Plausible deniability

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Concept.png Plausible deniability 
(Psychological warfare,  deep statecraft)Rdf-icon.png
Plausible deniability.png
Plausible deniability, the ability to (fairly) plausibly deny having done or attempted to do something, is a key part of deep statecraft, needed to stay in the shadows

Plausible deniability is a core concept of deep statecraft. Careful exploitation of human psychology (such as the just world phenomenon or the psychology of previous investment) can render even otherwise highly implausible denials effective at maintaining public acquiescence. This article focuses on the role of such deniability in the deep state.

Compartmentalization and the "need to know"

Full article: Compartmentalization

“The CIA doesn’t do anything it can’t deny. Tom Donohue, a retired senior CIA officer, told me about this.”
Douglas Valentine (Sep 9, 2017)  [1]

Compartmentalization and 'need to know' are crucial concepts in understanding intelligence agencies, yet they remain virtually unknown amongst the broader public. Deep politicians devise longer term plans and strategies and concoct structural deep events to realise them. These are implemented by using deep state actors who employ deep state functionaries to do the actual dirty work. The subalterns are used to carry out orders, generally ignorant of why or what the ramifications are.

Examples

Colin A. Ross gives several examples of psychiatrists working for MKULTRA, often unaware of the umbrella project or the later use of their research for torture.[2]

The secret race for the atomic bomb in WWII is another example of the effectiveness of compartmentalization. The Manhattan Project was split in numerous sub-projects. It was huge; it remained secret until the day the USA bombed Hiroshima. The usual outcry of the commercially-controlled media that “everyone would have had to be in on it!” is a bit naive and does not reflect history very well. See Interview with Scott Noble for more examples of CIA projects that were successfully kept secret for decades.[3]

No paper trail

“Everyone is trying to create a disjuncture between the initial order and the operation”
Scott Noble (July 7, 2014)  [4]

National Security Council document 10/2 (1950?) states that illegal CIA operations (including “sabotage... demolition... and subversion against hostile states”) should be conducted in a manner by which the US government can “plausibly disclaim any responsibility.”[3]

The reason for this doctrine was that high government officials including the president should be able to give orders to the CIA and similar bodies hidden from Congress and the general public.

Command structures may be informal and loose, i.e. the Operations Coordinating Board, a secretive part of the National Security Council was set up for management of MKULTRA projects and sub-projects. A representative of the president in this board - a position held by Nelson Rockefeller under Eisenhower - informed the president about its activities.[5]

This structure allowed the president to plausibly deny his responsibility for orders or knowledge about the sometimes illegal activities. It also makes clear the power of the middle man, Nelson Rockefeller in this case.

Problems

“Intelligence officers try very hard not to get their hands dirty.”
Scott Noble (July 7, 2014)  [4]

There is a risk that "orders" may be distorted when they "literally amount to a wink and a nod" but this may be "one of the reasons we don’t often see extensive “smoking gun” paper trails for the really controversial ops." [3]

Historian William Blum described an episode from the 50′s when a statement by Eisenhower that “the Nasser problem could be eliminated” (referring to Gamal Abdel Nasser, then President of Egypt) was misinterpreted by CIA head Allen Dulles to be an order for his assassination.

Abuse of power

Full article: Abuse of power

Plausible deniability creates opportunities for abuse of power. Informal or disjunctive control mechanisms are often referred to as military "help", or training affiliated organizations, i.e. “retired” U.S. army officers on contract to Croatia "helped" command “Operation Storm” in 1995, in which hundreds of Serb civilians were killed and Krajina was ethnically cleansed of several hundred thousand Serbs (in what was probably the largest single ethnic cleansing operation in the Balkan wars).[6]

The CIA "aided" para military to "learn" about "advanced interrogation techniques" (torture) in the School of the Americas. After training, orders may be vague, but from previous "lessons" and dependence on financing affiliates are expected to know what to do to "maintain a good relationship". When links are informal and many "buffers" are involved blackmail might be a necessary consequence to control plausible deniable operations.

Plausible deniability is also used by people within intelligence agencies, "going right down the line to the contractors and sub-contractors. We can see it today with mercenary organizations like Blackwater/Academi." Other companies include Booz Allen Hamilton, Halliburton and Dyncorp.[3]

Parallels of Deep State Structure with Psychopathic Personality Structure

Cleckley, in The Mask of Sanity [7] points out, that plausible deniability is part of the psychopath's personality because he feels there is nothing wrong with lying and deceiving others. He is aware, however, of the negative reactions of others to his true motives and therefor develops callous mechanisms to escape consequences.

Assuming that psychopaths constitute a influential group at the top of today's society, compartmentalization and layering of information seems to reflect this personality structure.

An interesting observation about the socialization of nobility is made by Deutsch in her work about personalities who show pseudo affectivity [8].

She describes a system of upbringing typical for 19th century upper class children specifically designed to create psychopathic personalities resistant to change, who show affective reactions they do not have in a pantomimic fashion, similar to the findings of Cleckley, in The Mask of Sanity.

These children are separated from their parents physically and/or emotionally while being trained to show certain attitudes and behavior while emotional attachment to care giving figures is circumvented. This essentially cold environment suggests, however, that they are cared for in a heartfelt way and forces children to reflect this false reality as a precursor to pathological lying and deception of self and others.

The CoG network

Full article: Continuity of Government

Communication channels which can not be tapped such as encrypted phones - like the COG network referred to by Peter Dale Scott - might be of vital importance to carry out plausible deniable orders.[9]

 

Related Quotations

PageQuoteAuthorDate
Deep state actor“Crozier himself makes the point that many of the prominent politicians invited to sit in on Cercle strategic sessions had no knowledge of their hosts' more clandestine operational activities – if only because of the "need to know" principle. Nonetheless, a stalwart multi-functionary on the Boards of several groups linked to the Cercle can be presumed to have some deeper involvement beyond just lending his name to the cause.”David Teacher
Deep state milieu“one of the tendencies of such groups is for their members to "play musical chairs", changing place frequently on the raft of names sponsoring an organization... [so] sharing a Board membership with someone does not necessarily imply intimate knowledge of the other's various activities.”David Teacher
Integrity Initiative/Cluster“* Chris Donnelly makes initial country introduction with nominated trusted 'coordinator' & relevant II team member/s (normally 2 members minimum per country)
  • II team member/s coordinate foundation workshop to connect members, formally introduce them to II aims, establish target programme for research, dissemination and events. Members to sign code of conduct & non-disclosure Greg Rowett to start code of conduct doc to include basic info on passwords and etiquette with social media etc - final ok should be sought from James Wilson. Debate and decide preferred methods of communication. Activity: £3k budget (based on 20 clusters)”
30 May 2018
Integrity Initiative/Cluster“An effective network is best achieved by forming in each European country a cluster of well-informed people from the political, military, academic, journalistic and think-tank spheres, who will track and analyse examples of disinformation in their country and inform decision-makers and other interested parties about what is happening.”30 May 2018
Integrity Initiative/Cluster“Be absolutely sure you have good references for people so we know we can trust them before we talk to them about our programme”30 May 2018
Integrity Initiative/Secrecy“Be absolutely sure you have good references for people so we know we can trust them before we talk to them about our programme”30 May 2018
Integrity Initiative/SecrecyCode of Conduct (Greg to commence with internet etiquette)
Anonymity of the team remains paramount. As our activity increases we will, no doubt, attract unwanted attention.”
30 May 2018
Integrity Initiative/SecrecyBeware the friendly host who wants to book travel or accommodation on your behalf. Absolutely get their tips on where to stay but avoid getting into tricky scenarios and ensure you follow company guidelines and book everything yourself. If in doubt, ask advice from another team member.30 May 2018
Integrity Initiative/SecrecyBeware the friendly host who wants to book travel or accommodation on your behalf. Absolutely get their tips on where to stay but avoid getting into tricky scenarios and ensure you follow company guidelines and book everything yourself. If in doubt, ask advice from another team member.30 May 2018
Integrity Initiative/Secrecy“* Chris Donnelly makes initial country introduction with nominated trusted 'cordinator' & relevant II team member/s (normally 2 members minimum per country)
  • II team member/s coordinate foundation workshop to connect members, formally introduce them to II aims, establish target programme for research, issemmination and events. Members to sign code of conduct & non-disclosure Greg Rowett to start code of conduct doc to include basic info on passwords and etiquette with social media etc - final ok should be sought from James Wilson. Debate and decide preferred methods of communication. Activity: £3k budget (based on 20 clusters)”
30 May 2018

 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:How do Pedophiles get away with it?article19 October 2012'A Peasant'


References

  1. https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/22/the-cia-70-years-of-organized-crime/ Counterpunch
  2. Interview Dr Colin Ross () Disconnect, Connecting the Pattern. http://coastalrain.tripod.com/disconnect/id17.html
  3. a b c d Document:Counter-Intelligence:_Spying_Deters_Democracy
  4. a b Document:Counter-Intelligence:_Spying_Deters_Democracy
  5. Gerard Colby, Charlotte Dennet: Thy Will be Done. The Conquest of The Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil. 263-266. Harpercollins, 1995.
  6. Document:The_Balkan_Wars
  7. Cleckley, Hervey Milton (1955) The mask of sanity: An attempt to clarify some issues about the so-called psychopathic personality. Ravenio Books. Full text (5th edition, 1988): https://www.gwern.net/docs/psychology/1941-cleckley-maskofsanity.pdf
  8. Deutsch, Helene (1934) Über einen Typus der Pseudoaffektivität. Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse 20.3,323-335. Full text (Ger.): https://archive.org/stream/InternationaleZeitschriftFuumlrPsychoanalyseXx1934Heft3/IZ_XX_1934_Heft_3_djvu.txt
  9. Document:The_Hidden_Government_Group