Source: Smirking Chimp
(image by Not The Singularity Illustration)
It's time for a new Church Committee.
Earlier this month, Glenn Greenwald revealed details of how GCHQ (the British equivalent of the NSA) had a special "dirty tricks" intelligence gathering group known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group.
This week, Greenwald released more details on the group over at The Intercept, his new media venture.
The newly released details include a top-secret GCHQ presentation that sheds light on how the group, cooperating with the NSA, would go after, infiltrate, and in some cases ruin the reputations of, specific groups or individuals online.
And we're not just talking about terrorist masterminds here.
According to Greenwald...
"Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable."
Greenwald goes on to say that...
"To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: 'false flag operations' (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting 'negative information' on various forums."
According to the top-secret presentation, the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, or JTRIG, would leak confidential information to companies and the press, post negative information on "appropriate forums," and actively try to stop business deals and ruin relationships.
And if JTRIG was going after a specific person it would do things like set up honey traps, using sex to lure people into compromising situations.
JTRIG would also write emails and texts to friends, family, and colleagues of the individual, and would also write blogs and messages pretending to be that person.
While this all sounds extremely disturbing and very creepy, it should also sound pretty familiar, because we've seen these kinds of covert government interference and manipulation efforts before.
These kinds of reputation-destroying smear campaigns and intentional sabotage missions were key parts of the Richard Nixon presidency.
After all, back in 1969, the Nixon administration put together a so-called "enemies list" that contained the names of hundreds of people that the administration considered to be political opponents.
Even actor Paul Newman made that list.
And of those hundreds of names, there was a "short list" of targets for political retribution.
Officials working for The White House would find "dirt" and personal information on those who were "short listed," and leak the information to the press.