Silencing free spech in the USA


This video about the USA says about itself:

31 October 2017

Russiagate is a purported attempt to uncover the alleged subversion of U.S. democracy, but it’s creating dangers of its own, says former FBI Special Agent Colleen Rowley.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

US Congressional hearing: Former FBI agent says tech companies must “silence” sources of “rebellion”

1 November 2017

Top legal and security officials for Facebook, Twitter and Google appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, in a hearing targeting “Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online.”

Over the course of four hours, senators argued that “foreign infiltration” is the root of social opposition within the United States, in order to justify the censorship of oppositional viewpoints.

Russia “sought to sow discord and amplify racial and social divisions among American voters,” said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. It “exploited hot button topics…to target both conservative and progressive audiences.”

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Russia helped promote protests against police violence in Ferguson, Baltimore and Cleveland. Russia, he said, “spread stories about abuse of black Americans by law enforcement. These ads are clearly intended to worsen racial tensions and possibly violence in those cities.”

Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii demanded, for her part, that the companies adopt a “mission statement” expressing their commitment “to prevent the fomenting of discord.”

The most substantial portion of the testimony took place in the second part of the hearing, during which most of the Senators had left and two representatives of the US intelligence agencies testified before a room of mostly empty chairs.

Clint Watts, a former U.S. Army officer, former FBI agent, and member of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, made the following apocalyptic proclamation: “Civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words. America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.”

He added, “Stopping the false information artillery barrage landing on social media users comes only when those outlets distributing bogus stories are silenced—silence the guns and the barrage will end.”

As this “civil war” rages on, he said, “our country remains stalled in observation, halted by deliberation and with each day more divided by manipulative forces coming from afar.”

The implications of these statements are staggering. The United States is in the midst of a civil war, and the necessary response of the government is censorship, together with the abolition of all other fundamental democratic rights. The “rebellion” must be put down by silencing the news outlets that advocate it.

That such a statement could be made in a congressional hearing, entirely without objection, is an expression of the terminal decay of American democracy. There is no faction of the ruling class that maintains any commitment to basic democratic rights.

None of the Democrats in the committee raised any of the constitutional issues involved in asking massive technology companies to censor political speech on the Internet. Only one Republican raised concerns over censorship, but only to allege that Google had a liberal bias.

The Democrats focused their remarks on demands that the Internet companies take even more aggressive steps to censor content. In one particularly noxious exchange, Feinstein pressed Google’s legal counsel on why it took so long for YouTube (which is owned by Google) to revoke the status of Russia Today as a “preferred” broadcaster. She demanded, “Why did Google give preferred status to Russia Today, a Russian propaganda arm, on YouTube? … It took you until September of 2017 to do it.”

Despite the fact that Feinstein and other Democrats were clearly pressuring the company to take that step, the senators allowed Richard Salgado, Google’s Law Enforcement and Information Security Director, to present what was by all appearances a bald-faced lie before Congress. “The removal of RT from the program was actually a result of…is a result of some of the drop in viewership, not as a result of any action otherwise. So there was … there was nothing about RT or its content that meant that it stayed in or stayed out,” Salgado stammered, in the only time he appeared to lose his composure during the hearing.

Salgado’s apparently false statement is of a piece with Google’s other actions to censor the Internet. These include changes to its search algorithm, which, behind the backs of the public, have slashed search traffic to left-wing websites by some 55 percent, with the World Socialist Web Site losing some 74 percent of its search traffic.

Stressing the transformation of the major US technology companies into massive censorship operations, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island asked the representatives of the firms, “I gather that all of your companies have moved beyond any notion that your job is only to provide a platform, and whatever goes across it is not your affair,” to which all answered in the affirmative.

When pressed by lawmakers to state how many people were employed by Facebook to moderate content, Colin Stretch, the company’s general counsel, said that Facebook employed “thousands” of such moderators, and was in the process of adding “thousands more.”

While the senators and technology companies largely presented a show of unity, just how far the companies were willing to go in censoring users’ content and helping the government create blacklists of dissidents was no doubt a subject of contentious debate in the background.

On Friday, Feinstein sent a letter to Twitter’s CEO demanding that the company hand over profile information—possibly including full names, email addresses, and phone numbers—related to “divisive” “organic content” promoted by “Russia-linked” accounts.

Although the senators largely steered away from the issue of “organic content” in their questions, a remark by Sean Edgett, Twitter’s acting general counsel, made clear that the “organic content” Feinstein’s letter was referring to included the social media posts of US-based organizations and individuals. Edgett said “organic tweets,” include “those that you or I or anyone here today can tweet from their phone or computer.”

The New York Times reported over the weekend, however, that Facebook has already begun turning lists of such “organic content” over to congressional investigators. Given that Facebook has said that just one “Russia-linked” company had posted some 80,000 pieces of “divisive” content, including reposts from other users, it is reasonable to assume Facebook and Twitter are being pressured to turn over information on a substantial portion of political dissidents within the United States.

Anti-Russia hearings in the US: Lawmakers demand tech companies censor journalists and conduct mass surveillance: here.

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Dutch ‘Big Brother’ secret police law referendum, 21 March


Dutch students against Big Brother secret police law, ANP photo

This photo shows five Amsterdam university students, who recently started collecting voters’ signatures against a new law which attacks civil liberties by enormously increasing secret police powers to spy on citizens.

Today, the Dutch election authority has decided that there will be a referendum in which people can vote for or against that law on 21 March 2018; the day of the local elections.

There were over 417,000 signatures. The election authority found these were overwhelmingly valid signatures; far more than the 300,000 required by the Dutch law on consultative referendums.

These voters have signed to have this referendum against that new law giving secret services ‘Big Brother’ powers to spy on the Internet activities of all citizens, including the great majority of people not suspected of any crime.

The law also wants sharing of the results of that spying with foreign secret services. Like the NSA and the CIA in the USA; where Donald Trump wants more spying and more torture by secret police. Or like the ‘intelligence’ service in Rajoy‘s Spain, where over 800 people are injured for voting and people are jailed and threatened with thirty years of imprisonment for peacefully having different views on independence for Catalonia (different from pro-independence people in Scotland or Quebec, not jailed for free speech by the British or Canadian governments). After all, Mr Rajoy is an European Union and NATO ally of the Dutch government. Another NATO ally is Erdogan, dictator of Turkey. This new Dutch law opens the door for sharing results of spying on Dutch citizens with Erdogan‘s secret police. Another ally, though not a NATO or European Union member, is the head-chopping absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia.

These foreign secret police organisations will even get data which the Dutch secret services themselves have not analyzed yet.

Senior legal advisers of the Dutch government like the Raad van State are critical of the law. So are human rights organisations like Amnesty International.

There is a good chance that the Dutch electorate will reject this anti-privacy law; if one bases oneself on the two national referendums in the Netherlands so far.

On 1 June 2005, there was a referendum on the proposed European Union constitution. The referendum had been proposed by politicians supporting that European Union constitution, expecting they would win. The VVD right-wing pro-Big Business party campaigned in that referendum with TV propaganda claiming ridiculously that if people would vote No then mass murder in Auschwitz concentration camp would start again. However, 61.5% of voters voted No; especially not so rich voters.

Technically, the Dutch government and the European Union respected the Dutch No vote, and also the French No vote, against the European constitution. However, they replaced it with the Lisbon treaty, with only cosmetic changes. About that treaty, the voters of the Netherlands and all European Union countries except Ireland, were not given the right to vote. So, still disrespect for the voters.

On 6 April 2016, there was again a referendum in the Netherlands. This time on the proposed treaty between the European Union and Ukraine. This time, over 400,000 signatures had been collected by a committee which said they were neither for nor against the treaty. Like in 2005, practically the whole political and Big Business establishment campaigned for a Yes vote for the treaty. But, again, 61,1% of the people voted against.

The Dutch Mark Rutte government disrespected that vote while hypocritically claiming they did respect it.

If voters will vote No to the Big Brother law in March 2018, will politicians respect that then? Looking at how they disrespected the two earlier referendums, one cannot be over-optimistic. However, if people don’t vote or vote Yes to Big Brother, then civil liberties will 100% certainly be damaged.

The new Dutch government is a coalition of four parties, with only a one seat majority in parliament.

The most ‘liberal’ (in the United States sense) of the four parties in this right-wing coalition is D66. A party which voted against the Big Brother law when parliament discussed it. A party, founded in 1966, with as one of its main points to have decisive referendums. However, they are now one of four parties which have agreed to carry on with the Big Brother law and to abolish even consultative referendums. Kaisa Ollongren, the new Minister of the Interior, is a D66 member.

Ms Ollongren has said that she, though a D66 member, does not like referendums. She admitted that it is impossible to make the new Big Brother law effective on 1 January 2018, as the new government had planned. She wants to make it effective on 1 May; after the referendum about it.

Buma, the leader of the CDA, a right-wing party in the coalition, has said that the government should disregard the referendum vote if the electorate will vote against the Big Bother law. D66 leader Pechtold has said that was ‘not clever’ of Buma. But will Pechtold really strongly oppose the Buma policy in this, which is a move from democracy towards dictatorship? Or will defeating this anti-democratic Buma policy rather depend on a mass movement outside parliament?

The new coalition government plans to abolish consultative referendums. Will there be a referendum against the plans to abolish referendums?

No, says the Dutch government; to the indignation of the youth organisation of government coalition party D66.

President Kennedy murdered, some documents released, some still secret


This video from the USA says about itself:

Rush to Judgment (1966)

A 1966 film by [President] J[ohn] F[itzgerald] K[ennedy] Assassination Researcher Mark Lane. In this documentary key eyewitness accounts just three years after the assassination.

By Eric London in the USA:

27 October 2017

Bowing to pressure from the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Trump administration delayed the release of thousands of documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963 in an announcement last night.

An additional batch of thousands of less sensitive documents related to the assassination was released online last night at 7:30 pm, in accordance with a 1992 law that scheduled documents for release this year.

The New York Times reported, however, that “following a chaotic last-minute campaign by intelligence agencies lobbying for selected redactions, Mr. Trump agreed to postpone the disclosure of other documents while officials screen them again for sensitive information.”

By Phillip Francis in the USA today:

JFK’s assassination was conspired by [right-wingers in then South] Vietnam?

Richard Nixon during Watergate

Nixon had some theories of his own. | Wikimedia Commons

In a released document from the Rockefeller Commision, a testimony from then-CIA Director Richard Helms in 1975 outlines a conspiracy theory held by Richard Nixon. Nixon believed that the coup and death of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and that [sentence sic] the CIA was responsible for the whole thing. Nixon asserted that the assassination of JFK was revenge for that act. …

[Helms said] President Johnson used to go around saying that the reason President Kennedy was assassinated was that he had assassinated President Diem and this was just … justice.

By Barry Grey in the USA:

Newly released documents point to state cover-up and complicity in assassination of John F. Kennedy

28 October 2017

Information contained in nearly 2,900 previously classified documents released Thursday concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy further undermines the official narrative of a lone killer and points to a cover-up and complicity on the part of forces within the US intelligence agencies.

What are generally deemed the most sensitive—and potentially incriminating—documents were withheld, as President Donald Trump acceded to extraordinary pressure from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and delayed their release.

These 300 documents, consisting of thousands of pages of material, include an extensive file on the head of the CIA office in Dallas at the time of the November 22, 1963 killing; a dossier on a prominent Dallas businessman who conferred with nightclub owner Jack Ruby just before Ruby shot and killed the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald; files on two anti-Castro Cuban terrorists involved in mass murder; documents concerning Oswald’s six-day trip to Mexico City and meetings with Russian and Cuban officials seven weeks before the Kennedy assassination; and information on Watergate burglars and longtime CIA operatives E. Howard Hunt and James McCord.

From the moment the 35th president was killed by a volley of shots as his caravan drove past Dealey Plaza in Dallas up to the present time, there has been a systematic effort to keep from public view critical facts pointing to political motives underlying the murder and to dismiss all questioning of the 1964 Warren Commission Report as “conspiracy theories.”

The commission, announced by Lyndon Johnson a week after Kennedy’s assassination and headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, concluded that Oswald, acting alone and using a mail order rifle, killed Kennedy by firing three shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building, which overlooks Dealey Plaza. The commission said Oswald had no connection to US intelligence agencies or other parties.

The American public, with good reason, has never accepted this narrative. A recent poll by FiveThirtyEight and SurveyMonkey found that only 33 percent of Americans believe the assassination was the work of only one person, while 61 percent believe others were involved. A 1979 report issued by the House Select Committee on Assassinations seconded this view, concluding that Kennedy “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.”

Kennedy’s assassination had a traumatic effect on the American public and continues to haunt the popular imagination. It came at a time of mounting crisis for US imperialism both at home and abroad, signaling the beginning of the end of the United States’ post-World War II global economic and geopolitical hegemony. Only weeks before his death, Kennedy sanctioned the coup that overthrew South Vietnamese President Diem, leading to his murder, an event that marked a nodal point in the escalation of the US intervention in Vietnam.

Washington’s mounting economic contradictions were reflected in a worsening balance of payments crisis and gold drain, which would lead eight years later to the collapse of the Bretton Woods monetary system and the ending of dollar-gold convertibility.

Domestically, the ruling class faced a growing civil rights insurgency and a militant working class determined to defend and extend its postwar economic gains. The elimination of Kennedy was an inflection point in the transition of US ruling class domestic policy from social reform and relative class compromise to class war and political reaction.

The documents released on Thursday make clear that both the FBI and the CIA were well aware of Oswald’s activities and were closely tracking him in the period leading up to the assassination. Yet they failed to warn the Secret Service, tasked with protecting the president, about the former Marine, turned expatriate living in the Soviet Union, turned active member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

One of the more spectacular documents concerns 1975 testimony by Richard Helms, the CIA director under presidents Johnson and Nixon, to the President’s Commission on CIA Activities, which was headed by then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. A lawyer for the commission is quoted asking Helms: “Is there any information involved with the assassination of President Kennedy which in any way shows that Lee Harvey Oswald was in some way a CIA agent or agent…?” At that point the document breaks off, without Helms’ reply.

Other material documents the fact that the intelligence agencies were closely monitoring Oswald’s movements. One document shows that the CIA intercepted Oswald speaking to a Russian KGB agent in Mexico City on September 28, 1963. Another, dated October 25, a month before the assassination, is from the New Orleans office of the FBI. In it, the FBI notes Oswald’s involvement in the New Orleans chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and discusses the agency’s contacts with Cuban sources concerning Oswald.

A number of documents shed light on the systematic nature of the cover-up, which began virtually the moment the shots rang out on Dealey Plaza. One is a memo from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover dictated the evening of November 24, 1963, shortly after Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald, before live TV cameras, as the Dallas police were leading the handcuffed suspect down a corridor in the police headquarters building.

Hoover says, “Last night we received a call in our Dallas office from a man talking in a calm voice and saying he was a member of a committee organized to kill Oswald.” He notes that he informed the Dallas police of the call and insisted that they take precautions to prevent an attack on Oswald. Furious that the accused assassin was killed before a confession had been extracted from him, Hoover writes of the need for “something issued so that we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.” This was written, of course, before any serious investigation of the killing had begun.

Lyndon Johnson, who told Earl Warren that his commission had a “patriotic mission” to stamp out “dangerous rumors” of state involvement in the assassination, was himself convinced that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. One document in the trove released Thursday shows Richard Helms telling the Rockefeller Commission in 1975 that Johnson “used to go around saying that the reason President Kennedy was assassinated was that he had assassinated President Diem.”

In its account of the released documents, the Washington Post writes: “The CIA publicly acknowledged in 2014 that John McCone, its director at the time of the assassination, participated in a ‘benign cover-up,’ according to a paper by agency historian David Robarge. His article said McCone was ‘complicit in keeping incendiary and diversionary issues off the commission’s agenda.’ He wrote that McCone did not tell the commission about CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro, some of which had been planned at the Mexico City station.”

There is ample material in the newly released papers concerning the criminal activities of the US government in the period leading up to the assassination. A 1975 document from the Rockefeller Commission speaks of Attorney General Robert Kennedy telling the FBI that the CIA considered approaching Chicago mobster Sam Giancana to have the mafia go to Cuba and kill Fidel Castro for $150,000. Schemes to assassinate Castro included the use of gunmen, poison pills, a skin-diving suit contaminated with a disabling fungus and tuberculosis, and a “booby-trap spectacular seashell.”

Behind the public face of the Kennedy administration, marked by soaring rhetoric about the defense of democracy around the world, both John and Robert Kennedy had a particular fascination with assassination plots, particularly against Castro. It was less than three years since the Bay of Pigs debacle, in which President Kennedy signed off on the CIA scheme to use Cuban anti-Castro expatriates to invade the island, murder Castro and install a US puppet regime.

Despite the failure of the plot and Kennedy’s fury over the CIA’s false assurances and incompetence, his administration remained mired in the swamp of anticommunist adventurers and terrorists. Two of the CIA’s anti-Castro allies, Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch, were implicated in the blowing up of a Cuban commercial airliner and death of 73 innocent passengers in 1976. Posada escaped from prison in Venezuela with the aid of an anti-Castro group with close ties to the Reagan administration. He was subsequently implicated in terrorist bombings in Cuba in the late 1990s.

Other illegal activities described in the newly released documents include the FBI’s relentless wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr., whom Hoover considered to be part of a world communist conspiracy, and FBI spying on Mark Lane, a liberal lawyer and author of a number of books debunking the Warren Commission Report.

The US media and the Kennedy assassination documents: “Move along, nothing to see here”: here.

Facebook censors Syrian Kurds, helping Erdogan, ISIS


This video from the USA says about itself:

How Facebook Decides If You See Nudity or Death (HBO)

Facebook employs 4,500 content moderators around the world. Moderators get two weeks of training and a stack of manuals to help them police the site for racism,

No racism? So, why is, eg, the racist, openly neonazi Dutch Nederlandse Volks-Unie party welcome and unmolested at Facebook?

misogyny,

No misogyny? Then, why Facebook censorship about women’s reproductive rights?

violence,

Then why the Facebook pages of the armed forces of the USA, Britain and many other countries; eg, of the army of Myanmar, busily killing Rohingya minority civilians?

and pornography.

Meaning in practice: censorship of famous works of art and of famous photos documenting Vietnam war crimes.

VICE’s partners at The Guardian obtained more than a hundred of these manuals and they offer the first-ever look at the sometimes logical, sometimes inexplicable ways Facebook asks a few thousand people to help patrol its close to 2 billion users. This segment is part of the May 23rd [2017] VICE News Tonight episode.

After Facebook censored this and that, helped the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, etc. etc., now this.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Facebook ‘politically censoring’ Kurdish solidarity

Wednesday 18th October 2017

PRO-KURDISH activists accused Facebook of political censorship yesterday after it closed down a page expressing solidarity with Kurds in Syria.

The Leeds Friends of Rojava page was suspended after the site said it didn’t comply with Facebook’s “community standards.”

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (KSC) co-secretary Rosa Gilbert accused the social media giant of going out of its way to censor posts criticising Turkey and offering support for Kurds.

“Thanks to a leak a few years ago by one of Facebook’s ‘content moderators,’ we know that there is an internationally applied Facebook policy to censor maps of Kurdistan, criticisms of Turkey and Ataturk, and anything relating to the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.”

She said the policy had broadened to include censoring posts supporting the [Syrian Kurdish] YPG which is not listed as a terrorist organisation in Britain although it is in Turkey.

“This should concern anyone with an interest in freedom of speech — why should someone writing a Facebook post in England face censorship because the Turkish government doesn’t like what you’re writing?”

So Facebook is not only helping the genocidal regime in Myanmar. They are censoring the Syrian Kurds, the main force effectively fighting the ISIS terrorists. They are doing that on behalf of Turkish autocrat Erdogan, often accused of helping ISIS. Erdogan, voted ‘dictator of the year’ jointly with the ISIS boss.

The political representatives of the American ruling class are engaged in a conspiracy to suppress free speech. Under the guise of combating “trolls” and “fake news” supposedly controlled by Russia, the most basic constitutional rights enumerated in the First Amendment are under direct attack: here.

Dutch referendum against Big Brother secret police law


Dutch anti-spying on citizens poster

This poster is against the new Dutch law on secret services, saying it violates human rights.

Dutch NOS TV reports today that 407,582 people have signed to have a consultative referendum against a new law giving secret services ‘Big Brother’ powers to spy on the Internet activities of all citizens, including the great majority of people not suspected of any crime. The law also wants sharing of the results of that spying with foreign secret services, like the NSA and the CIA in the USA (where Donald Trump wants more spying and more torture by secret police); even data which the Dutch secret services have themselves not analyzed yet. Senior legal advisers of the Dutch government like the Raad van State are critical of the law. So are human rights organisations like Amnesty International.

This is a Dutch 1 October 2017 video, in which comedian Arjen Lubach criticizes the law. Amsterdam University student Marlou Gijzen first got the idea for the referendum.

For a consultative referendum in the Netherlands, 300,000 signatures are needed. If the referendum will go ahead, then Dutch media think it will be on the day of the local elections, 21 March 2018.

There is a good chance that the Dutch electorate will reject this anti-privacy law; if one bases oneself on the two national referenda in the Netherlands so far.

On 1 June 2005, there was a referendum on the proposed European Union constitution. The referendum had been proposed by politicians supporting that European Union constitution, expecting they would win. The VVD right-wing pro-Big Business party campaigned in that referendum with TV propaganda claiming ridiculously that if people would vote No then mass murder in Auschwitz concentration camp would start again. However, 61.5% of voters voted No; especially not so rich voters.

Technically, the Dutch government and the European Union respected the Dutch No vote, and also the French No vote, against the European constitution. However, they replaced it with the Lisbon treaty, with only cosmetic changes. About that treaty, the voters of the Netherlands and all European Union countries except Ireland, were not given the right to vote. So, still disrespect for the voters.

On 6 April 2016, there was again a referendum in the Netherlands. This time on the proposed treaty between the European Union and Ukraine. This time, over 400,000 signatures had been collected by a committee which said they were neither for nor against the treaty. Like in 2005, practically the whole political and Big Business establishment campaigned for a Yes vote for the treaty. But, again, 61,1% of the people voted against.

The Dutch Mark Rutte government disrespected that vote while hypocritically claiming they did respect it.

If voters will vote No to the Big Brother law in March 2018, will politicians respect that then? Looking at how they disrespected the two earlier referendums, one cannot be over-optimistic. However, if people don’t vote or vote Yes to Big Brother, then civil liberties will 100% certainly be damaged.

Now, politicians, including politicians who used to like referendums when they still thought they would win them, have plans to abolish the law making consultative referendums possible.

Will there be a referendum against the plans to abolish referendums?

‘A government critic? You’re a Russian spy!’


This video from the USA says about itself:

Edward R. Murrow: “A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy”

“See It Now” on CBS – March 9, 1954.

By Joseph Kishore in the USA:

The New York Times and the criminalization of dissent

11 October 2017

The campaign within the American media and political establishment over allegations of Russian “hacking” and manipulation of the US elections is being transformed into an increasingly frenzied demand for the criminalization of dissent.

During the first months of the Trump administration, the charges of Russian interference in US politics were primarily used to prosecute a struggle within the American ruling class centered on issues of foreign policy. The anti-Russian campaign has now developed into an effort to associate all opposition within the United States to the actions of a “foreign enemy.”

A series of increasingly ludicrous articles have appeared in the US press, channeling information supposedly gathered by the Senate Intelligence Committee from social media companies. The latest appeared on Tuesday in the New York Times, which has played the central role in the media campaign. The front-page article (“Russians Spun American Rage Into a Weapon: Facebook Posts in US Fueled Propaganda”) is a piece of pure political propaganda, filled with unsubstantiated statements, wild speculation and unsupported conclusions.

Social media posts from Americans, the Times asserts, have become “grist for a network of Facebook pages linked to a shadowy Russian company that carried out propaganda campaigns for the Kremlin.” The newspaper claims to have reviewed hundreds of these posts, concluding, “One of the most powerful weapons that Russian agents used to reshape American politics was the anger, passion and misinformation that real Americans were broadcasting across social media platforms.”

The article names several Facebook pages that it baldly asserts, without proof, were owned and controlled by the unnamed Russian company, including United Muslims of America, Being Patriotic, Secured Borders, and Blacktivist.

The entire premise of the Times article is absurd. Pages associated with Russia, it is claimed, are reporting and sharing expressions of anger, sowing discontent and divisions. United Muslims of America, for example, “frequently posted content highlighting discrimination against Muslims.” This, somehow, is criminal activity. Those who originally produced the content or shared the posts are acting, at best, as Russian patsies, and, at worst, as co-conspirators. The Times cites one Trump supporter who shared a post from the Being Patriotic group, characterizing him as “not bothered…by becoming an unwitting cog in the Russian propaganda machine.”

The claims of Russian manipulation read like the ravings of individuals suffering from paranoid delusions. According to an earlier statement from Republican Senator James Lankford, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Russian “trolls” are responsible for pushing the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence. Russian “troll farms,” he claimed, were working to “raise the noise level in America.”

Clint Watts, a former top FBI agent who has testified at Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on Russian intervention in the elections and has been frequently quoted in the media, replied to Lankford’s comments by declaring, “The Russians can just sit back and say: ‘Amplify on both sides. Make people angry.’ And it works, man, God, it works.”

Such claims reproduce the worst tactics used during the period of McCarthyite redbaiting. What used to be called “Commie dupes” are now “Russian dupes.” (Unconcerned by the fact that the Soviet Union was dissolved over a quarter century ago, GQ magazine recently posted an article that featured a graphic replacing the “G” in “Google” with a hammer and sickle). Dissent and opposition, according to this line, are to be interpreted not as the product of internal divisions and social tensions, but the nefarious workings of a foreign power.

The Times article includes lines that read like they came straight from the proclamations of Senator Joe McCarthy or the files of J. Edgar Hoover. “The Russians,” it states, “appear to have insinuated themselves across American social media platforms and used the same promotional tools that people employ to share cat videos, airline complaints, and personal rants.” The article speaks of the need to “purge social media networks of foreign influence.”

And what was supposedly involved in this major “covert propaganda campaign?” According to US Senate investigators, Russian companies spent a total of $100,000 on Facebook advertisements to promote messages like those cited by the Times.

Another article appearing in the Times on Tuesday (“Google Inquiry Connects Election Ads to Russians”) asserts that “accounts believed to be connected to the Russian government” purchased a grand total of $4,700 worth of ads, while “a separate $53,000 worth of ads with political material…were purchased from Russian internet addresses, building addresses or with Russian currency…”

This is an infinitesimal fraction of what is spent by political campaigns awash in money from corporate executives and American plutocrats. Some $2.65 billion was spent by the Clinton and Trump campaigns and organizations supporting them during the presidential race. Nearly $7 billion was spent on all US federal elections last year. Yet the Russian government’s supposedly massive campaign of subversion and propaganda amounts to a few tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook, Twitter and Google!

The conclusions would be laughable if the consequence were not so serious.

The New York Times, in close coordination with the Democratic Party and the US intelligence agencies, is engaged in a campaign that is nothing less than criminal. It is engaged in a political conspiracy to outlaw dissent in the United States and justify state efforts to prohibit, blacklist and suppress speech, particularly on the Internet. If the Russian government is merely amplifying content produced by others—including videos depicting police violence and other crimes—then the logical conclusion is that this original content must be proscribed.

Any content or article, including from the Times itself, that examines social discontent in the United States is susceptible to being picked up by the Russians and promoted. Halting such “foreign intervention” requires a regime of censorship and self-censorship of and by all media outlets—precisely what exists in a dictatorship.

The basic target of the lying campaign over Russian manipulation of US public opinion is not Russia, but the American population. The state institutions and the two parties, Democratic and Republican, are deeply discredited and broadly hated. The working class does not need the Russian or Chinese governments to know that American society is massively unequal, that the political system is controlled by the rich, and that the police engage in brutal acts of violence on a daily basis.

Control of the Internet and the suppression of free speech online is a basic strategic issue for the American ruling class. The emergence of online communication and Internet platforms broke the control of the major media conglomerates over the distribution of information. Under conditions of growing popular opposition to social inequality and war, and deepening political crisis, establishing state control over the Internet is seen as a matter of the greatest urgency.

This is what Google has already begun to do. As the World Socialist Web Site has documented, changes to Google’s search algorithm in April, introduced under the pretext of combating “fake news” and promoting “authoritative content”, have resulted in a fall in referrals from Google to the WSWS by nearly 70 percent, and to 13 other left-wing sites by between 19 and 63 percent.

The actions of Google are only the beginning. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms are preparing or have already begun to implement similar measures. The US Justice Department has demanded that staff at the American branch of Russian news agency RT register as foreign agents by October 17 or face possible arrest. This action will be used as a precedent for targeting left-wing and antiwar websites and organizations as agencies of a “foreign enemy” that must be shut down or censored.

It is necessary to organize the working class and youth against this neo-McCarthyite assault on free speech and the Internet, connecting the defense of democratic rights to opposition to social inequality, war, dictatorship and the capitalist system. Meetings must be organized throughout the country and internationally to expose what is taking place and mobilize opposition. The WSWS urges all its readers to sign the petition against Internet censorship and contact the Socialist Equality Party today.

“This anti-Russian campaign is horrible”: An interview with antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan: here.

The Russians Did It! It’s much easier for Democrats to play the blame game than it is to fix what ails them, by John Atcheson.