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FTR #948 Walkin’ the Snake with Breitbart: The Gathering Sturm

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained HERE [1]. The new dri­ve is a 32-giga­byte dri­ve that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles post­ed by ear­ly win­ter of 2017. The new dri­ve (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more.) 

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Serpent's Walk [6]Intro­duc­tion: The title of the pro­gram refers to the Nazi tract Ser­pen­t’s Walk. The back cov­er of that book sums up the essence of the tome: ” . . . It assumes that Hitler’s war­rior elite — the SS — did­n’t give up their strug­gle for a White world when they lost the Sec­ond World War. Instead their sur­vivors went under­ground and adopt­ed some of their tac­tics of their ene­mies: they began build­ing their eco­nom­ic mus­cle and buy­ing into the opin­ion-form­ing media. A cen­tu­ry after the war they are ready to chal­lenge the democ­rats and Jews for the hearts and minds of White Amer­i­cans, who have begun to have their fill of gov­ern­ment-enforced mul­ti-cul­tur­al­ism and ‘equal­i­ty.’ . . .”

The “opin­ion-form­ing media” in 2017 has crys­tal­lized into a fright­en­ing­ly dom­i­nant enti­ty, the Bre­it­bart­ian engine of Steven Ban­non [7], Robert Mer­cer, Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca and the lat­ter’s par­ent com­pa­ny SCL. An arti­cle from The Guardian sets forth this ter­ri­fy­ing devel­op­ment. (Note that, due to the lim­i­ta­tions of time, we were not able to read the entire sto­ry. The arti­cle will be the cen­ter­piece of a fol­low-up pro­gram.)

Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca and its par­ent com­pa­ny SCL, spe­cial­ize in using AI and Big Data psy­cho­me­t­ric analy­sis on hun­dreds of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans in order to mod­el indi­vid­ual behav­ior. SCL devel­ops strate­gies to use that infor­ma­tion, and manip­u­late search engine results to change pub­lic opin­ion (the Trump cam­paign was appar­ent­ly very big into AI and Big Data dur­ing the cam­paign).

Indi­vid­ual social media users receive mes­sages craft­ed to influ­ence them, gen­er­at­ed by the Nazi AI at the core of this media engine, using Big Data to tar­get the indi­vid­ual user!

As the arti­cle notes, not only are Cam­bridge Analytica/SCL are using their pro­pa­gan­da tech­niques to shape US pub­lic opin­ion in a fas­cist direc­tion, but they are achiev­ing this by uti­liz­ing their pro­pa­gan­da machine to char­ac­ter­ize all news out­lets to the left of Bri­et­bart as “fake news” that can’t be trust­ed.

In short, the secre­tive far-right bil­lion­aire (Robert Mer­cer), joined at the hip with Steve Ban­non, is run­ning mul­ti­ple firms spe­cial­iz­ing in mass psy­cho­me­t­ric pro­fil­ing based on data col­lect­ed from Face­book and oth­er social media. Mercer/Bannon/Cambridge Analytica/SCL are using Naz­i­fied AI and Big Data to devel­op mass pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns to turn the pub­lic against every­thing that isn’t Bri­et­bart­ian by con­vinc­ing the pub­lic that all non-Bri­et­bart­ian media out­lets are con­spir­ing to lie to the pub­lic. [7]

This is the ulti­mate Ser­pen­t’s Walk scenario–a Naz­i­fied Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence draw­ing on Big Data gleaned from the world’s inter­net and social media oper­a­tions to shape pub­lic opin­ion, tar­get indi­vid­ual users, shape search engine results and even feed­back to Trump while he is giv­ing press con­fer­ences!

We begin the pro­gram with a “sign of the times.”  Some­thing of a barom­e­ter for the present polit­i­cal cli­mate is New York Times colum­nist Paul Krug­man’s recog­ni­tion [8] that: Are you angry about the white nation­al­ist takeover of the U.S. gov­ern­ment? . . . Does any­one doubt it? And giv­en this real­i­ty, it’s com­plete­ly rea­son­able to wor­ry that Amer­i­ca will go the route of oth­er nations like Hun­gary, which remain democ­ra­cies on paper but have become author­i­tar­i­an states in prac­tice. . . .”

After dis­cussing Bre­it­bart alum­nus Sebas­t­ian Gorka’s role as the point man [9] for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s counter-jihadist strat­e­gy, the pro­gram fur­ther devel­ops his roots in Hun­gar­i­an fas­cism [10], past and present. ” . . . . But an inves­ti­ga­tion by the For­ward into Gorka’s activ­i­ties from 2002 to 2007, while he was active in Hun­gar­i­an pol­i­tics and jour­nal­ism, found that he had close ties then to Hun­gar­i­an far-right cir­cles, and has in the past cho­sen to work with open­ly racist and anti-Semit­ic groups and pub­lic fig­ures. Gorka’s involve­ment with the far right includes co-found­ing a polit­i­cal par­ty with for­mer promi­nent mem­bers of Job­bik, a polit­i­cal par­ty with a well-known his­to­ry of anti-Semi­tism; repeat­ed­ly pub­lish­ing arti­cles in a news­pa­per known for its anti-Semit­ic and racist con­tent; and attend­ing events with some of Hungary’s most noto­ri­ous extreme-right fig­ures. . . . In the Unit­ed States, Gor­ka, who was appoint­ed deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent on Jan­u­ary 20, is known as a tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor, a pro­fes­sor and an “alt-right” writer who describes him­self as a coun­tert­er­ror­ism expert. A close asso­ciate of Stephen Ban­non, Trump’s chief strate­gist, Gor­ka is now part of Bannon’s key in-house White House think tank, the Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives Group. The new­ly formed group con­sists of fig­ures close to Trump and is seen by some as a rival to the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil [11] in for­mu­lat­ing poli­cies for the pres­i­dent.”

Turn­ing to the well-pub­li­cized issue of what is por­trayed as “anti-ille­gal” immi­grant pol­i­cy, we note DHS Sec­re­tary John Kel­ly’s recruit­ment [12] of local law enforce­ment offi­cers as fed­er­al immi­gra­tion enforcers, a sig­nif­i­cant step from a stand­point of the con­sti­tu­tion.

The Trumpenkampfver­bande is mov­ing to pub­li­cize [13] crimes actu­al­ly, or alleged­ly, com­mit­ted by ille­gal immi­grants, a tac­tic that was used by Hitler to max­i­mize anti-Semi­tism in Ger­many. When the Ger­man pop­u­lace proved insuf­fi­cient­ly respon­sive to Nazi anti-Semit­ic pol­i­cy, crimes com­mit­ted by Jews became a high-pro­file pro­pa­gan­da fea­ture of the Reich. “ . . . . In The Nazi Con­science [14], Duke his­to­ri­an Clau­dia Koonz notes that the Nazi news­pa­per Der Sturmer ran a fea­ture called ‘Let­ter Box,’ which pub­lished read­ers’ accounts of Jew­ish crimes. When the Nazis took pow­er, the Ger­man state began doing some­thing sim­i­lar. Frus­trat­ed by the fail­ure of most Ger­mans to par­tic­i­pate in a boy­cott of Jew­ish busi­ness­es in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s gov­ern­ment began pub­li­ciz­ing Jew­ish crime sta­tis­tics as a way of stok­ing anti-Semi­tism. In Nazi Ger­many and the Jews: The Years of Per­se­cu­tion [15], the his­to­ri­an Saul Fried­lan­der notes that, until 1938, Hitler’s Min­istry of Jus­tice ordered pros­e­cu­tors to for­ward every crim­i­nal indict­ment against a Jew so the ministry’s press office could pub­li­cize it. . . .

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

1a. Some­thing of a barom­e­ter for the present polit­i­cal cli­mate is New York Times colum­nist Paul Krug­man’s recog­ni­tion that: Are you angry about the white nation­al­ist takeover of the U.S. gov­ern­ment? . . . Does any­one doubt it? And giv­en this real­i­ty, it’s com­plete­ly rea­son­able to wor­ry that Amer­i­ca will go the route of oth­er nations like Hun­gary, which remain democ­ra­cies on paper but have become author­i­tar­i­an states in prac­tice. . . .”

“The Uses of Out­rage” by Paul Krug­man; The New York Times; 2/27/2017. [8]

Are you angry about the white nation­al­ist takeover of the U.S. gov­ern­ment? . . . Does any­one doubt it? And giv­en this real­i­ty, it’s com­plete­ly rea­son­able to wor­ry that Amer­i­ca will go the route of oth­er nations like Hun­gary, which remain democ­ra­cies on paper but have become author­i­tar­i­an states in prac­tice. . . .

1b. In FTR #947 [20], we high­light­ed Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, a Bre­it­bart alum­nus and Hun­gar­i­an fas­cist. Gor­ka is now the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s point man work­ing against ter­ror­ism. His view (and Ban­non’s) that we are engaged in an his­toric clash of civ­i­liza­tions. That is pre­cise­ly the point of view expressed by ISIS and will play into their hands.

That, in turn, will help pro­pel the U.S. into more end­less wars on the periph­ery of our empire, ulti­mate­ly sap­ping the nation’s vital­i­ty and lead­ing to the fall of the U.S. in a man­ner delin­eat­ed in FTR #944 [21].

“The Islam­o­pho­bic Huck­ster in the White House” by Steven Simon and Daniel Ben­jamin; The New York Times; 2/24/2017. [9]

The new point man for the Trump administration’s counter­jihadist team is Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, an itin­er­ant instruc­tor in the doc­trine of irreg­u­lar war­fare and for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty edi­tor at Bre­it­bart. Stephen K. Ban­non and Stephen Miller, the chief com­mis­sars of the Trump White House, have framed Islam as an ene­my ide­ol­o­gy and pre­dict­ed a his­toric clash of civ­i­liza­tions.

Mr. Gor­ka, who has been appoint­ed deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent, is the expert they have empow­ered to trans­late their pre­dic­tion into nation­al strat­e­gy. Mr. Gor­ka was born and raised in Britain, the son of Hun­gar­i­an émi­grés. As a polit­i­cal con­sul­tant in post ­Com­mu­nist Hun­gary, he acquired a doc­tor­ate and involved him­self with ultra­na­tion­al­ist pol­i­tics. He lat­er moved to the Unit­ed States and became a cit­i­zen five years ago, while build­ing a career mod­er­at­ing mil­i­tary sem­i­nars and estab­lish­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as an ill-­in­formed Islam­o­phobe. (He has respond­ed to such claims by stat­ing that he has read the Quran in trans­la­tion.) . . .

2. It turns out Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka [22] has a long and exten­sive rela­tion­ship with the Hun­gar­i­an far-right, includ­ing found­ing a Hun­gar­i­an polit­i­cal par­ty with two promi­nent mem­bers of Job­bik. In FTR #947 [20], we not­ed that a mem­ber of Job­bik had writ­ten a glow­ing pref­ace to a vol­ume authored by fas­cist ide­o­logue Julius Evola, one of the philo­soph­i­cal iflu­ences on Stephen Ban­non.

“Exclu­sive: Senior Trump Aide Forged Key Ties To Anti-Semit­ic Groups In Hun­gary” by Lili Bay­er; For­ward; 2/24/2017. [10]

When pho­tographs recent­ly emerged show­ing Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s high-pro­file deputy assis­tant, wear­ing a medal asso­ci­at­ed with the Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist regime that ruled Hun­gary dur­ing World War II, the con­tro­ver­sial secu­ri­ty strate­gist was unapolo­getic.

“I’m a proud Amer­i­can now and I wear that medal now and again,” Gor­ka told Bre­it­bart News [23]. Gor­ka, 46, who was born in Britain to Hun­gar­i­an par­ents and is now an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, asked rhetor­i­cal­ly, “Why? To remind myself of where I came from, what my par­ents suf­fered under both the Nazis and the Com­mu­nists, and to help me in my work today.”

But an inves­ti­ga­tion by the For­ward into Gorka’s activ­i­ties from 2002 to 2007, while he was active in Hun­gar­i­an pol­i­tics and jour­nal­ism, found that he had close ties then to Hun­gar­i­an far-right cir­cles, and has in the past cho­sen to work with open­ly racist and anti-Semit­ic groups and pub­lic fig­ures.

Gorka’s involve­ment with the far right includes co-found­ing a polit­i­cal par­ty with for­mer promi­nent mem­bers of Job­bik, a polit­i­cal par­ty with a well-known his­to­ry of anti-Semi­tism; repeat­ed­ly pub­lish­ing arti­cles in a news­pa­per known for its anti-Semit­ic and racist con­tent; and attend­ing events with some of Hungary’s most noto­ri­ous extreme-right fig­ures.

When Gor­ka was asked — in an email exchange with the For­ward — about the anti-Semit­ic records of some of the groups and indi­vid­u­als he has worked with, he instead piv­ot­ed to talk about his family’s his­to­ry.

“My par­ents, as chil­dren, lived through the night­mare of WWII and the hor­rors of the Nyi­las pup­pet fas­cist regime,” he said, refer­ring to the Arrow Cross regime that took over Hun­gary near the very end of World War II and mur­dered thou­sands of Jews.

In the Unit­ed States, Gor­ka, who was appoint­ed deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent on Jan­u­ary 20, is known as a tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor, a pro­fes­sor and an “alt-right” writer who describes him­self as a coun­tert­er­ror­ism expert. A close asso­ciate of Stephen Ban­non, Trump’s chief strate­gist, Gor­ka is now part of Bannon’s key in-house White House think tank, the Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives Group. The new­ly formed group con­sists of fig­ures close to Trump and is seen by some as a rival to the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil [11] in for­mu­lat­ing poli­cies for the pres­i­dent.

Gor­ka, who views Islam as a reli­gion with an inher­ent predilec­tion for mil­i­tan­cy [24], has strong sup­port­ers among some right-lean­ing think tanks in Wash­ing­ton. “Dr. Gor­ka is one of the most knowl­edge­able, well-read and stud­ied experts on nation­al secu­ri­ty that I’ve ever met,” Joseph Humire, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cen­ter for a Secure Free Soci­ety, told the For­ward. Humire has known Gor­ka for near­ly a decade, and con­sid­ers him “top-notch.”

Born in Lon­don to par­ents who fled Hungary’s post-World War II Com­mu­nist regime, Gor­ka has had a career that’s marked by fre­quent job changes and shift­ing nation­al alle­giances. The U.S. gov­ern­ment is the third sov­er­eign state to hire him in a nation­al secu­ri­ty role. As a young man, he was a mem­ber of the Unit­ed Kingdom’s Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Army reserves, where he served in the Intel­li­gence Corps [25]. Then, fol­low­ing the fall of Com­mu­nism in Hun­gary, he was employed in 1992 by the country’s Min­istry of Defense. He worked there for five years, appar­ent­ly on issues relat­ed to Hungary’s acces­sion to NATO.

Gorka’s mar­riage in 1996 to an Amer­i­can, Katharine Cor­nell, an heir to Penn­syl­va­nia-based Cor­nell Iron Works, helped him become a U.S. cit­i­zen in 2012.

A Web of Deep Ties to Hungary’s Far Right

It was dur­ing his time in Hun­gary that Gor­ka devel­oped ties to the country’s anti-Semit­ic and ultra­na­tion­al­ist far right.

Dur­ing large-scale anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions in Hun­gary in 2006, Gor­ka took on an active role, becom­ing close­ly involved [26] with a protest group called the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee (Mag­yar Nemzeti Bizottság). Gor­ka took on the roles of trans­la­tor, press coor­di­na­tor and advis­er [27] for the group.

Among the four Com­mit­tee mem­bers named as the group’s polit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives was Lás­zló Toroczkai, then head of the 64 Coun­ties Youth Move­ment. Toroczkai found­ed that group in 2001 to advo­cate for the return of parts of mod­ern-day Ser­bia, Slo­va­kia, Roma­nia and Ukraine to form a Greater Hun­gary, restor­ing the country’s pre-World War I bor­ders.

In 2004, two years before the Movement’s involve­ment in the 2006 protests, Hun­gar­i­an author­i­ties opened an inves­ti­ga­tion into the Movement’s news­pa­per, Mag­yar Jelen, when an arti­cle referred to Jews as “Gali­cian upstarts” and went on to argue [28]: “We should get them out. In fact, we need to take back our coun­try from them, take back our stolen for­tunes. After all, these upstarts are suck­ing on our blood, get­ting rich off our blood.” At the time of the article’s pub­li­ca­tion, Toroczkai was both an edi­tor at the paper and the Movement’s offi­cial leader.
Gor­ka co-found­ed his polit­i­cal par­ty with three oth­er politi­cians. Two of his co-founders, Tamás Mol­nár and Atti­la Bégány, were for­mer mem­bers of Job­bik. Mol­nár, a senior Job­bik politi­cian, served as the party’s vice pres­i­dent until short­ly before join­ing Gorka’s new ini­tia­tive, and was also a mem­ber of the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee dur­ing the 2006 protests, issu­ing state­ments [29] togeth­er with extrem­ist mil­i­tant fig­ures such as Toroczkai.
Toroczkai cur­rent­ly serves as vice pres­i­dent of Job­bik and is the may­or of a vil­lage near the bor­der Hun­gary shares with Ser­bia. Last year, he gained noto­ri­ety in the West for declar­ing a goal [30] of ban­ning Mus­lims and gays from his town.

In Jan­u­ary 2007, inspired by the 2006 protests and his expe­ri­ence with the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee, Gor­ka announced plans to form a new polit­i­cal par­ty, to be known as the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coali­tion. Gor­ka had pre­vi­ous­ly served as an advis­er to Vik­tor Orbán, now Hungary’s right-wing nation­al­ist prime min­is­ter. But fol­low­ing Orbán’s failed attempts to bring down Hungary’s then-Social­ist gov­ern­ment, Gor­ka grew dis­en­chant­ed with Orbán’s Fidesz par­ty.

In his email exchange with the For­ward for this arti­cle, Gor­ka explained: “The Coali­tion was estab­lished in direct response to the unhealthy pat­terns vis­i­ble at the time in Hun­gar­i­an con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics. It became appar­ent to me that the effect of decades of Com­mu­nist dic­ta­tor­ship had tak­en a deep­er toll on civ­il soci­ety than was expect­ed.”

Gor­ka co-found­ed his polit­i­cal par­ty with three oth­er politi­cians. Two of his co-founders, Tamás Mol­nár and Atti­la Bégány, were for­mer mem­bers of Job­bik. Mol­nár, a senior Job­bik politi­cian, served as the party’s vice pres­i­dent until short­ly before join­ing Gorka’s new ini­tia­tive, and was also a mem­ber of the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee dur­ing the 2006 protests, issu­ing state­ments [29] togeth­er with extrem­ist mil­i­tant fig­ures such as Toroczkai.

Job­bik has a long his­to­ry of anti-Semi­tism. In 2006, when Gorka’s polit­i­cal allies were still mem­bers of Job­bik, the party’s offi­cial online blog includ­ed arti­cles such as “The Roots of Jew­ish Ter­ror­ism” [31] and “Where Were the Jews in 1956?” [32], a ref­er­ence to the country’s rev­o­lu­tion against Sovi­et rule. In one speech [33] in 2010, Job­bik leader Gabor Vona said that “under com­mu­nism we licked Moscow’s boots, now we lick Brus­sels’ and Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s.”

In found­ing the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coali­tion, Gor­ka and the for­mer Job­bik politi­cians aimed to rep­re­sent “con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues, decid­ed­ly stand­ing up to cor­rup­tion and bring­ing Chris­tian­i­ty into the Con­sti­tu­tion,” accord­ing to the party’s orig­i­nal pol­i­cy pro­gram. At the time, Hungary’s con­sti­tu­tion was sec­u­lar.

The party’s founders did not see them­selves as far right or anti-Semit­ic.

“I knew Gor­ka as a strong­ly Atlanti­cist, con­ser­v­a­tive per­son,” Mol­nár, the for­mer Job­bik vice pres­i­dent and co-founder of Gorka’s par­ty, told the For­ward in a phone con­ver­sa­tion. He added that he could not imag­ine Gor­ka hav­ing anti-Semit­ic views.

Mol­nár first met Gor­ka at a book launch event for Gorka’s father, Pál Gor­ka, in 2002. The younger Gor­ka and Mol­nár became friends, bond­ing over their shared inter­est in the his­to­ry of Hungary’s 1956 rev­o­lu­tion and the fact that both had par­ents who were jailed under the country’s Com­mu­nist regime.

Mol­nár became involved with Job­bik in 2003, in the far-right party’s ear­ly days, and quit in 2006. In his words, “Job­bik went in a mil­i­tant direc­tion that I did not like.”

Gor­ka rejects the notion that he knew any of his polit­i­cal allies had con­nec­tions to the far right.

“I only knew Mol­nár as an artist and Bégány as a for­mer con­ser­v­a­tive local politi­cian (MDF if I recall),” Gor­ka wrote in response to a ques­tion regard­ing the Job­bik affil­i­a­tions of his for­mer par­ty co-founders. “What they did after I left Hun­gary is not some­thing I fol­lowed.” (MDF is an acronym for the Hun­gar­i­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic Forum, a now-defunct cen­ter-right par­ty.)

In fact, both Mol­nár and Bégány were mem­bers of Job­bik before, and not after, they found­ed the new par­ty with Gor­ka. Mol­nár was Jobbik’s high-pro­file vice pres­i­dent until Sep­tem­ber 2006, before he, Gor­ka and Bégány launched the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coali­tion in ear­ly 2007.

Gor­ka appeared at a press con­fer­ence [34] with Mol­nár on Sep­tem­ber 21, 2006 — one day after Mol­nár resigned his posi­tion as Jobbik’s vice pres­i­dent. Gor­ka was also pho­tographed [35] on Sep­tem­ber 23, 2006, wear­ing a badge with the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Committee’s logo as he was stand­ing next to Mol­nár at a podi­um while Mol­nár briefed the press on the Committee’s activ­i­ties. At the time Gor­ka was mak­ing these pub­lic appear­ances with the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Committee’s lead­er­ship, extreme-right leader Toroczkai was already a top mem­ber of the Com­mit­tee.

Bégány, mean­while, had indeed been a mem­ber of MDF for a time, but in 2005 he joined Job­bik and served for­mal­ly as a mem­ber of Budapest’s Dis­trict 5 Coun­cil rep­re­sent­ing the far-right par­ty [36]. Bégány’s for­mal par­ty biog­ra­phy [37], post­ed on the Job­bik web­site in 2006, said it is his “belief that with­out belong­ing to the Hun­gar­i­an nation or to God it is pos­si­ble to live, but not worth it.” Like Mol­nár, Bégány left Job­bik only a few months before start­ing the new par­ty with Gor­ka.

Mol­nár, Bégány and the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee were not Gorka’s only con­nec­tion to far-right cir­cles. Between 2006 and 2007, Gor­ka wrote [38] a series of arti­cles in Mag­yar Demokra­ta, a news­pa­per known for pub­lish­ing the writ­ings of promi­nent anti-Semit­ic and racist Hun­gar­i­an pub­lic fig­ures.

The newspaper’s edi­tor-in-chief, András Benc­sik, is noto­ri­ous in Hun­gary for his own long-stand­ing anti-Semit­ic views. In 1995, the Hun­gar­i­an Jew­ish pub­li­ca­tion Szom­bat [39] crit­i­cized Benc­sik for writ­ing that “the sol­id cap­i­tal, which the Jews got after Auschwitz, has run out.” That same year, Szom­bat not­ed, Benc­sik wrote in Mag­yar Demokra­ta, “In Hun­gary the chief con­flict is between nation­al and cos­mopoli­tan aspi­ra­tions.” In Hun­gar­i­an soci­ety, “cos­mopoli­tan” is gen­er­al­ly a code word for Jews.

In Decem­ber 2004, the U.S. State Depart­ment report­ed blunt­ly to Con­gress that, “the week­ly news­pa­per Mag­yar Demokra­ta pub­lished anti-Semit­ic arti­cles and fea­tured arti­cles by authors who have denied the Holo­caust.”

In the sum­mer of 2007, Benc­sik became one of the founders of the Hun­gar­i­an Guard, a now-banned para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion known for assault­ing and intim­i­dat­ing mem­bers of Hungary’s Roma com­mu­ni­ty. The per­pe­tra­tors in a spate of racial­ly moti­vat­ed mur­ders of Roma in 2008 and 2009 were found to have con­nec­tions to the Guard.

Gorka’s arti­cles for Mag­yar Demokra­ta focused not only on decry­ing Hungary’s then-Social­ist gov­ern­ment, but also on high­light­ing the per­ceived injus­tices of the Treaty of Ver­sailles, the post-World War I agree­ment that led to the loss of two-thirds of pre­war Hungary’s ter­ri­to­ry.

“We fought on the wrong side of a war for which we were not respon­si­ble, and were pun­ished to an extent that was like­ly even more unjust — with the excep­tion of the dis­mem­ber­ment of the Ottoman Empire — than any oth­er pun­ish­ment in the mod­ern age,” Gor­ka wrote in a 2006 arti­cle [38] in Mag­yar Demokra­ta.

Asked about his choice of jour­nal­is­tic out­lets, Gor­ka wrote, “I am […] unfa­mil­iar with Benc­sik. I believe it was one of his col­leagues who asked me if I want­ed to write some OpE­ds.” Gor­ka told the For­ward that his writ­ing at the time shows “how every­thing I did was in the inter­ests of a more trans­par­ent and healthy democ­ra­cy in Hun­gary. This includ­ed a rejec­tion of all revan­chist ten­den­cies and xeno­pho­bic cliques.”

Gorka’s claim to be unfa­mil­iar with Benc­sik must be weighed against his deep immer­sion in Hun­gar­i­an pol­i­tics and Benscik’s sta­tus as a major fig­ure in Hungary’s right-wing polit­i­cal scene. At the time, Gor­ka gave pub­lic inter­views as an “expert” on the Hun­gar­i­an Guard, which Benc­sik helped to found. In one 2007 inter­view, Gor­ka clar­i­fied his own view [40] of the Guard, say­ing, “It’s not worth talk­ing about ban­ning” the group. Despite its extreme rhetoric against minori­ties, Gor­ka said, “The gov­ern­ment and media are inflat­ing this ques­tion.”

An Affin­i­ty for Nation­al­ist Sym­bols

It was in mid-Feb­ru­ary that Gorka’s affin­i­ty for Hun­gar­i­an nation­al­ist and far-right ideas first came to the Amer­i­can public’s atten­tion. Eli Clifton of the news web­site Lobel­og [22] noticed from a pho­to­graph that the new deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent had appeared at an inau­gu­ra­tion ball in Jan­u­ary wear­ing a Hun­gar­i­an medal known as Vitézi Rend. The medal sig­ni­fies a knight­ly order of mer­it found­ed in 1920 by Admi­ral Mik­los Hor­thy, Hungary’s long­time anti-Semit­ic ruler and Hitler’s ally dur­ing World War II. Notwith­stand­ing this alliance, and the group’s des­ig­na­tion as Nazi-col­lab­o­ra­tors by the U.S. State Depart­ment, many with­in Hungary’s right revere Hor­thy for his staunch nation­al­ism dur­ing the over­all course of his rule from 1920 to 1944.

Bre­it­bart, the “alt-right” pub­li­ca­tion, where Gor­ka him­self served as nation­al secu­ri­ty edi­tor pri­or to join­ing the White House staff, defend­ed his wardrobe choice [41], writ­ing on Feb­ru­ary 14 that, “as any of his Bre­it­bart News col­leagues could tes­ti­fy, Gor­ka is not only pro-Israel but ‘pro-Jew­ish,’ and defends both against the threat of rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ism.”

“In 1979 my father was award­ed a dec­la­ra­tion for his resis­tance to a dic­ta­tor­ship, and although he passed away 14 years ago, I wear that medal in remem­brance of what my fam­i­ly went through and what it rep­re­sents today, to me, as an Amer­i­can,” Gor­ka told Breibart on Feb­ru­ary 15 [23], as the con­tro­ver­sy regard­ing his choice to wear a Hor­thy-era medal inten­si­fied.

But the medal was not the first time Gor­ka expressed appre­ci­a­tion for sym­bols that many asso­ciate with Hungary’s World War II-era Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers. In 2006, Gor­ka defend­ed the use of the Arpad flag, which Hungary’s mur­der­ous Arrow Cross Par­ty used as their sym­bol. The Hun­gar­i­an Arrow Cross Par­ty killed thou­sands of Jews dur­ing World War II, shoot­ing many of them along­side the Danube Riv­er and throw­ing them into the water. Gor­ka told the news agency JTA [42] at the time that “if you say eight cen­turies of his­to­ry can be erad­i­cat­ed by 18 months of fas­cist dis­tor­tion of sym­bols, you’re los­ing his­toric per­spec­tive.”

Gorka’s Unlike­ly Trans­for­ma­tion

After the fail­ure of his new par­ty in 2007, Gor­ka moved to the Unit­ed States and over the past 10 years has worked for the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Marine Corps Uni­ver­si­ty, Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty, and Joint Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Uni­ver­si­ty.

For­mer col­leagues in the States ques­tioned the qual­i­ty of Gorka’s work on Islam, and said that he shied away from pub­lish­ing in peer-reviewed jour­nals, accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post [43].

Retired Lt. Col. Mike Lewis told the Post that when Gor­ka was lec­tur­ing to mem­bers of the armed forces, he “made a dif­fi­cult and com­plex sit­u­a­tion sim­ple and con­firmed the offi­cers’ prej­u­dices and assump­tions.”

But Humire, of the Cen­ter for a Secure Free Soci­ety, defend­ed Gorka’s world­view. “Since I’ve known him he has been empha­siz­ing a point that is not prop­er­ly under­stood by most con­ven­tion­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts,” said Humire, “that the mod­ern bat­tle­field is fought with words, images, and ideas, not just bombs and bul­lets. If you study asym­met­ric war, this empha­sizes the men­tal bat­tle of attri­tion and the moral bat­tle of legit­i­ma­cy over the phys­i­cal bat­tle for the ter­rain. Dr. Gor­ka under­stands this at a very high lev­el and has taught this to our war fight­ers for sev­er­al years,” said Humire.

3. The sus­te­nance of Nazi/fascist ori­en­ta­tion through gen­er­a­tions is evi­dent in the her­itage of Chris­tia Free­land, a Ukrain­ian descend­ed from, and deeply influ­enced by, her grand­fa­ther, an OUN/B fas­cist who worked with the Nazis.

“. . . . Chrys­tia Freeland’s dark fam­i­ly secret is that her grand­fa­ther, Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak, faith­ful­ly served Nazi Ger­many right up to its sur­ren­der, and Chomiak’s fam­i­ly only moved to Cana­da after the Third Reich was defeat­ed by the Sovi­et Union’s Red Army and its allies – the U.S. and Great Britain.

Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak was not a vic­tim of the war – he was on the side of the Ger­man aggres­sors who col­lab­o­rat­ed with Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists in killing Rus­sians, Jews, Poles and oth­er minori­ties. For­mer jour­nal­ist Free­land chose to white­wash her fam­i­ly his­to­ry to leave out her grandfather’s ser­vice to Adolf Hitler. Of course, if she had told the truth, she might nev­er have achieved a suc­cess­ful polit­i­cal career in Cana­da. Her fierce hos­til­i­ty toward Rus­sia also might be viewed in a dif­fer­ent light. . . .

. . . . After the start of World War II, the Nazi admin­is­tra­tion appoint­ed Cho­mi­ak to be edi­tor of the news­pa­per Krakivs­ki Visti (News of Krakow).

So the truth appears to be that Cho­mi­ak moved from Ukraine to Nazi-occu­pied Poland in order to work for the Third Reich under the com­mand of Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al Hans Frank [44], the man who orga­nized the Holo­caust in Poland. Chomiak’s work was direct­ly super­vised by Emil Gassner, the head of the press depart­ment in the Pol­ish Gen­er­al Gov­ern­ment.

Mikhai­lo Cho­mi­ak com­fort­ably set­tled his fam­i­ly into a for­mer Jew­ish (or Aryanized) apart­ment in Krakow [45]. The edi­to­r­i­al offices for Krakivs­ki Visti also were tak­en from a Jew­ish own­er, Krakow’s Pol­ish-lan­guage Jew­ish news­pa­per Nowy Dzi­en­nik. Its edi­tor at the time was forced to flee Krakow for Lviv, where he was cap­tured fol­low­ing the occu­pa­tion of Gali­cia and sent to the Belzec exter­mi­na­tion camp [46], where he was mur­dered along with 600,000 oth­er Jews. . . .

. . . . As the war turned against the Nazis and the Red Army advanced across Ukraine and Poland, Nazi pro­pa­gan­dist Emil Gassner took Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak in 1944 to Vien­na where Krakivs­ki Visti con­tin­ued to pub­lish. As the Third Reich crum­bled, Cho­mi­ak left with the retreat­ing Ger­man Army and sur­ren­dered to the Amer­i­cans in Bavaria, where he was placed with his fam­i­ly in a spe­cial U.S. mil­i­tary intel­li­gence facil­i­ty in Bad Wör­ishofen, a clus­ter of hotels sit­u­at­ed 78 kilo­me­ters from Munich in the foothills of the Alps. . . .”

“A Nazi Skele­ton in the Fam­i­ly Clos­et” by Ari­na Tsukono­va; Con­sor­tium News; 2/27/2017. [47]

On Jan. 10, Cana­di­an Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau replaced For­eign Min­is­ter Stephane Dion with Chrys­tia Free­land [48], a for­mer jour­nal­ist proud of her Ukrain­ian roots and well-known for her hos­til­i­ty toward Rus­sia. At the time, a big ques­tion in Ottawa was why. Some ana­lysts believed that Trudeau’s deci­sion may have start­ed when it still seemed like­ly that Hillary Clin­ton would become the new U.S. pres­i­dent and a tough line against Moscow was expect­ed in Wash­ing­ton. . . .

. . . . Peo­ple who have fol­lowed Freeland’s career were aware that her idée fixe for decades has been that Ukraine must be ripped out of the Russ­ian sphere of influ­ence. Her views fit with the intense Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism of her mater­nal grand­par­ents who immi­grat­ed to Cana­da after World War II and whom she has por­trayed as vic­tims of Josef Stal­in and the Red Army. . . .

. . . . By the next decade, work­ing as the U.S. man­ag­ing edi­tor of The Finan­cial Times, she proud­ly inter­viewed [49] then-Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yushchenko, who had won con­trol as a result of the 2004 “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion [50].” In her approach to jour­nal­ism, Free­land made clear her com­mit­ment to foment Ukrain­ian-Russ­ian ten­sions in any pos­si­ble way. Indeed, dur­ing her jour­nal­is­tic career, which end­ed in 2013 when she won a seat in Canada’s par­lia­ment, Free­land remained fierce­ly anti-Russ­ian.

In 2014, Yushchenko’s rival Vik­tor Yanukovych was Ukraine’s elect­ed pres­i­dent while Cana­di­an MP Free­land urged on the “Euro-Maid­an” protests against Yanukovych and his desire to main­tain friend­ly rela­tions with Moscow. On Jan. 27, 2014, as the protests grew more vio­lent with ultra-nation­al­ist street fight­ers mov­ing to the fore­front and fire­bomb­ing police, Free­land vis­it­ed Kiev and pub­lished an op-ed [51] in The Globe and Mail blam­ing the vio­lence on Yanukovych.

“Demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues are rarely chal­lenged as direct­ly as they are being today in Ukraine,” Free­land wrote, argu­ing that the pro­test­ers, not the elect­ed pres­i­dent, rep­re­sent­ed democ­ra­cy and the rule of law. “Their vic­to­ry will be a vic­to­ry for us all; their defeat will weak­en democ­ra­cy far from the Euro­maid­an. We are all Ukraini­ans now. Let’s do what we can — which is a lot — to sup­port them.” . . .

. . . . Chrys­tia Freeland’s dark fam­i­ly secret is that her grand­fa­ther, Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak, faith­ful­ly served Nazi Ger­many right up to its sur­ren­der, and Chomiak’s fam­i­ly only moved to Cana­da after the Third Reich was defeat­ed by the Sovi­et Union’s Red Army and its allies – the U.S. and Great Britain.

Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak was not a vic­tim of the war – he was on the side of the Ger­man aggres­sors who col­lab­o­rat­ed with Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists in killing Rus­sians, Jews, Poles and oth­er minori­ties. For­mer jour­nal­ist Free­land chose to white­wash her fam­i­ly his­to­ry to leave out her grandfather’s ser­vice to Adolf Hitler. Of course, if she had told the truth, she might nev­er have achieved a suc­cess­ful polit­i­cal career in Cana­da. Her fierce hos­til­i­ty toward Rus­sia also might be viewed in a dif­fer­ent light.

Freeland’s Grand­fa­ther

Accord­ing to Cana­di­an sources, Cho­mi­ak grad­u­at­ed from Lviv Uni­ver­si­ty in west­ern Ukraine with a Master’s Degree in Law and Polit­i­cal Sci­ence. He began a career with the Gali­cian news­pa­per Dilo (Action), pub­lished in Lviv. After the start of World War II, the Nazi admin­is­tra­tion appoint­ed Cho­mi­ak to be edi­tor of the news­pa­per Krakivs­ki Visti (News of Krakow).

So the truth appears to be that Cho­mi­ak moved from Ukraine to Nazi-occu­pied Poland in order to work for the Third Reich under the com­mand of Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al Hans Frank [44], the man who orga­nized the Holo­caust in Poland. Chomiak’s work was direct­ly super­vised by Emil Gassner, the head of the press depart­ment in the Pol­ish Gen­er­al Gov­ern­ment.

Mikhai­lo Cho­mi­ak com­fort­ably set­tled his fam­i­ly into a for­mer Jew­ish (or Aryanized) apart­ment in Krakow [45]. The edi­to­r­i­al offices for Krakivs­ki Visti also were tak­en from a Jew­ish own­er, Krakow’s Pol­ish-lan­guage Jew­ish news­pa­per Nowy Dzi­en­nik. Its edi­tor at the time was forced to flee Krakow for Lviv, where he was cap­tured fol­low­ing the occu­pa­tion of Gali­cia and sent to the Belzec exter­mi­na­tion camp [46], where he was mur­dered along with 600,000 oth­er Jews.

So, it appears Freeland’s grand­fa­ther – rather than being a help­less vic­tim – was giv­en a pres­ti­gious job to spread Nazi pro­pa­gan­da, prais­ing Hitler from a pub­lish­ing house stolen from Jews and giv­en to Ukraini­ans who shared the val­ues of Nazism.

On April 24, 1940, Krakivs­ki Visti pub­lished a full-page pan­e­gyric to Adolf Hitler ded­i­cat­ed to his 51st birth­day (four days ear­li­er). Cho­mi­ak also hailed Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al Hans Frank: “The Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion were over­joyed to see the estab­lish­ment of fair Ger­man author­i­ty, the bear­er of which is you, Sir Gov­er­nor-Gen­er­al. The Ukrain­ian peo­ple expressed this joy not only through the flow­ers they threw to the Ger­man troops enter­ing the region, but also through the sac­ri­fices of blood required to fight Pol­ish usurpers.” (Because of Frank’s role in the Holo­caust, the Nurem­berg Tri­bunal found him guilty of crimes against human­i­ty and exe­cut­ed him.)

Beyond extolling Hitler and his hench­men, Cho­mi­ak rejoiced [52] over Nazi mil­i­tary vic­to­ries, includ­ing the ter­ror bomb­ings of Great Britain. While prais­ing the Third Reich, Krakivs­ki Visti was also under orders by the Ger­man author­i­ties to stir up hatred against the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion. Edi­to­r­i­al selec­tions from Chomiak’s news­pa­per can be found in Holo­caust muse­ums around the world, such as the one in Los Ange­les, Cal­i­for­nia [53].

The Nov. 6, 1941 issue of Krakivs­ki Visti ecsta­t­i­cal­ly describes how much bet­ter Kiev is with­out Jews. “There is not a sin­gle one left in Kiev today, while there were 350,000 under the Bol­she­viks,” the news­pa­per wrote, gloat­ing that the Jews “got their come­up­pance.”

That “come­up­pance” refers to the mass shoot­ing of Kiev’s Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion at Babi Yar [54]. In just two days, Sept. 29–30, 1941, a total of 33,771 peo­ple were mur­dered, a fig­ure that does not include chil­dren younger than three years old. There were more shoot­ings in Octo­ber, and by ear­ly Novem­ber, Krakivs­ki Visti was enthus­ing over a city where the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion had “dis­ap­peared” mak­ing Kiev “beau­ti­ful, glo­ri­ous.” Chomiak’s edi­to­ri­als also described a Poland “iinfect­ed by Jews [55].”

 

Accord­ing to John-Paul Him­ka, a Cana­di­an his­to­ri­an of Ukrain­ian ori­gin, Krakivs­ki Visti stirred up emo­tions against Jews, cre­at­ing an atmos­phere con­ducive to mass mur­der [56]. In 2008, the Insti­tute of His­tor­i­cal Research at Lviv Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty pub­lished a paper co-authored by Him­ka enti­tled “What Was the Atti­tude of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists toward the Jews? [57]” The paper states that, by order of the Ger­man author­i­ties, Krakivs­ki Visti pub­lished a series of arti­cles between June and Sep­tem­ber 1943 under the title “Yids in Ukraine” that were writ­ten in an extreme­ly anti-Semit­ic and pro-Nazi vein. The Cana­di­an his­to­ri­an writes that Jews were por­trayed as crim­i­nals, while Ukraini­ans were por­trayed as vic­tims.

Refuge in Cana­da

As the war turned against the Nazis and the Red Army advanced across Ukraine and Poland, Nazi pro­pa­gan­dist Emil Gassner took Mykhai­lo Cho­mi­ak in 1944 to Vien­na where Krakivs­ki Visti con­tin­ued to pub­lish. As the Third Reich crum­bled, Cho­mi­ak left with the retreat­ing Ger­man Army and sur­ren­dered to the Amer­i­cans in Bavaria, where he was placed with his fam­i­ly in a spe­cial U.S. mil­i­tary intel­li­gence facil­i­ty in Bad Wör­ishofen, a clus­ter of hotels sit­u­at­ed 78 kilo­me­ters from Munich in the foothills of the Alps. . . .

4a. DHS sec­re­tary John Kel­ly has imple­ment­ed an “anti-immi­grant” offen­sive that pro­vides for the de fac­to fed­er­al dep­u­ti­za­tion of local law enforce­ment offi­cers as enforcers of immi­gra­tion law. This is an enor­mous legal/constitutional step. It is one that might be viewed as creep­ing mar­tial law.

In FTR #864 [58], among oth­er pro­grams, we high­light­ed how nativist, “anti-immi­grant” sen­ti­ment was a fun­da­men­tal part of the fas­cist world view in the 1930s and 1940s.

“Mr. Trump’s ‘Depor­ta­tion Force’ Pre­pares an Assault on Amer­i­can Val­ues;” The New York Times; 2/21/2017. [12]

The home­land secu­ri­ty sec­re­tary, John Kel­ly, issued a remark­able pair of mem­os on Tues­day [59]. They are the bat­tle plan for the “depor­ta­tion force” Pres­i­dent Trump promised in the cam­paign.

They are remark­able for how com­plete­ly they turn sen­si­ble immi­gra­tion poli­cies upside down and back­ward. For how they seek to make the depor­ta­tion machin­ery more extreme and fright­en­ing (and expen­sive), to the detri­ment of deeply held Amer­i­can val­ues.

A quick flash­back: The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion rec­og­nized that mil­lions of unau­tho­rized immi­grants, espe­cial­ly those with cit­i­zen chil­dren and strong ties to their com­mu­ni­ties and this coun­try, deserved a chance to stay and get right with the law. It tried to focus on deport­ing dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals, nation­al-secu­ri­ty threats and recent bor­der crossers.

Mr. Kel­ly has swept away those notions. He makes prac­ti­cal­ly every deportable per­son a depor­ta­tion pri­or­i­ty. He wants every­body, start­ing with those who have been con­vict­ed of any crime, no mat­ter how pet­ty or old. Pro­por­tion­al­i­ty, dis­cre­tion, the idea that some con­vic­tions are unjust, the prin­ci­ples behind crim­i­nal-jus­tice reform — these con­cepts do not apply.

The tar­gets now don’t even have to be crim­i­nals. They could sim­ply have been accused of a crime (that is, still pre­sumed “inno­cent”) or have done some­thing that makes an immi­gra­tion agent believe that they might pos­si­bly face charges.

Mr. Kel­ly includ­ed a catchall pro­vi­sion allow­ing Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment [60] offi­cers or Bor­der Patrol [61] agents — or local police offi­cers or sheriff’s deputies — to take in any­one they think could be “a risk to pub­lic safe­ty or nation­al secu­ri­ty.” That is a recipe for polic­ing abus­es and racial pro­fil­ing, a pos­si­bil­i­ty that Mr. Kel­ly will vast­ly expand if Con­gress gives him the huge sums required to hire 10,000 ICE offi­cers and 5,000 Bor­der Patrol agents.

He wants to “surge,” his verb, the hir­ing of immi­gra­tion judges and asy­lum offi­cers. He wants to add pro­cess­ing and deten­tion cen­ters, which sure­ly has the pri­vate-prison indus­try sali­vat­ing at the prof­its to come.

He wants to ramp up pro­grams dep­u­tiz­ing state and local law enforce­ment offi­cers as immi­gra­tion enforcers. He calls them [62] “a high­ly suc­cess­ful force mul­ti­pli­er,” which is true if you want a drag­net. It’s not true if you want to fight crime effec­tive­ly and keep com­mu­ni­ties safe. When every local law enforce­ment encounter can be a pre­lude to depor­ta­tion, unau­tho­rized immi­grants will fear and avoid the police. And when state and local offi­cers untrained in immi­gra­tion law sud­den­ly get to decide who stays and who goes, the risk of injus­tice is pro­found.

So is the dan­ger to due process. Cur­rent pro­ce­dure allows for swift­ly deport­ing, with­out a hear­ing, immi­grants who are caught near the bor­der and who entered very recent­ly. But Mr. Kel­ly notes that the law allows him to fast-track the removal of immi­grants caught any­where in the coun­try who can­not prove they have been here “con­tin­u­ous­ly” for at least two years. He’s keep­ing his options open about whether to short-cir­cuit due process with a coast-to-coast show-me-your-papers pol­i­cy.

He plans to pub­lish data on crimes com­mit­ted by unau­tho­rized immi­grants, and to iden­ti­fy state and local juris­dic­tions that release immi­grants from cus­tody. Why? To pro­mote the false idea, as Mr. Trump has shame­ful­ly done, that immi­grants pose par­tic­u­lar safe­ty risks and to pun­ish so-called sanc­tu­ary [63] cities that, for rea­sons of pub­lic order and decen­cy, are try­ing to dis­con­nect them­selves from ICE.

This is how Mr. Trump’s rant­i­ngs about “bad hom­bres” and alien rapist ter­ror­ists have now been weaponized, in cold bureau­crat­ic lan­guage.

Mr. Kel­ly promised before his con­fir­ma­tion to be a rea­son­able enforcer of defen­si­ble poli­cies. But immi­grants have rea­son to be fright­ened by his sud­den align­ment with Mr. Trump’s nativism. So does every Amer­i­can who believes that the coun­try is, or should be, com­mit­ted to the sen­si­ble, pro­por­tion­ate appli­ca­tion of laws, wel­com­ing to immi­grants, and respect­ful of the facts.

4b. The Trumpenkampfver­bande is remov­ing fed­er­al scruti­ny of white suprema­cist groups.

“ ‘Trump Is Set­ting Us Free:’ White Suprema­cists  Cel­e­brate Reports that Trump Will Dial Down Scruti­ny” by Lau­rel Ray­mond and Alan Pyke; Think Progress; 2/3/2017. [16]“This

Is Absolute­ly a Sig­nal of Favor to Us”

Online neo-Nazi and white suprema­cist forums have been unmis­tak­ably jubi­lant late­ly, as web chat­ter moved from cel­e­brat­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s elec­toral vic­to­ry to cel­e­brat­ing indi­vid­ual cab­i­net appoint­ments [64] and pol­i­cy pro­pos­als.

On Thurs­day, inter­net racists cel­e­brat­ed anoth­er per­ceived vic­to­ry: Reports [65] that Pres­i­dent Trump will soon remove white nation­al­ist groups [66]from a fed­er­al effort to study and neu­tral­ize extrem­ist rad­i­cal­iza­tion, and rebrand the pro­gram to focus sole­ly on groups asso­ci­at­ing them­selves with Islam.

“Yes, this is real life. Our memes are all real life. Don­ald Trump is set­ting us free.”

The Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism (CVE) pro­gram part­ners gov­ern­ment agen­cies with com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions in hopes of pre­vent­ing peo­ple from being rad­i­cal­ized into var­i­ous types of ter­ror and hate groups. Its pri­ma­ry focus has always been in Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties, but the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion designed it to also encom­pass the Amer­i­can far-right groups that pro­pa­gan­dize to peo­ple like Dylann Roof.

News of Trump’s plan to reverse that sym­bol­ic recog­ni­tion of right-wing threats [67] prompt­ed a wave of cel­e­bra­tion in white nation­al­ist cir­cles.

“Don­ald Trump wants to remove us from undue fed­er­al scruti­ny by remov­ing ‘white suprema­cists’ from the def­i­n­i­tion of ‘extrem­ism,’” the founder and edi­tor of the neo-Nazi web­site The Dai­ly Stormer (which takes its name from a Nazi pro­pa­gan­da pub­li­ca­tion) wrote in a post on the site. “Yes, this is real life. Our memes are all real life. Don­ald Trump is set­ting us free.”

This inter­pre­ta­tion over­states the scope of Reuter’s report some­what. The meme-filled Dai­ly Stormer post alleges that chang­ing the CVE pro­gram and renam­ing it to focus sole­ly on “Islam­ic extrem­ism,” as Trump puts it, would also extend to to call­ing off FBI scruti­ny and tak­ing white suprema­cists and neo-Nazis off of extrem­ist data­bas­es. That would actu­al­ly require sep­a­rate action from Trump.

But in Trump’s move to take even some mea­sure of scruti­ny off of far-right extrem­ism, The Dai­ly Stormer sees a direct par­rot­ing of their own writ­ing and a reward for the far-right’s role in get­ting Trump elect­ed.

“It’s fair to say that if the Trump team is not lis­ten­ing to us direct­ly (I assume they are), they are think­ing along very sim­i­lar lines. We helped get Trump get [sic] elect­ed, and the fact of the mat­ter is, with­out Alt-Right meme mag­ick, it sim­ply wouldn’t have hap­pened,” the post con­tin­ues. “This is absolute­ly a sig­nal of favor to us.”

Anoth­er neo-Nazi site that asso­ciates itself with the so-called “alt-right, [68]” Infos­tormer, cel­e­brat­ed the news and took it as a sign of sup­port. “We may tru­ly have under­es­ti­mat­ed Pres­i­dent Trump’s covert sup­port of our Cause (at least in some form), but after this pro­pos­al, I am ful­ly ready to offer myself in ser­vice of this glo­ri­ous regime” the post reads.

This cel­e­bra­to­ry cov­er­age of the news spread wide­ly through white nation­al­ist forums and chat rooms.

Com­menters at Storm­front rejoiced.

“Amaz­ing my gov­ern­ment no longer tar­gets me as an ene­my,” wrote one. “It’s now offi­cial­ly under­stood at the the high­est lev­els that we are soooo much bet­ter than the kid­nap­per ter­ror­ist pedophile left,” wrote anoth­er.

On the mes­sag­ing ser­vice Gab, which has become a favorite of white nation­al­ists after Twit­ter start­ed clos­ing some high-pro­file accounts for hate speech, users glee­ful­ly post­ed links to the Infowars cov­er­age of the news, main­stream news cov­er­age, and the Dai­ly Stormer arti­cle, often tag­ging the posts #MAGA and edi­to­ri­al­iz­ing their cel­e­bra­tion of the news.

Trump’s pres­i­den­cy has been met with wide­spread cel­e­bra­tion by white suprema­cist groups, many of which rec­og­nized Trump’s “Amer­i­ca first” rhetoric as their own.

Civ­il lib­er­ties orga­ni­za­tions and lib­er­tar­i­an observers have long crit­i­cized the CVE pro­gram as a coun­ter­pro­duc­tive white­wash [69] of gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance of Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties. A for­mer offi­cial with the pro­gram told CNN [70] that in prac­tice, the con­tro­ver­sial pro­gram [69] has always focused on Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties, and thus that Trump’s most sub­stan­tial pro­posed change is the renam­ing of the pro­gram. Accord­ing to Reuters, Trump would rechris­ten it the “Coun­ter­ing Islam­ic Extrem­ism” or the “Coun­ter­ing Rad­i­cal Islam­ic Extrem­ism” pro­gram.

Much of the white suprema­cist cel­e­bra­tion seems to revolve around the pro­posed name change alone.

Only one orga­ni­za­tion has thus far won a CVE grant for work focused on hate group de-rad­i­cal­iza­tion. Life After Hate, found­ed in 2009 and run by a small staff of men and women who were once part of skin­head, Aryan, and oth­er vio­lent extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tions, has yet to receive the grant it was award­ed last sum­mer.

Life After Hate co-founder Chris­t­ian Pic­ci­oli­ni called Trump’s report­ed plan “extreme­ly trou­bling,” cit­ing the sig­nal it sends to hate groups.

“It sends a mes­sage that white extrem­ism does not exist, or is not a pri­or­i­ty in our coun­try, when in fact it is a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly larg­er and more present ter­ror threat than any by for­eign or oth­er domes­tic actors,” LAH’s Chris­t­ian Pic­ci­oli­ni told ThinkProgress. “We have hun­dreds of thou­sands of home­grown sov­er­eign cit­i­zens and mili­tia mem­bers with ties to white nation­al­ism train­ing in para­mil­i­tary camps across the U.S. and stand­ing armed in front of mosques to intim­i­date mar­gin­al­ized Amer­i­cans.”

“It sends a mes­sage that white extrem­ism does not exist.”

With the pro­posed change, Pic­ci­oli­ni wor­ries Trump could even end up increas­ing the like­li­hood of vio­lence with­in our bor­ders if he does alter the pro­gram to ignore white suprema­cists, mili­tia groups, and so-called “sov­er­eign cit­i­zens.” Since 9/11, attacks from right-wing orga­ni­za­tions have killed far more Amer­i­cans than groups claim­ing to be Islam­ic, accord­ing to data from the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter [71].

The move “could bol­ster and legit­imize vio­lent white extrem­ism while also poten­tial­ly serv­ing to rad­i­cal­ize dis­af­fect­ed fringe ele­ments with­in Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

“This deci­sion, if true, would severe­ly harm or destroy any com­mu­ni­ty-led efforts to help­ing peo­ple dis­en­gage from vio­lent extrem­ism and poten­tial­ly stop future ter­ror­ist acts.”

4c. The League of the South has formed a vig­i­lante “South­ern Defense Force,” intend­ed to com­bat “the left­ist men­ace.” But it’s not exclu­sive­ly intend­ed to be vig­i­lante in nature. If state and local author­i­ties ever feel the need to dep­u­tize pri­vate cit­i­zens, this new ‘South­ern Defense Force’ is plan­ning on fill­ing that role too. [17]

The poten­tial dep­u­ti­za­tion of the “South­ern Defense Force” should be eval­u­at­ed against the back­ground of the mar­tial law con­tin­gency plans devel­oped by Oliv­er North. Those plans, as dis­cussed most recent­ly in FTR #945 [72], involved the dep­u­ti­za­tion of para­mil­i­tary right-wingers and their use as fed­er­al enforcers in the event of an “emer­gency.”

“League of the South Announces For­ma­tion of ‘South­ern Defense Force’” by Hate­watch Staff; South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter; 2/6/2017. [17]

Edg­ing clos­er to mil­i­tan­cy, the neo-Con­fed­er­ate League of the South says it’s form­ing a force to com­bat the ‘left­ist men­ace to our his­toric Chris­t­ian civ­i­liza­tion.’

In a mil­i­tary-styled order titled “Direc­tive 02022017,” Michael Hill, pres­i­dent of the neo-Con­fed­er­ate League of the South [73] (LOS), announced Fri­day the for­ma­tion of a new vig­i­lante “defense force.”

[T]he League of the South is call­ing for all able-bod­ied, tra­di­tion­al­ist South­ern men to join our organization’s South­ern Defense Force for the pur­pose of help­ing our State and local mag­is­trates across Dix­ie com­bat this grow­ing left­ist men­ace to our his­toric Chris­t­ian civ­i­liza­tion. As pri­vate cit­i­zens in a pri­vate orga­ni­za­tion, we will stand ready to pro­tect our own fam­i­lies and friends, our prop­er­ty, and our lib­er­ty from left­ist chaos. More­over, we will be ready to assist our local and State author­i­ties in keep­ing the peace should they find it nec­es­sary to “dep­u­tize” pri­vate cit­i­zens for that pur­pose.

It remains to be seen what actions the new “South­ern Defense Force” [SDF] will take to “plan for con­tin­gen­cies – nat­ur­al or man-made –– that might affect the South­ern peo­ple.” But announce­ments of plans to mil­i­ta­rize the League are not new.

In 2014, the group began devel­op­ing and train­ing a para­mil­i­tary unit called the “Indomita­bles” to advance a sec­ond seces­sion, though such efforts fiz­zled quick­ly.

Promis­ing increased LOS mil­i­tan­cy has cost the group and led to fal­ter­ing mem­ber­ship. Since Dylann Roof’s mas­sacre of nine con­gre­gants at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in 2015, Hate­watch has doc­u­ment­ed a string of high-pro­file depar­tures.

Hill’s announce­ment clos­es by direct­ing recruits to con­tact the League using a web form reserved for nor­mal mem­bers. “Are you ready to be a man among men?” Hill asks. “Join the League and its South­ern Defense Force today!”

The phrase “man among men” is a ref­er­ence to pro­pa­gan­da posters for the Rhode­sian Army dur­ing the Rhode­sian Bush War, a civ­il war from 1964–79 in the unrec­og­nized coun­try of Rhode­sia that remains a pop­u­lar ref­er­ence for white nation­al­ists. The con­flict inspired Dylann Roof, who named his blog “The Last Rhode­sian” and posed for pic­tures on social media with the Con­fed­er­ate Bat­tle Flag while wear­ing a jack­et patched with a Rhode­sian flag.

It seems to have inspired Hill, too. He has echoed the Rhode­sian mythos in a series of social media posts and on the LOS web­site, typ­i­fy­ing the loss of polit­i­cal hege­mo­ny by whites in that war as tan­ta­mount to racial geno­cide.

While Hill is just one voice in a grow­ing cho­rus con­tribut­ing to an esca­la­tion of vio­lent rhetoric across the South and the Unit­ed States, the for­ma­tion of the SDF rep­re­sents some­thing else, too –– a des­per­ate promise of armed resis­tance from an aging rad­i­cal on the fringe of a move­ment he once dom­i­nat­ed.

4d. “The League of the South is call­ing for all able-bod­ied, tra­di­tion­al­ist South­ern men to join our organization’s South­ern Defense Force for the pur­pose of help­ing our State and local mag­is­trates across Dix­ie com­bat this grow­ing left­ist men­ace to our his­toric Chris­t­ian civ­i­liza­tion. As pri­vate cit­i­zens in a pri­vate orga­ni­za­tion, we will stand ready to pro­tect our own fam­i­lies and friends, our prop­er­ty, and our lib­er­ty from left­ist chaos. More­over, we will be ready to assist our local and State author­i­ties in keep­ing the peace should they find it nec­es­sary to “dep­u­tize” pri­vate cit­i­zens for that pur­pose.

Michael Hill, pres­i­dent of the League of the South, is mak­ing an overt­ly white-nation­al­ist dog-whis­tle when he asks: “Are you ready to be a man among men?”, here’s his dec­la­ra­tion imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing elec­tion day about how no mer­cy should be shown towards “Jews, minori­ties, and anti-white whites” [74]:

“League Of The South Hails Trump, Wants ‘No Mer­cy’ Towards ‘Jews, Minori­ties And Anti-White Whites’” by Bri­an Tash­man; Right Wing Watch; 11/10/2016. [74]

As white suprema­cists [75] and neo-Nazis [76] cel­e­brate the results of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Michael Hill [77], pres­i­dent of the neo-Con­fed­er­ate League of the South, react­ed to Don­ald Trump’s vic­to­ry yes­ter­day by vow­ing [78] to show “no mer­cy” to “the ene­mies of our God, our Folk and our civ­i­liza­tion” and to final­ly “dri­ve a stake” through the heart of “the glob­al­ist-pro­gres­sive coali­tion of Jews, minori­ties, and anti-white whites.”

Once the glob­al­ist-pro­gres­sive coali­tion of Jews, minori­ties, and anti-white whites stops reel­ing in con­fu­sion from the results of yesterday’s elec­tion, we can expect them to start strik­ing back with trick­ery and vio­lence. Thus, we as South­ern nation­al­ists face both dan­ger and oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Now, more than ever, we need tight orga­ni­za­tion and num­bers to help dri­ve a stake through Dracula’s heart and keep him from ris­ing once again to men­ace our peo­ple and civ­i­liza­tion. No mer­cy should be shown to the ene­mies of our God, our Folk, and our civ­i­liza­tion. None would be afford­ed us.

Today, Hill warned neo-Con­fed­er­ate activists that if “you don’t fin­ish the job by rout­ing your ene­mies and dri­ving them into the sea while you have the chance, they will re-group and be back at your throats in no time! You have been giv­en a reprieve by God (prob­a­bly unde­served­ly so); do not give your ene­mies and His a reprieve.”

He said that a Trump pres­i­den­cy may rep­re­sent a God-giv­en “short reprieve” from the “demise of old white Amer­i­ca,” telling mem­bers that they must use this oppor­tu­ni­ty to fight for and build “White Man’s Land.”

So here is my warn­ing to the vic­tors: do not go back to sleep and think all is well. If you don’t fin­ish the job by rout­ing your ene­mies and dri­ving them into the sea while you have the chance, they will re-group and be back at your throats in no time! You have been giv­en a reprieve by God (prob­a­bly unde­served­ly so); do not give your ene­mies and His a reprieve.

Their goal is to dis­pos­sess you of every­thing. If you have not heard that over the past year, then you have not been lis­ten­ing. Just what the hell do you think mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, diver­si­ty, and tol­er­ance are all about? Your ene­mies care noth­ing about those things. They are mere­ly used as weapons against you for your dis­pos­ses­sion and ulti­mate destruc­tion. The sum of their effect is White Guilt.

These media elites (and oth­ers of their elite ilk) look for­ward to the demise of old white Amer­i­ca and the rise of a new par­a­digm in which they will hold sway. You will be dis­pos­sessed, sequestered in the equiv­a­lent of ghet­tos, and will be a despised and hat­ed minor­i­ty in the coun­try your ances­tors built.

You, by God’s grace, may have been giv­en a short reprieve from this sce­nario. Redeem the time! As for me, I rec­om­mend that we get busy with South­ern inde­pen­dence. We need our own coun­try, and it must be run by us for our own inter­ests. It must once again be White Man’s Land.

4e. Don­ald Trump gave his first speech to Con­gress, a speech that was large­ly and bizarrely hailed by the press and polls as ‘opti­mistic’ [79], despite being a pack of lies [80] that was only slight­ly less dark and inflam­ma­to­ry than his ‘Amer­i­can car­nage’ inau­gu­ra­tion speech [81].

If you’re a fan of a creep­ing Hit­ler­ian agen­da, it def­i­nite­ly was an opti­mistic speech. [13]

“ . . . . In The Nazi Con­science [14], Duke his­to­ri­an Clau­dia Koonz notes that the Nazi news­pa­per Der Sturmer ran a fea­ture called ‘Let­ter Box,’ which pub­lished read­ers’ accounts of Jew­ish crimes. When the Nazis took pow­er, the Ger­man state began doing some­thing sim­i­lar. Frus­trat­ed by the fail­ure of most Ger­mans to par­tic­i­pate in a boy­cott of Jew­ish busi­ness­es in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s gov­ern­ment began pub­li­ciz­ing Jew­ish crime sta­tis­tics as a way of stok­ing anti-Semi­tism. In Nazi Ger­many and the Jews: The Years of Per­se­cu­tion [15], the his­to­ri­an Saul Fried­lan­der notes that, until 1938, Hitler’s Min­istry of Jus­tice ordered pros­e­cu­tors to for­ward every crim­i­nal indict­ment against a Jew so the ministry’s press office could pub­li­cize it. . . .

In a man­ner rem­i­nis­cent of the Third Reich’s treat­ment of Jews (as excerpt­ed above), a new DHS depart­ment will be focused on immi­grant crimes and “pro­vid­ing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by spe­cial inter­ests [82]” (yes, he man­aged to sug­gest that there’s a con­spir­a­cy to not report crimes by immi­grants).

“First, they came for the ‘ille­gal’ immi­grants. . . .”

In short, Trump is using his new DHS pro­gram to demo­nize non-whites and immi­grants and blan­ket the air­waves with sto­ries about immi­grant crimes in his 2020 reelec­tion bid, that office is going to be used by GOP­ers all over the coun­try, espe­cial­ly in TV ads rem­i­nis­cent of the infa­mous ‘Willie Hor­ton’ ad [83].

So, get ready for ‘dan­ger­ous vio­lent (non-white) immi­grants are com­ing for you and your fam­i­ly’ to be the GOP’s theme for the fore­see­able future. And get ready for the bil­lions of dol­lars in polit­i­cal adver­tis­ing to make sure that Amer­i­cans receive that mes­sage over and over. Feel­ing opti­mistic [84]?

“Trump Scape­goats Unau­tho­rized Immi­grants for Crime” by Peter Beinart; The Atlantic ; 3/1/2017. [13]

The president’s focus on crimes com­mit­ted by mem­bers of one par­tic­u­lar group sin­gles them out for blame.

Don­ald Trump is wor­ried about vio­lence by unau­tho­rized immi­grants. When he spoke before a joint ses­sion of Con­gress on Tues­day night, he invit­ed [85] three rel­a­tives of peo­ple that unau­tho­rized immi­grants had killed to attend as his guests.

In that speech, he called [86]for the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty to cre­ate an office focused on the vic­tims of immi­grant crime. And in a Jan­u­ary 25 exec­u­tive order [87], he instruct­ed the Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary to “make pub­lic a com­pre­hen­sive list of crim­i­nal actions com­mit­ted by aliens.”

On its face, this is odd. As far as researchers can tell, unau­tho­rized immi­grants com­mit crimes [88] at a low­er rate than the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion at large. A 2007 Nation­al Bureau of Eco­nom­ic Research Paper by Welles­ley Col­lege econ­o­mist Kristin F. Butch­er and Rut­gers econ­o­mist Anne Mor­ri­son Piehl found that “immi­grants have much low­er insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion (incar­cer­a­tion) rates than the native born.” (The dis­crep­an­cy, they not­ed, could not be explained by the fact that the gov­ern­ment deports some immi­grant crim­i­nals, thus spar­ing them incar­cer­a­tion in the U.S.). A review of cen­sus data between 1980 and 2010 revealed [89] that while non-cit­i­zens com­prised 7 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion, they com­prised only 5 per­cent of those in America’s pris­ons.

Trump’s allies may believe that sneak­ing into the Unit­ed States, or using a fake social secu­ri­ty num­ber to get a job, pre­dis­pos­es peo­ple to rob, rape, or kill. But the evi­dence does not bear this out. So if Trump’s goal is increas­ing pub­lic safe­ty, pub­lish­ing a list of crimes com­mit­ted by unau­tho­rized immi­grants is irra­tional. It’s like pub­lish­ing a list of crimes com­mit­ted by peo­ple with red-hair.

If, how­ev­er, Trump’s goal is stig­ma­tiz­ing a vul­ner­a­ble class of peo­ple, then pub­li­ciz­ing their crimes—and their crimes alone—makes sense. It’s been a tac­tic big­ots have used more than a cen­tu­ry.

Using crime to incite hatred has a long his­to­ry in the Unit­ed States. Khalil Gibran Muham­mad, a pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry, race, and pub­lic pol­i­cy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment, notes that for at least a cen­tu­ry after the end of slav­ery, north­ern news­pa­pers gen­er­al­ly iden­ti­fied African Amer­i­cans accused of com­mit­ting crimes as “negro” or “col­ored.” South­ern news­pa­pers gen­er­al­ly referred to the offend­er as a “negro crim­i­nal” in bold—using the individual’s name and “the negro” inter­change­ably in the sto­ry. White crim­i­nals, by con­trast, were not iden­ti­fied by race. (This tra­di­tion con­tin­ues at Bre­it­bart, which has a spe­cial cat­e­go­ry [90] for “black crime.”)

Gov­ern­ment crime sta­tis­tics reflect­ed eth­nic and racial fears too. In the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies, notes Muham­mad, when native-born Amer­i­cans were grow­ing alarmed by mass immi­gra­tion from South­ern and East­ern Europe, big city police forces broke down crime sta­tis­tics by Euro­pean nation­al­i­ty: Russ­ian, Ger­man, Ital­ian, etc. As nativist fears reced­ed fol­low­ing the shut­down of such immi­gra­tion, the FBI began lump­ing all Euro­pean nation­al­i­ties into the cat­e­go­ry “for­eign born” begin­ning in 1930. By 1940, the Euro­pean for­eign born were sub­sumed into “white.”

In The Nazi Con­science [14], Duke his­to­ri­an Clau­dia Koonz notes that the Nazi news­pa­per Der Sturmer ran a fea­ture called “Let­ter Box,” which pub­lished read­ers’ accounts of Jew­ish crimes. When the Nazis took pow­er, the Ger­man state began doing some­thing sim­i­lar. Frus­trat­ed by the fail­ure of most Ger­mans to par­tic­i­pate in a boy­cott of Jew­ish busi­ness­es in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s gov­ern­ment began pub­li­ciz­ing Jew­ish crime sta­tis­tics as a way of stok­ing anti-Semi­tism. InNazi Ger­many and the Jews: The Years of Per­se­cu­tion [15], the his­to­ri­an Saul Fried­lan­der notes that, until 1938, Hitler’s Min­istry of Jus­tice ordered pros­e­cu­tors to for­ward every crim­i­nal indict­ment against a Jew so the ministry’s press office could pub­li­cize it.

Trump’s defend­ers might claim that what he’s doing dif­fers from these pri­or exam­ples. He’s pub­li­ciz­ing the crimes of a legal group—illegal immigrants—not a reli­gious, eth­nic, or racial one. But in the Unit­ed States in 2017, talk­ing about “ille­gal immi­grants” is like talk­ing about “wel­fare moth­ers” or “crack deal­ers” in 1987. The racial impli­ca­tion is clear. Trump made it so him­self in his announce­ment speech when he said [91] that, “When Mex­i­co sends its people…They’re bring­ing drugs. They’re bring­ing crime. They’re rapists.”

Trump is scape­goat­ing in the clas­sic sense. He’s tak­ing the sin of crime and asso­ci­at­ing it with one, already stig­ma­tized, group, thus allow­ing native-born Amer­i­cans to con­sid­er them­selves pure. In Leviti­cus, the high priest takes a goat, “confess[es] over it all the iniq­ui­ties and trans­gres­sions of the Israelites” and then sends it into the wilder­ness so it won’t con­t­a­m­i­nate them. When it comes to unau­tho­rized immi­grants, Trump is reen­act­ing that rit­u­al. Amer­i­cans will soon learn just how harsh his legal and moral wilder­ness is.

5. Anoth­er exam­ple of the glob­al nature of the “Alt-Right’s” attempts to rebrand far-right ide­olo­gies. Check out the image on the main ban­ner used in a Lithuan­ian far-right march cel­e­brat­ing the WWII pro-Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist Kazys Skir­pa: Pepe the frog. Or, more pre­cise­ly, Kazys Skir­pa as Pepe the frog. [18]

“ . . . The ban­ner also includ­ed a quote attrib­uted to the Pepe-like por­trait of Skir­pa, an envoy of the pro-Nazi move­ment in Lithua­nia to Berlin, that read ‘Lithua­nia will con­tribute to new and bet­ter Euro­pean order.’ . . . ”

As we can see, the “Alt-Right” Pepe-fica­tion of Europe [92] is well under­way, and it’s going to include Europe’s many WWII his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism move­ments: all of those Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors were actu­al­ly mis­un­der­stood free­dom fight­ers. Here’s a fun “Alt-Right” meme about them. But don’t call them Nazis.

“Lithuan­ian Nation­al­ists Cel­e­brate Holo­caust-era Quis­ling, Pepe the Frog Near Exe­cu­tion Site:” Jew­ish Tele­graph Agency; 2/17/2017. [18]

Lithuan­ian ultra­na­tion­al­ists marched near exe­cu­tion sites of Jews with ban­ners cel­e­brat­ing a pro-Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist who called for eth­nic cleans­ing and a sym­bol pop­u­lar with mem­bers of the U.S. “alt-right” move­ment.

Approx­i­mate­ly 170 peo­ple attend­ed Thursday’s annu­al march in Kau­nas, Lithuania’s sec­ond city that is also known as Kovno, the web­site Defend­ing His­to­ry report­ed [93].

The main ban­ner fea­tured a pic­ture of the col­lab­o­ra­tionist Kazys Skir­pa mod­i­fied to resem­ble Pepe the Frog, a car­toon fig­ure that was used by hate groups in the Unit­ed States dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, accord­ing [94] to the Anti-Defama­tion League.

The ban­ner also includ­ed a quote attrib­uted to the Pepe-like por­trait of Skir­pa, an envoy of the pro-Nazi move­ment in Lithua­nia to Berlin, that read “Lithua­nia will con­tribute to new and bet­ter Euro­pean order.”

Skir­pa, who has a street named for him in Kau­nas, “ele­vat­ed anti-Semi­tism to a polit­i­cal lev­el” that “could have encour­aged a por­tion of Lithuania’s res­i­dents to get involved in the Holo­caust,” the Geno­cide and Resis­tance Research Cen­ter of Lithua­nia assert­ed in 2015. But Skir­pa “pro­posed to solve ‘the Jew­ish prob­lem’ not by geno­cide but by the method of expul­sion from Lithua­nia,” the cen­ter said.

The pro­ces­sion passed near the Lietovus Garage, where in 1941 locals butchered dozens of Jews. Thou­sands more were killed in an around Kau­nas by local col­lab­o­ra­tors of the Nazis and by Ger­man sol­diers in the fol­low­ing months.

“Kau­nas is ground zero of the Lithuan­ian Holo­caust,” Dovid Katz, a U.S.-born schol­ar and the founder of Defend­ing His­to­ry, told JTA on Fri­day. He con­demned local author­i­ties for allow­ing the march by “folks who glo­ri­fy the very Holo­caust-col­lab­o­ra­tors, the­o­reti­cians and per­pe­tra­tors who unleashed the geno­cide local­ly.” Katz was one of five peo­ple who attend­ed the march to protest and doc­u­ment it.

Lithua­nia is the only coun­try [95] that offi­cial­ly defines its dom­i­na­tion by the for­mer Sovi­et Union as a form of geno­cide. The name of the state-fund­ed enti­ty that wrote about Skir­pa in 2005 refers both to the Holo­caust and the so-called Sovi­et occu­pa­tion.

The Muse­um of Geno­cide Vic­tims in Vil­nius, which until 2011 did not men­tion [96] the more than 200,000 Lithuan­ian Jews who died in the Nazi Holo­caust, was estab­lished in 1992 to memo­ri­al­ize Lithua­ni­ans killed by the Nazi, but most­ly Sovi­et, states.

6. The Guardian has a long and crit­i­cal piece on Robert Mer­cer and the Mer­cer clan’s role in the rise of Bre­it­bart as the dom­i­nant ‘out­sider’ con­ser­v­a­tive media out­let, and how deeply inter­twined that endeav­or is with the Mer­cers’ oth­er big invest­ments.

Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est are the firms Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca and its par­ent com­pa­ny SCL, where Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca spe­cial­izes in using AI and Big Data psy­cho­me­t­ric analy­sis on hun­dreds of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans in order to mod­el indi­vid­ual behav­ior. SCL devel­ops strate­gies to use that infor­ma­tion, and manip­u­late search engine results to change pub­lic opin­ion (the Trump cam­paign was appar­ent­ly very big into AI and Big Data dur­ing the cam­paign).

As the arti­cle notes, not only are Cam­bridge Analytica/SCL are using their pro­pa­gan­da tech­niques to shape the US pub­lic opin­ion in a fas­cist direc­tion, but this for­mi­da­ble pha­lanx is going about achiev­ing this shift in atti­tudes by uti­liz­ing its pro­pa­gan­da machine to char­ac­ter­ize all news out­lets to the left of Bri­et­bart as “fake news” that can’t be trust­ed.

Only far-right media can be trust­ed. That’s the meme dis­sem­i­nat­ed by this the Mercer/Bannon meme-machine.

In short, the secre­tive far-right bil­lion­aire (Robert Mer­cer), joined at the hip with Steve Ban­non, is run­ning mul­ti­ple firms spe­cial­iz­ing in mass psy­cho­me­t­ric pro­fil­ing based on data col­lect­ed from Face­book and oth­er social media. Mercer/Bannon/Cambridge Analytica/SCL are using Naz­i­fied AI and Big Data to devel­op mass pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns to turn the pub­lic against every­thing that isn’t Bri­et­bart­ian by con­vinc­ing the pub­lic that all non-Bri­et­bart­ian media out­lets are con­spir­ing to lie to the pub­lic. [7]

This is the ulti­mate Ser­pen­t’s Walk scenario–a Nazi Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence draw­ing on Big Data gleaned from the world’s inter­net and social media oper­a­tions to shape pub­lic opin­ion, tar­get indi­vid­ual users, shape search engine results and even feed­back to Trump while he is giv­ing press con­fer­ences.

And you were wor­ried about the NSA. Wor­ry about THIS!

“Robert Mer­cer: The Big Data Bil­lion­aire Wag­ing War on Main­stream Media” Car­ole Cad­wal­ladr; The Guardian; 2/26/2017. [7]

With links to Don­ald Trump, Steve Ban­non and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US com­put­er sci­en­tist is at the heart of a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar pro­pa­gan­da net­work

Just over a week ago, Don­ald Trump gath­ered mem­bers of the world’s press before him and told them they were liars [97]. “The press, hon­est­ly, is out of con­trol,” he said. “The pub­lic doesn’t believe you any more.” CNN was described as “very fake news… sto­ry after sto­ry is bad”. The BBC was “anoth­er beauty”.That night I did two things. First, I typed “Trump” in the search box of Twit­ter. My feed was report­ing that he was crazy, a lunatic, a rav­ing mad­man. But that wasn’t how it was play­ing out else­where. The results pro­duced a stream of “Go Don­ald!!!!”, and “You show ’em!!!” There were star-span­gled ban­ner emo­jis and thumbs-up emo­jis and clips of Trump lay­ing into the “FAKE news MSM liars!”

Trump had spo­ken, and his audi­ence had heard him. Then I did what I’ve been doing for two and a half months now. I Googled “main­stream media is…” And there it was. Google’s auto­com­plete sug­ges­tions: “main­stream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, fin­ished”. Is it dead, I won­der? Has FAKE news won? Are we now the FAKE news? Is the main­stream media – we, us, I – dying?

I click Google’s first sug­gest­ed link. It leads to a web­site called CNSnews.com and an arti­cle: “The Main­stream media are dead.” They’re dead, I learn, because they – we, I – “can­not be trust­ed”. How had it, an obscure site I’d nev­er heard of, dom­i­nat­ed Google’s search algo­rithm on the top­ic? In the “About us” tab, I learn CNSnews is owned by the Media Research Cen­ter, which a click lat­er I learn is “America’s media watch­dog”, an organ­i­sa­tion that claims an “unwa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to neu­tral­is­ing left­wing bias in the news, media and pop­u­lar cul­ture”.

Anoth­er cou­ple of clicks and I dis­cov­er that it receives a large bulk of its fund­ing – more than $10m in the past decade [98] – from a sin­gle source, the hedge fund bil­lion­aire Robert Mer­cer. If you fol­low US pol­i­tics you may recog­nise the name. Robert Mer­cer is the mon­ey behind Don­ald Trump. But then, I will come to learn, Robert Mer­cer is the mon­ey behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s sin­gle biggest donor. Mer­cer start­ed back­ing Ted Cruz, but when he fell out of the pres­i­den­tial race he threw his mon­ey – $13.5m of it – behind the Trump cam­paign.

It’s mon­ey he’s made as a result of his career as a bril­liant but reclu­sive com­put­er sci­en­tist. He start­ed his career at IBM, where he made what the Asso­ci­a­tion for Com­pu­ta­tion­al Lin­guis­tics called “rev­o­lu­tion­ary” break­throughs in lan­guage pro­cess­ing [99] – a sci­ence that went on to be key in devel­op­ing today’s AI – and lat­er became joint CEO of Renais­sance Tech­nolo­gies [100], a hedge fund that makes its mon­ey by using algo­rithms to mod­el and trade on the finan­cial mar­kets.

One of its funds, Medal­lion, which man­ages only its employ­ees’ mon­ey, is the most suc­cess­ful in the world – gen­er­at­ing $55bn so far. And since 2010, Mer­cer has donat­ed $45m to dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal cam­paigns – all Repub­li­can – and anoth­er $50m to non-prof­its – all rightwing, ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive. This is a bil­lion­aire who is, as bil­lion­aires are wont, try­ing to reshape the world accord­ing to his per­son­al beliefs.

Robert Mer­cer very rarely speaks in pub­lic and nev­er to jour­nal­ists, so to gauge his beliefs you have to look at where he chan­nels his mon­ey: a series of yachts, all called Sea Owl; a $2.9m mod­el train set; cli­mate change denial (he funds a cli­mate change denial think tank, the Heart­land Insti­tute [101]); and what is maybe the ulti­mate rich man’s play­thing – the dis­rup­tion of the main­stream media. In this he is helped by his close asso­ciate Steve Ban­non, Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er and now chief strate­gist. The mon­ey he gives to the Media Research Cen­ter, with its mis­sion of cor­rect­ing “lib­er­al bias” is just one of his media plays. There are oth­er big­ger, and even more delib­er­ate strate­gies, and shin­ing bright­ly, the star at the cen­tre of the Mer­cer media galaxy, is Bre­it­bart.

It was $10m of Mercer’s mon­ey that enabled Ban­non to fund Bre­it­bart – a rightwing news site, set up with the express inten­tion of being a Huff­in­g­ton Post for the right. It has launched the careers of Milo Yiannopou­los and his like, reg­u­lar­ly hosts anti­se­mit­ic and Islam­o­pho­bic views, and is cur­rent­ly being boy­cotted by more than 1,000 brands [102] after an activist cam­paign. It has been phe­nom­e­nal­ly suc­cess­ful: the 29th most pop­u­lar site in Amer­i­ca with 2bn page views a year. It’s big­ger than its inspi­ra­tion, the Huff­in­g­ton Post, big­ger, even, than Porn­Hub. It’s the biggest polit­i­cal site on Face­book. The biggest on Twit­ter.

Promi­nent rightwing jour­nal­ist Andrew Bre­it­bart, who found­ed the site but died in 2012, told Ban­non that they had “to take back the cul­ture”. And, arguably, they have, though Amer­i­can cul­ture is only the start of it. In 2014, Ban­non launched Bre­it­bart Lon­don, telling the New York Times it was specif­i­cal­ly timed ahead of the UK’s forth­com­ing elec­tion. It was, he said, the lat­est front “in our cur­rent cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal war”. France and Ger­many are next.

But there was anoth­er rea­son why I recog­nised Robert Mercer’s name: because of his con­nec­tion to Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, a small data ana­lyt­ics com­pa­ny. He is report­ed to have a $10m stake in the com­pa­ny, which was spun out of a big­ger British com­pa­ny called SCL Group. It spe­cialis­es in “elec­tion man­age­ment strate­gies” and “mes­sag­ing and infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions”, refined over 25 years in places like Afghanistan and Pak­istan. In mil­i­tary cir­cles this is known as “psy­ops” – psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions. (Mass pro­pa­gan­da that works by act­ing on people’s emo­tions.)

Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca worked for the Trump cam­paign and, so I’d read, the Leave cam­paign. When Mer­cer sup­port­ed Cruz, Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca worked with Cruz. When Robert Mer­cer start­ed sup­port­ing Trump, Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca came too. And where Mercer’s mon­ey is, Steve Ban­non is usu­al­ly close by: it was report­ed that until recent­ly he had a seat on the board.

Last Decem­ber, I wrote about Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca [103] in a piece about how Google’s search results on cer­tain sub­jects were being dom­i­nat­ed by rightwing and extrem­ist sites. Jonathan Albright, a pro­fes­sor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Elon Uni­ver­si­ty, North Car­oli­na, who had mapped the news ecosys­tem [104] and found mil­lions of links between rightwing sites “stran­gling” the main­stream media, told me that track­ers from sites like Bre­it­bart could also be used by com­pa­nies like Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca to fol­low peo­ple around the web and then, via Face­book, tar­get them with ads.
[Wow–Google and Face­book dom­i­nat­ed by Cam­bridge Analytica–D.E.]

On its web­site, Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca makes the aston­ish­ing boast that it has psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­files based on 5,000 sep­a­rate pieces of data on 220 mil­lion Amer­i­can vot­ers – its USP is to use this data to under­stand people’s deep­est emo­tions and then tar­get them accord­ing­ly. The sys­tem, accord­ing to Albright, amount­ed to a “pro­pa­gan­da machine”.

A few weeks lat­er, the Observ­er received a let­ter. Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca was not employed by the Leave cam­paign, it said. Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca “is a US com­pa­ny based in the US. It hasn’t worked in British pol­i­tics.”

Which is how, ear­li­er this week, I end­ed up in a Pret a Manger near West­min­ster with Andy Wig­more, Leave.EU’s affa­ble com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, look­ing at snap­shots of Don­ald Trump on his phone. It was Wig­more who orches­trat­ed Nigel Farage’s trip to Trump Tow­er – the PR coup that saw him become the first for­eign politi­cian to meet the pres­i­dent elect.

Wig­more scrolls through the snaps on his phone. “That’s the one I took,” he says point­ing at the now glob­al­ly famous pho­to of Farage and Trump [105] in front of his gold­en ele­va­tor door giv­ing the thumbs-up sign. Wig­more was one of the “bad boys of Brex­it” – a term coined by Arron Banks, the Bris­tol-based busi­ness­man who was Leave.EU’s co-founder.

Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca had worked for them, he said. It had taught them how to build pro­files, how to tar­get peo­ple and how to scoop up mass­es of data from people’s Face­book pro­files. A video on YouTube shows one of Cam­bridge Analytica’s and SCL’s employ­ees, Brit­tany Kaiser [106], sit­ting on the pan­el at Leave.EU’s launch event [107].

Face­book was the key to the entire cam­paign, Wig­more explained. A Face­book ‘like’, he said, was their most “potent weapon”. “Because using arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, as we did, tells you all sorts of things about that indi­vid­ual and how to con­vince them with what sort of advert. And you knew there would also be oth­er peo­ple in their net­work who liked what they liked, so you could spread. And then you fol­low them. The com­put­er nev­er stops learn­ing and it nev­er stops mon­i­tor­ing.”

It sounds creepy, I say.

“It is creepy! It’s real­ly creepy! It’s why I’m not on Face­book! I tried it on myself to see what infor­ma­tion it had on me and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ What’s scary is that my kids had put things on Insta­gram and it picked that up. It knew where my kids went to school.”

They hadn’t “employed” Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, he said. No mon­ey changed hands. “They were hap­py to help.”

Why?

Because Nigel is a good friend of the Mer­cers. And Robert Mer­cer intro­duced them to us. He said, ‘Here’s this com­pa­ny we think may be use­ful to you.’ What they were try­ing to do in the US and what we were try­ing to do had mas­sive par­al­lels. We shared a lot of infor­ma­tion. Why wouldn’t you?” Behind Trump’s cam­paign and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, he said, were “the same peo­ple. It’s the same fam­i­ly.”

There were already a lot of ques­tions swirling around Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, and Andy Wig­more has opened up a whole lot more. Such as: are you sup­posed to declare ser­vices-in-kind as some sort of dona­tion? The Elec­toral Com­mis­sion says yes, if it was more than £7,500. And was it declared? The Elec­toral Com­mis­sion says no. Does that mean a for­eign bil­lion­aire had pos­si­bly influ­enced the ref­er­en­dum with­out that influ­ence being appar­ent? It’s cer­tain­ly a ques­tion worth ask­ing.

In the last month or so, arti­cles in first the Swiss and the US press have asked exact­ly what Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca is doing with US vot­ers’ data. In a state­ment to the Observ­er, the Infor­ma­tion Commissioner’s Office said: “Any busi­ness col­lect­ing and using per­son­al data in the UK must do so fair­ly and law­ful­ly. We will be con­tact­ing Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca and ask­ing ques­tions to find out how the com­pa­ny is oper­at­ing in the UK and whether the law is being fol­lowed.”

Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca said last Fri­day they are in touch with the ICO and are com­plete­ly com­pli­ant with UK and EU data laws. It did not answer oth­er ques­tions the Observ­er put to it this week about how it built its psy­cho­me­t­ric mod­el, which owes its ori­gins to orig­i­nal research car­ried out by sci­en­tists at Cam­bridge University’s Psy­cho­me­t­ric Cen­tre, research based on a per­son­al­i­ty quiz on Face­book that went viral. More than 6 mil­lion peo­ple end­ed up doing it, pro­duc­ing an aston­ish­ing trea­sure trove of data.

These Face­book pro­files – espe­cial­ly people’s “likes” – could be cor­re­lat­ed across mil­lions of oth­ers to pro­duce uncan­ni­ly accu­rate results. Michal Kosin­s­ki [108], the centre’s lead sci­en­tist, found that with knowl­edge of 150 likes, their mod­el could pre­dict someone’s per­son­al­i­ty bet­ter than their spouse. With 300, it under­stood you bet­ter than your­self. “Com­put­ers see us in a more robust way than we see our­selves,” says Kosin­s­ki.

But there are strict eth­i­cal reg­u­la­tions regard­ing what you can do with this data. Did SCL Group have access to the university’s mod­el or data, I ask Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Rust, the centre’s direc­tor? “Cer­tain­ly not from us,” he says. “We have very strict rules around this.”

A sci­en­tist, Alek­san­dr Kogan, from the cen­tre was con­tract­ed to build a mod­el for SCL, and says he col­lect­ed his own data. Pro­fes­sor Rust says he doesn’t know where Kogan’s data came from. “The evi­dence was con­trary. I report­ed it.” An inde­pen­dent adju­di­ca­tor was appoint­ed by the uni­ver­si­ty. “But then Kogan said he’d signed a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment with SCL and he couldn’t con­tin­ue [answer­ing ques­tions].”

Kogan dis­putes this and says SCL sat­is­fied the university’s inquiries. But per­haps more than any­one, Pro­fes­sor Rust under­stands how the kind of infor­ma­tion peo­ple freely give up to social media sites could be used.

“The dan­ger of not hav­ing reg­u­la­tion around the sort of data you can get from Face­book and else­where is clear. With this, a com­put­er can actu­al­ly do psy­chol­o­gy, it can pre­dict and poten­tial­ly con­trol human behav­iour. It’s what the sci­en­tol­o­gists try to do but much more pow­er­ful. It’s how you brain­wash some­one. It’s incred­i­bly dan­ger­ous.

“It’s no exag­ger­a­tion to say that minds can be changed. Behav­iour can be pre­dict­ed and con­trolled. I find it incred­i­bly scary. I real­ly do. Because nobody has real­ly fol­lowed through on the pos­si­ble con­se­quences of all this. Peo­ple don’t know it’s hap­pen­ing to them. Their atti­tudes are being changed behind their backs.”

Mer­cer invest­ed in Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, the Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed [109], “dri­ven in part by an assess­ment that the right was lack­ing sophis­ti­cat­ed tech­nol­o­gy capa­bil­i­ties”. But in many ways, it’s what Cam­bridge Analytica’s par­ent com­pa­ny does that rais­es even more ques­tions.

Emma Bri­ant, a pro­pa­gan­da spe­cial­ist at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sheffield, wrote about SCL Group in her 2015 book, Pro­pa­gan­da and Counter-Ter­ror­ism: Strate­gies for Glob­al Change. Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca has the tech­no­log­i­cal tools to effect behav­iour­al and psy­cho­log­i­cal change, she said, but it’s SCL that strate­gis­es it. It has spe­cialised, at the high­est lev­el – for Nato, the MoD, the US state depart­ment and oth­ers – in chang­ing the behav­iour of large groups. It mod­els mass pop­u­la­tions and then it changes their beliefs.

SCL was found­ed by some­one called Nigel Oakes, who worked for Saatchi & Saatchi on Mar­garet Thatcher’s image, says Bri­ant, and the com­pa­ny had been “mak­ing mon­ey out of the pro­pa­gan­da side of the war on ter­ror­ism over a long peri­od of time. There are dif­fer­ent arms of SCL but it’s all about reach and the abil­i­ty to shape the dis­course. They are try­ing to ampli­fy par­tic­u­lar polit­i­cal nar­ra­tives. And they are selec­tive in who they go for: they are not doing this for the left.

In the course of the US elec­tion, Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca amassed a data­base, as it claims on its web­site, of almost the entire US vot­ing pop­u­la­tion – 220 mil­lion peo­ple – and the Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed last week that SCL was increas­ing staffing at its Wash­ing­ton office and com­pet­ing for lucra­tive new con­tracts with Trump’s admin­is­tra­tion. “It seems sig­nif­i­cant that a com­pa­ny involved in engi­neer­ing a polit­i­cal out­come prof­its from what fol­lows. Par­tic­u­lar­ly if it’s the manip­u­la­tion, and then res­o­lu­tion, of fear,” says Bri­ant.

It’s the data­base, and what may hap­pen to it, that par­tic­u­lar­ly exer­cis­es Paul-Olivi­er Dehaye, a Swiss math­e­mati­cian and data activist who has been inves­ti­gat­ing Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca and SCL for more than a year. “How is it going to be used?” he says. “Is it going to be used to try and manip­u­late peo­ple around domes­tic poli­cies? Or to fer­ment con­flict between dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties? It is poten­tial­ly very scary. Peo­ple just don’t under­stand the pow­er of this data and how it can be used against them.”

There are two things, poten­tial­ly, going on simul­ta­ne­ous­ly: the manip­u­la­tion of infor­ma­tion on a mass lev­el, and the manip­u­la­tion of infor­ma­tion at a very indi­vid­ual lev­el. Both based on the lat­est under­stand­ings in sci­ence about how peo­ple work, and enabled by tech­no­log­i­cal plat­forms built to bring us togeth­er.

Are we liv­ing in a new era of pro­pa­gan­da, I ask Emma Bri­ant? One we can’t see, and that is work­ing on us in ways we can’t under­stand? Where we can only react, emo­tion­al­ly, to its mes­sages? “Def­i­nite­ly. The way that sur­veil­lance through tech­nol­o­gy is so per­va­sive, the col­lec­tion and use of our data is so much more sophis­ti­cat­ed. It’s total­ly covert. And peo­ple don’t realise what is going on.”

Pub­lic mood and pol­i­tics goes through cycles. You don’t have to sub­scribe to any con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, Bri­ant says, to see that a mass change in pub­lic sen­ti­ment is hap­pen­ing. Or that some of the tools in action are straight out of the military’s or SCL’s play­book.

But then there’s increas­ing evi­dence that our pub­lic are­nas – the social media sites where we post our hol­i­day snaps or make com­ments about the news – are a new bat­tle­field where inter­na­tion­al geopol­i­tics is play­ing out in real time. It’s a new age of pro­pa­gan­da. But whose? This week, Rus­sia announced the for­ma­tion of a new branch of the mil­i­tary: “infor­ma­tion war­fare troops”.

Sam Wool­ley of the Oxford Inter­net Institute’s com­pu­ta­tion­al pro­pa­gan­da insti­tute tells me that one third of all traf­fic on Twit­ter before the EU ref­er­en­dum was auto­mat­ed “bots” – accounts that are pro­grammed to look like peo­ple, to act like peo­ple, and to change the con­ver­sa­tion, to make top­ics trend. And they were all for Leave. Before the US elec­tion, they were five-to-one in favour of Trump – many of them Russ­ian. Last week they have been in action in the Stoke byelec­tion – Russ­ian bots, organ­ised by who? – attack­ing Paul Nut­tall.

You can take a trend­ing top­ic, such as fake news, and then weaponise it, turn it against the media that uncov­ered it

“Pol­i­tics is war,” said Steve Ban­non [110] last year in the Wall Street Jour­nal. And increas­ing­ly this looks to be true.

There’s noth­ing acci­den­tal about Trump’s behav­iour, Andy Wig­more tells me. “That press con­fer­ence. It was absolute­ly bril­liant. I could see exact­ly what he was doing. There’s feed­back going on con­stant­ly. That’s what you can do with arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence. You can mea­sure ever reac­tion to every word. He has a word room, where you fix key words. We did it. So with immi­gra­tion, there are actu­al­ly key words with­in that sub­ject mat­ter which peo­ple are con­cerned about. So when you are going to make a speech, it’s all about how can you use these trend­ing words.”

Wig­more met with Trump’s team right at the start of the Leave cam­paign. “And they said the holy grail was arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence.”

Who did?

“Jared Kush­n­er and Jason Miller.

Lat­er, when Trump picked up Mer­cer and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, the game changed again. “It’s all about the emo­tions. This is the big dif­fer­ence with what we did. They call it bio-psy­cho-social pro­fil­ing. It takes your phys­i­cal, men­tal and lifestyle attrib­ut­es and works out how peo­ple work, how they react emo­tion­al­ly.”

Bio-psy­cho-social pro­fil­ing, I read lat­er, is one offen­sive in what is called “cog­ni­tive war­fare”. Though there are many oth­ers: “recod­ing the mass con­scious­ness to turn patri­o­tism into col­lab­o­ra­tionism,” explains a Nato brief­ing doc­u­ment on coun­ter­ing Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion writ­ten by an SCL employ­ee. “Time-sen­si­tive pro­fes­sion­al use of media to prop­a­gate nar­ra­tives,” says one US state depart­ment white paper. “Of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance to psy­op per­son­nel may be pub­licly and com­mer­cial­ly avail­able data from social media plat­forms.”

Yet anoth­er details the pow­er of a “cog­ni­tive casu­al­ty” – a “moral shock” that “has a dis­abling effect on empa­thy and high­er process­es such as moral rea­son­ing and crit­i­cal think­ing”. Some­thing like immi­gra­tion, per­haps. Or “fake news”. Or as it has now become: “FAKE news!!!!”

How do you change the way a nation thinks? You could start by cre­at­ing a main­stream media to replace the exist­ing one with a site such as Bre­it­bart. You could set up oth­er web­sites that dis­place main­stream sources of news and infor­ma­tion with your own def­i­n­i­tions of con­cepts like “lib­er­al media bias”, like CNSnews.com. And you could give the rump main­stream media, papers like the “fail­ing New York Times!” what it wants: sto­ries. Because the third prong of Mer­cer and Bannon’s media empire is the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Insti­tute.

Ban­non co-found­ed it with $2m of Mercer’s mon­ey. Mercer’s daugh­ter, Rebekah, was appoint­ed to the board. Then they invest­ed in expen­sive, long-term inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism. “The mod­ern eco­nom­ics of the news­room don’t sup­port big inves­tiga­tive report­ing staffs,” Ban­non told Forbes mag­a­zine. “You wouldn’t get a Water­gate, a Pen­ta­gon Papers today, because nobody can afford to let a reporter spend sev­en months on a sto­ry. We can. We’re work­ing as a sup­port func­tion.”

Wel­come to the future of jour­nal­ism in the age of plat­form cap­i­tal­ism. News organ­i­sa­tions have to do a bet­ter job of cre­at­ing new finan­cial mod­els. But in the gaps in between, a deter­mined plu­to­crat and a bril­liant media strate­gist can, and have, found a way to mould jour­nal­ism to their own ends.

In 2015, Steve Ban­non described to Forbes how the GAI oper­at­ed, employ­ing a data sci­en­tist to trawl the dark web (in the arti­cle he boasts of hav­ing access to $1.3bn worth of super­com­put­ers) to dig up the kind of source mate­r­i­al Google can’t find. One result has been a New York Times best­seller, Clin­ton Cash: The Untold Sto­ry of How and Why For­eign Gov­ern­ments and Busi­ness­es Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, writ­ten by GAI’s pres­i­dent, Peter Schweiz­er and lat­er turned into a film pro­duced by Rebekah Mer­cer and Steve Ban­non.

This, Ban­non explained, is how you “weaponise” the nar­ra­tive you want. With hard researched facts. With those, you can launch it straight on to the front page of the New York Times, as the sto­ry of Hillary Clinton’s cash did. Like Hillary’s emails it turned the news agen­da, and, most cru­cial­ly, it divert­ed the atten­tion of the news cycle. Anoth­er clas­sic psy­ops approach. “Strate­gic drown­ing” of oth­er mes­sages.

This is a strate­gic, long-term and real­ly quite bril­liant play. In the 1990s, Ban­non explained, con­ser­v­a­tive media couldn’t take Bill Clin­ton down because “they wound up talk­ing to them­selves in an echo cham­ber”.

As, it turns out, the lib­er­al media is now. We are scat­tered, sep­a­rate, squab­bling among our­selves and being picked off like tar­gets in a shoot­ing gallery. Increas­ing­ly, there’s a sense that we are talk­ing to our­selves. And whether it’s Mercer’s mil­lions or oth­er fac­tors, Jonathan Albright’s map of the news and infor­ma­tion ecosys­tem shows how rightwing sites are dom­i­nat­ing sites like YouTube and Google, bound tight­ly togeth­er by mil­lions of links.

Is there a cen­tral intel­li­gence to that, I ask Albright? “There has to be. There has to be some type of coor­di­na­tion. You can see from look­ing at the map, from the archi­tec­ture of the sys­tem, that this is not acci­den­tal. It’s clear­ly being led by mon­ey and pol­i­tics.”

There’s been a lot of talk in the echo cham­ber about Ban­non in the last few months, but it’s Mer­cer who pro­vid­ed the mon­ey to remake parts of the media land­scape. And while Ban­non under­stands the media, Mer­cer under­stands big data. He under­stands the struc­ture of the inter­net. He knows how algo­rithms work.

Robert Mer­cer did not respond to a request for com­ment for this piece. Nick Pat­ter­son, a British cryp­tog­ra­ph­er, who worked at Renais­sance Tech­nolo­gies in the 80s and is now a com­pu­ta­tion­al geneti­cist at MIT, described to me how he was the one who tal­ent-spot­ted Mer­cer. “There was an elite group work­ing at IBM in the 1980s doing speech research, speech recog­ni­tion, and when I joined Renais­sance I judged that the math­e­mat­ics we were try­ing to apply to finan­cial mar­kets were very sim­i­lar.”

He describes Mer­cer as “very, very con­ser­v­a­tive. He tru­ly did not like the Clin­tons. He thought Bill Clin­ton was a crim­i­nal. And his basic pol­i­tics, I think, was that he’s a rightwing lib­er­tar­i­an, he wants the gov­ern­ment out of things.”

He sus­pects that Mer­cer is bring­ing the bril­liant com­pu­ta­tion­al skills he brought to finance to bear on anoth­er very dif­fer­ent sphere. “We make math­e­mat­i­cal mod­els of the finan­cial mar­kets which are prob­a­bil­i­ty mod­els, and from those we try and make pre­dic­tions. What I sus­pect Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca do is that they build prob­a­bil­i­ty mod­els of how peo­ple vote. And then they look at what they can do to influ­ence that.”

Find­ing the edge is what quants do. They build quan­ti­ta­tive mod­els that auto­mate the process of buy­ing and sell­ing shares and then they chase tiny gaps in knowl­edge to cre­ate huge wins. Renais­sance Tech­nolo­gies was one of the first hedge funds to invest in AI. But what it does with it, how it’s been pro­grammed to do it, is com­plete­ly unknown. It is, Bloomberg reports, the “black­est box in finance [111]”.

Johan Bollen [112], asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty School of Infor­mat­ics and Com­put­ing, tells me how he dis­cov­ered one pos­si­ble edge: he’s done research that shows you can pre­dict stock mar­ket moves from Twit­ter. You can mea­sure pub­lic sen­ti­ment and then mod­el it. “Soci­ety is dri­ven by emo­tions, which it’s always been dif­fi­cult to mea­sure, col­lec­tive­ly. But there are now pro­grammes that can read text and mea­sure it and give us a win­dow into those col­lec­tive emo­tions.”

The research caused a huge rip­ple among two dif­fer­ent con­stituen­cies. “We had a lot atten­tion from hedge funds. They are look­ing for sig­nals every­where and this is a huge­ly inter­est­ing sig­nal. My impres­sion is hedge funds do have these algo­rithms that are scan­ning social feeds. The flash crash­es we’ve had – sud­den huge drops in stock prices – indi­cates these algo­rithms are being used at large scale. And they are engaged in some­thing of an arms race.”

The oth­er peo­ple inter­est­ed in Bollen’s work are those who want not only to mea­sure pub­lic sen­ti­ment, but to change it. Bollen’s research shows how it’s pos­si­ble. Could you reverse engi­neer the nation­al, or even the glob­al, mood? Mod­el it, and then change it?

“It does seem pos­si­ble. And it does wor­ry me. There are quite a few pieces of research that show if you repeat some­thing often enough, peo­ple start invol­un­tar­i­ly to believe it. And that could be lever­aged, or weaponised for pro­pa­gan­da. We know there are thou­sands of auto­mat­ed bots out there that are try­ing to do just that.”

THE war of the bots is one of the wilder and weird­er aspects of the elec­tions of 2016. At the Oxford Inter­net Institute’s Unit for Com­pu­ta­tion­al Pro­pa­gan­da, its direc­tor, Phil Howard, and direc­tor of research, Sam Wool­ley, show me all the ways pub­lic opin­ion can be mas­saged and manip­u­lat­ed. But is there a smok­ing gun, I ask them, evi­dence of who is doing this? “There’s not a smok­ing gun,” says Howard. “There are smok­ing machine guns. There are mul­ti­ple pieces of evi­dence.”

“Look at this,” he says and shows me how, before the US elec­tion, hun­dreds upon hun­dreds of web­sites were set up to blast out just a few links, arti­cles that were all pro-Trump. “This is being done by peo­ple who under­stand infor­ma­tion struc­ture, who are bulk buy­ing domain names and then using automa­tion to blast out a cer­tain mes­sage. To make Trump look like he’s a con­sen­sus.”

And that requires mon­ey?

“That requires organ­i­sa­tion and mon­ey. And if you use enough of them, of bots and peo­ple, and clev­er­ly link them togeth­er, you are what’s legit­i­mate. You are cre­at­ing truth.”

You can take an exist­ing trend­ing top­ic, such as fake news, and then weaponise it. You can turn it against the very media that uncov­ered it. Viewed in a cer­tain light, fake news is a sui­cide bomb at the heart of our infor­ma­tion sys­tem. Strapped to the live body of us – the main­stream media.

One of the things that con­cerns Howard most is the hun­dreds of thou­sands of “sleep­er” bots they’ve found. Twit­ter accounts that have tweet­ed only once or twice and are now sit­ting qui­et­ly wait­ing for a trig­ger: some sort of cri­sis where they will rise up and come togeth­er to drown out all oth­er sources of infor­ma­tion.

Like zom­bies?

“Like zom­bies.” . . .