CIA using social networks
In the past he’s written about the FBI’s Carnivore Internet monitoring program, but now, he says, the government isn’t watching what we do online, but is using the web, rather, to tell us how to do it.
Using the media for propaganda purposes is nothing new for the CIA, says Madsen. He cites the 1960s pirate station Radio Swan as an example of the American government's attempt to discretely influence the public over 50 years ago, broadcasting messages in favor of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Now, says Madsen, the government is taking to Twitter and Facebook to get their point across—but isn’t being clear at all on how it’s doing it.
What is happening today, says Madsen, is just the latest example of psychological operations perpetrated by the government to influence the public. Madsen attests that online messages claiming to be from US fronts overseas are actually from Americans—not the Libyans and their neighbors who we are led to believe are sending the tweets.
“I think the US is probably behind these Twitter feeds. We don’t know if they came from Libya,” he says. Madsen even suggest that the microblog messages could easily be constructed from military bases in America by our own officials—not war-ravaged and rebellious Libyans.
Madsen notes that Internet availability in Libya has barely saturated the country, with only five percent of the population having access to the web. It would make sense, then, that the tweets, blogs and status updates chronicling the drama in North Africa are being orchestrated by the US government as a means of making their message heard, even if it’s done through surreptitious means.
While these actions would jeopardize the ethics of the CIA, the organization has been sneaky before in its usage of conduits. The Agency would plant stories in foreign newspapers, which would then be picked up overseas and, from there, indirectly carried by US outlets.
Madsen also sites that relationships between the US government and major technology and communication corporations, such as AT&T and Google, as long-standing and apparent across the board.
Regardless of whether or not the CIA is covertly casting these tweets, Madsen says that US and NATO involvement in Libya has brought the situation to a stalemate and is thus one propaganda program that has furiously failed.