Australian (ASX) Stock Market Forum

Deception: use + abuse of information by governments + terrorists

18 March 2005
Forget irrelevant rubbish like free speech and truth - this traitor needs to be reported to the authorities and locked up...


Deception: the use and abuse of information by governments and terrorists.



"I’m going to take you into a world of psychological operations, deception, spin, perception management: the manipulation of the public mind.

It’s a way of getting your own way by manipulating the public. Now the terrorists do it, governments do it, and organisations do it. We don’t tend to mind when organisations do it – it’s called advertising. But, when other people do it (and we’re aware that it’s going on), we tend to get annoyed.

Deception is part of our research within ECU’s Security and Intelligence Group. Some of this research is based on computer network security where we use deception as a defence mechanism to stop people entering networks.

Here I’m talking about another side of our research - information operations - which tends to be more of a national information security discipline and is really about the manipulation of the public mind.

When we talk about deception it’s always got negative overtones. Illusion, sham, hoax, cheat, lie, mislead. However we all deceive. We learn from childhood that if you don’t deceive you don’t get on. And although parents tell their children not to lie, they usually smack them if they don’t, so children actually learn to lie in certain parts of life and not in others.

And if you think about it, autistic children and the very young can’t tell anything but the truth, and that’s regarded as some kind of deficiency in them. So we’ve got this contradictory thing about deception.

If you think about it, can you imagine anyone in a public organisation meeting who has actually told the truth? You laugh, but you understand exactly what I mean – there’s (often) no such thing as the truth.

So deception is an integral part of society. Without it we fall apart and would be warring with each other on a personal level, never mind a national one.

In nature of course there’s plenty of deception - there’s a stonefish which uses camouflage efficiently…and the clownfish which uses a typical piece of deception with distraction – a false eye at the back with its real eye camouflaged so the predator goes for the back and gives the fish a longer time to get away.

However, we’re talking about human deception - deception deliberately posed by humans. For instance, a digital image of three people suddenly becomes an image of two. Or a photograph of an oil slick on a nice pristine beach which is turned into a pristine beach again. Wouldn’t it be great if it was that easy? But a lot of tourist resorts do that of course with their brochures.

So deception then is a deliberate manipulation of objects, data and context, for the benefit of the manipulator but unknown to the recipient.

A lot of people would say that for instance, makeup is a deception and it is to a certain extent, but not really because you know it’s there so you know someone is trying to deceive you and so it’s not a good deception unless it’s very subtle.

So it’s a deliberate deception of objects, data and context for the benefit of the manipulator. Now that does not imply lying – it just means you shift objects and data and the context in such a way that you will benefit from it.

Now it could include lying but it doesn’t have to. But a good deception needs these three characteristics. It needs to be credible, and I will argue later that our Western propaganda - which is deception of course - has ceased to be credible. It needs to be consistent, and again with Western propaganda, it’s consistently bad. And it needs to be carefully timed.

Those three things are essential for a good deception to take place. And a deception plan should have an objective, a target, a story and a means.

I would argue that not all deception is wrong. Deception is sometimes necessary in particular situations. I just think in the latter days it’s become too much the norm instead of an exception.

There are two fundamental ways you can deceive: you hide the real, using things like camouflage or dazzling (and I'll explain what that is in a minute), or you show the false, which means you mimic something, or you decoy, or you spread disinformation.

Now showing the false is hiding the real, it’s just that it’s a stage further. So when you hide the real you don’t have to show the false.

In the Second World War in one American town, the airport was thought to be a target - if Japanese planes could ever get that far. So they got a load of hessian and they came up with a brilliant camouflage to hide it – and from the air the airport literally disappeared.

Decoys (rubber creations resembling tanks and other military equipment) were used successfully in the Second World War, for instance in East Anglia before the Normandy invasion to simulate a huge army under the so-called control of Patton to deceive the Germans into believing that they were actually going to invade through the port of Calais. Decoys were also used in the eastern desert, in Libya and so on by the magician Maskelin to make Alexandria disappear – at least to fliers.

And naval ships were painted with dazzling (camouflage zigzag stripes) – the captains hated it but it was very effective. When these ships were going forward they looked as if they were going backwards, and when you saw them you didn’t know the size of them. They don’t use dazzling anymore for some reason, I think it’s sailor’s pride.

Information is now regarded as a weapon. Information dominance is the objective.

The world is changing and it’s changing because of something called information warfare which has become a doctrine in the West. It’s now called information operations because it sounds a bit nicer than information warfare; less aggressive. Really it’s information dominance.

Now this really started in the Gulf War as a way of dominating the infosphere, making sure your enemy couldn’t get the information they needed. So all the information your enemy got was controlled by you. And they could not control anything. Now that was ok when they were fighting Iraq, it might be a bit different when you’re fighting a bit more of an advanced country.

But basically they did that. That’s why they knocked out radio stations, communications lines and all that sort of thing. They gained information dominance. And we’ll see later when we look at the Second Iraq War what that meant to one of the information officers of the Iraqi government.

So now information is produced and manipulated – it just doesn’t exist. It’s used for exploitation and influence, not edification. Now you could say well, that’s been happening for thousands of years and that’s true. But it’s not been done to the same extent or the same sophistication as it is now.

So let’s first look at what information is. There are three elements: data, knowledge and information. Each one of you is bombarded with data every minute of your life.

Now you then take that information in via a communications medium, and your senses and your brain filter it using available knowledge and interpret that data into perception. That’s why the perception you create is always different. So each individual will have a slightly different interpretation of even the most common event that you would think everybody understood. Anybody who’s been in court and listened to evidence about a car crash they’ve been involved in would know – hey, hang on, that’s not what happened…

So how can we make use of this simple model of how we process information to exploit deception? One of the things you can do is deny people data. If you deny people data they can’t make a judgement on that particular thing.

And that is secrecy, of course, and it’s the very thing that is used the most. So to deceive people you use secrecy, you just deny them the data in the first place. Or if you want to get a bit more sophisticated, you manipulate the data so – as long as they don’t understand or know you’re manipulating the data – you can create a different set of information. In fact it becomes disinformation.

You can disrupt or intercept data on the communications channel, or communications medium as it’s not always electronic - it could be through the ether.

And you can alter people’s perceptions, and the context in which they understand the data, because when you get the data in if you change the context of that particular data then what you will do is change the information out.

Now I would argue that those policemen in London who shot that Brazilian a few weeks ago had their perceptions altered tremendously by the July 7 bombings. And because of that, the kind of information they interpreted from that particular person running away was totally different than it would have been two weeks previous to that.

And this dramatic altering of perception - that’s what’s happening in our country and in fact in other western countries.

Now an example of deception techniques: we’re presented with an incomplete outline of something and we fill in the gaps (such as a diagram of a series of angles which our brain concludes looks vaguely like a typical western house by filling in the gaps between the angles).

And of course that’s the clever way to deceive someone. You don’t just tell them the story, you just give them bits. You give them the angles and let them build the house.

So if you know the context in which these people will interpret that, if you know their culture, then they’ll build the house for you.

You can of course lie as well, without lying. Because if you don’t give people the context in which they observe something, then yes can actually turn into no.

Say, for instance we consider a diagram of two horizontal lines where you say the top line looks longer than the other, or are both the same size? But no, they’re not, the top one is actually shorter.

And the reason you’ve been caught out with that is that the context in which you interpret that data hasn’t been given to you in the first place. And so you make a false decision. You’ve actually been deceived.

Most of your decision making is made in your subconscious. It‘s not made consciously. You all think it is but what actually happens is that your brain, your subconscious processes things, and then about two seconds before you make a decision it’s passed onto your conscious and you say ah – I’ve just thought about that.

But that’s not true. So your subconscious is working underneath all the time. But that’s ok because you’ve got real control over yourself haven’t you. Got control? (Shows slide of Charlie Chaplin mask.) If we turn the mask around to the back, can you make that mask go in as it should be, because you know that it’s just a hollow thing. But despite the fact that you know it’s hollow you can’t override your brain, so how free thinking are you?

And the trouble is that people can exploit this particular characteristic. When you’ve got imbedded in you stereotypes and innate fears, flying for instance, when you’ve got buried inside you, all these kind of things – they can be exploited.

Now I’m quickly going to go over a potted history of denial and deception over the last 50 yrs. And I’ve concentrated on war mostly. Because it’s more obvious, and because the military does tend to assume that it uses deception. The government never does but we’ll see that that’s not the truth. And I’ll concentrate on the war and the media.

“The first casualty when war comes, is truth.” American Senator Hiram Johnson, 1917.

Now the cold war, which is in the era of really incredible lies, weapons of mass destruction, sponsored guerrilla wars….a level of paranoia that we’ve only surpassed recently.

(Shows slides of the Chinese, the Africans, the Russians, the evil Americans, more evil Americans with blood on their hands…)

We won that information war against the Soviet Union. And why did we win? Hollywood. Because what Hollywood did was give us stereotypes. It fed us stereotypes and built in were the kind of fears that were just beneath the surface.

Films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers – that was an analogy of the cold war. And War of the Worlds. Basically the message was be very, very afraid, there’s reds under the bed, they’re everywhere, they’re your next door neighbour, they could be your teacher…so let’s hunt them out – does that sound familiar? So what happened was that really innocent people were sussed out. It was like a 17th century witchhunt.

Now in the real world of course we could trust our leaders. Now, deception in this case, because of the atomic weapon and all the other beautiful weapons they’d managed to design at the time, was seen as acceptable because it was for the greater good.

And therefore governments got into the mindset that, well, as it’s for the greater good we can do anything we like. Including testing these nuclear weapons on their own troops – never mind the enemy: let’s test them on our own troops. And if we’ve got a few weak neighbours, let’s test them there. Of course you can go back and live there, no problems at all. (Shows slides of nuclear bombs being let off as troops watch, and near residential areas, saying it’s ok guys, it’s harmless at this distance! You’ll be able to go back and live there in 18 months – honest!)

’ll talk now about the Cuban crisis because the Soviets had a deception doctrine and they did this particular thing quite well. An American U2 flight over Cuba observed that suddenly there were missile sites - which sent the Americans into a spin. What they didn’t realise was that the ships they started to pick up on these flights had been going there for months.

And what the Russians had done was actually ship160 nuclear weapons to Cuba before anyone knew anything about it. What they did, which was quite admirable because they shipped these things over by a huge plan, and it shows you about administration - they had no secretaries involved, they had no paperwork involved.

Only a few could know - there were no handwritten notes – that was illegal, they were not allowed to write any plans down, everything was done by speech. So what they’d do was they’d get these ships from the Crimea and the northern part of Russia and they’d stack them with weapons and then on top they put agricultural equipment.

Then on Radio Moscow it was announced that there was this grand Latin American agricultural show of which the Soviet Union was going to be a grand sponsor. And then a few days later it was announced that they had no plans at all to put nuclear weapons on Cuba.

When they started loading the ships they put the soldiers on underneath, and to add to the deception they gave the soldiers arctic gear. They then sailed the ships out one by one. They would not allow foreign pilots on there, and when they got to Cuba the actual port was sealed off.

The agricultural stuff was unloaded by day, and the weapons and soldiers were unloaded by night. A superb deception. These were motor torpedo boats - and the scary thing about that was they had nuclear torpedos, and the captains of those speed boats had unilateral right to fire those torpedos. (Shows slides of early Russian cruise missiles, etc)

The Russian submarines there had nuclear torpedos and the captains had unilateral right to fire them. That’s why I think the world nearly came to end at that time. The Americans started photographing this when it was too late: the weapons and the missile sites were there.

Now let's look at deception closer to home. (Shows slides of civilian spin over the years encouraging the association of health and social wellbeing with smoking cigarettes - for example by promoting being a real man by smoking Malboro, or being able to get the girl by appearing suave with a cigarette.) What this was doing was linking one thing with something totally separate from it. And this is going on all the time.

And what advertising did was allow the population to be seduced by this sort of information – but it’s not information at all, they’re seduced into believing this sort of rubbish because we’re used to it. Even news broadcasts now are 10 second snippets, only the ABC goes to 20 second snippets.

(To be of talk currently being transcribed)

In his speech, Professor Hutchinson also pointed out the false dichotomy used by George Bush: "If you are not with us, you are for the terrorists." And the illogical: "I will order the bombing of anyone who uses violence for political ends," from Tony Blair before the invasion of Afghanistan. And this beauty: "We demand no foreign interference in the affairs of the Middle East" from Condoleeza Rice.

Professor Hutchinson showed how the title of the US campaign Operation "Iraqi Liberation" was changed to Operation "Iraqi Freedom" because of the unfortunate OIL acronymn of the former. He also explained how the use of certain terms deliberately puts a sugar coating on the issue: friendly fire, and shock and awe instead of death and destruction.

Professor Hutchinson showed how the media - the Fourth Estate - had become the Fourth Front or an arm of the military in the Gulf wars. And how when Private Jessica Lynch was 'rescued' her rescuers just managed to have an American flag on hand to drape across her chest - and a photographer who accompanied them.

He pointed out how deception focuses on those you can vilify (ie Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden), so they can become the context of the problem. Causes then do not have to be examined - it becomes personalised against one or two people instead.

By promoting fear and the 'fact' that 'you're not safe' and that terrorists 'are everywhere', then real issues are pushed off the media agenda - as happened in the London bombings, sidelining G8, Africa, and the efforts of Live 8.

"The spectacle of terrorism forces the terrorism of spectacle upon us," Jean Baudrillard is quoted as saying in The Spirit of Terrorism.

Professor Hutchinson put the illusion of impending doom by terrorist attack into context: less than 3000 died at 9/11 yet 29,573 died from firearm use in the US in 2001, and 150,000 have died on US roads since 9/11 - yet there's not the paranoia about getting into a car to travel on the road - and someone starves to death in the world every three seconds.

The fear of being unsafe, and the mistruth that terrorists are everywhere are the deception, he says.

"Terrorism is not a strategic threat unless we will it to be, adds Professor Hutchinson.

"Unfortunately, perception has become more important than reality and the virtual is becoming more attractive than the real."

20 March 2005
Re: Deception: use + abuse of information by governments + terrorists.

i dont care what u say - i still dont want an 'investor sex change'