If you have been following Glenn since his days at Fox News, you may remember the expose he did on Obama ‘regulatory czar’ Cass Sunstein and his nudge theory. One of Sunstein’s more disturbing ideas involved government operatives infiltrating online communities in order to disseminate false information. As Glenn describes it, the goal was to “pose, infiltrate, and discredit.” Anyone who actually took Sunstein’s words at face value were mocked and labeled conspiracy theorists. But, as it turns out, it was all true.
“The English version of the NSA is the GCHQ… The English NSA has now revealed that that's exactly what our government is doing,” Glenn said on radio this morning. “What Cass Sunstein proposed in a purely academic setting – that was his excuse – the British NSA has now verified. That's exactly what we are doing. And so there are operatives posing as regular citizens on our web sites and in our organizations. I mean how crazy is that? Wake up, America! Wake up!"
Glenn Greewald – the former Guardian reporter who worked to publish the material exposed by Edward Snowden – released a thorough report on his new website, FirstLook.org, dissecting the data.
Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”
By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
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. 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.
Later in the article, Greenwald actually references Sunstein and explains “these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets.”
For the time being, it is entirely clear if the NSA used the spying techniques perfected by the GCHQ. But is clear that the NSA was well aware of the GCHQ tactics and received training from the British agency.
“Now they say, well, it's only happening in Great Britain… Not happening here,” Stu said. “Until it comes out about it happening here, we get to be called crazy again because only Great Britain would do something like this.”
With all of this information in mind, Glenn couldn’t help but think about some of the comments he reads on TheBlaze, GlennBeck.com, and his various social media accounts.
“I am always shocked by the people who are there. I'm shocked they always claim to be fans of the show,” Glenn said of the discussion boards. “And it's funny because I had just read this report, and then I look at the comments. And there is really no reason to believe any of those people. Some of those people may be real. Some of these people may not be real. Some of these people may be paid by other organizations. They may be part of the government. I don't know. But that's one of the real problems with the comments sections. They are anonymous, and so you don't know people's intent.”
Ultimately, Glenn had a simple message for his listeners and viewers: When you come across someone who appears to be a troll – don’t engage.
“I'm not saying this for any other reason than you have to be extraordinarily careful on what you look at. When you read, especially comments sections, it is easy to get the view that ‘wow, I'm kind of alone,’” Glenn explained. So I want you to understand that's what's happening… You fight fire with water… If you know the game they are playing, when you see things like that, don't engage. Just don't engage... You have to understand it and then fight fire with water.”
Glenn will also be covering this story on Wednesday’s Glenn Beck Program. Don’t miss the Glenn Beck Program weeknights at 5pm ET on only TheBlaze. Not a subscriber? Start your 14-day free trial HERE.