6 05 2014


(note: I have continued my research into this topic and published two other articles on the subject,  which you can find here and here. The second is the most complete. Also, this post was updated 1-15-16.)

I recently read one of Glenn Greenwald’s articles on Edward Snowden’s leaks.  The story was called “How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations.”  When I saw the diagram above, from a classified power point presentation created by NSA’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, or JTRIG, I immediately thought of my old home, The Farm (an intentional community), because that diagram, to me, illustrated the dynamics that brought us together, and the dynamics that pulled us apart.  But this power point presentation wasn’t just about the natural history of groups.  It was about how to manipulate a group in order to destroy it.  The “Old Farm” existed in the days before the internet, but the tactics JTRIG recommended would work for any organization, not just virtual ones.

In the article, Greenwald said

Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats,….

….Whatever else is true, no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse? But to allow those actions with no public knowledge or accountability is particularly unjustifiable.

Discovering that this strategy was encoded in the NSA’s playbook reminded me of a time, thirty years ago, when I first intuited that there might have been more to the Old Farm’s demise than met the eye. (“The Old Farm” is a term used by current and former residents of the community to refer to its earlier, communal phase.) Read the rest of this entry »


9 12 2006

We just listened toBuffy St. Marie, who, by the way, says she has evidencethat the US government leaned on record companies, TV networks, and concert promoters to shut down her career in the 1970’s, possibly even going so far as to hijack shipments of her albums so they never reached record stores. Although some of the evidence looks a little dubious, this wouldn’t surprise me at all. The American Indian Movement scared the hell out of the US government, which responded by framing movement leader Leonard Peltier for murder and terrorizing his followers.

Nor were the Native people alone in being subverted. A covert government program called COINTELPRO broke up not just Black Power political groups but also black cultural organizations, disrupted the burgeoning underground newspaper movement by denying access to newsprint and persuading printers and advertisers not to do business with the anti-establishment press, and a whole lot more. Although COINTELPRO officially ended in 1971, it was surreptitiously continued by the Nixon administration, survived the Carter interregnum, and blossomed into the persecution of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador and and the Christic Institute in the eighties and nineties. So I believe the government screwed her over, although I have my doubts about the guy who says the government killed Buddy Holly.

Nor have things abated. Those Democratic Senators and Representatives who are now supposed to save our asses joined almost unanimously with the Bush Junta’s party to pass “The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act,” which makes it a federal crime to disrupt the activities or profits of any business that “uses or sells animals.” “Terrorism” is defined as “placing a person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to that person, a member of the immediate family of that person, or a spouse or intimate partner of that person by a course of conduct involving threats, acts of vandalism, property damage, trespass, harassment, or intimidation.” The thing is, the fear has been injected into this issue by the “animal enterprises”themselves–slaughterhouses, oversized chicken, hog and fur farms, and laboratories that do testing on live animals. They keep talking up the possibility of violence by those who oppose them, and have used their lobbying power to make outlaws of their opposition. Animal rights groups, now viewed as “domestic terrorist organizations,” have never had a policy of threatening those whose activities they protest, although some individual members occasionally seem to get a bit unhinged and threatening. Provocateurs, perhaps?

And who’s not on the short list of domestic terrorist organizations? Anti-abortion groups—who have bombed clinics, assassinated doctors, and threatened pregnant women. Right-wing militia groups in the US are not on the short list. And remember, the vote to pass this bill singling out animal rights groups as terrorists was passed almost unanimously, with Dennis Kucinich the only dissenting voice. So yeah, I think it’s quite believable that the government hijacked Buffy St. Marie’s recordings and undermined her career. Do you know who’s reading your email?

Buffy St. Marie, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

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