Is it time for a new Church Committee?

It’s time for a new Church Committee. Earlier this month, Glenn Greenwald revealed details of how GCHQ (the British equivalent of the NSA) had a special “dirty tricks” intelligence gathering group known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group. This week - Greenwald released more details on the group over at The Intercept, his new media venture.

The newly released details include a top-secret GCHQ presentation that sheds light on how the group, cooperating with the NSA, would go after, infiltrate, and in some cases ruin the reputations of, specific groups or individuals online.

And we’re not just talking about terrorist masterminds here.

According to Greenwald, “Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.”

Greenwald goes on to say that, “To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.”

According to the top-secret presentation, the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, or JTRIG, would leak confidential information to companies and the press, post negative information on “appropriate forums,” and actively try to stop business deals and ruin relationships. And if JTRIG was going after a specific person it would do things like set up honey traps, using sex to lure people into compromising situations.

JTRIG would also write emails and texts to friends, family, and colleagues of the individual, and would also write blogs and messages pretending to be that person.

While this all sounds extremely disturbing and very creepy, it should also sound pretty familiar, because we’ve seen these kinds of covert government interference and manipulation efforts before. These kinds of reputation-destroying smear campaigns and intentional sabotage missions were key parts of the Richard Nixon presidency.

After all, back in 1969, the Nixon administration put together a so-called “enemies list,” that contained the names of hundreds of people that the administration considered to be political opponents. Even actor Paul Newman made that list. And of those hundreds of names, there was a “shortlist” of targets for political retribution. Officials working for The White House would find “dirt” and personal information on those that were “shortlisted,” and leak the information to the press.

Two of those “shortlisted” were Senator Edward Kennedy and the Democratic Speaker of the House at that time, Carl Albert. In fact, Nixon even sent a couple “spies” to be part of the Secret Service detail for Senator Kennedy, because he thought that the agents might catch Kennedy with a mistress, and that it would “ruin him for ’76,” referring to the 1976 election.

Nixon also used government agencies to go after his enemies. The IRS was ordered to conduct audits of organizations opposed to Nixon’s policies, and the CIA’s Special Operations Group spied on leftist activist groups and black power groups. And of course there were the “White House Plumbers,” a covert White House Special Investigations Unit, which was involved in a lot of illegal activities, including the Watergate break-in.

Once the Watergate scandal broke open and news of illegal intelligence gathering by government agencies began to spread, Senator Frank Church, a Democrat from Idaho, formed the Church Committee, which was tasked with investigating illegal intelligence gathering activities by the FBI, NSA, and CIA.

Between 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee published fourteen reports on intelligence gathering abuses by U.S intelligence agencies.

In August of 1975, the Church Committee released its findings.

Senator Church went on NBC’s Meet the Press after the findings were released, and said that, “In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.”

Church added that, “I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

Fast-forward nearly four decades, and we are staring into that “abyss from which there is no return.”

And while the technology may be different, the goals and methods are the same. If the NSA and GCHQ are actively using the Internet to destroy people’s lives, manipulate political discourse and quash civic activism, as Glenn Greenwald puts it, they’re “compromising the integrity of the internet itself.” But more importantly, they’re attacking our very freedoms and way of life.

We can’t continue to let them run amok, and trample all over our lives. President Ford once referred to the Nixon era in America as this nation’s “long national nightmare.” The out-of-control nature of our national security agencies today is our new “national nightmare.”

And the only way to wake up from that nightmare is to create a new Church Commission, which will investigate the intelligence community, and put in place the reforms that are needed to protect our freedoms and way of life.


intok's picture
intok 9 years 15 weeks ago

ISPs Want To Destroy The Internet: Spread This Message So We Can Stop Them

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 15 weeks ago

Yes, we must investigate these illegal and immoral activities. However, unlike in the President Ford era, we must go beyond the henchmen and go after the financiers of this activity. Heads must roll. Otherwise, we will be looking for another Church Committee within a few more decades. The heads of these spy agencies must suffer the same fate as the foot soldiers. Anything else is putting a bandaid on a dam leak.

RepubliCult's picture
RepubliCult 9 years 14 weeks ago

I would not be surprised that members and associates of "Occupy Wallstreet" and spinoffs were targeted by dirty tricks in ways to quash their growth.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 14 weeks ago

Thanks, intok, for that link...good video..although it was sort of an advertisement for a vpn...if you watch the second part. There is an alternative to paying $39.99 per year for can get openvpn at for free...but it was interesting to watch them install their recommended vpn on both a Windows system and a Linux system.

This is actually something not many people think about...that without vpn...your ISP can see everything you download or upload...what sites you go to...and they can and do limit bandwidth based on what content you are downloading. So, even though you may have what looks like a 5 or 10Mbps bandwidth when you run speed tests...they can actually slow you down when you are doing something other than running a speed test. You can only suspect that's what is happening. Normally, I thought that vpn would slow you down...but if you install vpn and you get an increase in bandwidth that would tell you that your isp is limiting your bandwidth on certain things you download. With vpn...they can't tell what your content is.

The talked about "the last mile" as well and this has been a real bug for me...especially when the carriers try to sell me on fiber optics (they don't want you to know that the "last mile" of old copper wire will actually be the thing that keeps you from realizing the real benefits of fiber optics). I'm hoping that Google gets around to my area and installs fiber to the it should be. But AT&T Uverse will only install fiber to the home in newly built home complexes and doesn't want to do that for older homes.

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 9 years 14 weeks ago

Can you imagine what the world would be like today if the Internet had existed during the days of the Nazi propaganda machine? Would we even be here talking about it?

Suze O's picture
Suze O 9 years 14 weeks ago

And who says a new Church Commission will be as effective on rooting out the corruption as the first one? As someone pointed out, Congressional investigations are where evidence goes to die. If the NSA can ruin reputations, it can intimidate those trying to uncover these dirty tricks. There is enough planting of false information, unfounded accusations, and psyops going on as it is - probably more than we realize. This will, as Dick Cheney once said, "take the gloves off" for the spy networks. I am pretty sure the NSA is quite happy with the death of net neutrality. Any debunking or truthtelling could be slowed down or restricted enough to amount to censorship, and the element of money means that those who control the internet can be plied to cooperate.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 14 weeks ago

"The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies (spooks, feds, etc.)


1. COINTELPRO Techniques for dilution, misdirection and control of a internet forum
2. Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation
3. Eight Traits of the Disinformationalist
4. How to Spot a Spy (Cointelpro Agent)
5. Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression

Technique #1 - 'FORUM SLIDING'
Technique #3 - 'TOPIC DILUTION'
Technique #5 - 'ANGER TROLLING'


Remember these techniques are only effective if the forum participants DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THEM. Once they are aware of these techniques the operation can completely fail, and the forum can become uncontrolled. At this point other avenues must be considered such as initiating a false legal precidence to simply have the forum shut down and taken offline. This is not desirable as it then leaves the enforcement agencies unable to track the percentage of those in the population who always resist attempts for control against them. Many other techniques can be utilized and developed by the individual and as you develop further techniques of infiltration and control it is imperative to share then with HQ."

Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation
Eight Traits of the Disinformationalist
How to Spot a Spy (Cointelpro Agent)
Scare Tactics

Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression

bfranklin's picture
bfranklin 9 years 14 weeks ago

I've read "The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies" which details some of the methods. It was very sobering indeed.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 14 weeks ago

WOW Palin, I checked out that link. How fascinating! I wonder if any of that shit has been attempted here. From now on, I'll think more carefully about how I respond to certain posts, to avoid getting ensnared in one of these fascists' little traps. - AIW

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 9 years 14 weeks ago

Where's Kend? Strange, he's suddenly not around. >:^)

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 9 years 14 weeks ago

But there do seem to be some here to fit that profile, especially on the member blogs. They do seem to work in teams.

A lot of 'em, I think, are business PR shills. A good book, written in the '90s but still very relevant today, Toxic Sludge is Good for You by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, describes to what lengths PR firms will go to spread disinformation, how very effective they are and how valued and relied upon they are by big business.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 14 weeks ago

Gawd...! Is there no way to get rid of these people?!! All we want to do is discuss the issues of our day, how they impact our lives, etc... Is there no place we can do that without being infiltrated by PR fucking scumbags?!!! I resent this like crazy. - AIW

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