According to the Washington Post:
Pentagon opens sweeping review of clandestine psychological operations
Complaints about the U.S. military’s influence operations using Facebook and Twitter have raised concern in the White House and federal agencies.
The article is long and filled with information – it is hard to know what to excerpt, so instead I am gifting the article for anyone who is interested: Gift article
Does any of this surprise anyone?
Even while knowing that PSYOPS is one of the tools in the toolbox, a fair amount of what I read in the article was disturbing.
According to the researchers’ report, the accounts taken down included a made-up Persian-language media site that shared content reposted from the U.S.-funded Voice of America Farsi and Radio Free Europe. Another, it said, was linked to a Twitter handle that in the past had claimed to operate on behalf of Centcom.
One fake account posted an inflammatory tweet claiming that relatives of deceased Afghan refugees had reported bodies being returned from Iran with missing organs, according to the report. The tweet linked to a video that was part of an article posted on a U.S.-military affiliated website.
Centcom has not commented on whether these accounts were created by its personnel or contractors. If the organ-harvesting tweet is shown to be Centcom’s, one defense official said, it would “absolutely be a violation of doctrine and training practices.”
Some of you have already forgotten more than I will ever know about this, so I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.
In the meantime one thing I’m sure of. Military contractors are out of control.
Is there any oversight – I mean real, actual oversight – for military contractors?
Maybe as a related item: NY Times article yesterday. Hope it works as a gift article. (I’ve not read it yet.)
How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step
As American feminists came together in 2017 to protest Donald Trump, Russia’s disinformation machine set about deepening the divides among them.
To be honest, I wouldn’t put anything past about half the people in the military, especially the ones in positions of power. Now I haven’t been in the military in decades and most of the concepts that people could be doing were not all that 50 yrs ago, but. There was still a large enough portion of the leadership that thought their shit didn’t stink and that they could do no wrong. And they proved over and over than the last sentence was wrong, their shit did stink and they could do more wrong than right. They are after all human-ish
Do understand that this also applies to humans in politics – or pretty much any endeavor they work at.
Good morning all.
While I find all aspects of this terrifying, I find eagerness of too many mainstream media outlets to signal boost the lies the most sinister.
I read that wrong at first and was quite confused.
I do wonder what sorts of corrosive effects DJTurnip being nominally CIC for 4 years had on various individuals in the US military. We’ve seen that guys like Flynn, once out of active service, have turned into complete, raving MAGAloons.
Who still in uniform got or felt ‘activated’ by fPOTUS before he was f’d?
My assumption is that no one on the Internet is real.
Me, too! Much of the news media coverage makes me think of the term “reckless endangerment”. The media bears so much responsibility for what is wrong, and they take absolutely zero responsibility.
it’s like game-day coverage to them, a horse race, but unlike actual sports journalists, they commit no actual journalism.
@Baud: Not even me? :: sniff ::
@Elizabelle: I was about to ask if she’d read Adam Silverman’s most recent post.
@WaterGirl: Especially not you. The programmers made you too ideal. No real human could do what you do.
@Belafon: I missed it, too. Will you link it here? Have missed a lot of threads and news.
OT, but I wish Debbie would be back. Think there has been no update?? Miss her.
A made-up Persian language is the sort of thing that Tolkien would have crafted.
Maybe the dwarves would use it in their psyops campaigns against the elves.
@Elizabelle: No. I believe it’s been almost two months.
@WaterGirl: Yup. My sentiments exactly.
Now look here buddy! I fully believe that Internet Hippo is a purple hippo in real life.
@Belafon: If I am the “she”, yes, I saw that link yesterday.
Thanks for the link. I had to use a private browsing window to get it to open without demanding that I subscribe (Chrome, Winders).
I’m having trouble seeing the reason to be outraged. It looks like some people got out over their skis and were using sock-puppets. I haven’t read it carefully, though, and haven’t had enough caffeine yet.
The original Graphica-Stanford Report (57 page .pdf):
Yes, this is worth Congress investigating. Yes, the US Government has to be careful about what it says through official channels, and what officials (and their contractors) say through non-official channels. But if this is trying to both-sides what the US is doing and what the IRA in russia is doing, well, I’m not seeing it yet.
@Baud: Damn, you caught me.
@Baud: It was the 21st, so yes, nearly 2 months exactly.
I have written 3 times, so I don’t think writing a 4th time would make a difference. :-(
Apparently the charter flight taking those immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard didn’t file a manifest with the FAA. So basically if it crashed, you wouldn’t even know who the victims were.
I can’t believe tax dollars went to this. And they still talk about fiscal conservatism. It’s just calvinball at his point.
Nothing is real
and nothing to get hung about.
@Baud: I shall hope that Debbie surprises us and returns. In due course.
@cain: Did you read the tweet? It sounds like the FAA is saying that it doesn’t collect that information from anyone.
@Baud: Only the cats are real; everything else is a feline psyop.
Anonymous At Work
Military contractor are largely without oversight because the Pentagon’s contract office is a joke in terms of man-power and funding. Also, contractors get hired into areas where the military doesn’t want responsibility/accountability, has drawn down capacity in the [vain] hopes that privatization is cheaper [Narrator: It isn’t] or the capacity is no longer necessary, or requires a sudden surge beyond any reasonable ability to foresee (i.e. civilian bodyguards during Afghan and Iraqi occupations). None of these areas are areas where oversight is possible, even if the Pentagon put the proper time, expertise, and resources into oversight.
I find it alarming that several prominent, military-trained people have publicly gone cuckoo, including Mike Flynn, Ronny Jackson, Mastriano in PA, etc. They might be nuttier than squirrel turds, but what separates them from fellow cultists is that some of them have extensive training on how to overthrow or undermine foreign governments, knowledge they can turn on us. How many more are there who fit that description that we haven’t heard about yet?
I did – but the way I read it was that the FAA has no information on the flight via the FAA. But I thought you had to file something for every flight with the FAA right?
Somebody want to post a TLDR summary of the article? For some reason they expect me to get some work done around here.
@cain: I don’t know. The only info I can find involves foreign air travel, and passenger manifests for those apparently don’t have to be filed unless there has been a plane crash.
@Betty Cracker: The military has a real problem with these yahoos in its ranks. Not to mention, law enforcement. Mind you, not saying they are a majority. But they are there. Too many in the officer and leadership ranks, alas.
Military is meant to stay out of politics, but what a problem when you have fascism on the rise, and we seem to be training these a-holes, on the public dime, to threaten us domestically. Would be interested to know how the services are dealing with it.
@Betty Cracker: Buncha fucking lifers.
It was last night’s post.
It’ll be wild when we discover that we’re literally all bots living in a simulation.
@Steeplejack: Thank you, Steep. Missed it.
Also, thank you for alerting me to WordMaster. Playing that quite a bit!
Funny account, real or not. Bookmarked.
@Betty Cracker: Flynn is the one who most concerns me. How did he get so high up in the chain before someone (Obama?) called him out?
@Betty Cracker: Add Scott Perry in PA to that list. Former colonel IIRC.
Waffle has now opened up its archives too.
@Steeplejack: Oh oh. Will check Waffle out.
We’ve seen that guys like Flynn, once out of active service, have turned into complete, raving MAGAloons.
How do you know they weren’t that way when they were in active service?
Sure they couldn’t be quite as open about their bullshit but depending on the part they played and where they were they could be more open than one might imagine. Ask me how I know…..
West of the Rockies
Let me ask you something, Baud…
You’re walking in the desert. You see a tortoise…
@West of the Rockies: What desert?
@Steeplejack: Waffle is interesting. Wordle has gone off the deep end. I think last night’s word was worse than the last bullshit word (got it in 6!).
Maybe I’ll go back to Sudoku as I’ve always been a numbers guy IRL. It’s just some some of the solving methods went way beyond me and I’m pretty good at that stuff.
ETA: Quordle had a BS word last night, too.
@Dangerman: Yeah. I remember thinking “that was a word?”
@Betty Cracker: A whole lot would be my guess.
@WaterGirl: Too many, is for sure.
@JustRuss: I am stuck somewhere with just my phone so unfortunately I cannot apply. But maybe someone else can!
Do not want to scare you but.
My experience is that officers have a wider latitude than enlisted, up to a point. That point seems to be when they draw too much attention to themselves (and those higher up than them) because of their jobs/assignments and mostly their level of pompous arrogance. I was stationed on a destroyer out of Charleston and the asshole in charge of the flotilla (10 ships) was up for promotion. His rank meant that he most likely would be assigned to the Pentagon if he was advanced. But he was such a dipshit that the Pentagon folks did not want him within a few thousand miles of the place. So they didn’t advance him in rank and made him captain of a bigger ship on the west coast, a direct hit upon his military career and any possible future advancement. Months later I ended up being assigned to that ship. That asshole took out all his damaged pride and fucked up personality on the crew. It was a fun 4 weeks till I got discharged. The Pentagon seems rarely to be openly hostile in handling someone like this unless the person has noticeably broken the military law, but the repercussions can still hurt a lot of people. It’s a closed loop system and you play the game or get run over by a big 5 sided building, while the entire time everyone involved smiles and is pleasant in public. I have other stories as well.
@Another Scott: I certainly wasn’t trying to both sides and say this is like what Russia is doing. But it does seem like parts of the military or military .contractors have stepped out of bounds. I thought the whole body parts thing that I quoted above was creepy.
I thought people might be interested know that this review was happening.
And I wanted to hear how other folks responded to the article.
@Elizabelle: One anecdote I can share about the way the Army is dealing with this relates to my grand-niece. She joined the Army last year, and her induction ceremony was held up until they were satisfied that a very small tattoo had no ominous significance. They seem to be trying to screen out potential troublemakers.
@Old School: By “made-up Persian language” did you think of the lettering in the fakey word balloons found a comic book set in an exotic land?
@Ruckus: Flynn WAS that way, in active service, calling down the wrath of God on our enemies, LITERALLY.
@Jinchi: I am not a man, I am a free number!
@Betty: Good to hear.
@WaterGirl: Sorry I wasn’t clear. I wasn’t accusing you. :-)
I’m having trouble understanding the meat of the Graphica-Stanford report and the WaPo story about the report.
It seems to be saying that FB and T took down some accounts that seem to have links to DoD messaging operations, because they violated their terms of service. The efforts seem to be very, very small scale operations.
(I’m not making excuses. Congress should investigate.)
The tone of the report, as I read it, is “how dare these US-attached accounts paint Putin/Iran/etc as the bad guys??”. But that’s just my take on the tone.
If it’s intended to be a powerful covert DoD influence operation, it seems to have been a failure.
I don’t see why this is a big story, but I haven’t read it carefully.
@Jinchi: Flynn made his reputation as General McCrystal’s intelligence chief when McCrystal led the US special operations command in Iraq, under General Petraus during the “surge” in 2007. McCrystal’s command helped salvage the American position, and Flynn was credited with some of its success.
When McCrystal was given the Afghanistan command he brought Flynn with him. Flynn was not involved in the events leading to McCrystal’s relief from command, but he may have held a grudge over it.
When his tour in Afghanistan was over Flynn was promoted to head the Defense Intelligence Agency. That was a mistake. Flynn had been an efficient officer as long as he was serving under a senior officer, but on his own Flynn was an insufferable boss and just about impossible for his military peers to work with. Other senior commanders recommended to President Obama that Flynn be fired, but evidently Flynn blamed the President especially. Flynn probably would have ended up a trump supporter anyway, but his vindictiveness was a big motivator I think.
General McCrystal followed a different path after retirement. He accepted his relief without recrimination, and went on to work with First Lady Michelle Obama on her initiative supporting military families. After the massacre at Sandy Hook, McCrystal joined other retired officers who signed an open letter calling for military grade rifles to be banned from civilian ownership.
The military has always had right wing ultra nationalists in their upper ranks. I think what’s changed for them is now they have anti-American anti-democracy right wing ultra nationalists to deal with.
@Old School: me too. gotta learn to slow down my reading….
I don’t doubt you for a second. But I was discharged over 49 yrs ago, so things could have gotten worse, more obvious, stupid (really?) whatever. Our politics, civilian life is not the same, why should the military be? My point was that there are a lot of people in the service and the military depends upon all the people doing their jobs the way the service wants, and will and do believe they are until it’s massively proven otherwise. Especially officers, as only other officers are over them and there does not seem to be any concept that they suck at their jobs until proven otherwise. It’s sort of the opposite of enlisted, who are understood to be fuckups till proven otherwise. Officers are understood to be the cream of the crop, right up until the moment the evidence is way too big to ignore. Good times.
There’s a difference?
[snark, in case it wasn’t obvious…..]
At least in my experience, there typically is very close oversight by the DoD office that directly manages the contractor, because after all, they are the ones authorizing payment and hence whom the contractor wants to keep happy. The questions arise (1) at levels above that office — do their DoD superiors know what they’ve got their contractors up to — and/or (2) when the managers don’t want to know exactly what the contractors are up to and carefully turn a blind eye. The latter is not common because it’s extremely risky — the managers are duty-bound to know, and if their superiors discover they don’t, it’s career-ending and possibly criminal.
The problem is not so much contractors per se as — like anywhere — bad actors within DoD itself. For all the VAST majority of honorable, law-abiding people, civilian as well as uniformed, there are always a few bad actors, and they can do a lot of damage if they get in the right positions (see, eg, Flynn, Michael; North, Oliver), and the Trump administration seemed to attract an unusually large number of them.
@Elizabelle: I felt it was redemption for the BS word. Perhaps because I got it in two.
@Baud: I think in general they don’t get manifests from private planes.
The Moar You Know
Psyops are awesome against other hostile nations and we should do more thereof. Especially to Russia. God knows they deserve it for what they’ve inflicted on our country.
However…it seems that some of this was aimed at US citizens, which I believe is straight-up illegal.
@Ruckus: Don’t know if you saw it but there was stuff on Twitter about how the escape of “Fat Leonard” in San Diego two years ago exposes a lot of rot and corruption in the high-up ranks of the Navy, and they were hoping that once he was sentenced it would all go away. His escape brought it all back out into the spotlight. There are reports that he’s in Venezuela and headed for Brazil. I always think it’s dumb on TV when people escape from custody so easily, but maybe it’s not as far-fetched as I thought.
@Soprano2: A lot of the security for white collar crime doesn’t always grasp they are still criminals, and many of them can act like it in a pinch.
@Soprano2: Plenty of Navy officers have already been court martialed over taking Leonard’s bribes. The Navy Times has published a lot of articles about this.
Yep. Humans are human. Good ones can turn bad and bad ones already are. Money is a huge driving force in our lives, many people would rather have a lot of money than anything else in the world and will do most anything to get lots of it. Look what it makes conservative politicians do. Look what it makes liberal politicians do. I have zero idea how to fix any of that.
I’m working on it.
“A whole lot is too much, too much is a whole lot, same thing.” – Chico Marx, The Cocoanuts
“Military contractors are out of control” is a very generalized and poor statement. I was a government employee, I was married to active-duty service member who is now retired, and now I’m a contractor. My ethics, my standards, and my willingness to work is significantly higher than the majority of the government employees I deal with. I can say the same for the other senior personnel on our team. Our newer/younger team members may not be at the same level, but we try to make darn sure they are learning those ethics as they continue to work with us. The tone and ethics are set at the top – ethical companies that care about their people seek out ethical employees who demonstrate that in their work. Companies who are more concerned about the $$, hiring big names lacking ethics and character, winning the next deal regardless of who they f* over, frankly it’s not just the government, it’s the same for many of the big, private companies here in the US.