- Deliberately misleading information announced publicly or leaked by a government or especially by an intelligence agency in order to influence public opinion or the government in another nation.
- Dissemination of such misleading information.
- The dissemination of intentionally false information to deliberately confuse or mislead.
First, some resources
Much has been written about the conspiracy theory known as Qanon. Specifically, and during discussions with the participants, it is Q and the Anons. I will not be recreating that volume of information here. If you want to learn more about the phenomenon, there are plenty of resources available. I would suggest the Qanon Anonymous podcast , Q Clearance: The Hunt for Qanon , or the HBO Documentary, Q: Into The Storm . For those who prefer the written word, there are some great books available on the subject. As a starting point, I recommend, The Storm Is Upon Us, by Mike Rothschild. There are numerous experts on Twitter who continue to track the phenomenon and add context to many of the issues arising in the day-to-day goings on within the movement. Among them, @get_innocuous , @QOrigins , @ALKapDC , and @2021_karma are great starting points. From there, you can find many other resources simply by following the accounts those accounts retweet.
Stealing the Playbook
I have often been accused of seeing a Russian behind every curtain. I think that is a bit overstated but I will not deny I see the guiding hand of Russian Active Measures behind many of today’s wedge issues within the United States. I have a philosophy I often offer in jest: If you blame the Russians every time, you’ll still be correct 60% of the time. (The other 40% are Iran and China using Russia’s playbook to do the same thing.)
In this particular case, however, when dealing with Qanon and Active Measures, there is more to it. Although Russian troll accounts and bots did attempt to amplify the Qanon conspiracy theory for a time, there is no true evidence that Russian agents were behind the origination of the phenomenon. Their amplification was also ineffective and appears to have had very little impact on the growth of the movement. Qanon appears to be a creation of U.S. conspiracy theorists and grifters so we will keep attribution firmly where it belongs. I will not be making the argument that Russia had a meaningful role in this troubling movement.
I will attempt to show how the tactics of Soviet and then Russian Federation Active Measures were used by the creators and promoters of Qanon to the same effect as their foreign inspiration. Q-active Measures, which I will forever pronounce as “Quactive”, pilfered the playbook that has been in active use for a century. And they have put it to use in extraordinary ways that have been extraordinarily effective.
Framing someone as a criminal, whether in the sense of a legal proceeding or simply public opinion, has long been a popular tactic used in the Active Measures field. Disinformation being a major component of Active Measures, it appears in every instance of it. One of the largest operations of its kind was the KGB framing of Pope Pious XII as a Nazi collaborator. The Soviet Union was conducting an information war, not only against the west, but also against the Roman Catholic Church. What better way to deteriorate trust in an institution than to provide evidence that institution’s leader was an enemy collaborator? That historical operation is well documented. There is no need to explain it in detail here. A simple Google search will provide you with more than enough information. Suffice to say, the Soviets used every tool at their disposal for their framing operation. Documents were forged, false statements were publicized, and they even went so far as to help create a theater play on the subject, with the help of many communists within the arts from Russia to the United States.
Framing has been used against politicians, activists, government officials, celebrities, and many, many times, against Jews and Judaism. Today, within Qanon, framing is used against, well, anyone they don’t like. Or, anyone who they used to like but recently failed to follow their playbook so now they are also an enemy, and probably always were an enemy, but they just figured it out.
Qanon’s favorite framing method is a combination of Jewish blood libel conspiracies, child sex trafficking fears, satanic panic, and McCarthyism. If Qanon can’t prove you were on Jeffrey Epstein’s flight logs, then connecting you with satanism is an acceptable next step. Failing that, connecting you with communist conspiracies, human trafficking, or adrenochrome use will work in a pinch. If all else fails, they can always label you a Zionist because you voted for a pro-Israel policy or simply stated your support for the State of Israel. In many of these framing attempts, it comes back around to, “It was the Jews.”
A more generalized frame for Qanon’s opponents is the accusation of being, “Deep State.” This particular gem played out just this week with State Senator, Karen Fann, who represents Arizona’s legistative district 1. One of the loudest proponents of the 2020 stolen election lie, Fann pushed for the ineffective, and comical when the evidence is reviewed, election audit of Maricopa County, AZ. With the audit results publicized, Fann failed to “decertify” the election and have all of the deep state malignant actors arrested for stealing the election from the beloved Donald. Two weeks later, Fann is being labeled as a deep state operative, and probably always has been except she fooled them for a time, by the very Qanon influencers who so actively supported Fann’s audit.
In some Qanon circles, even Donald Trump himself is labeled as a deep state operative, not because he has changed his tune on the stolen election lie, but because he is encouraging people to get vaccinated against SARS-COV2, or Covid-19. Those who are still firmly seated on the Trump train excuse Trump’s claims of being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine by claiming he is lying about the whole thing and really took a placebo vaccine that was simply saline solution. Where they come up with this explanation is anyone’s guess since Trump so valiantly fought to get vaccines created and approved through his Warp Speed program and since then has been telling people to get vaccinated with said vaccines. Conversely, many on the left opposed taking “The Trump Vaccine” because of its origins in the Trump administration but are now fully pushing the same vaccines because Trump is out of office. For Qanon, the opposite is true.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, anti-vaccination conspiracies have occupied a large segment of the Qanon space. In his book, The Storm Is Upon Us, author Mike Rothschild, who apparently is not related to the Rothschild family that owns every bank in the world, except China and Iran, and secretly controls the governments of every nation, except China and Iran, describes Qanon as, “The conspiracy theory of everything.” A truer statement on Qanon could not be made. This “Big Tent” theory provides equal exposure to virtually any other conspiracy theory espoused by the core believers in Q. Anti-Semitic tropes casually partner with anti-vaccination disinformation and Kennedy assassination hands associate with the Ancient Astronaut theorists. You can throw in time traveling whistleblowers, Christ bloodline researchers, and lizard overlords for good measure. They all have a home in Qanon.
Qanon influencers frame each other as well. Post 2020 election, several Qanon influencers have parted ways as they each try to reconcile how Trump lost the election and each compiles their own theories to explain it away. If those theories disagree, there can be a great falling away of followers and, consequently, the financial benefits of being a top influencer. One influencer promoting another, or choosing not to, can make or break a Qanon influencer. Occasionally, one influencer will disavow another and the battle begins; each accusing the other of being a deep state shill.
During the failed Kraken lawsuits brought by somehow-still-an-attorney Sidney Powell, one influencer, Tore Maras, was outed as being one of the “experts” who submitted an affidavit for the case that was sure to prove the election was stolen. The affidavit was submitted with Maras’ name redacted “for security reasons” but since it was almost an exact copy/paste of an article she authored in 2019, Maras was exposed as the author almost immediately. Several media outlets began digging into Maras’ history and published articles on her. Washington Post led the way with their own breakdown found HERE. And HERE is a more recent opinion piece from Above The Law.
Once exposed, Maras experienced her own bout with being shunned by many within the Qanon movement. Some other influencers even ban people in their chat rooms for simply mentioning Tore’s name. Jordan Slather, another Qanon influencer, has made quite a show of his disapproval of Maras. It doesn’t seem to have impacted Maras financially, however. Her podcast streams over the Twitch streaming service. This week, a data leak from a hack of Twitch hit the internet and included the total payouts for streamers on their service. Although not even in the top 200 streamers, Maras raked in a cool $140,000 from her Twitch stream over the last two years. The leaked data was posted to PasteBin but, as of 7 Oct 2021, the post has been removed. You can view screenshots of Maras’ payout data on Twitter HERE.
Maras’ grief relates to her false claims of being an intelligence operative over many years and participating in various classified missions that included helping steal elections both here and abroad. And cloning people, apparently. Once her claims were shown to be false and it was shown that she was kicked out of the US Navy after only eight months of service, not the many years of service she claimed, she was resigned to carving out her own niche within the conspiracy theory space. Many of her followers believe Maras WAS the mysterious character known only as Q. Since she makes no effort to dissuade her followers from this belief, quite a large segment of the larger Qanon movement have pushed her aside. Several have labeled her a deep state operative because of course they would. It was inevitable. No one is safe from their framing if they dare depart from the official Qanon narrative, even though most have no notion what that official narrative would be beyond, “Trump won!” and “Everyone we don’t like is a child rapist.”
Massive Disinfo Distribution
As was noted in the early Patriot Deception posts, most within the conspiracy theory realm seek their “research material” from alternate sources far removed from anything considered mainstream media. This rule is only broken if said mainstream media happens to post an article with which they agree. Then it is fine and that article is a reliable source.
In a combination of confirmation and congeniality biases, the Qanon community is informed almost exclusively by disinformation and misinformation; much gleaned from virtually unknown websites and some simply created by the Qanon influencers themselves. When the movement embraces any officially recognized science or information, it is almost always because they misunderstood the information provided and believe it supports their viewpoint even though it doesn’t.
A good example of this is the conspiracy theory that vaccinated people suffering breakthrough cases of covid-19 carry 251 times the viral load of unvaccinated people who are suffering from Covid-19. You can read one of the disinformation articles at this LINK. You’ll notice several colorful and highlighted words work as links to other articles except “The Lancet”, which you would assume would link to the actual scientific study. It does not. In fact, there is no link to the study in question anywhere within the article.
This is another tactic commonly seen among disinfo websites and distributed by disinfo agents. Articles explain the information but do not provide a link to the source data. It is an opinion about someone else’s work without showing you that original work so you can decide for yourself what that work reveals. Why do they do this? Because the source data doesn’t say that. At all. In fact, it isn’t even close.
Here is a link to the actual study if you’d like to read it for yourself. Yes, the study shows a viral load of 251 times greater, but it isn’t a study comparing vaccinated to unvaccinated patients and their viral load. It shows that patients who were vaccinated and suffered breakthrough cases of the Delta Variant, all healthcare professionals working in Covid-19 treatment, carried a viral load of Delta Variant that was 251 times that of the original Covid strain identified early in the pandemic. All of those studied were vaccinated and suffering from the Delta Variant so no live clinical comparison between vaccinated and unvaccinated patients was even conducted. Data was simply compared to what was gathered the previous year on the original strain.
How do Qanon and anti-vaccination conspiracists arrive at their obviously different conclusion? It is pretty simple, really. [No, it’s not.]
When the Covid-19 virus was isolated [Another subject conspiracists deny happened] in 2020, no vaccines were available to treat it. Therefore, any viral load studied in patients at that time was studied in unvaccinated patients. The secondary claim is that Delta Variant itself doesn’t exist. Since this study was conducted using vaccinated patients, the conclusion of the conspiracists is that the vaccine itself makes Covid-19 worse. Consequently, they claim the vaccine is causing deaths on a grand scale either by making Covid-19 worse or simply by killing the vaccinated patients because the vaccine is really just poison.
This is classic disinformation almost identical to that used by Soviet/Russian active measures throughout history. The only difference here is that the source data isn’t directly attributable to Russia. In the age of internet anonymity and proxies, it is becoming more and more difficult to attribute a state actor to minor websites on the internet. I’m not asserting that Russia is behind this particular instance, however. Historically, they have been behind some of the broadest disinformation campaigns regarding vaccination, even in recent times. In March of 2021, Russian disinformation agents were outed for spreading concern about U.S. manufactured Covid-19 vaccines and promoting the Russian version instead. Details on one of the campaigns can be read HERE.
The Covid-19 as a bioweapon theory harkens back to an earlier Russian campaign that suggested HIV was also a manmade virus, made by the U.S. military of course, and it was designed to reduce the population of black Africans and other underprivileged minority groups. You can read about Operation INFEKTION HERE. And just like Operation INFEKTION, the Qanon space is filled with claims that the Covid-19 vaccines are designed to kill off segments of the population (This time affluent and middle class whites.) either by poisoning or by infecting them with HIV.
Also similarly to INFEKTION, modern Qanon anti-vaccination conspiracy theories seem to originate from small, seemingly scientific websites. Those articles simmer on the web and are slowly disseminated until larger, more influential websites pick them up and further the campaign. During the AIDS crises, untold numbers of Africans died of AIDS because they were led to believe, directly by the KGB, that western AIDS clinics weren’t treating people for the disease but giving people the disease intentionally. Many avoided western AIDS clinics and other treatment facilities due to the conspiracy theory. The ode to INFEKTION can easily be seen in the conspiracy theories surrounding Covid-19 vaccines, including the claim of intentional infection with HIV.
Russian intelligence no longer needs to create conspiracies or forge documents or frame their opponents for heinous crimes. The originators and backers of Qanon are gleefully doing it for them. I can imagine it must be the height of success for a disinformation agent when his tactics have spread so widely throughout a community that they no longer need to put in any work for them to propagate. That doesn’t mean Russia has any plans to stop using Active Measures against the United States, its western allies, or anyone they deem a threat to their way of thinking. Disinformation agents are busily at work as we speak, creating fake news, forging documents, coordinating fake data leaks, and supporting the efforts of hackers worldwide.
After the chaos that was January 6 at the Nation’s capitol, it takes an immense amount of mental gymnastics to believe the future of Qanon would be a future of nonviolence. Calls for violent revolt are seen hourly on the Telegram channels of the major Qanon influencers, whether by the influencers themselves or by their sychophants.
Several influencers have shifted focus from a national election to more local struggles, sending out their followers to city counsel and school board meetings. Lin Wood and other figureheads of the movement have frequently encouraged their followers to harass, threaten, and challenge these local organizations, most likely because their protections are not as robust and their political machines are easier to thwart. They will work their way up the food chain and gain more and more power within the system they wish to destroy. Stopping them on the local level should be a priority.
Some groups, particularly those following Tore Maras, have begun a process of filing numerous lawsuits against state governments and school boards in order to fight against Covid-19 protection measures such as mask mandates, quarantine protocols, and mandatory vaccination. Her followers have filed against at least thirty governors at the time of this writing and an innumerable number of local school districts. Although a large number of those suits have been dismissed outright once they reach the court, eventually, a few will result in trials. It can be assumed some of those will be successful. This “Lawfare” approach is preferable to violence but if those, too, are largely unsuccessful, I imagine the worst among the Qanon movement will find no recourse remaining other than to lash out with force.
They lost an election. They lost their attempts to prevent President Biden’s inauguration. They lost their attempts to sue in order to overthrow the election. They lost their attempts to decertify the election. They lost their attempts to prove election fraud and a Trump victory. That losing streak will continue until, one day soon, they will go the way of most aggrieved and marginalized peoples of history: Active and violent resistance.
They are a danger to the republic and must be treated as such.
October 7, 2021