Monday, October 16, 2006

Guerilla News Network (GNN) a PSYOPS front?

GNN Is A Psy-Op

by "AnubisOReilly"

These are the results of an independent investigation into GNN by about four former site members, including myself. It was originally posted at GNN itself, but I'm re-posting it here because it needs a new home in light of my decision to delete my account at GNN. Since its original writing, it has been edited to include new information, as well as edited for clarity in certain parts. I hope you all enjoy the read, and even if you don’t accept my thesis, at the very least I’m sure you’ll find this information intriguing. It will also likely bring significantly more traffic to this message board than normal; hopefully nobody minds.

My primary thesis is this: Guerrilla News Network is an American Intelligence disinfo operation designed to attract young political dissidents, draw them into the community, document their beliefs, and moderate their opinions. This thesis is not merely a hunch of mine, and I will now delve into the primary evidence which suggests collusion between GNN and the American intelligence community.

1. Anthony Lappe and the USIA

Anthony Lappe is one of the four people who own and operate GNN, and is the website's editor and primary contributor; the other three owners are Stephen Marshall, Josh Shore, and Ian Inaba. Anthony is the son of the (moderately popular) American leftist writer Frances Moore Lappe, who - together with her daughter - operates the Small Planet Institute. The Institute has acknowledged that it has received funding for book tours from Heifer International, the WK Kellogg Foundation, The Sunflower Fund and Sustainable Table. It's also worth noting that the Small Planet Institute's primary sources of funding, in terms of day-to-day operations, are not publicly disclosed on their website, not unlike GNN's primary sources of funding are not publicly disclosed. Keep all of this in mind, because it will be important later.

In any case, Anthony shares a similar moderate-left worldview to his mother, and wound up in the same type of business: producing and distributing moderate-left propaganda. But Anthony has had other, slightly different (but also largely similar) jobs before GNN; particularly, "training" Palestinian reporters on behalf of the United States Government. Anthony's bio on GNN explicitly states that "in 1996, he received two grants from the U.S. government to help train reporters from the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in the West Bank". Under what circumstances did this "training" occur? Well, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), while technically a part of the Palestinian Authority, receives part of its funding from the US Government. Complaints about pro-jihadi propaganda in the PBC's television programs prompted American lawmakers to cut the station's funds in the mid-1990's. According to this wire report from the time:

In 1995 Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat changed the structure to force the directors to report directly to him.

That's when the United State Information Agency cut off direct funding for the station and decided to support and train individual journalists, including many who work for the PBC.
But in 1997 the USIA decided to try again, providing more than $200,000 of satellite-receiving equipment after the PBC agreed to broadcast seven hours of Worldnet and Voice of America programming on American policy, society and culture.

So what is this USIA which sought to strong-arm the Palestinians into broadcasting American propaganda over their airwaves? According to Wikipedia, The United States Information Agency (USIA), which existed from 1953 to 1999, was a United States agency devoted to "public diplomacy." The term public diplomacy (q.v.) is closely related to the word "propaganda," possibly synonymous with it depending on how the latter word is defined. So, the USIA was an American propaganda agency which existed from the early 1950's until 1999, when it was absorbed into the US State Department. I think that this quote, from one of the agency's former directors, articulates the USIA's role quite well:

USIA’s combined informational resources not only provide the only complete and unedited articulation of official U.S. policy abroad, they also enable us to shape and influence the overseas environments in which those policies are considered. – USIA Director Joseph Duffey, 1996 Budget Hearings

The USIA's target audience, explains California State University professor and propaganda expert Nancy Snow, "is upper class business and professional elites who are often themselves agents of the propaganda system. The American majority, or remaining 80-90 percent, assume the role of "the bewildered herd". They are expected to go with the flow and not trouble themselves with political and economic decision making. Compliance of the herd is achieved because it forms the target audience of the commercial mass media through tabloid news, professional sports and popular television." It is worth noting that GNN's target audience is largely the same demographic, albeit younger; upper- and upper-middle class educated youths, particularly college students. The "upper class business and professional elites" of tomorrow.

With the USIA's unmistakable role as a propaganda agency for the US Government firmly established in our minds, is it not noteworthy - and indeed alarming - that Anthony Lappe worked for the agency in Palestine? Some of the aforementioned issues will be covered further in the next topic.

2. GNN and the Ford Foundation

While one might hope for transparent financial information from an allegedly "guerrilla" news network, GNN's owners have been disturbingly mute on the venture's finances, only ceding certain points when confronted about them. One such point is the fact that, as Stephen Marshall and Anthony Lappe have previously acknowledged, GNN has received grants from several non-profit foundations, including the Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation has had numerous documented links to the CIA, and even the Wikipedia article on it touches on this fact, noting that "certain critics such as former Binghamton University professor James Petras have criticized the Foundation for alleged links with the CIA. Petras has accused the Foundation of being a CIA front, citing former Foundation president Richard Bissell's relationship with DCI Allen Dulles and involvement with the Marshall Plan during the 1950s. Petras further denounces the Ford Foundation for funding what he terms "anti-leftist" human rights groups that " not participate in anti-globalization and anti-neoliberal mass actions.""

This type of intelligence/foundation collusion is not at all uncommon, however; as Petras himself noted in his work The Ford Foundation and the CIA: A documented case of philanthropic collaboration with the Secret Police, "the CIA uses philanthropic foundations as the most effective conduit to channel large sums of money to Agency projects without alerting the recipients to their source. From the early 1950s to the present the CIA’s intrusion into the foundation field was and is huge. A U.S. Congressional investigation in 1976 revealed that nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations were funded by the CIA (Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War, Frances Stonor Saunders, Granta Books, 1999, pp. 134-135). The CIA considers foundations such as Ford "the best and most plausible kind of funding cover" (Ibid, p. 135). The collaboration of respectable and prestigious foundations, according to one former CIA operative, allowed the Agency to fund "a seemingly limitless range of covert action programs affecting youth groups, labor unions, universities, publishing houses and other private institutions" (p. 135). The latter included "human rights" groups beginning in the 1950s to the present. One of the most important "private foundations" collaborating with the CIA over a significant span of time in major projects in the cultural Cold War is the Ford Foundation."

The Ford Foundation specifically allocated $62,650 to the post-production costs of the GNN documentary American Blackout. This fact raises some obvious red flags; is a CIA-linked foundation really the type of people who should be funding movies about voting, particularly given the CIA's less-than-stellar respect for democracy around the globe? Further, could American Blackout have been changed in any way as a result of this funding, like some CIA-funded films have been in the past?

Recall that the Small Planet Institute, mentioned at the beginning of this article, also receives (seemingly all?) of its funding from non-profit foundations similar to Ford, as does GNN. So, taking into account that one of GNN's owners has worked for the US Government’s propaganda agency before, and that GNN has received funding from a foundation that has worked as a covert funding source for US Government propaganda before, I don't think it's at all unfair to suspect that we may be on to something here in terms of GNN being, to at least a certain degree, a Psy-Op.

3. Stephen Marshall and Voice of Free Nigeria

GNN co-founder Stephen Marshall is the son of a wealthy Canadian industrialist, Jeffrey Marshall, who ran the family steel business (aptly named “Marshall Steel”) until he was fired in the midst of a hostile corporate takeover in 1992. Being the son of such a wealthy man afforded Stephen the opportunity to attend Lower Canada College, one of the most prestigious schools in Canada and a veritable daycare for the children of elites, who will essentially have found their way into one “old boys’ club” or another by the time they graduate at age eighteen. Another GNN co-founder, Josh Shore, also attended the school as a boy, though he and Stephen claim that they did not know each other in their formative years. Stephen continued his education at Lakefield College School, where he claims to have studied alongside “various members of European and Middle Eastern royalty including the Prince of Wales”. Going on to attend Queen’s University, Stephen’s life looked to be on the inside track to financial and social success, but several things happened along the way, some of which may not be what they initially seem. According to Globe and Mail writer Sarah Hampson, "in 1995, [Stephen] travelled to the Arizona desert, where a group of channellers put him in touch with some aliens from another planet who told him he would manifest a global television network". The “official” narrative of this incident and the years immediately thereafter is that, being an overly-ambitious young man, Stephen overstepped his bounds, got involved with drugs, and made some monetary errors; not a particularly compelling story, and surely one with which many people can relate. The first unique part of this story is the amount of money involved; backed by a 1.5 million-dollar investment from childhood friend and Cara Operations Ltd heiress Holiday Phelan, Stephen set off for the world in an effort to make the type of music video-inspired documentaries that would eventually lead to the creation of GNN. It’s worth noting that one doesn’t make childhood friends like the heiress to the Cara Foods fortune by attending an under-funded public school. That said, within a relatively short period of time, the money had all but vanished, the works it had funded had not taken off, and Stephen found himself alone in Cuba without any identification (having ripped it all up in a “moment of complete erasure”).

Contacting his father (who promptly wired him some cash), Stephen eventually found his way back to the wealthy West, where – after still more traveling – he was allegedly contacted by a Nigerian peace activist requesting his help in overthrowing the Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha. Why would a peace activist seek out an allegedly drug-plagued young man with transcendental experiences involving hallucinations about aliens to overthrow a military dictator on the other side of the world? Apparently, he liked Channel Zero and hoped that Stephen could help him make something just as good, but with a Nigerian audience in mind. Stephen claims to have agreed to help this Nigerian activist because he felt that, particularly after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the best way to help the Nigerian people was to overthrow Abacha. Ken Saro-Wiwa, for the uninitiated, was the leader of a nonviolent Ogoni movement against the catastrophic environmental destruction associated with Shell’s oil extraction operations in the Niger Delta. After being framed for the murder of four Ogoni elders, Saro-Wiwa and eight other members of his political action group were executed. All of this occurred amidst virtual silence from both Shell Corporation and the United States Government. Thus (and allegedly with funding from Stephen himself) was born the radio station Voice of Free Nigeria (VOFN), whose function was to broadcast anti-Abacha propaganda into Nigeria. While being confronted about the dubious nature of the radio station, Stephen initially stated: “it’s worth noting, that when the Abacha regime discovered the broadcast, they said it was a CIA operation”. However, after reading the first draft of this very investigation, Stephen downplayed that remark, saying: “when I saw [Nigerian democracy activist] Tunde Okorodudu in Oakland five years ago he had a newspaper clipping from 1998 that referenced the various pirate radio operations involved in trying to bring hope to the people, and that one of them, VoFN, was described by a government official as possibly a CIA operation, or something. that’s it.” A minor change in tune, to say the least. Assuming the Nigerians did indeed suspect VOFN was a CIA front as was initially alleged, we should recall that Washington has a history of tolerating and aiding military dictatorships that keep their domestic population under control and their markets open to Western penetration, both of which Abacha had essentially done, particularly during the aforementioned Saro-Wiwa episode. This compliance to Western expectations makes one wonder why Abacha would have suspected that the Americans were conspiring against him, and begs the question as to when the Washington/Abacha relationship may have taken a turn for the worse. While documentation regarding the US-Nigerian relationship is hardly plentiful, we can go back as far as September 1997 (approximately five months after Stephen started working on Voice of Free Nigeria) to find one widely-reported manifestation of the friction between the two countries. According to Nigerian newspaper reports, armed policemen from the Lagos State anti-robbery squad also known as Operation Sweep … stopped a send-off party organized by human rights and pro-democracy groups for United States ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington. Apparently, the send-off party was shifted from its original venue after police sealed off all roads leading to the place. The party moved to a nearby house, of another opposition member Chief Ayo Adebanjo, but police appeared after Chief Bola Ige had said the opening prayers and Senator Abraham Adesanya, acting chairman of the opposition NADECO group, was in the middle of his farewell speech for Carrington. The police snatched the microphone from him and pointed guns at those present. The Nigerian government later issued an unconvincing apology for the incident, but the damage was done, and it was clear that Abacha was trying to mark his territory. Less than a year later, Abacha suddenly dropped dead under questionable circumstances, and was promptly buried on the same day; no autopsy was ever performed. The official reason given for his death was heart attack, but most Nigerians suspect either assassination or poisoning; “many,” according to his Wikipedia page, suspect he “died due to a Burantashi overdose”. Needless to say, Voice of Free Nigeria stopped broadcasting before the end of 1998, the raison d’etre of the station having been, in one way or another, accomplished.

But questions obviously remain; does the narrative we’ve been fed really make sense? Hardly. The sudden appearance of a mysterious Nigerian “activist” with an idea for an anti-Abacha radio station at a time when the relationship between Abacha and the US Government was deteriorating is highly questionable, as is the chronology of Stephen’s story up to that point. The son of a plutocrat, graduate of multiple elite schools and friend to other young heirs wealthy enough to front him $1.5 million, we are led to believe, indulged in psychotropic substances and followed the proverbial white rabbit to a communion with imagined aliens in the Arizona desert and – eventually – a kind of spiritual reawakening in Cuba, only to return to North America and be asked by a Nigerian peace activist to start a rebel radio station in Africa, and then continue on to start up a supposedly “dissident” news website alongside several other young elites, one of whom (Anthony Lappe) also partook in a foreign media operation that was linked to American intelligence. The entire story is so utterly ridiculous as to beg dismissal. Wish though I may that anybody had a life so intriguing, it sounds to me more like “what a spy tells a civilian: a cover story, a legend” (Daniel Hopsicker, Welcome to Terrorland, p. 109). By crafting such an elaborate and bizarre back story, one could easily present such serendipitous moments as the meeting that led to VOFN as either believable or likely. As a simple exercise in rationality, I would urge the reader to ask himself or herself how many people they know who’ve studied at the best schools in their country, engaged in a years-long drug binge involving visions of aliens, and proceeded to start up a rebel radio station on the other side of the planet. Needless to say, calling such a series of events “unlikely” would be an understatement. What is likely, on the other hand, is that what occurred during Stephen’s apparent travels was something altogether quite different, as were – most likely – the situations under which he became involved with VOFN and GNN.

4. Ian Inaba and the Israeli Connection

The fourth and final GNN partner (and the one who has passed largely without mention thus far) is Ian Inaba. Ian had - as seems to be the trend among GNN owners - a well-off upbringing, graduating from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and quickly landing a spot as an investment banker at the San Francisco financial group Robertson Stephens & Co., staying on until 1996, when he left to work for a large Israeli corporation, Check Point Technologies. Last year, Check Point posted half a billion dollars of revenue; it’s one of the most well-known Israeli technology corporations, largely due to its popular firewall software. The company was founded (and has since been run) by an enigmatic young Israeli man named Gil Shwed. According to Fortune magazine, in 1986 Shwed, just 18 years old, joined the supersecret electronic intelligence arm of the Israeli Defense Forces called Unit 8200. His job most likely was to string together military computer networks in a way that would allow some users access to confidential materials while denying access to others. When he left the service in 1990, Shwed walked off with the idea that would define his career and make him one of the youngest members of FORBES' billionaires list. Ian’s role at Check Point, according to his profile on GNN version 1 (cached here), was as the director of corporate development … where he headed the company's investment and acquisitions activities. This seems like a remarkably important job for such a young and relatively inexperienced person, especially when one takes into account that the firm in question is an Israeli intelligence-connected technology giant. While it’s unclear which “acquisitions” Ian oversaw during his time at Check Point, the company caught newspaper headlines earlier this year under rather dubious circumstances; namely, according to the Washington Post, by trying to buy the Maryland software security firm Sourcefire, which does business with Defense Department agencies. Not surprisingly, Check Point's proposed $225 million purchase of Laurel-based Sourcefire raised red flags with government cybersecurity officials … Check Point was built by Gil Shwed, whom Forbes magazine has described as an Israeli billionaire who served in the electronic intelligence arm of the Israeli Defense Forces. By contrast, the firm that Check Point was attempting to buy out, Sourcefire, has deep roots in the National Security Agency. Its founder and chief technology officer, Martin Roesch, has served as an NSA contractor. Its vice president of engineering, Tom Ashoff, developed software for the secretive spy agency. After it became obvious that certain entrenched interests in the American security establishment didn’t want to let an Israeli intelligence-connected firm acquire an American intelligence-connected firm, Check Point quietly withdrew its buy-out plans. In the same vein as Anthony Lappe and Stephen Marshall, then, we can regard Ian Inaba as a wealthy elite with connections to state intelligence agencies; in his case, Israeli military intelligence. Hardly a “guerrilla” former employer, if indeed there were such a thing.

5. Understanding Propaganda

There is an astounding ignorance about the nature of propaganda and psychological operations (“Psy-Ops”) in our society today. Those without an education in the matter may wonder aloud how a website that provides “dissident” material could possibly be an agent of the state that it allegedly opposes; "after all," these people will ask, "if GNN is with the state, why would it run anti-Bush headlines? Isn’t "propaganda" something obvious, like the pro-military posters of the Second World War?" Well, yes, it can be; but propaganda – as disinformation – can manifest itself in many different, more complex ways. Recall that, in George Orwell’s magnus opus 1984, there are two notable parties seemingly at war with each other: the tyrannical state, which controls all of the mainstream media in a very obvious, overbearing way, and the “Brotherhood,” a band of anti-government rebels who subvert the state through open resistance and an underground literature trade. By the end of the book, it’s revealed that both the state and the Brotherhood are controlled by the same interests, and the tension between the two is essentially fictional; while the state controls the majority through blatant propaganda and a forceful subversion of human intellectual faculties, the Brotherhood controls the minority who, for whatever reason, see beyond the more obvious propaganda. By creating an anti-government resistance movement, the government of 1984 – the original “Big Brother” – ensures its own complete control of its populace, for even those opposing it are simultaneously fighting for it, albeit unknowingly. Such is the case with most modern propaganda, including GNN; it works because we are unaware that we are even exposed to it. Taking into account things like Operation Mockingbird – which turned over 400 domestic American journalists into CIA assets by the late 1960’s – as well as the mystifying, irrelevant nature of mainstream commercial television and radio, we can with a reasonable degree of certainty conclude that the mainstream American media is already essentially controlled by the state, or at least manipulated by the corporate interests that today dictate policy to the most powerful sectors of the state. Such an arrangement may suffice for indoctrinating and brainwashing "the American majority, or … 80-90% [of the population]… the bewildered herd" as propaganda expert Nancy Snow put it, but it leaves dissident media – and indeed free thinkers in general – totally unaccounted for. Thus are born the popular leftist “gate-keepers” of conspiracy lore; intelligence-connected institutions like the aforementioned Ford Foundation funnel money to moderate-left media establishments like Democracy Now or GNN in the interests of drowning out radical or revolutionary thought and legitimizing moderate beliefs and opinions. The term “gate-keepers” refers to the power that moderate leftists like Amy Goodman or Anthony Lappe can thus receive, as they are able to essentially decide what is or is not appropriate for discussion among contemporary leftists, and will thus essentially set the agenda for many in their audience.

As a CIA-connected (and, it would seem, CIA-funded) media source, GNN has several primary functions of invaluable importance to the state: it draws political radicals to the site, urges them to publish their views and opinions with blogs and message boards (thus exposing their thoughts to analysis), and serves to moderate their opinions over time through editorial intervention (as with Anthony’s chronic bias against the 9/11 truth movement or his attacks on mathematical certainties). GNN also has a functional purpose which is achieved through the structure and nature of the website itself: it compels political radicals to waste their time sitting at their computers exchanging articles with other like-minded political radicals instead of doing something truly conducive to change, like learning to grow their own food or taking part in direct action. In terms of both its distractionary and manipulative properties, GNN possesses all of the signs of a typical media psy-op; its readers’ minds are being manipulated in subtle ways every time they visit it, from the promotion of the democracy lie and the fictional Republican-versus-Democrat dialectic to the regular legitimization of authority and statism.

To conclude and summarize, I’ll simply urge the reader to let the facts be understood: All four of the owners of GNN are elites; one of them is confirmed to have worked on a USIA propaganda operation, and one of them is confirmed to have worked on a propaganda operation that appears to have been a CIA front. Another one of them worked as an investment banker for an Israeli intelligence-connected technology firm. Throw in the fact that GNN bears all of the hallmarks of a disinformation operation, and you’ve got a more-than-compelling case. Guerrilla News Network is a Psy-Op.