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News ::
Protest Warriors: The CIA’s Useful Idiots
28 Sep 2004
Shortly after the events of 9/11, the CIA approached the president of Austin, Texas based defense contractor Cycorp. Douglas B. Lenat, president of Cycorp, was presented with an offer for a contract to be paid through back channels. The project called for waging cyber warfare on domestic enemies of the state (e.g. American Muslims, Arabs and Anarchists). Cycorp was uniquely qualified for the project. At that time, Cycorp was bringing to market a new product, CycSecure. CycSecure was designed to protect networks from cyber attacks.
What made CycSecure unique was the approach to the problem. Cycorp is home of the world’s largest AI, Cyc. CycSecure would leverage both the knowledge of Cyc, its inference engine and new knowledge focusing on network vulnerability to predict possible plans of attack against any network. The system also involved the development of sentinels which would be embedded within the operating system of individual machines on a given network to monitor activities on these individual machines, including the activities of the machine’s user.

Strategic Command of the US Military was interested in the system for protection of its networks. As knowledge of the system surfaced, the obvious alternative use for the system became known within the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. Just as CycSecure could be used to deduce possible attacks against a network for the purpose of proposing defensive measures, it could deduce possible attacks against any other network for the purpose of launching attacks against the network.

The CIA approached Douglas B. Lenat and proposed to him a project where a cyber warfare center would be set up to launch cyber attacks domestically. The initial goal was to end anonymous posting on Internet forums. The CIA was concerned that anonymous use of Internet forums could be exploited by “terrorists” for the purpose of exchanging information in the planning and timing of attacks.

Douglas B. Lenat brought this proposal to his management team. To his surprise there was a snag. Nearly every member of the management team rejected it: some one the basis it would be unconstitutional, some on the basis that it would be unethical and some on the basis that it would one day prove to be embarrassing. Contrary to his normal form, Lenat quickly withdrew the proposal from his management team and announced that the company would not pursue it.

An employee at the company, one Josiah Hagen, approached Douglas B. Lenat privately and offered to work on the project in secret. The problem they faced, however, was getting rid of the Director of the Programming Department, the most vociferous opponent of the project. A small group which would later comprise the actual project was assembled and the Director of the Programming Department was targeted with online harassment. When the right opportunity came, the Director of the Programming Department was sacked and the project was put on line.

In its earlier phases the project attacked Arab and Muslim forums with forum flooding, racial harassment, religious blaspheme and denial of service attacks. Arab and Muslim forums responded by following one of two paths: shutting down or requiring registration of users. Either of these paths satisfied the will of the CIA. The key was to shut down anonymous communication.

After successfully changing the nature of most Arab and Muslim Internet forums, the project turned its attention to Anarchists. Many well known anarchists were targeted. Their forums were targeted. Their websites were targeted. Their reputations were targeted.

The next phase, currently under way, was to target IndyMedia. According to the harassment project, they have infiltrated 8 IndyMedia collectives. They have also developed programs to automatically and repeatedly down rate articles they wish to censor on IndyMedia sites such as NYC IndyMedia.

Around the time this phase started, the next step was undertaken: creation of a disruptive movement designed to harass protesters on the street. Two individuals were moved to Austin, Texas to begin operations in conjunction with the online project. These two individuals formed what is now known as the “Protest Warrior” movement.

Both the online project and the street project share many modus operandi. In both cases a private front is created. This front obscures the connections to the CIA and also permits the private front to assist the CIA in circumventing US law regarding government interference with legal protest and speech. Likewise, both fronts recruit naïve teenagers and young adults to do their dirty work. These useful idiots do not know that they are actually working for the CIA. Indeed, if they did know, they would probably demand to be paid.

The above is not conjecture. The core members of cyber front have been linked directly to the CIA and to the Protest Warriors. It is no coincidence that the Protest Warriors moved to Austin and are located close to the offices of Cycorp.

The next question is, what can we expect in the future. These techniques have already been employed by the CIA in places such as Guatemala and Venezuela. In the case of Guatemala, such brownshirt groups evolved into death squads. Is this our future?

This work is in the public domain