Friday, January 15, 2010

Don't worry, it's for your own good

A recurring theme within the Obama administration is that the American populace doesn't know what is in it bet interest and therefore, must be nudged along by benevolent, enlightened betters.  Obama has been pressuring Congress to pass health care reform by claiming that we don't know what is good for us but once passed we will see our folly and be forever grateful.  None is more representative of this elitist attitude in the administration than Cass Sunstein, Obama's  Regulatory Czar, and co-author of the book, Nudge.

Glenn Greenwald writing in Salon:

Obama confidant's spine-chilling proposal

Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama's closest confidants. Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs." In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-"independent" advocates to "cognitively infiltrate" online groups and websites -- as well as other activist groups -- which advocate views that Sunstein deems "false conspiracy theories" about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper's abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here.

Sunstein advocates that the Government's stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into "chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups." He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called "independent" credible voices to bolster the Government's messaging (on the ground that those who don't believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false "conspiracy theories," which they define to mean: "an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role." Sunstein's 2008 paper was flagged by this blogger, and then amplified in an excellent report by Raw Story's Daniel Tencer.
How does Sunstein, and presumably Obama, justify secretly infiltrating groups and the dissemination of propaganda?  It is for our own good.

These people are scary.

Read the whole piece.  "Spine chilling" is an understatement.

No comments: