Instead of trying to recreate the extinct Total Communications Warfare (TCW) thesis presented to the Israelis in the 1990s, which may explain the foundation of the ongoing American fake news and information wars, and was recently posted in my blog in the Times of Israel on November 1.
Furthermore, rather than writing a description of Total Communications Warfare (TCW) which might be too close for coincidence to the current fake news and information wars. The following, which I already published in 2013 in the spy book The Children of Santiago as Prime Time Warfare, fully illustrates the why, how and what of TCW with brutal accuracy in a factual or fictional scenario.
The set up: in the 1980s a foreign military intelligence general prepares for a violent assault on the news media but instead is presented with a proposal, Total Communications Warfare, as an alternative.
… when my country began receiving negative publicity in relation to civil and political unrest. International news organizations fed off the frenzy which placed the government and military in an embarrassing situation and caused major instability problems. I was ordered to examine the circumstances and find a swift solution.
My new adversary, the News, was a worldwide medium which most countries regulated in different measures, some exerting more control than others. In the United States, news agencies enjoyed freedom of speech and freedom of the press to one of the greatest degrees. Then, in the 1980’s the news media grew in popularity, evolving from information content only, to entertainment with massive appeal and instantaneous impact. Thus, I needed to study every aspect of the media and identify their weaknesses.
I began by reading a wide range of assessments and classified opinions about news organizations. One such appraisal stood out from the others. It stated that nowadays in the 1980s, international news — including American news — may not necessarily be a presentation of the facts. Rather, it is a story of events created and presented in a way so as to make a television program called ‘The News.’ As a result, the programming reflected a particular slant or bias of the broadcast owners, board members, staff, and influential advertisers combined with the necessity for viewer ratings and profit. In other words, the news had become lucrative show business.
Reading the reports gave me a sobering outlook of challenges to overcome. The news agencies had become too big and too influential, merely reporting on whoever and whatever they chose with little or no restraint. Sometimes their reporting recklessly revealed civilian affairs and military action, thus jeopardizing end results. Furthermore — and most importantly — the news establishment had become a collective institutional power. Many times this power dictated to governments what policy, decisions, and action should be administered. My staff joked that the roles had reversed. The news governed the people and the government reported to, or apologized to, the news.
Realizing I couldn’t change or affect any of the news organizations’ structure, programming, and coverage factors, I prepared an outline for a (violent) special operations retaliation…
…despite the extensive planning invested, prior to implementation I sent the Prime Time Option (operation code name – Prime Time referring to the time at which most people watched television) by encrypted courier to Aaron for his thoughts and evaluation with the possibility that a more passive alternative might exist…
He titled his proposal ‘Total Communications Warfare,’ abbreviating the name to an acronym — TCW. I flipped through Aaron’s document and was genuinely impressed. I found the material to be well organized and eagerly reread the particulars, fully anticipating a comprehensive solution.
Again, I examined Aaron’s explanation as to why the strategy would work. He cited the cruel end of World War II and the Cold War détente as vivid examples. It was his theory that the United States and the Soviet Union maintained peace, albeit strained, because the alternative was unimaginable — total thermonuclear warfare. Even the phrase ‘total thermonuclear warfare’ evoked a shuddering finality. There would be no winner and, once begun, there was no going back to the way things were. As such, no one wanted to initiate the first strike, fearing reprisals and unknown elements from the other. The Americans and the Soviets knew the capability was theirs, which led both to avoiding careless behavior.
Aaron suggested imposing the same technique, but using information as the weapon of choice. Fight fire with fire — this is where his plan correlated with the end of World War II. He proposed that, just as the United States was impelled to drop the atomic bombs in order to save their soldier’s lives, prove their power, resolve, and ability, and to end the war, my intelligence division needed to savagely attack the news with our own counter-news ‘information bombs’ to accomplish the same results. In contrast, however, my division would initially carry out the massive attacks in stealth mode — a secrecy which would further confound the media.
The plan’s synopsis defined a two-staged groundwork. The news organizations — including the owners, board members, advisors, staff, investors, and advertisers — must experience damaging public exposure. If necessary, the information assaults would also target any individual who put forth public accusations. If the individuals targeted lacked skeletons in their own closets, we would take the next step of targeting their loved ones, relatives, friends, co-workers, and anyone with whom they did business. By inflicting cruel public information attacks which revealed the secrets of their private lives, the original target would experience a backlash from their harassed and exposed family, friends, and associates. No one would be safe.
Aaron continued to elaborate. Selective or limited information strikes would be worthless. Also, the effects of blackmail moved too slowly, generating time to arouse sympathy for the individual and anger against the blackmailer. He advised against both of these scenarios. But, if we elected to release a continuous onslaught of very personal, intimate information to the masses, every targeted individual would feel the impact of public scrutiny and embarrassment.
There was a second objective. We wanted to make the news and anyone responsible for it to appear deceitful and untrustworthy. By disclosing the distorted personal behaviors and shortcomings of these individuals and their one-sided story tactics, their credibility would be greatly diminished.
Another goal was to project an image of the news as a deceptive corporate media conspiracy, a fraudulent scheme to manipulate information against private citizens, an effort to empower the news media to govern in place of the voter. The intended result was to paint the news media as so unreliable and devious that they would be more despised than the government.
The final intent of Aaron’s plan was to abolish the careless and free-flowing accusations that continually streamed from news organizations, anarchists, and civilians. Ideally, no information would be treated as newsworthy and brought to the point of release without first verifying its authenticity with undisputed proof. TCW would act as a harsh deterrent to anyone volunteering unchecked information and would provide stern accountability from anyone choosing to release such information.
We also hoped the operation would go to great lengths in reducing rumors and hearsay, partial memory recall accusations, and the popular fad of seeking fame on TV. The practice of ‘leaking’ information we hoped would cease. If all went according to plan, the TCW operation would reverse these modern trends and restore news delivery to its former state of genuine, confirmed news, before the news free-for-all created an environment of cloaked agendas and the use of so-called ‘expert diplomatic and military strategists.’ With any luck, people would go back to concentrating on their work, their lives and businesses, leaving the government and military to the professionals and voter’s choices.
Undeniably, the chore of coordinating such a monumental attack on the media was going to be a mammoth undertaking. News media, communication networks and owners were not to be counted on to report negative information against their competitors. With this in mind, Aaron provided an outline to covertly saturate the public without them. He suggested several distribution methods (available in the 1980s): the public mail system, underground or untraceable couriers, faxes, radio, telephones, hand-held cellular mobile phones, pagers, Citizens Band radio (known as CBs), and satellite usage for hacked television.
Television and radio technicians would be recruited in the event that seizing control of live broadcast programming became a viable option. It would be necessary for me to contact mediators to set up negotiations with the French and Russian space agencies to buy satellite usage. As a parallel strategy, I would investigate to determine if any of the top three American TV networks might cooperate with us. By obtaining the loyalty of at least one network, our mission goals would be easier to achieve by effectively dividing and conquering the news media.
Computers were added to the communications tools list because my sources informed me that DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, had funded a project for inter-connecting network communications via computers. This endeavor later became known as the Internet.
At the conclusion of my meticulous study of Aaron’s extraordinary report, and with his permission, I passed on Aaron’s proposal as my own scheme to headquarters — they loved the idea. Despite the necessary training and recruitment time, everyone agreed that Total Communications Warfare was the proper tactic to follow with the greatest likelihood of success.
While preparations proceeded, our intelligence community increased surveillance on all news organizations, individuals, and related news entities. Already we had archives on many news reporters and officials, detailed records which included past behavior, health records, psychological evaluations, IQ results, and radical cult and club participation. A few news individuals had pending investigation files in our office, and were under suspicion of spying, indecent conduct, and drug abuse. To this point in time, we had never scrutinized the material collectively and, when we did, we realized how damaging our information would be against the news agencies.
Subsequently, we increased the pace and soon found that gathering additional information was an easy process. I attributed this phenomenon to the arrogance of those in the news media, their belief that they were immune to laws and coordinated reprisals. Then, as backup support to our normal agents, I reassigned all my child agents to concentrate on international reporters, editors, news anchors, network executives, advertising executives, and any potential person considered a ‘news’ threat.
As in the past, I had my agents target people on their free time — on vacations, and trips abroad — the times when they were most vulnerable and lulled into thinking they had greater freedom through anonymity. We were thus able to accumulate highly sensitive and compromising information as well as photos and film. Many times, those under surveillance had a lot to lose financially with public embarrassment.
I also decided to concentrate on harassing the owners, executives, and lawyers, as we had reason to believe they would be the first to break under the negative exposure. I assumed this would produce a domino-collapse effect where, under pressure, these individuals would sellout or withhold support of their reporters, anchors, and news personalities. Our surveys supported the implication that reporters, anchors, and news personalities maintained a love-hate relationship with network authority and the public. Advertising companies and executives would be our secondary target. The advertisers, in turn, could pressure the news networks. Our third target would include public lawyers, activists, and any group that defended the media.
Inside of a month, I coordinated the entire division on the project. I coveted the most complete and extensive library of information ever assembled. We collected information through varying methods: bugging devices, hidden cameras, conventional tape recorders, and photographs. The video camera was relatively new technology to some of our operatives, but we used the equipment to achieve exceptional results. We accumulated documentation of creating and manipulating stories, dishonest reporting, and the blatant use of deceptive material, misleading words, terminology meant to prejudice audiences, deceptive film editing, and illusory camera angles.
As for the reporters, newscasters and executives, we amassed proof of disturbing and immoral behavior, intimate secrets, drug and alcohol abuse, radical club or society ceremonies, mystical ritual observances, and numerous unscrupulous events. On several occasions, we arranged sting operations and effortlessly entrapped individuals who were completely unaware of their compromised position.
Once distribution methods had been field-tested, small, tactical communications strike teams were trained for the relentless, untraceable, and unstoppable dissemination of information. We then prepared for an aggressively coordinated, three-month, sustained anti-news campaign utilizing all forms of media. If the news media remained defiant to our attacks, we would continue for an additional three months. Also, current research confirmed that many international governments would join in the assault against the news media once the process had begun. The result: a global public relations and communications brawl.
As word of what we were doing spread among our clandestine agencies and select government officials, there was not one person who didn’t congratulate and encourage us. This adulation enabled me to receive an incredible boost to the budget and TCW…
Meanwhile, the situation at the agency took care of itself. Thankfully, the news media changed their coverage to the final hearings and sentencing of those involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. Headquarters immediately ordered a delay on the Total Communications Warfare assault.
Instead, the news media would be reviewed on a timely basis to determine if the TCW project would be utilized at a later time. We continue to accumulate information and expanded our search to include banking institutions, entertainment companies, and sports organizations.