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Peter Van Buren

CIA (Dis)Information Operations Come Home to the US

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Reporters joke the easiest job in Washington is CIA spokesman. You need only listen carefully to questions and say “No comment’ before heading to Happy Hour. The joke, however, is on us. The reporters pretend to see only one side of the CIA, the passive hiding of information about itself. They meanwhile choose to profit from the other side of the equation, active information operations designed to influence events in America. It is 2021 and the CIA is running an op against the American people.

Leon Panetta, the Director CIA from 2009 to 2011 explained bluntly his CIA did influence foreign media outlets ahead of elections in order to “change attitudes within the country.” The method, Panetta said, was to “acquire media within a country or within a region that could very well be used for being able to deliver a specific message or work to influence those that may own elements of the media to be able to cooperate, work with you in delivering that message.”

The CIA has been running such information ops to influence foreign elections since the end of WWII. Richard Bissell, who ran the agency’s operations during the Cold War, wrote of “exercising control over a newspaper or broadcasting station, or of securing the desired outcome in an election.” A report on the CIA in Chile boasts the Agency portrayed its favored candidate in one election as a “wise, sincere and high-minded statesman” while painting his leftist opponent as a “calculating schemer.” At one point in the 1980s foreign media insertions ran 80 a day.
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COVID, Learned Helplessness, and Control

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In the post-vaccination era, why don’t people remove their masks? Learned helplessness, employed as a control tool.

Learned helplessness is well-documented. It takes place when an individual believes he continuously faces a negative, uncontrollable situation and stops trying to improve his circumstances, even when he has the ability to do so. Discovering the loss of control elicits a passive reaction to a harmful situation. Psychologists call this a maladaptive response, characterized by avoidance of challenges and the collapse of problem-solving when obstacles arise. You give up trying to fight back.

An example may help: you must keep up with ever-changing mask and other hygiene theatre rules, many of which make no sense (mask in the gym, but not the pool; mask when going to the restaurant toilet but not at your table, NYC hotels are closed while Vegas casinos are open, Disney California closed while Disney Florida was open) and comply. You could push back, but you have been made afraid at a core level (forget about yourself rascal, you’re going to kill grandma if you don’t do what we say) and so you just give in. Once upon a time we were told a vaccine would end it all, yet the restrictions remain largely in place. You’re left believing nothing will fix this. Helpless to resist, you comply “out of an abundance of caution.”

American psychologists Martin Seligman and Steven Maier created the term “learned helplessness” in 1967. They were studying animal behavior by delivering electric shocks to dogs (it was a simpler time.) Dogs who learned they couldn’t escape the shock simply stopped trying, even after the scientists removed a barrier and the dog could have jumped away.
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The COVID Response Disaster

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If only we’d been able to see sooner that the disease wasn’t the hoax, the response was.

How do we even know now? Pigs are flying everywhere. The media are fessing up. After fanning COVID panic for a year, Democratic newsletter Salon admits it was all for partisan purposes: “Americans have been sucked into an all-or-nothing approach, with your choice of all or nothing depending largely on your partisan identity.” Salon continues:
Trump’s rejection of sensible precautions caused many of his political opponents to run hard in the opposite direction, embracing the lockdowns as if they were a point of personal virtue and inherent good, instead of a temporary and deeply unpleasant measure necessary to contain the virus. Worse, liberals were so protective of lockdowns that even sensible criticisms were ignored, and liberals often acted like, well, cops. There was a lot of social media shaming for any activity, no matter how safe it was. And in behaving this way, a lot of well-intentioned people made the pandemic much worse.
The Hill confessed:
Lockdowns don’t work: Remember 15 days to slow the spread? Well, since those fateful words were uttered, we have had a year of various efforts to slow down a virus that has an infection fatality rate of less than one percent. And what we have learned is that viruses are gonna virus. California, the United Kingdom, Florida and Sweden show the futility of lockdowns.
The Hill adds “The media is complicit in furthering the Panic… how you could die tomorrow, from a virus that kills virtually nobody healthy under the age of 70.”
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The Legacy Of A Would-Be Dictator

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Twitterless, Donald Trump will soon disappear. It will then be for the fullness of history to judge his term, but it is certain the summation will be it was four years of lies and barely constitutional actions that have forever dented America’s democracy. Lies and actions by Democrats and the media, of course.

Trump’s term began with the Dem’s lie he was not legitimately elected. Though it was all swept away when Trump challenged the results in 2020, in 2016 the Democratic Party and MSM were embroiled in a whole of society effort to stop the Electoral College from declaring Trump the winner. (Disbelievers, Google “faithless electors 2016” and note the fever over the technically meaningless popular vote.) Another push was made to prevent Trump from taking office under the Emoluments clause. The actors described their own efforts as patriotic, life saving.

The media told us with certainty the stock market would never recover. We’d be at war with North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, maybe China. NATO would collapse. Putin would run the US via blackmailing Trump because Trump had been a Russian agent since the 1980s. Trump judges would dismantle the rule of law, end same sex marriage, and make abortions illegal. White nationalists would control our cities. Everyone in Puerto Rico was doomed.
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Cleaning Up The Leftovers From Biden’s Last Bout Of Leadership

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As Trump leaves office the only president to have not started a new war since WWII—and Joe Biden, who supported so many of America’s wars, including (vice-) presiding over the second and third Iraq Wars, heads into office—the talk is again what should be the most terrifying words anyone outside the US could hear: More American Leadership. Thing is, we haven’t cleaned up the leftovers from the last bout of leadership yet.

President-Elect Biden pulls no punches about how he feels about Trump’s lack of war, saying “Trump has abdicated American leadership in mobilizing collective action to meet new threats. This is the time to tap the strength and audacity that took us to victory in two world wars and brought down the Iron Curtain.” His SecState-nominee Antony Blinken used the word “leadership” in a speech 16 times. Biden himself wrote an essay in Foreign Affairs titled “Why America Must Lead Again.” Introducing his national security nominees, Biden said “America is back, ready to lead the world.”

Let there be no doubt, in foreign policy terms “leadership” is the bipartisan and benign euphemism for America First nationalism. And that usually means some sort of war. Biden already has his warriors in place from the Obama years: Bloody Susan Rice, Blinken at State, Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense. There will be others filling in the mid ranks as those principals call in their former deputies, who call theirs.
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China Policy: Trump vs. Biden

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Despite the campaign’s focus on domestic issues, there is still a world out there the next president will have to deal with. And there’s a very significant policy difference between Trump and Biden to be explored: China.
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Reds Plot to Control America!

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Like me, you got most of your news from PeaceData.net. It was what you looked to to form your opinions, including the all-important one about which way to vote. What you missed on PeaceData you caught up with via Facebook memes and Tweets from people you do not know.

Or maybe not. Maybe like nearly everyone on planet earth you have no idea what I’m talking about and have never looked at the PeaceData site. That reality should pretty much end the discussion but this is 2020. So you must know by now Facebook claims an unvisited and now defunct web site named PeaceData was actually a Russian influence operation posing as an independent news outlet targeting voters in the United States. Including in their sneaky tactics were hiring American freelance “journalists” to write about US politics and racial tensions from their parents’ basements.

PeaceData operated 13 Facebook accounts, now suspended, supposedly using fake identities and “coordinated inauthentic behavior” by people with some kind of link “to individuals associated with past activity by the Internet Research Agency,” the Russkie company which US intelligence officials say was part of Comrade Trump’s 2016 win.
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Fear Itself

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Barack Obama said at his convention you must vote Democrat even if you don’t care for the candidate as your president, out of fear for our democracy. Don, Jr. said pretty much the same a week later, just reversing the names and the politics. The messaging from all sides is one of fear. It sounds so 2020 but it as old as the modern era.

America’s childhood fear was we were going to die at school when the Russians nuked America. We hid under our desks during drills, we huddled away from the windows with our coats over our heads (no one explained what we’d do on warm days) and waited to die. For an elementary student raised to believe what he was taught, it was a nightmare. My third grade teacher even identified Ground Zero, the cinder parking lot next to the school, and for some reason told us it would happen in the morning. Every day at lunch I could feel the tension drain away, at least until we had the first sex ed classes in fifth grade and I learned what venereal disease was gonna do to me.

Americans were taught to be afraid even as we were the apex predator on the planet with the world’s only atomic bomb. We dutifully rewarded president after president for maintaining the most massive national security state ever known, but we never felt safe. We never saw it was all a trick, like conjuring a pandemic out of a virus which doesn’t even cause symptoms in many of its hosts and compared to most anything else, like cancer or heart attacks, has a fatality rate well below a single percent (so we count cases not fatalities to generate fear.) As with terrorism, diabetes and ladder falls harm more American lives than the Russians.
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