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TBR News April 18, 2019

Apr 18 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. April  18, 2019: “Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for April 18:” Now that Trump’s friendly U.S. Attorney General has released a heavily-redacted Mueller report, the President is running around braying that he has been proven innocent on all counts. Even a censored document shows many examples of rampant corruption and when the redacted portions emerge, he will look even worse. He reminds me of something a child molestor said to the judge during his trial;

‘That girl lied to me, your Honor. She said she was ten.’”

 

 

The Table of Contents

  • Mueller’s Russia report details episodes of possible Trump obstruction
  • Mueller details 11 instances of potential obstruction by Trump in report
  • Militaristic and anti-democratic, Ukraine’s far-right bides its time
  • Facebook uploaded email contacts of 1.5m users without consent
  • Russia strikes back at Ukrainian sanctions with export ban on oil & petroleum products
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • -Dave Blount
  • Wendell Bird
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Detecting Online Deception and Responding to It

 

Mueller’s Russia report details episodes of possible Trump obstruction

April 18, 2019

by Sarah N. Lynch

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Details of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election were released on Thursday, showing a series of incidents in which President Donald Trump took actions to impede the probe that raised questions of whether he committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

Release of a long-awaited report by Mueller was a watershed moment in Trump’s tumultuous presidency. Ahead of its release, Attorney General William Barr – whose Department of Justice oversaw the investigation – delivered a spirited defense of the Republican president and his actions, infuriating Democrats.

Mueller did not make a conclusion on whether Trump had committed obstruction of justice, but did not exonerate him either.

Barr subsequently concluded that Trump had not broken the law, but told a news conference that Mueller had detailed “10 episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense.”

In June 2017, Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to tell the then-acting attorney general that Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed, the report said.

It also said there was “substantial evidence” that Trump fired James Comey as FBI director in 2017 due to his “unwillingness to publicly state that the president was not personally under investigation.”

Mueller cited “some evidence” suggesting Trump knew about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s controversial calls with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office, but evidence was “inconclusive” and could not be used to establish intent to obstruct.

The report said Trump directed former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to ask former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to say the Russia investigation was “very unfair.”

Before the report’s release, Barr gave a news conference at the Justice Department as he sought to shape the narrative on the document’s findings

One of a handful of people to have seen the report before its release, Barr emphasized, as he had said last month, that Mueller did not conclude there was collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

“President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office and the conduct of some of his associates,” Barr said.

“At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion,” added Barr. Shortly after, he sent the report to Congress.

The report said Mueller’s team did not issue a subpoena to force Trump to give an interview to the special counsel because it would have created a “substantial delay” at a late stage in the investigation.

It said Mueller accepted the longstanding Justice Department view that a sitting president cannot be indicted on criminal charges.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by David Morgan, Doina Chiacu, Andy Sullivan, Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan, Amanda Becker, Jan Wolfe, Nathan Layne, Karen Freifeld and Makini Brice; Writing by John Whitesides and Will Dunham, Editing Alistair Bell

 

Mueller details 11 instances of potential obstruction by Trump in report

Episodes of conduct Mueller investigated included president’s efforts to fire the special counsel and James Comey

April 18, 2019

by Tom McCarthy, Ed Pilkington and Jon Swaine New York

The Guardian

Robert Mueller described 11 instances in which Donald Trump or his campaign engaged in potential obstruction of justice and suggested that Congress might prosecute the acts as crimes, according to the redacted version of the special counsel’s report released by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on Thursday.

Over almost 450 pages, portions of which remained hidden from public view, Mueller described in unprecedented detail Russian efforts to tamper in the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign’s receptivity to some of those efforts.

Mueller said his investigation discovered “multiple links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government” and that the campaign had sometimes been receptive.

“The campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” Mueller wrote.

Certain passages of the report describe behind-the-scenes moments as the president fended off the advance of investigators, including a description of Trump’s reaction to the appointment of Mueller: “the President slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.’”

The report on the findings of the special counsel’s two-year investigation was delivered in two volumes, with Volume I devoted to the Russian efforts and Volume II devoted to alleged obstruction of justice by Trump and his campaign.

It includes lengthy legal musing by Mueller’s team about whether it would be appropriate to charge the president with a crime – a step Mueller ultimately elected not to take.

Among the episodes of conduct by Trump that Mueller investigated as potential obstructions of justice were:

  • Trump’s efforts to fire Mueller.
  • Trump’s firing of former FBI director James Comey.
  • Trump’s efforts to hijack oversight of the Mueller investigation.
  • Trump’s order to the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, to deny that Trump had tried to fire Mueller.
  • Trump’s conduct with regard to associates who have pleaded guilty to crimes including Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen.
  • Trump’s “repeated efforts to get McGahn to create a record denying that the President had directed him to remove the special counsel” are held up for special scrutiny in the report. Trump told McGahn twice to order the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, to fire Mueller, McGahn told Mueller.

“McGahn recalled the president telling him ‘Mueller has to go” and ‘Call me back when you do it’,” the report says.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report continues. “However, we are unable to reach that judgment.

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report says.

While the Mueller report declines to recommend a prosecution by the justice department, Mueller noted that Congress might do so.

“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law,” the report reads.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday morning before the release of a redacted version of the report, attorney general William Barr sought to draw a “bottom line” under the report, making broad claims that it cleared the president of suspected wrongdoing, while admitting that he disagreed with some of Mueller’s findings and pleading for Trump’s behavior to be considered in “context”.

“In assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report it is important to bear in mind the context,” Barr said. “There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks.”

In his news conference, Barr repeatedly claimed that Trump and his campaign associates had been cleared of suspected wrongdoing connected with Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election.

“We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign, or the knowing assistance of any other American,” Barr said.

Mueller’s report said that contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives spanned business connections relating to the plans for a Trump property development in Moscow, along with invitations for campaign officials including Trump to meet Russian officials including the president, Vladimir Putin.

However, the special counsel did not establish that there was an overarching conspiracy between Trump’s team and the Russian government, and found insufficient grounds to bring charges for incidents including the notorious Trump Tower meeting of June 2016.

Elsewhere, the report corroborates dozens of accounts of suspect contacts between Russian operatives and Trump campaign figures. Mueller confirmed that when Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, shared polling data with a Russian associate, he expected it to be shared with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin’s administration. He also confirmed reports that Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser until September 2016, was “acquainted with at least two Russian intelligence officers”. Page was placed under surveillance by US intelligence after he left the campaign.

Mueller said his investigation was hindered by some witnesses lying to them. Some Trump allies invoked their fifth amendment right to not incriminate themselves, he wrote, and some deleted electronic messages that could have been helpful. Donald Trump Jr declined to be interviewed voluntarily by Mueller’s team.

Barr said the White House had “fully cooperated” with the Mueller investigation, eliding Trump’s refusal of Mueller’s request that the president sit for questions about his conduct and his campaign.

As Barr spoke, Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House judiciary committee, released a letter requesting Mueller’s testimony before his committee “as soon as possible”. The House intelligence committee likewise requested Mueller’s testimony.

After Barr’s press conference, Trump tweeted a stylized illustration of himself standing in fog, reading: “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats – Game Over.”

“I’m having a good day too,” Trump said within earshot of reporters at a White House event as the Mueller report was released. “It’s called no collusion, no obstruction.”

Mueller confirmed that he considered charging Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner, his brother-in-law, for their involvement in the Trump Tower meeting, but ultimately declined.

Mueller said that by meeting Russians to receive information valuable to the campaign, Trump Jr and Kushner could have fallen foul of campaign finance laws, which bar contributions by foreigners.

But among other factors, Mueller explained, he would have faced a high burden to prove that Trump Jr had a “culpable mental state”. He said prosecutors could not be confident that they would secure convictions, which justice department rules require.

Criminal charges brought by the justice department were ruled out after Barr said that he and Rosenstein, had decided there was insufficient evidence to establish that Trump had committed obstruction of justice.

It remains a possibility, though unlikely, that Democratic leaders in the House will see material in the report that merits the framing of impeachment charges against Trump. The Mueller report could also provide political ammunition against Trump as he seeks re-election in next year’s presidential contest.

 

Militaristic and anti-democratic, Ukraine’s far-right bides its time

There are few countries in Europe that don’t have a problem with the far-right. But for Ukraine, where political stability is tenuous, the defiance and impunity of ultra-nationalist groups pose an acute concern.

April 15, 2019

by Fred Weir

Christian Science Monitor

s people were forming up to stage this year’s March 8 rally for women’s rights in Kiev, a group of about three dozen young men, clad in dark clothes, started harassing the marchers by tearing off their lapel pins and ripping away their placards.

Some of the men tried to pull away a banner from Mariya Dmytriyeva, a well-known spokeswoman for feminist causes. She resisted. “Woman, why are you so nervous?” they jeered at her. Fortunately, she says, police intervened and separated them.

It’s a familiar scene in Ukraine these days, where radical ultra-rightists are an increasingly threatening presence on the streets. “I think that overall these groups are very insignificant in size. But they are very radical and very loud,” Ms. Dmytriyeva says. “If they can get away with attacking us like that, it shows there is something dangerous there.”

Though few in number overall, far-right groups operate with a high degree of impunity in Ukrainian society, allowing them to harass and attack minorities and human rights advocates without repercussions. Some worry that such groups, given their anti-democratic ideals, paramilitary discipline, and freedom to operate, could have an outsize influence should Ukraine return to political instability. Though the ultra-rightists were given much latitude due to their help protecting the Maidan Revolution and the fledgling government that followed, now they highlight a key weakness of the current system.

“During the Maidan there was a context that was comfortable for [the radical right]. During the war [with rebels in the east], it was very comfortable,” says Vyacheslav Likhachev, a historian and expert on Ukraine’s right-wing movements. “Today we do not have a context in which a small minority, with street fighting skills, have the means to create instability. But in case there is instability, they are a very dangerous factor.”

Ukraine’s far-right groups, some of which include armed veterans of the war in Donbas, are an extremely controversial topic. And despite considerable stabilization in Ukrainian society over the past five years, the danger they pose appears to be growing

Just a couple of days after the March 8 rally, scores of far-right activists belonging to the new National Corps party attacked the motorcade of President Petro Poroshenko in the Ukrainian city of Cherkasy, injuring 19 police officers. In the past year, far-right organizations have carried out over two dozen violent assaults on women’s groups, LGBT activists, and Roma encampments that have left many injured and at least one person dead. It is very rare, activists say, that police intervene as they did in Ms. Dmytriyeva’s case, much less bring the attackers to justice.

Analysts say the strength of these groups derives mainly from the weakness of Ukraine’s post-Maidan state, or rather its reluctance to enforce law and order when it comes to the depredations of radical rightists. That may be in part due to the role ultra-right fighters played during the Maidan revolt against former President Viktor Yanukovych, as organized defenders of the protest encampment and sometimes initiators of violence against police.

Even more important is their status as war heroes who formed private battalions and rushed to the front in 2014 to battle separatist rebels at a time when the Ukrainian Army was in serious disarray. As a result they enjoy connections with authorities, and a level of social respectability, that would probably not be the case otherwise.

It’s important to point out that despite their high public visibility and the apparent impunity with which they act on the streets, the far-right groups do not appear to represent any social upsurge of radical nationalism. Indeed, a joint candidate put forward by five of Ukraine’s leading ultra-rightist groups in the March 31 first round of Ukrainian presidential elections, Ruslan Koshulynskyi, won less than 2% of the votes.

Rather, the fear among many here is that if Ukraine’s weak state institutions should again suffer any sort of breakdown, these highly organized, disciplined, armed, violence-prone, and ideologically determined groups might punch far above their weight in determining a political outcome.

‘We are not democrats’

Instability is a prospect that may not be far from the surface in post-Maidan Ukraine. The Right Sector, a militant ultra-nationalist group that played a very prominent role during the Maidan uprising, has since consolidated itself as a political party with an armed wing and a youth movement. It may not be the largest right-wing movement in Ukraine, but it has maintained its revolutionary sense of purpose and complete rejection of the existing order.

“We are not democrats. We participate in elections only because they are a step to revolution,” says Artyom Skoropadskiy, press spokesman of the Right Sector party. “We want to change the whole system. New people, new order, new rules in the state system of Ukraine. We oppose Russia, and we are against Ukraine joining the European Union and NATO. We want Ukraine to be a self-sufficient, independent state.”

The Right Sector backed Mr. Koshulynskyi’s presidential bid simply because it offered an opportunity for political agitation, he says, and the vote tally is of secondary interest.

“Our organization is designed to take power. If circumstances warrant, that could happen by nondemocratic methods. Believe me, we are very capable of acting in extreme situations,” he adds. “At the Maidan we had only 300 activists, and look what we did. In fact, if you consider that there was never more than 1 million people participating in the Maidan altogether, out of a population of 42 million, it shows how things really work. The active minority always leads the passive majority. Scenarios change, and we are ready. Our purpose is to save Ukraine.”

The Right Sector, and other militant street groups such as C-14 and the newly created National Corps, already pose a real and present danger to vulnerable groups of the population, such as gay and transgender people, women’s activists, Roma, as well as any dissidents who might, rightly or wrongly, be viewed as “pro-Russian.”

Ulyana Movchan, director of Insight, a nongovernmental group that provides legal services and other support to LGBT groups, says that people who do not belong to these vulnerable groups of the population should wake up and be more concerned about what is happening.

“The problem is that these right-wing activists are armed; they have combat experience. They are organized into illegal military groups,” she says. “They are trying to control the streets and maybe, in future, political life as well. We do not know what they might do. They don’t just pose a personal danger to certain activists, they are a threat to the whole society.”

Giving too much leeway to nationalists?

Many Ukrainian analysts argue that these new rightist groups are not “nationalist,” but rather racist, intolerant, and extreme social conservatives. But it may be a problem that more mainstream Ukrainian nationalists, such as the Svoboda party – which does not participate in street violence – tend to make heroes of 20th-century “fighters for Ukrainian independence.” Those include Stepan Bandera, whose fascist ideology, collaboration with the Nazis, and participation in wartime ethnic cleansing against Poles and Jews makes him and those like him poor role models for modern Europe-bound Ukraine.

The Ukrainian parliament has passed legislation making it illegal to deny the hero status of Mr. Bandera. In Kiev, a major boulevard was recently renamed “Bandera Prospekt.” It should be no surprise that groups like the Right Sector model themselves on such World War II-era Ukrainian nationalist fighters.

“We are a Ukrainian nationalist group, in the image of Stepan Bandera,” says Mr. Skoropadskiy.

Tensions over these historical issues are real enough, especially in the more Russified eastern Ukraine – where everyone’s grandfather served in the Red Army – and they may be part of the explanation for the very high first round vote for Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a Russian-speaker from eastern Ukraine who plays down nationalist themes.

“During the past five years the government made more steps [to legitimize figures like Mr. Bandera] than much of society is willing to accept,” says Mr. Likhachev. “Most of society feels we don’t need Lenin or Bandera. But you can’t really mobilize people politically with these issues. There has been no big public movement against it.”

More significant is the strong attraction these new radical right groups seem to exercise over Ukrainian youth. They articulate a cause. They have slick promotional materials and maintain a big infrastructure of sports clubs, training camps, and regular activities.

“I see how many young people want to be part of a movement,” says Ms. Movchan. “It’s kind of fashionable these days to join something, and here they are with all kinds of tools of recruitment, such as fight clubs, training grounds, and parades. They bring out the worst emotions, like homophobia and racism, to channel their aggression. I wish we could broaden our own audience to show young people there are other ways to be active, like fighting for human rights.”

 

Facebook uploaded email contacts of 1.5m users without consent

Company says it has stopped using password verification feature that collected data

April 18, 2019

by Alex Hern

The Guardian

Facebook has admitted to “unintentionally” uploading the address books of 1.5 million users without consent, and says it will delete the collected data and notify those affected.

The discovery follows criticism of Facebook by security experts for a feature that asked new users for their email password as part of the sign-up process. As well as exposing users to potential security breaches, those who provided passwords found that, immediately after their email was verified, the site began “importing” contacts without asking for permission.

Facebook has now admitted it was wrong to do so, and said the upload was inadvertent. “Last month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time,” the company said.

“When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account,” a spokesperson said. “We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we’re deleting them. We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported. People can also review and manage the contacts they share with Facebook in their settings.”

The issue was first noticed in early April, when the Daily Beast reported on Facebook’s practice of asking for email passwords to verify new users. The feature, which allows Facebook to automatically log in to a webmail account to effectively click the link on an email verification itself, was apparently intended to smooth the workflow for signing up for a new account.

But security experts said the practice was “beyond sketchy”, noting that it gave Facebook access to a large amount of personal data and may have led to users adopting unsafe practices around password confidentiality. The company was “practically fishing for passwords you are not supposed to know”, according to cybersecurity tweeter e-sushi, who first raised concern about the feature, which Facebook says has existed since 2016.

At the time, Facebook insisted it did not store email passwords but said nothing about other information gathered in the process. Shortly after, Business Insider reported that, for users who entered their passwords, Facebook was also harvesting contact details – apparently a hangover from an earlier feature that Facebook had built expressly to take contacts with permission – except in this new implementation, users had not given consent.

The company said those contacts were used as part of its People You May Know feature, as well as to improve ad targeting systems. While it has committed to deleting the uploaded contacts, it is not immediately clear whether it will delete the information it inferred from those uploaded contacts – or even whether it is able to do so. Facebook did not immediately reply to a query from the Guardian.

 

 

Russia strikes back at Ukrainian sanctions with export ban on oil & petroleum products

April 18, 2019

RT

Russia has banned exports of oil and petroleum products among other goods to Ukraine, as well as blacklisting certain imports from the country in response to Kiev’s sanctions against Moscow.

Apart from oil, the expanded restrictions on specific Ukrainian goods include engineering products, consumer goods, and metal products, worth almost US$250 million as of 2018, according to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The full list of blacklisted imports was published on the government website on Thursday. The embargo, which comes into effect immediately, includes bulldozers, pipes and pipe laying vehicles and other items.

The document also says that the shipments of coal, gasoline and diesel fuel will be restricted starting from June 1. Supplying these will be possible only under special government orders.

The new sanctions also forbid some exports from Ukraine, including clothing, shoes, socks among other goods.

The measure comes in retaliation to Kiev’s new sanctions against Moscow, announced on April 10. Ukraine targeted imports of glass containers, formalin, electric equipment for railway infrastructure, and other products from Russia.

It is not the first time the two sides have expanded economic restrictions against each other, with Russia usually retaliating to Ukrainian moves. The latest tit-for-tat response came in December 2018, when Russia slapped Ukraine with a ban on the imports of more than 50 Ukrainian goods, worth $510 million. It came shortly after Kiev extended its own embargo on Russian foods until the end of 2019, with restrictions targeting baked goods, chocolate, meat, fish, coffee, black tea, and some alcoholic beverages, among other items.

Despite bilateral trade restrictions, the turnover between Russia and Ukraine has been increasing in recent years, with Russia enjoying a significant trade surplus. Mutual sanctions have also failed to stop Russia from being the leading trade partner for Ukraine in 2018.

 

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Dave Blount

Dave Blount is a wingnut conspiracy theorist writing for the conspiracy site Moonbattery and occasionally for John Hawkins’s Right Wing News. His posts range from the expected (Democrats in Congress caused the 2008 economic crisis, Nelson Mandela was a “socialist thug”, Occupy Wall Street is a Marxist-Leninist revolution – no, Blount doesn’t know the distinction between “things I disagree with” and “Marxism”) to rather blatantly racist screeds claiming e.g. that “most Hispanics, like virtually all blacks, will continue to vote overwhelmingly on the single issue of using the government to steal our money,” therefore “[w]e are witnessing the deliberate obliteration of the greatest nation in history. Those responsible have used their control of the media and education establishments to get so far into our heads that I will be condemned as a ‘racist’ for calling attention to their race-based designs.” Yes, there is aconspiracy: “a cabal of hard left Democrats like Chuck U. Schumer and the child-molesting Bob Menendez have teamed up with backstabbing RINOs like Juan ‘Lettuce’ McCain and Lindsey Gramnesty to sell out the USA to uncountable hordes of welfare colonists.” Of course, in minds like Blount’s there are always conspiracies: “We really are in the early stages of a communist revolution,” says Blount; “[t]he Marxist-Leninist revolution (aka ‘fundamental transformation’) has been underway in America since Obama’s election” and “25,000,000 Americans will need to be ‘eliminated’ (i.e., executed) to impose communism in America.” Heck, EPA (“green Nazis”) has already conducted experiments “reminiscent of Joseph Mengele” to further their environmentalist-Marxist conspiracies to ruin America. Good thing his readers don’t demand that he back his claims up with sources.

Predictably, Blount has bought into (various versions of) the “government-is-stockpiling-ammo” conspiracy, and claims that the purpose is abundantly clear: Obama is planning an economic collapse and will need the weapons to introduce communism during the following period of unrest. Actually, some of his screeds suggest that Obama is a puppet as well, for – you guessed it – George Soros and his “shadow government”.

Gay marriage is a conspiracy as well. According to Blount the purpose is to undermine the church and persecute Christians. Evidence? “In light of the lethal AIDS epidemic, it should be obvious that sodomy causes far more serious health problems than baby formula or soda pop, so Nanny Bloomberg can’t adopt his usual pose of imposing good health on his subjects.” Therefore it must be a conspiracy to put Christians in camps. That’s why reasonable people have pushed the myth that there exists bullying and violence against homosexuals – Blount apparently denies that such phenomena exist.

Diagnosis: Zealous, paranoid conspiracy theorist crazy enough to make Michael Savage (or Alex Jones) sometimes look almost reasonable by comparison. We don’t know how many people actually listen to him, but if you ever visit one of his posts you should probably avoid reading the comment sections.

Wendell Bird

If you take a quick look at the courtcases involving creationism in public schools in the US, one name tends to pop up so often that it is hard to avoid giving him an entry in our Encyclopedia. Wendell Bird is an Atlanta-based attorney who concentrates primarily on litigation and in tax laws affecting exempt organizations. Now, of course any defendant deserves an attorney, and defending creationism in public schools is as such not itself an indication of lunacy, but Bird definitely seems to have a personal interest in the creationism-evolution debate, and that interest is not guided by reason, evidence or science.

Oh, what the heck. Bird is a former staff attorney for the Institute of Creation Research, for crying out loud, and the Discotute’s current strategies for getting creationism into public schools are really a continuation of Bird’s tactics from the 1980s (this timeline of creationism is illuminating). Bird is, in other words, among the founders of the Intelligent Design movement and its outreach strategies (no, Bird is not a scientist, but the Intelligent Design movement has, contrary to what they assert, never been about science but about getting their unscientific musings into public schools).

So, for instance, Bird defended Louisiana’s “equal time” law in the famous 1985 Edwards v. Aguillard, which was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals and eventually by the U.S. Supreme Court (good resource here); during the case Bird, interestingly, pushed the “academic freedom” strategy hard, arguing that it is “a basic concept of fairness, teaching all the evidence” (never mind that the “evidence” procured in favor of creationism was not evidence for creationism in any case). He also took the familiar crackpot trick of quote-mining to new levels; apparently with the help of Paul Nelson, he assembled a massive 500-page brief that consisted almost entirely of thousands of quotes from authorities on every topic bearing on “creation science”, from astrophysics to biology to philosophy to religion. Given the obvious dishonesty involved, the brief failed to convince the judges, but Bird later turned his brief into a large, two-volume book, The Origin of Species Revisited.

It all began in the 1970s; in 1978, then Yale Law School student (under Robert Bork) Bird wrote an article arguing that the U.S. Constitution required the teaching of “scientific creationism” in public schools, an argument he further developed for the Institute for Creation Research to a resolution (authored by Bird) “concerning balanced presentation of alternate scientific theories of origins,” intended as a model for local school boards that wished to adopt a policy of teaching creationism. That strategy was then the basis for the defense in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, a case where Bird was the primary legal advisor for the anti-science rabble. But the resolution was also the model for all later creationist bills and “academic freedom” bills used to try to get religiously-motivated science denial taught as science in public schools (e.g. this one and these), and Bird’s defense deliberately tried to gloss over explicitly religious or Biblical language to make everything sound more scientifically acceptable – instead of God’s creation of species, he would talk about their “abrupt appearance” and explicit references to the Bible would be removed – the very same strategy pushed by religious fundamentalists under the heading “Intelligent Design” to this day.

In 2007 Bird led a notorious lawsuit against the University of California, brought on by some private Christian high schools (Association of Christian Schools International et al., or ACSI) against the U.C. because the U.C. doesn’t give credit for certain courses taught at these private schools (described in some detail here). The courses in question included “science” courses that used Bob Jones University textbooks full of fake fundamentalist pseudoscience. During the case Bird applied his usual tactics, including radical quote-mining (it’s pretty striking that an experienced attorney would fail to realize that quote-mining is an exceptionally bad idea in a court case, where the references usually will be checked) and – but of course – persecution complexes: By not treating denialist pseudoscience as equivalent to science, the U.C. is persecuting Christians, the way Bird sees things; also the fact that “[t]he senior reviewer is Buddhist, and the reviewer who handled religious school science courses and drafted most policies is Jewish …” is evidence of anti-Christian bias. Needless to say, perhaps, the ACSI lost, but their tactics still reveals a mindset that is pretty scary.

Diagnosis: One of the movers and shakers behind anti-science legislations in the US, and arguably one of the founders of the modern Intelligent Design movement. A scary and hugely influential figure, in other word

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

April 18, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.

Conversation No. 73

Date: Wednesday,  March 26, 1997

Commenced: 9:50 AM CST

Concluded: 10:35 AM CST

RTC: Good morning, Gregory. Did you see the papers?

GD: Oh, yes, quite a story. One must read between the lines on that one.

RTC: That becomes second nature, unless, of course, we planted the story in the first place.

GD: So much for freedom of the press.

RTC: They are all under tight control.

GD: I’ll wager that if the Israeli commandos broke into an Arab day care center in Lebanon and torched fifty babies, we wouldn’t see a word of it in either the New York Times or the Washington Post.

RTC: No, not a word.

GD: They’re all a closed shop. I once had a go-around with the art market and it’s the same thing. The Jews own all the big papers and they own the major art markets. Still, I destroyed a good part of it once. Cost them all millions. Have any of my supporters ever told you about that?

RTC: No, never a word. What did you do?

GD: Well, some time ago…this is going to take some time, Robert, so if you have something better to do, let me know and I won’t bore you.

RTC: You rarely bore me, Gregory. I’ll let you know if we have a fire in the kitchen or the Swiss Embassy explodes. Do go on.

GD: A friend of mine up in Menlo Park, fellow by the name of George Schattle, was visiting his mother in Los Angeles and went to a garage sale. He bought, as I recall, four bronze statues in specially constructed wooden crates. Crates indicated the contents were looted by the Germans in Warsaw in ’39 and subsequently got into the collection of Hermann Goering. The sellers told George that their relative was with the U.S. Army at the end of the war. Of course there was no discipline and our boys stole everything they could lay their hands on. Anyway, George knew I was an expert on German subjects and brought the four pieces, in their crates, over for me to look at. I knew nothing about the artist, Auguste Rodin, but I could authenticate the labels and seals. I told him to find an expert to authenticate the statues and busts. I knew nothing about Impressionist artists and could care less. I told him that there was a university professor out at Stanford, which was just down the road from Menlo Park where George lived. I remembered seeing some reference to a huge collection of Rodin pieces being donated to Stanford by some investment banker out of LA. What was the name? Yes. B. Gerald Cantor. Anyway, George looked up the professor, one Albert Edward Elsen, and made a phone call. Yes, Elsen was interested and would look at the pieces. Next day, George rang me up, semi hysterical. It seems Elsen told him that the pieces were stolen by the evil Nazis and that he, Elsen, wanted to take possession of the pieces to be able to return them to Poland. When George refused, and he said that Elsen was a loud-mouthed bully, Elsen then told him the pieces were fake. Now how could they be stolen from some Polish collection during the war and then be fake?

RTC: Maybe this Elsen fellow wanted to con your friend out of them for his own benefit.

GD: I agree. But George told me that Elsen subsequently called up everyone and proclaimed that, on the one hand,  George was illegally in possession of wartime Nazi art loot and, on the other, trying to sell fake Rodins.

RTC: Schizophrenic.

GD: That was just the start. George showed Elsen my written commentary on the boxes and seals and Albert Edward began to attack me. I had a post office box at Stanford and the postmaster said that Elsen had come…actually barged…into his office, ordering the postmaster to give Elsen my home address. Of course the postmaster refused and Elsen started screaming that I was dealing with stolen art and that the FBI would be notified.

RTC: Why was he so upset?

GD: Well, I will get to that. I couldn’t understand any of the noise so I dug up old Chronicle stories about this Cantor Rodin gift. Eighty odd statues presented to the University museum by Cantor and, I noted with some interest, all authenticated by Elsen. Valued at three and a half million. So I drove up to Stanford with a notebook and looked the pieces on display over. I wrote down the name of the foundry, one Georges Rudier of Paris. OK. So much for that. I personally felt that Rodin was crap but I wanted to know why the screaming. Made no sense. Then, I went to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco that had a big collection of original Rodin pieces that Mrs. Alma Spreckles had bought from Rodin himself in 1916. Looked at them. I also wrote down the name of the foundry which was one Alexis Rudier of Paris. Not the same name. Also, the Frisco pieces were of a different finish. I told George to take his four pieces to the director of the museum, one Thomas Carr Howe, for his opinion. George did this and Howe gave him a written authentication. When George told Howe about Elsen, Howe told him off the record that Elsen was a congenital asshole and that he, Howe, detested him. And when George mentioned the different foundry marks, Howe said that Alexis Rudier had cast up statues for Rodin and that Georges was his great nephew. He also said that Georges didn’t start casting until 1965. Since Rodin died in 1917, I thought this was strange. Note that all the eighty odd pieces given to Stanford were made after 1965.

RTC: This is beginning to sound like something Sherlock Holmes would have done. Then what?

GD: Well, George tried to sell the pieces and at once, Elsen began calling around to all the local galleries, telling them the pieces were either stolen or fake. Loud bully.

RTC: Elsen is what? French?

GD: Elsen was Jewish.

RTC: Ah, I see. And go on. What happened next?

GD: Well, here we had three million dollars worth of art that probably wasn’t worth it. I have a friend in the Judicial Police in Paris and asked him to check on this Georges Rudier. About a month later, he sent me a thick catalog from the Rodin Museum in Paris. Mrs. Goldscheider there, the director, had custody of all of Rodin’s pieces in a state museum setting and was making copies for people. The catalog showed the pieces, many of which were in the Cantor bequest. More interesting. I wrote to her and asked her about Georges and got back a signed letter stating that he had been doing all their castings, and only from 1965.

RTC: Always better when you get it in writing. Was she pulling a scam?

GD: No, she advertised these as official copies, whatever that might be, but as copies. She wasn’t pulling anything but the others certainly were. Then I made up my mind to wreck their little game. Of course I pulled a little string, which in turn led to a bigger string and then the whole rotten edifice came crashing down.

RTC: That’s how these things can go sometimes. Do continue.

GD: Well, Elsen was hard to attack because he was an important, published art historian and I was nothing. Still where there is a will, there is a way. First off, I got ahold of Jerry Jensen, an anchor for the Channel 7 news people in San Francisco. My cousin knew him. I told him what I discovered and he started digging. My God, Robert, what a hurricane of rage erupted then. Al Frankenstein, who was a senior art critic at  the Chronicle as well as a teacher at Stanford, began to raise hell with the management at Channel 7 and to threaten Jensen with legal action for slander. Jerry told me he must have hit a very raw nerve indeed. And then I got Elsen to break cover.

RTC: How?

GD: Well, I went to a mail drop and telephone answering place in Santa Clara and set up an account for a Basilisk Press. A basilisk is a mythic creature, half rooster and half snake that could allegedly kill by looking at you.

RTC: Dramatic but how many people know that?

GD: I did and that’s what mattered. Letterheads and I made up a fake book publication notice. A book called ‘Rodin:The Anatomy of a Fraud’ and I listed a lot of very true information on that piece of paper. I mailed that out to hundreds of newspapers, to many major art dealers and certainly to Elsen and Frankenstein. Sweet Jesus, what a reaction. The people at the answering service said that a few days after the brochure was delivered, Elsen barged into their office, ordering them to tell him where the people who owned the press lived. They told him to get his loud ass out of the building and he threatened them with the Attorney General and the FBI. They called the police and had him physically removed from the building. Then, knowing that one of Elsen’s prize pupils was art critic on the staff of the Palo Alto Times, I rang her up, told her I was an official at the Basilisk Press and said that Mr. Jensen from Channel 7 was going to expose the art fraud at Stanford. Worked wonderfully. Within days, Elsen wrote a vicious and very actionable letter to Jensen, calling George a criminal and fraud. Jensen sent me the letter and I, in turn, took the letter and George to a very good San Jose lawyer. Because Filthy Al wrote the letter on University stationary, the lawyer filed a suit naming Elsen and Stanford as party defendants.

RTC: As I recall, Stanford is a rich school.

GD: Oh, yes they are. Wonderfully deep pockets. And much screaming and so on. Finally, I decided to up the ante and I went for an interview at the Chronicle with old Frankenstein. That was really something. He had a little office right off the city room and you could hear us two blocks away. I had done my homework on Alfred and when he accused me of being a liar, I said he was a crook. I mentioned a bust of Cosimo D’Medici that he has persuaded a rich Jewish benefactor to buy for the De Young. Big money because Alfred said it was by Cellini. It was a small copy of a bronze original I saw at the Bargello in Florence. Cellini never worked in marble but Alceo Dossena, a nineteenth century art forger did. Alfred stopped yelling when I mentioned this unpleasant fact but I got my wind and they told Jerry Jensen later they could have heard me in Oakland with the windows closed. When I left, I noted that the entire city desk people were standing in a circle around the open door of Alfred’s cubicle and one started applauding me. Such an honor. And Alfred, who looked rather peaked when I last saw him, had a sudden heart attack that night and passed away.

RTC: You sent a wreath no doubt?

GD: Piss on him. Another loudmouth. Still, I saw I was up against acknowledged art experts so I did some further digging and made a major discovery. So simple yet so deadly and with ripples still spreading. It’s just this. You can make a mold of a bronze and duplicate it exactly but the result will, are you ready for this one, will always be 5% smaller. Why, you ask? Because, Robert, cooling metal shrinks and that is a fact. Oh, yes, and since known originals of Rodin’s work were all over the place, taking measurements was not a problem. I got the people at the Legion of Honor to send me a full list of the exact measurements of all their original pieces. And Albert learned of this and threatened the staff at the museum. Wonderful man, making friends wherever he went. And then, Albert enlisted the aid of his co-conspirator, Cantor. You see, Cantor went to the Rodin Museum in Paris and ordered the eighty pieces. He paid eighty thousand dollars for them, brought them over to the States, got his co-religionist and crime partner, Elsen,  to claim they were original and worth over three million dollars and guess what?

RTC: Not a tax write-off?

GD: You got it. A huge tax write-off. Still more fun on my part. I wrote and had typeset, a story from the so-called Ardeth Times about a local bigwig that had been to California and bought four original Rodin’s that once had been the property of Hermann Goering. I printed this on newsprint, glued it onto a piece of paper and mailed it to Elsen at his office. Jesus H. Christ, what a huge uproar. Albert, insane with rage, went to the local FBI, called the office of the Attorney General and about every other law enforcement agency he could find. The result? The FBI got interested and of course the AG wouldn’t talk to him. An agent talked with me and I gave him copies of my papers. The result? The IRS got involved and flew out a specialist from DC to talk with me. He had never heard of the fatal shrinkage factor and we had a wonderful chat. The upshot was that the IRS said one could not take a tax write-off for more than was paid for the art. By the way, there was no town named Ardeth anywhere in the United States. Big Al the Mouth, as empty of brains as a ladle, suffered from mental constipation and verbal diarrhea

RTC: That must have tied a few tails.

GD: Oh, yes it did. The entire market in Rodins, fake and original, collapsed, Cantor’s gift was not allowed as a write-off  and I got about ten letters from various law firms in Los Angeles threatening me with enormous lawsuits for making false statements about the wonderful B. Gerald. And, George’s lawsuit was successful and both Stanford and Elsen had to pay George a lot of money.

RTC: What happened to the statues?

GD: Are you sitting down? George got nine million for them. But that’s not the end of the story.

I wrote the whole thing up, more or less along the lines I have been telling you but in greater detail and sent it to a friend on the staff of the Getty in Los Angeles. He loathed Elsen and asked me if he could forward it. I said he certainly could. The man mailed it out on a February first and Elsen must have gotten it a few days later because on the fifth, he had a massive heart attack in his office and died on the spot.

RTC: I imagine that was the end of the matter. Did you make anything out of this?

GD: Enormous satisfaction.

RTC: You must have done months of work, Gregory. Not a penny?

GD: When I read in the Examiner that old Albert had bought the farm, I was paid in full.

RTC: What entertainment. And you are formidable indeed.

GD: Oh not so. Why Mueller, who knew me better than you do, used to call me ‘Mr. Sunshine.’ Isn’t that touching?

RTC: I suspect he was being cynical, Gregory and you know it. But I would agree with him. Such a kind person. You bagged two, count them, two nasty Jews and, from your account, ruined a very profitable number of scams they were involved in. I take it most of the dealers were Jews?

GD: Oh they were. For a time, it sounded like a chorus of sick hyenas.

RTC: Before or after the time the lion pounced on them?

GD: Depended. I nailed more than Albert, believe me but enough is enough. And then I got started on all the fake Frederic Remington’s’ floating around and did even more damage. I do like my fun, Robert, I do like it.

RTC: Others obviously do not. Did you go after these creeps because they were Jewish or in spite of it? Just curious.

GD: Robert, I had no idea about all of this when I got started and for quite some time, I thought Elsen was French. I didn’t wreak my havoc out of anti-Semitism but because I initially started out to help a friend authenticate some old statues. There was nothing more. The squalling uproar spilled over very quickly into attacks on me by Elsen and his vicious co-religionists so I merely obliged them by responding. I didn’t shout and slander but I dealt with facts and quite thoroughly ruined their very lucrative operations. I would have done the same if the perps were Episcopalians or Baptists. Of course, once I could see who, and what, I was dealing with, it was easy to ruin them. Shallow bombast coupled with criminal greed is a hallmark and I can play on such creeps like a piano. Strike this key and an Elsen howls to the press. Strike that one and a Frankenstein writes a hit piece in the Chronicle. Strike a strong chord and they all explode and die. No, Robert, I got into this only to help a friend and nothing else. I spent several years on this, not months, and learned both the business of bronze casting and the modern art world from one end to the other. The cabal lost hundreds of millions of dollars, much reputation painstakingly gained and finally, bitter defeat and well-deserved, oh very well-deserved,  death.

 

(Concluded at  10:35 CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

Detecting Online Deception and Responding to It

by Neil C. Rowe

U.S. Naval Postgraduate School

Code CS/Rp, 833 Dyer Road, Monterey, California 93943 USA

Abstract

Since many forms of online deception are harmful, it is helpful to enumerate possible detection methods.  We discuss low-levels clues such as pauses and overgenerality as well as “cognitive” clues such as noticing of factual discrepancies.  While people are generally poor at detecting deception using their intuitions, the online environment provides the ability to automate the analysis of clues and improve the likelihood of detection by doing “data fusion”.   Appropriate responses to deception must differ with the type, as some deceptions like deliberate provocation are best handled by ignoring them while other deceptions like fraud are best handled by exposure.

This article appeared in the Encyclopedia of Virtual Communities and Technologies, Hershey, PA: Idea Group, 2005.

Introduction

An important problem in online communities is detection of deception by their members.  Deception is a form of manipulation, and can have many varied negative consequences in a virtual community, especially once discovered (Joinson & Dietz-Uhler, 2002) but even if undiscovered.  Virtual communities need to be aware of the problems and need to agree on policies for detecting deception and responding to it.

Background

Online deception is encouraged by the special circumstances of online communities (George and Carlson, 1999).  Studies have shown that deception occurrence is inversely related to communications bandwidth, or the rate at which data can be transmitted between people (Burgoon et al, 2003).  In other words, people feel more inclined to deceive the more remote and less familiar they are to the deceivees, and both factors usually apply online.  Unfortunately, people are less effective at detecting deception than they think they are (Eckman 2001).  Online deception is especially difficult to detect; in many cases it is never discovered or is discovered much later, due to the lack of authority in cyberspace and the temporary nature of much cyberspace data.

Deception Detection Methods

There is a large literature on the detection of deception in conventional face-to-face social interaction.  Although people are often poor at detecting deception, they can improve some with training (Ford, 1996).  People doing detection can use both low-level and high-level clues.  Low-level clues can be both nonverbal and verbal (see Table 1).  Nonverbal clues (“cues”) are generally more telling since they are often harder to suppress by the deceiver (Miller & Stiff, 1993).  One must be cautious because not all popularly ascribed clues are effective: Polygraphs or electronic “lie detectors” have not been shown to do better than chance.  Note some nonverbal clues appear even without audio and video connections; for example, (Zhou & Zhang, 2004) showed four nonverbal factors they called “participation” were correlated in experiments with deception in text messaging, such as the pause between messages.

High-level clues (or “cognitive” ones) involve discrepancies in information presented (Bell and Whaley, 1991; Heuer, 1982), and they can occur in all forms of online interaction.  For instance, if a person A says they talked to person B but B denies it, either A or B is deceiving.  Logical fallacies often reveal deception, as in advertising (Hausman, 1999); for instance, a diet supplement may claim you can lose ten pounds a week without changing your diet.  In deception about matters of fact like news reports, checks of authoritative references can reveal the deception.  Inconsistency in tone is also a clue to deception, as when someone treats certain people online very differently than others.

Suspiciousness of clues is enhanced by secondary factors: the less clever the deceiver, the more emotional the deceiver, the less time they have to plan the deception, the less chance they will be caught, the higher the stakes, the less familiarity of the deceiver and deceivee, and the more pleasure the deceiver attains from a successful deception (Eckman & Frank, 1993).  The perceived likelihood of deception can be estimated as the opposite of the likelihood that a sequence of events could have occurred normally.

Specialized statistical methods can also be developed for recognizing common online deceptions like fraud in online commercial transactions (MacVittie, 2002), criminal aliases (Wang, Chen, & Akabashch, 2004) and the doctoring of Web pages to get better placement in search engines (Kaza, Murthy, & Hu, 2003).  For instance, clues that online transactions involve stolen credit-card numbers are an email address at a free email service, a difference between the shipping and billing addresses, and an IP address (computer identity code) for the originating computer that is geographically inconsistent with the billing address (MacVittie, 2002).

Data Fusion for Better Detection of Deception

It is important for detection to consider all available clues for deception, since clues can be created inadvertently by nondeceptive people.  Thus we have a problem of “data fusion” or of combining evidence.  Besides observed clues from the suspected deceiver themselves, we can include the reputation of a person within a virtual community as in EBay-style reputation-management systems (Barber & Kim, 2001; Yu & Singh, 2003).

Several researchers have proposed mathematical formulations of the fusion problem.  If clues are independent, then the probability of deception is the inverse of the product of the inverses of the probabilities of deception given each clue, where the inverse is one minus the probability.  A generalization of this is the Bayesian network where related non-independent probabilities are grouped together (Rowe, 2004).  Other approaches also appear successful (Carofiglio, de Rosis, & Castelfranchi, 2001).  Distrust is psychologically different from trust, and tends to increase more easily than decrease (Josang, 2001), so the mathematics must reflect that.

Fusion can be automated although that is difficult for many of the clues.  Automation has been achieved in some specialized applications, notably programs that detect possible credit-card fraud, and “intrusion-detection systems” for protecting computers and networks by noticing when suspicious behavior is present (Proctor, 2002).

Responding to Deception

Serious online crimes like fraud can be prosecuted in courts.  For less serious matters, virtual communities are societies, and societies can establish their own rules and laws for behavior of their members.  Members who engage in disruptive or damaging forms of deception can have privileges revoked, including automatically as by “killfiles” for ignoring messages of certain people. Less serious forms of deception can often be effectively punished by ignoring it or ostracizing the perpetrator just as with real-world communities; this is effective against “trolls”, people deceiving to be provocative (Ravia, 2004).  In moderated newsgroups, the moderator can delete postings they consider to be deceptive and/or disruptive.  On the other hand, deception involving unfair exploitation is often best handled by exposure and publicity, like that of “shills” or people deceptively advancing their personal financial interests.

In all these cases, some investigation is required to justify punishment.  Computer forensics techniques (Prosise & Mandia, 2000) may help determine the employment of a newsgroup shill, who started a libelous rumor, or how and by whom a file was damaged.  Private-investigator techniques help to determine the identity of a disruptive or masquerading member in a newsgroup like comparing aliases against directories, Web sites, and other newsgroups; and false identities can be detected by linguistic quirks of the masquerader (Ravia, 2004).

Future Trends

Technology is making deception easier in virtual communities, and cyberspace is becoming more representative of traditional societies in its degree of deception.  While detection methods are not systematically used today, the increasing problems will force more extensive use of them.  To counteract identity deception and other forms of fakery, we will see more use of online “signatures” or “certificates” for identifying people, either formal (as with cryptography), or informal (as by code phrases (Donath, 1998)).  We will also see more methods from computer forensics investigations like those that collect records of the same person from different communities or network resources to see patterns of misuse or criminal activity.

Conclusion

Many clues are available to detect online deception.  So although it is more difficult than detecting deception in face-to-face interactions, tools are available, some of which are automated.  If honesty is important in an online setting, they are many ways to improve its likelihood.

References

Barber, R. S., and Kim. J. (2001).  Belief revision process based on trust: agents evaluating reputation of information sources.  In Falcone, R., Singh, M., and Tan, Y.-H. (eds.), Trust in Cyber-Societies, LNAI 2246 (Berlin: Springer-Verlag), 73-82.

Bell, J. B., & Whaley, B. (1991).  Cheating.  New York: Transaction Publishing.

Burgoon, J., Stoner, G., Bonito, J., & Dunbar, N. (2003).  Trust and deception in mediated communication.  Proc. 36th Hawaii Intl. Conf. on System Sciences, Honolulu, HI, 44-54.

Carofiglio, V., de Rosis, F., & Castelfranchi, C. (2001).  Ascribing and weighting beliefs in deceptive information exchanges.  Proc. Conf. on User Modeling, 222-224.

Eckman, P. (2001).  Telling lies: clues to deceit in the marketplace, politics, and marriage.  New York: Norton.

Eckman, P., & Frank, M. (1993).  Lies that fail.  In Lewis, M, & Saarni, C. (Eds.), Lying and deception in everyday life (pp. 184-200).  New York: Guilford Press.

Ford, C. (1996).  Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! The psychology of deceit.  Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

George, J., & Carlson, J. (1999).  Group support systems and deceptive communications.  Proc. 32nd Hawaii Intl. Conf. on System Sciences, Maui, HI.

Hausman, C. (2000).  Lies we live by: defeating double-talk and deception in advertising, politics, and the media.  New York: Routledge.

Heuer, R. (1982).  Cognitive factors in deception and counterdeception.  In Daniel, D., & Herbig, K. (Eds.), Strategic Military Deception (pp. 31-69). New York: Pergamon.

Joinson, A., & Dietz-Uhler, B. (2002).  Explanations for perpetrations of and reactions to deception in a virtual community.  Social Science Computer Review, 20 (3), 275-289.

Josang, A. (2001, June).  A logic for uncertain probabilities.  Intl. Journal. of Uncertainty, Fuzziness, and Knowledge-Based Systems, 9 (3), 279-311.

Kaza, S., Murthy, S., & Hu, G. (2003, October).  Identification of deliberately doctored text documents using frequent keyword chain (FKC) model.  IEEE Intl. Conf. on Information Reuse and Integration, 398-405.

MacVittie, L. (2002).  Online fraud detection takes diligence.  Network Computing, 13 (4), 80-83.

Miller, G. R., & Stiff, J. B. (1993) Deceptive Communications, Newbury Park, UK: Sage Publications.

Proctor, P. (2001).  Practical intrusion detection handbook.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall PTR.

Prosise, C., & Mandia, K. (2001).  Incident response.  New York: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media.

Ravia, F. (2004).  Trolling lore.  Retrieved November 23, 2004 from www.searchlores.org/trolls.htm.

Rowe, N. (2004, December).  Designing good deceptions in defense of information systems.  Computer Security Applications Conference, Tucson, AZ, 418-427.

Wang, G., Chen, H., & Akabashch, H. (2004, March).  Automatically detecting deceptive criminal identities.  Communications of the ACM, 47 (3), 71-76.

Yu, B., & Singh, M. (2003, July).  Detecting deception in reputation management.  Proc. Conf. Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, Melbourne, AU, 73-80.

Zhou, L, & Zhang, D. (2004, January).  Can online behavior reveal deceivers? — an exploratory investigation of deception in Instant Messaging.  37th Hawaii Intl. Conf. on System Sciences, 22-30.

Terms

bandwidth: Amount of data transmitted per unit time.

cognitive: Psychological phenomena relating to thinking processes as opposed to senses or movement.

cue: A clue to a psychological phenomenon, often nonverbal.

data fusion: Combining evidence for a conclusion from multiple sources of information.

fraud: Criminal deception leading to unjust enrichment.

intrusion-detection system: Software for detecting when suspicious behavior occurs on a computer or network.

IP address: Code numbers designating the computer attached to a network.

killfile: In newsgroups, a list of email names you do not want to read messages from.

polygraph: Electronic device used for measuring human-body parameters in the hope (never proven) of detecting deception.

signature, electronic: A code used to confirm the identity of someone.

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