Disinformation Tactics: The Methods Used To Keep You In The Dark
By Giordano Bruno
Neithercorp Press - 02/04/2010
There was a time, not too long ago (relatively speaking), that governments and the groups of elites that controlled them did not find it necessary to conscript themselves into wars of disinformation. Propaganda was relatively straightforward. The lies were much simpler. The control of information flow was easily directed. In fact, during the early Middle-Ages in most European countries commoners were not even allowed to own a Bible, nor was the Bible allowed to be interpreted from Latin to another language, let alone any other tome that might breed “dangerous ideas”. This was due in large part to the established feudal system and its hierarchy of royals and clergy. Rules were enforced with the threat of property confiscation and execution for anyone who strayed from the rigid socio-political structure. Those who had theological, metaphysical, or scientific information outside of the conventional and scripted collective world view were tortured and slaughtered. The elites kept the information to themselves, and removed its remnants from mainstream recognition, sometimes for centuries before it was rediscovered.
With the advent of anti-feudalism, and most importantly the success of the American Revolution, elites were no longer able to dominate information with the edge of a blade or the barrel of a gun. The establishment of Democracies (and Democratic Republics), with their philosophy of open government and rule by the people, compelled Aristocratic minorities to plot more subtle ways of obstructing the truth and thereby maintaining their hold over the world without exposing themselves to retribution from the masses. Thus, the complex art of disinformation was born. The technique, the “magic” of the lie, was refined and perfected. The mechanics of the human mind and the human soul became an endless obsession for the elites.
The goal was malicious, but socially radical; instead of expending the impossible energy needed to dictate the very form and existence of the truth, they would allow it to drift, obscured in a fog of contrived data. They would wrap the truth in a “Gordian Knot” of misdirections and fabrications so elaborate that they felt certain the majority of people would surrender, giving up long before they ever finished unraveling the deceit. The goal was not to destroy the truth, but to hide it in plain sight.
In modern times, and with carefully engineered methods, this goal has for the most part been accomplished. However, these methods also have inherent weaknesses. Lies are fragile. They require constant attentiveness to keep them alive. The exposure of a single truth can rip through an ocean of lies, evaporating it instantly. In this article, we will examine the methods used to fertilize and promote the growth of disinformation, as well as how to identify the roots of disinformation and effectively cut them, starving out the entire system of fallacies once and for all.
Media Disinformation Methods
The mainstream media, once tasked with the job of investigating government corruption and keeping elitists in line, has now become nothing more than a PR firm for corrupt officials and their Globalist handlers. The days of the legitimate “investigative reporter” are long gone, and journalism itself has deteriorated into a rancid pool of so called “TV Editorialists” who treat their own baseless opinions as supported fact.
The elitist co-opting of news has been going on in one form or another since the invention of the printing press, however, the first methods of media disinformation truly came to fruition under the supervision of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who believed the truth was “subjective” and open to his personal interpretation. Hearst’s legacy of lies and sensationalism lives on in the Hearst published magazine ‘Popular Mechanics’, who accuse the growing 9/11 Truth Movement of outrageous “conspiracy theory” while at the same time consistently publishing articles about UFO sightings and secret government flying saucer programs.
As we will show, this strange juxtaposition of mixed signals and hypocritical accusations is characteristic of all purveyors of disinformation.
Some of the main tactics used by the mainstream media to mislead the masses are as follows:
Lie Big, Retract Quietly
Mainstream media sources (especially newspapers) are notorious for reporting flagrantly dishonest and unsupported news stories on the front page, then quietly retracting those stories on the very back page when they are caught. In this case, the point is to railroad the lie into the collective consciousness. Once the lie is finally exposed, it is already too late, and a large portion of the population will not notice or care when the truth comes out. A good example of this would be the collusion of the MSM with the Bush administration to convince the American public after 9/11 that Iraq had WMDs, even though no concrete evidence existed to prove it. George W. Bush’s eventual admission that there had never been any WMDs in Iraq (except chemical weapons which the U.S. actually sold to Saddam under the Reagan / Bush administration) was lightly reported or glazed over by most mainstream news sources. The core reason behind a war that has now killed over a million people was proven to be completely fraudulent, yet I still run into people today who believe that Iraq had nukes…
Unconfirmed Or Controlled Sources As Fact
Cable news venues often cite information from “unnamed” sources, government sources that have an obvious bias or agenda, or “expert” sources without providing an alternative “expert” view. The information provided by these sources is usually backed by nothing more than blind faith. A recent example of this would be the Osama Bin Laden audio tapes which supposedly reveal that the Christmas “Underwear Bomber” was indeed Al-Qaeda:
The media treats the audio tape as undeniable fact in numerous stories, then at the same time prints a side story which shows that the White House cannot confirm that the tape is even real:
If the White House cannot confirm the authenticity of the tape, then why did the media report on its contents as if it had been confirmed?
Otherwise known as “cherry picking” data. One simple piece of information or root item of truth can derail an entire disinfo news story, so instead of trying to gloss over it, they simply pretend as if it doesn’t exist. When the fact is omitted, the lie can appear entirely rational. This tactic is also used extensively when disinformation agents and crooked journalists engage in open debate.
Distraction, and the Manufacture of Relevance
Sometimes the truth wells up into the public awareness regardless of what the media does to bury it. When this occurs their only recourse is to attempt to change the public’s focus and thereby distract them from the truth they were so close to grasping. The media accomplishes this by “over-reporting” on a subject that has nothing to do with the more important issues at hand. Ironically, the media can take an unimportant story, and by reporting on it ad nauseum, cause many Americans to assume that because the media won’t shut-up about it, it must be important! An example of this would be the recent push for an audit of the Federal Reserve which was gaining major public support, as well as political support. Instead of reporting on this incredible and unprecedented movement for transparency in the Fed, the MSM spent two months or more reporting non-stop on the death of Michael Jackson, a pop idol who had not released a decent record since “Thriller,” practically deifying the man who only months earlier was being lambasted by the same MSM for having “wandering hands” when children were about.
Dishonest Debate Tactics
Sometimes, men who actually are concerned with the average American’s pursuit of honesty and legitimate fact-driven information break through and appear on T.V. However, rarely are they allowed to share their views or insights without having to fight through a wall of carefully crafted deceit and propaganda. Because the media knows they will lose credibility if they do not allow guests with opposing viewpoints every once in a while, they set up and choreograph specialized T.V. debates in highly restrictive environments which put the guest on the defensive, and make it difficult for them to clearly convey their ideas or facts.
TV pundits are often trained in what are commonly called “Alinsky Tactics.” Saul Alinsky was a moral relativist, and champion of the lie as a tool for the “greater good;” essentially, a modern day Machiavelli. His “Rules for Radicals” were supposedly meant for grassroots activists who opposed the establishment, and emphasized the use of any means necessary to defeat one’s political opposition. But is it truly possible to defeat an establishment built on lies, by use of even more elaborate lies, and by sacrificing one’s ethics?
Today, Alinsky’s rules are used more often by the establishment than by its opposition. These tactics have been adopted by governments and disinformation specialists across the world, but they are most visible in TV debate. While Alinsky sermonized about the need for confrontation in society, his debate tactics are actually designed to circumvent real and honest confrontation of opposing ideas with slippery tricks and diversions. Alinsky’s tactics, and their modern usage, can be summarized as follows:
1) Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.
We see this tactic in many forms. For example, projecting your own movement as mainstream, and your opponent’s as fringe. Convincing your opponent that his fight is a futile one. Your opposition may act differently, or even hesitate to act at all, based on their perception of your power.
2) Never go outside the experience of your people, and whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy.
Don’t get drawn into a debate about a subject you do not know as well as or better than your opposition. If possible, draw them into such a situation instead. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty in your opposition. This is commonly used against unwitting interviewees on cable news shows whose positions are set up to be skewered. The target is blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address. In television and radio, this also serves to waste broadcast time to prevent the target from expressing his own positions.
3) Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
The objective is to target the opponent’s credibility and reputation by accusations of hypocrisy. If the tactician can catch his opponent in even the smallest misstep, it creates an opening for further attacks.
4) Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
“Ron Paul is a crackpot.” “Dennis Kucinich is short and weird.” “9-11 twoofers wear tinfoil hats.” Ridicule is almost impossible to counter. It’s irrational. It infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage. It also works as a pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
5) A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
The popularization of the term “Teabaggers” is a classic example, it caught on by itself because people seem to think it’s clever, and enjoy saying it. Keeping your talking points simple and fun keeps your side motivated, and helps your tactics spread autonomously, without instruction or encouragement.
6) A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
See rule number 7. Don’t become old news. If you keep your tactics fresh, its easier to keep your people active. Not all disinformation agents are paid. The “useful idiots” have to be motivated by other means. Mainstream disinformation often changes gear from one method to the next and then back again.
7) Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. Never give the target a chance to rest, regroup, recover or re-strategize. Take advantage of current events and twist their implications to support your position. Never let a good crisis go to waste.
8) The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
This goes hand in hand with Rule #1. Perception is reality. Allow your opposition to expend all of its energy in expectation of an insurmountable scenario. The dire possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.
9) The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
The objective of this pressure is to force the opposition to react and make the mistakes that are necessary for the ultimate success of the campaign.
10) If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.
As grassroots activism tools, Alinsky tactics have historically been used (for example, by labor movements) to force the opposition to react with violence against activists, which leads to popular sympathy for the activists’ cause. Today, false (or co-opted) grassroots movements use this technique in debate as well as in planned street actions. The idea is to provoke (or stage) ruthless attacks against ones’ self, so as to be perceived as the underdog, or the victim. Today, this technique is commonly used to create the illusion that a certain movement is “counterculture” or “anti-establishment.”
11) The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. Today, this is often used offensively against legitimate activists, such as the opponents of the Federal Reserve. Complain that your opponent is merely “pointing out the problems.” Demand that they offer a solution.
12) Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. The targets supporters will expose themselves. Go after individual people, not organizations or institutions. People hurt faster than institutions.
The next time you view an MSM debate, watch the pundits carefully, you will likely see many if not all of the strategies above used on some unsuspecting individual attempting to tell the truth.
Internet Disinformation Methods
Because the MSM’s bag of tricks has been so exhausted over such a long period of time, many bitter and enraged consumers of information are now turning to alternative news sources, most of which exist on the collective commons we call the internet. At first, it appears, the government and elitists ignored the web as a kind of novelty, or just another mechanism they could exploit in spreading disinformation. As we all now well know, they dropped the ball, and the internet has become the most powerful tool for truth history has ever seen.
That being said, they are now expending incredible resources in order to catch up to their mistake, utilizing every trick in their arsenal to beat web users back into submission. While the anonymity of the internet allows for a certain immunity against many of Saul Alinsky’s manipulative tactics, it also allows governments to attack those trying to spread the truth covertly. In the world of web news, we call these people “disinfo trolls.” Trolls are now being openly employed by governments in countries like the U.S. and Israel specifically to scour the internet for alternative news sites and disrupt their ability to share information.
Internet trolls, also known as “paid posters” or “paid bloggers,” are increasingly being employed by private corporations as well, often for marketing purposes. In fact, it is a rapidly growing industry.
Trolls use a wide variety of strategies, some of which are unique to the internet, here are just a few:
1) Make outrageous comments designed to distract or frustrate: An Alinsky tactic used to make people emotional, although less effective because of the impersonal nature of the web.
2) Pose as a supporter of the truth, then make comments that discredit the movement: We have seen this even on our own forums — trolls pose as supporters of the Liberty Movement, then post long, incoherent diatribes so as to appear either racist or insane. Here is a live example of this tactic in use on Yahoo! Answers.
The key to this tactic is to make references to common Liberty Movement arguments while at the same time babbling nonsense, so as to make those otherwise valid arguments seem ludicrous by association.
In extreme cases, these “Trojan Horse Trolls” have been known to make posts which incite violence — a technique obviously intended to solidify the false assertions of the notorious MIAC report and other ADL/SPLC publications which purport that constitutionalists should be feared as potential domestic terrorists.
3) Dominate Discussions: Trolls often interject themselves into productive web discussions in order to throw them off course and frustrate the people involved.
4) Prewritten Responses: Many trolls are supplied with a list or database with pre-planned talking points designed as generalized and deceptive responses to honest arguments. 9/11 “debunker” trolls are notorious for this.
5) False Association: This works hand in hand with item #2, by invoking the stereotypes established by the “Trojan Horse Troll.”
For example: calling those against the Federal Reserve “conspiracy theorists” or “lunatics”. Deliberately associating anti-globalist movements with big foot or alien enthusiasts, because of the inherent negative connotations. Using false associations to provoke biases and dissuade people from examining the evidence objectively.
6) False Moderation: Pretending to be the “voice of reason” in an argument with obvious and defined sides in an attempt to move people away from what is clearly true into a “grey area” where the truth becomes “relative.”
7) Straw Man Arguments: A very common technique. The troll will accuse his opposition of subscribing to a certain point of view, even if he does not, and then attacks that point of view. Or, the troll will put words in the mouth of his opposition, and then rebut those specific words. For example: “9/11 truthers say that no planes hit the WTC towers, and that it was all just computer animation. What are they, crazy?”
Sometimes, these strategies are used by average people with serious personality issues. However, if you see someone using these tactics often, or using many of them at the same time, you may be dealing with a paid internet troll.
Government Disinformation Methods
Governments, and the globalists who back them, have immense assets — an almost endless fiat money printing press — and control over most legal and academic institutions. With these advantages, disinformation can be executed on a massive scale. Here are just a handful of the most prominent tactics used by government agencies and private think tanks to guide public opinion, and establish the appearance of consensus:
1) Control The Experts: Most Americans are taught from kindergarten to ignore their instincts for the truth and defer to the “professional class” for all their answers. The problem is that much of the professional class is indoctrinated throughout their college years, many of them molded to support the status quo. Any experts that go against the grain are ostracized by their peers.
2) Control The Data: By controlling the source data of any investigation, be it legal or scientific, the government has the ability to engineer any truth they wish, that is, as long as the people do not care enough to ask for the source data. Two major examples of controlled and hidden source data include; the NIST investigation of the suspicious 9/11 WTC collapses, in which NIST engineers, hired by the government, have kept all source data from their computer models secret, while claiming that the computer models prove the collapses were “natural”. Also, the recent exposure of the CRU Climate Labs and their manipulation of source data in order to fool the public into believing that Global Warming is real, and accepting a world-wide carbon tax. The CRU has refused to release the source data from its experiments for years, and now we know why.
3) Skew The Statistics: This tactic is extremely evident in the Labor Department’s evaluations on unemployment, using such tricks as incorporating ambiguous birth / death ratios into their calculation in order to make it appear as though there are less unemployed people than there really are, or leaving out certain subsections of the population, like those who are unemployed and no longer seeking benefits.
3) Guilt By False Association: Governments faced with an effective opponent will always attempt to demonize that person or group in the eyes of the public. This is often done by associating them with a group or idea that the public already hates. Example: During the last election, they tried to associate Ron Paul supporters with racist groups (and more recently, certain Fox News anchors) in order to deter moderate Democrats from taking an honest look at Congressman Paul’s policies.
4) Manufacture Good News: This falls in with the skewing of statistics, and it also relies heavily on Media cooperation. The economic “Green Shoots” concept is a good example of the combination of government and corporate media interests in order to create an atmosphere of false optimism based on dubious foundations.
5) Controlled Opposition: Men in positions of power have known for centuries the importance of controlled opposition. If a movement rises in opposition to one’s authority, one must usurp that movement’s leadership. If no such movement exists to infiltrate, the establishment will often create a toothless one, in order to fill that social need, and neutralize individuals who might have otherwise taken action themselves.
During the 1960’s and 70’s, the FBI began a secretive program called COINTELPRO. Along with illegal spying on American citizens who were against the Vietnam conflict or in support of the civil rights movement, they also used agents and media sources to pose as supporters of the movement, then purposely created conflict and division, or took control of the direction of the movement altogether. This same tactic has been attempted with the modern Liberty Movement on several levels, but has so far been ineffective in stopping our growth.
The NRA is another good example of controlled opposition, as many gun owners are satisfied that paying their annual NRA dues is tantamount to actively resisting anti-gun legislation; when in fact, the NRA is directly responsible for many of the compromises which result in lost ground on 2nd amendment issues. In this way, gun owners are not only rendered inactive, but actually manipulated into funding the demise of their own cause.
6) False Paradigms: Human beings have a tendency to categorize and label other people and ideas. It is, for better or worse, a fundamental part of how we understand the complexities of the world. This component of human nature, like most any other, can be abused as a powerful tool for social manipulation. By framing a polarized debate according to artificial boundaries, and establishing the two poles of that debate, social engineers can eliminate the perceived possibility of a third alternative. The mainstream media apparatus is the key weapon to this end. The endless creation of dichotomies, and the neat arrangement of ideologies along left/right lines, offers average people a very simple (though hopelessly inaccurate) way of thinking about politics. It forces them to choose a side, usually based solely on emotional or cultural reasons, and often lures them into supporting positions they would otherwise disagree with. It fosters an environment in which beating the other team is more important than ensuring the integrity of your own. Perhaps most importantly, it allows the social engineer to determine what is “fair game” for debate, and what is not.
Alinsky himself wrote: “One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.”
One merely needs to observe a heated debate between a Democrat and a Republican to see how deeply this belief has been ingrained on both sides, and how destructive it is to true intellectual discourse.
The best way to disarm disinformation agents is to know their methods inside and out. This gives us the ability to point out exactly what they are doing in detail the moment they try to do it. Immediately exposing a disinformation tactic as it is being used is highly destructive to the person utilizing it. It makes them look foolish, dishonest, and weak for even making the attempt. Internet trolls most especially do not know how to handle their methods being deconstructed right in front of their eyes, and usually fold and run from debate when it occurs.
The truth, is precious. It is sad that there are so many in our society that have lost respect for it; people who have traded in their conscience and their soul for temporary financial comfort while sacrificing the stability and balance of the rest of the country in the process. The human psyche breathes on the air of truth, without it, humanity cannot survive. Without it, the species will collapse in on itself, starving from lack of intellectual and emotional sustenance. Disinformation does not only threaten our insight into the workings of our world; it makes us vulnerable to fear, misunderstanding, and doubt, all things that lead to destruction. It can lead good people to commit terrible atrocities against others, or even against themselves. Without a concerted and organized effort to diffuse mass-produced lies, the future will look bleak indeed.
NOTE: It has come to our attention that a couple of websites have posted this article without citing Neithercorp.us as the source. This is unfortunate, because we operate under ‘Copyleft’ principles, meaning, we encourage other websites to use our articles as long as they link to us as the originators. While getting the information to the public is essential, on principle, we think it dishonest to take credit for other people’s hard work. We hope that this problem will be corrected in the future.
Special thanks to AgentOgden for helping with the arduous task of compiling the numerous disinfo-tactics being used today.
For further reading on Alinsky debate tactics, some of which goes a bit beyond the scope of this article, please see this piece on the “Alinsky Method” variation of the Delphi Technique, as well as this summary of Alinsky’s “Rules for the Ethics of Means and Ends” which is highly pertinent to the subject of moral relativism.
IS ISRAEL CONTROLLING PHONY TERROR NEWS?
December 30, 2009
Gordon Duff and Brian Jobert
Who says Al Qaeda takes credit for a bombing? Rita Katz. Who gets us bin Laden tapes? Rita Katz. Who gets us prettymuch all information telling us Muslims are bad? Rita Katz? Rita Katz is the Director of Site Intelligence, primary source for intelligence used by news services, Homeland Security, the FBI and CIA. What is her qualification? She served in the Israeli Defense Force. She has a college degree and most investigative journalists believe the Mossad "helps" her with her information. We find no evidence of any qualification whatsoever of any kind. A bartender has more intelligence gathering experience.
Nobody verifies her claims. SITE says Al Qaeda did it, it hits the papers. SITE says Israel didn’t do it, that hits the papers too. What does SITE really do? They check the internet for "information," almost invariably information that Israel wants reported and it is sold as news, seen on American TV, reported in our papers and passed around the internet almost as though it were actually true. Amazing.
Do we know if the information reported comes from a teenager in Seattle or a terror cell in Jakarta? No, of course not, we don’t have a clue. Can you imagine buying information on Islamic terrorism from an Israeli whose father was executed as a spy by Arabs?
It is quite likely that everything you think you know about terror attacks such as the one in Detroit or whether Osama bin Laden is alive or dead comes from Rita Katz. Does she make it all up? We don’t know, nobody knows, nobody checks, they simply buy it, print it, say it comes from Site Intelligence and simply forget to tell us that this is, not only a highly biased organization but also an extremely amateur one also.
Is any of this her fault, Ritas? No. She is herself, selling her work. The blame is not Site Intelligence, it is the people who pass on the information under misleading circumstances.
Imagine if a paper carried a story like this:
Reports that Al Qaeda was responsible for bombing the mosque and train station were given to us by an Israeli woman who says she found it on the internet.
This is fair. Everyone should be able to earn a living and information that comes from Israel could be without bias but the chances aren’t very good. In fact, any news organization, and most use this service, that fails to indicate that the sources they use are "rumored" to be a foreign intelligence service with a long history of lying beyond human measure, is not to be taken seriously.
Can we prove that SITE Intelligence is the Mossad? No. Would a reasonable person assume it is? Yes.
Would a reasonable person believe anything from this source involving Islam or the Middle East? No, they would not.
SITE’s primary claim to fame other than bin Laden videos with odd technical faults is their close relationship with Blackwater. Blackwater has found SITE useful. Blackwater no longer exists as they had to change their name because of utter lack of credibility.
What can be learned by examining where our news comes from? Perhaps we could start being realistic and begin seeing much of our own news and the childish propaganda it really is.
Propaganda does two things:
1. It makes up phony reasons to justify acts of barbaric cruelty or insane greed.
2. It blames people for things they didn’t do because the people doing the blaming really did it themselves. We call these things "false flag/USS Liberty" incidents.
Next time you see dancing Palestinians and someone tells you they are celebrating a terror attack, it is more likely they are attending a birthday party. This is what we have learned, perhaps this is what we had best remember.
From an AFP article on Site Intelligence:
Rita Katz and S.I.T.E. are set to release yet another "aL-Qaeda" tape
Despite a massive manhunt by the world’s intelligence agencies, BL seems to evade their combined efforts, staying on the run. But he still has time to drop into his recording studio and cook up a fresh tape for the likes of Rita Katz and her outfit called S.I.T.E. SITE is staffed by TWO people, Katz and a Josh Devon.
WASHINGTON (AFP) The head of the Al-Qaeda network Osama bin Laden is expected to release a taped message on Iraq, a group monitoring extremist online forums said Thursday. The 56-minute tape by the hunted militant is addressed to Iraq and an extremist organization based there, the Islamic State of Iraq, said the US-based SITE monitoring institute, citing announcements on "jihadist forums."
It said the release was "impending" but did not say whether the message was an audio or video tape. Despite a massive manhunt and a 25-million-dollar bounty on his head, he has evaded capture and has regularly taunted the United States and its allies through warnings issued on video and audio cassettes.
Source: ME Times
Yes, despite a massive manhunt by the world’s intelligence agencies, BL seems to evade their combined efforts, staying on the run. But he still has time to drop into his recording studio and cook up a fresh tape for the likes of Rita Katz and her outfit called S.I.T.E. SITE is staffed by TWO people, Katz and a Josh Devon.
Yet these two individuals manage to do what the ENTIRE combined assets of the world’s Western intelligence can’t:
Be the first to obtain fresh video and audio tapes from aL-Qaeda with Bin Laden making threats and issuing various other comments. If BL appears a bit "stiff" in the latest release, that’s because he is real stiff, as in dead.
How is it that a Jewish owned group like S.I.T.E. can outperform the world’s best and brightest in the intelligence field and be the first to know that a group like al-Qaeda is getting ready to release another tape?
How is it possible that Rita Katz and S.I.T.E. can work this magic? Maybe looking at Katz’s background will help:
Rita Katz is Director and co-founder of the SITE Institue. Born in Iraq, her father was tried and executed as an Israeli spy, whereupon her family moved to Israel [the move has been described as both an escape and an emmigration in different sources]. She received a degree from the Middle Eastern Studies program at Tel Aviv University, and is fluent in Hebrew and Arabic. She emigrated to the US in 1997.
Katz was called as a witness in the trial, but the government didn’t claim she was a terrorism expert. During the trial it was discovered that Katz herself had worked in violation of her visa agreement when she first arrived in America in 1997.
She also admitted to receiving more than $130,000 for her work as an FBI consultant on the case.
Digital Forensics: 5 Ways to Spot a Fake Photo
By Hany Farid
This story is a supplement to the feature "Digital Forensics: How Experts Uncover Doctored Images" which was printed in the June 2008 issue of Scientific American.
Composite images made of pieces from different photographs can display subtle differences in the lighting conditions under which each person or object was originally photographed. Such discrepancies will often go unnoticed by the naked eye.
For an image such as the one at the right, my group can estimate the direction of the light source for each person or object (arrows). Our method relies on the simple fact that the amount of light striking a surface depends on the relative orientation of the surface to the light source. A sphere, for example, is lit the most on the side facing the light and the least on the opposite side, with gradations of shading across its surface according to the angle between the surface and the direction to the light at each point.
To infer the light-source direction, you must know the local orientation of the surface. At most places on an object in an image, it is difficult to determine the orientation. The one exception is along a surface contour, where the orientation is perpendicular to the contour (red arrows right). By measuring the brightness and orientation along several points on a contour, our algorithm estimates the light-source direction.
For the image above, the light-source direction for the police does not match that for the ducks (arrows). We would have to analyze other items to be sure it was the ducks that were added.
Eyes and Positions
Because eyes have very consistent shapes, they can be useful for assessing whether a photograph has been altered.
A person’s irises are circular in reality but will appear increasingly elliptical as the eyes turn to the side or up or down (a). One can approximate how eyes will look in a photograph by tracing rays of light running from them to a point called the camera center (b). The picture forms where the rays cross the image plane (blue). The principal point of the camera—the intersection of the image plane and the ray along which the camera is pointed—will be near the photograph’s center.
My group uses the shape of a person’s two irises in the photograph to infer how his or her eyes are oriented relative to the camera and thus where the camera’s principal point is located (c). A principal point far from the center or people having inconsistent principal points is evidence of tampering (d). The algorithm also works with other objects if their shapes are known, as with two wheels on a car.
The technique is limited, however, because the analysis relies on accurately measuring the slightly different shapes of a person’s two irises. My collaborators and I have found we can reliably estimate large camera differences, such as when a person is moved from one side of the image to the middle. It is harder to tell if the person was moved much less than that.
Surrounding lights reflect in eyes to form small white dots called specular highlights. The shape, color and location of these highlights tell us quite a bit about the lighting.
In 2006 a photo editor contacted me about a picture of American Idol stars that was scheduled for publication in his magazine (above). The specular highlights were quite different (insets).
The highlight position indicates where the light source is located (above left). As the direction to the light source (yellow arrow) moves from left to right, so do the specular highlights.
The highlights in the American Idol picture are so inconsistent that visual inspection is enough to infer the photograph has been doctored. Many cases, however, require a mathematical analysis. To determine light position precisely requires taking into account the shape of the eye and the relative orientation between the eye, camera and light. The orientation matters because eyes are not perfect spheres: the clear covering of the iris, or cornea, protrudes, which we model in software as a sphere whose center is offset from the center of the whites of the eye, or sclera (above right).
Our algorithm calculates the orientation of a person’s eyes from the shape of the irises in the image. With this information and the position of the specular highlights, the program estimates the direction to the light. The image of the American Idol cast (above; directions depicted by red dots on green spheres) was very likely composed from at least three photographs.
Send in the Clones
Cloning—the copying and pasting of a region of an image—is a very common and powerful form of manipulation.
This image is taken from a television ad used by George W. Bush’s reelection campaign late in 2004. Finding cloned regions by a brute-force computer search, pixel by pixel, of all possible duplicated regions is impractical because they could be of any shape and located anywhere in the image. The number of comparisons to be made is astronomical, and innumerable tiny regions will be identical just by chance (“false positives”). My group has developed a more efficient technique that works with small blocks of pixels, typically about a six-by-six-pixel square (inset).
For every six-by-six block of pixels in the image, the algorithm computes a quantity that characterizes the colors of the 36 pixels in the block. It then uses that quantity to order all the blocks in a sequence that has identical and very similar blocks close together. Finally, the program looks for the identical blocks and tries to “grow” larger identical regions from them block by block. By dealing in blocks, the algorithm greatly reduces the number of false positives that must be examined and discarded.
When the algorithm is applied to the image from the political ad, it detects three identical regions (red, blue and green).
Digital retouching rarely leaves behind a visual trace. Because retouching can take many forms, I wanted to develop an algorithm that would detect any modification of an image. The technique my group came up with depends on a feature of how virtually all digital cameras work.
A camera’s digital sensors are laid out in a rectangular grid of pixels, but each pixel detects the intensity of light only in a band of wavelengths near one color, thanks to a color filter array (CFA) that sits on top of the digital sensor grid. The CFA used most often, the Bayer array, has red, green and blue filters arranged as shown below.
Each pixel in the raw data thus has only one color channel of the three required to specify a pixel of a standard digital image. The missing data are filled in—either by a processor in the camera itself or by software that interprets raw data from the camera—by interpolating from the nearby pixels, a procedure called demosaicing. The simplest approach is to take the average of neighboring values, but more sophisticated algorithms are also used to achieve better results. Whatever demosaicing algorithm is applied, the pixels in the final digital image will be correlated with their neighbors. If an image does not have the proper pixel correlations for the camera allegedly used to take the picture, the image has been retouched in some fashion.
My group’s algorithm looks for these periodic correlations in a digital image and can detect deviations from them. If the correlations are absent in a small region, most likely some spot changes have been made there. The correlations may be completely absent if image-wide changes were made, such as resizing or heavy JPEG compression. This technique can detect changes such as those made by Reuters to an image it released from a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in 2005 (above): the contrast of the notepad was adjusted to improve its readability.