The Conspiracy Theory Is True: Agents Infiltrate Websites Intending To "Manipulate, Deceive, And Destroy Reputations"

Tyler Durden's picture

In the annals of internet conspiracy theories, none is more pervasive than the one speculating paid government plants infiltrate websites, social network sites, and comment sections with an intent to sow discord, troll, and generally manipulate, deceive and destroy reputations. Guess what: it was all true.

And this time we have a pretty slideshow of formerly confidential data prepared by the UK NSA equivalent, the GCHQ, to confirm it, and Edward Snowden to thank for disclosing it. The messenger in this case is Glenn Greenwald, who has released the data in an article in his new website,, which he summarizes as follows: "by publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself." Call it Stasi for "Generation Internet."

Greenwald's latest revelation focuses on GCHQ’s previously secret unit, the JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group).

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today:

Other tactics aimed at individuals are listed here, under the revealing title “discredit a target”:

Then there are the tactics used to destroy companies the agency targets:

Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

Greenwald's punchline is disturbing, and is sure to make paradnoid conspiracy theorists crawl even deeper into their holes for one simple reason: all of their worst fears were true all along.

No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption.


The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”

At this point Greenwald takes a detour into a well-known topic: Cass Sunstein. Who is Cass Sunstein? Recall: "Obama Picks Cass Sunstein (America’s Goebbels?) To Serve On NSA Oversight Panel."

Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.


Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House, one that – while disputing key NSA claims – proceeded to propose many cosmetic reforms to the agency’s powers (most of which were ignored by the President who appointed them).

But while until now there was speculation that Sunstein's policies had been implemented, there was no proof. That is no longer the case:

... these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets. Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls “false flag operations” and emails to people’s families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

What is perhaps most disturbing is the level of detail these modern day Stasi agents engage in, paradoxically proposing social subversion without realizing they themselves would be susceptible to just that. And all it would take is one whistleblower with a conscience:

Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack”, while dissecting how human being can be manipulated using “leaders”, “trust, “obedience” and “compliance”:

The documents lay out theories of how humans interact with one another, particularly online, and then attempt to identify ways to influence the outcomes – or “game” it:

Greenwald's conclusion is spot on:

These agencies’ refusal to “comment on intelligence matters” – meaning: talk at all about anything and everything they do – is precisely why whistleblowing is so urgent, the journalism that supports it so clearly in the public interest, and the increasingly unhinged attacks by these agencies so easy to understand. Claims that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets are often dismissed as conspiracy theories, but these documents leave no doubt they are doing precisely that.


Whatever else is true, no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse? But to allow those actions with no public knowledge or accountability is particularly unjustifiable.

So the next time you run into someone in a chat room or a message board who sounds just a little too much like a paid government subversive... it may not be just the paranoia speaking. For the full details "why not", read the formerly confidential slideshow below.

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VD's picture

francis_sawyer was an agent but he is deaded now...


& Sunstein is one of the vilest humans to ever infect this planet...

fonzannoon's picture

But his spirit lives on.

In any event I'm a little bummed out about Snowden. Big brother is watching, and trolls are on the internet....I was hoping for a bit moar....

VD's picture

it's just another friendly reminder that there are always agents using any means necessary using divide and conquer tactics to split the community apart...this has happened here with bigoted stupidity and nefarious plants...

BlackChicken's picture

I just wish these bastards would spend as much time/energy/money actually running things right in the first place, than trying to spy on us to find out if we have figured out they're full of shit.

Freak show...

ejmoosa's picture

IF they could do that then they would not need to be doing this.....

JoeSexPack's picture

You can dig it out of the ground for $5!


Math Man

BoNeSxxx's picture

OK I admit it... I am a government shill.

Really, I believe:

  • The media is truthful and covers real news
  • The Fed is genuinely guided by the best interests of the country and the middle class
  • The military is used to keep peace
  • The Executive branch regulates corporations to keep the populace safe from corporate malfeasance
  • All wars were fought for peace, not profit
  • Vaccinations are beneficial and contain no additives
  • GMO food is regulated, tested, and we can be assured it is healthy for us to eat
  • Gold is a barbarous relic and dollar bills are real money
  • Guns are bad and the 2nd Amendment is a useless vestige of the American past
  • Etc.

The NSA won't track my activity because I am their friend and dutiful servant.

AlaricBalth's picture

Hey Folks. Look over here. Pay no attention to the posted article. Miley Cyrus Kisses Katy Perry at Bangerz Tour Concert: See the Sexy Picture.

1. Control Attention
2. Big move covers little move
3. The target looks where you look
4. Attention drops at the perceived end
5. Repetition reduces vigilance

Hey NSA. I dazzled and decoyed and stimulated multiple sensors. Where the hell is my check???

logicalman's picture

Thanks for the useful info regarding good old Miley.

If it hadn't been for you, I might have missed that.


macholatte's picture

from the Greenwald website:

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group).



Something wrong here.

He worked with NBC NEWS? General Electric owns NBC - MSNBC - CNBC and is a prime Fascist Progressive multinational.  Talk about deception! Greenwald would have more credibilty if he worked with the Onion.

I'm calling BULLSHIT !!!


johnQpublic's picture

bluecobaltagent on youtube


even sounds like a shill name doesnt it

through email i was able to trace the fucker back to fort dietrich if memory serves

been a few years

why i got off youtube 4-5 years ago

there were a few others, but it has been awhile

nice to see my suspicions backed up

theres three of them here on zh (minimum)

can we name them?


edit: do you think they goto the effort of watching what you uptick?

sometimes it taes 3-4 tries to up vote a post, at least for me

anyone else have that issue?

tenpanhandle's picture

I consistantly run into that problem.

Indian_Goldsmith's picture

What if the creator of zero hedge, after getting arrested for stock fraud, decided to work for the secret agencies, and thereby opened zero hedge... That would be a real mindfuck, no? 

chumbawamba's picture

It's all controlled opposition.  Even me.  Cass Sunstein and I trade shots on weekends.

I am Chumbawamba.

Rock On Roger's picture

I liked Francis's ramblings. Free Francis_Sawyer.

Pity Fonestar

Rock On Gold Shirt Dude


Stack On

Supernova Born's picture

Mt. Gox is offline.

Over and over and over on Bloomberg.



GetZeeGold's picture





I've got this thrill running up my leg.....what more do I need to tell you?

economics9698's picture

The Obots did that in 2008 in the Orlando Sentinel.  Fucking dumb ass names like Billy Mays, Gator Girl, and coming off as all American while writing incoherent shit.  

Bendromeda Strain's picture

Even worse than that, one of the Oathkeepers higher ups got a hidden child porn payload delivered via TOR, supposedly from a trusted acquaintance. He smelled a rat and had it cracked open forensically. He absolutely suspects official hand involvement.

sleigher's picture

That's because he was right about many things, but it isn't PC to say that or accept it.  So he has to be the stupid banned troll or whatever...

Flakmeister's picture

His own hate did him in....

gonetogalt's picture

His name was Francis Sawyer.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

The first online community I ever saw paid posters was when MMA (UFC) was just getting popular, in the early 2000s.  Some posters were just RABID supporters of the UFC's owners, no matter WHAT the criticism (rules, matchmaking, fighter pay, or any other source of controversy).

They always always always were on 'corporate's side.  So it was really quite simple to figure out they were paid posters.  And from there it was easy to figure out "If the UFC will do it..."

SilverIsKing's picture

MDB was used as a decoy to provide cover to the other .gov trolls.

American Dreams's picture

And before MDB was MDB he was Johnny Bravo, some of ya'll still remember that name I'm sure.


The front line is everywhere


Rylie's picture

I remember Leo and his Chinese solar stocks.

Man he was always good for a laugh.

UselessEater's picture

several times I have had problems voting and replying, even loading ZH........anyhoo back to topic;

Snowden, Greenwald, book deal, Omidyar, document release "trickle-drip-drip".... suspiciously(?) managed whilstleblowing, smells like Tavistock

In my book, every government and big corporation is doing this shit and buying eachothers data..... a human of the 99.999% group is purely viewed as a Consumer required to Behave and Perform according parameters that allow maximum wealth extraction, indebtedness and retrospective criminalisation... its control for profit and/or just for the sick pleasure of being able to exert control... like Soro's in his young days of joyfully confiscating (jewish) peoples homes and property.

Mostly I do not trust this PR campaign against Americans for spying etc -no one is surprised or ignorant of the MIC, but it seems too convenient to be cultivating so much more distrust/dislike of the USA as we head into a global economic (war) crisis that could possibly convince sheeple we need a global currency, global central bank, global tax, global centralised planning, etc

The US may have been corrupted by TPTB but I'm buggered if I want the IMF and UN running my world.... if the USA goes, so do most of little developed nations like Aust/ thinks Snowden is a chess piece in a grander game


Welder's picture

Yes Sir, you nailed it. USA too must implode in order to cede sovereignty to the NWO. The NATIONAL STATE has served it's purpose and it's beeing pulled down by it's creators (their heirs, actually), for it's no longer needed.

Welder's picture

Sorry for the DP (that's Double-Posting you pervs !)

Blano's picture

Yes I have that issue and it's on both my laptop and desktop, so I know it's not me.

MythicalFish's picture

The JTRIG logo is a black widow?? Is it run by Johnnie English?

JRev's picture

I'm happy to report that your BS meter is more than likely operating properly. It still baffles me that Greenwald, Snowden, et. al. can (supposedly) sit on a treasure trove of classified documents, release less than 1% of them, and still be considered the darlings of the "alternative" media. Jeremy Scahill is another one of these questionable characters, masquerading as "truth tellers" only to regurgitate the low-hanging fruit already picked and distributed by the likes of actual researchers.


Honestly, it was Sibel Edmonds' work on the NSA-Greenwald-PayPal-Bilderberg connection that really got the gears turning for me. Greenwald's childish response to her series on the matter made him show his true colors. I've had questions about it since day one, as mainstream outlets covering legitimate dissent is a virtual impossibility, but never something so concrete as the stuff BFP has put out.

phaedrus1952's picture

I have said from day one - including numerous postings on this site - that this whole Snowden affair is very peculiar.  There should be no doubt as to the validity of all the released info - indeed it is almost trivial when Greenwald himself stated months ago that Snowden could "bring the government down in minutes"  with full disclosure.

Something much bigger is afoot.

chumbawamba's picture

I already called it when Snowden first hit the scene.  No one got it when I told them they were being "snowed in", i.e. a "whitewash".  It was bullshit from the start.  If Snowden was really as he is portrayed in the MSM he'd have been dead before he leaked the first memo.  No one gets on the MSM unless they are either a shill or a patsy.

Anyway, this, too, will be ignored by most people, who will sleepwalk on, not realizing they are still being played.

I am Chumbawamba.

it aint easy's picture

Limited hangouts have such easy giveaways. Becoming a media darling from day one in all globalist controlled media is really all you need to concerning Snowden.

Raging Debate's picture

Phaedrus1952 - It is pretty plain to me. In 1992 President Bush claimed we are creating a new world order. Global government from an evolutionary standpoint is inevitable, I realized this as leadership did then. I took Bush at his word and yawned. Russia said "No, there will be a multipolar world". I took them at their word and said "Hmm Ok wonder how the final evolutionary conflict will play out?" Then I got back to my own toils.
Here is the problem: I do not subscribe to the thinking the ends justifies the means.

Leadership lost my consent when they started robbing the little guy to fund NWO. As an astute commentator stated, imagine if leadership put this much energy of spying into doing it right?

What Snowden is revealing is not the intent of leadership which may have been well intended, it is the processes of what I explained above about the means they are attempting to fund it. I subscribe to the Marine Corps practice of the concept of honor, that no man be left behind.

As for the proud Russian bear, they are coming around to the idea of trade over force but the West is trying to push them too fast. They suffered a lot more damage in WWII then Stalin who even Putin says made big mistakes murder Russia's intelligensia. I am not a Putin zealot as some here. He may overreact out of pride and he is a nationalist.

I at times have been guilty of justifying the means to an end behavior. It is poor, sloppy, lazy and selfish. We as a species should set up global war games on the Internet where each country gets an even amount of resources and see who comes out on top over say a five year span. The solution sets that come out of it (and negatives) would be profoundly useful in the real world and let's face it, we all have one thing in common: We all love entertainment. I want to wrestle Putin on pay-per view. If we want to avoid WW3 we need far more entertaining methods of channeling competition and in the digital age why isn't some bright innovators and capitalists funding such? Owning "stuff" and competing for it will soon be a total waste of time. As in literally and within some of our lifetimes.

Raging Debate's picture

Macholatte - The revolution began when the Supreme Court ruled corporations are persons. The general public has withdrawn consent. People that highlight flaws in models (that boil down to larceny and theft) and suggest better models will join up with bigger entities that took lo ger to come around.

The problem at times with pure libertarian ideology (it is what is strived for but too many hypocrites to often work for long) is that the concept of justice and revenge are often intertwined. This can cause blinders to be put on.

I remember Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform calling me a sellout when I was willing to work with a couple retired CB's and Irish Central that also did not approve of continuing Laissez Faire and Corporatism. I think Quinn means well, but is influenced by confirmation bias.

Best to be ready to forgive quickly and celebrate those who have a change of heart and are making atonement than shame them. This is not easy, I do better at practicing this but I'll admit it still takes a bit of effort.

I'll take the government sanctioned version of revolution it being a war of words and resources over a physical battleground any day of the week. I hate wasting time to change course but the good news is that man has evolved a bit from practicing less hot wars and more soft ones. At times our species behavior is still unacceptable, I cannot condone robbery. Period.
The shame is we are less than 50 years of our final evolution.

Leaders should look at science, the innovation of the quantum computer. While nearly all tools are used to decrease the difficulty of obtaining resources (trade) sometimes the obvious most beneficial application can be overlooked. I'm going somewhere and I feel it important so bear with me.

In the 15th century Europe wants to increase trade with Asia. So inventions in ship building and Galileo's science of relativity and observation of planets/sun tells man we won't fall off the earth if we sailed West to increase trade. The discovery of North and South America was worth say 100,000 tons of gold instead of 100 they had expected in increased trade! Plus they got the 100 tons from the Mayans immediately who viewed gold as trinkets and their understanding of science far more valuable (and the Mayans were right).

The quantum computer was built to crunch many billions of variables simultaneously compared to billions of raw calculations. But like stumbling into America, the quantum computer punches holes into the fourth dimension. Why spend 100-200 years solving millions of problems when we can go there? Why go there? Because every theory states that all the information about our entire universe MUST be there. We're already inserting intelligence in energy units to go to 4D and back here to 3D. Time to create probes that are launched and returned near instantly because time is accelerated in 4D. Next, after that portion of our DNA can be inserted like a seed (seeding is how life began and operates here) and it would grow in our time near instantly and our new evolved 'selves' would simply tell the rest of us what we want to know. We're collectively still wasting time when mankind has already won the race.

Those of scientific minds that want to speak email me at . Come one and all .gov and track me. The sooner you do, the faster you'll help us all succeed. Evolution guarantees it.
God bless you all. Yesterdays religion is todays science. Religions were right about immortality (at least next evolutionary version of it) and they were right material things are a waste of time in 4D. Read up on the quantum computer bright minds and how it operates. The first was in Cambridge MA, then Canadian company commercialized it, Dell has bought a few. Did ya know that? Bet most of you now having thoughts of 4D and 5D didnt. In the end, the humorous thing is that we'll get a chuckle when we realize a device was never needed to enter 4D.

Stackers's picture

Brings the Julian Asange "rape" prosecution to mind. That whole things wreaks of fabricated conspiracy

disabledvet's picture

I wonder what the Christian Coalition's "family values type" stance is on all this.

hard to imagine at one time this country passed a Constitutional Amendment creating "Prohibtion."

Perhaps "Constitutional Amendment Inhibition" is in order here as "girls gone wild" seems to be the objective here..."and she was such a nice girl when she was growing up."

TBT or not TBT's picture

Family values beat the shit out of statist values.

Colonel Klink's picture

Like this: 

Abusive priest gets disability, support from Twin Cities archdiocese

balolalo's picture


Ever wonder why lots of good comment threads on prescient articles seem to break down into moronic shit throwing?