Friday, October 04, 2019

Black propaganda


Slightly more people support removing Trump than support impeaching him. I like that result. It appeals to my sense of absurdity.

Of course, the situation will probably soon change. As I keep reminding readers, Zelensky is the creature of a corrupt oligarch, and there are plenty of other people in Ukraine willing to take bribes. Do not be surprised if someone there produces the "evidence" necessary to frame Biden. We may even see "evidence" which gives the illusion of credibility to Trump's beloved conspiracy fantasias involving Manafort and Crowdstrike.

Will teevee talking heads have the guts to call this "evidence" fraudulent? Remember, GOP ratfuckers tried to frame Elizabeth Warren and Robert Mueller with bogus sex scandals, and they successfully framed Hillary with all sorts of nonsense (Emailgate, Pizzagate, bizarre health claims, etc.).  

CYA, CIA! We know that the Whistler (I'm trying out a new nickname) worked for a Certain Intelligence Agency, and that his first step was to go to the CIA's general counsel Courtney Simmons Elwood, a Trump appointee. The NYT originally reported that she blabbed everything to the administration, and I was pissed at her for that. However:
Weeks before the whistleblower's complaint became public, the CIA's top lawyer made what she considered to be a criminal referral to the Justice Department about the whistleblower's allegations that President Donald Trump abused his office in pressuring the Ukrainian president, U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News.
While that timeline and the CIA general counsel's contact with the DOJ has been previously disclosed, it has not been reported that the CIA's top lawyer intended her call to be a criminal referral about the president's conduct, acting under rules set forth in a memo governing how intelligence agencies should report allegations of federal crimes.
So she thought the matter was criminal, or potentially so. Barr did not. Interesting! At any rate, we now know that she was not a tattletale: She did the right thing.

Black propaganda. The text messages provided by Kurt Volcker inspired Asha Rangappa to write this Twitter thread, which I will transform into conventional prose. She makes some important points that everyone else has ignored.
One thing not to overlook in understanding the significance of the texts is that in addition to soliciting section assistance and abusing his power, Trump was attempting to employ covert propaganda against the American public:

As I note in the clip above, one thing the texts make clear is that the administration wasn't just interested in Ukraine investigating Biden -- they were specifically interested in the *messaging* about the investigation. If what you care about is "corruption," you would be satisfied with an assurance that Ukraine was going to investigate. Instead, the Trump admin doesn't care so much about the investigation itself, but making sure that the fact that it is being investigated is *being broadcast to the audience they care about: American voters

IMPORTANTLY, they are very invested in the message being crafted in a specific way -- tailored to Trump's benefit by maximizing the "seeds of doubt" on both Biden and the 2016 election. It's being drafted by Trump's personal lawyer!

In addition, the message was going to be delivered as an official statement from Ukraine, with NO INDICATION that the United States either precipitated or participated in its creation in any way. This, folks, is called black propaganda.

Black propaganda attempts to conceal the true source of information, so that the target cannot accurately assess the credibility of the message or the motives of the source behind it. Trump wanted to cloak his own role and motives behind a statement of a foreign country. The goal here is to manipulate the American public into to thinking that Ukraine had independently reached the same conclusions about the Russia investigation, and/or uncovered criminal leads about Biden. Trump could then use this to bolster his own views.

Not for nothing, but a good chunk of the cases I investigated in the FBI were "perception management" (propaganda) cases. We actively try to STOP foreign countries from doing this to us, because we believe that part of an open society and marketplace of ideas is ensuring that people know the true source of information in order to assess credibility and critically evaluate the content. (FARA originated in 1938 as a way to combat Nazi propaganda, by requiring state-sponsored content to be identified as such.)

Basically, you have the Trump admin attempting to conduct an illegal covert psyop on the American public, using officials from the State Department and his own attorney to do it. It's literally a version of what Russia did in 2016.
What Rangappa doesn't tell you is that the trick could still work. Everything depends on the quality of the "evidence" provided by Zelensky.

Bannon vs. the conspiratards. I never expected Bannon to deny the Deep State conspiracy theory -- I mean, Michael Wolffe's Siege describes Bannon as surrounding himself with conspiracy literature. But look here:
The “deep state conspiracy theory is for nut cases”, Bannon is quoted as saying, because “America isn’t Turkey or Egypt”.

There is a formidable government bureaucracy in the US, he adds, but “there’s nothing ‘deep’ about it. It’s right in your face.”
Steve Bannon sounds less "out there" than Peter Dale Scott. Never thought I'd see the day.


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