Cognitive Infrastructure: The Plumbing of a Ministry of Truth
The Plumbing of a Ministry of Truth
[Image: a frame from the 2020 interview of Ira Glasser by Glenn Greenwald when he was still at The Intercept.]
Updated 2022-11-05: Added a Jimmy Dore rant to sources.
A reading of this article is available.
Information and Thought
A report by The Intercept using leaked materials from the Department of Homeland Security shows the approach taken by that government agency in the narrative control which Caitlin Johnstone has been writing about for so long. Needless to say, the exposé of these internal documents validates Caitlin's analysis and she rightly jumps to task and identifies the key term:
This term and the world-view that accompanies it is just another echo of the
Ministry of Truth Disinformation Governance Board.
It is instructive to revisit an important event which Glenn Greenwald has described as:
One of the most successful disinformation campaigns in modern American electoral history
The event is the suppression of reports describing data obtained from a laptop which current USA President Joseph Biden's son Hunter left for repair at a computer shop. These data displayed some perverse sexual tendencies, but no problem there; you do in private what you want. The damning evidence was the corruption involving Hunter Biden trading on his father's name in Ukraine and China. Following initial reports by the New York Post, the FBI visited Facebook and warned them that they believe the data is "Russian disinformation" and requested that articles presenting the information have their distribution suppressed. This was revealed later when Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed by Joe Rogan (see Sources).
All of this happened a week or two before a presidential election in which Joseph Biden was running as the Democratic candidate. Thus, Mr. Greenwald's assertion. Federal agencies were influencing information platforms which then influenced the election. To show how mind-bendingly mad the whole situation was, The Intercept, the outlet which Greenwald had founded with Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras, censored his article on the data from the laptop. The result was that he left The Intercept.
The key point in the FBI visiting Facebook is that this is one step removed from violation of the first amendment which protects free speech. This process of speech or thought control has continued to worsen.
It began in 2018 with the uniform banishing of Alex Jones from all digital platforms at once. This implies coordination. Alex Jones combines many elements which this author finds objectionable, but that is not the point. It was a coordinated blacklisting of his digital speech across the major "social media" platforms. Following that, we have seen a continued use of suppression of "unacceptable speech". Different terms express the techniques used: shadow banning, downranking, and outright banning. The fact that Twitter banned a sitting president from using his account at their service is a shocking continuation of this speech control. It matters little if one considers Trump a con-man, a liar, or a rebel defending core conservative values. The point is Twitter banning the account of a sitting president.
In the independent media space we have seen prominent commentators moving away from Youtube to other platforms like Rokfin, Odysee and Rumble to protect themselves from "de-platforming". Similarly, we have seen independent media journalists or organisations diversifying their funding platform too, moving from PayPal and Patreon to other alternatives like locals.com, again to reduce the likelihood of them losing all funding sources at once. This diversity of video hosting, live streaming and payment processing services is a sign of a marketplace in action.
The fact that people feel the need to take these actions informs us. The result of all of the speech reduction and finacial targetting is that the independent media have been defending themselves as much as possible through divserity and redundancy. Indeed the “technies” have produced products which enable live streaming on multiple platforms at once. These parallel live broadcasts are used by many independent media organisations, with The Duran serving as a good example. At the beginning of their livestreams Alex Christoforou welcomes the audience from Rofin, Odysee, Locals and Youtube. The troll armies which infest various sites and their “chat” are defended against by moderators removing offensive content. This is what one should expect, an organisation taking responsibility for its own content rather than relying on some external third party to validate it.
[Image: a screenshot of a section of NewsGuard’s front page at its website.]
Disinformation as an Industry
If one zooms out, what emerges is the creation of an industry to control not speech, but thought. Speech control is the activity, thought control is the mission. Again we see this "one step removed" approach with newspapers paying money to third party organisations as "fact checkers". The strangest thing about this is that checking facts is the core job of a newspaper. If they are not checking the facts then what are they doing? Writing narratives, obviously. This again supports Caitlin's analysis that we live in a world where thought control is a primary objective. Why would so much effort be put towards controlling what ideas are discussed if it did not matter what people thought? The effort gives the game away.
One of the primary players in this outsourced truth game is NewsGuard. Their advisory board members include an ex-spy Michael Hayden who was the head of both the NSA and the CIA and has lied to congress (see Sources), though has never been prosecuted for this. The look on Senator Wyden’s face as Hayden denies that the NSA is collecting information on millions of USA citizens, and Hayden’s clarification of “Not wittingly” will go down as one of the most shocking moments in USA congressional testimony. Consortium News published an article describing how their publication was assigned a "red flag" by NewsGuard. In this article they documented other members of the advisory board include Tom Ridge, the first U.S. Homeland Security director and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former secretary general of NATO.
The Grayzone is another independent news organisation which has been given the NewsGuard red flag. They have accepted this and see it as a badge of honor concluding that they must be doing something right if this power establishment aligned truth diviner labels them as "untrustworthy".
Consortium News has been a major target of attack. Not just getting the NewsGuard red flag but also having its funds temporarily impounded by PayPal.
Becoming the Evil Which One Deplores
Patrick Lawrence has two articles published in quick succession which examine the issue of "truth control" from differing perspectives. The core of the topic is discussed in "Disinformation, Absolutely". He examines the behaviour described above and traces it to a form of absolutism adopted by the USA's left. His next article "War as Presentation" looks at the portrayal of the conflict in Ukraine by USA media. His analysis here is akin to the “illusory truth effect”, that lies become truth by repetition.
The Western media aligns with narrative originating from Kiev. This constant reinforcement works with the “illusory truth effect” promoting unbelievable narratives: Russia is shelling the nuclear power plant which they have occupied, Russia caused the damage to the Kersk Bridge or Russia sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines (see Sources for the humorous, satirical Matt Orfalea video compilation on this). Creating truth out of the non-sensicle is the daily operation for these media
In the "Disinformation, Absolutely" article, Lawrence reminds us of past battles for free speech, including the ACLU defending the rights of neo-Nazi's in the USA to march on the streets of Skokie, Illinois in 1978. In 2020 Glenn Greenwald interviewed Ira Glasser (see Sources). Ira worked as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, the pre-eminent civil society organisation defending that stated in their name “Civil Liberties”. They revisit the Skokie case and others in the USA's long history of battling to defend peoples rights expressed in the nation's constitutional amendments.
The current situation of banning speech from digital platforms and labeling media organisations as "untrustworthy", not because they are printing falsehoods but because the articles they publish do not conform with official narrative, is a far cry from this history of upholding the freedoms enshrined in the 1st and other amendments.
Caitlin Johnstone concludes her consideration of The Intercept's article and the nature of information or thought control by asking:
Our ongoing descent into tyranny in the name of opposing tyrants calls forth a very simple question: if defeating autocracy requires becoming an autocracy, what's the point of defeating autocracy?
This natural question is reminiscent of one of the bravest moments in USA politics in many decades when Barbara Lee cast the lone vote, in both houses of parliament, against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force following the crimes of 9/11 in 2001. During her speech on the floor of the House of Representatives she quotes a member of the clergy:
As we act, let us not become the evil we deplore.
[Image: a frame from Barbara Lee’s speech on the floor of the house during the AUMF debate.]
The current climate of outlawing truth or opinion is best encapsulated by the USA's application to extradite Julian Assange. The legal process and all of the other aspects of the "Cognitive infrastructure" like NewsGuard shine a revealing light on the moral state of "the west". Blacklisting and de-platforming social commentators, prosecuting whistleblowers and publishers under the draconian Espionage Act, and de-funding and smearing independent news organisations are the thought control tools in use in the USA and to some degree in other "western liberal democracies", particularly the UK.
It would be interesting to hear a response to the current practice from the USA "founding fathers". Despite their failings as slave owning white men who denied the right to vote to all women, man who did not own land, all slaves and the entire indigenous population, their vision for the nation was expressed in the first ten amendments to the constitution. They wished to emulate the ideas which had and were emerging from "the Enlightenment" in Europe and particularly France of which freedom of expression is core. It is by no accident that this “right” appears in the first amendment.
They, I am certain, would be aghast at what is happening today in "the land of the free".
Truth Cops: Leaked Documents Outline DHS’s Plans to Police Disinformation, Ken Klippenstein and Lee Fang, The Intercept, 2022-10-31
Destroying Western Values To Defend Western Values, Caitlin Johnstone, her newsletter, 2022-11-01
Article on Joe and Hunter Biden Censored By The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, his newsletter, 202-10-29
The NYT Now Admits the Biden Laptop -- Falsely Called "Russian Disinformation" -- is Authentic, Glenn Greenwald, his newsletter, 2022-03-17
YouTube, Facebook, and Apple’s ban on Alex Jones, explained, Jane Coaston, Vox, 2018-08-06
Twitter permanently suspends President Donald Trump, Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, NBC news, 2021-01-08
The Response NewsGuard Rejected, Joe Lauria, Consortium News, 2022-10-16
TheGrayzone.com, Max Blumenthal responds to a questionaire sent by NewsGuard, NewsGuard, 2022-04-27
PayPal Cancels CN Account; May Seize Balance, Joe Lauria, Consortium News, 2022-05-01
Patrick Lawrence: Disinformation, Absolutely, Patrick Lawrence, Scheer Post, 2022-11-01
PATRICK LAWRENCE: War as Presentation, Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News, 2022-11-01
Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And Again. And Again, Emily Dreyfuss, Wired, 2017-02-11
Mighty Ira： Ira Glasser, Free Speech and the ACLU - System Update with Glenn Greenwald, Glenn Greenwald interviews Ira Glasser, System Update, 2020-10-20
Zuckerberg Tells Joe Rogan That FBI Warned Him About Russian Propaganda Ahead Of Hunter Laptop Story, Joe Rogan interviews Mark Zuckerberg, Joe Rogan Experience excerpt uploaded to youtube by Fresno Truth Movement + frank hassle, 2022-08-25
DNI Clapper tells Wyden the NSA does not collect data on millions of Americans, Clapper answers questions before congress, Ron Wyden, uploaded 2013-03-12
Speech on 9/14/01, Barbara Lee, her youtube channel, uploaded 2007-02-15
Gov & Big Tech Colluded To Censor Dissent On Social Media – Leaked Documents Reveal, Jimmy Dore, The Jimmy Dore Show, 2022-11-04
Sixpence None the Richer - Kiss Me, Sixpence was as confused as a “one hit wonder” as one can find, uploaded by CrowRockHits90sTV on 2018-06-14
Hence its use in this maelstrom of political confusion and loss of constitutional direction.
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