The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has partnered with the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency (CISA) to roll out a terrorism advisory and, with it, a series of "graphic novels" called "The Resilience Series" to combat "Mis-Dis-, and Malinformation" (MDM). The series is one shameless piece of a larger puzzle that is now our government-sponsored American propaganda machine. It is stark evidence of how committed U.S. government agencies are to their current totalitarian agenda. DHS and CISA are effectively being weaponized to label certain classes of Americans as terrorists—and unfortunately, it isn't the first time. Now they are getting creative, rolling out all the tools necessary to propagate their message to the unsuspecting American public.
The National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin
In short, the Feb. 7 National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin (NTASB) warns of MDM propagated by foreign and domestic actors who are fueled by an "online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories."
The DHS bulletin states that "threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence." The full opening paragraph of the advisory reads as follows:
The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors. These threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence. Mass casualty attacks and other acts of targeted violence conducted by lone offenders and small groups acting in furtherance of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances pose an ongoing threat to the nation. While the conditions underlying the heightened threat landscape have not significantly changed over the last year, the convergence of the following factors has increased the volatility, unpredictability, and complexity of the threat environment: (1) the proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions; (2) continued calls for violence directed at U.S. critical infrastructure; soft targets and mass gatherings; faith-based institutions, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques; institutions of higher education; racial and religious minorities; government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement and the military; the media; and perceived ideological opponents; and (3) calls by foreign terrorist organizations for attacks on the United States based on recent events.
While a variety of security threats are discussed in the advisory DHS bulletin, the primary focus of the advisory seems to be online content and its convergence with "violent extremist ideologies, false or misleading narratives, and conspiracy theories."
"Conspiracy theories" and "proliferation of false or misleading narratives" are at the root of sowing discord and distrust of government agencies, says the advisory. Specifically, the DHS document highlights "false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19. Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021." Jan. 6? Who wonders whether all of the Antifa/BLM burning of cities is identified with this definition of extremist attacks?
Plenty has been written about the language of this advisory. And the language is very plain. I am certainly not the only one to see this announcement as a fairly transparent attack on civil liberties and free speech, at the very minimum. However, the barely mentioned MDM project partnership between DHS and CISA is disturbing. It shows just how richly rendered this administration's conceptualization of these perceived threats has become. It truly takes the propaganda to another level entirely.
CISA's Resilience Series: Two Novels Already Released
Two in the Resilience Series of graphic novels are posted on the CISA page. The first in the series is called Resilience Series: Real Fake" and is now available in full graphic technicolor on CISA's website. The second novel is called "Resilience Series: Bug Bytes." With the creation of this series, a new acronym has emerged in the form of Mis-Dis-and Malformation or MDM. The CISA MDM team was tasked with the job of setting the American public straight (becoming "more resilient") in its ability to process MDM. Enter the medium of the graphic novel. It is somewhat terrifying to contemplate what CISA has in mind for future editions in the series.
In any case, the target content of the first novel is elections and critical infrastructure—just one small slice of what is sure to be a much more elaborate whole. It is a whole that addresses Americans' apparent inability to suss out the facts of almost any given situation.
To be sure, big tech and governmental censoring and algorithmic wizardry make it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction at times. Much of the time, we are only allowed to see what the big tech gods allow us to see. And many are all but banished to the social media gulags—relegated to interactions with the few who follow or set their notifications to tune their audience. However, here, both in the advisory and with CISA's graphic novel series, our government agencies are unabashedly aspiring to ensure that we see it their way, shredding the constitution as they go. After all, they now believe we cannot have a culture or a society that is free to think and choose as it did in days of yore. It isn't good for society at large. Step into line, comrades.
"Real Fake" is the first novel in the series. Gamer, and patriot protagonist, Rachel O'Sullivan is a member of the group "Symous, a group fighting disinformation, deepfakes, troll farms, and foreign interference in elections as Election Day approaches." Rachel recruits Andre to take down a troll farm that is "pushing American voters to the brink" in the months leading up to Election Day. The Aug. 18, 2021, Real Fake Trailer previews the story of election disinformation.
The 57-page Real Fake graphic novel, with its legalistic disclaimers, seeks to "highlight tactics used by foreign government-backed disinformation campaigns that seek to disrupt American life and the infrastructure (elections) that underlies it." It tells the story of incoming disinformation from foreign troll farms. Some of it is delivered by way of "synthetic videos" (deep fake videos) that could allegedly mislead and cause harm to the American public.
The dialogue in the novel is laden with the vernacular of information warfare that is now an integral part of political and social media discourse. Exchange after exchange pits the "good guys" against the evil actors attempting to destroy American elections. Andre, who works at the Voter Advocacy Group Office, is seen using the "CommBlogz App," exchanging barbs with someone with the handle "Single0." Single0 is a "troll" who has posted a deep fake video that Andre says could "[damage] our very democracy."
Rachel, over at the "eSports Champions Stadium," is equally distraught because she too sees Single0's fabricated video. The chapter's dialogue is easier to digest without the attending graphics. The script is provided below:
Rachel/Andre Parallel dialogue/P. 3 Real Fake
Of particular interest is the use of the term "liar's dividend." The definition is captured in the yellow rectangle at the bottom right.
*Liar's dividend is the unintended outcome of shining a light on disinformation, which in turn causes doubt around the veracity of news (True or not), inadvertently helping those that spread lies.
Notably, the definition is followed by a conversation bubble that says, "Oh man, this is really going to send the media into a frenzy. While our news does the right thing about talking about these "synthetic videos" the real issue is that they are so feeding the "liar's dividend."
The dialogue is disturbing on so many levels and is all too familiar to almost anyone who has been paying attention. So, according to Real Fake, "real information" is hard to come by and predetermined by goodness knows who. The news media are not only the good guys, but they are in charge of setting the truth. But then again, that "truth" shines a light on disinformation casting doubt on the veracity of the news. Faceless entities determine what constitutes disinformation—approved narratives only, please. Fear abounds. The dialogue implies that the public is only as well-informed as these faceless entities or the media allow them to be. Honestly, it is the worst kind of mind game, and now we have a graphic novel series to actualize the problem and predetermine our proper ideation and response.
Real Fake/P. 7
Page after page of the novel discusses the online threats that "undermine democracy." Deep Fake technology is explained as "the financial, political, and social threat" and "is a very real risk about which society at large needs to develop awareness and resilience." Who determines the "trusted sources" mentioned in the dialogue?
The novel is a treasure trove of every kind of malicious online activity, from nefarious trending hashtags to propped-up political hit pieces, to anti-5g campaigns and more. Eventually, the troll farm is raided, and arrests are made. Honestly, the best way to absorb what is being promulgated here is to read the novel yourself.
Real Fake/ Pp. 18-19
To be clear, online troll farms are real, and so is foreign interference in elections, including our own version and interference in other countries' elections. However, the real worry here is that this advisory and these graphic novels have the potential to create fear, chaos, and confusion in the minds of many.
Graphic Novel Two, Resilience Series: Bug Bytes
Bug Bytes is the second graphic novel in the series and is written by the same authors. Similar in tone and format, this novel tells the story of the alleged disinformation campaign surrounding 5-G and its alleged relationship to COVID-19 that seeks to disrupt "American life and the infrastructure that underlies it."
Ava, with her undergraduate in cybersecurity and her "full ride to grad school for journalism," and her father, Frank, are on the Ann Arbor college campus. Announcements blare about rising COVID cases, and the characters in the story push mask-wearing in much of the script.
Frank's job puts him in charge of 5G towers, and he intimates that 5G towers are being targeted because of "all that crazy conspiracy stuff around 5G and its nonsensical link to the virus." Lo and behold, Frank gets a call referencing a fire at one of the towers. Apparently two "men in balaclavas" have set the tower on fire. They proceed to beat Frank when they realize he is alone. He ends up in the hospital, and Ava vows to find out who did this to her father. She begins to investigate the crime, stumbling on an online petition to "Stop 5G Cell Tower Deployment in Michigan." She soon sees a pattern of behavior linking 5G to COVID because of some of the online comments.
"Why try to link 5G technology to the vaccine?" she wonders, "We don't have a vaccine yet…There can't be any research to support this claim. It takes a long time to do those studies."
As with the Real Fake script, Ava begins to see "fake accounts" and online activity that indicates there are nefarious actors Hell bent on promoting the connection between 5G and COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 vaccines. An excerpt of the script shows a conversation between Ava and her Dad about the damaging effects of online disinformation.
Dialogue/Ava and Frank/Bug Bytes
Discussions ensue about bot farms and shutting down the disinformation campaign. Symous appears again to help Ava get the help she needs. And then Ava, the cyber journalist, goes on a "journey for truth" by becoming an avatar in an online world that will help her get to the bottom of these crimes.
She discovers a number of things about the vaccines. They are, no doubt, "great," and they "protect citizens against COVID-19...Americans...and humanity are at stake" if she remains silent. She reports her findings using a tripod and her cellphone.
Ava Reports/Bug Bytes
Discussed are mRNA vaccines, successful trials of the vaccines, and approaches to the development of the vaccines. Anti-vax campaigns are also uncovered by a "data science team" showing how a "handful of people are funding ad campaigns to grow the anti-vax movement in the U.S." Ava makes a documentary to report the truth about the vaccines. The authorities eventually catch the bad guys, and Ava wins a journalism award. In summary, the graphic novel is the Gen Z version of what the government wants the public to hear about its vaccines, the critical 5G infrastructure, and the pandemic.
Who Decides What We Think?
Who is it that now determines the ideological threats? What ideologies are acceptable in our political culture today? Who decides who the terrorists are? Why is our government dictating the guidelines for digital and media literacy? What are the implications for a government that dictates what and how we think and how we should interact? Why are our government and the media the self-appointed purveyors of "trusted information"? These questions barely scrape the surface of the dangers of this level of government oversight and propaganda.
Context is Important
In the past two years, there have been a number of warning signs that indicate we are not in Kansas anymore. Many American parents have been essentially labeled as domestic terrorists by the DOJ. Pelosi and others are deadset on defining the events of Jan. 6 as a terrorist act, despite evidence showing that a small minority entered the Capitol building. 40 detainees are still imprisoned, segregated in a D.C. jail without due process because they dared to exert their First Amendment Rights. Election integrity investigations have been touted as dis/misinformation. Most politicians have refused to entertain the idea that the 2020 election was stolen when all that most Americans want is a fair investigation of what took place. Censoring by big tech and social media platforms has become commonplace. And don't even get me started with the messaging on almost every aspect of the "pandemic" from governments worldwide. These events and others provide ample contextual evidence that we are moving away from the Constitutional liberties we deserve. They also provide context for the government propaganda material that is the subject of this commentary.
The DHS bulletin and the CISA novel seem to be purposefully placed sentinel warning systems to induce the American public to focus its attention on various signs, signals, information, disinformation, "gatherings," and environments. All seem to be the prescribed potential contexts or targets for violence and/or terroristic or "malicious" acts.
Information emanating from any given government is almost always agenda-driven. And information itself is always contextual. A narrative is, by nature, one that is cultivated over time. The building blocks are slowly put into place, and eventually, the agendas emerge.
In many of its examples, the DHS bulletin itself makes a case for a kind of terrorism or malicious intent that many in this country would not recognize as such. More importantly, it often makes a case for targeting a subset of Americans merely because of their political viewpoints. The agenda that this advisory wants you to believe is one of security and protection. And, yes, government agencies are sometimes charged with protecting the American people from real and present threats. But that protection should not come with a political purity test.
Unless you have lived under a rock for the past two years, it has become painfully obvious that bias and politics have played a significant role in the information and policies coming out of the current administration. All administrations have their biases. It is the nature of the political beast. However, this advisory is a disturbingly real step in the direction of totalitarian dictates. I wonder how many will even read these materials, let alone digest their implications. Americans should understand that when they ignore the messages this administration is so nakedly telegraphing, they become complicit in their own demise.