Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'Iraq' is associated with 95 posts.

FTR #946 In Your Facebook: A Virtual Panopticon, Part 2

In FTR #718 (recorded on Independence Day weekend of 2010), we noted that the new social medium–Facebook-might very well be the opposite of the liberating, empowering entity many believed it to be.

On the contrary, we said–it received financial backing from the CIA, permits unprecedented gathering and databasing of users’ personal information, and might very well be a “panopticon”–a type of prison in which the interned can never see his or her jailers, but their keepers can see the interned at all times.

In particular, we noted the prominent position of major Facebook investor Peter Thiel in “Mondo Zuckerberg.” Of German (and probable I.G. Farben) origins, we opined that Thiel was Underground Reich. Opposed to democracy because he feels it is inimical to wealth creation and doesn’t believe women should be allowed to vote, Thiel has now emerged as one of the most prominent of Donald Trump’s supporters, transition team creators and influential policy wonks.

Whereas we explored the “virtual panopticon” concept of Facebook with a question mark in 2010, we now feel affirmatively on the issue.

A very important story from New York magazine sets forth Facebook’s role in the just-concluded election. ” . . . . Facebook’s size, reach, wealth, and power make it effectively the only one that matters. And, boy, does it matter. At the risk of being hyperbolic, I think there are few events over the last decade more significant than the social network’s wholesale acquisition of the traditional functions of news media (not to mention the political-party apparatus). Trump’s ascendancy is far from the first material consequence of Facebook’s conquering invasion of our social, cultural, and political lives, but it’s still a bracing reminder of the extent to which the social network is able to upend existing structure and transform society — and often not for the better. . . .

” . . . . Facebook’s enormous audience, and the mechanisms of distribution on which the site relies — i.e., the emotionally charged activity of sharing, and the show-me-more-like-this feedback loop of the news feed algorithm — makes it the only site to support a genuinely lucrative market in which shady publishers arbitrage traffic by enticing people off of Facebook and onto ad-festooned websites, using stories that are alternately made up, incorrect, exaggerated beyond all relationship to truth, or all three. . . .

” . . . . And at the heart of the problem, anyway, is not the motivations of the hoaxers but the structure of social media itself. Tens of millions of people, invigorated by insurgent outsider candidates and anger at perceived political enemies, were served up or shared emotionally charged news stories about the candidates, because Facebook’s sorting algorithm understood from experience that they were seeking such stories. Many of those stories were lies, or ‘parodies,’ but their appearance and placement in a news feed were no different from those of any publisher with a commitment to, you know, not lying. As those people and their followers clicked on, shared, or otherwise engaged with those stories — which they did, because Trump drives engagement extremely bigly — they were served up even more of them. The engagement-driving feedback loop reached the heights of Facebook itself, which shared fake news to its front page on more than one occasion after firing the small team of editorial employees tasked with passing news judgment. . . .

” . . . . Something like 170 million people in North America use Facebook every day, a number that’s not only several orders of magnitude larger than even the most optimistic circulation reckonings of major news outlets but also about one-and-a-half times as many people as voted on Tuesday. Forty-four percent of all adults in the United States say they get news from Facebook . . . ”

Symptomatic of Facebook’s filter of what its users see concerns the social medium’s recent non-coverage of the women’s march:

” . . . . We don’t usually post on Pando at the weekend, but this is too topical and too shameful to wait until Monday. As you certainly know, today is the day of the Women’s March on Washington in protest of Donald Trump. The main event is in DC, where something close to 500,000 protesters of all genders and ages have packed the streets — but there are also major protests in Chicago, New York and around the world. Including Antarctica.

You certainly know this because the protest march is the top story on every major news outlet, and because updates and photos from the event are flooding your Twitter and Facebook feeds.

And yet, here’s what Facebook’s trending news feed looked like at the height of the march…

And here’s its trending politics feed…

Notice anything missing?

Like, say, a half million women? . . .

In case you think I’m seeing something different from the rest of the world, be assured I’m not….”

Facebook has changed its algorithm, no longer factoring in “likes” and other personal preferences in determining its news feed.

This, however, does not bode as well as Facebook would like us to believe. Facebook has promoted, among others, Campbell Brown, to an important position in structuring its news feed: ” . . . . Brown has longstanding ties not just to the traditional news media, but also to conservative politics, although she describes herself as a political independent. She is a close personal friend of Betsy DeVos, the Republican megadonor who is Donald Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, and is married to Dan Senor, a former top advisor to Mitt Romney who also served as spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. . . .

. . . . And alongside her mainstream media experience, Brown is familiar with the world of non-traditional news outlets springing up online. In 2014, she founded a nonprofit news site, The 74, which bills itself as nonpartisan but which critics have said functions as advocacy journalism, tilted in favor of charter schools and against teachers’ unions. The site was launched with money from donors including the foundation run by DeVos, Trump’s proposed Education Secretary. When the nomination was announced, Brown said she would recuse herself from The 74’s coverage of DeVos. . .”

Brown is joined by Tucker Bounds, a former John McCain adviser and spokesman for the McCain/Palin campaign.

Exemplifying the terrifying possibilities of the virtual panopticon, we examine the nexus of Cambridge Analytica, its principal investors, Robert and Rebekah Mercer and Steve Bannon, a key member of the firm’s board of directors and a political guru to Rebekah. ” . . . . For several years, a data firm eventually hired by the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, has been using Facebook as a tool to build psychological profiles that represent some 230 million adult Americans. A spinoff of a British consulting company and sometime-defense contractor known for its counterterrorism ‘psy ops’ work in Afghanistan, the firm does so by seeding the social network with personality quizzes. Respondents — by now hundreds of thousands of us, mostly female and mostly young but enough male and older for the firm to make inferences about others with similar behaviors and demographics — get a free look at their Ocean scores. Cambridge Analytica also gets a look at their scores and, thanks to Facebook, gains access to their profiles and real names.

“Cambridge Analytica worked on the ‘Leave’ side of the Brexit campaign. In the United States it takes only Republicans as clients: Senator Ted Cruz in the primaries, Mr. Trump in the general election. Cambridge is reportedly backed by Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire and a major Republican donor; a key board member is Stephen K. Bannon, the head of Breitbart News who became Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman and is set to be his chief strategist in the White House. . .

” . . . . Their [the Mercers] data firm, Cambridge Analytica, was hired by the Cruz campaign. They switched to support Trump shortly after he clinched the nomination, and he eventually hired Cambridge Analytica, as well. Their top political guru is Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart News chairman and White House chief strategist. They’re close, too, with Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who also has a senior role in the White House. They never speak to the press and hardly ever even release a public statement. Like Trump himself, they’ve flouted the standard playbook for how things are done in politics. . . .”

Bannon’s influence on Rebekah Mercer is particularly strong: ” . . . Another of the Republican operatives described Bannon as the ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ to Rebekah Mercer, and a third was even more pointed: ‘Svengali.’ Bannon is ‘really, really, really influential’ with Mercer, said the former Breitbart employee. The Mercers, the former employee said, made their wishes known through Bannon, who would sometimes cite the company’s financial backers as a reason for Breitbart not to do a story. Bannon didn’t respond to a request for comment about this. . . .”

In turn, the influence of Steve Bannon within the Facebook virtual panopticon is even more sinister considering Bannon’s political outlook: ” . . . . But, said the source, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about Bannon, ‘There are some things he’s only going to share with people who he’s tight with and who he trusts.’

Bannon’s readings tend to have one thing in common: the view that technocrats have put Western civilization on a downward trajectory and that only a shock to the system can reverse its decline. And they tend to have a dark, apocalyptic tone that at times echoes Bannon’s own public remarks over the years—a sense that humanity is at a hinge point in history. . . .”

One of the influences on Bannon is Curtis Yarvin, aka Mencius Moldbug, who has actually opened a backchannel advisory connection to the White House: ” . . . . Before he emerged on the political scene, an obscure Silicon Valley computer programmer with ties to Trump backer and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel was explaining his behavior. Curtis Yarvin, the self-proclaimed ‘neoreactionary’ who blogs under the name ‘Mencius Moldbug,’ attracted a following in 2008 when he published a wordy treatise asserting, among other things, that ‘nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth.’ When the organizer of a computer science conference canceled Yarvin’s appearance following an outcry over his blogging under his nom de web, Bannon took note: Breitbart News decried the act of censorship in an article about the programmer-blogger’s dismissal.

Moldbug’s dense, discursive musings on history—’What’s so bad about the Nazis?’ he asks in one 2008 post that condemns the Holocaust but questions the moral superiority of the Allies—include a belief in the utility of spreading misinformation that now looks like a template for Trump’s approach to truth. ‘To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable [sic] demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army,’ he writes in a May 2008 post.’It’s been a while since I posted anything really controversial and offensive here,’ he begins in a July 25, 2007, post explaining why he associates democracy with ‘war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.’

Moldbug, who does not do interviews and could not be reached for this story, has reportedly opened up a line to the White House, communicating with Bannon and his aides through an intermediary, according to a source. Yarvin said he has never spoken with Bannon. . . .”

After discussing Facebook’s new AI technology being employed to search users’ photos, the program concludes with the shift of Silicon Valley money to the GOP.

Program Highlights Include: review of Steve Bannon’s role on the NSC; review of the martial law contingency plans drawn up by Oliver North during the Reagan administration, involving the deputizing of paramilitary right-wingers; review of Erik Prince’s relationship to the Trump administration and Betsy De Vos, Trump’s education secretary.


FTR #886 What the Hell Does Dave Emory Mean by “The Earth Island Boogie?,” Part 3: Geopolitical Quicksand

Analyzing the possibility that American use of Muslim Brotherhood Islamists as proxy warriors and armed heralds of corporatist free-market economic values might backfire on the United States, we look at the development of ISIS, the curious Turkish about-face on the Fetullah Gulen organization and fallout from the so-called “Arab Spring.” Beginning with discussion of a “doomsday” contingency plan concocted by al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein to back each other up militarily in the event either or both were overthrown by the U.S., we examine the prominent role of former members of Saddam’s officer corps in administering ISIS. ISIS and al-Qaeda are holding forth in Libya, which is serving as a base for spreading their operations into Africa. Like the bloody Syrian civil war, the overthrow of Khadafy (which set the stage for the Islamist presence in Libya) is an outgrowth of the so-called “Arab Spring”–one of the “conga-line ops” we highlighted in FTR #885. Much of the program highlights the operations of the Fetullah Gulen organization in Turkey. Alleged to be a CIA front organization and Islamic extremist in nature, the Gulen organization was formerly an ally of Tayyip Erdogan. Now, it is among his most bitter opponents. Program Highlights Include: review of Hitler’s view that Islamists were a crucial Third Reich ally; review of a critical meeting in Switzerland at which prominent Euro-fascists and al-Taqwa director Ahmed Huber met; speculation that the Swiss “Euro-fascist” summit may have helped generate the intelligence disinformation that helped lure the Bush administration into the ill-advised Iraq war; “ex” CIA officer Graham Fuller’s ridicule of the allegation that the Gulen organization is a CIA front organization; the close connections between Erdogan’s AKP Party, Germany and the EU.


Elements of Western Intel Using Jihadists: Genesis of ISIS?

A worthy post from “German Foreign Policy,” which feeds along the bottom of the front page of this website, fleshes out our understanding of the use of jihadists as proxy warriors. With Saudi and Western intel backing, Sunni extremist combatants are being used against Iran, Syria and Russia. Is ISIS “blowback” from this dynamic? All of the contents of this website as of 12/19/2014–Dave Emory’s 35+ years of research and broadcasting–as well as hours of videotaped lectures are available on a 32GB flash drive. Dave offers his programs and articles for free–your support is very much appreciated.


Curveball II: Is the BND (German Intelligence) Gaming the Syrian Civil War? (Another Good Reason NOT to Intervene in Syria)

BND, the German intelligence service claims they can confirm Assad’s use of chemical weapons. BND operates a communications intelligence-gathering ship off the coast in that area (pictured at right.) Previously, BND handled “Curveball,” a key source of disinformation about the Iraq war. Prince Bandar is alleged to have armed the rebels with chemical weapons. The political developments are benefiting Germany and the Underground Reich.


A Very Good Reason NOT to Attack Syria: “Bandar Bush” at Epicenter of U.S. Syrian Operation

Among the reasons why we view the proposed Syrian military adventure with the most jaundiced of eyes concerns the fact that none other than Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia (shown at right) is the single most important coordinator of aid to the rebels. Nicknamed “Bandar Bush,” because he is so close to the Bush family, Bandar Bush was deeply involved in the push for the invasion of Iraq, which is a damned poor recommendation for taking military action in Syria. Bandar Bush been involved in some of the dirtiest operations of the last quarter century, including the Iran-Contra affair and 9/11.


Chuck Hagel’s Corporate Connections

Chuck Hagel has been either praised or excoriated for statements and positions he has made in the past. His institutional connections are of far more importance–many of those run in the direction of the Underground Reich and the transnational corporations. In addition to serving as a director of Chevron (Standard Oil of California), Hagel is a director of Zurich’s Holding Company of America and on the advisory board of Deutsche Bank of America. The latter was among the players in the subprime debacle from which the world is still struggling to emerge.


German Intelligence and the 9/11 Conspirators

German intelligence and law enforcement had the Hamburg cell involved in the 9/11 attacks under surveillance by August of 1998 and did nothing. The officer in charge of law enforcement activities for Hamburg at the time has reportedly become head of the BND. Coupled with Atta’s German and Austrian associates in Florida, his sponsorship by the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft and Germany’s suspicious manipulation of “Curveball,” serious questions must be asked about the role of Germany and its intelligence services with regard to 9/11 and the Iraq war.


FTR #730 Interview with Russ Baker (Author of “Family of Secrets”)

Breaking journalistic taboos about the JFK assassination, Russ Baker portrays the reality of American power politics, as exemplified by the Bush family’s use of covert action to manipulate the United States and its citizens.


Family of Secrets

The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America


George W. Bush Was Contemplating Invading Iraq in 1999

Comment: Among the disclosures in the brilliant recent book Family of Secrets by Russ Baker are statements by Bush family associate and author Mickey Herskowitz that Bush felt that starting a war was key to being a successful leader, and that W was contemplating invading Iraq in 1999. Bush clearly felt that a successful posture […]


Recommended Reading

Prelude to Terror by Joseph J. Trento - Authoritative indictment of CIA splinter groups, two generations of Bush family involvement in illegal financial networks, and the funding of the agents of terror Read more »