It’s part and parcel of the “Russia-gate” hoax

by Justin Raimondo
October 05, 2017

The latest “news” about Russia-gate is the contention that “Russian-linked” ad buyers purchased $100,000 worth of targeted Facebook ads during the 2016 presidential election. For the most part these ads didn’t urge support for any particular candidate, but, we’re told, they were “divisive,” “controversial,” and definitely Not Very Nice. So what did the ads say? Oh, that’s a secret that’s being closely guarded by all involved. Facebook is refusing to release the ads, and the congressional committee that’s investigating them – yes, our solons are on the case! – also refuses to say what the ads actually said: we’re just supposed to take their word for it that the ads were part of a Sinister Russian Conspiracy to Destroy Our Democracy.

So who were these mysterious Russians who were buying “divisive” Facebook ads that, we’re told, may have handed the election to Donald J. Trump for a measly $100,000 – and where’s the evidence they were Russians? Well, that’s also a secret. The many articles detailing this dark plot only tell us that the ads were “Russian-linked,” or, at best, “bought by Russians.” Which Russians? Do these people have names? Well, apparently not, but the name of an alleged organization does keep coming up: the “Internet Research Agency.”

We are told this Agency “has many names,” according to conspiracy theorist Adrian Chen. Writing in the New York Times, Chen claims that mysterious Russian oligarchs fund the elusive organization, which keeps moving its headquarters so as to remain undetected by the inquisitive Russian media. (Hey, I thought the Russian media was entirely under the control of Vladimir Putin!) Chen’s narrative is that the evil Russkies run gigantic “troll farms” that spend their time and energy pushing “fake news” – such as the story that there was a huge explosion at a chemical plant in Louisiana. Chen writes:

“Around 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 11 last year, Duval Arthur, director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, got a call from a resident who had just received a disturbing text message. ‘Toxic fume hazard warning in this area until 1:30 PM,’ the message read. ‘Take Shelter. Check Local Media and’”

It turned out to be a prank, dismissed as such by Mr. Arthur, but according to Chen it was all part of a Russian plot to do – what? It’s not at all clear. Chen claims that a whole panoply of internet phenomena – blog posts, YouTube videos, Twitter postings, etc. – were created in order to make it look like a real disaster was in the making in Louisiana. Chen describes two other hoaxes: one claiming that Ebola had broken out in Atlanta, and another that pushed a fake story about an unarmed African-American woman who had supposedly been shot by police (Chen doesn’t specify the alleged location.) “Who was behind all of this?” asks Chen:

“When I stumbled on it last fall, I had an idea. I was already investigating a shadowy organization in St. Petersburg, Russia, that spreads false information on the internet. It has gone by a few names, but I will refer to it by its best known: the Internet Research Agency.”

Does Chen show an actual connection to the Internet Research Agency? Not at all. He simply asserts it. Which is actually a pretty trollish thing to do….

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