Friday, April 17, 2015

Updated: ZEROHEDGE: Conspiracy Theorists, Bloggers
Compared To ISIS During Congressional Hearing

Conspiracy Theorists, Bloggers Compared To ISIS During Congressional Hearing

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/16/2015 23:00 -0400

Submitted by Paul Joseph Watson via,

Bloggers, conspiracy theorists and people who challenge establishment narratives on the Internet were all likened to ISIS terrorists during a chilling Congressional hearing which took place yesterday.


Chairman Royce Questions Witnesses at Hearing on Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information
Chairman Royce: 
One of the questions I am interested in here is that usually around the globe people hunger for information especially when they think they are being denied facts, but what seems to be happening in Russia is that people begin to presume that these conspiracies are in fact true as they are introduced to this on a daily basis repeated over and over and over again and suddenly the conspiratorial theories begin to take on a life of its own and I wondered if maybe the panelists could explain the factors that make this Russian disinformation campaign seemingly so effective from some of the polling I am seeing inside of Russia in terms of the credibility the people have to information, which would, logic would, contradict, but also I was going to ask you a little bit about the platform that it provides for fringe and radical views, not just in Russia, but worldwide, as sort of the extreme fringe is given a platform for what otherwise would not be considered reputable television, ya know? Most broadcasts wouldn’t have on the types of voices with these conspiratorial theories. But maybe you could explain the process RT undertakes to select its experts, and I’ll just turn it over to the panel for your responses.  [You have to ask why are they talking about Russian internal politics when what they really are concerned about is RT's popularity in the USA! -AK]
Ms. Wahl:
That’s an interesting question, selecting the experts, cause that word I think is used loosely in Russian television.  Essentially, anybody that is an expert is somebody who is willing to tow the Russian line and to, to, I mean they could be from the far left, they could be from the far right, they could have unconventional , deranged theories, It didn’t matter and sometimes the producers would scour the internet for these experts, so what qualifies as an expert, it’s kind of murky, what that is and why it’s effective, I think you had mentioned that it provides this voice for fringe voices, extremists, and it works because it provides a place for these people, a place where these people can congregate and feed off of each other’s biases, it’s almost like a community that is almost like a cult, I would say,  that is formed online, and they mobilize and they feel like they are part of some enlightened fight against the establishment and that they, they find a home, they find a place where they are heard and uh, they find a sense of belonging, they find an outlet where they can, where they can, um a platform to voice their deranged views and um, I know that formerly of Radio Free Europe, Mr. Lack,  who has since departed. Had gotten a lot of criticism for comparing Russia Today and Russian propaganda to ISIS propaganda, um and while, yes, there is a strong difference, we’re talking a terrorist organization versus a nation state, [huh? Is RT beheading people now? I don't think so! -AK] I think he did have credence in comparing the strategy that’s there by using the internet to mobilize people that feel displaced, that feel like they’ve been on the outskirts of society, and give them a place where they can find a sense of belonging and maybe make a difference in their own way, um and it’s a problem, and we see that it’s effective. We see that they are um shaping the discussion online on message boards on twitter on social media and uh the internet, you know, we thought that it would be this place where, where ya know, it’s wonderful in a lot of ways, because a lot of different viewpoints and a lot of different people have a voice like never before, but unfortunately it’s provided a forum where disinformation, false theories, people that are just trying to make a name for themselves, bloggers or whatever,  that have absolutely no accountability for the truth are able to rile up a mass amount of people online for a bogus cause.   [And where is Congress' accountability for truth, not to mention the corporate owned media in the USA? -AK]
Chairman Royce:
I think what’s interesting about that, the use of raw violence, which they do a lot of  on their Youtube, 1.4 billion hits is a lot of hits, so people will go to the use of raw violence and then that will be used as you know, part of a thesis on some conspiracy theory, that then is played out, I wondered, uh Peter, your take on this?  [Nice conflation of total Youtube hits with some purported violent video... which shell is the magic pea under? Sheesh I get my videos banned in Germany and there's nothing offensive in them!   If a video like that stays online its because GOOGLE WANTS IT ONLINE (and I doubt what he says is happening anyway) -AK]
Mr. Pomerantsev:
This question, you have hit on one of the key issues here, which goes, takes us all the way through the problems at stake. They’re not fringe any more, these groups, uh we are talking about a France where John Marie LaPenn’s far right party is surging in the polls, we are talking about a Hungary where Jabeck, the far right party is rising and rising, we’re talking about 20 percent of parliamentarians in the European Parliament having what we used to think were fringe, very pro-Russian views.   
Among the people who vote for these parties, there is a lot of people who believe in conspiracies, they are working on a similar thing, they, conspiracies happen to people who don’t trust institutions around them, don’t trust parliament, they don’t trust media, everyone’s lying to you? 
Then there must be a shadowy hand, [its called the Illuminati I believe, they even advertise on the web for members now! -AK] so the Kremlin is in this loop, it is pushing out more conspiracies to fan that audience, they are funding these parties, we know that the Kremlin is funding John Marie LaPenn in France, [Really?? Really?  Do they know anything about French politics and that La Penn is rapid Catholic anti-communist and his views are closer to Hitler than Stalin? -AK] these are not fringe parties this is actually now becoming the mainstream and this is very, very frightening. Um, conspiracy is, what is conspiracy? It’s sort of a linguistic sabotage on the infrastructure of reason.  You can’t have a reality-based discussion when everything becomes conspiracy, in Russia, the whole discourse is conspiracy, [people conspire, that's a fact, especially when it involves money or power! There are even crimes on the law books known as "conspiracy to ....." -AK] everything is conspiracy when a genuine opposition person like Alexander Volney emerges in Russia, the first story the Kremlin does “He’s one of ours, he’s a conspiracy as well, don’t believe in him, destroying belief in everything, when you don’t believe in truth, then you can’t believe in anything, but also more insidiously than that, our let me get very grand now, our global order is based on an idea of reality-based politics, if that reality-based sort of base is destroyed, then you can’t have international institutions, an international dialog, [like banking institutions who control the world? Proven fact... -AK] I remember a quote from I think a Franciscan Monk after the second world war, he’s like “Lying is not a form of  communication, it rids people of their right to live in reality and makes a reality-based politics impossible.  This is a very insidious trend.  [too bad the congress doesn't live by that proverb, especially at election time... -AK]
Thank you Peter, let me go, my time is expired, we’ll go to Mr. Engle of NY.

The hearing, hosted by the House Foreign Relations Committee, was titled “Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information,” and accused Russian state broadcaster RT of weaponizing “conspiracy theories” to spread propaganda.

One of the speakers giving testimony was former RT host Liz Wahl, who made a public spectacle of quitting Russian state media last year in an incident stage-managed by neo-con James Kirchick, himself a former employee of Radio Free Europe – a state media outlet.

Remarking that the Internet provided a platform for “fringe voices and extremists,” Wahl characterized people who challenge establishment narratives as a “cult”. [Are they trying to dimish us you think?  ISIS? Boko Haram? Fringe voices and Extremists?  Cult?  Its free speech, get used to it....  -AK]

“They mobilize and they feel they’re part of some enlightened fight against the establishment….they find a platform to voice their deranged views,” said Wahl.

Referring to comments made in January by US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) chief Andrew Lack, who characterized RT as a threat on the same level as ISIS and Boko Haram, Wahl said the comparison was justified.  [Can you get any funnier than this ridiculousness  -AK]

“By using the Internet to mobilize people that feel displaced, that feel like they’ve been on the outskirts of society, and give them a place where they can find a sense of belonging, and maybe make a difference in their own way, and it’s a problem,” she said.  [Transparency is a bitch.... -AK]

Wahl went on to bemoan the fact that conspiracy theorists were “shaping the discussion online, on message boards, on Twitter, on social media,” before asserting that the web had become a beacon of “disinformation, false theories, people that are just trying to make a name for themselves, bloggers or whatever, that have absolutely no accountability for the truth, that are able to rile up a mass amount of people online.”  

Committee Chairman Ed Royce then proceeded to accuse people on YouTube of using “raw violence” to advance conspiracy theories. [HUH??? LIKE THAT WOULDN"T GET BANNED FROM YOUTUBE IN A HEARTBEAT?  GIVE ME A BREAK! The video above implies the 4 billion Youtube hits were for violence videos...LIES!!!  -AK]

Peter Pomerantsev, of the London-based Legatum Institute, followed up by claiming that conspiracy theories were no longer “fringe” and were now driving the success of Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, before lamenting the fact that conspiracy theories were challenging the “global order” and threatening to undermine global institutions.  [Curious how that was phrased...rather than say conspiracy theories are no longer theories but conspiracy facts, he effectively says "conspiracy theories are no longer marginalized conspiracy theories"...  I do love the choice of domain names though! LI DOT COM!!! LOL!! You can't make this stuff up!!! How many congressmen do you think even bothered to Google The Legatum Institute to see that is its a private investment firm headquarted in that bastian of freedom of speech, the UAE?  The Legatum Institute was founded no less than by the man who started the Bangladesh Grameen Bank, Grameenphone and consulted to the World Bank, Iqbal Quadir .  You think bankers might just be a little upset with the Internet and bloggers right now? -AK]

All three individuals that gave testimony are staunch critics of Russia, leading Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to wish “we had at least one other person to balance out this in a way that perhaps could’ve compared our system to the Russian system, to find out where that truth is, just how bad that is.”

Beyond the inflammatory rhetoric, the real story revolves around the fact that Washington was caught off guard by the rapid growth of RT, with Hillary Clinton and others having acknowledged the fact that the U.S. is “losing the information war,” which is why they are now desperately trying to denigrate the Russian broadcaster.  [If its a war then the only casualties are the govermnet lies... -AK]

Without a doubt, RT puts out pro-Russian propaganda, but it also broadcasts truths about geopolitics and U.S. foreign policy that Americans will never see on mainstream corporate networks, precisely because those networks are also engaged in propaganda. [Yep, yep... RT.COM is not a good source for Russian news or info on the Uktraine...but it does a bang up job the USA... because you don't have to lie about what is going on in the USA, telling the truth about it is enough!!!! -AK]

There’s no mystery behind why RT has become so big – telling the truth is popular – but because Washington finds it impossible to compete on that basis, it has been forced to resort to ad hominem attacks and ludicrous comparisons to ISIS in a desperate bid to level the playing field.

As linguist Noam Chomsky said, “The idea that there should be a network reaching people, which does not repeat the US propaganda system, is intolerable” to the US establishment.

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