Censorship and Psychological Warfare

By Peter Levenda

Most of us can agree on what constitutes pornography. As Al Goldstein famously remarked, “erotica is what turns me on, pornography is what turns you on.” The social definition of what constitutes pornography is similar to the definition of a faith: my religion is the true faith, yours is a false faith designed to lead poor souls straight to Hell. The explosion of the Internet over the past 20 years has created a problem for governments and for censorship. The free flow of information: some of it good, some of it bad, some of it frankly incredible, has given rise to an alternate news source. Persons wanting more in-depth news coverage of any given topic are introduced to thousands of websites where arguments, discussions, documents, and other additional media and messages can be viewed, downloaded, and distributed. This site is one of them. The control of the media prior to the Internet was easy: it had to do with money. Printing was expensive. Television and radio broadcast was prohibitively expensive. That meant that the wealthy individuals, corporations, governments, could control the flow of information. Alternative newspapers and underground presses enjoyed only a limited field of distribution. In addition, the information in that medium was marginalized, considered “suspect” because it did not have the imprimatur of the mainstream press. The Internet made the distribution of information cheap and affordable: both to send and to receive. Anyone with a computer and a phone line can access hundreds of millions of webpages worldwide. One can even access this information from a library or from a cyber café, so that one does not even need to own a computer or a phone.This has created a headache for our government as well as every other. With the Internet, one finds it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Who knows how good the data is on any given website? Who knows if the commentator commands his subject matter or is just “making stuff up?” It takes a discerning eye and no little experience to wade through the morass of information available on the Net and pick up the nuggets of real data that threaten our consensus reality. And that’s the point. Instead of alternative views of history and politics being marginalized by mainstream views, every point of view is in danger of being marginalized. The reporting of suspicious events surrounding the September 11 attacks provide one example of how our focus has changed. The Internet “chatter” on the subject of the Karl Rove leak of Valerie Plame’s name to the press is another. The government cannot really censor the Internet, as much as it would like to. The accusations of First Amendment violations would fly fast and furiously, uniting everyone from the extreme right to the extreme left. In China, filters are

in place to censor the Net. Countries like Singapore and Malaysia are following suit. That’s technology, however, and hackers know how to get around clumsy bureaucratic safeguards like that. The real danger to our First Amendment safety net, though, is pornography. As pornography, especially child pornography, has exploded unchecked on the Net, our government has been loathe to crack down on this multi-billion dollar industry. One reason, of course, is the money. We were all treated the other day to the spectacle of a pornography star attending a Republican Party fundraiser. But there is another, more ominous, reason for the government’s inaction on this issue, and it is of a piece with the war on terror. The attacks of September 11 gave the administration a reason for going to war; just as importantly, it gave the administration a reason for creating the Homeland Security Department and the Patriot Act. September 11, in my view, was a Reichstag fire. Child pornography will be the second Reichstag fire, giving the administration the popular support it needs to begin censoring the Internet. This will be due to two, parallel, tracks: In the first place, no one in their right mind would object to removing child pornography from the Internet (as long as we can all agree what child pornography is). In the second place, international terrorist and “alternative intelligence” groups have been using pornographic images for years to encode information. Those of you who have seen the Morgan Freeman film, Along Came A Spider (2001), will be familiar with the concept. A digital image, whether of a cat or a dog, or of Paris Hilton having sex, is nothing more than a collection of 1’s and 0’s. It’s data. The analog image has been digitized so that it can be stored on a computer or relayed over the telephone or broadband cable wires. It is therefore possible to insert other data into this image in such a way that the original does not display any tampering but a receiver, with the right software, can decode the digitized image and retrieve the embedded data. This is commonly done with hard-core pornographic images for a good reason: these images are usually only accessible by someone who possesses a password to the site that stores the image. This is the first level of secure access. The second level is the digitized image itself, which must be decoded on the receiver’s end. Considering the vast amount of adult websites,some 260 million pages representing more than 1 million pornographic websites,the task of searching through all of them and sifting the enormous amount of data (even with programs such as Echelon and other NSA devices in place) is daunting. Another reason for using pornography is that security investigators will normally search for data “in the open” on a seized hard-drive: document files (whether encrypted or not), maps, charts, etc. Pornographic images will appear to be stored for the user’s amusement rather than as an intelligence tool, thus buying valuable time, and the decryption tools necessary for revealing the embedded code are different from standard decryption devices.

Chat rooms on adult websites are another means of secure communication. Would an underground cell “chat” on an Al-Qaeda website, which is subject to the scrutiny of the world’s intelligence agencies? Probably not. But a secure adult site, accessible with a credit card (however illegally obtained or phonied-up), where the chatters use a series of code-words that are sexual in nature, is virtually impervious to “eavesdropping”. The administration, under the guise of hunting down pedophiles, could install filtering software on the Net which would ostensibly be used to track violations of child pornography laws but which could be expanded (quietly) to include other activity. Few persons in our Congress or anywhere else raised their voices in alarm over the creation and passage of the Patriot Act. Why would anyone want to stand in the way of our government enacting a law that would help them protect us against terrorists and other bad guys? The fact that the Act could be used against us seemed like a faraway threat, something that could be remedied later. Then there was the case of the romance novelist whose home was raided before dawn by six federal agents one day last year. As mentioned in the November 2004 issue of Romance Writers Report and synopsized in the Authors Guild Bulletin (Winter 2005 edition), the anonymous novelist had accessed a website during research for an adventure novel that was to be based in a Cambodian locale. The offending site concerned Al-Qaeda and atrocities said to have been committed by them in Cambodia. There is the possibility that the website was government-created in order to snag unwary terrorists, but no one knows for sure. All we do know is that the unfortunate woman’s computer, discs, photocopier, hardcopy files, books, even music CDs, pens, paper and stamps were all confiscated by the Feds. Months later, her computer was returned, with spy software embedded by the Feds and Carnivore monitoring her email, and some ruined discs. Nothing else. And no charges were ever filed. A romance novelist. She admits the possibility that books she checked out of her local library might have been flagged by Homeland Security. She just doesn’t know for certain how she ran afoul of the government; but the fact remains that her home was raided in the wee hours of the morning and her entire livelihood stolen from her during the course of three horrific hours in the name of national security. Is this a taste of things to come?

Source: http://sinisterforces.info/blog/index.php?/archives/13-Censorship-andPsychological-Warfare.html

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