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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My Days Are Getting Fewer's picture

In Gold We Trust.

What else is left.

Aquarius's picture

Nothing, that you can Trust.

maybe Silver.

Ho hum


My Days Are Getting Fewer's picture



All of this has a numbing effect.


 From what well will we draw our strength?  


What words will give us hope?  

F-Tipp's picture

...with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Men sure believed it hundreds of years ago. I won't discount those words even today.

kellycriterion's picture

When you're drowning in an ocean of corruption, the blame game is beyond easy.

Notice how blame is apportioned at ZeroHero. It's all about banksters, corps, lobbyists, and of course the wealthy. Apparently even if the wealth comes from reasonable products and reasonable prices since distinctions aren't made.

The political class? Oh they're just unimportant lackeys. If we just had honest ones they would save us from the bad people and well uh, ya know ourselves. That's right 7 billion little Swedebots, or is it Danebots now, (I've heard dark rumors)coming up as ordered.

GeoffreyT's picture

I don't get that sense at all, kellyhero: if anything, I think that ZH (and the rabble like me in the comments) are very clear that the political class is the root cause of the problem... and that the banksters etc are simply responding to skewed incentives and fixing the game because the political class allows them to.


Obviously ZH is not an all-out anarchist forum, but most folks get a sense of what's up with the megalomaniacal sociopathic baby-killers that are the main contestants for political power.

GeoffreyT's picture

We anarchists don't look so 'mindlessly utopian' now, do we?


As we have been saying since the fucking 4th century BCE (specifically, Chuang-tzu: "A petty thief is put in jail. A great brigand becomes a ruler of a State"), when you put in place a system that rewards those who crave power, you wind up being ruled by psychopaths.


inb4 "Who will build the roads?" The question of infrastructure provision under anarchy was answered in about the 14th century: read a fucking book.

And last but not least: bear in mind that the folks who did Abu Ghraib and Auschwitz were not anarchists. It takes a State to perpetrate industrialised carnage, and it will never want for sociopaths to act on its orders.

logicalman's picture

Anarchism - no leader.

No leader - no war.

personal responsibility and honest exchange.

Scary for the parasitic class, hence the demonization of the word.



Johnny Cocknballs's picture

The Mongols killed more people, by far, than Hitler, without anything what could be called a 'state'.


Anarchism is the idealism of people who have little understanding of evolutionary or behavioral psychology. And it is pointless to argue with them. They have a theoretical answer to every real problem, and a dogmatic belief that anyone opposing their view merely loves government, and/or can not free their minds... reading books is great. When was the last time you read one criticizing your position?  



Idealism without Pragmatism tends to Extremism which is antithetical to the ideal.  















Martian Moon's picture

Look up Democide

Murder by state

over 250 million dead, mostly at the hands of their own state in the last century alone (University of Hawaii study for the numbers)

If the word anarchy scares you (TPTB are masters at redefining words), then call it consensual governance, or do you have a problem with that too?


Johnny Cocknballs's picture

you need to read more carefully and react less before you understand. I have considered anarchy quite carefully.

More to the point here, I at no time claimed governments did not kill people.

So why would you suggest I did if you were honestly trying to respond.  You didn't consider a thing I wrote.

Idealists don't have to, neither do the religious. 

Why consider any other argument when everyone opposed to it is mistaken, right?

No disrepect intended; but I've broken my one of my own rules - don't argue religion with the religious, don't argue philosophy with Ayn Rand devotees, and don't argue with anarchists. 

I've seen all these movies.  Believe in whatever fantasy land you wish.


Your problems will still be here when you return.

Flakmeister's picture

Johnny! Where did you pull this one from?

I must tip my cap for what is likely your most consise and insightful post...

Maybe there is hope...

Learn to clean up the white space though...

tip e. canoe's picture

when you put in place a system that rewards those who crave power, you wind up being ruled by psychopaths.

+1 for striking the root.  the eternal problem seems to be that, over time, power always seems to attract itself to itself and create a magnetic field that is greater than the sum of its parts.  if this is true, then the question is how to put in place a system that shortcircuits those connections in the first place.  

Magnum's picture

Years ago Richard Gage was touring around making a brilliant case that fires couldn't have caused WTC7 to fall.  I followed local newspaper stories in every city he went to.  Any time a paper mentioned his talk, an extraordinarily well worded person would take on the comments section using brilliant methods to severely insult/attack anyone who would make comments about Gage. No possible way these were just random hometown smart aleks.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

"an extraordinarily well worded person would take on the comments section using brilliant methods to severely insult/attack anyone who would make comments about Gage."...

Magnum can you elaborate more on that one.  Are you suggesting that this was coming from inside or outside his camp?

Magnum's picture

Ok, say Gage is going to be in Kansas City next week.  The local paper mentions it.  Comment section gets a post from some local in Kansas who says something like "gee I had no idea about this. I find it interesting".  Next thing you know some clever wordsmith (from Tel Aviv?) proceeds to rip the local boy a new ass with a mix insults using scientific terms to lend credibility. 

Happened over and over anytime a local paper mentioned (national media doesn't talk about the subject of course).


Son of Captain Nemo's picture

Yep.  That sounds about right.

I've been to a number of AE/911 events, and it's interesting what comes out prior, during and after visits where the AE crowd is asked to speak. You get individuals that will start out to give a very coherent understanding of the science and then the conversation or (what you thought the person understood) "deliberately" drifts and gets misdirected from the science facts.

Much of it is obviously used to discredit as we've seen here recently on the GW Blog regarding NYCCANs High Rise Safety Initiative as an example.  AE911 has done an excellent job over the years of sticking to it's technical base in the science peer reviewed papers and journals they have written to much to their credit. However many have said that they don't understand why it hasn't been able to reach the number of people that it should have by now.

Several factors contribute to that. Unfortunately many individuals, Americans in particular don't have the understanding of basic high school physics, or if they haven't been around it for many years lose sight of what they had previously learned.  This is probably the function of many contributing factors besides lack of formal education and relates to what this thread is all about. 

I thought one of the most important aspects of AE 911Truth's work culminated when they completed "Experts Speak Out" that brought in the clincal psychologist views of how "congnitive disonance" plays a very signifcant role in our perception of what we understand to be true when faced with opposing or contradictory beliefs which they demonstrated very well in the context of the collapse of the 3 towers.

My own experience has been the same with many professionals from different vocations and educational backgrounds. When you challenge them on the science that in many cases they know and understand to be true they will (sometimes not always) choose the fictional version of the government's narrative even if they know it is irrational because of the taboo nature of the subject matter and the idea that an elected representative could be capable of that level of deception or cover up.




Magnum's picture

Nice post. I remember well a video of a Colorado psychologist who spoke about this. Thanks for the thoughtful message.

the grateful unemployed's picture

sorry this is standard procudure, for instance you local newpaper backs obama, you write a stinging letter, full of facts well written, articulate, but the letter that gets published is by some moron, who calls obama names and misspells words. (get it so far) the paper prints one letter for one against. the same thing they do with economics experts, the smart ones who disagree with the government policy are not asked to contribute, (when dissent is needed to fill a chair its woefully poorly thought out dissent) and the supporter of government policy gets a lot of nice softball questions, the upside for being a government stooge is that with a bit of exposure you can write a book or two, and make a living out of it. you might even get a column repeating statist nonsense that will syndicate in those papers which support the president. any president really. and if you're from a presitigous college and you have the wrong opinions, they might decide to retire you next year, rather than lose a couple million in government research grants.

at the moment the tv news is a corpse which the ice has melted and nobody cares, just bury the body. meanwhile the blogosphere is the ripe young widow there for the picking.

dexter_morgan's picture

How is this prez not impeached, for Sunstein alone? Send him and his squatchy wife to gitmo.

Urban Redneck's picture

Gitmo is too nice, send their asses to general population in Angola (the prison or the country).

Judge Crater's picture

Who knows if more than half the postings here are from government guys working for agencies that hide behind acronyms.  That would mean that people besides Tyler are making money off Zero Hedge. 

Shizzmoney's picture

Journalistically, its a "scoop"; but's a moonlanding

A Lunatic's picture

This is further evidence that their "truths" are nothing more than bullshit......

SolidSnake961's picture

map the location of zh trolls as the guy earlier suggested, or at least if they are "anonymous" status

Critical Path's picture

my god can it burn to the ground yet

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

Boy is the "Disruption Operational Playbook" the divide and conquer code book of everything we've witnessed from OWS and beyond!

kchrisc's picture

Dear infiltrators,

Liberty, Article 3, Section 3 and guillotine. Discuss...


One of those guys that is aware of your crimes

fijisailor's picture

The longer the truth is suppressed the more extreme the reaction when it breaks free.  It's a basic law of physics.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

lunaticfringe's picture

Free Francis Sawyer.

Fast Twitch's picture

Suppose the whole ZH site is a honey pot, built for a certain community of opinions. One site among many used for organizing and sorting the citizenery of the planet. I have often wondered why it always says ABC Media at the bottom of every page.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


I have often wondered why it always says ABC Media at the bottom of every page.

It's called a copyright notice, pretty much standard boilerplate.

tip e. canoe's picture

news for twitch:  the entire internet is a honeypot...with 31 flavors to give you "free choice" of course.

so pick your fav flav and start lickin'.

Duc888's picture



Fast twitch:

"Suppose the whole ZH site is a honey pot, built for a certain community of opinions. One site among many used for organizing and sorting the citizenery of the planet. I have often wondered why it always says ABC Media at the bottom of every page."


So big fukken deal.  Everyone dies.  Didn't you get the memo?

Gaurden's picture

Where's a fifty mile wide asteroid when you really really need one.

A. Buttle's picture

Come and get me, douchebags!

How could anyone be afraid of a minion of someone named Cass? Him and Oblowjob are

Effeminate Nazis. 

logicalman's picture

Yes, but a large group of well armed thugs listen when these fucks tell 'em what to do.

It does make a difference.


A. Buttle's picture

So be afraid, and censor yourself. The terrorists win.

optimator's picture

What a pure waste of money.

Urban Redneck's picture

Think of the stupidity of the average person, then remember half the population is even dumber. In terms of ROI, this shit probably ranks a resounding success by .gov standards.

the grateful unemployed's picture

tonight scott pelley interviewed schmidt of google about the internet in china. do you think he mentioned once the role of american internet suppliers in helping the chinese secret police squash dissent in china. no they had a nice chat about how the internet was going to end all dictatorships. and the added paraphrase, the people in china arent' concerned about freedom of speech and press, they want to have a say in the economic policy. we aren't happy with the economic growth.

i could not believe it, well yes i could, the media is in complete control of obama central and this should scare the shit out of you ducklings, tonight they read the manifesto to the american gulag, you can complain about the economy all the want, but kiss off the bill of rights. while the news anchor smiles and collects his million dollar pay check. the 1%  are doing to your blog, what they have already done to the MSM.

the presidents plan of economic sanctions against the american middle class is a the new cold war. overthrow their tyranny.

tip e. canoe's picture

the people in china arent' concerned about freedom of speech and press, they want to have a say in the economic policy.

+1 for sussing out & reporting on the latest subliminal newsspeak.

behold the public release of v.2.0 of The Great Firewall:

Global Blanket

brought to you by The 5Is & Friends
product development : Googlag Android Group, Inc.
marketing/PR : & Partner Orgs
counsel: Orwell Huxley Heller Dick LLC
bridge financing: JP Rock & Co.

public pretty good privacy password : Jobs

EvlTheCat's picture

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"

Martian Moon's picture

Internet is a double edged sword

PTB need it to install the control grid they drool over

People have used it as a peer to peer communication tool, free from top down censored control, a new printing press

It's a race between the two sides

Get informed, spread information, while you can

logicalman's picture

It's a double edged sword, yes.

The other edge is that TPTB and business now rely on it too.

Imagine what would happen to the stock prices of Fartbook and Goggle if the web is shut down.

Use it to best advantage, knowing this.


gwar5's picture

Greenwald calls this unjustifiable, and it is. But it is also much more than that because these are acts of subversion, violence and war against their own civilian populations. These agencies were made for war. By subverting, misleading, and manipulating society into disasterous decisions it leads them into societal suicide. This is absolute, flat out treason.


These agencies are supposed to protect us from this activity, but sociopathic freaks like Cass Sunstein are performing them on us. Sure it's possible to do this stuff but nobody ever asked themselves if they should  be spending billions of our money to do it, because they're all brain damaged and don't think like that. I would add that the new CFPB (aka 'money police' run by the FED) are no doubt doing the same things, as is any other agency that has a cyber unit.


Next month Sheriff Joe Arpaio is supposed to announce new "universe shattering"  fraudulent BHO birth certificate findings as well as documentary proof of at least two official criminal frauds that have been found.... who knows.  But while in the line of working on the investigation for Sheriff Joe, detective Frank Zullo recently followed a particularly nasty and persistent internet troll's IP address all the back to the DARPA Disinformation Department. 


On Carl Gallup’s Freedom Friday radio show, Mike Zullo said they’ve traced the IP address of “RC” to DOD’s DARPA disinformation department.

" The Obots have gone eerily silent ever since. Why?  Joe Arpaio is releasing all his investigation’s results in less than a month, during the month of March. The heavy hand of the law is clamping down on them and they just have a few days left till the curtain comes down for them."  --


This is why we have a 2nd Amendment.



holdbuysell's picture

No worries. NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, etc. will cover this thoroughly so that the sheeple are well informed. /s

Ham-bone's picture

I am not a troll - I am an inmate simply awaiting my sentencing.