Last night, a story by The Independent about how Trump’s State Department was using troll accounts to allegedly attack anyone who was critical of the the administration’s hardline stance on Iran. This was revealed by State Department officials to Congress as a means to combat Iranian Propaganda which had apparently went off the rails. The program was funded by American tax dollars and was used against Americans.
Before I continue with this post, if you have been following my blog, you know that I am completely against this type of social media manipulation in order to guide public opinion. In a perfect world, social media sites would ban state run propaganda accounts which would reduce the need for the United States to have similar programs. Problem is, this isn’t a perfect world, and troll accounts are being used to shape the opinions. I feel like as a writer, it is important for me to disclose my personal stances so that way the reader is aware and can differentiate my opinion from what is being presented.
This is not a Trump scandal either. The article clearly states that Iran has the same state sponsored programs and we know from Mueller’s Special Counsel that Russia used a similar scheme to influence the 2016 election. On the left, the Atlantic Council serves as a major propaganda/disinformation program. In the digital age, it is important to fight against hostile foreign trolls, but to use this against Americans is a bit over the line. In my post Question Yourself, I talk about how a similar tactic was used by harvesting people’s Facebook data to provide insights on which ads would be most effective. I also get into PsyGroup which was another firm used and will be relevant later in this post.
In short, the counter propaganda program that went out of it’s original scope was intended to be a defense against the Iranian propaganda. The off the rails was the account going on the offensive and trying to discredit anyone critical of the of the administrations stance. Personally, it is hard to perceive this as the truth since they could have just suspended the account if it was going too far. They suspended it once it was discovered, so it could have been done in the past.
I had included the excerpt from Question Yourself because it was revealed that now suspended Heshmat Alavi is a sock puppet account. On June 9. 2019, The Intercept reported that the account was a fake and it was run by a group called MEK and this specific group worked out of Albania. The Alavi account was an account that I had personally seen constantly on twitter as it was frequently retweeted by bigger accounts when I started to dive into investigating Spygate. The account was so successful that it even penetrated Forbes and The Hill. Just makes you wonder how much of the press is controlled through think tank based groups. There has been no reported connection between the Alavi account and the State a Department funded Iran Disinfo Project.
The Independent article cites that congressional officials confirmed a link between the Iranian Disinfo Project and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neocon think tank. Once I saw FDD, I had remembered an old story from October 26, 2018 by The Daily Beast. While the article starts off with the death of Jamal Khashoggi, it later starts revealing the ties between the FDD and Joel Zamel who is the owner of PsyGroup and Wikistrat. The anti-Iran think tank had used recently indicted George Nader as a proxy to develop a strategy between the US, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
The connections from Zamel to Nader started when former Dick Cheney aide, John Hannah, introduced the two years earlier. Hannah is a Senior Counselor at FDD and is also listed as a member of the advisory council at Wikistrat. Wikistrat is known as a think tank for hire which runs simulations to help achieve the goal of whoever is paying. Meetings involving this plan for Iran happened in early January 2017 which shows that Iran was one of Trump’s key areas of focus before being sworn in as president.
Zamel and Nader are both interesting characters in this story because Nader was cited in the Mueller report for having communications with both campaigns. He was also offered proffer along with Paul Manafort, Jerome Corsi, Felix Sater, George Nader, Erik Prince, Steve Bannon, and Michael Cohen. Zamel on the other hand had a simulation that was developed in 2015 which predicted the Russian Election Interference. He was also paid $2 Million by Nader which is leading to theories that Hillary was actually the one to pay for that strategy since Trump had no business dealings with Wikistrat before the election.
As for the people who were offered proffer, Manafort can connect to Cheney/Hannah as Cheney was brought up in some of Fusion GPS’s research into the Magnitsky Act when they were representing Prevezon. This information was shared during the infamous Trump Tower meeting. Bannon, Nader, Prince were all involved in the January 2017 meetings. Cohen and Sater are connected through Hannah’s other company, The Arcanum Group, which was involved with the BTA Bank scandal. I have no idea about Corsi.
The reason why I titled this post the Disinformation Proxy War is because as I have stated earlier, a lot of the disinformation for the left stems from the Atlantic Council. When you check out the authors who wrote the piece for The Independent, Negar Mortazavi claims to have been directly attacked by the Iran Disinfo Project and the other, Borzou Daragahi, is a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council.
The Disinformation Proxy War rages on.