By Donald Jeffries
Former Obama aide Cass Sunstein’s dream of having the internet infiltrated with undercover agents has come to fruition. Ironically, some of those assets have pushed the ludicrous notion that “Russian bots” are responsible for “misinformation.” In fact, it is our own government seeking to control debate, censor social media platforms, and manipulate online discourse.
Back in 2011, a largely unnoticed story revealed that the U.S. military was developing software that would permit it to create fake online accounts to influence conversations on the internet. The plan was compared to China’s totalitarian efforts to restrict online free speech, which would later result in their odious social credit score system. From an article in the Guardian:
A California corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees U.S. armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one U.S. serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.
Centcom was tasked with creating convincing personalities, with full histories and supporting details. Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks declared: “The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the U.S.” Allegedly, no American-based web sites were supposed to be targeted. But, then again, the CIA was never authorized to become involved domestically in this country. Ironically, Centcom’s web site would be hacked in 2016.
In a 2021 article titled “Sunstein Won,” James Corbett asked, “How do you spot a fed?” Corbett discussed Sunstein’s infamous 2008 paper “Conspiracy Theories,” in which he argued for “cognitive infiltration” of conspiracy research groups. These “sock puppets,” or cognitive infiltrators, would seek to disrupt potentially important discussions, and promulgate state-approved propaganda while sowing division and conflict.
Like all establishment toadies, Sunstein wasn’t interested in debating any of those “conspiracy theories.” Instead, he advocated a strategy to “undermine” their “crippled epistemology” by “planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups.” This was merely a technologically advanced version of the FBI’s COINTELPRO. J. Edgar Hoover’s insidious program sent Martin Luther King, Jr. a note strongly encouraging him to commit suicide, and was almost certainly involved in some way with his subsequent assassination.
The FBI has become extremely busy with online activities, where agents attempt to surreptitiously engage with potential “terrorists.” In 2017, left-wing news and commentary website “The Intercept” obtained secret FBI internal guidelines for the bureau. They revealed that FBI agents chatted online with persons who were not under investigation or suspected of committing any crimes. Much as our policing-for-profit law enforcement system causes police officers to desperately meet monthly ticket quotas, the FBI grades its agents involved in what they call Net Talon on how long they spend online, how many posts they make, and the number of personas they create.
In a Get Smart-like comedy of errors, undercover agents have been known to be investigating one another. This kind of aggressive “counterterrorism” first of all assumes that they are fighting actual terrorists. But, some feel that they may in fact be creating “terrorists” out of people who are just saying controversial, misguided, or outright stupid things online. The FBI’s overly broad scope permits it to target those who might be “encouraging terrorism,” even by sharing posts that originated from suspected “terrorists.”
The guidelines allow undercover operatives, while establishing their “bona fides,” to “make postings and communicate with individuals who are neither the subjects nor the associates of subjects. … [T]here is no limitation with respect to the amount of communication [they] may initiate in this regard.”
Defense attorney Khurrum Wahid noted that FBI employees or informants frequently pose as experts offering guidance to lost individuals. “These uninformed young people go online and become almost smitten with people who show a level of knowledge, who often turn out to be informants or undercovers,” Wahid said.
Centcom and Sunstein paved the way for the all-encompassing campaign to control debate on social media. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become increasingly bold over the past few years, banning the likes of Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., while “cancelling” untold numbers of lesser-known users, charging them with propagating “misinformation.”
These undercover operations are offshoots of what law enforcement has used for decades in their quest to catch the likes of drug dealers, drug users, and men soliciting prostitutes. These so-called “narcs” are trained in deception, and often entrap those who might not otherwise have committed any crime. Randy Weaver—badgered by an undercover agent until he finally sold him a shotgun sawed off enough to be illegal—comes to mind. The prisons are full of hapless souls who bought or sold drugs to someone they considered a good friend.
“Narcs” now rule the roost on many internet platforms.