Paul Brown writes at the Climate News Network:
“Black ops” is what the military call it – using false radio messages, news releases and newspapers, leaflets, and creating conspiracy theories so the enemy is confused, demoralized and loses the stomach for the fight.
It worked so well in World War II that, in every conflict since, all sides have used the dark arts. Many of their methods and secrets are classified, too effective a weapon to allow to fall into the hands of the enemy.
In a sophisticated world, however, the military are not alone in using black ops. They have excellent propaganda value in the commercial world too, winning a war without a shot being fired.
A classic example has emerged in the last few days. A new leak of hundreds of thousands of emails between climate scientists is revealed. The climate deniers are having a field day. A new Climategate looms (see Watts Up With That?, which describes itself as “The world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change”).
Just to recap. In the battle over whether climate change matters and whether the world should do anything about it, nothing has recently been so potent as the leaking of emails between scientists.
These are alleged (by climate deniers and others) to show a conspiracy between scientists to cook the evidence and leave out inconvenient facts in order to falsely show that man-made climate change is happening.
The allegation is, successive inquiries have shown, a load of bunk, but that did not matter. The damage had already been done, doubt had been sown, and successive rounds of climate talks failed.
What was startling about the whole saga was that the black ops side of it went almost unnoticed. The whole leak was put down to climate deniers hacking into private emails “in the public interest” to unearth the “conspiracy”. Therefore, the argument ran, it was somehow a legitimate quest – at least there were no condemnations of what is both illegal and disgraceful behaviour.
If you were looking for a motive for the hackers, it could be to further the interests of the fossil fuel lobby, which wants no action on climate change. But not many journalists – or anyone else – bothered to look.
But scroll forward to this week. Along with the thousands more (probably innocuous) leaked emails came an extraordinary memo from the alleged leaker, anonymous of course, but showing all the brilliance of the best black ops in the business.
Signing himself/herself Mr FOIA, (Mr Freedom of Information Act), the leaker claims to be an individual who is an insider blowing the whistle on a conspiracy to foist climate change on an unsuspecting world.
Although the memo is written in perfect English, it comes with a classic black ops style disclaimer that the writer is anything to do with North America. He claims not to have English as his first language, so implying that he is neither British nor American.
Later, to underline the point, he says there is “no conspiracy, no paid hackers, no Big Oil. The Republicans didn’t plot this. USA politics is alien to me, neither am I from the UK. There is life outside the Anglo-American sphere.”
Read more here.