Rage, rage against the dying of the light!
- Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
“Tourists watch the USS Mahan, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, as it heads out to the Atlantic Ocean…”
Tourists watch the USS Mahan.
That picture and the associated caption were clipped from a March 25th, 2014, Yahoo! News article about a shooting involving the US Navy destroyer Mahan in Norfolk, Virginia. The original article was a Reuters wire service post. The picture is attributed to photojournalist Chip East and the full Reuters caption reads,
“Tourists watch the USS Mahan, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, as it heads out to the Atlantic Ocean through the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel complex near Virginia Beach, Virginia in this file photo from September 16, 2003. REUTERS/Chip East.”
Tourists watch the USS Mahan.
The thing is … that’s not USS Mahan.
That’s not even an Arleigh Burke class destroyer.
While a Burke’s radar minimizing profile might be confused for other similar warships, the massive blockhouse superstructure of the vessel in that picture is utterly distinctive and absolutely unique and no other vessel in the world resembles that class of ship, certainly not the Mahan. To somebody who knows fighting ships, the silhouette of the vessel in that picture is impossible to mistake.
In point of fact, the ship in question isn’t even a destroyer, it is a US Navy Ticonderoga class Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser. And to be specific, the vessel in the picture is USS Vella Gulf.
Now, even though the two types of ships are distinctly different, you can sort of understand the confusion. USS Vella Gulf is a cruiser, designated CG-72. USS Mahan is a destroyer, DDG-72. Similar hull numbers, but completely different classes of warship.
But does it matter? That mistake?
Consider this number 32:
and this number 32.
While both pictures are of tall male African-American athletes, if you were writing an article involving infamous Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson, but you posted a picture of Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard Magic Johnson, well, you’d be all kinds of wrong. Just like cruisers and destroyers, the two are not interchangeable.
So, okay, Reuters, one of the world’s most trusted and reliable news sources, got the ship’s identity wrong. So what? It’s infuriating to a sailor, sure, but c’mon, a warship is a warship, isn’t it? And really what makes one a cruiser and one a destroyer? And does it really matter to the average citizen? Really?
It’s just a stock image. Cruiser, destroyer, football, water polo, whatever, it’s an easy mistake to make, right?
But if you can’t get the easy stuff right, why should I believe you when it comes to the difficult things?
Why indeed. But they do, believe. Believe without justification, without fact checking, without critical thought.
And that, right there, is the whole damned problem.
This, my sparkly electronic friends, is the Information Age, and sloppy journalism and misinformation have consequences.
Confusing one picture with another is, sometimes, a small error, an innocent mistake, but those mistakes ripple outward, growing larger and larger. Over time those falsehoods, some accidents, many deliberate, left uncorrected create an alternate reality, one that bears little resemblance to the real world.
In a nation increasingly lacking in critical thinking skills and a healthy reasonable skepticism, that false reality is fast becoming indistinguishable from a dangerous and highly contagious form of mental illness.
Take a look at this:
That’s a screen clipping from Sarah Palin’s Facebook page dated April 9, 2014.
Palin declares “[US] Attorney General Eric Holder thinks government should force gun owners to wear special ‘identifying’ bracelets…” and then, as usual, being Palin, she self-righteously assumes the role of Lady Liberty, wraps herself in rabblerousing rhetoric and her dogmatic religion, and then proclaims herself defender of truth, justice, and the American way. Bring it on, Holder!
And the crowd goes wild.
Also, I learned the symbol of the Founding Fathers was some sort of skull and crossed bones Pirate Jesus deal, and that Swarovski Crystals – leaded glass made in Austria, birthplace of Hitler! Who’s palling around with terrorists now? Huh? Huh? (Note: tongue firmly in cheek here) – are somehow, um, hmmm, uh, see, ur … well, you know, shit, ‘Merica! USA! USA! Okay, I admit that I honestly have no idea what the significance of the crystals are. A web search provided no enlightenment on the matter. When I casually asked an evangelical fundamentalist about it, I got an earful of “witchcraft” and something about “not a real Christian” accompanied by a lot of spittle. I asked social media, but none of the thousands of people who follow me on Facebook or Twitter could provide any concrete answer. Beats the hell out of me why Palin thinks her fetish for trashy costume jewelry was an important point when laying down a challenge to the United States government.
But I digress.
Palin’s hollow bravado was “liked” more than 40,000 times and shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook alone. More than 4000 people commented and the vast, vast majority enthusiastically agreed with Palin’s bluster. People like Laura Kenway who prayed that “God give us the wisdom to discern against the evils faced everyday [sic]” and Michael Anderson who railed against the “socialist regiem [sic].”
But see, here’s the thing, the Attorney General said no such thing.
Eric Holder never suggested that gun owners be forced to wear identifying marks of any kind. Never.
Palin, who specifically invoked her religion – a religion that explicitly and in no uncertain terms forbids her from bearing false witness – falsely condemns the Attorney General for something he never said. And, not to be pedantic or anything, but it would appear that Palin worshipper Laura Kenway’s plea to her deity went unanswered, since Kenway is obviously lacking in the wisdom, god given or otherwise, to discern the difference between that particular “sin” and truth. Now it may appear that I’m digressing again, but that lack of critical thinking and healthy skepticism is a big part of my point.
Here’s the thing: Palin didn’t come up with this bit of paranoid gibberish on her own. Predictably she got it from her erstwhile employers, specifically from an article posted on Fox News Politics on April 8th (the day before Palin’s post) entitled Holder: We Want To Explore Gun Tracking Bracelets.
Say what you like about Fox News, they know their audience. Eric Holder is to conservatives what the dinner bell was to Pavlov’s dog and people like Palin can always be counted on to bark furiously and run around in frantic circles biting at their collective tails whenever the Attorney General’s name comes up.
As is the usual tactic with Fox, the title is a form of psychological warfare, information manipulation – specifically a technique called “Insertion” used to subconsciously imprint a concept on a target population, or reinforce an existing concept. The title is a logical fallacy, that is it begs the question, it’s a self-contained form of circular reasoning, i.e. Holder wants to take away your Second Amendment rights. How do you know he wants to take away your guns? Because he’s Eric Holder. ‘Round and ‘round, bark bark bark, lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.
But you have to give Fox their due, they are very, very good at this. The article is careful to provide the barest modicum of Holder’s actual statement without in any way justifying the explicit accusation in the title – and Fox doesn’t have to. The title is the whole message. Fox has a very low opinion of its audience (and if Palin is any example, justifiably so) and it knows that most won’t bother to read past the title. You can tell the tactic is effective by looking at the quantitative indicators, what military tacticians call “Measure of Effect (MOE).” In this case, an immediate and easily computed MOE would be 10,000 shares on social media from one source alone. And you could break that down into whatever degree of resolution you want, i.e. number of shares that mindlessly accept the information without comment or objection, number that embellish the information without prompting, estimate of total views based on total number of interlinked Facebook ‘Friends,’ and the part that pays: the number of Fox News page-loads resulting directly from social media or from related search topics.
Long term MOE is, of course, the unshakable conviction that Eric Holder – and by extension, Barack Obama – are coming to take your guns.
The bottom line is this: with this article and many others exactly like it, the concept that Fox (or rather Fox’s hidden Kingmaker) wants, i.e. OMG! Liberals! Liberals are coming to take your guns! has been effectively inserted into the target audience and has become self-reinforcing and self-propagating and no amount of logic, reason, or fact can displace it.
The actual article is just window dressing – and you can test that for yourself.
This is propaganda in its most effective form.
And yes, this was my primary military specialty, Information Warfare, I literally helped write the book on it (or rather the Warfare Publication). I know it when I see it.
In reality, of course, far from tattooing gun owners with The Mark of the Beast, the Attorney General was actually discussing various ideas currently being examined by the Department of Justice to help reduce gun violence.
Appearing before a House subcommittee, Holder was describing technology that would render a gun inoperable by anyone except for its lawful owner. Here’s what Eric Holder actually said:
"I think that one of the things that we learned when we were trying to get passed those common sense reforms last year, Vice President Biden and I had a meeting with a group of technology people and we talked about how guns can be made more safe. By making them either through finger print identification, the gun talks to a bracelet or something that you might wear, how guns can be used only by the person who is lawfully in possession of the weapon. It's those kinds of things that I think we want to try to explore so that we can make sure that people have the ability to enjoy their Second Amendment rights, but at the same time decreasing the misuse of weapons that lead to the kinds of things that we see on a daily basis.”
Note that Holder’s comments are actually quoted in the Fox News article, but if you look at the comments from readers underneath the article – and at Palin’s knee jerk response – you’ll see that, like I said above, nobody reads them. Or if they do, they read the comments with an eye already willingly biased by the title, exactly as Fox intended.
But in point of fact, Holder wasn’t talking about branding gun owners, he was talking about a safety device, could be a bracelet, a ring, a fob, etc, that needs to be in close proximity to its associated gun in order for that weapon to fire. Alternately, as fictionally portrayed in the most recent James Bond movie, Skyfall, the gun could have a fingerprint or other biometric sensor, coded to a specific user or users. That way, if somebody steals your gun they can’t fire it – and it would make fencing stolen weapons much less profitable, and perhaps thus reduce gun thefts such as the recent spate of home robberies plaguing my own neighborhood here in the Alaskan Matsu. With such safeguards, if somebody were to get your gun away from you (say like in the recent fatal shooting of a Navy Sailor by an intruder on Navy Base Norfolk which involved the crew of the ship I mentioned in the introduction to this essay), they can’t turn the gun against you. And such a lockout device would prevent a child from discharging the weapon should they come across it accidentally (not that any patriotic 2nd Amendment worshipping, flag waving, Nugent loving, NRA trained gun owner would, you know, leave their loaded gun laying around where any kid could just pick it up – not more than, you know, a couple thousand times a year, I mean).
Gun manufacturers have been exploring such safeguards on their own. Not so much out of altruism, but out of self-interest.
Inclusion of such devices moves the burden of responsibility back to the gun owner and away from the manufacturer – and thus reduces the manufacturer’s legal liability. Law enforcement has been interested in such devices for a long time, for the safety of their own personnel, especially in places such as prisons or for cops that routinely have to operate in close quarters to the public. The thing is that from a manufacturing standpoint the lockout needs to be reliable, cost effective, and difficult to circumvent. This technology has been in development for decades, hell, Smith & Wesson showed us some prototype lockout technology when the Navy sent me to train at Smith & Wesson’s Range Master Academy in Springfield back in 1993. The state of the art has advanced considerably since those first clunky attempts. RFID lockout technology is available from German manufacturer Armatix right now, in their iP1 22LR pistol. Is it feasible for large scale use now? Is it affordable? Is it reliable? Is it ready for primetime? That’s what Holder was talking about, and why he told the House committee the DOJ was requesting $382.1 million in increased spending for fiscal year 2014, which would include funding for the exploration of gun safety technology grants and which would be used as financial incentives to gun manufacturers for technologies that are "proven to be reliable and effective."
Yes, that’s correct, Holder wasn’t demanding that gun owners be belled like the proverbial cat, he was actually asking Congress to give money to gun makers.
I’ll just pause for a moment so you can let that soak in while you review Palin’s reaction to a completely manufactured outrage.
Note that hardcore conservative gun rights advocates, such as Palin, are vehemently opposed to such “smart gun” technology, seeing it as some vast conspiracy to, well, I dunno, violate their right to kill people accidentally, I guess.
Eric, you can replace my identifying bracelets with your government marker when you pry them off my cold dead wrists. And, Eric, “you don’t want to go there,” Buddy.
Except that Holder didn’t “go there.” Holder never said anything about “forcing gun owners to wear special identifying bracelets.” He never said anything whatsoever about a “government marker.”
Cliven Bundy in Nevada needs you! God Bless America and Damn the Socialist [Regime].
And there you have it, the whole thing, from birth to grave: a) The Attorney General makes a benign, routine request for funds, asking Congress to address a chronic problem that kills more Americans every year than died in the 911 attack and the subsequent wars, b) a news agency deliberately manipulates his testimony to play on the artificially manufactured fears of its audience and thereby create an exploitable (i.e. profitable) issue where none actually exists, c) which in turn causes low-intellect pundits and political celebrities to predictably bleat hysterical bravado in order to score points with their fanatical cognitively-challenged followers, which is then d) taken as valid information by tens of thousands of people in confirmation of their paranoid conspiracy theories and retransmitted to their friends who then share it with their friends and so on until it becomes a permanent part of an altered reality for a significant fraction of the population and thereby ensures the news network a dedicated audience in perpetuity.
As much as Sarah Palin likes to think she’s a political force to be reckoned with, she’s nothing more than a enthusiastic dupe in a larger process who can always be counted on to reflexively bark as needed.
And Sarah Palin has got nothing on Alex Jones.
A while back Alex Jones’ paranoia-porn fetish site, Infowars, posted a piece entitled: 30 Examples of Why America Is No Longer A Free Country. The post wasn’t really an article and made no actual attempt to discuss the title, rather it was just a page of links to mostly other Infowars pieces and conspiracy sites such as Prison Planet in an orgy of self-gratification - that’s the hallmark of this kind of thing, circular reasoning, the references are almost always just links back to itself like the aforementioned dog chasing its tail.
The post begins:
The nanny state is no longer just on steroids, it has turned into the Incredible Hulk as collectivism, pernicious bureaucracy, regulation, mass surveillance and outright tyranny runs wild across the country.
Outright tyranny. Running wild. Across the country. Like the Hulk. Ook! Ook!
Big Green Tyranny.
In support of that statement, the post offers up links to various panicky screeds about how parents are being jailed for letting their kids play outside, big government’s war on lemonade stands, compulsory recycling and the Green Police, various Department of Justice and Obama administration edicts that label good God fearing patriots as terrorists, the various outrages of the TSA, the various outrages of the EPA, the various outrages of NSA, “fluoride poisoned” tap water, drones, more drones, still more drones, and every overblown feverish fear you’d care to imagine.
If you like your paranoia concentrated to triple espresso strength, this is the place.
Let’s look at a sample. Here’s one of the “30 Examples of why America is no longer a free country:”
- Earlier this year we reported on how the FBI was telling businesses to treat people who use cash to pay for a cup of coffee as potential terrorists.”
Say what? The FBI instructed businesses to treat people who pay for a cup of coffee with cash as terrorists?
The FBI says people who pay for a drink with cash should be regarded as terrorists?
Just for paying in cash?
For a cup of coffee?
Oh, why yes, yes that does sound like something the Federal Bureau of Intimidation would do! Why it’s an outrage! And outrage! How dare those fascist bastards treat Americans like terrorists! Government run amok! Amok! Freedom is dead in America! Ook! Ook! Bark! Bark! Bark!
Clicking on the link takes you down the rabbit hole to, naturally, another Infowars article titled:
FBI: Paying Cash For a Cup of Coffee a ‘Potential Indicator of Terrorist Activity’
Note the format, it’s exactly the same as the previous Fox News example: FBI says conservatives are terrorists! How do we know it’s true? FBI. Duh.
From the Infowars article:
An FBI advisory aimed at Internet Cafe owners instructs businesses to report people who regularly use cash to pay for their coffee as potential terrorists.
The flyer, issued under the FBI’s Communities Against Terrorism (CAT) program, lists examples of “suspicious activity” and then encourages businesses to gather information about individuals and report them to the authorities.
Indeed, the flyer aimed at Internet Cafe owners characterizes customers who “always pay cash” as potential terrorists.
The article goes on to say that the vast majority of innocent patriotic citizens who use internet cafes pay in cash. Because who pays for a $2 cup of coffee with a credit card?
I think the author was mixing up internet café with coffee shop, even so I’d sure like to know where it is that I can get a large latte with internet access for $2, because I’d be writing this essay there and I don’t care if the FBI does put me on the No-Fly list.
But, again, I digress.
The article goes on to describe additional assaults on our freedoms:
Other examples of suspicious behavior include using a “residential based Internet provider” such as AOL or Comcast, the use of “anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address” (these are routinely used by mobile web users to bypass public Internet filters), “Suspicious communications using VOIP,” and “Preoccupation with press coverage of terrorist attack” (this would apply to the vast majority of people who work in the news or political blogging industry).
Searching for information about “police” or “government” is also listed as a potential indication of terrorism, as is using a computer to “obtain photos, maps or diagrams of transportation, sporting venues, or populated locations,” which would apply to virtually anyone who uses Google Maps or Google Earth.
People who may wish to keep private the contents of a personal email or an online credit card purchase by attempting to”shield the screen from view of others” are also characterized as potential terrorists.
The article then describes the final outrage: America has become a fascist state like Nazi Germany where citizens are encouraged to spy on each other and report honest god fearing patriots to the FBI as terrorists (after gathering information on the suspect such as license plate numbers, names, ethnicity, and languages spoken).
Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?
Sounds just like something Obama would do, doesn’t it? Sure it does, especially if you already believe he’s out to get you.
The FBI says people who pay for a cup of coffee with cash should be regarded as potential terrorists and you should report them to the government.
Fascism! Gestapo! Ook! Ook! Bark! Bark!
But, see, the thing is that’s not what the FBI said. At all. Not even close.
And in fact, the FBI didn’t say it.
Here’s one of the actual flyers. I couldn’t tell you how many Internet cafés this actually ended up in, but type “Communities against terrorism” into Google’s image search and you’ll find it plastered on every anti-government, patriot, and conspiracy website worth its yellow-eyed paranoia:
If you can’t read that, you can view a larger version in PDF format here.
Look at the document carefully. Carefully. It’s supposed to be from the federal government.
I’m sure you noticed it right away. Of course you did.
Any document put out by the US federal government has a Government Printing Office index number, typically in the bottom right-hand corner.
Do you see such an index number on this document?
No? Well, that’s because it wasn’t issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Despite the fact that the flyer is titled with official looking seals from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (the state/community assistance division of the Department of Justice) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the information outlined in the document is indeed based on common Counter-Terrorism guidelines, it’s not actually put out by either of those agencies.
This flyer is, in fact, a product of a joint state/city initiative – specifically the City of Los Angeles’ Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC).
And if you look at the JRIC email address on the flyer, www.jric.org, you’ll note that it’s not a .gov address. Because JRIC isn’t a federal agency, nor is it run by the FBI – though JRIC does partner with federal agencies, including the FBI, along with dozens of other state and city agencies.
JRIC was established in 2006 as a cooperative effort between federal, state, and local law enforcement, fire fighters, emergency services, and public safety agencies to “centralize the intake, analysis, synthesis, and appropriate dissemination” of terrorism-related threat intelligence for the greater Los Angeles area and the Southern California region. In 2010, they incorporated counter-narcotics intelligence operations for the same area – being as narcotics trafficking is a major problem in this area and typically carried out by criminal entities that are little different from actual terrorist organizations, and may in fact actually mask terrorist operations. The center serves as Southern California’s central clearing house for intelligence relating to crime, terrorism, and public safety. It incorporates local, state, and federal information into what’s commonly referred to as “fusion intelligence.”
According to their mission statement:
The JRIC area of responsibility includes the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. Covering nearly 40,000 square miles, and home to more than 18.5 million people, the region contains nationally critical assets and key resources whose smooth functioning directly affect the day-to-day health of the US economy, including national supply chains, logistics backbones, and energy security.
Remember the aftermath of 911? Remember all those Congressional commissions and all those think tank studies? Some, such as the Official Congressional 9/11 Commission Report blamed the FAA. Some studies blamed the CIA, some the FBI, some the Pentagon and the White House, and some blamed local law enforcement. The one thing all of those studies had in common, the one thing they all agreed on, was that the various and multitude information gathering and intelligence agencies of the US and her allies didn’t work well together. The FBI, CIA, NSA, DIA, DEA, FAA (there was no TSA or Department of Homeland Security then, just hundreds of public and private outfits providing varying degrees of airline security), Immigration, Border Patrol, Navy Intelligence, Army Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, and the various and disparate federal, state, and local law enforcement and information agencies – there was no process or incentive to make these organizations work together, and so 19 terrorists managed to slip onto four airplanes and kill nearly 3000 people and destroy billions upon billions of dollars in property and infrastructure, not to mention precipitate two wars and numerous other military actions that killed hundreds of thousands more and cost trillions upon trillions of dollars.
In the aftermath of 911, remember the one overriding question? The one question every single America demanded to know?
It turned out that we had all the information before the attack.
It turned out that we knew about those guys long before September 11th, 2001.
It turned out that a number of intelligence analysts were concerned that something like 911 was coming.
So how come we didn’t stop it? That’s the question.
We didn’t stop it because all that information was in bits and pieces scattered across a dozen intelligence agencies. The information was never combined or shared, and therefore never reached actionable attention over the thousands of other threats we face every single day.
The one thing that we learned in the smoldering aftermath of 911 was that our intelligence agencies have to do a better job of working together at the local, state, and federal levels. They all have to be in the same room together. And they have to operate at the state or regional level, just like all these anti-big government folks have been demanding.
The JRIC, and 77 similar regional facilities across the nation are a direct result of that lesson, they are fusion centers at the city and regional level.
But there was something else we learned from 911.
It’s not enough for just the professionals to exchange information. They also have to listen to regular citizens, the people on the street and in the coffee shops and on the internet forums and in the churches and the mosques, those folks who see something suspicious but have no idea who to tell.
That’s what this flyer is, guidelines for the average citizen, for Americans who are concerned with the protection of their neighborhoods and towns and cities and airplanes and trains and schools and country. This isn’t about turning Americans into Gestapo informers, it’s not about denying anybody their rights, it’s not about fascism or taking away liberty and freedom. It’s about people doing their duty as citizens to help protect their fellows from another 911, from another Pearl Harbor, from another Oklahoma Federal Building, from another Columbine.
When I was the Intelligence officer onboard USS Valley Forge (a sister ship to USS Vella Gulf, mentioned above. Why, yes, I do indeed know a Ticonderoga class cruiser when I see one, I served on five of them), in addition to my highly skilled and motivated intelligence team – men who were specially trained in various facets of military intelligence – my biggest asset was the ship’s general crew. Those crewmen didn’t have the security clearance to know the bigger picture or to participate in the actual intelligence work my team did every day, but they were eyeballs and brains. My team trained the crew to be part of the process, to actively help protect the ship and the fleet, to pay attention and look for the unusual in foreign ports or pier-side or out on the open sea. And they did. They were smart men and women who had a vested interest in defending their ship and their country and they provided valuable early warning on countless occasions, which then helped steer my dedicated specialists in the right direction. That’s one of the reasons Valley Forge achieved one of the highest force protection ratings ever awarded by the Navy. And that’s why Valley Forge was selected as the CNO’s Intelligence Collector of the year for 2003 and why every ship in the fleet looked to us as the benchmark. Asking citizens to report suspicious activity, even if it turns out to be nothing, is no different. How many school shootings have been prevented because students took it upon themselves to tell a teacher when they heard rumors of a hit list or potential shooter? Does that mean those students are Nazi stooges? Well, does it? Or does it make them responsible citizens? Same thing.
Now, go back and look at what that flyer actually says:
People who might be up to no good, you know, like the 911 hijackers who were living in the US and doing these very things, people like Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols, people like Major Nidal Malik Hasan, might exhibit some of these indicators:
* Are overly concerned about privacy, attempts to shield the screen from view of others
* Always pay cash or use credit card(s) in different name(s)
* Apparently use tradecraft: lookout, blocker or someone to distract employees
* Act nervous or suspicious behavior inconsistent with activities
* Are observed switching SIM cards in cell phone or use of multiple cell phones
* Travel illogical distance to use Internet Café
Activities on Computer could include:
* Evidence of a residential based internet provider (signs on to Comcast, AOL, etc.)
* Use of anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address
* Suspicious or coded writings, use of code word sheets, cryptic ledgers, etc.
* Encryption or use of software to hide encrypted data in digital photos, etc.
* Suspicious communications using VOIP or communicating through a PC game
* Download content of extreme/radical nature with violent themes
* Gather information about vulnerable infrastructure or obtain photos, maps or diagrams of transportation, sporting venues, or populated locations
* Purchase chemicals, acids, hydrogen peroxide, acetone, fertilizer, etc.
And people engaged in terrorist activities might download files with “how-to” content such as:
* Content of extreme/radical nature with violent themes
* Anarchist Cookbook, explosives or weapons information
* Military tactics, equipment manuals, chemical or biological information
* Terrorist/revolutionary literature
* Preoccupation with press coverage of terrorist attacks
* Defensive tactics, police or government information
* Information about timers, electronics, or remote transmitters / receivers
All of these things, taken together or in part, are indicators of possible terrorist activity. Even if you’ve never had professional intelligence , counter-terrorism, or law enforcement training you know that, or you damned well should because we Americans have had enough terrorist attacks over the last two decades that every single citizen, just like every Israeli and every Russian and every European, should damned well recognize these things as possible indicators.
- Earlier this year we reported on how the FBI was telling businesses to treat people who use cash to pay for a cup of coffee as potential terrorists.”
Is that what this flyer says? Is it? Really.
Does the government think that anybody who pays for a cup of coffee with cash must be a terrorist?
Is this, right here, the tolling death knell of freedom?
Well no, not unless you’re an idiot, not unless you’re a hysterical unhinged paranoid, not unless you cherry pick the words specifically to support your conspiracy theory. And certainly not if you look at what else the flyer actually says:
Some of the activities, taken individually, could be innocent and must be examined by law enforcement professionals in a larger context to determine whether there is a basis to investigate. The activities outlined on this handout are by no means all-inclusive but have been compiled from a review of terrorist events over several years.
It is important to remember that just because someone’s speech, actions, beliefs, appearance, or way of life is different; it does not mean that he or she is suspicious.
Each indictor listed above, is by itself, lawful conduct or behavior and may also constitute the exercise of rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. In addition, there may be a wholly innocent explanation for conduct or behavior that appears suspicious in nature. For this reason, no single indicator should be the sole basis for law enforcement action. The totality of behavioral indicators and other relevant circumstances should be evaluated when considering any law enforcement response or action.
Every single thing that Infowars says about this subject is wrong. Demonstrably wrong. Provably wrong. They got the issuing agency wrong. They got the contents of the message wrong. They got the target of the alert wrong. They got the area of dissemination wrong. They got the intention wrong. They’re wrong. And what does that tell you about the bigger picture, the message that this article is supposed to support, 30 examples of why America is no longer a free country? The only way you get to OMG! Fascism! from this flyer is to deliberately ignore sanity and reason and a legitimate need for all free citizens to take part in the defense of their community with brains and eyes and common sense – instead of just brandishing their guns and shouting USA! USA!
If, as these same loons are wont to point out, the Founders intended every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of their country, then surely those self same Founders would expect those self same citizens to keep an eye peeled for danger. You think?
Infowars used their erroneous assumptions and agenda-driven analysis to support a larger erroneous conclusion, it’s a house of cards, and it’s just plain wrong.
Every single article and post on Infowars, every single one, is as faulty, as misleading, as incomplete, as hysterically hyperbolic, as provably wrong, as this one. Every. Single. One. Bark! Bark! Bark! Don’t take my word for it, go look for yourself – and be sure to read all the comments.
Despite being wrong, utterly wrong, Alex Jones and Infowars are widely popular and you don’t have to go any further than the comments under any article to see that just like Sarah Palin’s dogmatic followers this false information is taken as true gospel by tens of thousands of people. These people want to believe in a false reality, they want to believe in conspiracy theories, they want to believe that their government is evil, they want to believe that the biblical Anti-Christ sits in the White House and that the so-called End Times are upon us, they want to believe that the President is plotting their demise because that justifies their hatred and bigotry and their miserable unhappiness. They want to believe it. They want a revolution and they want a war and they want to shoot down those they feel unworthy of America in an orgy of bloody violence. They dream about it. They hope for it. They pray to their god for it every single day. And, no, that’s not hyperbole, that is taken directly from their comments on Infowars and Sarah Palin’s Facebook page. Again, go look for yourself, I included the appropriate links in the text.
And these things have consequences.
Which brings us at long last to Bunkerville, Nevada.
I don’t recognize them having any jurisdiction or authority over this land!
- Cliven Bundy
These people are perfectly willing to start shooting Americans, they’re just looking for an excuse.
Whether it’s a honest mistake like a mislabeled image (which Reuters refuses to correct, no matter how many times the error is pointed out), whether it’s a deliberate attempt to reshape public opinion for financial and/or political gain, or whether it’s made-up creationist mythology masquerading as science, the increasing degree of false and incorrect information that too often shapes our world has become self-perpetuating and forms the foundation of a widespread public perception that bears little resemblance to actual reality. Provably so.
And that false reality leads increasingly to a sense of persecution by a significant fraction of the population, who then consume each other in a self-cannibalizing feedback loop via media pundits and TEA parties and SuperPACs and big-moneyed manipulation and self-serving politicians until they are convinced armed upheaval and civil war are necessary in the name of Liberty.
These people have claimed for themselves the spiritual mantle of America’s Founders.
They are provably deluded. There is an enormous difference between America’s Founding Fathers and those who would rise up in a second American revolution of kooks, cranks, and conspiracy theorists – like the rabble who swarmed to Bunkerville, Nevada, last week waving their guns in defense of a career criminal and serial scofflaw.
The men who rose in rebellion against King George were highly educated critical thinkers, the most brilliant political and military minds of their time, and they regarded reality as it actually existed.
The various would-be Minutemen, like those rallying to Bunkerville today, are nothing more than hot-eyed dupes in thrall to an artificial reality that they themselves helped to create though a lack of critical thinking and a willingness to believe any lunacy no matter how ridiculous so long as it plays to their small fears.
The Founders’ grievance with the Crown was legitimate and not the product of self-spawning conspiracy theories. They truly were being denied full rights and citizenship as subjects of the monarchy. They truly were taxed without representation. They truly were without a say in their own governance. They truly did face absolutism without the right to petition the state for redress. They were forced into open rebellion only as a last resort, regretfully, and their reasons for such have withstood the analysis of history and the judgment of morality for more than two centuries.
The gun waving lunatics surrounding Bunkerville are not being oppressed in any fashion. They have lost no rights whatsoever. Though their strident complaints are manifold, they have the First Amendment right to petition the federal government for redress, they can have their day in court – and have, many times – but they refuse to respect the results of the very constitutional process they claim to revere as holy writ. None have been shot down – and, in point of fact, the only ones pointing guns and threatening violence are these so-called patriots. None have been arrested without cause. None have been tear-gassed or beaten with batons or set upon by police dogs. None have been denied due process. None have been forced to quarter soldiers in their homes. None have been denied the right to practice their religion. None have been denied access to the press. None have been denied their right to assemble. None have been subject to unreasonable search and seizure. None have been convicted of capital crimes without a grand jury, none have been subject to double jeopardy, none were forced to bear witness against themselves or were tortured into confession, none were deprived of property that they held lawful title to without just compensation. None were denied a speedy trial or access to legal counsel, or the right to confront witnesses, or judgment by a jury of their peers, or subjected to excessive bail.
The very fact that they have come from across the country unmolested and unimpeded, waving their guns and bibles at federal officers and giving voice in open contempt for government, that very fact, that one right there, succinctly demonstrates that their furious protests, stoked by the media and the pundits and professional politicians and the false reality they exist in, is utterly without merit.
They themselves are proof that they are wrong.
Hell, none of these people were even denied the right to contraception or an abortion or even healthcare if they so desired it.
Though truthfully, it being Nevada, it must be said that some of them might have been unfairly denied the right to get married, but they’d probably deny it … and, yet again, I digress.
Our forefathers took up arms specifically because they were denied the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
These people threaten bloodshed because they’re afraid of a tyranny that exists only in their fevered imagination.
America’s founders rebelled because they had no other choice.
These people have myriad choices, choices they would deny others.
And that’s the difference, right there.
These people exist in a false reality, a world of mass media hysteria created by mistakes big and small and shaped by unfounded fear writ large.
They would gleefully burn civilization to the ground and dance on the bones of the weak and unfortunate, they are the mob who with malice aforethought intend to spill the blood of their fellow countrymen, solely for their own selfish delusions.
They are barbarians at the gate.
Sooner or later they will succeed.
Unless we stop them.
Looking at the US Constitution there is a limit of 40 acres to what the government can own, and that was for harbors and forts. Sorry, I cannot find where it says that, but it is there.
- Mordecai, Constitutional “expert,” Regarding the Bundy standoff
Comment ID: 3003254, April 10, 2014 at 11:14 pm, SHTFplan.com