Obama’s Ministry of Truth?: Analysis of Cass Sunstein’s “Cognitive Infiltration” Strategy

The best way to control opposition is to lead it ourselves – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

To ensure survival, oppressive governments purposefully shape, distort, and conceal potentially damaging information. Public perception must be craftily managed, lest the house of cards collapse due to the implosive effect of exposure. The free-flow of information, particularly the sort divulging deep-seated political corruption and large-scale government illegality, would spark intense moral outrage leading to pesky legislative hearings, lost elections, criminal trials, impeachment proceedings, etc.

An oppressive government wishing to obscure its anti-democratic hubris, must taint the jury pool to avoid conviction in the court of public opinion. The following article is demonstrative of the methods and tactics employed by rogue governmental factions of the mistakenly labeled freest country on the face of the Earth to co-opt and marginalize information that is deemed too dangerous for public consumption.

From the Raw Story article “Obama staffer wants ‘cognitive infiltration of 9/11 conspiracy groups”:

President Barack Obama’s appointee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs advocated “cognitive infiltration” of groups that advocate “conspiracy theories” like the ones surrounding 9/11. Cass Sunstein, a Harvard law professor, co-wrote an academic article entitled “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures,” in which he argued that the government should stealthily infiltrate groups that pose alternative theories on historical events via “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine” those groups.

Sunstein’s article, published in the Journal of Political Philosphy in 2008 and recently uncovered by blogger Marc Estrin, states that “our primary claim is that conspiracy theories typically stem not from irrationality or mental illness of any kind but from a ‘crippled epistemology,’ in the form of a sharply limited number of (relevant) informational sources.”

In Cass Sunstein’s view, those who have a healthy functioning epistemology obtain their news and information from government-approved  mainstream media sources. Surely Sunstein is aware of the U.S. government’s long history of co-opting journalists and infiltrating news organizations to ensure favorable reporting (see Carl Bernstein’s 1977 Rolling Stone article The CIA and the Media and Alex Constantine’s book Mockingbird: The Subversion of the Free Press by the CIA). Former CIA Director William Colby once boasted that “The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the media.” The Pentagon pundit scandal (also referred to as “psy-ops on steroids”) is a recent example of the U.S. government shaping public perception through the recruitment of active and retired members of the military to sell the Iraq war to the American people through the MSM.

Those suffering from Sunstein’s diagnosis of “crippled epistemology” are merely individuals who obtain news and information from sources outside of the government’s long arm of control. From the government’s perspective, there is a risk that increasing numbers of citizens will resort to unapproved news outlets to feather their reality nests. When a critical mass of those who reject the state-engineered MSM corporate propaganda is reached, the state’s fragile body of lies is placed under heightened scrutiny.

Sunstein, whose article focuses largely on the 9/11 conspiracy theories, suggests that the government “enlist nongovernmental officials in the effort to rebut the theories. It might ensure that credible independent experts offer the rebuttal, rather than government officials themselves. There is a tradeoff between credibility and control, however. The price of credibility is that government cannot be seen to control the independent experts.” [see Pentagon pundit scandal (also referred to as “psy-ops on steroids.”]

Sunstein argued that “government might undertake (legal) tactics for breaking up the tight cognitive clusters of extremist theories.” He suggested that “government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.”

Truth has a remarkably tenacious nature, and as a result, is quite difficult to suppress. Therefore, the malefactors promoting the deception must employ a variety of obfuscation tactics to derail attempts to bring their activities into the light. Through the use of agent provocateurs, the limited hang-out, ad hominem attacks, mis-info and dis-info campaigns, appeals to authority, and other deceptive tactics, the typical citizen is unlikely to question the architecture of his externally designed reality tunnel.

The controllers are well aware that perceptions are malleable.  Deference to authority is deeply ingrained through social conditioning and the subconscious desire for a strong unyielding leader. In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler expressed the propaganda power of the “big lie”:

[T]he broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.

The “big lie” is inconceivable to the average bloke whose daily life is rife with the telling of little white lies. Due to their ubiquity, these falsehoods of little import merely grease the wheels of social interaction, and as a result, are bandied about with minimal contemplation. The “big lie” requires not only more devious preparation, but also acts as a guilt-filled anchor continually punishing its purveyor. Governments and psychopaths have a distinct advantage in that they possess no conscience in need of assuagement.

Sunstein “wants to hold blogs and web hosting services accountable for the remarks of commenters on websites while altering libel laws to make it easier to sue for spreading ‘rumors,'” wrote Ed Lasky at American Thinker.

In other words,  if your conspiracy-busting, divide-and-conquer, dis-info strategy fails to stem the flow of damaging information, you can always wage war against the First Amendment.  Advocating an end-run around the First Amendment through legislative and/or judicial modification of defamation law would surely obtain the intended chilling effect on free speech, but at what cost? As a Constitutional law professor, surely Cass Sunstein understands the sanctity and the necessity of free speech in a democratic society. But then again, if we are to take him at his word, his allegiance must surely lie elsewhere.

If you don’t have this freedom of the press, then all these little fellows are weaseling around and doing their monkey business and they never get caught  ~ Judge Harold

Author: Johnny Peepers


  1. Cass doublethink and newspeak truly lead to cognitive clustering (threat level Orange!)

    With Wikileak terror hype we the private citizen researchers, that watch and defend against government abuses and criminal conspiracy, are in the target zone for cognitive infiltration.
    Good Article
    Keep Alarm Belling.
    Resistance is Victory

    -sovereignthink

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