Carole Cadwalladr in The Guardian does a useful roundup of her horrifying investigation into influencing the electoral and referendum process.
What’s been lost in the US coverage of this “data analytics” firm is the understanding of where the firm came from: deep within the military-industrial complex. A weird British corner of it populated, as the military establishment in Britain is, by old-school Tories. Geoffrey Pattie, a former parliamentary under-secretary of state for defence procurement and director of Marconi Defence Systems, used to be on the board, and Lord Marland, David Cameron’s pro-Brexit former trade envoy, a shareholder.
Steve Tatham was the head of psychological operations for British forces in Afghanistan. The Observer has seen letters endorsing him from the UK Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office and Nato.
SCL/Cambridge Analytica was not some startup created by a couple of guys with a Mac PowerBook. It’s effectively part of the British defence establishment. And, now, too, the American defence establishment. An ex-commanding officer of the US Marine Corps operations centre, Chris Naler, has recently joined Iota Global, a partner of the SCL group.
This is not just a story about social psychology and data analytics. It has to be understood in terms of a military contractor using military strategies on a civilian population. Us. David Miller, a professor of sociology at Bath University and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy. It should be clear to voters where information is coming from, and if it’s not transparent or open where it’s coming from, it raises the question of whether we are actually living in a democracy or not.”
Update: 28 June 2017, Order-Order, noted for future reference:
Last night Newsnight aired a 13 minute video investigating whether Leave.EU “hypnotised” – Newsnight’s word – the British public into voting for Brexit. The package, complete with comically sinister music, was based on a conspiracy theory by a tin foil hatted journalist called Carole Cadwalladr that a shadowy American company working for Leave.EU stole the referendum. This is bonkers. Leave.EU weren’t even the official Leave campaign. The swivel-eyed Remain media can’t bring itself to believe people voted Leave of their own accord, they want to believe it was stolen. The Beeb is giving credence to a huge amount of nonsense at the moment…
My emphasis. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. I don’t think they can both be right.