aside Connecting Cambridge Analytica, Mercers, Steve Bannon, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump And Russia

Image result for photos of robert theil and steve bannonAs to connecting the dots in the Trump-Russia probe/ puzzle, the following Guardian Report has garnered lots of attention but it does shed some light. It almost sounds like a sci-fy script. I have footnoted below a link to the entire article which is very lengthy and time consuming to read but crucial for understanding more about the Trump-Russian Inquiry and Brexit. Yes, both elections are intertwined.

After reading this narrative, ask yourself, why is that faux election commission really collecting data for all voters in all US states?

NOTE: The following report is almost beyond belief. I am giving it credence because it has been printed by the Guardian, and, the Guardian’s article  is the subject of legal complaints on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited, and yet, the Guardian is standing by this work product.

On May 20, 2017/ last updated on June 14, 2017 Carole Cadwalladr of the Guardian (The Observer) penned the following exposé, “The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked.” 

Excerpts:

“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.”

“Paul and David, another ex-Cambridge Analytica employee, were working at the firm when it introduced mass data-harvesting to its psychological warfare techniques. “It brought psychology, propaganda and technology together in this powerful new way,” David tells me.”

Steve Bannon, former vice-president of Cambridge Analytica, now a key adviser to Donald Trump.
STEVE BANNON WAS FORMER VP OF CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA/ Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
 “And it was Facebook that made it possible. It was from Facebook that Cambridge Analytica obtained its vast data-set in the first place. Earlier, psychologists at Cambridge University harvested Facebook data (legally) for research purposes and published pioneering peer-reviewed work about determining personality traits, political partisanship, sexuality and much more from people’s Facebook “likes”. And SCL/Cambridge Analytica contracted a scientist at the university, Dr Aleksandr Kogan, to harvest new Facebook data. And he did so by paying people to take a personality quiz which also allowed not just their own Facebook profiles to be harvested, but also those of their friends – a process then allowed by the social network.”
“Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. It was also the mechanism that enabled them to be delivered on a large scale.”

“The company also (perfectly legally) bought consumer data sets – on everything from magazine subscriptions to airline travel – and uniquely it appended these with the psych data to voter files. It matched all this information to people’s addresses, their phone numbers and often their email addresses. “The goal is to capture every single aspect of every voter’s information environment,” said David. “And the personality data enabled Cambridge Analytica to craft individual messages.”

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“Finding “persuadable” voters is key for any campaign and with its treasure trove of data, Cambridge Analytica could target people high in neuroticism, for example, with images of immigrants “swamping” the country. The key is finding emotional triggers for each individual voter.”

“Cambridge Analytica worked on campaigns in several key states for a Republican political action committee. Its key objective, according to a memo the Observer has seen, was “voter disengagement” and “to persuade Democrat voters to stay at home”: a profoundly disquieting tactic. It has previously been claimed that suppression tactics were used in the campaign, but this document provides the first actual evidence.”

“You have to understand this is not a normal company in any way. I don’t think Mercer even cares if it ever makes any money. It’s the product of a billionaire spending huge amounts of money to build his own experimental science lab, to test what works, to find tiny slivers of influence that can tip an election. Robert Mercer did not invest in this firm until it ran a bunch of pilots – controlled trials. This is one of the smartest computer scientists in the world. He is not going to splash $15m on bullshit.”

Image result for photos of robert mercer“Tamsin Shaw, an associate professor of philosophy at New York University, helps me understand the context.  “The capacity for this science to be used to manipulate emotions is very well established. This is military-funded technology that has been harnessed by a global plutocracy and is being used to sway elections in ways that people can’t even see, don’t even realise is happening to them,” she says. “It’s about exploiting existing phenomenon like nationalism and then using it to manipulate people at the margins. To have so much data in the hands of a bunch of international plutocrats to do with it what they will is absolutely chilling.”

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ALEXANDER NIX

“We are in an information war and billionaires are buying up these companies, which are then employed to go to work in the heart of government. That’s a very worrying situation.”

A project that Cambridge Analytica carried out in Trinidad in 2013 brings all the elements of this story together. Just as Robert Mercer began his segotiations with SCL boss Alexander Nix about an acquisition, SCL was retained by several government ministers in Trinity and Tobago. The brief involved developing a micro-targeting program for the governing party at the time. And AggregateIQ-the same company involved in delivering Brexit for VOTE LEAVE-was brought to build the targeting platform.

“David said: “The standard SCL/CA method is that you get a government contract from the ruling party. And this pays for the political work. So, it’s often some bullshit health project that’s just a cover for getting the minister re-elected. But in this case, our government contacts were with Trinidad’s national security council.”

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TRUMP/ THIEL

“The security work was to be the prize for the political work. Documents seen by the Observer show that this was a proposal to capture citizens’ browsing history en masse, recording phone conversations and applying natural language processing to the recorded voice data to construct a national police database, complete with scores for each citizen on their propensity to commit crime.”

“The plan put to the minister was Minority Report. It was pre-crime. And the fact that Cambridge Analytica is now working inside the Pentagon is, I think, absolutely terrifying,” said David.”

“These documents throw light on a significant and under-reported aspect of the Trump administration. The company that helped Trump achieve power in the first place has now been awarded contracts in the Pentagon and the US state department. Its former vice-president Steve Bannon now sits in the White House. It is also reported to be in discussions for “military and homeland security work”.

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MERCER/ TRUMP

“In the US, the government is bound by strict laws about what data it can collect on individuals. But, for private companies anything goes. Is it unreasonable to see in this the possible beginnings of an authoritarian surveillance state?”

“A state that is bringing corporate interests into the heart of the administration. Documents detail Cambridge Analytica is involved with many other right-leaning billionaires, including Rupert Murdoch. One memo references Cambridge Analytica trying to place an article with a journalist in Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal: “RM re-channeled and connected with Jamie McCauley from Robert Thomson News Corp office,” it says.”

“Further documents seen by the Observer confirm that at least one senior Palantir employee consulted with Cambridge Analytica in relation to the Trinidad project and later political work in the US. But at the time, I’m told, Palantir decided it was too much of a reputational risk for a more formal arrangement. There was no upside to it. Palantir is a company that is trusted to handle vast datasets on UK and US citizens for GCHQ and the NSA, as well as many other countries.”

 Image result for photos of robert theil and steve bannon
Now though, they are both owned by ideologically aligned billionaires: Robert Mercer and Peter Thiel. The Trump campaign has said that Thiel helped it with data. A campaign that was led by Steve Bannon, who was then at Cambridge Analytica.

A leading QC who spends a lot of time in the investigatory powers tribunal said that the problem with this technology was that it all depended on whose hands it was in.

“On the one hand, it’s being done by companies and governments who say ‘you can trust us, we are good and democratic and bake cakes at the weekend’. But then the same expertise can also be sold on to whichever repressive regime.”

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The details of the Trinidad project finally unlocked the mystery that was AggregateIQ. Trinidad was SCL’s first project using big data for micro-targeting before the firm was acquired by Mercer. It was the model that Mercer was buying into. And it brought together all the players: the Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, AggregateIQ, Chris Wylie, and two other individuals who would play a role in this story: Mark Gettleson, a focus group expert who had previously worked for the Lib Dems. And Thomas Borwick, the son of Victoria Borwick, the Conservative MP for Kensington.

A week later the Observer revealed AggregateIQ’s possible link to Cambridge Analytica. Cummings’s Twitter feed went quiet. He didn’t return my messages or my emails.

Questions had already been swirling about whether there had been any coordination between the Leave campaigns. In the week before the referendum, Vote Leave donated money to two other Leave groups – £625,000 to BeLeave, run by fashion student Darren Grimes, and £100,000 to Veterans for Britain, who both then spent this money with AggregateIQ.

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THOMAS BORWICK

The Electoral Commission has written to AggregateIQ. A source close to the investigation said that AggregateIQ responded by saying it had signed a non-disclosure agreement. And since it was outside British jurisdiction, that was the end of it.”

“Finally, after weeks of messages, he sent me an email. We were agreed on one thing, it turned out. He wrote: “The law/regulatory agencies are such a joke the reality is that anybody who wanted to cheat the law could do it easily without people realizing.” But, he says, “by encouraging people to focus on non-stories like Mercer’s nonexistent role in the referendum you are obscuring these important issues”.

“And to finally answer the question about how Vote Leave found this obscure Canadian company on the other side of the planet, he wrote: “Someone found AIQ [AggregateIQ] on the internet and interviewed them on the phone then told me – let’s go with these guys. They were clearly more competent than any others we’d spoken to in London.”The most unfortunate aspect of this – for Dominic Cummings – is that this isn’t credible. It’s the work of moments to put a date filter on Google search and discover that in late 2015 or early 2016, there are no Google hits for “Aggregate IQ”. There is no press coverage. No random mentions. It doesn’t even throw up its website. I have caught Dominic Cummings in what appears to be an alternative fact.”

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TRUMP/ FARAGE

“But what is an actual fact is that Gettleson and Borwick, both previously consultants for SCL and Cambridge Analytica, were both core members of the Vote Leave team. They’re both in the official Vote Leave documents lodged with the Electoral Commission, though they coyly describe their previous work for SCL/Cambridge Analytica as “micro-targeting in Antigua and Trinidad” and “direct communications for several PACs, Senate and Governor campaigns”.

“And Borwick wasn’t just any member of the team. He was Vote Leave’s chief technology officer.”

“This story may involve a complex web of connections, but it all comes back to Cambridge Analytica. It all comes back to Mercer. Because the connections must have been evident. “AggregateIQ may not have belonged to the Mercers but they exist within his world,” David told me. “Almost all of their contracts came from Cambridge Analytica or Mercer. ”

Infographic on how the Brexit campaigns were linked
Illustration: James Melaugh
 “Cummings won’t say who did his modelling. But invoices lodged with the Electoral Commission show payments to a company called Advanced Skills Institute. It takes me weeks to spot the significance of this because the company is usually referred to as ASI Data Science, a company that has a revolving cast of data scientists who have gone on to work with Cambridge Analytica and vice versa. There are videos of ASI data scientists presenting Cambridge Analytica personality models and pages for events the two companies have jointly hosted. ASI told the Observer it had no formal relationship with Cambridge Analytica. Here’s the crucial fact: during the US primary elections, Aggregate IQ signed away its intellectual property (IP). It didn’t own its IP: Robert Mercer did. For AggregateIQ to work with another campaign in Britain, the firm would have to have had the express permission of Mercer.” 

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“This story isn’t about cunning Dominic Cummings finding a few loopholes in the Electoral Commission’s rules. Finding a way to spend an extra million quid here. This story is not even about what appears to be covert coordination between Vote Leave and Leave.EU in their use of AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica. It’s about how a motivated US billionaire – Mercer and his chief ideologue, Bannon – helped to bring about the biggest constitutional change to Britain in a century.”

“Because to understand where and how Brexit is connected to Trump, it’s right here. These relationships, which thread through the middle of Cambridge Analytica, are the result of a transatlantic partnership that stretches back years. Nigel Farage and Bannon have been close associates since at least 2012. Bannon opened the London arm of his news website Breitbart in 2014 to support Ukip – the latest front “in our current cultural and political war”, he told the New York Times.”

“Britain had always been key to Bannon’s plans, another ex-Cambridge Analytica employee told me on condition of anonymity. It was a crucial part of his strategy for changing the entire world order.”

“He believes that to change politics, you have to first change the culture. And Britain was key to that. He thought that where Britain led, America would follow. The idea of Brexit was hugely symbolically important to him.”

“On 29 March, the day article 50 was triggered, I called one of the smaller campaigns, Veterans for Britain. Cummings’s strategy was to target people in the last days of the campaign and Vote Leave gave the smaller group £100,000 in the last week. A small number of people they identified as “persuadable” were bombarded with more than a billion ads, the vast majority in the last few days.”

“I asked David Banks, Veterans for Britain’s head of communications, why they spent the money with AggregateIQ.”

“I didn’t find AggegrateIQ. They found us. They rang us up and pitched us. They were this Canadian company which was opening an office in London to work in British politics and they were doing stuff that none of the UK companies could offer. Their targeting was based on a set of technologies that hadn’t reached the UK yet. A lot of it was proprietary, they’d found a way of targeting people based on behavioral insights. They approached us.”

michael gove
CUMMINGS/ REUTERS

“And that we, the British people, were played. In his blog, Dominic Cummings writes that Brexit came down to “about 600,000 people – just over 1% of registered voters”. It’s not a stretch to believe that a member of the global 1% found a way to influence this crucial 1% of British voters. The referendum was an open goal too tempting a target for US billionaires not to take a clear shot at. Or I should say US billionaires and other interested parties. We also must acknowledge that Russia is wrapped somewhere in this tight embrace too.”

“For the last month, I’ve been writing about the links between the British right, the Trump administration and the European right. And these links lead to Russia from multiple directions. Between Nigel Farage and Donald Trump and Cambridge Analytica.”

Key names

SCL Group
British company with 25 years experience in military “psychological operations” and “election management”.

Cambridge Analytica
Data analytics company formed in 2014. Robert Mercer owns 90%. SCL owns 10%. Carried out major digital targeting campaigns for Donald Trump campaign, Ted Cruz’s nomination campaign and multiple other US Republican campaigns – mostly funded by Mercer. Gave Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU “help” during referendum.

Robert Mercer
US billionaire hedge fund owner who was Trump’s biggest donor. Owns Cambridge Analytica and the IP [intellectual property] ofAggregateIQ. Friend of Farage. Close associate of Steve Bannon.

Steve Bannon
Trump’s chief strategist. Vice-president of Cambridge Analytica during referendum period. Friend of Farage.

Alexander Nix
Director of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group.

Christopher Wylie
Canadian who first brought data expertise and microtargeting to Cambridge Analytica; recruited AggregateIQ.

AggregateIQ
Data analytics company based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Worked for Mercer-funded Pacs that supported the Trump campaign. Robert Mercer owns AggregateIQ’s IP. Paid £3.9m by Vote Leave to “micro-target” voters on social media during referendum campaign. Outside British jurisdiction.

Veterans for Britain
Given £100,000 by Vote Leave. Spent it with AggregateIQ.

BeLeave
Youth Leave campaign set up by 23-year-old student. Given £625,000 by Vote Leave & £50,000 by another donor. Spent it with AggregateIQ.

DUP
Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. Spent £32,750 with AggregrateIQ.

Thomas Borwick
Vote Leave’s chief technology officer. Previously worked with SCL/Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ.

ASI Data Science
Data science specialists. Links with Cambridge Analytica, including staff moving between the two and holding joint events. Paid £114,000 by Vote Leave. Vote Leave declared £71,000 to Electoral Commission.

Donald Trump
US president. Campaign funded by Mercer and run by Bannon. Data services supplied by Cambridge Analytica and AggregrateIQ.

Nigel Farage
Former Ukip leader. Leader of Leave.EU. Friend of Trump, Mercer and Bannon.

Arron Banks
Bristol businessman. Co-founder of Leave.EU. Owns data company and insurance firm. Single biggest donor to Leave – £7.5m.

Some names, ages and other identifying details of sources in this article have been changed

LINK: The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijackedhttps://www.theguardian.com MAY 7, 2017

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8 comments

  1. Dear Gronda … It is 3:30 a.m. and I was going to shut down the trusty ol’ Dell and go to bed, but I decided to read just one more post. I chose this one … and now I am not sure sleep is possible. This post is positively chilling. 1984 x 100. I did not read the article per your link, but will do so tomorrow. Some of what you wrote, I was aware of … but the pieces that connect the dots …

    The term ‘world domination’ has taken on a new meaning.

    Hugs!

    • Dear Jill,

      I have been hesitating for awhile to post this..I just don’t want it to be real. It is hard for me to believe that there monsters among us to where they want to thrash democracies, turn peoples against each other, to create a world reflecting their thinking which frankly is ugly. You said it, 1984 x 100, maybe x1000.

      It was the former DNI head, the US top spy Mr. Clapper words that kept nagging me. He has been saying that the US is under attack, both from within and without. I’m finally buying into all of this. It does make one sick to where you want to go somewhere and hide from all of this, like a permanent vacation, or a move to Canada. The president setting up a phony election commission to collect all our voting data from all the states now makes sense. How chilling!.

      But it has been weighing on me. All of this could explain in part, DDT’s desperation. DDT, like Nigel Farage is a willing pawn.

      Hugs, Gronda

      • Like you, I don’t want it to be true, and I’m still not 100% convinced that it can or will happen. But I am more than a little concerned, discouraged. It almost makes me feel like … why am I bothering to fight so hard against all the idiocy, all the injustices, if it is all out of the control of We The People anyway. Truly depressing. I shared your post with my friend Herb, and he is convinced that it is true and has been in the planning for decades, if not longer. I just don’t quite know what to believe … sigh.
        Many hugs, my friend!!!

        • Dear Jill,

          I am not 100 % convinced about all of this conspiracy laden plot but I can’t discount this info out of hand either. The dots are there…Mercers owning Cambridge Analytica, Aggregate IQ, Steve Bannon having been VP of Cambridge Analytica before he became the chairman of Breitbart which is heavily funded by the Mercers before being part of DDT’s campaign which was and is heavily funded by the Mercers.

          All I know is that these folks have to be stopped with buying off our democracy.

          Hugs, Gronda

  2. I have always found it a sad irony that whereas many folk on both sides of the political divide wax lyrical about how suspicious they are of governments and make much of trying not to give information to said organisations; the self same folk cheerfully give all sorts data away when:
    (a) ‘Agreeing’ so they can have the latest vacuous app.
    (b) Taking part in a survey with the off-chance of winning something..
    And whereas the same group make much of appearing to make ‘profound’ and ‘incisive’ comments when it comes to information from governments, simply fall over themselves in the rush to belief anything that suits their prejudices just so long as it is from an obscure source waving the banner of freedom or of course the sacred Wikileaks.
    There is nothing new is the harvesting of folk to suit purposes. These days however the capacity of people to believe this is all in the name of Freedom and Choice is sometimes reaching tragic proportions.
    (And also grimly comic- Consider Snowden ( a champion of free speech?) who resides in Russia- consider Russia’s human rights record).
    Folk would do well to read 1984 over and over; it’s not just about governments.

    • Dear Roger,

      I have resisted usage of Facebook even though I’ve been tempted. We are living in 1984 on steroids. I am down because all of this. It would be great if we were able to have of a modicum of trust/ faith in our governments.

      “We the people” have to fight for our democracy. It used to be that if 20 people showed up for a US townhall meeting being held by a legislator, that was a good day. These times have really changed this picture.

      I have been visiting my daughter, For one morning, We had fun you-tubing constituents confronting elected lawmakers in droves. We here in the USA have been following the directives from “the resistance” and from “Indivisible.” It has gotten so bad that some legislators are in hiding. But they are being confronted in the halls of the US Congress. On a daily basis there have been arrests. On several days there is footage of police arresting the disabled, to where they had to be carried out.

      Is this happening in the UK.

      Hugs, Gronda

      • Hello Gronda.
        From your description of the political climate I am reminded on Bob Dylan ‘There’s a battle outside and it’s raging’.
        It would seem for too long the Alt Right and its financial backers have been trying to claim a spurious monopoly on Freedom; now the reaction is taking place.
        In the UK we are currently bumbling along, just waiting to see what happens next in parliament. It is a bit of a crossroads here with the possibility of some political lines being redrawn or at least nuanced. There may be a morphing in the centre, it is hard to say yet.
        Our principal problem here being the nasty wings of both sides of the political divide whose only contribution is to spit venom and bile; those on the Left masking their bigotries as ‘political activism- they are a disgrace to Socialism.
        Take care Gronda

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