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Fake News Starts in Washington: Perception Management and Influence Operations Manipulate Public Opinion
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The Pentagon logo is seen behind the podium in the briefing room at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., January 8, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago - RC2UBE9Z8VJH

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It is perhaps unusual to have a government that has as much disregard for what most would consider to be the truth as does the current group of rascals running the United States of America. To be sure, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is as shameless a liar as has ever been seen on any public platform while the president himself appears to make things up as he goes along, particularly if a certain embellishment makes him look good. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that lying and government have a long history, possibly going back to when the first cave dwellers elected a leader to guide the tribe on a mastodon hunt.

Lying is a traditional role for intelligence services. The Romans had a spy service run out of the imperial palace that provided military and political intelligence all across their vast empire. It included what might be called deception operations carried out to confuse enemies about intentions and capabilities. In more recent centuries, the British became masters of both spying and deception. Major influencing intelligence operations run against the United States can be credited with having led to American involvement in both world wars.

Currently, the world’s preeminent spy agency in terms of manpower, resources and global reach is undoubtedly the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). That is not to suggest that it is necessarily the best intelligence agency, as smaller, more nimble, focused organizations can outperform the spies from the large countries in the niche areas that they consider important. The Agency’s unofficial motto is taken from the Gospel of John: “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” in itself a deception operation as the CIA, acting for the White House, has not blessed anyone with freedom lately. The Israeli Mossad’s motto is more direct, also biblical, coming from the book of Proverbs. It has been translated from the Hebrew as “By way of deception, thou shall do war” though it also appears as “By wise counsel thou shall wage war.” “Wise counsel” might be described as a deceptive way to describe deception.

The federal government’s various intelligence agencies are into deception big time, so much so that they have a number of euphemisms that permit them to lie about lying. The CIA regards spreading false information as part of its “covert action” activity while the military prefers variations on “perception management.” Both occasionally refer to “influence” or “influencing” operations. Either way, it is in reality a form of “information warfare” in which words and ideas are used to shape a perspective favorable to the country engaging in the practice and damaging to one’s enemies.

The United States Department of Defense defines “perception management” as “Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders at all levels to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator’s objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception, and psychological operations.” In other words, perception management is a multi-tasked mechanism designed to get an adversary to think or believe what one wishes, no matter what the truth actually is.

The CIA has historically disseminated disinformation primarily through press placements, using agents and collaborators worldwide to circulate stories that were presumed to be supportive of U.S. interests. The danger was that stories circulated overseas also made their way back into the United States media and, as a result, were pari pass disinforming the U.S. public. In the 1970s the Agency decided to limit the blowback by only placing stories in foreign media that was unlikely to be picked up in the U.S. However, in an age of internet and easy global communications it is no longer possible to exercise that kind of control and one has to assume that a certain percentage, possibly large, of disinformation actually originates with the U.S. government.

The Pentagon has also been into the deception game, particularly in terms of justifying the Vietnam War by placing stories emphasizing the threat to the United States, which was largely an invention. This was similar to what followed with the Department of Defense’s Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) in 2001, which was replaced by the Office of Special Plans and the Policy Counter Terror Evaluation Group (PCTEG), all of which promoted false and inflated intelligence suggesting that the Iraqi government was building an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that could be used to attack the U.S. The intention was to build public support for an attack on Iraq, because as President George W. Bush once admitted “One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.”

Now comes the scary part. Defense One, which circulates among defense contractors and within the armed services, is now reporting that “Two former top special operations officials say their job was too junior and the Pentagon isn’t taking information warfare seriously enough. Despite shifting military budgets to better keep up with competitors, there’s one area where countries like China, Russia, and even Iran are proving nimble and frustrating for the Department of Defense: influence operations.”

The article complains that “Today, there is no one individual that’s directly in command of all ‘influence operations’ across the Department of Defense.” That is, of course, a good thing but Defense One doesn’t see it that way. The article goes on to describe how the current system works, which includes a WebOps Center created to “access the opportunities and risks of the global information space,” most of which is only of interest to a Pentagon-wonks. One quote included in the piece rather mysteriously describes how “The Department of Defense has a tremendous amount of capabilities, information-related capabilities, but they’re all stovepiped cylinders of excellence and they’re not integrated across the department to realize strategic messaging.”

The article concludes by considering how a new upgraded position of Undersecretary of Defense might be created to manage all the Pentagon’s “influence operations,” institutionalizing the process at a high level, making it something like a Ministry of Lies. All right, so it should surprise no one that the United States does heavy handed propaganda, but what is interesting is that it does so openly and even discusses in detail how it does it in such a fashion that there is not even any “plausible denial” of what is going on. And it is an illusion to think that lies put out by the government do not influence policy and even change the course of elections. An informed citizenry is essential in a democracy, so policy making should be as close to “fact-based” as possible. It was the Pentagon, after all, stung by honest media reporting on Vietnam, that now embeds journalists in war zones to control what they see and write about. Governing through lies does not make for good policy and it makes the government lack credibility even when it is telling the truth. American citizens who are taken in and fooled by what comes out of the influencing operations deserve much better.

(Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Alternative media like Unz Review and social media have complicated things for the Deep State propagandists. A lot of resources are now spent pushing back against those questioning the official narrative to coordinate nicely-crafted propaganda. This is a good thing as it helps to quickly identify it as Deep State bullshit.

    I knew COVID-19 was bioweapon early when I saw the “Wuhan, China” bat soup video go viral but soon learned it was taken in Palau and the guy behind its dissemination is tied to Western interests.

  2. onebornfree says: • Website

    P. Giraldi: “Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that lying and government have a long history, ”

    “People do not expect to find chastity in a whorehouse. Why, then, do they expect to find honesty and humanity in government, a congeries of institutions whose modus operandi consists of lying, cheating, stealing, and if need be, murdering those who resist? ” H. L. Mencken

    “Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt  criminal scams which cannot be “reformed”or “improved”,simply because of their innate criminal nature.”   onebornfree

    “My first rule- I don’t believe anything the government tells me- nothing!- ZERO!” George Carlin

    Regards, onebornfree

    • Replies: @Curmudgeon
  3. The CIA regards spreading false information as part of its “covert action.”

    “What is the most resilient parasite?….An idea.” – From the movie Inception

  4. @onebornfree

    “Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams which cannot be “reformed”or “improved”,simply because of their innate criminal nature.”

    There are different kinds of taxes. Import duties are different than income taxes. How is an import duty on something that has a made up value, theft?
    Whether you like it or not, taxes are the cost of civilization. There would be, for example, no paved roads without government “theft”, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Central banks aren’t counterfeiting monopolies, private central banks are. Private central banks are government sponsored usury (E. Michael Jones). Any national currency is coined or printed under the authority of a government, whether democratic, despotic, or by divine right. The horseshit about gold and silver, (or digital for that matter) being real money is part of the scam. Money/currency, including gold and silver, has become commodities subject to manipulation. Just ask New Zealand or Mexico.

    I suggest that governments have become criminal in nature, in direct proportion to the monetization of the economies of those countries. When everything becomes a commodity, everything includes politicians.

    “People do not expect to find chastity in a whorehouse.”
    On the other hand, a golfer will tell you the only place you won’t hear a golfer say “Bite you sucker, bite.” is a whorehouse.

    • Agree: Dutch Boy
  5. PAX says:

    Phil is a breath of fresh air. Thanks! An inordinate amount of deep state resources are being used to fight those brave enough to stand against the mainstream media. Their efforts are significant but the truth remains elusive. Lies have a very high return on investment. How much money did it cost the neocons to get wars in Iraq and inflame large parts of the middle east on behalf of Israel? How much did it cost (lives, casualties, wealth, collateral damage) the US to wage there wars not in our interest? The return to the neocon cause is astronomical. When the NYT put their version of the assault on the USS Liberty on a back page – I knew that truth was irrelevant to these collective warmongers. We must keep speaking the truth and not be duped by the band of liars.

    • Replies: @Realist
  6. GeeBee says:

    ‘An informed citizenry is essential in a democracy, so policy making should be as close to “fact-based” as possible. ‘

    Carts and horses come to mind. The scam of ‘democracy’ that has been so assiduously and successfully peddled by those who own it, is largely dependant on ‘the people’ being kept more or less uninformed. Or in other words, its owners go out of their way to ensure that the citizenry are kept in the dark (which is, after all, the object lesson of Mr Giraldi’s entire essay, which makes his sentence that I quote jar with the burden of his piece).

    As ‘Curmudgeon’ wisely states in his comment above: ‘I suggest that governments have become criminal in nature, in direct proportion to the monetization of the economies of those countries. When everything becomes a commodity, everything includes politicians.’

    What this means is that those who own the fake scam of ‘democracy’ do so by virtue of the fact that they have first made sure that they own all professional politicians. Another poster quoted H L Mencken, and it is timely to recall that he once observed of the lowlife we know as these same professional politicians, that ‘if a politician discovered that there were cannibals in his constituency, he would promise to give them missionaries for dinner’.

    Actually, this is quite generous to the scope and manoevrability of politicians, as it fails to make clear that they would not dream of making any such promise before they had first received the blessing of their pupeteers in doing so. I have stated this before, but it is worth repeating: the difference between the modern mass political movements of ‘Communism’ on the one hand and ‘Liberal democracy’, aka ‘Neo-Liberalism’ aka ‘Capitalism’ on the other is hard to pin down. This is because both systems are owned by the same tiny cohort. Only the roles of professional politicians and business and media leaders are inverted, to provide the same result. Thus, under ‘Communism’ the politicians own big business and control the media, whereas under ‘Liberal Democracy’ the politicians are owned by big business and controlled by the media.

    It need hardly be added that this same tiny cohort has successfully installed itself as the masters of the universe. Welcome to the New world Order! (with special thanks to those dupes and losers Karl Marx, V I Lenin and FDR).

  7. Lies at home.
    War abroad.
    What’s to live for?
    Death eats the cor.

  8. Realist says:

    How much money did it cost the neocons to get wars in Iraq and inflame large parts of the middle east on behalf of Israel?

    The Deep State doesn’t spend its money to make money…they spend your money.

  9. Biff says:

    America, where the State benefits from every tragedy, you can bet this will be played out for all it’s worth…..

    Because you see, telling lies still happens to work… I’ve seen my liberal friends hang on every single word coming off of the screen, and spread it like gospel.. The blue pilled are everywhere…

  10. Crazy Horse says: • Website

    Thanx Phil for reminding us of what we should know but keep forgetting.

  11. anon[161] • Disclaimer says:

    Sometimes FAKE NEWS starts in London.

    REVEALED: The British government’s covert propaganda campaign in Syria
    Documents obtained by MEE reveal how British contractors recruited Syrian citizen journalists – often without their knowledge – to promote ‘moderate opposition’

    And more here:
    The fabrication of the myth of the “Syrian revolution” by the United Kingdom

  12. Surtr says:

    The one thing that I would like to mention is that one of my heroes is Clair Cameron Patterson. I say this because I agree with your article. I think the problem with facts today is that there is a suspicion that scientists themselves are motivated by money and motive. This is what made Patterson so legendary. He had to travel all the way to Antarctica to find trace the amounts of lead in ice to prove that there was indeed lead poisoning produced by driving cars. Patterson is so important to today’s conversation and relevant to your article. I agree with a facts should be the focus as you conclude in your article. However I believe the issue today is that many distrust those that produce facts as they are not immune to motive and money themselves making the presentation of truth more tricky than just submitting facts. It was the scientists that worked for the gas companies that were burying facts to sell the lead based gas. This is why we see people that believe climate change is a hoax. The reason is that suspect money, political ideology, foreign double standards and influence to be motives that shape what facts are entered and left out of the conversation. The other problem is that we live in a world with so many facts that it is overwhelming, so we are forced to trust experts. Those experts have been proven time and again to be flawed or motivated by money and ideology themselves. This all makes the truth telling a bigger challenge than just submitting facts at a time when facts are more needed than ever before.
    I loved your article, and I am a fan of your work. I am such a fan of yours that I would not even think twice about voting for you for president if you ever ran. However I fear articles like these oversimplify the business of truth telling and building a high trust society which is needed now more than ever.


  13. Sean says:

    Eisenhower lied about the U2, was that such a terrible thing? Gary Powers did not hit the self-destruct button to remove the evidence and himself, but that is understandable. It was a violation of Russian territory, but there had to be U2 flights. As for the war in Vietnam, MacArthur privately warned both Kennedy and Johnson against it. But the politicians were never willing to withdraw without victory. And who were the politicians obeying but the people? The general’s operated within their own sphere after being told letting Vietnam go communist was not an option. MacArthur had the experience of Korea, but he was also RETIRED.

    Eisenhower was being called a tired old man playing golf while the Soviets stole a march with Sputnik. It was either tax the people for an unprecedentedly massive peacetime military build up, or U2 flights in violation of international law, and Eisenhower chose the latter. Khrushchev offered to accept Eisenhower’s word that he hadn’t known of the fights, which he had in fact insisted on personally authorizing each time, but that disavowal would be an admission the Dulles was running everything. In the real world there are none of these cabals of the CIA and Pentagon, and the people accept that lies are necessary. They want mutually inconsistent things: security and pure conduct by the government.

    • Replies: @Pat Kittle
  14. Surtr says:

    Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics


  15. @Sean

    …the people accept that lies are necessary. They want mutually inconsistent things: security and pure conduct by the government.

    So (((false-flagging Zionist war criminals))) lying us gullible goyim into fighting endless wars benefiting only Jews “are necessary.”


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