By Aaron Kesel
Activist Post has previously reported how the Pentagon wants to police social media for fake stories and deep fakes. Now, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command wants to get involved in policing social media for “threats,” according to Nextgov.
According to a service job offer published by the Army, CID aims to acquire access to “social media exploitation” services.
“The solution shall be web-based with subscription to support the organizations’ ability to quickly unlock the value of social media and big data to assess risk, respond to threats and discover actionable intelligence,” officials wrote.
For those who don’t know, CID is the Army’s primary investigative organization used for looking into all serious felony related crimes relevant to the branch. Nextgov writes, “insiders engage in information collection for sensitive and serious violations of the law, the analysis and dissemination of criminal intelligence, protective service operations, forensic laboratory support, records maintenance, logistics security, force protection and beyond.”
CID seeks to acquire 62 separate subscriptions, 57 of which that are basic and five that are advanced for software licenses that will provide “secure and legal social media threat detection and risk mitigation.” The agency listed its requirements for a software service or services that provide “interactive datamining capabilities.” They also want the service to cover for at least 250 queries per day, and cover at least 70 web-based international platforms including — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, VK, LinkedIn, Discord, Gab, Telegram, SoundCloud, Myspace, Google+ — and others.
Last year, DARPA announced it would deploy online cyber forces to watch for “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks,” using specialized software to detect deep fakes of photos, videos and audio clips, as Activist Post reported.
Here’s a friendly reminder for the reader that the blurred line between the CIA and Pentagon, which houses the umbrella of all armed services, exists from what was formulated during the Obama administration. Although, in the more distant past, the CIA has run clear disinformation operations on the American public during Operation Mockingbird.
Besides the CIA, other agencies in the U.S. government are allowed with impunity to run Press Packages (paid government releases), i.e., propaganda.
In fact, then-U.S. President George W. Bush himself exposed what are known as “Government press packages” in the early 2000s when Ken Harman of Cox News Service questioned him on the use of government-produced pieces aired on television stations across the United States.
As Harman pointed out, “there is no disclaimer that these stories sent to air on television stations around the U.S are provided by the government raising several ethical questions.” Essentially, these are pieces of propaganda, something the American public was supposed to be protected from under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which barred the federal government from producing sensationalized content to manipulate the public, but was amended in 2012.
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That wasn’t the first time that journalists were paid to produce fake stories, now commonly deemed “fake news.” During the Church Committee in 1975, a congressional panel found the CIA paid journalists to produce fake stories during the Cold War era 1950s through 1970s. They also funded student and cultural organizations and magazines as front organizations. This CIA operation became known as Operation Mockingbird and was mentioned in the infamous CIA family jewels’ collection.
Suspected murdered journalist Michael Hastings also exposed propaganda operations in Afghanistan in an article entitled. “The Afghanistan Report the Pentagon Doesn’t Want You to Read.”
The article was surrounding a leaked unclassified Pentagon report. The report took the shroud off of the U.S. military’s psyops operation command MISOC, which stands for “Military Information Support Operations Command.”
The article revealed several techniques the group uses in psychological warfare to manipulate the public, including but not limited to fake intelligence information, lack of information and social media manipulation, according to Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis. Hastings also accused MISOC of deploying psychological operations on U.S. senators in another report and on video with Democracy Now! before his coincidental death. Smith-Mundt was repealed under the Obama administration as an initiative within the NDAA 2012 bill. As Hastings said, “Smith-Mundt had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.”
Now just imagine if those operations were allowed to flourish unimpeded due to the military policing information shared online?
It’s one thing to have some obscure site like Snopes accuse information of being disinformation or misinformation; it’s a whole other story to have the military do so.
The other blaring issue is that the U.S. military already deploys its own disinformation agents online as paid trolls (JTRIG). We know this definitively from Edward Snowden, and before the NSA contractor decided to blow the whistle from an old report by the Guardian discussing military social media operations two years before in 2011, which stated that the military had ‘sock puppet’ software to creates fake online identities in order to spread pro-American propaganda.
Combined efforts between the CIA, FBI (who has also been caught running disinformation operations posing as journalists), or any other agency with the Pentagon, could be a match made in hell and a living nightmare. Beyond that, allowing the U.S. Army the ability to detect what social media posts are “threats” is even more reckless.
“Threats” isn’t defined clearly enough, and we won’t get information on this due to the secret nature of the military. All of a sudden a person sharing their opinion or information could be labeled a “threat” and have their doors kicked in for using their First Amendment online. The Secret Service already investigates all threats against the President and Congress, so remind me again why do we need the Army playing social media police assessing potential threats? Further, if someone were to post a serious threat, they are very likely to be anonymous using a VPN, proxies, a burner phone # connected to the account and the whole shebang! So they wouldn’t be traced anyway. This seems like a piss poor attempt at scaring social media users and taking away individual citizens’ rights to free speech and freedom of expression using social networks.
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