an act of war; if China were to do to America’s economy what America is doing to Iran’s, the US would be in a hot war with China immediately. It could technically be possible that Iran is pushing back on US aggressions and provocations, albeit in a strange and neoconservatively convenient fashion.
Either way, we have seen exactly zero evidence supporting Pompeo’s claims, so anyone you see hastening to blame Iran for the Gulf of Oman incident is either a war whore or a slobbering moron, or both. Knowing what we know about the US-centralized empire and its pre-existing regime change agenda against Iran, there is no reason to believe Pompeo and many reasons not to.
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Insanity of Political Leaders: More Common Than Thought
Political scientists would argue that the rigors of running for political office coupled with the glaring microscope of press attention would normally weed out any candidate suffering from mental illness. Whether political leaders gain office democratically or from unconstitutional means, the degree of mental illness among the top leadership of nations around the world in recent history has been remarkably high.
For example, in 2014, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid a controversial visit to the Yasukuni shrine, where several convicted and executed war criminals from World War II are buried, it was over the strong objections of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Prime Minister Executive Secretary Imai Takaya. The prime minister’s assistants warned him that Japan’s relations with China and South Korea would deteriorate even further over the shrine visit. Abe disregarded their advice.
Abe’s infuriation with Washington over the Barack Obama administration’s criticism over his Yasukuni visit plus his ignoring the advice of his closest aides led many senior governing Liberal Democratic Party politicians to wonder whether Abe was completely sane. In Japan, as in the United States, it is next to impossible to force a chief executive to submit to a mental examination.
The US Central Intelligence Agency has long psychologically profiled foreign leaders. In 1984, CIA deputy director for intelligence Robert Gates, who later became CIA director under George H. W. Bush, renamed the CIA’s Political Psychology Division the Political Psychology Center (PPC). Gates also gave the unit higher visibility within the Intelligence Community. Today, the PPC develops – based on intelligence sources and methods – psychological profiles on various world leaders. These include North Korea’ Kim Jong Un, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Worldwide intelligence agencies, likewise, maintain psychological profiles of US leaders. Recent revelations have revealed that President Donald Trump suffers from paranoia, emotional delusions, fits of rage, and compulsive lying. Trump’s psychological profiles maintained by intelligence agencies certainly dwarf those held on other world leaders. Trump provides a rich subject for intelligence agency psychiatrists, psychologists, and neuro-linguistic experts.
Trump is not the first US president to suffer from mental illness. On September 20, 2007, President George W. Bush suggested at a White House news conference that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein killed Nelson Mandela. Bush said, “I heard somebody say, ‘Now where’s Mandela?’ Well, Mandela is dead. Because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.” Mandela, at the time, was alive at the age of 89. In 2003, Mandela conducted his own psychoanalysis of Bush, stating that Bush is “a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly.”
A 1977 CIA analysis of the personality traits of various world leaders concluded that Israel’s Shimon Peres as “arrogant.” British Prime Minister James Callaghan was deemed to be an “intellectual lightweight.” French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s psychological dossier was summed in two words: “aristocratic” and “cold.” West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was described as “cocky,” Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau a “charmer” with a lot of personal problems with his marriage, Chinese leader Hua Kuo-feng, “shrewd” and not totally committed to Communist ideology, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, “wily, skillful, and tactful,” and Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, “unpredictable” and a “potential mass murderer.”
Amin was, in fact, a mass murderer. The CIA also concluded that several leaders suffered from alcoholism. Others were pegged as gossip mongers. The CIA challenged the world’s perception of Costa Rican three-time president, Jose Figueres Ferrer, as a widely respected statesman. The CIA determined that Figueres and certain family members were nothing more than crooks.
Earlier CIA psychological profiles provided unusually honest assessments of certain leaders. For example, one agency profile described Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev as a “ham actor, who sometimes illustrates his points with the crudest sort of barnyard humor,” but also noting, “Khrushchev is endowed on occasion with considerable personal dignity.” Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was reported to be “not psychotic,” but having “a strong paranoid orientation.”
In 2009, after Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a CIA-planned military coup, The Miami Herald, the paper-of-choice for Latin American oligarchs and despots, floated a poorly-sources story that Zelaya was “an anti-Semitic lunatic.” In Zelaya’s case, charges that he suffered from a mental illness were clearly contrived and disseminated by Israeli intelligence sources in Miami who were pushing back against Zelaya’s valid assertions of Israeli involvement in the Honduran coup. The Zelaya case shows that not all allegations that a leader suffers from mental impairment are true. Similar tactics were used falsely against former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The CIA has been known to lie about some leaders in its psychological profiling. Its report on former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a case in point. The CIA profile stated that Aristide “suffered from manic depression, had sought treatment at a Montreal hospital in the early ’80s, and was taking a powerful antipsychotic drug.” Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital in Montreal responded, stating Aristide was never a patient. Aristide denied using any sort of anti-psychotic medications, including Lithium Oligosol.
Although it is a cheap shot to falsely accuse a political leader who is perfectly sane of being the opposite, there remains enough documentation from medical sources to question the mental capacities of some world leaders. In July 1998, a psychological analysis was commissioned on current Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. The analysis was made during Duterte’s annulment of his marriage to Elizabeth Zimmerman, which took place during Duterte’s term as mayor of Davao City. Dr. Natividad Dayan diagnosed Duterte as suffering from “antisocial narcissistic personality disorder” marked by “gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness,” as well as “grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors.” Dayan’s report also said of Duterte that he had a “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings,” “was unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions,” had a “poor capacity for objective judgement,” and that he failed to “see things in the light of facts.”
As far as Duterte’s marriage was concerned, Dayan concluded that Duterte was “psychologically incapacitated to handle essential marital obligations” because of his “inability for loyalty and commitment” and “lack of capacity for remorse and guilt.” Such a psychological profile could easily apply to another well-known world leader. In recent remarks delivered in Jerusalem, Duterte said that Trump is a “good friend” who “speaks my language.”
Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s sanity was also questioned toward the end of his presidency. Chris Mutsvangwa, a special adviser to current Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said in May 2017 remarks to the Harare Press Club that Mugabe was “mentally unstable.” In January 2018, Mnangagwa stated that former First Lady Grace Mugabe was “not mentally sound.”
There is nothing to suggest that leaders suffering from mental illness should be removed from office merely because of their conditions. It is when such illness results in destructive actions that removal is warranted. President Abraham Lincoln is said to have suffered from clinical depression. However, Lincoln’s actions as president are generally commended by historians for saving the United States. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s physician diagnosed his patient’s depression as arising from bipolar disorder. However, no one suggested that Churchill was incapable of carrying out both peacetime and wartime duties as prime minister. On the other hand, Adolf Hitler’s panoply of reported mental disorders, including schizophrenia and narcissistic personality, sadistic personality, and antisocial personality disorders, made him a legitimate target for removal by any means possible.
When the line is crossed between a benign leader suffering from mental depression to a malignant leader suffering from sociopathic desires to threaten death and destruction, it is a clear signal that such a menace should be removed from power forthwith and without rancorous political debate.
Florida residents received a very worrying warning on Sunday when they were told in an official alert the area had “extreme zombie activity.”
Lake Worth residents received the message during a power cut on Sunday. The alert warned of both a power outage and zombies, and came through at about 1:41am, meaning some residents would have woken up to a very scary message.
“Power outage and zombie alert for residents of Lake Worth and Terminus,” the alert said. “There are now far less than seven thousand three hundred and eighty customers involved due to extreme zombie activity.”
‘Terminus’ is actually a fictional town from the hit zombie TV show, ‘The Walking Dead.’
The city hasn’t revealed how a zombie warning went out along with the power outage message. The Lake Worth Live Facebook page cited the city’s public information officer, Ben Kerr, who said 7,800 customers were affected by the outage and the city is “looking into the reports that the system mentioned zombies.”
“I want to reiterate that Lake Worth does not have any zombie activity currently and apologize for the system message,” Kerr said.
Officials told WPBF the alert did come from the city, but that it had been altered.
The mysterious error comes after residents in Hawaii received an alert that a ballistic missile threat was headed their way in January. This turned out to be the result of an employee pressing the wrong button.
Melissa Dykes recounts what happens when people let the news dictate their behavior and let themselves become “sitting ducks” even in perfectly ordinary conditions. There is a reason they call it “programming”…
Methinks the reason behind all this effort to curb extremism from these social media monopolies is simple, follow the money. Look at this statement, it shows that Google’s YouTube does not have to pay 30% of its users. That’s plenty of money. And they hide behind “for the good of humanity” bullshit:
“Starting at the end of last year, the company had already begun altering its algorithm so that 30% of its videos were demonetized. The company had explained that it wanted YouTube to be a safer place for brands to advertise, but the move has angered many content producers who generate income with their video channels.”
ANTIMEDIAWritten by Jake Anderson If you’re a radical or search for “extremist” content online, the biggest social networks and internet companies on Earth will soon be converting you into a docile moderate, or at least, they will try.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been screening and filtering extremist content for years, but on Wednesday, the gatekeepers of the internet confirmed to Congress that they are accelerating their efforts and will target users who may be exposed to extremist/terrorist content, redirecting them instead to “positive and moderate” posts.
Representatives for the three companies testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to outline specific ways they are trying to combat extremism online. Facebook, Google, and Twitter aren’t just tinkering with their algorithms to restrict certain kinds of violent content and messaging. They’re also using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to manufacture what they call “counterspeech,” which has a hauntingly Orwellian ring to it. Essentially, their goal is to catch burgeoning extremists, or people being radicalized online, and re-engineer them via targeted propagandistic advertisements.
Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, stated:
“We believe that a key part of combating extremism is preventing recruitment by disrupting the underlying ideologies that drive people to commit acts of violence. That’s why we support a variety of counterspeech efforts.”
Meanwhile, Google’s YouTube has deployed something called the “Redirect Method,” developed by Google’s Jigsaw research group. With this protocol, YouTube taps search history metrics to identify users who may be interested in extremist content and then uses targeted advertising to counter “hateful” content with “positive” content. YouTube has also invested in a program called “Creators for Change,” a group of users that makes videos opposed to hate speech and violence. Additionally, the video platform has tweaked their algorithm to reduce the reach of borderline content.
In his testimony, Juniper Downs, YouTube’s head of public policy, said, “Our advances in machine learning let us now take down nearly 70% of violent extremism content within 8 hours of upload and nearly half of it in 2 hours.”
On the official YouTube blog, the company discussed how they plan to disrupt the “radicalization funnel” and change minds. The four steps include:
“Expanding the new YouTube product functionality to a wider set of search queries in other languages beyond English.
Using machine learning to dynamically update the search query terms.
Working with expert NGOs on developing new video content designed to counter violent extremist messaging at different parts of the radicalization funnel.
Collaborating with Jigsaw to expand the ‘Redirect Method’ in Europe.”
Starting at the end of last year, the company had already begun altering its algorithm so that 30% of its videos were demonetized. The company had explained that it wanted YouTube to be a safer place for brands to advertise, but the move has angered many content producers who generate income with their video channels.
The effort to use machine learning and AI as part of a social engineering funnel is probably not new, but we’ve never seen it openly wielded on a vast scale by a government-influenced corporate consortium. To say the least, it is unsettling for many. One user commented underneath the post, “So if you have an opinion that’s not there [sic] agenda You are a terrorist. Free speech is dead on YouTube.”
For its part, Twitter’s representative told Congress that since 2015 the company had taken part in over 100 training events focused on how to reduce the impact of extremist content on the platform.
In a post called “Introducing Hard Questions” on its blog, Facebook discussed rethinking the “meaning of free expression.” The post posed a number of hypothetical questions, including:
How aggressively should social media companies monitor and remove controversial posts and images from their platforms? Who gets to decide what’s controversial, especially in a global community with a multitude of cultural norms?
Who gets to define what’s false news — and what’s simply controversial political speech?”
The three tech giants have been under intense scrutiny from lawmakers who feel the platforms have been used to sow division online and even recruit homegrown terrorists. While the idea of using an algorithm to fight extremism online is not new, a unified front of Facebook, Google, and Twitter has never collectively produced original online propaganda, the specifics and scope of which remain vague despite the companies’ attempts at transparency.
Only recently, in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was the use of propaganda on the American people by the government formally legalized. Then-President Barack Obama continued strengthening government propaganda at the end of his administration with the dystopic Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act of 2017, which created a kind of Ministry of Truth for the creation of so-called “fact-based narratives.”
It appears that while the government continues to strengthen its potential to conduct psychological operations (psyops), it is also joining forces with internet gatekeepers that can use their algorithms to shape billions of minds online. While one may applaud the ostensible goal of curbing terrorist recruitment, the use of psyops for social engineering and manufacturing consent could extend far beyond the original intent.
Military deception is an ancient and time-honoured art. Throughout recorded history, military commanders have attempted to spread false news and seed false information as part of psychological warfare operations to deceive, confuse, and demoralize the enemy…
Recently, thousands of people around the world are claiming to be having the exact same terrifying experience. They all report the same symptoms: hearing operator voices in their heads, suffering from ‘electronic torture’ and being subject to organised stalking – they call themselves ‘Targeted Individuals’. A number have attempted many things to relieve their pain – from living life on the run to surgically removing their own flesh because they believe it’s implanted with microchips.
VICE follows a growing community who say they are being targeted as part of a government programme that is harassing and controlling them using hidden technology.
Newly declassified documents from the Reagan presidential library help explain how the U.S. government developed its sophisticated psychological operations capabilities that – over the past three decades – have created an alternative reality both for people in targeted countries and for American citizens, a structure that expanded U.S. influence abroad and quieted dissent at home.
By Robert Parry
The documents reveal the formation of a psyops bureaucracy under the direction of Walter Raymond Jr., a senior CIA covert operations specialist who was assigned to President Reagan’s National Security Council staff to enhance the importance of propaganda and psyops in undermining U.S. adversaries around the world and ensuring sufficient public support for foreign policies inside the United States.
Raymond, who has been compared to a character from a John LeCarré novel slipping easily into the woodwork, spent his years inside Reagan’s White House as a shadowy puppet master who tried his best to avoid public attention or – it seems – even having his picture taken. From the tens of thousands of photographs from meetings at Reagan’s White House, I found only a couple showing Raymond – and he is seated in groups, partially concealed by other officials.
But Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. Although it’s impossible to know exactly what the doodler had in mind, the drawing fits the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who was controlling the various inter-agency task forces that were responsible for implementing various propaganda and psyops strategies.
Until the 1980s, psyops were normally regarded as a military technique for undermining the will of an enemy force by spreading lies, confusion and terror. A classic case was Gen. Edward Lansdale — considered the father of modern psyops — draining the blood from a dead Filipino rebel in such a way so the dead rebel’s superstitious comrades would think that a vampire-like creature was on the prowl. In Vietnam, Lansdale’s psyops team supplied fake and dire astrological predictions for the fate of North Vietnamese and Vietcong leaders.
Essentially, the psyops idea was to play on the cultural weaknesses of a target population so they could be more easily manipulated and controlled. But the challenges facing the Reagan administration in the 1980s led to its determination that peacetime psyops were also needed and that the target populations had to include the American public.
The Reagan administration was obsessed with the problems left behind by the 1970s’ disclosures of government lying about the Vietnam War and revelations about CIA abuses both in overthrowing democratically elected governments and spying on American dissidents. This so-called “Vietnam Syndrome” produced profound skepticism from regular American citizens as well as journalists and politicians when President Reagan tried to sell his plans for intervention in the civil wars then underway in Central America, Africa and elsewhere.
While Reagan saw Central America as a “Soviet beachhead,” many Americans saw brutal Central American oligarchs and their bloody security forces slaughtering priests, nuns, labor activists, students, peasants and indigenous populations. Reagan and his advisers realized that they had to turn those perceptions around if they hoped to get sustained funding for the militaries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as well as for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, the CIA-organized paramilitary force marauding around leftist-ruled Nicaragua.
So, it became a high priority to reshape public perceptions to gain support for Reagan’s Central American military operations both inside those targeted countries and among Americans.
“the planned use of communications to influence attitudes or behavior should, if properly used, precede, accompany, and follow all applications of force. Put another way, psychological operations is the one weapons system which has an important role to play in peacetime, throughout the spectrum of conflict, and during the aftermath of conflict.”
“Military psychological operations are an important part of the ‘PSYOP Totality,’ both in peace and war. … We need a program of psychological operations as an integral part of our national security policies and programs. … The continuity of a standing interagency board or committee to provide the necessary coordinating mechanism for development of a coherent, worldwide psychological operations strategy is badly needed.”
Some of Raymond’s recently available handwritten notes show a focus on El Salvador with the implementation of “Nation wide multi-media psyops” spread through rallies and electronic media. “Radio + TV also carried Psyops messages,” Raymond wrote. (Emphasis in original.) Though Raymond’s crimped handwriting is often hard to decipher, the notes make clear that psyops programs also were directed at Honduras, Guatemala and Peru.
One declassified “top secret” document in Raymond’s file – dated Feb. 4, 1985, from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger – urged the fuller implementation of President Reagan’s National Security Decision Directive 130, which was signed on March 6, 1984, and which authorized peacetime psyops by expanding psyops beyond its traditional boundaries of active military operations into peacetime situations in which the U.S. government could claim some threat to national interests.
“This approval can provide the impetus to the rebuilding of a necessary strategic capability, focus attention on psychological operations as a national – not solely military – instrument, and ensure that psychological operations are fully coordinated with public diplomacy and other international information activities,” Weinberger’s document said.
This broader commitment to psyops led to the creation of a Psychological Operations Committee (POC) that was to be chaired by a representative of Reagan’s National Security Council with a vice chairman from the Pentagon and with representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the U.S. Information Agency.
“This group will be responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing psychological operations activities in support of United States policies and interests relative to national security,” according to a “secret” addendum to a memo, dated March 25, 1986, from Col. Paddock, the psyops advocate who had become the U.S. Army’s Director for Psychological Operations.
“The committee will provide the focal point for interagency coordination of detailed contingency planning for the management of national information assets during war, and for the transition from peace to war,” the addendum added. “The POC shall seek to ensure that in wartime or during crises (which may be defined as periods of acute tension involving a threat to the lives of American citizens or the imminence of war between the U.S. and other nations), U.S. international information elements are ready to initiate special procedures to ensure policy consistency, timely response and rapid feedback from the intended audience.”
The Psychological Operations Committee took formal shape with a “secret” memo from Reagan’s National Security Advisor John Poindexter on July 31, 1986. Its first meeting was called on Sept. 2, 1986, with an agenda that focused on Central America and “How can other POC agencies support and complement DOD programs in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama.” The POC was also tasked with “Developing National PSYOPS Guidelines” for “formulating and implementing a national PSYOPS program.” (Underlining in original)
Raymond was named a co-chair of the POC along with CIA officer Vincent Cannistraro, who was then Deputy Director for Intelligence Programs on the NSC staff, according to a “secret” memo from Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Craig Alderman Jr. The memo also noted that future POC meetings would be briefed on psyops projects for the Philippines and Nicaragua, with the latter project codenamed “Niagara Falls.” The memo also references a “Project Touchstone,” but it is unclear where that psyops program was targeted.
Another “secret” memo dated Oct. 1, 1986, co-authored by Raymond, reported on the POC’s first meeting on Sept. 10, 1986, and noted that “The POC will, at each meeting, focus on an area of operations (e.g., Central America, Afghanistan, Philippines).”
The POC’s second meeting on Oct. 24, 1986, concentrated on the Philippines, according to a Nov. 4, 1986 memo also co-authored by Raymond.
“The next step will be a tightly drafted outline for a PSYOPS Plan which we will send to that Embassy for its comment,” the memo said. The plan “largely focused on a range of civic actions supportive of the overall effort to overcome the insurgency,” an addendum noted. “There is considerable concern about the sensitivities of any type of a PSYOPS program given the political situation in the Philippines today.”
Earlier in 1986, the Philippines had undergone the so-called “People Power Revolution,” which drove longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos into exile, and the Reagan administration, which belatedly pulled its support from Marcos, was trying to stabilize the political situation to prevent more populist elements from gaining the upper hand.
But the Reagan administration’s primary attention continued to go back to Central America, including “Project Niagara Falls,” the psyops program aimed at Nicaragua. A “secret” Pentagon memo from Deputy Under Secretary Alderman on Nov. 20, 1986, outlined the work of the 4th Psychological Operations Group on this psyops plan “to help bring about democratization of Nicaragua,” by which the Reagan administration meant a “regime change.” The precise details of “Project Niagara Falls” were not disclosed in the declassified documents but the choice of codename suggested a cascade of psyops.
Other documents from Raymond’s NSC file shed light on who other key operatives in the psyops and propaganda programs were. For instance, in undated notes on efforts to influence the Socialist International, including securing support for U.S. foreign policies from Socialist and Social Democratic parties in Europe, Raymond cited the efforts of “Ledeen, Gershman,” a reference to neoconservative operative Michael Ledeen and Carl Gershman, another neocon who has served as president of the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), from 1983 to the present. (Underlining in original.)
Although NED is technically independent of the U.S. government, it receives the bulk of its funding (now about $100 million a year) from Congress. Documents from the Reagan archives also make clear that NED was organized as a way to replace some of the CIA’s political and propaganda covert operations, which had fallen into disrepute in the 1970s. Earlier released documents from Raymond’s file show CIA Director William Casey pushing for NED’s creation and Raymond, Casey’s handpicked man on the NSC, giving frequent advice and direction to Gershman. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “CIA’s Hidden Hand in ‘Democracy’ Groups.”]
Another figure in Raymond’s constellation of propaganda assets was media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who was viewed as both a key political ally of President Reagan and a valuable source of funding for private groups that were coordinating with White House propaganda operations. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit.”]
In a Nov. 1, 1985 letter to Raymond, Charles R. Tanguy of the “Committees for a Community of Democracies – USA” asked Raymond to intervene in efforts to secure Murdoch’s funding for the group.
“We would be grateful … if you could find the time to telephone Mr. Murdoch and encourage him to give us a positive response,” the letter said.
Another document, entitled “Project Truth Enhancement,” described how $24 million would be spent on upgrading the telecommunications infrastructure to arm “Project Truth, with the technical capability to provide the most efficient and productive media support for major USG policy initiatives like Political Democracy.” Project Truth was the overarching name of the Reagan administration’s propaganda operation. For the outside world, the program was billed as “public diplomacy,” but administration insiders privately called it “perception management.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Victory of Perception Management.”]
The Early Years
The original priority of “Project Truth” was to clean up the images of the Guatemalan and Salvadoran security forces and the Nicaraguan Contras, who were led by ousted dictator Anastasio Somoza’s ex-National Guard officers. To ensure steady military funding for these notorious forces, Reagan’s team knew it had to defuse the negative publicity and somehow rally the American people’s support.
At first, the effort focused on weeding out American reporters who uncovered facts that undercut the desired public images. As part of that effort, the administration denounced New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing the Salvadoran regime’s massacre of about 800 men, women and children in the village of El Mozote in northeast El Salvador in December 1981. Accuracy in Media and conservative news organizations, such as The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, joined in pummeling Bonner, who was soon ousted from his job. But such efforts were largely ad hoc and disorganized.
CIA Director Casey, from his years crisscrossing the interlocking worlds of business and intelligence, had important contacts for creating a more systematic propaganda network. He recognized the value of using established groups known for advocating “human rights,” such as Freedom House.
One document from the Reagan library showed senior Freedom House official Leo Cherne running a draft manuscript on political conditions in El Salvador past Casey and promising that Freedom House would make requested editorial “corrections and changes” – and even send over the editor for consultation with whomever Casey assigned to review the paper.
In a “Dear Bill” letter dated June 24, 1981, Cherne, who was chairman of the Freedom House’s executive committee, wrote:
“I am enclosing a copy of the draft manuscript by Bruce McColm, Freedom House’s resident specialist on Central America and the Caribbean. This manuscript on El Salvador was the one I had urged be prepared and in the haste to do so as rapidly as possible, it is quite rough. You had mentioned that the facts could be checked for meticulous accuracy within the government and this would be very helpful. …
“If there are any questions about the McColm manuscript, I suggest that whomever is working on it contact Richard Salzmann at the Research Institute [an organization where Cherne was executive director]. He is Editor-in-Chief at the Institute and the Chairman of the Freedom House’s Salvador Committee. He will make sure that the corrections and changes get to Rita Freedman who will also be working with him. If there is any benefit to be gained from Salzmann’s coming down at any point to talk to that person, he is available to do so.”
By 1982, Casey also was lining up some powerful right-wing ideologues to help fund the “perception management” project both with money and their own media outlets. Richard Mellon Scaife was the scion of the Mellon banking, oil and aluminum fortune who financed a variety of right-wing family foundations – such as Sarah Scaife and Carthage – that were financial benefactors to right-wing journalists and think tanks. Scaife also published the Tribune Review in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
A more comprehensive “public diplomacy” operation began to take shape in 1982 when Raymond, a 30-year veteran of CIA clandestine services, was transferred to the NSC. Raymond became the sparkplug for this high-powered propaganda network, according to an unpublished draft chapter of the congressional Iran-Contra investigation that was suppressed as part of the deal to get three moderate Republican senators to sign on to the final report and give the inquiry a patina of bipartisanship.
Though the draft chapter didn’t use Raymond’s name in its opening pages, apparently because some of the information came from classified depositions, Raymond’s name was used later in the chapter and the earlier citations matched Raymond’s known role. According to the draft report, the CIA officer who was recruited for the NSC job had served as Director of the Covert Action Staff at the CIA from 1978 to 1982 and was a “specialist in propaganda and disinformation.”
“The CIA official [Raymond] discussed the transfer with [CIA Director] Casey and NSC Advisor William Clark that he be assigned to the NSC as [Donald] Gregg’s successor [as coordinator of intelligence operations in June 1982] and received approval for his involvement in setting up the public diplomacy program along with his intelligence responsibilities,” the chapter said.
Gregg was another senior CIA official who was assigned to the NSC before becoming Vice President George H.W. Bush’s national security adviser.
“In the early part of 1983, documents obtained by the Select [Iran-Contra] Committees indicate that the Director of the Intelligence Staff of the NSC [Raymond] successfully recommended the establishment of an inter-governmental network to promote and manage a public diplomacy plan designed to create support for Reagan Administration policies at home and abroad.”
War of Ideas
During his Iran-Contra deposition, Raymond explained the need for this propaganda structure, saying:
“We were not configured effectively to deal with the war of ideas.”
One reason for this shortcoming was that federal law forbade taxpayers’ money from being spent on domestic propaganda or grassroots lobbying to pressure congressional representatives. Of course, every president and his team had vast resources to make their case in public, but by tradition and law, they were restricted to speeches, testimony and one-on-one persuasion of lawmakers. But President Reagan saw the American public’s “Vietnam Syndrome” as an obstacle to his more aggressive policies.
Along with Raymond’s government-based organization, there were outside groups eager to cooperate and cash in. Back at Freedom House, Cherne and his associates were angling for financial support.
In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that
“Leo Cherne has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. … We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available. Offshoots of that project appear in newspapers, magazines, books and on broadcast services here and abroad. It’s a significant, unique channel of communication” – precisely the focus of Raymond’s work.
On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond, after his transfer from the CIA to the NSC staff but while still a CIA officer, wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co. Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world.
“By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ … and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House. … A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. … Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”
The importance of the CIA and White House secretly arranging private funds was that these supposedly independent voices would then reinforce and validate the administration’s foreign policy arguments with a public that would assume the endorsements were based on the merits of the White House positions, not influenced by money changing hands. Like snake-oil salesmen who plant a few cohorts in the crowd to whip up excitement for the cure-all elixir, Reagan administration propagandists salted some well-paid “private” individuals around Washington to echo White House propaganda “themes.”
The role of the CIA in these initiatives was concealed but never far from the surface. A Dec. 2, 1982 note addressed to “Bud,” a reference to senior NSC official Robert “Bud” McFarlane, described a request from Raymond for a brief meeting.
“When he [Raymond] returned from Langley [CIA headquarters], he had a proposed draft letter … re $100 M democ[racy] proj[ect],” the note said.
While Casey pulled the strings on this project, the CIA director instructed White House officials to hide the CIA’s hand.
“Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III as Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment.”
But the formation of the National Endowment for Democracy, with its hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. government money, was still months down the road. In the meantime, the Reagan administration would have to line up private donors to advance the propaganda cause.
“We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding,” NSC Advisor Clark wrote to Reagan in a Jan. 13, 1983 memo, adding that U.S. Information Agency Director “Charlie Wick has offered to take the lead. We may have to call on you to meet with a group of potential donors.”
Despite Casey’s and Raymond’s success in bringing onboard wealthy conservatives to provide private funding for the propaganda operations, Raymond worried about whether a scandal could erupt over the CIA’s involvement. Raymond formally resigned from the CIA in April 1983, so, he said, “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this.” But Raymond continued to act toward the U.S. public much like a CIA officer would in directing a propaganda operation in a hostile foreign country.
Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s ongoing role. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.
It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond shrugged during his Iran-Contra deposition. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic politics “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”
Meanwhile, Reagan began laying out the formal authority for this unprecedented peacetime propaganda bureaucracy. On Jan. 14, 1983, Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 77, entitled “Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security.” In NSDD-77, Reagan deemed it “necessary to strengthen the organization, planning and coordination of the various aspects of public diplomacy of the United States Government.”
Reagan ordered the creation of a special planning group within the National Security Council to direct these “public diplomacy” campaigns. The planning group would be headed by Walter Raymond and one of its principal outposts would be a new Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America, housed at the State Department but under the control of the NSC. (One of the directors of the Latin American public diplomacy office was neoconservative Robert Kagan, who would later co-found the Project for the New American Century in 1998 and become a chief promoter of President George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.)
On May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in a memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack organization.
When I wrote about that memo in my 1992 book, Fooling America, Freedom House denied receiving any White House money or collaborating with any CIA/NSC propaganda campaign. In a letter, Freedom House’s Sussman called Raymond “a second-hand source” and insisted that “this organization did not need any special funding to take positions … on any foreign-policy issues.”
But it made little sense that Raymond would have lied to a superior in an internal memo. And clearly, Freedom House remained central to the Reagan administration’s schemes for aiding groups supportive of its Central American policies, particularly the CIA-organized Contra war against the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. Plus, White House documents released later revealed that Freedom House kept its hand out for funding.
On Sept. 15, 1984, Bruce McColm – writing from Freedom House’s Center for Caribbean and Central American Studies – sent Raymond “a short proposal for the Center’s Nicaragua project 1984-85. The project combines elements of the oral history proposal with the publication of The Nicaraguan Papers,” a book that would disparage Sandinista ideology and practices.
“Maintaining the oral history part of the project adds to the overall costs; but preliminary discussions with film makers have given me the idea that an Improper Conduct-type of documentary could be made based on these materials,” McColm wrote, referring to a 1984 film that offered a scathing critique of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. “Such a film would have to be the work of a respected Latin American filmmaker or a European. American-made films on Central America are simply too abrasive ideologically and artistically poor.”
McColm’s three-page letter reads much like a book or movie pitch, trying to interest Raymond in financing the project:
“The Nicaraguan Papers will also be readily accessible to the general reader, the journalist, opinion-maker, the academic and the like. The book would be distributed fairly broadly to these sectors and I am sure will be extremely useful. They already constitute a form of Freedom House samizdat, since I’ve been distributing them to journalists for the past two years as I’ve received them from disaffected Nicaraguans.”
McColm proposed a face-to-face meeting with Raymond in Washington and attached a six-page grant proposal seeking $134,100. According to the grant proposal, the project would include “free distribution to members of Congress and key public officials; distribution of galleys in advance of publication for maximum publicity and timely reviews in newspapers and current affairs magazines; press conferences at Freedom House in New York and at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.; op-ed circulation to more than 100 newspapers …; distribution of a Spanish-language edition through Hispanic organizations in the United States and in Latin America; arrangement of European distribution through Freedom House contacts.”
The documents that I found at the Reagan library did not indicate what subsequently happened to this specific proposal. McColm did not respond to an email request for comment about the Nicaraguan Papers plan or the earlier letter from Cherne (who died in 1999) to Casey about editing McComb’s manuscript. Freedom House did emerge as a leading critic of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government and also became a major recipient of money from the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, which was founded in 1983 under the umbrella of the Casey-Raymond project.
The more recently released documents – declassified between 2013 and 2017 – show how these earlier Casey-Raymond efforts merged with the creation of a formal psyop bureaucracy in 1986 also under the control of Raymond’s NSC operation. The combination of the propaganda and psyop programs underscored the powerful capability that the U.S. government developed more than three decades ago for planting slanted, distorted or fake news. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)
Over those several decades, even as the White House changed hands from Republicans to Democrats to Republicans to Democrats, the momentum created by William Casey and Walter Raymond continued to push these “perception management/psyops” strategies forward. In more recent years, the wording has changed, giving way to more pleasing euphemisms, like “smart power” and “strategic communications.” But the idea is still the same: how you can use propaganda to sell U.S. government policies abroad and at home.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
On top of the above psychological operations scholarly stipulated above, a recently unleashed psyops is flooding the social media networks, e.g. Facebook and YouTube, today.
The Flat Earth theory is designed to verify how stupid the Sheeples have become after decades of mercury and aluminum-laced vaccination, municipal water fluoridation, and the 24/7 mainstream media fake news bombardment.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone