November 8, 2009
CIA CONTROL OF THE INTERNET
1 Internet access can be controlled or its use directed according to the server configuration, thus creating an excellent disinformation weapon. In previous times, a national media report that was deemed to be offensive or problematical to the government could be censored, or removed at governmental request. Now, however, the government cannot control the present Internet in the same manner in which it has previously controlled the public media. The Internet permits uncensored and unfiltered versions of events, personalities and actions to be disseminated worldwide in seconds and the so-called “blogs,” chat rooms and websites are almost completely uncontrolled and uncontrollable. This unfortunate situation permits versions of events to find a far wider and far more instantaneous audience than the standard print and, to a lesser degree, the television mediums ever could.
2. The Internet can be used to send coded messages that cannot be interdicted by any government or law-enforcement agency. If man has devised a code or protection program that is supposed to be unbreakable, it is axiomatic that another man can break it. Even the DoD’s algorithmic field codes were easily broken by the Russian GRU during the initial stages of the Iraqi war and it is now known that CIA/USIA codes were also broken, allowing hostile entities to read Top Secret messages. Unfortunately in many cases, individual computer experts are more skilled than their counterparts in the government and while, indeed, their encryptions can be broken, they can only be done so by exerting a great deal of effort and when this happens, new encryptions and firewalls can be almost instantly re-erected.
3. The Internet can be utilized to steal and disseminate highly damaging, sensitive government or business data. Although highly sensitive official websites are routinely put under strict control, it seems that intruders always seem to succeed in breaking into them. Once this has happened, highly sensitive, and even damaging, information can, and has, been removed and put out on the Internet without any form of control.
4. The Internet permits anti-government groups or individuals with few resources to offset the efforts of far larger, and far better funded, government and its national media sources. This is known as the ‘David and Goliath’ syndrome and is a subject of constant concern to all government agencies. Hitherto secure systems can be broken into, information can be extracted or the site(s) can be infected with malicious viruses and destroyed. All it takes to do this is a relatively inexpensive computer and programs that unfortunately are available to individuals seeking them. The best and most effective manner to deal with this kind of threat is the dummy site, designed to lure potential dissidents into joining with it. Skillful questioning of new members has been known to develop important leads to be followed up by conventional law enforcement methods.
5. The Internet can be used to create serious disruptions of governmental agencies and the business communities. It is known that certain dissidents, either as individuals or as groups, have developed devastating computer viruses. These viruses are capable of destroying large banks of computer information, both governmental or business. These rumors are very persistent and it is strongly believed that they exist as a dormant entity that can lie concealed in a target system until activated by some kind of a trigger mechanism.
6. The Internet can serve as an excellent tool for organizing groups of anti-government individuals. (Redacted)
7. The Internet can be used to expose government actions and military operations in advance of said actions. The immense proliferation of Internet sites has made it possible for adverse elements to break into hitherto secure systems, extract highly sensitive information and either supply it to foreign intelligence agencies such as the Russian SVR or the Israeli Mossad or simply to either publish it or mail it out. A discussion of foreign-based official U.S. computer hacking can be found elsewhere and this study deals solely with ad hoc domestic dissidents.
8. The Internet is capable of hiding the identities of those launching attacks on the actions and personnel of various government agencies. (Redacted)
9. The Internet can materially assist an underfunded, anti-government group to raise money for continued operations. The use of such firms as PayPal facilitate the relatively secure transfer of money. Again, although it is possible to pressure such firms officially, if one agrees to cooperate, it is only a matter of time that this information will be leaked. We once had excellent cooperation from SBC, ATT and AOL in conducting an overview of millions of system users but lawsuits and Internet activists have published this information, rendering this valuable cooperation null and void.
10. The Internet can be utilized to locate and publicize the personnel of government agencies. It is routine practice in the CIA to have the DoS Passport Division issue official U.S. passports to our operatives working outside the country in names other than their own. The discovery of the real names of the passport holders could result in this material being maliciously posted on the Internet and this could not only subject the agent to serious compromise in the country they are operating in but can also subject them to local exposure and often contempt and harassment.
11. The Internet is capable of limiting the risk of identification of the members of anti-government groups. The FBI is responsible for overview and action against counter-terrorism inside the United States. With the advent of the Internet, identification and penetration of anti-government groups has proven to be nearly impossible. The main cause of this failure is due almost entirely to the Internet which has proven a haven for dissidents of all kinds. Given that all domestic telephone calls and all Internet email is readily available to various domestic law enforcement agencies, it is still a monumental task to track and identify possible activists and other anti-government individuals or groups. We have assisted in setting up dummy anti-government sites, peopled them with professionals and provided them with almost-believable information to post for the purpose of establishing importance and also in disseminating disinformation. Persons viewing these sites can readily be identified and tracked. Further, we have an ongoing relationship with several information sites, such as Google, and whenever any viewer seeks information on subjects we deem as potentially negative, this information is automatically forwarded to the concerned agency.
12. The Internet, while impossible to control, is also an excellent recruiting ground for sympathetic or easily-convinced “bloggers” who will quickly disseminate official disinformation for pay or public acclaim. It is invaluable to distract the public from questioning various governmental actions, both domestic and foreign. For this reason, our organization, and others, have “disinformation” centers that prepare information of a sensational nature which is then released to paid sources who, in turn, disseminate it onto the Internet. The purpose of this is to create a cloaking movement that will point the curious into innocuous areas. As a case in point, it was imperative to prevent the public sector from looking too deeply into the origins of the 9/11 attacks. To prevent exposure of the actions of members of the top levels of government in this attack, many stories were released, over a long period, to the public through wholly-controlled sites. Claims of devious plots, mystery methodologies, and often laughable conclusions have proven to be extraordinarily effective in constructive diversion. The collapse of the WTC buildings have been attributed to clouds of plasmoid gas and other nonsense but a very gullible American public has easily swallowed all of the fictions. As another example, the DoD has always under-declared its casualty rates in Iraq and Afghanistan because a full accounting could easily lead to public discomfiture and resulting political negativity.
13. The Internet can be utilized to create an atmosphere of fear or of compliancy in furtherance of official policy. This is a particular ploy that worked very effectively during the two Bush administrations. A constant, on-going threat of vague “terrorist” actions inside the United States was material in gaining, and keeping, public support for the actions of the aforesaid administration. However, it must be noted, that threats must occasionally be proven to be true or too many “duds” tend to dull the public sense and, if continued, will lead to disillusion and anger.
14. The Internet can be an outstanding command and control mechanism in the marshalling of public opinion in support of a government program. This concept is self-evident but it can prove to be a two-edged sword. If a site advocating a desired program is disclosed to be under our direct, or indirect control, its use to promote an official program can be immediately negated. We were able to utilize this aspect during the run-up to the Iraqi war but it was deemed inadvisable to use during the planned, but later abandoned, aerial attack on Iran in support of Israeli military actions.