— Rogue Money (@theroguemoney) December 20, 2016
“A former White House official cautioned that any U.S. government attempt to counter the flow of foreign state-backed disinformation through deterrence would face major political, legal and moral obstacles.
”You would have to have massive surveillance and curtailed freedom and that is a cost we have not been willing to accept,” said the former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They (Russia) can control distribution of information in ways we don’t.”
Clinton Watts, a security consultant, former FBI agent and a fellow at the nonprofit Foreign Policy Research Institute, said the U.S. government no longer has an organization, such as the U.S. Information Agency, that provided counter-narratives during the Cold War.
He said that most major Russian disinformation campaigns in the United States and Europe have started at Russian-government funded media outlets, such as RT television or Sputnik News, before being amplified on Twitter by others.
Watts said it was urgent for the U.S. government to build the capability to track what is happening online and dispute false stories.
”Those two things need to be done immediately,” Watts said. “You have to have a public statement or it leads to conspiracy theories.””
The New Bipartisan Globalist Establishment Rallying Cry: Conspiracy Theory For Me (Because Russians!), But Not For Thee Alex Jones Listening Peasant!
Despite being one of the few named sources for The Washington Post's widely panned and potentially libel suit spawning story over the Thanksgiving weekend about shadowy Ukrainian Diaspora troll run site PropOrNot.com, Mr. Watts reputation and that of his employer the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) hasn't suffered from that potentially litigated association. If anything, Mr. Watts is in high demand these days as a supposed expert on Soviet/Russian active measures, despite his seemingly impressive resume that includes an academic stint at West Point being more focused since 9/11 on counter terrorism and Mideast jihadist radicalism. The fuel for Watts and his co-writer former Internet Haganah crank Andrew Weisburd's sudden prominence, of course, is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Democrats and GOP neocons relentless efforts since Hillary Clinton's defeat to de-legitimize Donald J. Trump as the Kremlin's candidate. As the two wrote on December 13 for the Establishment uniparty stenographers at Politico:
“As analysts who have spent years studying Russia’s influence campaigns, we’re confident the spooks have it mostly right: The Kremlin ran a sophisticated, multilayered operation that aimed to sow chaos in the U.S. political system, if not to elect Trump outright. But you don’t need a security clearance or a background in spycraft to come to that conclusion. All you need to do is open your eyes.
So how did Putin do it?
It wasn’t by hacking election machines or manipulating the results, as some have suggested. That would be too crude. The Kremlin’s canny operatives didn’t change votes; they won them, influencing voters to choose Russia’s preferred outcome by pushing stolen information at just the right time—through slanted, or outright false stories on social media. As we detail in our recent report, based on 30 months of closely watching Russia’s online influence operations and monitoring some 7,000 accounts, the Kremlin’s troll army swarmed the web to spread disinformation and undermine trust in the electoral system...”
— Rogue Money (@theroguemoney) December 20, 2016
The Lack of Empiricism or Any Real Data That Can Prove Russia Influenced An Election in Which the Establishment Bet it All on a Terrible, Glue Horse Candidate Named Hillary
There is a certain breathtaking chutzpah to this claim, which begs many logical questions. Such as: how did American democracy degrade to the point that it has proven so vulnerable to such allegedly easy manipulation by the Russians? Isn't Russia's economy 'in tatters' and don't the Russians fail to make anything that anyone actually wants -- yet here through genius level marketing they managed to convince millions of Americans to vote against their own (national if not personal) interests? Why did the 'stolen information' allegedly pilfered by Russian hackers from the Democratic National Committee if not John Podesta's Kiev, Ukraine IP host spearphished Gmail account prove to be so effective, if it wasn't true?
Furthermore, aren't both Watts and Weisburd grossly overstating the influence Facebook, Twitter and the previously derided as completely irrelevant platforms for kooks RT and Sputnik played in swaying millions of American voters, including hundreds of thousands who'd previously supported Barack Obama, to back Donald Trump? And if the evidence is so rock solid of brazen Russian interference in the election, why can't the CIA (which has taken the lead on these leaks from the NSA which is normally responsible for cyber security) come out with more documentation that Republican House Intelligence Committee members like Rep. Peter King (R-NY) (who is hardly a big softy on Putin) are demanding?
Anti-Russian GOP Hawks in Congress Are Pushing Back Against the CIA's War of Leaks Against Trump: Watts, Weisburd and Other Cold War 2.0 Trolls Pretend They Don't Exist Because Having Pro-Cold War 2.0 Congressmen Call BS on Brennan Hurts The Narrative
Hiding pre-determined and hackish if not crackpot conclusions beneath a veil of pseudoscientific research and super patriotic authority is of course, what think tanks and ex-spooks linked to them have been doing for years if not decades in this country. It's a measure of how increasingly dumbed down, deferential to the supposedly infallible intelligence agencies, and desperate the supposedly fact based and 'progressive' legacy media have become that Clint Watts has not been challenged on any of these perfectly logical points. Perhaps it will take a Tucker Carlson to do so, but we doubt we'll be seeing Watts wiling to be challenged by the bowtie wearing happy conservatarian host anytime soon.
During a December 13, 2016 posted appearance on WHYY Public Media radio, the hostess did not ask Watts simple questions, like how Kremlin propaganda influenced middle aged to elderly working class white voters in Wisconsin or Iowa, who aren't on Twitter and barely use Facebook to communicate with relatives (and probably do not know what RT or Sputnik are at all)? She also seemed completely ignorant as to Watts and his collaborator Andrew Weisburd (who didn't appear on that particular segment)'s history of omitting critical facts from their evaluations of the effectiveness of Russian 'information operations', if not engaging outright lies of omission.
We Know What You Did Last Summer in Downplaying a Serious Crack in the NATO Alliance: Why Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd Ought to Be Challenged About Pretending a Turkish Power Cutoff Against a Key U.S. Military Installation Didn't Happen in July 2016
We're writing of course, about the War on the Rocks article that preceded Watts and Weisburd's collaboration for Politico, published on November 6, 2016, "Trolling for Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy". That piece in turn, relied in part on Weisburd and Watts more egregious in its omissions piece written for The Daily Beast, "How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (and Trump Too)". Addressing the questions many Twitter accounts were asking in the confused hours and days after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt against a U.S. NATO ally's head of state, Watts and Weisburd attributed nearly all of the concerns or comments Americans had to organized 'Russian trolling':
““Ladies and Gentlemen, We have a situation in #Turkey #Incirlik” the cry went out on Twitter last Saturday night, as news spread of the Turkish forces surrounding the U.S. airbase in Incirlik.
Thousands of armed police had reportedly surrounded the airbase amid swirling rumors of another coup attempt, according to stories tweeted within two minutes of each other on RT.com and Sputnik, the two biggest Russian state-controlled media organizations publishing in English. The stories were instantly picked up by a popular online aggregator of breaking news and prompted hours-long storm of activity from a small, vocal circle of users.
In English, the tweets soon grouped into certain patterns of similar (and sometimes identical) content. The first were panicky expressions of concern about nuclear weapons allegedly stored at Incirlik:
#Incirlik There r 25 underground vaults, each holds up to 4 bombs. The estimated total is 50 B61 thermonuclear bombs—1/4 of B61 stockpile.
Turkey is soon going to acquire some nice nuclear weapons unless Obama pulls his finger out & does something
#Incirlik does anybody else find it ODD that there’s a lot of dump trucks. Big enough to carry 90 nuclear warheads
What exactly is going on with the nuclear weapons in Turkey? And why the hell are they there, of all places?
The second group compared the situation to Benghazi.
A third group wondered aloud and repeatedly about why the media wasn’t covering the alleged activity.
Why is USA MSM failing to report on events in Turkey surrounding Incirlik AFB and Erdogan’s accusation that USA orchestrated the coup?
Hey MSM, you’ve got 10000 Muslims, steps away from a stockpile of thermonuclear weapons.
Nothing on #msm, no #potus, no #dem or #gop speaking out! Nuclear warheads, up to 90 at stake!
The main reason the media didn’t show up was that the story was substantially untrue [if you don’t count the POWER BEING SHUT OFF FOR A WEEK YOU LYING NEOCON JACKASSES - JWS]. As a later statement by the Pentagon clarified, a peaceful protest had taken place involving about 1,000 people—not the 7,000 Turkish police reported by Russian news outlets or the 10,000 cited by Twitter users [a quibble of numbers to hide the substance of increasing hostility on the part of locals to personnel at the base - JWS]. Officials at the air base had been warned of the protest in advance. The base was not “surrounded,” Turkish security focused on securing the visit of U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Joe Dunford to Incirlik the next day [a convenient explainer for the unusually large Turkish police presence, not an initial U.S. refusal to hand over Turkish military officers accused of being participants in the coup who had sensitive clearance on U.S. operations against ISIS and/or support for ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels run through Incirlik - JWS].
One of the first English tweets promoting the Incirlik story came from a Twitter user under the name Marcel Sardo—an account previously identified for instigating pro-Russian campaigns. From this initial tweet, a cascade of Twitter accounts rebroadcast RT and Sputnik Incirlik articles adding commentary and hashtags. Accounts initially broadcasting the #Incirlik story from seemingly different locales and online communities quickly merged in the first 90 minutes after release of the RT and Sputnik news story...”
The Cherry Picking, 'Drive By' 'Debunking' Technique of Cold War 2.0 Propaganda
What Watts and Weisburd do with this cleverly crafted piece of propaganda for The Daily Beast and an expanded version for WoTR is exactly what they accuse RT and Sputnik 'propagandists' of doing: cherry pick only those facts that support your agenda, disregard the rest. We've seen this propaganda technique used in Ukraine, where a false story spread by some Russian media outlets about a boy crucified in Slavyansk by members of a neo-Nazi led Ukrainian volunteer battalion has been endlessly cited to dismiss evidence of actual Ukrainian war crimes. In Germany, the Russian Foreign Ministry and Sergey Lavrov's unwise embrace of a story made up by a Russian-German girl's that she was kidnapped and raped by a migrant has been flogged across Atlanticist media -- while the actual crime wave from the over one million migrants Merkel let in has become inescapable for many Germans. Most recently, with the reported Tunisian who plowed into a crowded Christmas market this week in Berlin.
The common thread of such 'drive by debunking' aka 'cherry picking' techniques, is that Washington's allies, be they Ukrainians who burned fellow Ukrainians alive at the Odessa Trades Union Building on May 2, 2014, or the open borders Chancellor Mutti, should never have to pay a political or reputation price for their actions. Russia is of course responsible for every war crime Assad's forces may or may not have committed, but the so-called 'moderate' rebels funded by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar if not directly via the CIA when they commit atrocities are never held to account. True adherence to globalism dressed up as Cold War 2.0 ideology demands impunity for darlings of Atlanticism. Any German who tweets #MerkelMussWeg is presumably either:
A) an Alt-Right 'Nazi' (a label that globalists love to apply to Trump supporters but strangely
insist do not exist in Ukraine -- even when Ukrainian ultra-nationalists use overtly Nazi symbols like the Azov Battalion's SS Das Reich division runes Wolfsangel flag or Triumph of the Will style-torchlight parades through Lvov to honor Third Reich collaborator Stepan Bandera's January 1st birthday)
B) a 'useful idiot' for the Kremlin's effort to remove Merkel and the EU(SSR) sanctions she supports against Russia.
Returning to the post-July coup Incirlik case, as former FBI Turkish/Azeri translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds reported at the time, Pentagon/CIA mouthpiece NBC News had pushed false information during the coup about Erdogan having sought asylum in Germany and fled the country to demoralize the Sultan's supporters. For Watts and Weisburd to seize upon some pro-Russian @MarcelSardo tweets and RT/Sputnik stories ignores the context of alt-media spreading both true information and rumors of what was really going on amidst a general news blackout. This is part and parcel as we stated above of Watts and Weisburd's general m.o. which is to ignore Hillary's corruption, low approval ratings or own questionable ties to foreign despots in Saudi Arabia or Qatar to focus mono-maniacally on Russia's amazing influence on American minds.
It took Stars and Stripes two whole days as we recall, to report that the external power had been cutoff at one of NATO's most important bases following the failed putsch. That story, along with a thin on details mainstream media accounts, came only after multiple Facebook pages of parents and friends of servicemen at Incirlik that they were sweating in the Turkish summer hear without air conditioning. Presumably, Watts and Weisburd don't believe and certainly do not suggest in their post that the Kremlin's disinfo agents actually stole the identities of real parents of Incirlik airmen to achieve their dastardly goals?
Instead, the best the pair can come up with is that maybe the Rooskies posed as God-fearing pro-Trump patriots and used hashtags like #Benghazi to get their point across that Americans were allegedly in peril from enraged Islamist Erdogan supporters. However, without solid evidence of command and control, one can just as easily turn the accusation back on those favored on Twitter by Watts or Weisburd. We could start asking THEM whether many of the 'Americans' demanding Trump's impeachment as a Russian agent before he takes office aren't really Ukrainian or Baltics-based trolls, whether paid or unpaid (a topic we'll discuss more at a later date here at RM).
“Some of the top hashtags attached to tweets broadcasting #Incirlik #Turkey were #nato, #coup, #benghazi, #trumppence16. Each of these add-on hashtags pointed to recently hot button issues in the U.S. presidential contest. Bios of these English speaking accounts retweeting the #Incirlik story commonly included the words “god,” “country,” “family,” “conservative,” “Christian,” “America,” “constitution,” and “military.”
Two or three tweets called for prayers for U.S. service members potentially in harms way, suggesting Americans were again being overrun in another Benghazi type scenario. More than 10 percent of English speakers citing #Incirlik contained the word “Trump” in their user profile information. From the public view, it’s difficult to determine which of these English accounts are real Americans supporting the Trump campaign or instead manufactured accounts inciting support for the Trump campaign and fomenting dissent amongst the U.S. electorate.”
Andrew Weisburd's Still Undeleted Tweet, Spreading Falsehoods Intended to 'Link' Chechen Citizens of the Russian Federation to the Berlin Truck Attack Carried Out by an Asylum Seeker Merkel's Policies Admitted into Germany
Chechen. Merry Christmas from FSB? https://t.co/P5j0hiVK5p
— (((aweisburd))) (@webradius) December 20, 2016
Oh How Horrible, the Russian Trolls Said Pray for American Servicemen at Incirlik!
At any rate, we know what happened because we were closely following the story for RogueMedia LLC and saw the Facebook accounts picked up by Rick Wiles of the often alarmist TruNews. Incidentally, is Florida based 'End Times Newsman' Rick Wiles a Kremlin stooge too, like msrs. Watt and Weisburd's leading alt-media enemies Alex Jones or 'Tyler Durden' of Zerohedge?
Safe Spaces for Trump Bashing Social Justice Cold Warriors (SJCWs):
WoTR Editor Coddles Contributors and Readers from the Truth, With Credibility Undermining Consequences the Next Time Something Crazy Happens in Turkey Like This Week
The point is, you'd search both the War on the Rocks and original Daily Beast articles published with Watts and Weisburd's bylines in vain to find any mention of the July power cutoff to Incirlik, which lasted almost a week. If a major NATO ally cuts off the electricity to the most important American installation near the front lines with ISIS, and the likes of Watts and Weisburd don't mention it, does that mean it did not happen? Clearly the 'Kremlin is waging war on truth itself!' crowd in this instance owes the readers of WoTR and The Daily Beast an apology for omitting critical realities and 100% American military family concerns from their story about Russian information operations (IO) in the context of post-coup Turkey.
@Webradius Intel Community Doublethink: Bow Down to the Always Truthful and Never Partisan CIA, But the Dastardly FBI is Full of Nasty Trump-Loving Republican Hacks:
FBI’s Clinton warrant shows no probable cause <- Let’s just leave this to smolder for a good long time. https://t.co/k5BBsis6W9
— (((aweisburd))) (@webradius) December 21, 2016
For our part, we attempted to leave a comment from a U.S. IP address at WoTR taking Watts and especially Weisburd to task on this critical omission, and asking what agenda they were serving in trying to omit a major turning point in recent U.S.-Turkish relations from the equation (even if it's indisputable that the Kremlin has sought to widen the post-July breach between Washington and Ankara). That comment was rejected, we strongly suspect by WoTR editor Ryan Evans himself, whose bio says he "deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan from 2010 – 2011 as a Social Scientist on a U.S. Army Human Terrain Team." One wonders if Mr. Evans has ever stopped to consider the 'human terrain' of growing disillusionment on the part of many Americans with supposedly moderate U.S. 'allies' in the 'war on terror' such as the 9/11 sponsoring Saudis or ISIS facilitating Turks, and the implications for NATO alliance-promoting organizations like the Atlantic Council (which take Turkish and Saudi money) that authors such as Watts and Weisburd insist 'the Russians' are trying to discredit:
“NATO shouldn’t come to Turkey’s defense - instead, it should begin proceedings immediately to determine if the lengthy and growing list of Turkish transgressions against the West, including its support for Islamic terrorists, have merit. And if they do - and they most certainly do - the Alliance’s supreme decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, should formally oust Turkey from NATO for good before its belligerence and continual aggression drags the international community into World War III.
This is an action that is long overdue. As I argued five years ago, “Erdogan, who is Islamist to the core, who once famously declared that “the mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers”—seems to see himself as the Islamic leader of a post-Arab-Spring Muslim world.” He has spent the past 13 years dismantling every part of Turkish society that made it secular and democratic, remodeling the country, as Caroline Glick of the Center for Security Policy once wrote, “into a hybrid of Putinist autocracy and Iranian theocracy.” Last fall, he even went so far as to praise the executive powers once granted to Adolph Hitler.
Under Erdogan’s leadership, our NATO ally has arrested more journalists than China, jailed thousands of students for the crime of free speech, and replaced secular schools with Islamic-focused madrassas. He has publicly flaunted his support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood while accusing long-time ally Israel of “crimes against humanity,” violated an arms ban to Gaza, bought an air defense system (and nearly missiles) from the Chinese in defiance of NATO, and denied America the use of its own air base to conduct strikes during the Iraqi War and later against Islamic terrorists in Syria. As Western allies fought to help repel Islamic State fighters in the town of Kobani in Western Syria two years ago, Turkish tanks sat quietly just across the border.
In fact, there is strong evidence (compiled by Columbia University) that Turkey has been “tacitly fueling the ISIS war machine.” There is evidence to show that Turkey, as Near East Outlook recently put it, allowed “jihadists from around the world to swarm into Syria by crossing through Turkey’s territory;” that Turkey, as journalist Ted Galen Carpenter writes, “has allowed ISIS to ship oil from northern Syria into Turkey for sale on the global market;” that Erdogan’s own son has collaborated with ISIS to sell that oil, which is “the lifeblood of the death-dealing Islamic State”; and that supply trucks have been allowed to pass freely across Turkey in route to ISIS fighters. There is also “evidence of more direct assistance,” as Forbes puts it, “providing equipment, passports, training, medical care, and perhaps more to Islamic radicals;” and that Erdogan’s government, according to a former U.S. Ambassador, worked directly with the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the al-Nusrah Front.
While Ankara pretends to take military action against ISIS, with its obsessive view of the Kurds, it has engaged in a relentless series of artillery strikes against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that are routing ISIS troops in northern Syria. The Kurds are the largest ethnic group on earth without a homeland - 25 million Sunni Muslims who live at the combined corners where Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey meet. Turkey has waged a bloody, three-decade civil war against its 14 million Kurds - known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK - claiming more than 40,000 lives. The most recent peace process failed when Turkey again targeted the PKK, plunging the southeast of the country back into war while increasingly worrying Erdogan that Syrian and Turkish Kurds will join forces just across Turkey’s border.”
You Studied the 'Human Terrain' of Afghanistan, But Can't Understand the Terrain of the American Voter's Mind Who Doesn't Trust 'the Muzzie' Turks and Sauds, Much Less Those 'Moderate Syrian Rebels' You Demanded Americans Trust With MANPADs?
It appears Davis is, one of those highly credentialed but not educated idiots so typical of an increasingly decadent Washington Establishment, who seems to have learned nothing from the election of Donald J. Trump in the teeth of massive legacy media opposition and one of the most relentless smear campaigns in American history. By doubling down on the lie that 'Russia hacked the election for Donald Trump' or came anywhere close to playing a decisive role in November's defeat of Hillary Clinton, individuals like Davis and publications such as WoTR are drifting further into unreality. Just as the Soviet Union finally collapsed not so much from decades of economic dysfunction as the downfall of its ideology, the demands of upholding an Atlanticist party line that is indistinguishable from open borders globalism, and also overtly allied with radical jihadists against Assad, Iran and the Russians -- will prove too great for the so-called trans-Atlantic 'center' to hold.
Ambassador killed in Libya. We need a bajillion congressional investigations. Russia successfully sways US presidential election. Nah... https://t.co/wRk870l3Fu
— Ryan Evans (@EvansRyan202) December 20, 2016
Just as the human terrain mapping efforts of defense academics like Evans do not seem to have made the slightest dent in the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban after fifteen years of American occupation, the notion that NATO itself could suffer any consequences in lost credibility over a frontline state turning into an aggressively Islamist dictatorship in Turkey will catch the Atlanticist defense wonk-a-demic community flatfooted. But that, just like the foolishness of trying to nation-build in the Hindu Kush where the Soviets also failed, will have very little to do with the Russians. Though we're sure when and not if Turkey leaves NATO, the likes of Watts and Weisburd if not other WoTR contributors will still find time to blame RT and Alex Jones.