Cambridge Analytica: Joining the Dots with Anonymous & Žižek

Previously on Cambridge Analytica News…

In her Cambridge Analytica exposé last October, Vogan had drawn our attention to the intelligence community lurking behind these campaigns; and to ambitious academics – both of whom had dropped out of their government-appointed posts and ‘moved on up’ to the private sector. She then outlined how the use of behavioural micro-targeting, big data and psychometrics by Cambridge Analytica got Donald Trump elected, and led to a vote for Brexit.

Vogan mentioned that SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica is fondly known as “MI6 for Hire”, and referred us specifically to the research of Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr, into one of the filial’s assignments in Trinidad. It was clear there that PRISM-level access had been given for the creation of a national police database, but one is befuddled now by the irony of this shady outfit scoring every citizen on their propensity to commit a crime.

This sounds very much like the work Palantir Technologies does. In her 2014 article, Vogan reports their activity as tracking digital footprints, in order to predict future behaviour; a somewhat similar brand of ‘Big Brother Meets Big Data / Pre-Crime’ fiction. ‘But it sells!”, she proclaims, and proceeds to tell us their story. Palantir was founded by the venture capitalist Peter Thiel and the “eccentric philosopher” Alex Karp. Their locale, from where they claim to have hunted down Bin Laden, is a replica of The Shire.

Curiously, a part of that story was Palantir’s involvement with HBGary Federal, a smaller agency that had allegedly been contracted, a few months after Cablegate, to destroy the reputation of Wikileaks and its supporters. The plan was also to ruin the career of the Guardian journalist, Glenn Greenwald, who had been writing favourable copy about Wikileaks; and who would go on to win a Pulitzer for his reporting on the Snowden revelations.

A document leaked by Anonymous from HBGary’s mail server stated:

“Together, Palantir Technologies, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies bring the expertise and approach needed to combat the WikiLeaks threat effectively.”

Wired magazine reports back in February 2011, in an exciting account of the doxing of HBGary Federal by Anonymous, the intentions of their analyst, Aaron Barr:

“I will sell it”

Writing for Wired, Nate Anderson from Ars Technica explains:

“Barr had been interested in social media for quite some time, believing that the links it showed between people had enormous value when it came to mapping networks of hackers—and when hackers wanted to target their victims. He presented a talk to a closed Department of Justice conference earlier this year on “specific techniques that can be used to target, collect, and exploit targets with laser focus and with 100 percent success” through social media.

“[Aaron Barr's] curiosity about teasing out the webs of connections between people grew. By scraping sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, Barr believed he could draw strong conclusions, such as determining which town someone lived in even if they didn’t provide that information. How? By looking at their friends.”

Does this sound familiar? Hardly surprising then, when we learn of Palantir Technologies’ involvement in the Trump campaign, alongside Cambridge Analytica. There was even a third intelligence agency, called Quid, but what of Wikileaks? Is it likely they would be playing ball with Palantir, and its co-founder Peter Thiel? He is also the founder of Paypal, who staged the world-wide blockade of Wikileaks funding. It’s hard to imagine, and Slavoj Žižek aptly signals how at odds their agendas are:

“Assange characterized himself as the spy of and for the people: he is not spying on the people for those in power, he is spying on those in power for the people”.

Peter Thiel also sits on the board of Facebook, and was the site’s first major investor.

Palantir vs Wikileaks. The mission was to bring down the organisation. Peter Thiel's other company, Paypal, blockaded its funding world-wide.

Žižek offers an interesting perspective on the strict and prolonged silencing of Wikileaks this time. If his hunch is correct, Assange’s last significant announcement may have been that he would testify to the UK Parliament about Cambridge Analytica. Žižek writes:

“I think one name explains it all: Cambridge Analytica – a name which stands for all Assange is about, for what he fights against; the disclosure of the link between the great private corporations and government agencies…

Žižek continues:

“Remember what a big topic and obsession the Russian meddling in the US elections was – now we know it was not Russian hackers (with Assange) who nudged the people towards Trump, but instead the West’s own data-processing agencies which joined forces with political forces. This doesn’t mean that Russia and its allies are innocent: they probably did try to influence the outcome in the same way that the US does in other countries (only in this case, it is labeled “democracy promotion”). But it means the big bad wolf who distorts our democracy is not in the Kremlin, but walking around the West itself – and this is what Assange was claiming all along.”

As the Cambridge Analytica investigation unravels, one deduces that the “Deep State” has backed the wrong horse again in the Spooks vs Wikileaks stakes; and Žižek makes a plausible argument that the latter has been nobbled. The favourite promised supremacy over enlightened people-power, but such are the ways of the Palantiri Stone(r)s. The “cognitive military complex”, as Žižek calls it, has taken a blow to the pre-frontal from Wylie’s smoking guns. Public trust sinks as low as Facebook shares. Thinking back, we have reason to predict that Assange has more to say… Certainly Wikileaks has more to say, and we need to hear it.

What we already know is that the hedge-fund billionaire, Robert Mercer, is the common factor between Cambridge Analytica, Trump, Bannon, AggregateIQ and whadya know… Siri, for whom his algorithms were used. Siri, who knows our name and is always listening… We also know that Peter Thiel is the head of another company that collects our (financial) data, Paypal; and he is the common factor between Cambridge Analytica, (the CIA groomed) Palantir Technologies and last but not least, Facebook.

Meanwhile, still in the red corner according to the hawks, is the Wikileaks-Russian tag team. Over there! Over there! Didn’t Zuckerberg do a sterling job of upgrading Russia’s interference in the US Elections during his testimony to Congress? One imagines “Arms Race” is exactly what both Houses wanted to hear.

Good boy. We know you’re sorry…

Žižek is troubled by what he calls “a well orchestrated character assassination” of the Wikileaks editor-in-chief, and cites gutter-level rumours that he is too smelly for the Ecuadorian Embassy. Žižek also refers to “a disgusting attack” on Assange from the Guardian – in the midst of extensive Cambridge Analytica coverage – which describes him as a megalomaniac and a fugitive from justice. Žižek once again jogs our memory, and helps us join the dots:

“…as far they [the journalists] are concerned, write as much as you want about Cambridge Analytica and Steve Bannon, just don’t dwell on what Assange was drawing our attention to: that the state apparatuses which are now expected to investigate the “scandal” are themselves part of the problem.”

With news emerging that Theresa May was working with SCL as recently as February this year, Slavoj Žižek may have a point; mighty heads could roll. Or, we could be rolled… back into the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind.

Time to release the Kracken?

About CaTⓋ

Artist, musician, nerd
This entry was posted in ACADEMIC, EDITORIAL, LIVING PROOF, NEWS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>