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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Spying and lying (Added note: Is there a Snowden II?)

Here's an interesting tweet from Wikileaks...
Warning: @wikileaks_forum @WikiLeaksForumD etc are fronts started by a confirmed FBI informer. They are not endorsed.
I'd like to know more. Just how do the folks at Wikileaks know that they are dealing with an FBI informer? I suspect that we may be dealing with Siggy Thordarson, Sweden's answer to Pugsley Addams. We have mentioned him before.

Bamford on Snowden. Excellent article -- presented in a design style that I guess we can call Web 3.0. This is the future of web graphics.

You know, I was thinking about the great anti-Snowden meme that was making the rounds not too many months ago. Remember when everyone suddenly started calling Snowden a "narcissist"?

All the right-wingers pundits were repeating that charge -- at once, starting on pretty much the same date, as if on cue. They repeated the cry so often -- "Narcissist! Narcissist! Narcissist!" -- that even some dimwit progressives began to pick up on it. Men go mad on a slogan, as Conan the Barbarian once sagely observed.

Nobody is saying "narcissist" any more. The whole idea never made any sense: If Snowden was out for himself, why would he not stay in America, play along with the program, and continue to earn big bucks while sleeping with his beautiful girlfriend? If we can use the word "narcissist" to describe a man who, out of principle, courted prison and gave up everything in life that he loved, then can we also use the word "demure" to describe Donald Trump? Can we apply the adjective "hulking" to Johnny Galecki?

And is it not true that the term "narcissist" applies far more readily to the talking heads on Fox News who got paid well to call Ed Snowden a narcissist?

There was something Frank Luntz-ian about this particular anti-Snowden attack. Luntz, the propaganda guru for the GOP (and Israel), fancies himself a master of the power of words. His shtick is making sure that "bad" words get wrapped around ideas/people/causes that he and his clients do not like, while "good" words" are associated with ideas/people/causes that he and his clients do like.

The surreal "narcissist" campaign against Snowden demonstrates that a bad word can be chosen pretty much at random. Maybe Luntz wrote a whole series of bad words on small slips of paper, affixed them to a wooden board, and then chose the Word of the Day by throwing a dart. If the dart had landed on "infantile" or "selfish" or "metrosexual," then we would have woken up one day to discover a hundred voices screaming that Ed Snowden was infantile, selfish, or metrosexual.

But how do you make the "bad" word stick to its target? Repetition. If enough people in the media chant the phrase "Kevin Bacon has polka dots on his nose," then a large segment of the populace will begin to see polka dots on Kevin Bacon's nose. Yes, people really are that gullible.

So what I want to know is -- by what mechanism do the Luntzian forces send out their instructions? Is there a secret email list? "ALERT! Here is a new command from Smear Central. You are hereby ordered to get on camera and say that Ed Snowden is a narcissist. Use that word as often as possible. Your usual check will arrive on the 15th."

Is that how it works?

Added note: A second Snowden? For a while now, I've been meaning to write about the reports that a second leaker has been making material available. From the Bamford piece:
And there’s another prospect that further complicates matters: Some of the revelations attributed to Snowden may not in fact have come from him but from another leaker spilling secrets under Snowden’s name. Snowden himself adamantly refuses to address this possibility on the record. But independent of my visit to Snowden, I was given unrestricted access to his cache of documents in various locations. And going through this archive using a sophisticated digital search tool, I could not find some of the documents that have made their way into public view, leading me to conclude that there must be a second leaker somewhere. I’m not alone in reaching that conclusion. Both Greenwald and security expert Bruce Schneier—who have had extensive access to the cache—have publicly stated that they believe another whistle-blower is releasing secret documents to the media.

In fact, on the first day of my Moscow interview with Snowden, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel comes out with a long story about the NSA’s operations in Germany and its cooperation with the German intelligence agency, BND. Among the documents the magazine releases is a top-secret “Memorandum of Agreement” between the NSA and the BND from 2002. “It is not from Snowden’s material,” the magazine notes.

Some have even raised doubts about whether the infamous revelation that the NSA was tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, long attributed to Snowden, came from his trough.
Intriguing. But consider the disinformation possibilities...

A short while ago, we saw a fake story in a Bahrain newspaper attributed to the Snowden cache. While that particular tale was a fairly obvious fraud, the Snowden II who is giving documents to the Germans may -- or may not -- be playing a devious game. What if this source establishes his bona fides by leaking genuine stuff, only to follow up with a fake?

That kind of gamesmanship is very common in Spookworld. In fact, back in the 1990s I was told by someone who had (sort of) worked with an intelligence agency that this is the standard operating procedure. Suppose you work for the clandestine side of the government and you leak information to the press: If you are caught, they won't immediately toss you in the pokey. Instead, they'll instruct you to keep meeting with your press contact -- and you will be given documents and/or information to hand over. Will that material be genuine, or will it be disinformation? You may never know.
Last night i went to a wedding of a friend from my college days. One of the guests was a longtime acquaintance who is the leading GOP contender to be the next Attorney General of Missouri. When I asked him for his campaign platform, he said one word: "Liberty." When I pressed, it turned out that he didn't believe in the liberty of sick people to smoke marijuana, freedom from surveillance or the rights of protesters to assemble in nearby Ferguson. "Liberty" is one of those Luntz-ian words for "deregulation."
Indeed it is, TJ, although it should be noted that the better libertarians are serious about applying the "liberty" concept to things like marijuana. That said, even the better libertarians are full of crap when it comes to economic issues.

Your acquaintance is simply using a buzz word to sell plutocracy.
This site censors! No open dialog here!
Anon 1:07: Yup! But if you want to get through, you must abide by the clearly posted rules for comments. You can't miss 'em.

Come to think of it, there's a rule about anonymous comments. So I should have censored what you just said. Sorry for the inconsistency.

(Actually, I often let that rule slide. But Rule 1 is more strictly enforced.)

Keep in mind that this is, as some Wikipedia editors recently said, a personal blog. If it were the sort of blog that Wikipedia would feel comfortable citing -- or if I were getting paid for this gig -- the rules would be more lenient.

Way I see it, this place is my home. It's not a public forum -- it's my HOME, and you are guests. And you are required to behave here as you would if you were visiting me in person.

Dig or split.

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