Facebook, military planning and psy-ops
Recent disclosures from Australian media outlets covering leaks of personal information from Facebook have tended to downplay the matter as an unfortunate accident.
The problem concerned, however, was certainly not what readers were being led to believe; it was a carefully planned exercise within the corridors of power of western capitals, linked to the political far-right, secretive defence and security planning and Psychological Warfare Techniques (Psy-Ops).
A number of considerations can therefore by used to explain the role of the Australian media and the present government in Canberra, some more plausible than others. No reference, for example, has been made to the present Cold War.
Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, was forced to admit to US government investigators 'up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked'. (1) Limited coverage in Australia, while being highly critical of the failure of the computer company to protect users personal information, did not, however, address the real issues. In fact, their coverage of the problem was both evasive and deliberately shallow, avoiding any real explanation about the motives of those employed by a 'political intelligence firm' who conducted the conspiracy. (2)
The conspiracy began with Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University professor of Psychology, who managed to access personal data on 87 million Facebook users through a 'quiz app' and then purportedly sold the material to a shadowy organisation referred to as Cambridge Analytica (CA), with offices in a number of capital cities and linked as an affiliate to a British-based firm Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL). (3) Among the 87 million Facebook users, a total of 311,129 Australians had their files 'improperly shared with CA'. (4)
Those concerned have an interesting connections and resumes. The British ruling class, however, have a long history of employing 'odd-job' personnel on the out-sourced basis to distance themselves from unnecessary publicity. SCL, and the front companies around it, would appear yet a further example.
SCL can hardly be described as an ordinary business attracting 'middle of the road type of employees'. The company was founded by Nigel Oakes, a product of the English ruling class, educated at Eton and linked through relationships with the Royal Family which provided connections with State institutions, including the British Commonwealth. (5) SCL, for example, was soon able to establish connections with 'politicians in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean'. (6)
SCL had, 'from its inception', the stated intention to 'shape public opinion without being seen', a pursuit more in keeping with spookery and shadowy corridors of power where influence is brought to bear. (7) The organisation subsequently created 'many smaller companies, including the American political consultancy Cambridge Analytica'. (8)
Cambridge Analytica, like its parent company SCL, was a shady operation: political skull-duggery and intrigue also appear a speciality with CEO, Alexander Nix actually 'filmed by undercover reporters bragging about ways to win political campaigns, including through blackmail and honey traps'. (9) It was not an isolated incident.
A further example of their perverted vision of ethical behaviour and dirty tricks was recorded in 2000 when Oakes conducted advisory work for President Wahid of Indonesia. Oakes was paid $300,000 for a two-month campaign where he adopted the identity of a US Agency for International Development employee and duties which included large sums of money changing hands in sports bags for journalists to produce articles 'beneficial to Mr Wahid'. (10)
One can also draw one’s own conclusions about the joint reference and connection to Cambridge, a well-known haunt of spies gone to ground and recruiting ground for spooks. Are we really expected to believe it merely a coincidence?
Involvement with the far-right and United States was established with Steve Bannon also being a board member, providing links to the Trump entourage and Republican Party which subsequently bankrolled the organisation with a $15 million donation. (11) Money also flowed from 'military contracts with the British and American governments', which provide evidence of the necessary security clearances for official diplomatic dealings. (12)
Oakes, when questioned, described his occupation as a 'psychological operations specialist', and an advocate of using the 'power of the subliminal'. (13) Psy-ops, as the specialism is usually called, is a political warfare technique conducted through the use of deception against adversaries. It is primarily concerned with Black propaganda, designed to deceive with select use of language to manipulate opinion. (14) Select information, for example, is relayed in a manner devoid of meaningful analysis to enable those in control of political systems to dampen down informed opposition and deflect attention away from traditional leaders, in a similar manner, ironically, to Australian mainstream media dealing with the present CA, SCL and Facebook problem.
SCL, from its earliest operations, attracted leverage within prominent circles including the Conservative Party and House of Lords, revealing the true role of the organisation within the political spectrum. (15) The British Conservative Party has always regarded itself the party of the ruling class and state. It also forms a component part of a vast patronage system based on hereditary privilege, operating through secret societies and dining clubs. Such patronage systems converge upon the hidden influence of the Royal Family and British Commonwealth. Cambridge University, it should be noted, has a prominent position within such systems, providing educational provision linked to networks of 'special jobs' for those who have undergone suitable initiation.
The British military also have a firm position inside such political tutelage and operate within blurred demarcation lines: the defence of state from external adversaries takes second priority to perceived internal subversion and the perceived 'enemy within'. It is therefore no coincidence those employed by the Royal College of Defence Studies have been noted for the position 'the first enemy is the articulate, revolutionary, militant left', which included reference to those who 'organise strikes and demos', with the role of an intelligence service possessing three functions: intelligence and counter-intelligence; secret or deniable action as an extension of policy; unattributable propaganda'. (16)
Such people look after their sort well.
Part of the leverage established by SCL included 'military contracts with the British and American governments', including training provision for the British Defence Department 15th Psyops Group. (17) Governments of the day, for example, would have had to issue security clearances for such official contact and payment for services rendered. No official questions, however, appear to have been asked by governments about the real nature of the business provided by SCL. Their silence remains deafening, but then that is their standard method of operation.
Limited information available from their official website reveal the 15th Psychological Operations Group, a rather elite and secretive body, was incorporated into the 77th Brigade of Force Troops Command in 2015. Initially based at Chicksands, outside Shefford in Bedfordshire, it moved to Denison Barracks in Hermitage, Berkshire the following year. It uses joint military and civilian liaison, employing 75 regular Armed Forces personnel and an equal number of civilian staff. Their exact occupations, however, are not listed although those with backgrounds in linguistics, psychology and information technology are likely to be prominent.
Psy-ops, to be effective, require profiled information about target groups.
Declassified military intelligence documents have revealed a great deal about the uses and abuses of vast stores of information from target groups and collection methods. From the mid-1960s to the early 1990s, the US used intelligence training provision known as Project X. Their manuals were regarded by informed sources as 'a guide for conduct of clandestine operations'. (18) Those employed on the programs eventually later openly acknowledged the military training within target countries, 'had no role in the defence of their country against external threats'. (19) 'The only real role they had was internal defence', which required 'information' about the perceived 'enemy within'. (20) Intelligence collection included access to any and all available information about a target, with the specific intention of establishing profiles for later use, including elimination. (21)
From the end of the previous Cold War to another, intelligence collection about 'the enemy within' has, once again, become a priority with suitable intelligence collection.
It is no coincidence to note through the development of widespread social media, intelligence collection has now become far more simple. While there still remain a need for spy-masters to control agents by infiltrating organisations, hacking into social media information can also be used to access vast amounts of personal information for intelligence purposes. And just what are we to make of the present Facebook scandal?
Under such circumstances it would appear likely that when regulators investigating CA in the UK raided their London offices and a further thirty organisations, they were not concerned with confiscating evidence for possible prosecution. They were more concerned with containing the political fallout from a carefully-planned and implemented covert operation to use Facebook for intelligence collection.
Those responsible operate within a culture of impunity and 'plausible denial'. (22) Their behaviour has been quite predictable.
To distance themselves from the disgrace CA announced in early May it was 'immediately ceasing all operations'. (23) Being found to have 'created psychological profiles on tens of millions of Facebook users via a personality prediction app' would appear quite incriminating, raising questions about ethical behaviour. (24) Those responsible have therefore gone to ground immediately. Cyber-stealing 87 million identities is a trick of their trade, being caught, however, remains another matter. Serious questions have been raised. Those involved with secret societies and dining clubs would rather not provide answers; the levels of professional excellence they consider themselves aspiring toward might be challenged.
Shortly after, Facebook leader Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to explain himself to the European Parliament. His performance was noted as a delivery 'of a monologue, choosing the points he wanted to address'. (25) Previously, likewise, he had been allowed to 'avoid a total of 43 direct questions during two days of testimony before US congress' and refused 'to appear before British MPs and a select committee'. (26)
People such as Zuckerberg have been quite clearly allowed to make up the rules as they proceed. Their paymasters, however, create the agendas.
It has been noticeable, for example, that not one single request has been lodged from any of the governments concerned for the Facebook information to be returned to its 87 million original owners or on which computer system the data is stored at the present time. An accompanying question about what the how profiles will be used in the future has also not been lodged, for obvious reasons.
1. Facebook unveiling dating feature for 'meaningful relationships', The Philippine Star, 3 May 2018.
2. Silicon Valley defender lifts cringe factor, Australian Financial Review, 15 May 2018.
3. Vast troves of data from Facebook unsecured, New York Times, 9 May 2018; and, Cambridge Analytica shuts down, The Philippine Star, 4 May 2018.
4. Facebook nude photo trial scotched, Australian, 25 May 2018.
5. Philippine Star, op.cit., 4 May 2018.
6. Roots of Cambridge Analytica, New York Times – International Edition, 24 April 2018.
9. Philippine Star, op.cit., 4 May 2018.
10. New York Times, op.cit., 24 April 2018.
11. Philippine Star, op.cit,., 4 May 2018.
12. New York Times, op.cit., 24 April 2018.
14. The Secret World of 'psy-ops' BBC News, 20 June 2008.
15. New York Times, op.cit., 24 April 2018.
16. Secret Services and Democracy, RUSI Brassey's Defence Year Book, 1975-76, John Bruce Lockhart, pp. 67-83.
17. New York Times, op.cit., 24 April 2018.
18. Army's Project X Had Wider Audience, Washington Post, 6 March 2018.
21. Interview, 'Luis', a confidential source formerly employed by the CIA in the Argentine Police during the 'Dirty War', 1976-83, with Author, Manchester, 1990.
22. Secret Services and Democracy, op.cit., pp. 67-83.
23. Cambridge Analytica shuts down, Philippine Inquirer, 4 May 2018.
24. Philippine Star, op.cit., 4 May 2018.
25. Facebook nude photo trial scotched, Australian, 25 May 2018.
26. Facebook founder filibusters Euro MPs, Australian, 24 May 2018.