Originally posted on Extreme Liberal's Blog:
I read this post over at Bob Cesca’s “Truly” Awesome Blog! Go! several days ago, which was about an exchange that happened in January between Paul Krugman and Glenn Beck, I mean Greenwald…sorry. So I decided to read it and follow the links. As usual, whenever I read a post by Glenn, I immediately start questioning his voracity because of his over-the-top rhetoric. I then follow his links and discover that he frequently lies, embellishes and mischaracterizes what the link says. It is maddening, this guy uses the exact same techniques as the wingnuts. I usually try to just stay away from his rantings, it’s just best that way…for my blood pressure.
The disagreement between Krugman and Greenwald was about a side issue, related but different from what I’m writing about. In this instance, Greenwald attacks, exaggerates and extrapolates nefarious motives to both the subject of the attack, Cass Sunstein and the Obama administration where he now works. It is about a paper that Sunstein co-wrote with Adrian Vermeule, a joint paper for Harvard University Law School and the University of Chicago Law School about how to counter false conspiracy theories. With the explosion of the internet, these conspiracy theories have multiplied exponentially in recent years. Greenwald’s mistake, as far as I’m concerned, was posting the link to the actual paper. If he is going to lie so much and mischaracterize, he should reconsider whether to put the link up or not. Here are two paragraphs that I will try to straighten out the truth in…the entire thing is loaded with it, but I was exhausted just doing those two paragraphs. From Greenwald’s hyperbolic post…(emphasis is Greenwald’s)
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.