Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Rules of Disinformation

I don’t know how many of you remember the word wars in the political newsgroups on Usenet. But I was thinking about the good ol’ days and remembered a few things that seem very apropos in today’s blogosphere. I will admit that a fellow blogger on a local board, Boomer, was the one who reminded me of some of this and pointed me in the right direction. So a big “Thank You” and a hat tip to him. I would also be remiss if I took credit for the following information.

A gentleman named Michael Sweeney took another’s work and expanded it to what I have posted below. The original was the “Thirteen Techniques for Truth Suppression” by David Martin. What Mr. Sweeney came up, excerpted below, is the Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth: The Rules of Disinformation (Includes The 8 Traits of A Disinformationalist). I have done some minor editing.

As I read through this I laughed quite a bit. The reason is simple. As I have been tip-toeing my way around many blog sites (and in some cases, stomping my way through them), I have come to realize that there are three basic rules that are consistently followed by lefties and especially lefty trolls. You must understand that in my travels I have come across articulate lefties who can actually hold a discussion and debate knowledgeably on the subject at hand. A few of them hang out at Just One Minute (mostly speaking of Jeff, but a few others – Doug Reese was there for a few days on the latest Kerry stuff). Over at my local site, I debate with a lady name micpi – we do not agree often, but we know we can agree to disagree.

More often than not though, instead of intelligent conversation, you have the ranting, raving style of lefty that is so full of hatred for anything Republican that they will argue just to be negative.

Let me give you one example. A little over three weeks ago, that esteemed journalist (and I use the term loosely), Jason Leopold, wrote a fantasy piece about how Karl Rove had been indicted. The article was published at that well-known, middle-of-the-road (yea right!) web site called Truthout. It was a piece of writing with true literary license. From the 15-hour meeting in Luskin’s office (11:30 AM to 2:30 AM), to Fitzgerald’s handing over the sealed indictment and telling Rove he had “24 hours to get his affairs in order.” You just had to laugh at that statement. It was like particularly poor writing for Law & Order or CSI, drawing the picture that Rove would be thrown in jail with no chance at bond until after he had “served his time”. Of course, within a day, the 24-hours became 24-business-hours. Now who ever heard of that? Nevertheless, they stuck to their guns, with Mr. Leopold stating on radio over that weekend that if it did not come true as he had written it, he would “out” his sources. Well – the time came and went. No “outing” by Jason yet.

Well, I went over to TruthOut (Not!) to participate in the discussion. I was having fun debating the regulars about what 24-hours meant, or even 24-business-hours actually meant; what would they do if Jason was wrong and things did not come out the way they had been told they would; would Jason actually out his sources; etc. Some of the very welcoming lefties at TruthOut (imagine that – the regular crew at TruthNot is lefty based) did not seem to like me very much. I kept a countdown for a day or so, until Marc Ash, the owner of the site, banned me from posting. No warning, nothing. Just banned from posting. This is what Mr. Ash had to say:

Marc Ash -

Yes, you are access denied. I OK'd it. We received a lot of complaints, and lost patience.

Marc Ash, Executive Director - t r u t h o u

Nice, huh? So let’s get down to basics and talk about the three rules that lefties follow that I have observed:

  1. When confronted by a fact, a lefty will change the subject. They will come up with the most absurd changes in direction to not have to answer someone who actually presents facts.

  2. If a lefty is confronted with facts again, they will quickly start using swear words and vulgarity. This is an attempt to again deflect the direction of the conversation when the lefty can’t refute the facts.

  3. Finally, if you are the site owner, simply ban a commenter that continues to push for real answers. Ala Marc Ash. If you can’t beat ‘em, ban ‘em.

But thanks to Boomer, I remembered there is much, much more to this. Some of the lefties are true disinformation specialists. Over at TruthOut there is Cassandra, Wonder Woman, LWelsch, sarao (who actually sometimes makes good comments), and dark duck. There are others there like Slow Down (mensa-man) who are absolutely mind-numbing boring – no real discussion, just weird points like how many posts someone has made like that has any real significance. But the fact was that all of these “commenters” seem unable to let go of the fact that Leopold’s article was wrong – unless 24-business hours means 3-plus-weeks. Yet rather than admit that the article was factually incorrect, they stick to the story and trounce on anyone who even says different. That is what I have found to be a typical lefty. With that in mind, here are the old style rules from usenet that actually apply today:

Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation

Note: The first rule and last five (or six, depending on situation) rules are generally not directly within the ability of the traditional disinfo artist to apply. These rules are generally used more directly by those at the leadership, key players, or planning level of the criminal conspiracy or conspiracy to cover up.

1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don't discuss it -- especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it's not reported, it didn't happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.
2. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the 'How dare you!' gambit.
3. Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. Other derogatory terms mutually exclusive of truth may work as well. This method which works especially well with a silent press, because the only way the public can learn of the facts are through such 'arguable rumors'. If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a 'wild rumor' from a 'bunch of kids on the Internet' which can have no basis in fact.
4. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent's argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.
5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary 'attack the messenger' ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as 'kooks', 'right-wing', 'terrorists', 'conspiracy buffs', 'radicals', 'militia', 'racists', 'religious fanatics', 'sexual deviates', and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.
6. Hit and Run. [Specter note: AKA Troll]In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer. This works extremely well in Internet and letters-to-the-editor environments where a steady stream of new identities can be called upon without having to explain criticism, reasoning -- simply make an accusation or other attack, never discussing issues, and never answering any subsequent response, for that would dignify the opponent's viewpoint.
7. Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact which could be taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.
8. Invoke authority. Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough 'jargon' and 'minutia' to illustrate you are 'one who knows', and simply say it isn't so without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.
9. Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues except with denials they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.
10. Associate opponent charges with old news. A derivative of the straw man -- usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with - a kind of investment for the future should the matter not be so easily contained.) Where it can be foreseen, have your own side raise a straw man issue and have it dealt with early on as part of the initial contingency plans. Subsequent charges, regardless of validity or new ground uncovered, can usually then be associated with the original charge and dismissed as simply being a rehash without need to address current issues -- so much the better where the opponent is or was involved with the original source.
11. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions. Using a minor matter or element of the facts, take the 'high road' and 'confess' with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made -- but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion and imply greater criminalities which, 'just isn't so.' Others can reinforce this on your behalf, later, and even publicly 'call for an end to the nonsense' because you have already 'done the right thing.' Done properly, this can garner sympathy and respect for 'coming clean' and 'owning up' to your mistakes without addressing more serious issues.
12. Enigmas have no solution. Drawing upon the overall umbrella of events surrounding the crime/issue and the multitude of players and events, paint the entire affair as too complex to solve. This causes those otherwise following the matter to begin to lose interest more quickly without having to address the actual issues.
13. Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards or with an apparent deductive logic which forbears any actual material fact.
14. Demand complete solutions. Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime/issue at hand completely, a ploy which works best with issues qualifying for rule 10.
15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions. This requires creative thinking unless the crime/issue was planned with contingency conclusions in place.
16. Vanish evidence and witnesses. If it does not exist, it is not fact, and you won't have to address the issue.
17. Change the subject. [Specter Note: My Rule #1]Usually in connection with one of the other ploys listed here, find a way to side-track the discussion with abrasive or controversial comments in hopes of turning attention to a new, more manageable topic. This works especially well with companions who can 'argue' with you over the new topic and polarize the discussion arena in order to avoid discussing more key issues.
18. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents. [Specter Note: My Rule #2]If you can't do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents and draw them into emotional responses which will tend to make them look foolish and overly motivated, and generally render their material somewhat less coherent. Not only will you avoid discussing the issues in the first instance, but even if their emotional response addresses the issue, you can further avoid the issues by then focusing on how 'sensitive they are to criticism.
19. Ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs. This is perhaps a variant of the 'play dumb' rule. Regardless of what material may be presented by an opponent in public forums, claim the material irrelevant and demand proof that is impossible for the opponent to come by (it may exist, but not be at his disposal, or it may be something which is known to be safely destroyed or withheld, such as a murder weapon.) In order to completely avoid discussing issues, it may be required that you to categorically deny and be critical of media or books as valid sources, deny that witnesses are acceptable, or even deny that statements made by government or other authorities have any meaning or relevance.
20. False evidence. Whenever possible, introduce new facts or clues designed and manufactured to conflict with opponent presentations -- as useful tools to neutralize sensitive issues or impede resolution. This works best when the crime/issue was designed with contingencies for the purpose, and the facts cannot be easily separated from the fabrications.
21. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body. Subvert the (process) to your benefit and effectively neutralize all sensitive issues without open discussion. Once convened, the evidence and testimony are required to be secret when properly handled. For instance, if you own the prosecuting attorney, it can insure a Grand Jury hears no useful evidence and that the evidence is sealed and unavailable to subsequent investigators. Once a favorable verdict is achieved, the matter can be considered officially closed. Usually, this technique is applied to find the guilty innocent, but it can also be used to obtain charges when seeking to frame a victim.
22. Manufacture a new truth. [Specter Note: VIPS?]Create your own expert(s), group(s), author(s), leader(s) or influence existing ones willing to forge new ground via scientific, investigative, or social research or testimony which concludes favorably. In this way, if you must actually address issues, you can do so authoritatively.
23. Create bigger distractions. [Specter Note: Can you say Haditha?]If the above does not seem to be working to distract from sensitive issues, or to prevent unwanted media coverage of unstoppable events such as trials, create bigger news stories (or treat them as such) to distract the multitudes.
24. Silence critics. If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive solution so that the need to address issues is removed entirely. This can be by their death, arrest and detention, blackmail or destruction of their character by release of blackmail information, or merely by destroying them financially, emotionally, or severely damaging their health. [Specter Note: Or Banning them – My Rule #3]
25. Vanish. If you are a key holder of secrets or otherwise overly illuminated and you think the heat is getting too hot, to avoid the issues, vacate the kitchen.