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The Absurd PsyOps War Against The People Of the United States

January 12, 2021

Psychological warfare is nothing new. There is evidence of it throughout written history -- from rumors of black magic or cannabalism to stoke fear in the hearts of adversaries, to Ghengis Khan's illusions of greater numbers by having soldiers light multiple torches by night, to "Tokyo Rose's" radio broadcasts in the WW2 Pacific theatre -- the goals have always been the same: to sow doubt, fear, skepticism and confusion in the enemy. In modern times, social media allows for easy, convenient direct communication with an "enemy" population. The United States, Russia, China, North Korea and many other nation states invest heavily in highly sophisticated covert cyberwarfare campaigns as part of their defense budgets, including the recent wide reaching and staggering SolarWinds attack of 2020, and foreign interference during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. An extensive Federal investigation of the 2016 election substantiated claims of interference in the Senate Intelligence Reports.

Tremendous advances in psychology and neuroscience have unlocked a powerful understanding of human cognition and emotion. While this has helped us better heal individuals struggling with mental health issues, it has been leveraged extensively to manipulate adversaries through PSYWAR and PSYOPS.

The open and free nature of social media information systems in the "free world" requires no real hacking. The barriers to entry are essentially non-existent if the objective is to infiltrate as an undercover operative, or hundreds of virtual false identities working in tandem. It doesn't require highly skilled computer programmers. Unlike attempting to hijack a radio or television station, it's low risk and cheap. And let's face it, if your job was to wake up every day and get paid to creatively troll the enemy's free information systems (which people have been doing voluntarily for years), it's probably a fantastic job for the cynical.

As of this writing, Covid-19 has killed nearly 2 Million people worldwide and nearly 400 thousand in the United States alone. People are terrified, isolated, unemployed or working from home for the first time, and overall mental health is in a crisis. This is a situation of extreme mental distress. Individuals under mental duress are highly susceptible to persuasion and PSYOPS efforts.

Psychological warfare against the US population can be targeted at specific groups, to influence their decision making to the advantage of the infiltrators, but there is a broader pattern at work: accelerating, funding and promoting the cracks and schisms that already exist in culture in order to undermine and disrupt democracy and the normal operations of the country. There are already enough actors sowing distrust and confusion. All that's needed is a little push here and there to slowly and methodically "herd the American Buffalo over the cliff."

Benedict Carey reports in the New York Times that in the most comprehensive analysis to date of the psychology of conspiracy beliefs, a research team in Atlanta observed several personality profiles that are prone to conspiracy:

  1. the injustice collector, impulsive and overconfident, who is eager to expose naïveté in everyone but him - or herself.
  2. a more solitary, anxious figure, moody and detached, perhaps including many who are older and living alone.
  3. at the extremes, an element of real pathology — of a "personality disorder," in the jargon of psychiatry.

Disinformation is very effective. In the social media era, it's not only common, but so rampant that the average person has an unprecedented level of distrust of the media, the state, experts, science etc. At the extreme margins, there are outlandish conspiracies that, when simply written on paper are absurd.

Imagine yourself a decade ago, or twenty years ago. You stepped into a time machine and arrived at a point where you read this statement:

"The Illuminati has teamed up with subterranean demons to torture, rape and eat kidnapped children in underground military bases.The current president is the only thing stopping this wide-reaching secret Cabal, and if he is re-elected in November we can all look forward to the abolition of the income tax, the development of "free energy" for all and the public unveiling of thousands of grateful kidnapped children rescued by the president's private army of "white hats" from cages squirreled away in these Satanist-controlled underground dungeons."

Hopefully you would find such a statement ludicrous, but a significant portion of the US population believes at least part of this grand narrative often called "QAnon".

There has been ample analysis of QAnon by reputable publications. Robert Guffey's investigative reporting in Salon highlights that the underlying narrative of QAnon is a sort of a greatest hits mixtape of Internet nut-job conspiracy theories:

The sources upon which QAnon draws are relatively obscure. For example, the tall tales being spread by Team QAnon in YouTube videos like "Out of Shadows" and "The Underground War, Happening Now" sound suspiciously like the horror stories made up by Special Agent Richard Doty and his psychological warfare military cohorts in the 1980s and 1990s. The apparent purpose of those tales was to deflect the attention of a UFO researcher named Paul Bennewitz away from sensitive intelligence operations being deployed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, as well as the adjacent Manzano Nuclear Weapons Storage Facility and Coyote Canyon Test Area. This long, complicated, and ultimately tragic story has been documented by Greg Bishop in his excellent 2005 book, "Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth."

The parallels between QAnon's tales and Doty's military-funded disinformation campaign — including such oddities as subterranean battles between the American military and otherworldly creatures — are remarkable. Are such cover stories endlessly recycled with slight new twists whenever necessary? After all, why dream up new cover stories when the old ones will do? Who even remembers these obscure details from the '80s and '90s?

One of the key links in the QAnon conspiracy theory is the identity of the one military official who has endorsed Q publicly: retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. and former Fox news commentator Paul E. Vallely, who was endorsed by President Trump and who independent left-of-center watchdog organization Media Matters calls a "unhinged right-wing conspiracy theorist."

General Vallely claims that President Trump distrusts the "formal intelligence agencies," instead relying on"The Army of Northern Virginia," (sadly a historical reference to the Confederacy) which is one of the many nicknames for United States Army Intelligence Support Activity (USAISA), a group of "over 800 military intelligence specialists" in operation since 1981. Vallely, who openly admits that he has no security clearance and is on the same recieving end of the QAnon rabbit hole as everyone else, surmises that "Q" derives much of his information for "Q drops" based on various writings and leaks from this Intelligence group, which are widely available to any crackpot who wants to journey down the rabbit hole of US intelligence conspiracy theories.

Guffey says that this was perceived as evidence by the Q community that this indeed is all real:

A military officer of this caliber publicly endorsing at least "some" of QAnon's information as being authentic, and flat-out stating that President Trump was forming his policy decisions on the same intelligence sources upon which QAnon's posts are based, caused waves of excitement to ripple through the Q community. No longer did they have to rely on faith alone. Here, at least, was "proof" that QAnon was no mere hoaxer.
Yet how many of these QAnon devotees are aware of the fact that Vallely collaborated with Lt. Col. Michael Aquino on the very same "From PSYOP to MindWar" paper quoted in {QAnon's most important piece of propaganda} the conspiracy film "Out of Shadows"?

The dark punchline is that Aquino -- a self-proclaimed "Satanic Priest" who sued his Internet Service Provider in 1997, citing "emotional distress" and has made a career publishing numerous quack titles (available on Amazon!) -- himself described the vast Internet conspiracy theories surrounding the original paper "comic" in a revised 2003 edition:

With the arising of the Internet in the 1980s, however, MindWar received an entirely unexpected — and somewhat comic — resurrection. Allusions to it gradually proliferated, with its "sinister" title quickly winning it the most lurid, conspiracy-theory reputation. The rumor mill soon had it transformed into an Orwellian blueprint for Manchurian Candidate mind control and world domination. My own image as an occult personality added fuel to the wildfire: MindWar was now touted by the lunatic fringe as conclusive proof that the Pentagon was awash in Black Magic and Devil-worship.

Now that this absurdly comic opera has at least somewhat subsided, I thought that it might be interesting to make a complete and accurate copy of the paper available, together with an Introduction and some historical-hindsight annotations to place it in reasonable context. After all it did — and perhaps still does — have something worthwhile to say.

And it did have something to say: that the PSYOPS techniques that operation "MindWar" employed are precisely the techniques that QAnon is falling under the spell of today, potentially orchestrated by foreign governments and political interest groups. The irony is indeed absurd -- and chilling.

Russian, North Korean and Chinese government hackers don't need to invent a new weaponized PSYOPS disinformation strategy. The US Government developed a highly effective one in the 1980s, the contemporary descedent of which is convenient for the Trump reelection campaign and polititians to exploit. Today it is still alive, thriving and leading to an armed uprising of psychologically unstable individuals prone to suggestion and intuitive thinking, white supremacists, Nazis, mobbed up millionaires, and generally fascist-leaning extremists.

License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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