Dr. Kiracofe and the trolls

"Per NS Saloman, haven't followed his postings with the same attention as those of the late "ms." NSS some time back claimed he lived in Europe, Portugal I think it was. I recall he claimed to be a US citizen as well at one point. His last comment alone on another thread being prickly/defensive about his use of English and insolent in tone could indicate you have "him"/"them" pinned. As I recall he has been rather consistent in promoting a defeatist line with respect to the US. His disagreeable insolence I should think would disqualify him from SST presence. MS got increasingly insolent as "he" began to melt down. For all the software available out there — spell checks, translators, and the like — these hackers still present clumsy posts. The attempts at using US slang and dialect as ms did, for example…very shoddy. "Highlander" was a more skilled poseur/hacker. "MS" would pick up on something like your use of the term "sub rosa." Then, he would google to check the meaning of this term, then shoot something (incoherent) back to attempt to establish some knowledge. I noticed he did this when Sidney Smith mentioned Tony Rice. Ms googled to find Tony Rice and some musical composition of his and then came back with the line that it was "gut-wrenching" to live in Europe and not be able to hear Tony Rice and how he longed for home in the US…blah blah blah. He did this with my mention of Cafe Deux Magots in Paris and botched that. The hackers work to ingratiate themselves into the discussion group, build up a presence, then work toward introducing disinformation and propaganda. Also I note attempts at provocation. From this they sometimes move toward more open disruption of the targeted website as ms did. They could also introduce some coded signals to others working with them and monitoring the targeted site. Perhaps an SST reader who has some professional knowledge of these types of foreign directed cyber operations could give us some leads to open source articles on this threat. "  Clifford Kiracofe


Cliff has this just right.  He understands the methodology.  The infiltration activities of propagandists are not really a problem but they are a nuisance.  The use of such targeted disinformation and disruption is a growing phenomenon on the part of governments and para-governmental support groups.  The Middle East is an obvious focal point for much of this activity but there are other concentrations of trollish behavior as well.

Be advised that comments will be examined closely for indications of information operations.  pl

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42 Responses to Dr. Kiracofe and the trolls

  1. Cato the Censor says:

    Good gravy, this is just a blog. I’m amazed that anyone would go to such elaborate lengths just to undermine one person’s forum to express his personal opinions. Do these guys think they’re soldiers fighting some kind of war (the keyboard commando kind)? I suppose the answer is yes. Anyone who could provide any insight into this sort of mindset would be very helpful.

  2. J says:

    The Israeli hasbra types don’t know how to let the barn door hit them in their rump roasts. The Israeli government is a scab on the Mideast’s backsides that keeps erupting with puss and infection (i.e. their Operation Cast Lead murder of Gaza children, massacres at Shabra & Shatila, Palestinan prisoner organs theft/trafficking, drug running, money laundering, etc.), and their hasbra types wonder why more Americans are becoming ‘uninspired’ by their hasbra dribble with more poor little Israel sob stories. Go figure.
    Now the hasbra types are trying to suck U.S. into another Israeli war, this time with Iran who is no threat to our U.S.. It’s time the Israeli hasbra propagandist[s] took a running leap at a rolling doughnut. I’m tired of their dribble, and particularly incensed with their callous disregard toward the deaths of Americans that are used as the cannon fodder for their ‘state security’.

  3. psc says:

    Tony Rice? The only Tony Rice I am aware of was the great Notre Dame option Quarterback who led the Fighting Irish to the National Championship in 1986.
    And now I am going to spread some (hopeful) disinformattion. Notre Dame will beat Southern Cal this weekend for the first time in 7 years. Go Irish, Beat Trojans!

  4. The beaver says:

    I believe that it is known more appropriately as Hasbara. There are quite a few articles on them on the web since Bibi came into power and they have managed to get quite a few followers in the US who will volunteer their time on some very popular blogs. As for those whose grammar or punctuations or vocabulary “laissent à désirer” they are “refusenicks” or refugees from former Soviet satellite countries or puppet controlled ones who live in Europe and are “hired guns” in critical times when there are uprisings or attacks and they will “rebutt” as the discussions intensify and they make mistakes because HQ is not fast enough to respond with “prepared propaganda” for the questions being submitted. So it is the Propaganda 2.0 era these days.

  5. R Whitman says:

    This “Troll” behavior can, at times, be quite entertaining. How about keeping it but labeling it “Caution-Troll Information”.

  6. confusedponderer says:

    On another forum, dedicated to computer games, there was a guy who made his third or so post on … why nobody on said computer gaming site bothered posting about ACORN’s fall? Yes, indeed, why!? Not only did liberal media not cover it, but the gamers neglected it, too! His other posts were on health care.
    Hailing from New England, he introduced himself as ‘centrist or right leaning in many things’ – as if anyone cared – until he then voiced concerns that Obama’s health care reform would destroy the private insurers, and that the cost in the health care are due to regulation.
    Now why does a so far unknown centrist from New England preaches in his spare time health care to people he hasn’t ever got in touch with before? My guess: Because he googled health care and found some of the lively discussions on the thread and decided to harp in.
    I could never substantiate that, but after he got called out, he posted two more times and then disappeared.
    What I want to say is that not only government and para-government groups do it. Lobbyists do it, too. It has become part of the PR curriculum and the new breed of propagandists do it by the book.

  7. Kieran says:

    Doesn’t surprise me at all. Coherent thought about these issues being as rare as it is, this blog is a real threat. I hope you appreciate the inadvertent compliment they are paying you, Colonel.

  8. Several items I found between classes today relating to IO:
    Congressional Testimony from RAND on Internet-terrorism:
    An Israeli perspective:
    A wiki entry on public diplomacy/Israel — hasbara:
    A recent Australian analysis per Southeast Asia:
    Lots going on in cyberspace in the IO world.

  9. cb says:

    “Good gravy, this is just a blog. I’m amazed that anyone would go to such elaborate lengths just to undermine one person’s forum to express his personal opinions.”
    Don’t know if they’re still doing it, but for a while (starting in 2005), CENTCOM had a team of soldiers whose job was to read blogs and post comments. Here’s a link to a story about that team:
    (They focused on critical blog posts about the war in Iraq and His Holiness Donald the Rumsfeld, and posted the “real facts” in response.)
    So, yeah: governments are very interested in what people post on blogs.

  10. Dan M says:

    I knew a guy in Iraq who’d been a Republican party pollster in the States. Ended up working for the Lincoln Group propaganda operation there. When he can home he founded a website called “the truth about iraq” (link is to a weird iraq wiki that is largely dead now). It was filled in 2005-2006ish with lies, misinformation, etc… about how swell everything was there. I never knew who paid for it. But isn’t US govt money spent to run information operations against our own citizen’s illegal? Apparently, no one cares.

  11. greg0 says:

    Some provocative comments further a discussion but they also can steer the conversation. Most of the comments are always read with a grain of salt. The educational aspects of this blog outweigh the dumber comments. (And I don’t have time for every blog)
    Total control of mainstream media is not enough for the rich and powerful? Sounds like some expensive propaganda operations…

  12. zanzibar says:

    Your note is so insightful. I did not realize how “sophisticated” folks get just to influence a bunch of people trying to discuss and understand issues.
    I can’t imagine the level of sophistication with which governments and “moneyed interests” attempt to influence public opinion.
    This post by Yves Smith on “MSM reporting as propaganda” is very timely.

  13. euclidcreek says:

    There is reason to believe all media in the U.S. is monitored and archived, both by US government agencies and entities gathering information for foreign governments.

  14. Nightsticker says:

    Colonel Lang,
    I am embarrassed to reveal my ignorance but could someone give a brief explanation of what this thread is about. What was done? Who did it? Information Operations against SST?
    USMC 1965-1972
    FBI 1972-1996

  15. Medicine Man says:

    My honest first impression when reading a blog post like this one is “my lord, that sounds so paranoid.” It would be very easy to dismiss this kind of missive as the over-wrought ramblings of self involved people seeing foreign operative bogeymen behind every bush etc.
    That said, I don’t regard Pat Lang to be a practitioner of nose-honking slapstick. I also recall he has a military background that involves some familiarity with intelligence operations. This notion that Clifford airs, while seeming outlandish to me, is not inherently unlikely or even implausible.
    If there is truth to this, what do you think the level of penetration is and what types of sites do you think are targeted? Is there any way to distinguish professional provocateurs from the many people out there with personal/political axes to grind?

  16. Patrick Lang says:

    See also the comment in this threas concerning similar actions by USCENTCOM. pl

  17. The beaver says:

    Interesting one by the military:
    Although a blog-based operations unit could be based either domestically or in theater, the best option is to forward deploy it as a cell, just as we deploy our PSYOP analysts and production and dissemination capabilities.
    So what we could consider as a “PITA troll” could be someone with a mission 🙁

  18. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Medicine Man,
    Well…you might consider:
    “Israel’s foreign ministry is reported to be establishing a special undercover team of paid workers whose job it will be to surf the internet 24 hours a day spreading positive news about Israel.
    Internet-savvy Israeli youngsters, mainly recent graduates and demobilised soldiers with language skills, are being recruited to pose as ordinary surfers while they provide the government’s line on the Middle East conflict.
    “To all intents and purposes the internet is a theatre in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we must be active in that theatre, otherwise we will lose,” said Ilan Shturman, who is responsible for the project.
    The existence of an “internet warfare team” came to light when it was included in this year’s foreign ministry budget. About $150,000 has been set aside for the first stage of development, with increased funding expected next year.
    The team will fall under the authority of a large department already dealing with what Israelis term “hasbara”, officially translated as “public explanation” but more usually meaning propaganda. That includes not only government public relations work but more secretive dealings the ministry has with a battery of private organisations and initiatives that promote Israel’s image in print, on TV and online.
    In an interview this month with the Calcalist, an Israeli business newspaper, Mr Shturman, the deputy director of the ministry’s hasbara department, admitted his team would be working undercover.
    “Our people will not say: ‘Hello, I am from the hasbara department of the Israeli foreign ministry and I want to tell you the following.’ Nor will they necessarily identify themselves as Israelis,” he said. “They will speak as net-surfers and as citizens, and will write responses that will look personal but will be based on a prepared list of messages that the foreign ministry developed.”
    And so on…

  19. The beaver says:

    @ Medicine Man
    Like “Anonymous” mentioned, “Megaphone” is a media monitoring software and this is how it is done:
    Mind you there are a lot of software out there that can “monitor” the keywords, threads or headlines about Israel zipping across the Internet. So once a good alert from a target site pop up, the good soldier gets into action spewing what his masters or leaders want him to say.
    Here is another method as pointed out by Tony Karon:

  20. Charles I says:

    I’m a nobody.
    My crummy letter to the the ed of the Toronto Star Re Israel in Gaza provoked a personal response, a sneering missive directed to my home, from the President of Canadian Jurists for World Jewry. I hadn’t written a word about World Jewry of course, but about Israeli arms and bloody Gazan rubble, the never-ending bullshit spoken without rebuttal.
    Sent the prat a 40 pager one night while I was hypomanic.
    The IO is multilayered, pervasive, responsive and robust. A Bloody Wurlitzer played by many hands. As a young armchair old-warrior, I once mused of katsa-dom after reading Victor Ostrovsky’s By Way of Deception, gotta be thousands and thousands of of that ilk alone.
    But I’m Reformed, and haven’t been a lawyer for 14 years!
    The campaign during the Gaza assault was well resourced, evident everywhere, seamlessly integrated into the Canadian PM’s position that it was a “measured response”.
    I naively tilted at Highlander til a little bird twigged me. The IO op sucks up the attention and resources of people like me – nobodies, who can write the ed with an LLB, that I’ve learned to better focus.
    Clifford, even between class, school is never out with you! Your book is getting really near the top of my pile. Thanks.
    Its a privilege Gentlemen, as always. Knowledge is armour.

  21. MRW. says:

    Is ms Mark Stuart or Stewart?
    Whoever he is, he replied to my post in the Richard Sale thread in which I mentioned Gore Vidal. Comical as hell. Perfect example of what you’re talking about:
    Gore Vidal ? I like to read his novel but here is an other American disguised one day in a trench coat and a cigarette dangling from his beak. Bronzed skin, sun glasses, designer clothes and still a cigarette dangling from his mouth, the other!
    I love those Americans who enjoy criticizing the US and loooove Europe soooo much, but always come back to die on our shores! Gore Vidal is no exception. He used to spend a lot of time in Europe, France and Italy mainly, giving interviews to whomever wanted to hear how highly Americans themselves thought about their own country. Until his boyfriend died, he sold his italian Villa to move back to LA in 2003!

    “He used to spend a lot of time in Europe?” Yeah, he read a lot of Vidal’s ‘novel’ all right.

  22. Responding to Dan M. comment. To my knowledge there is no specific statutory restriction on information ops by any civilian agency or DOD or its component or the Armed Forces. This is not to say there are many internal department and agency directives that restrict such ops. There is a single criminal code (Title 18 of USC) statute the specific number of which I forget captioned the “Anti-Lobbying Act” which prohibits any Executive Branch employee in a Department or Independent Agency from lobbying Congress or paying for such lobbying by individuals or groups outside the Executive Branch from directly or indirectly advocating specific programs, functions, or activities. The problem of course is that this is obeyed in the breach because its enforcement like many other things including privacy laws is vest in the Department of Justice which to my knowledge has never prosecuted an Anti-Lobbying statute violation.
    AS to blogs and bloggers, when commentators almost never show anything but closed opinions or mindsets despite the information at hand then I usually discount their import. The great thing about SST and the reason some probably worry is that it not only conveys information but also the mature judgements of some of the commentators and certain the poster that reveal the weaknesses of certain policies and positions.

  23. MRW. says:

    Dont forget this tome written by Frank Luntz for The Israel Project this summer. Newsweek inadvertently let it out of the bag, it was supposed to be ultra confidential: “Property of The Israel Project. Not for distribution or publication. 2009.”. The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary
    You can read it on line here: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/8303274/The-Israel-Projects-2009-Global-Language-Dictionary
    Here’s Newsweek’s article about it, naturally wiped from Newsweek’s site, but preserved here. It includes a link to the PDF that you can download:

  24. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Charles I,
    Newspapers….well there has been a massive coordinated Israeli operation against the press in Canada and in the US for some time. The target is the press that is not already owned by “pro-Israel” elements such as the late Zionist Izzy Asper up your way. Journalists toe the pro-Israel line or do not have a career in journalism.
    One organization, HonestReporting, has been extremely well funded and has sophisticated ops including bombarding newspaper editors with emails when any story or editorial emerges which is not “pro-Israel.” Some years back, as I recall, a journalist at the Rocky Mountain News in Colorado was fired by his editor owing to this pressure. I have been in journalism myself as an editor of a small rural newspaper and know something about this.
    You will want to examine very carefully the organization called “HonestReporting” at
    You will see a group called “Aish Hah Torah” behind it. Looking further you will note this Israeli-based org’s presence in the US mainly New York City and Los Angeles (where they get much Hollywood money support). Do some search on this org. it is a very significant force.
    Thanks for purchasing my book, [Dark Crusade(London:IB Tauris, 2009)], I hope you will enjoy the read. I am more free to publish in London than in the US which says something. I am deeply grateful to my UK publisher.
    Yes, armor…Ephesians 6: 10-18, is a favorite of mine.

  25. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “But isn’t US govt money spent to run information operations against our own citizen’s illegal? Apparently, no one cares.”
    Dan M,
    Good point. Fundamental. I believe back in the Cold War era Congress passed legislation to prevent such ops by USIA etal. Don’t know where all this stands today in terms of legislation and federal law. Perhaps an SST reader may know and can help us on this point?
    Cool stuff, thanks.

  26. 91B says:

    Wow, this is some high drama.
    Is there really that much at stake in a comments section?

  27. Charles I said: Knowledge is armour.
    Well said and Amen friend!
    There are many, many unarmored out there these days. Almost like zombies.

  28. @Clifford Kirrofe,
    You may want to take some time to read about Smith-Mundt Act and its prohibitions against boomeranging propaganda back against the American people.
    Matt Armstrong over at MountainRunner blog has an extensive number of entries regarding the uses/abuses of Smith-Mundt. Very interesting reading. Its clear in principle, but this old legislation needs some updating to reflect today’s highly connected, high-speed and always-on media world.
    As to the influencing operations conducted on behalf of foreign governments against American citizens, I believe pointed, detailed and fulsome enforcement of FARA would greatly help in combating these activities. At a minumum, the sunlight thrown on these operations by public FARA enforcement would greatly “up-armor” the average citizen. Of course, this course of action requires action by the Federal government — something sorely missing when it comes to the activities of several of our putative “allies.”

  29. jr786 says:

    The owner of a blog I used to frequent once wrote me to say he would be happy to print the truth but the Megaphonists just would flood his email with hundreds of complaints. So he stopped blogging.
    Even so, I think the tide is turning against the Israel Firsters. They scream so loudly because they know that no open minded person of even the slightest discernment could possibly support their crimes.
    Here’s a good site to pass on:

  30. Charles I says:

    Gee Clifford, I’m a Pagan. Though my faith lies elsewhere your Ephesians cite is comfortingly apt.
    I think your Rocky Mountain News Editor has crossed my radar previously. I shall follow up HonestReporting, thanks.
    The notorious self hating Jew Norman Finklestein is coming to Toronto in Mid November to speak about Gaza. The campaign against him is well underway here so I’m busy deconstructing that at the moment.

  31. MRW. says:

    The Rabbi who runs jewsonfirst.org takes on Aish Hah Torah. I believe, but dont hold me to it, Sheldon Adelson (Vegas casino owner) has huge chunks of dough into it. The org is secretive about its finances. [I want to know just how much of our annual emptying of our taxpayer pockets to Israel gets funneled into these groups overseas. I suspect a lot.]
    They’ve got their tentacles into John Hagee’s CUFI organization as well via the Republican Jewish Coalition for whom Ari Fleischer is a guiding light.

  32. MRW. says:

    Look what happened at the University of Chicago two days ago when Ehud Olmert tried to talk.
    How are the trolls and armchair IDF hasbarists in Tel Aviv going to counter this in every university across the country? It is said that support for Israel is a mile wide and an inch deep in this country. But after the web let ordinary folk, in real time, see what the Israelis did in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008, support for their Spartan regime is paper thin. Only the Armageddon Brigade backs them 100% because they’re lusting to convert them all.
    Real Americans, raised on separation of church and state, and equal rights, and fair play — Yankee imperialism and exceptionalism a la pre-emptive wars, racism, etc notwithstanding — aren’t going to buy the third time around for Israel, whether that’s more Gaza strifing or bombing Iran. I shudder to think what will happen in this country if Israel bombs Iran, or ‘sends ground troops in January 2010’ as was reported yesterday. [BTW, that’s a good one: Israel sending ground troops into Iran to take out their nuclear facilities and “assassinate scientists.” Those 19-year-old IDF studs have never crossed a body of water to fight in their lives. They’re never more than a local call away from calling mommy. If they think harassing and murdering cornered civilians is sufficient training to counter the Iranian/Persian Revolutionary Guard, they’re in for a big surprise. Big Big surprise. Then, of course, the Revolutionary Guard will become the ‘greatest ant-semitic army ever in the world’ and they will whine and cry for the Americans to annihilate them. Pussies.]

  33. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    On getting manipulated and not knowing it:
    Zanzibar cites Yves Smith’s post on MSM Reporting as Propaganda.
    If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite family member went shopping and came home with ‘THAT,’ Andrew Sullivan today cites the Gruen Transfer.
    The Gruen Transfer was named after the 20th century Austrian born architect Victor Gruen. Gruen based his practice in Los Angeles, is famous for developing the shopping mall, and denied that his designs were meant to manipulate the public. The GT concept has been popularized by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff.
    In shopping mall design, the Gruen Transfer refers to the moment when a consumer enters a shopping mall, and, surrounded by an intentionally confusing layout, loses track of their original intentions. Spatial awareness of their surroundings play a key role, as does the surrounding sound and music. The effect of the transfer is marked by a slower walking pace and glazed eyes. (Wikipedia)
    One more thing we didn’t know. The list is long.

  34. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Hi Cliff…this is OT, but have you still got that sweet Ducati 900? I saw pics of it on your Flicker account.
    Here’s a stock pic of my bike:
    Yamaha FZ1
    Been wanting to get down your way for a few days of riding. Roads look much better than up here in DC!

  35. optimax says:

    alnval, Another marketing tool stores use is to place merchandise to block you from moving from the front to the back of the store in a straight line,exposing you to more merchandise. I’ve also noticed the lack of exit signs and the disappearance of clocks in stores. Then there’s guerilla marketing: two supposedly average citizens talking loudly in public about the benefits of brand x, placing boxes of brand x on the sidewalk outside a the door of a luxury apartment, as if it’s being delivered to someone.
    Now I know why I’ve always hated shopping malls and physically feel that sense of disorientation: hard to focus the eyes, body feels like it has weights on it.

  36. Kevin K says:

    I’ve seen in the blogosphere a phenomena when a blogger is discussing the PR of China or Chinese people in general, a commenter will show up and make a long, clumsy response and then another commenter will argue with a long, clumsy responses. Both of the comments will just be a mass of random facts and half-baked nonsense. And this will repeat till all discussion of the topic dies. Both of the commenters have the exact same writing style, so its pretty obvious that its someone arguing with him (or her)self.
    I don’t know if this just a bitter person that goes around doing this or what, but I’ve seen it at more than one site.

  37. Pat Lang,
    On the general subject of manipulation of opinion through control of media, I’ve been wondering about a specific occurrence. Clifford brought it to mind when I read his comment about not being able to get his book published over here. In ca. 1994 I checked out, from the Chicago Public Library, a novel in the aviation/military/international intrigue category. To roughly summarize the plot: A recently retired USAF Colonel, an authority on air to air combat, is hired by Saudi Arabia to manage their air force and is given carte blanche and the necessary financial resources. His plan was to equip the force with the F-20 Tigershark , but not to incorporate the electronic warfare capability. A combination of stealth and keep it simple tactics. A crisis lead to an Israeli air assault on Saudi Arabia, the good colonel’s idea worked, the Israeli Air Force was decimated and they fell back on the nuclear option. The United States then reined in the Israelis and imposed a peace settlement.
    The point of all this is that, while the book was well-written, indeed, better than most of that genre, I was never able to find it again, having fully expected it be published in paperback and to appear in booksellers shops in hardcover. It didn’t demonize either side, though it portrayed the crisis and war as largely a consequence of Israeli actions and policies. I wasn’t able to recall the title or author when I looked for it a couple of years later. I’ve since then wondered whether it was deliberately withdrawn from publication. As I said, it was a good story.

  38. Dan M says:

    “Warriors” Bantam Books (1991) by Barrett Tillman.
    “Commander John Bennett values flesh-and-blood fighter pilots over high technology – and he gets a chance to put his theories to the test. Invited by the Saudi king to build a secret ari wing capable of matching the elite Israeli air force, Bennett recruits American and British top guns to train a corps of young Saudi pilots – the “Tiger Force”. It’s strategist’s to launch Bennett’s brand of young warriors into military history. but now, as fierce Arab-Israeli war breaks out, thundering confrontations high above the desert will determined the fate of nations – and give John Bennett’s Tigers the fight of their lives”
    Have no idea what became of the book and had never heard of Tillman before. He’s apparently an aviation warfare buff and has published extensively, both history and fiction. One of his books about navy aviation in vietnam is apparently on the USAF and Marine reading lists, according to this.

  39. Dan M says:

    Oh, yeah. Amazon lists it as a “mass market paperback.”

  40. steve says:

    Since I believe anyone can sign up to work for the Megaphone Project, I suggest people do just that–that is, if they have the time and inclination to play counterintelligence on the internet. I don’t, but it’s a thought.

  41. optimax says:

    I don’t want a program from the Megaphone Project on my computer for the same reason I don’t surf porn sites–fear of STDs, Software Transmitted Diseases.

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