Disinformation Part 3: COINTELPRO Up Close and Personal

J. Edgar Troll Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This is Part 3 of our three-part series on the techniques of trolls. The first two installments were concerned mostly with sabotage and disinformation on the Internet. They were posted anonymously some time ago. The first two appear to have been written by a professional troll for the “benefit” of less experienced trolls on how to prevent the sharing of inconvenient facts on political forums.

As we pointed out in Part 1, we would normally not publish such material because we cannot verify any of it. Yet, we feel we have actually witnessed these maneuvers on Internet forums.

Part 3 goes back in time to those days when activists unwittingly came face-to-face with infiltrators.

We cannot know for sure, but the anonymous author of Part 3 appears to have had first-hand experience with the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program — also known as “COINTELPRO” — that tormented the anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

***

We encourage you to add your own observations to this ongoing collection, in the Comments section below.

And, again, an obligatory if obvious disclaimer: Far from endorsing these attempts to hijack free and open discourse, we believe that exposing them can help blunt their power to confuse and control. Forewarned is forearmed.

********************************************************************

Note to readers: The following is the text found on the Internet, as discussed above. The source and background are unknown.

********************************************************************

Introduction

The FBI establishes phony activist organizations, then penetrates them with its own agents, police informants and infiltrators. Their purpose is to prevent any real movement for justice or ecopeace from developing.

The way to neutralize potential activists is to get them into a group that does all the wrong things. This way, a lot of time is wasted, the activists become frustrated and discouraged, they accomplish nothing and, most important — their message doesn’t get out.

Legitimate activists do not subject people to hours of persuasive dialog. Their actions, beliefs, and goals speak for themselves. Groups that do recruit are missionaries, the military — and fake political parties or movements set up by agents.

Agents come in small, medium or large. They can be of any ethnic background. They can be male or female.

The actual size of the group or movement being infiltrated is irrelevant. It is the potential that the movement has for becoming large which brings on the spies and saboteurs.

Good agents will want to meet as often as possible. They will talk a lot and say little. One can expect an onslaught of long, unresolved discussions. It is the agent’s job to keep activists from quitting such a group, thus keeping them under control.

This report lists some of the tactics agents use to slow things down, foul things up, destroy the movement — and keep tabs on activists. If you are an activist, always assume that you are under surveillance.

This report in no way covers all the ways agents use to sabotage the lives of sincere and dedicated activists.

Gaining Trust

Agents begin relationships behind a well developed mask of “dedication to the cause.” They often declare this dedication, and engage in actions designed to prove it — or appear to prove it.

It’s amazing how far agents can go in manipulating an activist. As long as the agents regularly declare their dedication to the cause, activists will constantly make excuses for anything they do that may seem counterproductive, or even suspicious. And if they do occasionally suspect the agent, they will pull the wool over their own eyes by rationalizing: “They sincerely thought it would help to do that… I’m just slow to understand why that would be a good idea… there’s an innocent explanation for that…  I’m just being paranoid.”

Control by Flattery

A favorite ploy of the agent is to privately tell an activist, “You’re a natural leader.” No matter how meek, the person will believe it. The fact is, the movement doesn’t need leaders, it needs movers.

Control By Guilt

In those situations where an activist doesn’t want to go along with a course of action being promoted by the agent, the agent will tell the activist: ”You’re dividing the movement.”

This invites guilty feelings. Those who are truly dedicated are easy to convince that, somehow, any problems are their fault. This is because many dedicated people are naive, and tend to believe that everyone has a conscience and that nobody would dissimulate and lie “on purpose.”  So, they tell themselves  “He [or she, the agent] must be right… I really am dividing the movement… I’d better go along.”

Control By “Malignant Pseudo-Identification”

This technique is designed to enhance and exploit the activist’s self-esteem. Their narcissistic admiration of their own altruistic intentions increases as they identify with apparently similar intentions of the agent — which are deliberately set up to mirror those of the activist. This is known as “malignant pseudo-identification.”

It is the process by which the agent consciously imitates or simulates a certain behavior to foster the activist’s identification with him/her, thus increasing the activist’s vulnerability to manipulation.

On a more subtle level, the agent will simulate the style, mannerisms, and outer manifestations of the activist’s philosophy. For example, wearing their hair long, or dressing like a “hippie.”

This promotes identification via mirroring and feelings of “twinship.”

Activists are most vulnerable to malignant pseudo-identification while working with the agent, when matters relating to their competency, autonomy, or knowledge are tested. The agent will compliment the activist for all of these qualities, and praise their value to the movement. This in turn will increase the activist’s general empathy for the agent. And they will project their own dedication to the movement onto the agent who is “mirroring” them.

Activists who deny their own narcissistic investments are exceedingly vulnerable to the affective (emotional) simulation of the accomplished agent.

Empathy is fostered in the activist through the expression of quite visible affects. [Ed.: Not to be confused with effects.] The presentation of tearfulness, sadness, longing, fear, remorse, and guilt, may induce in the helper-oriented activist a strong sense of compassion, while unconsciously enhancing the activist’s narcissistic investment in self as the embodiment of goodness.

It is not unheard of for activists — enamored by the perceived helpfulness and competence of a good agent — to find themselves considering ethical violations and perhaps, even illegal behavior, in the service of their agent/handler.

Unmasked

The agent’s expression of such simulated manifestations of emotion may be quite compelling to the observer and difficult to distinguish from deep emotion.

But this lack of sincerity is usually unmasked when the agent notices the activist is not responding as predicted, and reacts inappropriately. This can happen when activists have analyzed their own narcissistic roots and are aware of their own potential for being “emotionally hooked.” They remain cool and unaffected by such emotional outpourings by the agent.

As a result of this unaffected, cool attitude, the agent will compensate much too quickly, leaving the activist with the impression that “the play has ended, the curtain has fallen,” and the imposture, for the moment, has finished.

The agent will then move quickly to the next victim.

Switching Tactics

Some agents take on a pushy, arrogant, or intimidating manner. They will disrupt the agenda; sidetrack the discussion; interrupt repeatedly; make unfounded accusations, calling someone a racist, for example. This tactic is used to discredit a person in the eyes of all other group members.

Activities of the Saboteur

1.  Writes encyclopedic flyers (in the present day, websites)

2.  Prints flyers in English only.

3.  Has demonstrations in places where no one cares.

4.  Solicits funding from rich people instead of grass roots support

5.  Displays poorly-worded, confusing banners

6.  Compromises the goal.

7.  Encourages endless discussions to waste everyone’s time. May accompany the discussions with drinking, pot smoking or other amusements to slow down the activist’s work.

8.  Tries to persuade disaffected or minimally committed fellow activists to turn against the movement — and give false testimony against their compatriots.

9.  Plants illegal substances on the activist and sets up an arrest.

10.  Plants false information and sets up “exposure.”

11.  Sends incriminating letters [emails] in the name of the activist.

Activities of the Provocateur

1.  Establishes “leaders” to set them up for a fall.

2.  Suggests doing foolish, illegal things to get the group in trouble.

3.  Encourages militancy.

4.  Encourages taunting of the authorities.

5.  Tries to get activists to compromise their values.

6.  Attempts to instigate violence.

7.  Attempts to provoke revolt among people who are ill-prepared to deal with the reaction of the authorities to such violence.

Activities of the Informant

1.  Gets everyone to sign up, sign in, sign all kinds of things.

2.  Asks a lot of questions about a member’s personal, scholastic, and professional life.

3.  Is always on the lookout for leverage for purposes of blackmail later.

4.  Tries to determine what events the activist is planning to attend.

5.  Attempts to make activists defend themselves in order to identify their beliefs, goals, and level of commitment.

COINTELPRO is still in operation today under a different code name. It is no longer placed on paper where it can be discovered through the Freedom of Information Act.

The FBI counterintelligence program’s stated purpose: To expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and otherwise neutralize individuals who the FBI categorizes as opposed to the National Interests. “National Security” means the FBI’s security from the people ever finding out the vicious things it does in violation of people’s civil liberties.

Part 1 is available here.

Part 2 is available here.

Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Fremont Troll (Sue / Flickr - CC BY 2.0)

Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Fremont Troll (Sue / Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

Selective List of Related WhoWhatWhy stories:

Why We Should be Thankful for the Cold  (Not related to Cointelpro, but listed because of the disinformation deposited in the Comments following the article.

Was Tamerlan Tsarnaev a Double Agent Recruited by the FBI?

FBI Sat Back While Snitch Directed Cyber Attacks and potentially Entrapped Others

The Mystery of the Constant Flow of JFK Disinformation

FBI Uses Counterterrorism Authority to Infiltrate and Surveil Peaceful Protests… Again

WHYTV -The FBI, Blacks,and Cointelpro,

William Turner: From G-Man to Newsman

Tribute to the Man Who Exposed the Pentagon Papers

Jeb Bush Family Values: Meth and Dirty Tricks

The US Left: A Short Introduction

The Deaths of JFK, RFK– and the Silence of the Lambs

TVWHY: Russ Baker in St. Paul, Excerpt 1- Troublemakers


Related front page panorama photo credit: Clip of documents from The FBI Vault COINTELPRO section.

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

Please help us do more. Make a tax-deductible contribution now.

Our Comment Policy

Keep it civilized, keep it relevant, keep it clear, keep it short. Please do not post links or promotional material. We reserve the right to edit and to delete comments where necessary.

print

7 responses to “Disinformation Part 3: COINTELPRO Up Close and Personal”

  1. You May Say Im a Dreamer says:

    Thank you for posting this. A lot of people claim that Cointelpro never ended, and I would have to agree with them. I’ve encountered many of these tactics myself, and I’ve heard from others who have encountered them as well. It’s kind of scary how our own government is so opposed to democracy that it is willing to engage in such dirty tricks..

    I think many people can benefit from reading all three parts. Even if they’re not activists, they’ve likely seen these tactics in action–especially on the internet.

  2. D Frank Robinson says:

    I don’t recall being showered with flattery. :) I do remember my house being burned twice.

  3. Rick says:

    ‘The undercover cop, his lover, and their son’ – 24 October 2014, on the BBC:

    ‘The Metropolitan Police has agreed to pay £425,000 to a woman who did not know the father of her child was an undercover policeman. The unprecedented settlement comes after a long battle by a group of women who say that the police used sex to infiltrate their protest groups. ‘

  4. Deanna Clark says:

    Charities are using dirty tricks. “Your dollar will become $3 matched by an anonymous donor.” is a total clue to corporate corruption either in money or hidden agendae. Old, decent charities count on the sentiment of older people. The names and logos are the same…but they have been gutted and revamped.

  5. renda blue says:

    Faggots Bastards and Ingrates FBI

  6. McCoyote says:

    In general, harassment by two or more people designed to curb rights falls under a federal law and is a felony with a penalty up to the death penalty if it results in someone’s death. The law is Title 18 USC Section 241 – Conspiracy Against Rights.

    It is likely given the intelligence community’s history that there are both collaborations and agency programs, as well as individuals within agencies, performing harassment of various kinds for various reasons. The Cold War served as excuse the last time around and now Islamophobia mostly fills that niche. From the Church/Tower senate hearing report summary in Book 2: Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans:

    ” Groups and individuals have been harassed and disrupted because of their political views and their lifestyles. Investigations have been based upon vague standards whose breadth made excessive collection inevitable. Unsavory and vicious tactics have been employed–including anonymous attempts to break up marriages, break up meetings, ostracize persons from their professionals, and provoke target groups into rivalries that might result in deaths. Intelligence agencies have served the political and personal objectives of presidents and other high officials. While the agencies often committed excesses in response to pressure from high officials in the Executive branch and Congress, they also occasionally initiated improper activities on their own and then concealed them from officials whom they had a duty to inform. ”

    While it was a good thing that Church/Tower happened, it is clear that members of Congress were intimately involved in some of the abuses, or were at least aware. There is even a mention of this that the committee members were specifically chosen so that none of those testifying could say, “Hey, you knew about this, we told you.”

    Every reason and any excuse will do. We already know about, for example, CIA spying on oversight with regards to the torture report. It gets worse, however. In February 1954, the CIA General Counsel Lawrence Houston and Deputy Attorney General William P. Rogers made an agreement that is still in place protecting CIA from DoJ prosecutions for “capital crimes and felonies, such as murder and drug trafficking.” It is difficult to imagine a more hypocritical policy given that usually such covert operations are ultimately financially motivated and have little to do with actual “national security.”

    Now, we have exemptions for psychological operations by DoD under the various NDAAs and are have even had some reporting on MINVERVA, an effort to alter the mood of people via manipulating what they see on social media.

    Then there are the exemptions that the intelligence committee threw in to prevent some things being FOIA’d. And, perhaps even more disturbing, there are intelligence community exceptions to human experimentation. This was perhaps the biggest thing to come out of MKULTRA and other CIA abuses of Americans and foreigners alike as well as focus on the Tuskegee scandal: Protections from being drugged or experimented on without advice and consent. 9/11 is used as excuse, though it is likely that these activities continued in one fashion or other after they were said to have ceased and before that.

    Besides studying this general topic for the past six years or so, I have also spoken to several people who believe they are or were subject to harassment by parties unknown. In general we wind up dismissing their claims as signs of mental illness.

    And it is quite possible that the mentally ill are used for “target practice”; after all, who would believe them AND a sane person making similar claims might be labeled mentally ill–something intelligence organizations would be keenly aware of. Sniper training might involve aiming at paper targets. How does someone practice when the target is someone’s psyche?

    A couple of examples, there was a woman who lived in an area where there was heavy aerospace testing and may have received brain damage from some kind of EMP weapon test {they do exist, and once there were cars stopped near Washington, DC when the testers underestimated the effect distance}, and the effort was probably to prevent her suing while using keeping the weapon test out of the news as the excuse. Similarly, a 20-year, successful nurse was targeted a year after she prevented a workplace shooting at a pharmaceutical company. Whether there was the hope of shortselling or some other kind of operation involved was not clear but that she has been driven crazy, probably drugged, ruined, is not.

    So, there’s a lot more to it than just online stuff and it is going on around us from time to time but we don’t realize it. We’ve been programmed to think it cannot occur in secret or illegally even though history says otherwise.

  7. …and the UN is what exactly? The problem points to you GenPub zombies are cocooned; these tactics been in effect for more than a millennium. More recently, the formation of the first United States and second united states is a COINTELPro. The entire intelligent design of this world as you see it exists as a social engineered COINTELPro.

    What do you think the war buildup is about — coincidences!!

  8. Frank von Winkhorst says:

    “Empathy is fostered in the activist through the expression of quite visible affects. [Ed.: Not to be confused with effects.]” Hence the overuse of the terms “impact” as a noun and “impact upon” as a verb. “Affect,” as a noun, referring to an emotion, is an even less commonly used term in modern discourse. This says something, I’m not sure what exactly, about the academic status of the original author.