[tl;dr — Creepy Harvard egghead’s propaganda strategy for societal management of the American people through government-created false conspiracy theories and disinformation tangents has been adopted; this is why the corporate media is such a confusing mess of fake news and finessed information.]
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We are living in Cass Sunstein’s world, which explains why it’s not a very pretty one.
If you don’t know who Cass Sunstein is, please do. You’ll be hearing his name dropped a lot around these parts, because he is a major villain in our crazy contemporary culture.
Sunstein is one of the great propagandists of modern history, and the embrace of his political philosophy for mass communications management of an increasingly diverse and disgruntled society is a big reason things are so fucked up in the country and the media.
Sunstein smugly enjoys playing Oz behind his curtain, operating the levers of societal management manipulation through misinformation. Let’s see if we can pull back the curtain on his sinister shenanigans a bit.
A Harvard grad, Sunstein was one of President Barack Obama’s favorite spooks, whether a clandestine one or just in spirit. Sunstein was placed in charge of the Obama administration’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and his analysis and advice for controlling an increasingly unwieldy and untrusting citizenry and electorate has apparently been embraced as the over-arching communications strategy of the US government.
Sunstein, who is married to the equally creepy Deep State functionary and former US Ambassador to the UN with man’s hands Samantha Power, first shared his philosophies for societal management and control in a 2008 Harvard white paper, co-authored with Adrian Vermeule, called “Conspiracy Theories.”
The 30 page white paper discusses possible government responses to the rising tide of conspiratorial thinking, particularly in relation to the 9/11 attacks and the increasing chatter it was an “inside job.”
The white paper notes several potential approaches to conspiratorial analysis and the risks associated with each.
Sunstein and Vermeule conclude “the best response consists in cognitive infiltration” of the conspiracy community, as “Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.”
The authors repeatedly single out organizations and groups that question the government’s officially sanctioned conspiracy theory of 19 Arab terrorists, as “extremist groups.”
Sunstein and Vermeule set out five hypothetical responses a government can take toward conspiracy theories:
- Ban conspiracy theorizing outright
- Tax people who create, promote and share conspiracy theories
- Counterpoint speech from official government sources, who deliver arguments to discredit conspiracy theories.
- Hiring credible private parties to engage in counterspeech
- Informal government communication with private parties encouraging counterspeech
The writers note that each strategy “has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits…. [O]ur main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of” the three final points, above.
Sunstein and Vermeule’s white paper also recommends recruiting “nongovernmental officials,” who will covertly be “suppl[ied] with information and prod[ded] into action from behind the scenes,” while warning how “too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is exposed.”
Of course this is exactly how state-sanctioned propaganda works, and it was noted as such by Glenn Greenwald, who in 2010 was the first to sound the trumpet on Sunstein in a major publishing venue, Salon.
As Greenwald notes in his piece (which you should read for great background on this malevolent matter), what Sunstein was advocating was, at the time, illegal, thanks to the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987, which forbid domestic propaganda. But Greenwald also notes that Sunstein is tight with Obama and people need to be vigilant to make sure it all stays illegal.
Of course it didn’t and few were vigilant, and one who was vigilant ended up dead.
When Congress inserted a last-minute amendment into the May, 2012 defense authorization bill to “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda, spiking both Smith-Mundt and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act in one swift, felled swoop, the late, great investigative reporter Michael Hastings was leaked the info beforehand and he reported it in Buzzfeed (an unlucky 13 months later, Hastings was dead–this great piece of local reporting is always worth a watch for those who’ve never seen it).
Didn’t matter. The amendment was successfully inserted into the defense authorization bill and passed, and since then the media—both corporate and social media—has degenerated into a crazy cacophonous circus sideshow.
We will be referring back to this article, maybe often, and TrineDaily readers should make this their maxim: Propaganda is now legal. Nothing you read should be taken as fact.The object is to keep you confused, off-balance and unsure.