There’s an interesting trend going on right now, and I’m struggling with exactly what to call it. In at least three seperate, widely diverse incidents, there’s been a pattern where:

a) A set of documents is leaked from a person or organization

b) One particular document gets the most attention

c) The original person or organization confirms the authenticity of the rest of the documents except the most controversial one.

The first of the incidents involves the Heartland Memos. The Heartland Institute has confirmed the authenticity of all the leaked documents, except the most controversial one, a claim which is backed up by a lot of circumstantial evidence.

The second incident involved the 5million emails and documents from the private intelligence firm StatFor posted to the website WikiLeaks. The Hacker group Anonymous is widely credited with obtaining the documents. After the release of the documents, Anonymous also released an email that purported to be from George Friedman, the StatFor CEO, that revealed his plans to resign. That document is almost certainly fake – he didn’t, in fact, resign, and publicly denied the letter to be his.

Lastly, and going from the sublime to the ridiculous, were the leaked photos of actress Christina Hendricks. Several of the photos were quite clearly her, and were a bit racy, but fell into the PG-13 range. One of the photos, however, was topless – and that photo, predictably, did NOT show her face, and their authenticity was denied by a Hendricks rep. Here there’s no evidence really either way, but it’s notable that only one of the photos didn’t show her face.

In all three cases, hackers or climate-scientists-cum-social-engineers used illicit means to gain access to material they weren’t supposed to have. Using those documents as a means of bolstering credibility, the bad actors can then fake a document/photo that creates the headline, and before anyone can question the document’s authenticity, it’s accepted as fact. I predict that as we see more and more “leaked” documents, we’ll see more and more of this tactic.

I feel like there’s probably already a crime or intelligence related term for this, akin to “false flag,” but the best I could find online was “cooked,” but that refers more to fake documents created by the SOURCE of leaked documents to confuse potential infiltrators. In this case, the fake documents are created BY the infiltrators, with the real documents used to bolster their authenticity. Any ideas for a good name for this?

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About thinklikeafox

I'm a Naval Officer living in Southern California. I hope to be attending law school in the next year or two, and I started writing this blog out of a desire to improve my writing and critical thinking skills after a couple years outside of academia.
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