Cass Sunstein’s Cognitive Infiltration, Cyber Warfare, 9/11 and Julian Assange the Hacker

Posted on Dec 30, 2010 in Featured Articles

Kevin Hayden –

Taken in part from the great work at

Cass Sunstein, President Obama’s appointee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs advocated “cognitive infiltration” of groups that advocate “conspiracy theories,” such as the ones surrounding 9/11.

A Harvard law professor at the time, Sunstein co-wrote an academic article entitled “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures,” in which he argued that the government should stealthily infiltrate groups that pose alternative theories on historical events via “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine” those groups.

As head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Sunstein is in charge of “overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs,” according to the White House Web site.

Sunstein suggests that people who believe in conspiracy theories have a limited number of sources of information that they go to and trust. Therefore, Sunstein argued in the article, it would not work to simply refute the conspiracy theories in publicthe very sources that conspiracy theorists believe would have to be infiltrated.  An admired and trusted “spokesman” or leader would need to be created or compromised.

His paper, which focuses largely on the 9/11 conspiracy theories, suggests that the government “enlist nongovernmental officials in the effort to rebut the theories. It might ensure that credible independent experts offer the rebuttal, rather than government officials themselves. There is a tradeoff between credibility and control, however. The price of credibility is that government cannot be seen to control the independent experts.”

Enter Stage Left – Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

Unquestionably, the thousands of released documents from WikiLeaks constitute an important and valuable data bank. The documents have been used by critical researchers since the outset of the Wikileaks project. Wikileaks earlier revelations have focused on US war crimes in Afghanistan (July 2010) as well as issues pertaining to civil liberties and the “militarization of the Homeland.”

In October 2010, WikiLeaks was reported to have released some 400,000 classified Iraq war documents, covering events from 2004 to 2009. These revelations contained in the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs provide “further evidence of the Pentagon’s role in the systematic torture of Iraqi citizens by the U.S.-installed post-Saddam regime.”

Progressive organizations have praised the Wikileaks endeavor.  The leaks are heralded as an immeasurable victory against corporate media censorship.

But there is more than meets the eye.

Even prior to the launching of the project, the mainstream media had contacted Wikileaks. There are reports from published email exchanges that Wikileaks had, at the outset of the project in January 2007, contacted and sought the advice of Freedom House. This included an invitation to Freedom House to participate in the Wikileaks advisory board.

But the request for funding from various organizations triggered some doubt among Wikileaks collaborators, such as John Young.

John Young became very sceptical concerning the Wikileaks project, specifically with regard to the initial fund-raising goal of 5 million dollars, the contacts with elite organzations such as Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy and the alleged millions of documents already waiting to be released.

Young finally quit the organization on January 7, 2007.  His final words: “Wikileaks is a fraud… working for the enemy”.

Julian Assange – the Man, the Myth

In his co-authored 1997 book, Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness, and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier, Julian Assange states that he undertook the research for the book; however, he fails to mention that he was actually one of the hackers analyzed in the book, going by the name of Mendax, a Latin word for “lying, false…”.  We know very little about the cryptographer Julian Assange. He is indeed very cryptic when it comes to revealing who he is and where he worked prior to the Wikileaks project. 

One could indeed argue that Assange wishes to remain anonymous in order to protect himself, the whistleblowers and/or the members of his organization. On the other hand, he cannot realistically expect people to trust him blindly if they do not know who he really is.

The most interesting thing about Julian Assange is that his former employers remain unknown. His bio stated that he is a “prolific programmer and consultant for many open-source projects and his software is used by most large organizations and is inside every Apple computer”.  Who did he work for? 

An old email exchange from 1994 between Julian Assange and NASA award-winner Fred Blonder raises questions regarding Assange’s professional activities prior to launching Wikileaks, along with discussions about projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory that he apparently collaborated on.  It should be noted that Los Alamos is one of the leading national security research institutes, including research and development for cyber-security.

It is no secret that hackers are often recruited by governmental authorities for cyber security purposes. Peiter Zatko a.k.a. “Mudge” is one of them. Here is an excerpt of a Forbes interview with Assange regarding his connection to Peiter Zatko: 

Assange:Yeah, I know Mudge. He’s a very sharp guy. 

Greenberg: Mudge is now leading a project at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to find a technology that can stop leaks, which seems pretty relative [sic] to your organization. Can you tell me about your past relationship with Mudge

Assange: Well, I… no comment. 

Greenberg: Were you part of the same scene of hackers? When you were a computer hacker, you must have known him well. 

Assange: We were in the same milieu. I spoke with everyone in that milieu. 

Greenberg: What do you think of his current work to prevent digital leaks inside of organizations, a project called Cyber Insider Threat or Cinder

Assange: I know nothing about it. 

Peiter Zatko is an expert  in cyber warfare.  He worked for BBN Technolgies (a subsidiary of Raytheon) with engineers “who perform leading edge research and development to protect Department of Defense data… Mr. Zatko is focused on anticipating and protecting against the next generation of information and network security threats to government and commercial networks.” (Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, Information Security Expert Who Warned that Hackers “Could Take Down the Internet in 30 Minutes” Returns to BBN Technologies, Business Wire, 1 February 2005, emphasis added) 

In another Forbes interview, we learn that Mr. Zatko is “a lead cybersecurity researcher at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA], the mad-scientist wing of the Pentagon.”  His project “aims to rid the world of digital leaks”.

Who’s Behind WikiLeaks and Who Started it?

In 2007, Wikileaks described itself as an “uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis.”  Its priority?  “[E]xposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.” Like the advisory board member list that once adorned the site, this description no longer appears on Wikileaks’ website. The organization also claimed to be “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.” (, 17 December 2007) 

From the outset, Wikileaks’ geopolitical focus on “oppressive regimes” in Eurasia and the Middle East was “appealing” to America’s elites, i.e. it seemingly matched stated US foreign policy objectives. Moreover, the composition of the Wikileaks team (which included Chinese dissidents), not to mention the methodology of “exposing secrets” of foreign governments, were in tune with the practices of US covert operations geared towards triggering “regime change” and fostering “color revolutions” in different parts of the World.

In an effort to secure startup funding and advisors, Assange discussed several methods with his colleagues.  With the initial focus being on geopolitical hotspots, Julian even suggested that various intelligence agencies could partially fund the operation.  By doing this, both sides would benefit – Western intelligence and WikiLeaks.  (See Wikileaks Leak email exchanges, January 2007)

Blind Faith and Trust in Your Source

In the currently available description on the WikiLeaks website, the reference to the Chinese dissidents and the origins of the other members has been removed. Wikileaks rather puts the emphasis on not being a covert operation. 

Assange encourages blind faith in Wikileaks as he puts a lot of emphasis on the trustworthiness of his opaque organization. In the words of Assange:  

“Once something starts going around and being considered trustworthy in a particular arena, and you meet someone and they say ‘I heard this is trustworthy,’ then all of a sudden it reconfirms your suspicion that the thing is trustworthy. So that’s why brand is so important, just as it is with anything you have to trust.”(Andy Greenberg, An Interview with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, Forbes, 29 October, 2010, emphasis added)  

“People should understand that WikiLeaks has proven to be arguably the most trustworthy new source that exists, because we publish primary source material and analysis based on that primary source material,” Assange told CNN. “Other organizations, with some exceptions, simply are not trustworthy.”(The secret life of Julian Assange, CNN, 2 December 2010, emphasis added)

While Wikileaks no longer discloses the names of the members of its advisory board, nor does it reveal its sources of funding, we have to trust it because according to its founder Julian Assange, it “has proven to be the most trustworthy news source that exists”.  

Moreover, if we follow Assange’s assertion that there are only a few media organizations which can be considered trustworthy, we must assume that those are the ones which were selected by Wikileaks to act as “partners” in the release and editing of the leaks, including The New York Times, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, El Paìs, Le Monde. 

Yet The New York Times, which employs members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) including Wikileaks’ collaborator David E. Sanger, has proven more than once to be a propaganda tool for the US government, the most infamous example being the Iraqi WMD narrative promoted by Pulitzer Prize winner Judith Miller.

Cass Sunstein & 9/11

Remember what Cass Sunstein, Obama’s personally chosen Czar of Information and Privacy said about cognitive infiltration of conspiracy theories?  Sunstein suggested a non-governmental source that was trustworthy to the common person needed to strike down crazy conspiracy theories without appearing as though he was a government asset.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, reporter Matthew Bell asks Julian Assange about “conspiracy theories.”  Assange subsequently explains his position:

“I believe in facts about conspiracies,” he says, choosing his words slowly. “Any time people with power plan in secret, they are conducting a conspiracy. So there are conspiracies everywhere. There are also crazed conspiracy theories.  It’s important not to confuse these two.  Generally, when there’s enough facts about a conspiracy we simply call this news.” 

What about 9/11?

I’m constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies such as 9/11, when all around we provide evidence of real conspiracies, for war or mass financial fraud.

 Mr. Assange seems to have forgotten that 9/11 may be, in a very concrete sense, a ‘conspiracy for war’, leading directly to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and the permanent “War on Terror.”

So here is a non-governmental official, offering a very stern rebuttal to the 9/11 theory.  To Assange’s supporters, he is a “trustworthy, credible expert” who is unfairly being persecuted by the government, therefore completely independent.   This could not fit Cass Sunstein’s recommendations more perfectly.  Add in the mysterious background, contact with multiple government agencies – even working on projects for national laboratories and NASA – and having ties to some of the most elite hackers recruited by the US government to promote and deter a cyber-security war, and you have a very suspect melting pot.

The Cyber Warfare Narrative

Wikileaks is now being used by the authorities, particularly in the US, to promote the cyber warfare narrative, which could dramatically change the Internet and suppress the freedom of expression Wikileaks claims to defend.

Peter Kornbluh, analyst at The National Security Archive, argues that “there’s going to be a lot of screaming about Wikileaks and the new federal law to penalize, sanction, and put the boot down on organizations like Wikileaks, so that their reactions can be deemed illegal.”

Ultimately, Wikileaks could spark off, intentionally or not, entirely new rules and regulations.

For more information on the potential false flag takedown of the internet, read my previous article here and how it relates to Julian Assange, cyber security and WikiLeaks.

Tiny URL for this post: