The National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart (GCHQ) are “attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction,” according to a new report by Glenn Greenwald.
Having published numerous stories gleaned from the cache of documents obtained by former NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden, Greenwald declared on his new website, the Interceptor, that it was time that this aspect of the tale were told.
The disturbing online activities carried out by the GCHQ, and presented to the rest of the intelligence agencies in the English-speaking “Five Eyes Alliance" for their consideration, were described in a document produced by the formerly super secret department of the GCHQ known as JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group).
Analysis of the document and the scheme it lays out reveals that intelligence officers set out purposefully “to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse,” Greenwald writes.
The name of the manual is enough to rile civil libertarians: “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.” The tricks and tactics it promotes and explains are more than any friend of liberty should be willing to accept from agents of their own government.
In the pages of the JTRIG document obtained by Snowden and released by Greenwald, agents are instructed in ways to achieve two central goals: First, “to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets"; and second, “to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.”
Page after page, the document outlines how agents should “disrupt” the lives — online and real life — of targets, including instructions on conducting “false flag operations” online.
False flags are defined in an online dictionary as an operation “designed to deceive in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities, groups or nations than those who actually planned and executed them.”
Weaving these lies, convincing people that stories they read online are legitimate news stories with the villains and heroes accurately identified, is apparently one of the priorities for the Anglophone intelligence gathering apparatus.
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