Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hollywood, the Pentagon, and Sock Puppets and Operation Earnest Voice.

As our world grows increasingly complex, our need for simple, sound-byte explanations of complicated issues becomes greater. Why? Mostly because we're trying to manage and navigate what's become not only a more complex world, but also a more oppressive and often times unjust world. This, of course, makes us vulnerable to the manipulators, and their never ending programs of propaganda that saturate every walk of life.

Take the military’s "sock puppet" software that creates fake online identities in order to spread pro-American propaganda. It's called Online Persona Management Services. This Centcom contract allows for the creation of up to 10 sock puppet accounts for every U.S. serviceman working on the program. The stipulations are that every fake persona must have a convincing background history, including friend networks so that it will remain undetectable to even the most "sophisticated adversaries”. This way the U.S. military can create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions, and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with their objectives.  T"his multiple fake persona contract was thought to have commenced as a part of  Operation Earnest Voice (OEV) --how Orwellian of them--which was first developed in Iraq as a psychological warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces.

It gets even more Orwellian.  General David Petraeus has said American efforts to infiltrate online discussion are aimed at "countering extremist ideology and propaganda and ensuring credible voices are heard". He said the US military’s objective was to be “first with the truth”.

Then there is the NDAA that not only  codifies indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history, it legalizes propaganda on the American public. That's right, the U.S. government can carry out legal misinformation campaigns against the citizens of this country. The Pentagon already spends $4 billion to influence public opinion. Moreover, the CIA has been infiltrating the largest press institutions since the 1950s with Operation Mockingbird, a secret CIA campaign to spread disinformation and false stories during the cold war, by paying off editors at most mainstream news outlets.

And last, but certainly not least is Operation Hollywood, propaganda on steroids. At At least since the WWII, the interests of Hollywood and the agenda of Washington and corporate America have consistently coincided, sometimes artfully, sometimes blatantly. Has Hollywood had any positive influence? Undoubtedly, however, the positive influence is much more obvious than the often concealed negative influence.

Empire: Hollywood and the War Machine:

Empire examines the symbiotic relationship between the movie industry and the military-industrial complex.

War is hell, but for Hollywood it provides the perfect dramatic setting against which courageous heroes win the hearts and minds of the public. The Pentagon recognises the power of these celluloid dreams and encourages Hollywood to create heroic myths; to rewrite history and provide willing young patriots for its wars. In return, Hollywood receives access to billions of dollars worth of military kit, from helicopters to aircraft carriers. So is it a case of art imitating life, or a sinister force using art to influence life and death and the public perception of both?


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