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US Journalists Targeted By Pentagon Propaganda Contractors

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the hey-this-feels-creepy dept.

The Military 232

Jeremiah Cornelius writes "While conducting investigative reporting on civilian contractors in the Pentagon's "InfoOps" Internet propaganda operations, two reporters found themselves the subject of a highly targeted, professional media manipulation effort. Reporter Tom Vanden Brook and Editor Ray Locker found that Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments. Websites were registered in their names. Some postings merely copied Vanden Brook's and Locker's previous reporting. Others accused them of being sponsored by the Taliban. 'I find it creepy and cowardly that somebody would hide behind my name and presumably make up other names in an attempt to undermine my credibility,' Vanden Brook said. If these websites were created using federal funds, it could violate federal law prohibiting the production of propaganda for domestic consumption."

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232 comments

How Silly (1, Troll)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 2 years ago | (#39763903)

That's just trolling, I've done the same thing to old high school buddies. If this is "InfoOps" then it is simply laughable.

Re:How Silly (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39763927)

Its probably done during office hours and from ips where you can trace the ips back to them. At least make an effort and if found post all over this is just business as usual and people are starting to realize what their taxes really fund.

Re:How Silly (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#39764285)

That's just trolling, I've done the same thing to old high school buddies. If this is "InfoOps" then it is simply laughable.

Thus showing the maturity level of this type of thing.

Re:How Silly (0)

rbrander (73222) | about 2 years ago | (#39764291)

Not as laughable as "death panels", the "Lie of the Year". And that had significant effect.

Re:How Silly (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764525)

Not as laughable as attempts to paint "death panels", as the "Lie of the Year" by Dems desperate to distract the public attention away from government having the power to deny you lifesaving treatment based on your calculated "worth".

FTFY

Re:How Silly (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764619)

aaaaaand....you are uninformed or full of shit.

Re:How Silly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764811)

The typical response to any dissenting opinion.

Re:How Silly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764737)

so an insurance company, whose sole purpose is profit, having the power to deny you lifesaving treatment based on your calculated "worth" is better?

Re:How Silly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765203)

Absolutely, because the only PURE motive is the purely selfish profit motive. Any other motive, especially that silly altruism, is simply disguised socialism, designed to bring down our free market capitalism, the BEST system in the world!

That is not what they do (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#39765227)

an insurance company, whose sole purpose is profit, having the power to deny you lifesaving treatment based on your calculated "worth" is better?

Insurance companies do not care how much you are worth. All they care about is pre-existing conditions.

And if you think about it anything else is insane. Insurance is for spreading around costs between a large number of people for events that happen to a few. But if you are already a person with an expensive illness to treat you are 100% sure to be only a drain on the system instead of having a probability of helping to support others.

Just like forcing banks to take on loans from people who cannot pay them back, forcing insurance companies to take people who only take from the system and cannot give will lead to collapse as well.

The insurance system is still superior though because you are allowed to choose your level of risk, and there will always be a public system to fall back on for last resort for those that did not chose insurance. At worst you end up in the same situation you would have been in with a public health plan, government panels deciding who gets treatment.

Re:How Silly (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#39764865)

The whole thing has gotten batshit thanks to the insane amount of money flowing through the pentagon and military industrial complex. Have you seen the F35 rock video? look it up and LYAO because, yeah, a project that so badly over budget it will be the most expensive weapon system in the history of the planet needs...a rock video.

We need to trash the entire system and start over if bullshit like rock videos and "InfoOps" actually gets paid for with tax dollars. The whole system has gotten so spoiled from drowning in cash that any lame ass idea gets green lighted, what we need is to go back to the way it was pre WWII, where we simply put out a spec and don't buy shit until someone brings a product that meets the spec.

But the reason we see contractors pulling shit like this is the simple fact the only thing our MIC knows how to do anymore is pad expense accounts. if they were coming in on time and on budget frankly they wouldn't have any need to cover up their dirty dealing with horseshit like this.

Re:How Silly (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 years ago | (#39765803)

Information Operations is generally a fancy way of saying advertising. Advertising must be thought useful by somebody as it pretty much pays for broadcast television and radio, as well as providing income to many web sites, including this one. I don't think that advertising to try to convince people to not engage in violence is a bad thing. If it is, could you see about getting some of the public service announcements pulled from American and European television?

The overall the US defense budget has been declining as a percentage of GDP [heritage.org] for a long time.

The F35 is being marked to many countries, not just the US. How do you market? With advertising. What is a common form of advertising? Videos.

As to the US reverting to pre-WW2 with its military in some fashion, I'm sure that is would be a popular idea in some circles. I doubt most Americans would want to return to a place where the US Army would look at the mighty Romanian Army [fpri.org] as the next competitor to catch in terms of power.

Re:How Silly (2)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#39765079)

That's just trolling, I've done the same thing to old high school buddies. If this is "InfoOps" then it is simply laughable.

So do you work or InfoOps?

Re:How Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765349)

> So do you work or InfoOps?
LOL, no no.
One of us would come with a better way to derail the discussion than GP.
Best regards
  -- InfoOps - Slashdot and Fark division.

It could violate federal law (5, Insightful)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 2 years ago | (#39763915)

Since when has violating the law deterred the actions of our government? With the wiretapping of people without a warrant, search and seizure of anyone unfortunate enough to require air travel or border crossing, detainment of individuals without due process, to instigating of torture of war prisoners, I'm somewhat surprised we don't hear more stories like this.

Re:It could violate federal law (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39763991)

In a case like this though, even if it was government funds used to do the work, it will probably come out that it was done by "overly aggressive independent contractors" who "overstepped their bounds" and not by government mandate. Whether that is true or not is a different story - and I won't presume to guess if it was actually done with government knowledge or not. We'll need a lot more facts before that could be determined. However the odds that anyone directly employed by the government will take a fall for it are pretty low.

Re:It could violate federal law (3, Insightful)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#39764203)

In a case like this though, even if it was government funds used to do the work, it will probably come out that it was done by "overly aggressive independent contractors" who "overstepped their bounds" and not by government mandate. ...

Methinks this would be what some call plausible deniability [wikipedia.org] .

Re:It could violate federal law (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#39765767)

It doesn't make any sense though, professional media manipulators don't register stuff in their target's name. Media manipulators are public relations people, the nearest thing to what these investigators are talking about are astroturfers like MS used to let loose on slashdot. What possible advantage would there be to set up accounts as trivially easy to prove as fake like this? The whole thing smells a bit off.

Re:It could violate federal law (5, Informative)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 2 years ago | (#39764043)

Since when has violating the law deterred the actions of our government?

The Constitution has become a piece of paper that the government uses to wipe the asses of the corporations. All of our laws supposedly spring from this document, so why would they feel any different about these 'lesser' laws?

Re:It could violate federal law (0, Offtopic)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#39764219)

Because Constitution is an old poorly formulated document written in a dialect of English that no one spoken for centuries, and the only people authorized to interpret it with any effect are nine political appointees?

Re:It could violate federal law (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764603)

It's better than anything geek filth like you could ever produce, you fucking ignorant sack of pig shit.

But do try an overthrow it, and let your fat, pasty impotence be the last thought in your head as you are put down, unloved, unlamented and ultimately forgotten.

Re:It could violate federal law (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#39765559)

Overthrow what? You don't even know what is written it it! WTF is "regulated militia"? "cruel and unusual"? "interstate commerce"? Every politician "interprets" those things whatever way he wants.

Oh, you mean your government that doesn't give a flying fuck about anything written in your Constitution, its responsibilities or plain common sense? It's a time-honored American tradition to proudly proclaim to the world: "Our tapeworms are longer!"

Re:It could violate federal law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765355)

It could have been much worse. Consider this document [wikipedia.org] , written about 60 years after the US Constitution. It was widely translated and served as the inspiration for founding many governments around the world. Those government then proceeded to kill 100,000,000 people in the last century. Despite its blood drenched record of death and suffering there are still many people who subscribe to the same goal.

Re:It could violate federal law (2)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#39765491)

Congratulation, you are an idiot.

Nice try to defend your sacred cows by trying to start an argument about unrelated things that you ALSO wrong about.

Re:It could violate federal law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764233)

Yet, when a constitutionalist comes and wants to run for the presidential office, people say: OMG LUNACY!.. you got what you deserve.

Re:It could violate federal law (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#39764319)

While the corporations are probobly getting treated better than your average citizen, I doubt they really enjoy the way our political environment exists today any more than we do. The problem isn't the rich, or corporations, that's just a red herring thrown at you by the REAL problem: The Democrat and Republican parties. The left blame the rich, the right blame the media. None of it is true. The laws are passed by 2 political parties that have the same goal: Power

Re:It could violate federal law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764999)

Parties dont lust after wealth and power. People do.
The blame does NOT lie with the two-party system, but with the well-monied special interests who twist that system-- and, of course, the People who fail to hold those those power-hungry interests accountable.

Re:It could violate federal law (0, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#39765139)

Well, it follows the "living Constitution" philosophy. The Constitution doesn't mean what it means, it means whatever we *want* it to mean. Brought to you by liberals! Doesn't it suck when it comes back to bite you in the ass?

Re:It could violate federal law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765359)

No, liberals believe that the Constitution means what it MEANS, and not simply what the words have changed to mean. As on, the right to be secure in their persons, papers, and effects should extend to computers and the Internet because that's what they meant. Law enforcement, which on its best day is never "liberal" seems to think that ll your electronic bases are belong to us. They also thin that just because they cry "terrorist" that they should be able to do whatever they want.

Liberals tend to believe that copyrights and patents should actually benefit society and be limited in time, which is what the Constitution says.

We reject the (conservative) notion that because an explicit right to privacy isn't in the Constitution that there is no such right. Back in the days when the a constitution was written, if you wanted some "privacy" it meant you needed to go to the bathroom. They kind of didn't think to put that one in there, sorry. The meaning of words changes over time, so you either rewrite the document or you try to keep track of what it meant when it was written.

There were a number of founders who didn't want a Bill of Rights too, because they correctly believed that some idiots (usually conservatives again) were going to interpret that as being an exhaustive list of protected rights instead of being a limitation on government, and especially law enforcement and the military.

Oh, and there is absolutely no mention of corporations in it either. Corporations, being a creation entirely of law, should be governable by law and are most absolutely NOT people with inalienable rights. This, once again, is entirely a liberal point of view.

The founders were liberals. Conservatives and the rich of the day were squarely on the side of the King. After the Revolution a good number of them went back to England, or to Canada, which is why we in the US were blessed to not have to put up with the equivalent of millionaires for several decades after the founding of the country. It gave is country a great start, which we of the present have now totally screwed up. Did you know, for instance, that when George Washington was told he was to be President one of his first acts was to order his inauguration suit from the one company in the States which made fine clothing? He did that because the British had made the manufacture of all kinds of finished goods in the Colonies illegal, and he wanted to make a point: that we needed to protect our economy and grow our manufacturing base, which was one of the hallmarks of his administration. That lasted until Reagan and the modern conservative era, and look how awesome that's turned out for our economy.

So if you want to project onto liberals the flaws of conservatives, go ahead, as courts legitimize TSA searches, notebook seizures at the border, domestic spying, corporate personhood, and all the other unconstitutional conservative ideas that they've been paid to.

Re:It could violate federal law (1)

ukemike (956477) | about 2 years ago | (#39764155)

Since when has violating the law deterred the actions of our government? With the wiretapping of people without a warrant, search and seizure of anyone unfortunate enough to require air travel or border crossing, detainment of individuals without due process, to instigating of torture of war prisoners, I'm somewhat surprised we don't hear more stories like this.

Hate to say it but all of those things are legal now.

Re:It could violate federal law (3, Interesting)

mounthood (993037) | about 2 years ago | (#39764275)

Since when has violating the law deterred the actions of our government? With the wiretapping of people without a warrant, search and seizure of anyone unfortunate enough to require air travel or border crossing, detainment of individuals without due process, to instigating of torture of war prisoners, I'm somewhat surprised we don't hear more stories like this.

Don't forget Asset Forfeiture [justice.gov] -- you don't even have to be charged with a crime, much less convicted.

WARNING:RE::It could violate federal law (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 2 years ago | (#39764521)

>Don't forget Asset Forfeiture [justice.gov] -- you don't even have to be charged with a crime, much less convicted.

Warning: clicking on the link in the RP may subject you to seizure of assets by the "Department of Justice."

Re:It could violate federal law (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#39764463)

Since when has violating the law deterred the actions of our government?

There'd be a good argument that the law made a difference on August 9, 1974. However, on September 8, 1974 the powers-that-be effectively put a stop to that kind of subversive precedent.
(look it up)

Re:It could violate federal law (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#39765125)

Since when has violating the law deterred the actions of our government?

These were contractors for private companies doing the trolling. They were concerned that too much attention to their fat InfoOps boondoggle might kill their golden goose, so they figured they could hassle the journalists into silence or trash their reputations

Astroturfing and paid shilling is not a government innovation. It's good old Free Market Capitalism at its best: Anything to protect profits.

Re:It could violate federal law (2)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | about 2 years ago | (#39765713)

"It's good old government-sponsored Market corporatism at its best: Anything to protect profits."

FTFY.

These United States wouldn't know a free market if it sat on our face and started to wiggle.

Is it real at all? (3, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#39764015)

My suspicious side wonders if these reporters created the fake sites themselves to stir up controversy.

My other suspicious side wonders if it was just spammers copying a bunch of real and popular content to a website in order to do black hat SEO. Even the part about them being "sponsored by the Taliban" could have been stolen from some real comment on their articles.

Re:Is it real at all? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764059)

Are you real? Or are you also part of the info-conspiracy?

Re:Is it real at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764063)

When would poisoning the well not be used by contracted agencies. If they are the smart ones contracted it to Indians, if they are to arrogant may have done it in house but I suspect china or Indian firms now specializing in poisoning the well.

Re:Is it real at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764191)

My suspicious side wonders if you're an employee of the InfoOps who is trying to get us to doubt this complaint.

You are a tad obvious, but then they did bid it out to the lowest offer.

Re:Is it real at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764295)

Hence Indian involvement, follow the money and you know what really is going on.

Re:Is it real at all? (3, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#39764257)

The simpler is the lie, the more people believe it. The net result of faking the libel than debunking it is always negative.

Re:Is it real at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764331)

My first thought too. Very amateurish attempt at harassment.

Sockpuppets for hire (5, Interesting)

EnergyScholar (801915) | about 2 years ago | (#39764397)

I hope all readers of Slashdot are already aware of the many 'boutique' consulting firms exist that provide this kind of service. For a fee, they will sell you anything from a single one-topic sock puppet appearance, to an entire social media campaign. I am personally familiar with organizations that provide this service. They definitely operate on Slashdot, and I have been seeing more and more probable sockpuppet appearances here. I strongly encourage all readers to increase personal awareness of this phenomenon. New media, and the shenanigans it makes possible, now requires a new type of media awareness, if one wishes to not be fooled and manipulated.

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (5, Interesting)

MountainLogic (92466) | about 2 years ago | (#39764617)

Anytime energy, climate, guns, oil, taxes, nuclear, smoking, pesticides, pharmaceuticals or evolution gets mentioned you can expect to see the sock puppets come out. I would welcome a corporate flack who shows up and articulately say, "I'm VP at company X and here is what I want to tell you about our product..." Instead all we get is 3rd rate sub-contractor who just copies and paste, perhaps with bad edits, some anti-science drivel. I guess if you have a loosing argument the only choice is to give up on making your case and muddy the waters. Now that I've entered all those keywords, just watch how many sock puppets come out and respond out of context. So welcome shills, but just for kicks please list your employer this time. Any ex-shills out there?

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#39764837)

Anytime energy, climate, guns, oil, taxes, nuclear, smoking, pesticides, pharmaceuticals or evolution gets mentioned you can expect to see the sock puppets come out.

From both sides.

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764909)

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Had scrambled eggs and bacon again.

-Lamb Chop

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#39764627)

Are they hiring? Sounds like fascinating work for a misanthrope like me.

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765175)

My guess is your slashdot ID is not low enough for them to consider you to have a credible appearance.

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#39765515)

Are they hiring? Sounds like fascinating work for a misanthrope like me.

I was musing along the same lines, but even more thinking I could do it a hell of a lot better than what I've seen of the current misanthropes' efforts. TFA sounds pretty scattershot and juvenile, IMO. Sort of like contractors doing it from the bar, once they got drunk enough to build up enough false courage.

More liberal lies here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764689)

You are just another whiny liberal falling for the LIE that the HONEST GRASSROOTS comments you see supporting the true righteous conservative principles are somehow "planted." Congrats for serving your socialist masters trying to subvert freedom by providing sinister health care and forcing false science of global warming on us so we will give up our cars and be peasants for your feudal lord Obama.

Now, they REAALLY paid me alot to hit ALL those dogwhistles. Oh, I misspelled 'a lot'--well, I'm a real person, not some elitist who believes in spelling! Booyah, elitism dogwhistle! That's 50 more dollars!

Re:More liberal lies here (0)

kermidge (2221646) | about 2 years ago | (#39765045)

"true righteous conservative principles"
"socialist masters"

Beauty. Thanks for the laugh. Shades of the John Birch Society. Now all we need are some revanchist running dogs of imperialist lackeys.

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 2 years ago | (#39765061)

Even with the kinds of services of which you speak, the idea is for them to NOT be obvious, which was the case with these allegations: the web sites in question, which you can still see cached in various places, didn't even pretend to be official or personal sites of the journalists. They just smeared them, and nothing more.

Of course, anyone who appears to hold a position you disagree with (or runs counter to the predictable Slashdot groupthink) is automatically a sockpuppet, right...?

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 2 years ago | (#39765095)

They definitely operate on Slashdot

That's strong claim. I assume it's supported by strong evidence? I only ask because I personally haven't found any. Nor have I been able to come up with a plausible reason why anyone would think it a good investment to pay them to operate here since the negative opinions of MS. At least then, hitting the opinions of the IT crowd could potentially be effective, since they're pretty much exactly the biggest source of MS's reputation, and definitely some of their biggest customers.

What topics are you certain that they're manipulating, how are they doing it, and why?

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765649)

Just look at all the posts by bonch. You'll quickly notice a pattern.

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39765271)

Do they change the little reflector signs on the back of traffic markers?

I've always wanted to talk to those folks.

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765371)

You mean the Packt shills?

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (2)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 2 years ago | (#39765437)

This is not really that surprising.

However, having had my debates with Global Warming Deniars, Pro Torture Advocates, People for the Protection of the Rich, and of course, the ever-present Citizens for Oil Company Profits who think that gas prices are about the free market -- I'm not so sure that ALL of this is SEO and Sock puppets.

Some people are just damn idiots putting sock puppets out of a job. There is something wrong with people who are morons for free.

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765613)

Quite true. Bonch comes to mind, and also the other sock puppets.

Re:Sockpuppets for hire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765721)

Why don't you provide a list of these corporations?

Re:Is it real at all? (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 2 years ago | (#39765037)

To call this a Pentagon payback campaign is ridiculous. A "highly targeted, professional media manipulation effort"? What, anonymously registering a web site, social media accounts, and similar in a person's name, and then using them in a way so that even the most casual observer could see they weren't the actual people? Give me a break. Anyone who looks at either of the sites can see they weren't even hiding the fact they were trying to smear the reporters. It wasn't even thinly-veiled: it was as overt as you can get.

At MOST — and I'm not even saying it went this far — this would have been individuals not a part of the Pentagon who were perhaps upset that USA TODAY presented the story in the way it did (some parts of which were pretty poor, considering that IO is one of our primary tools in conflict, and we shouldn't somehow be ashamed of it). That doesn't justify a smear campaign, but it wouldn't have been coming from the "Pentagon", and no, it wouldn't have been done with a "wink, wink, nod" from the Pentagon, either.

I would say that this kind of blatant and pedestrian activity is amateur hour, but it doesn't even rise to that level. Consider, too, that ANYONE could have registered these sites in this fashion — including those who would love to stir up the notion in the US that the "government" is somehow running smear campaigns against journalists. I'm not saying that is what occurred, but the truth is that when IO is done right — other than activities that are intended to destroy a target — an adversary won't even know about it.

Think about it: if you wanted to run a secret smear campaign against someone, would you make it blatantly obvious?

Re:Is it real at all? (1, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 2 years ago | (#39765067)

My suspicious side wonders if these reporters created the fake sites themselves to stir up controversy.

Whereas my cynical side would be puzzled and even shocked to discover that it wasn't done by unregulated and unaccountable private contractors.

You already lost (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764019)

"If these websites were created using federal funds, it could violate federal law prohibiting the production of propaganda for domestic consumption."

I'm sure merely suggesting the above puts you in the "you must be supporting terrorists" camp.

turnabout is fair play (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764113)

eh, you fifth columnist Leftists!

Identity teft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764189)

So what are the requirements to have legal imunity to this type of crime, ammong others it would fit into as well. Just curious. Do i have to work for the pentagon? or can any civil servent be under the fascist military umbrella?

Seems every day I'm reading another shocker (5, Interesting)

rbrander (73222) | about 2 years ago | (#39764369)

Tim Weiner, who did a great book on the CIA, was on Jon Stewart the other day, touting his new book on the FBI. Seems the beginning of the plumbers was when J. Edgar Hoover refused to start tapping the phones of all the friends and relatives of groups like The Weathermen. And now the FBI is being asked to tap even more widely and without warrants. The new Surveillance State is, get this, worse than J.Edgar Hoover would tolerate, because it was so blatantly unconstitutional.

But the FBI tapping is small potatoes. Hit Glenn Greenwald's column at Salon.com for the other day's article on "surveillance state evils"....the NSA, always forbidden to tap Americans, is now tapping, well, everything. Suspicions no longer seem paranoid that the "Total Information Awareness" is indeed being pursued: a new NSA data centre is just hoovering up (pardon the expression) every byte.

The article goes on to detail a great deal more journalist and activist intimidation than this /. item: people who've spoken out for Wikileaks, done journalism, whatever, getting up against the wall every time they pass through customs, lawyer Jesslyn Radack searched EVERY TIME she goes through TSA even domestically, people threatened with jail and jailhouse-rape.

It's just bewildering. Is this really the USA? And are it's citizens just taking it? Some freedom-loving people.

Re:Seems every day I'm reading another shocker (3, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | about 2 years ago | (#39764563)

It's just bewildering. Is this really the USA? And are it's citizens just taking it? Some freedom-loving people.

I don't have time to get mad. American Idol's on.

Re:Seems every day I'm reading another shocker (3, Interesting)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 2 years ago | (#39764639)

>It's just bewildering. Is this really the USA? And are it's citizens just taking it? Some freedom-loving people.

Congratulations. You've just discovered the difference between public ideology ("greatest country on earth," "home of freedom and democracy") and actual reality ("bow down to your corporate overlords").

P.S. The journalists' claims are overblown, in the sense that reporting on Apple's manufacturing was overblown. I get interviewed every time I enter the US (because of "leftist affiliations" shall we say). The interrogations are, in the end, professionally and not over the top in a sort of bureaucratically chilling way. If I don't make a fuss or trouble, it's just a series of questions and answers, and they're not going to do an unnecessary invasive search because they're no point / it's inefficient. If you scream and holler and break protocol on your side, I'm sure, you've just set off all the alarm bells and they have to search you, but because you screamed and hollered and they have to search everyone who screams and hollers-- because that's what the bureaucratic playbook says they have to do-- not because you're a journalist who wrote about this or that, but because, in the end, you're making extra trouble.

In short, don't argue with the cop unless you're prepared for the consequences.

Re:Seems every day I'm reading another shocker (4, Insightful)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 2 years ago | (#39765401)

Yeah, because ONLY terrorists scream and holler about their rights -- and GOOD CITIZENS capitulate.

What you've just described is a situation where the TSA security theater is merely there to make sure you bend over and say; "thank you sir."

Security doesn't have shit to do with people making jokes, or making a fuss. The guy who want's to mess you up will stay under the radar and be the most polite person up until the moment of truth.

In short, don't argue with the cop unless you're prepared for the consequences. -- Right, because we should all have consequences because we demand a Government and Security system that respects us.

Re:Seems every day I'm reading another shocker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765567)

So we may as well just climb back up the trees we came down from as a species all that time ago. Since for all our science and technology we're no better than the gazelles that, even though they could work together and take out the lion preying on them, fail to do so and remain prey.

Re:Seems every day I'm reading another shocker (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 2 years ago | (#39765375)

I wonder if we don't need to offer J Edgar Hoover and apology.

I know we all THOUGHT he was keeping documents on everyone -- but who asked him to do it? Was he really running things, or was he pressured to track people by folks like McCarthy or Nixon?

With the prescience of 20/20 hindsight -- I have to wonder about the whole scandal of him dressing in women's undergarments -- because getting caught with some perverse act seems to be MORE of a threat to our CIA or Secret Service organizations than merely assassination, torture, or selling secrets about masses of US citizens to whomever wants to buy it (per the Wikipedia document dump showing just that).

I really -- really don't know. Just throwing it out there. Since 9/11 I've decided to re-check all the history I thought I knew and found that everything I knew was about 90% wrong. 10% truth these days must just be for the "flavor".

Re:Seems every day I'm reading another shocker (1)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#39765597)

It's just bewildering. Is this really the USA?

Is and always has been. The USA was founded by the upper class for their own benefit and run that way. There's a reason it's a republic and not a democracy.

The new things is that the pendulum has begun to swing back. For a long time, more and more people became a share of the pie, with the blacks and the women allowed to vote, for example.

Why is that paper even still in business? (1)

HBI (604924) | about 2 years ago | (#39764385)

USA Today...the only place I see it is at hotels, free copies at the door of the rooms in the morning. Otherwise, who buys it or reads it?

Re:Why is that paper even still in business? (0)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 2 years ago | (#39764551)

>USA Today...the only place I see it is at hotels, free copies at the door of the rooms in the morning. Otherwise, who buys it or reads it?

"Middle America." You know, the people with the big middles? (The place you left out, was Wal-Mart).

Re:Why is that paper even still in business? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765485)

yea and all Frenchmen smell bad, and all Brittan have bad teeth, and all Germans are shit eating psychopaths, do us all a favor and the next time your on one of your walks, just jump off a bridge

Re:Why is that paper even still in business? (0)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 2 years ago | (#39764573)

P.S. In case you weren't being sarcastic: it's often the #1 selling paper in the US, and (in comparison with the WSJ) clearly the best-selling general news paper: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_Today [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why is that paper even still in business? (1)

StormyWeather (543593) | about 2 years ago | (#39764839)

Because all the copies left at every hotel room count as a sub. Readership of that crap rag is very little.

Re:Why is that paper even still in business? (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 2 years ago | (#39764971)

I agree that it's a crap rag. I wish I could agree that readership was low. Advertizers are very careful in their analytics, and they pay for placement in USAToday. Because... middle america sops it up with a straw.

Re:Why is that paper even still in business? (0)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 2 years ago | (#39764959)

Do I have a stalker today? Four comments like the above, modded down? To my stalker: I can report mod abuse, you know ;)

Does not scan (4, Informative)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#39764633)

Tfs: US Journalists Targeted By Pentagon Propaganda Contractors

Tfa: says that they appear to have been targeted by a misinformation campaign. TFA makes no mention of a connection between the actions and propaganda contractors.

Might be that they are connected - but nowhere is there proof or even a suggestion of proof for the statement.

WTF slashdot...

Re:Does not scan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765269)

The misinformation campaign started shortly after they made inquiries with government and contractors about how government propaganda is propagated with no accountability and public (or even electorate) insight.

You may draw any conclusions you wish from that, but given the government (and contractor) track record on such things...

Re:Does not scan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765459)

Normally you can follow the "who benefits" path...

Gawker.com says its Leonie Industries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765495)

USAToday didn't name the people they believe are responsible because they don't have any hard proof linking the smear campaign to them.

Gawker.com, though, is seemingly not burdened by any such journalistic standards :)

Meet the Pentagon Contractor That Ran a Disinformation Campaign Against Two USA Today Reporters

Last night USA Today reported that two of its staffers, Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker, were the targets of a smear campaign, including fake Twitter accounts and web sites established in their names, launched by a Pentagon contractor specializing in "information operations." For some reason, the paper declined to name the perpetrator: Leonie Industries

...

Oddly, the USA Today story on the mischief names only "Pentagon contractors" as likely culprits.
But a source familiar with the story confirms that the contractor responsible is Leonie Industries, an information operations company with more than $90 million in Army contracts in Afghanistan. It's doubly odd that USA Today didn't at least seek comment from Leonie on the disinformation, since Leonie was the primary target of the investigation that apparently sparked the sculduggery, and would be the inescapable suspect to anyone who put two and two together.

Who paid for the websites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764777)

Perhaps you can tell the Internet and let them check these sites out. (Cue Monty Burns: Unleash the hounds!)

Identity theft (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#39764929)

Reporter Tom Vanden Brook and Editor Ray Locker found that Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments.

- I suppose there are criminal laws concerning identity theft and they should be applicable not only when money is stolen from a bank account, but also in these cases, where somebody pretends they are someone else to push agenda.

I can easily see how in the age of the Internet various agencies, government contractors try to disseminate fake and false information in order to confuse the issue. Who can tell on the Internet what is real and what is not? What opinion does anybody actually hold?

After all, quite a number of people believe for example that Albert Einstein was a religious person in terms of following some religion, yet there is plenty of his writing where he specifically states that he does not believe in a god.

Of-course it's easier to steal identity of people who are long gone, so they can't protect themselves and set the record straight, but even with the living it's a huge challenge.

The Internet can be attacked in many ways, and it is.

Start PGP signing those posts! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39764983)

This looks like a perfect opportunity for them to start digitally signing their public posts.

Re:Start PGP signing those posts! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765601)

This looks like a perfect opportunity for them to start digitally signing their public posts.

Hmmm... yeah... a signed twit makes sense... (should we try signing a twat as well?)

The shame of it! (1)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#39765219)

Clearly this is is an Israeli attempt to keep the media from uncovering the North Korean's plot to supply Columbian rebels with Czech-brewed Canadian beer as a cover for Indian nuclear intervention in Antarctica!

Re:The shame of it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765671)

That's trolling and disinformation! Syria would allow chilled Canadian sake brewed in Morocco as the only fermented drink to reach Colombia; anything else and they'll veto it in the UN council and impose sanction on US.

See it all the time on Wikipedia (3, Interesting)

br00tus (528477) | about 2 years ago | (#39765305)

I did some work on the No Gun Ri article on Wikipedia, which is an incident of Americans massacring Korean civilians during the US war in Korea. It was whitewashed [wikipedia.org] by someone, whose DNS PTR records at the time were 214.13.196.180 host196-180.iraq.centcom.mil . CENTCOM by the way is the organization highlighted in the documentary "Control Room".

Or we have Fort Benning whitewashing [wikipedia.org] all the Latin American death squads that were trained there, that IP's DNS PTR back then was doim1-358.benning.army.mil - it whitewashed the WHISC article as well. Of course, with September 11th, we now have death squads and terrorists trained by the US government now not just killing indigenous farmers in El Salvador, but killing Americans in the US as well. Good going, guys!

It's basically like Orwell's Ministry of Truth in 1984. Well not like it, it is exactly that. My tax dollars go to pay the commissars of the US empire to erase the evidence of their massacres from history. Of course, the purpose of making this stuff disappear from history, like the US soldier who went into a village in Afghanistan recently and murdered many civilians, is so that they can portray the US and its military and its multinational corporations as shining white knights out saving the world, not raping and pillaging for plunder, empire and profit.

Your Tax Dollars At Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765379)

Do we really want to be paying for this?

This is why.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39765581)

Many of my hacker associations members aren't hackers but people that dont want to be messed with and trust me you don't wanna try.
No script kiddy types here....

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