America Adopts Soviet-Style Mass Surveillance, Propaganda, Censorship, Communist Torture Techniques, and Socialist Economics
One of America’s top Russia experts – professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University, Stephen F. Cohen – noted last month:
Alternative or dissenting voices were excluded from leading Soviet newspapers and broadcasts.
People unaffiliated with Trump’s campaign or presidency but knowledgeable about these matters and with contrarian views are very rarely, if ever, invited to appear on these opinion pages or television panels. When they appear in alternative, less-influential media, they are often stigmatized in the mainstream as “Putin apologists” or as having their own suspect “connections” to Russia, much as Soviet media labeled its dissidents “agents of American imperialism” and “CIA collaborators.”
When Soviet establishment figures became open dissidents, official media set out to destroy their personal reputations. Though Representative Devin Nunes is clearly no dissident, anti-Trump mainstream American media seems determined to tarnish his personal reputation for having confirmed what was already widely known: that intelligence agencies in the Obama administration were, as Trump implied, surveilling his associates prior to and after his election. The media may now be turning to the reputations of Trump family members, including his son-in-law, in addition to having already slurred the reputations of some of his “associates,” another common Soviet practice.
Such narratives rely on purported facts. The facts cited to support the official Soviet version of Nixon’s downfall were fake, highly selective, or examples of a conspiracy narrative relying on other conspiracy theories. Though it is possible they exist somewhere, no facts for the allegation that Putin’s Kremlin hacked the DNC have ever been presented by the American mainstream media or anyone else. The only purportedly forensic evidence was presented by CrowdStrike, a private cyber enterprise hired by the DNC. (For some reason, the FBI did not conduct its own examination of DNC computers but relied on the one done by CrowdStrike.) CrowdStrike’s claims were challenged by some independent experts from the outset, and now two aspects of its purported evidence have been discredited. None of these factual gaps in the Putin-Trump narrative have been reported in the mainstream media, only alluded to as “Russian propaganda” and “weaponized disinformation,” not unlike Soviet-era claims that inconvenient information was “American propaganda.”
Running through these narratives is always, of course, the covert and open role of official intelligence agencies. Soviet media often cited allegedly indisputable KGB reports and even featured “retired” KGB officials to bolster official accounts of events. The US media and congressional hunt for Trump’s “Kremlin connections” feature a slew of “intel” leaks to the press and former intelligence officials as expert TV panelists. Whatever the KGB actually did or didn’t know, the quality of US intelligence directors was revealed when FBI Director James Comey—appearing in front of Congress in his previously unknown capacity as a Russia expert, a role once played by J. Edgar Hoover—was asked by a Democratic House member if he knew what Gazprom was. (The Russia giant state natural-gas company, the largest in the world, producer of some third of Europe’s energy, and very often mentioned in the American press as an essential aspect of Putin’s power.) Comey said he had not heard of Gazprom. Nor did it help when the congresswoman explained it was an oil company…. The mainstream mantra that “17 US intelligence agencies had high confidence” in the report that Putin had ordered the hacking of the DNC. In fact, only three—the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA—even claimed to have done any serious investigation, and the NSA, which has the digital competence, said it had only “moderate confidence” in the report it co-signed.
Media narratives conceived and maintained for political purposes have certain common practices, as we are witnessing today. Importantly, Soviet media narratives were directed by the Kremlin; today’s anti-Trump narrative is directed against the White House, inspired most perhaps by the Clinton campaign that lost the presidency. American dissenters can resort to alternative media, though their impact on political developments seems marginal at best.
The Soviets had Pravda … similarly, propaganda is now being used within the U.S. The U.S. government pumps out massive amounts of propaganda through the corporate media, movies, video games, and other venues.
When bad government policy leads to bad results, the U.S. government does what the Soviets did: manipulate the data.
Under Obama, whistleblowers and dissidents are treated as ruthlessly as in the Soviet Union.
The two highest-level NSA whistleblowers in history say that the U.S. has turned into the USSR in terms of spying. Indeed, a former lieutenant colonel for the East German Stasi said the NSA’s spy capabilities would have been “a dream come true” for the Stasi.
In the decade after 9/11, the U.S. used specialized communist torture techniques specifically aimed at extracting false confessions.
And the American economy has gone from capitalism to socialism.
What happened to our American values?