Monday, January 26, 2015

Be evil: Google and the military/intelligence complex

This is the big one: The massive, juicy, overstuffed, ground-breaking investigation we've all been waiting for. (Part two is here.) I haven't read it all yet -- was on the go yesterday, little time to read -- but what I've seen looks very, very good.

Google, as many of you know, was founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. What many of you don't know is this:
Throughout the development of the search engine, Sergey Brin reported regularly and directly to two people who were not Stanford faculty at all: Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham and Dr. Rick Steinheiser. Both were representatives of a sensitive US intelligence community research programme on information security and data-mining.
Thuraisingham’s account therefore demonstrates that the CIA-NSA-MDDS program was not only funding Brin throughout his work with Larry Page developing Google, but that senior US intelligence representatives including a CIA official oversaw the evolution of Google in this pre-launch phase, all the way until the company was ready to be officially founded. Google, then, had been enabled with a “significant” amount of seed-funding and oversight from the Pentagon: namely, the CIA, NSA, and DARPA.
Some of you will flatter yourself by pretending that you were completely aware of all of this from the start. In truth, we were told nothing about the powers behind Brin and Page during the years when Google rose to ubiquity. Remember "Don't be evil"? Google was born evil.

The second part of the article deals with the great justification for the militarization of Google -- the threat of terrorism. This section gives us many details -- from the military's own publications! -- about the American government's deliberate creation of terrorist threats.

In the following, "Arquilla" is John Arquilla of the Naval Postgraduate School, who is perhaps the most important proponent of mass data-mining. Arquilla believes that terror is best fought with pseudo-terror:
“When conventional military operations and bombing failed to defeat the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya in the 1950s, the British formed teams of friendly Kikuyu tribesmen who went about pretending to be terrorists. These ‘pseudo gangs’, as they were called, swiftly threw the Mau Mau on the defensive, either by befriending and then ambushing bands of fighters or by guiding bombers to the terrorists’ camps.”
As we've noted in previous posts, the pseudo-gang strategy was developed by the notorious British counterinsurgency theorist Frank Kitson.
Arquilla went on to advocate that western intelligence services should use the British case as a model for creating new “pseudo gang” terrorist groups, as a way of undermining “real” terror networks:
“What worked in Kenya a half-century ago has a wonderful chance of undermining trust and recruitment among today’s terror networks. Forming new pseudo gangs should not be difficult.”
Of course, the great long-term tactical problem of the Kitsonian strategy (when seen from the government's point of view) is that operations are inevitably blown. As a result, a cynical populace soon learns to see every new development as a false-flag scenario, even when such is not the case. That's pretty much where we are right now. If you tell two lies in succession, and if those lies are exposed, then your third statement, even if true, will not be believed.

Hence the overwhelming need for plausible deniability...
Official corroboration that this strategy is now operational came with the leak of a 2008 US Army special operations field manual. The US military, the manual said, can conduct irregular and unconventional warfare by using surrogate non-state groups such as “paramilitary forces, individuals, businesses, foreign political organizations, resistant or insurgent organizations, expatriates, transnational terrorism adversaries, disillusioned transnational terrorism members, black marketers, and other social or political ‘undesirables.’” Shockingly, the manual specifically acknowledged that US special operations can involve both counterterrorism and “Terrorism,” as well as: “Transnational criminal activities, including narco-trafficking, illicit arms-dealing, and illegal financial transactions.” The purpose of such covert operations is, essentially, population control — they are “specifically focused on leveraging some portion of the indigenous population to accept the status quo,” or to accept “whatever political outcome” is being imposed or negotiated.
How does this relate to Google? For these tactics to work, the state needs as much information as it can possibly acquire about mass psychology...
In 2011, the Forum hosted two DARPA-funded scientists, Antonio and Hanna Damasio, who are principal investigators in the ‘Neurobiology of Narrative Framing’ project at the University of Southern California. Evoking Zalman’s emphasis on the need for Pentagon psychological operations to deploy “empathetic influence,” the new DARPA-backed project aims to investigate how narratives often appeal “to strong, sacred values in order to evoke an emotional response,” but in different ways across different cultures. The most disturbing element of the research is its focus on trying to understand how to increase the Pentagon’s capacity to deploy narratives that influence listeners in a way that overrides conventional reasoning in the context of morally-questionable actions.

The project description explains that the psychological reaction to narrated events is “influenced by how the narrator frames the events, appealing to different values, knowledge, and experiences of the listener.” Narrative framing that “targets the sacred values of the listener, including core personal, nationalistic, and/or religious values, is particularly effective at influencing the listener’s interpretation of narrated events,” because such “sacred values” are closely tied with “the psychology of identity, emotion, moral decision making, and social cognition.” By applying sacred framing to even mundane issues, such issues “can gain properties of sacred values and result in a strong aversion to using conventional reasoning to interpret them.” The two Damasios and their team are exploring what role “linguistic and neuropsychological mechanisms” play in determining “the effectiveness of narrative framing using sacred values in influencing a listener’s interpretation of events.”

The research is based on extracting narratives from millions of American, Iranian and Chinese weblogs, and subjecting them to automated discourse analysis to compare them quantitatively across the three languages...
Why is the Pentagon funding research investigating how to exploit people’s “sacred values” to extinguish their capacity for logical reasoning, and enhance their emotional openness to “morally-questionable behavior”?
Let's repeat the most important point here: This material isn't coming from wackos like Alex Jones. It's coming from the military/intelligence establishment's own publications and think tanks.

To paraphrase something Lily Tomlin once said: No matter how paranoid you get, you can't keep up.

How can the people doing this research sleep at night? Somewhere deep down, they must understand one obvious fact: A decent government would have no need for data mining, psy-war, manipulation, and "narrative extraction." There would be no need to discover how to use our most deeply-held values to compel us to commit immoral acts. 
They must not want us talking about this, the links are not working...
The enterprise of "narrative framing using sacred values in influencing a listener’s interpretation of events” brings to mind the field of study of Dr. Philip Zelikow when he was at Harvard: the political utility of "public presumptions" in shaping a society's attitudes about contemporary history.

Dr. Zelikow's expertise in effective "public myth" made him supremely qualified to serve as Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission.
It's really good and it's long but is worth the time. I find interesting is all the so-called self made billionaires in the silly valley are just welfare queens. What a surprise.
I'm reminded of the excellent blogger Tom Burghardt, from Antifascist Calling...

Which by the way Joseph, I've missed his reporting/research for more than a year now and I'm wondering if you or any of your readers know whats happened to him and his static blog?
Shadow: I don't know what happened to Antifascist. You may not be aware that his blogging career began on this very blog. He separated off because I was writing some very controversial stuff, and he apparently did not want his own material to be judged by my own forays into oddness. This decision was, in my view, quite sensible. Frankly, his site was better than mine, and I would not have wanted his writings to be subjected to the usual ludicrous guilt-by-association tactics.

So. Where did he go? I know not.
I wasn't aware of this and understand a little better with zero research and energy expended. Thank you. Your site does have my attention. I've learned a thing or two from you and comments made to keep coming back for more jewels. ;)
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