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Disinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. It is synonymous with and sometimes called Black propaganda. It may include the distribution of forged documents, manuscripts, and photographs, or spreading malicious rumors and fabricated intelligence. Disinformation should not be confused with misinformation, information that is unintentionally false.

In espionage or military intelligence, disinformation is the deliberate spreading of false information to mislead an enemy as to one's position or course of action. In politics, disinformation is the deliberate attempt to deflect voter support of an opponent, disseminating false statements of innuendo based on the candidates vulnerabilities as revealed by opposition research. In both cases, it also includes the distortion of true information in such a way as to render it useless.

Disinformation techniques may also be found in commerce and government, used to try to undermine the position of a competitor. It is an act of deception and blatant false statements to convince someone of an untruth. Cooking-the-books might be considered a disinformation strategy that led to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Unlike traditional propaganda and Big Lie techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions.

Another technique of concealing facts, or censorship, is also used if the group can effect such control. When channels of information cannot be completely closed, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their signal-to-noise ratio and discrediting the opposition by association with a lot of easily-disproved false claims.

A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole (a limited hangout).

The Cold War made disinformation a recognized military and political tactic. Military disinformation techniques were described by Vladimir Volkoff.


[edit] Examples of disinformation

[edit] World War II

A classic example of disinformation was during World War II, preceding the D-Day landings, in what would be known as Operation Fortitude. British intelligence convinced the German Armed Forces that a much larger invasion force was about to cross the English Channel from Kent, England. In reality, the Normandy landings were the main attempt at establishing a beachhead, made easier by the German Command's reluctance to commit its armies.

Another act of World War II-era disinformation was Operation Mincemeat, where British intelligence dressed up a corpse, equipped it with fake invasion plans, and floated it out to sea where Axis troops would eventually recover it.

[edit] Disinformation by the CIA

In 1957 the CIA knew about the Mayak accident but the information was not released publicly because of the " (...) reluctance of the CIA to highlight a nuclear accident in the USSR, that could cause concern among people living near nuclear facilities in the USA. (...) ".[1]

In 1986, national security adviser John Poindexter wrote for President Ronald Reagan a "disinformation program" aimed at destabilizing Libya's Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi by planting reports in the foreign press about an impending conflict between the two countries. However, the false information eventually reached The Wall Street Journal—a phenomenon known in the trade as blowback [2].

[edit] Disinformation by the KGB

According to senior SVR officer Sergei Tretyakov, the KGB "created the myth of nuclear winter" (it is worth noting that the nuclear winter theory is widely accepted in the scientific community). Sergei, a former Colonel in the Russian KGB/SVR that defected to the United States in 2000, says during the 1970s the KGB wanted to prevent the United States from deploying Pershing II cruise missiles in Western Europe. The plan, under KGB Director Yuri Andropov, aimed at fostering popular opposition to the deployment included a massive disinformation campaign requiring false scientific reports from the Soviet Academy of Sciences and funding to European anti-nuclear and peace groups opposed to arms proliferation. The Soviet Peace Committee, a government organization, spearheaded the effort by funding and organizing demonstrations in Europe against the US bases.[3] [4] [5] The propaganda was then distributed to sources within environmental, peace, anti-nuclear, and disarmament groups including the publication Ambio.[3] The concept hit mainstream from there and propelled into popular culture with the help of Carl Sagan [6].

A few additional examples of alleged disinformation against the United States included the following [7]:

  • Promotion of false John F. Kennedy assassination theories through writer Mark Lane who had meetings with several Soviet agents including Genrikh Borovik. Lane denies these allegations.
  • Discreditation of the CIA, using historian Philip Agee (codenamed PONT). Agee has denied the claim.
  • Attempts to discredit Martin Luther King, Jr. by placing publications portraying him as an "Uncle Tom" who was secretly receiving government subsidies. At the time King's campaign for civil rights was praised by the Soviet Union, and he was the subject of disinformation efforts by the FBI's Cointelpro Commission. [From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Struggle for Economic Justice. By Thomas F. Jackson], [1].
  • Stirring up racial tensions in the United States by mailing bogus letters from the Ku Klux Klan, placing an explosive package in "the Negro section of New York" (operation PANDORA), and spreading conspiracy theories that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination had been planned by the US government.
  • Fabrication of the story that AIDS virus was manufactured by US scientists at Fort Detrick; the story was spread by Russian-born biologist Jakob Segal

[edit] Other

Former Mossad case worker Victor Ostrovsky claims that the Israeli secret service successfully used disinformation techniques to cause the US to blame Libya for the 1986 bombing of La Belle Discothèque in West Berlin.[2]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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