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Who Helped Overturn the "Pentagon Papers Principle"?

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Who Helped Overturn the "Pentagon Papers Principle"?

...The “break” from the age-old standard was endorsed by multiple current and former figures from the Washington Post and New York Times, the two papers most associated with the publication of the Pentagon Papers. Neither of the press offices of the two papers would comment, nor did individual figures named in the #TwitterFiles leaks.

The genesis of this idea appeared to come from a paper co-authored by two Aspen tabletop attendees, both from Stanford: longtime journalist Janine Zacharia and former Obama and Trump Cybersecurity Policy Director Andrew James Grotto. Their “How to Report Responsibly on Hacks and Disinformation: 10 Guidelines and a Template for Every Newsroom” included the idea of ditching the “Pentagon Papers Principle,” insisting, “authentication alone is not enough to run with something.”




The concept seemed to provide the intellectual foundation for shelving the Post story, which otherwise presented a real conundrum for would-be censors, being neither fake news nor a Russian plant. The elaborate carve-out for dealing with such material is laid out in another newly discovered document, called “Partnership for a Healthy Digital Public Sphere: Opportunities & Challenges in Content Moderation.”

This summary was sent by Aspen Digital’s Executive Director and former NPR CEO Vivian Schiller to two other Aspen figures on September 15, 2020. Echoing the Stanford paper, it summarized the lessons Aspen Digital learned from examining the hack-and-dump problem, explaining the need to put “provenance front and center”:




The concept theoretically represented a major shift, asking reporters to move from focusing on the what of news to why? and who from?

“That seems to be the whole predicate of why they ignored the laptop story, even though they knew it was real,” says Miranda Devine, author of the New York Post exposé.

Again, none of the media or academic figures involved with this story commented for the record, but one tabletop attendee who asked not to be named did defend the decision, saying: “It was just arguing for discretion over whatever sells,” adding, “The race to the bottom is what got us 2016.”

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This is reminiscent of taking advantage of a common enemy to disguise one’s intentions (escape responsibility).  Case in point is the Boston Tea Party where colonials disguised themselves as Mohawk Native Americans to hide their true identity.


There are other examples of using Native American disguises to hide identities to commit crimes:

The Mountain Meadows Massacre (September 7–11, 1857) was a series of attacks during the  Utah War that resulted in the mass murder of at least 120 members of the Baker–Fancheremigrant wagon train.[1][a] The massacre occurred in the southern Utah Territory at Mountain Meadows, and was perpetrated by the Mormon settlers belonging to the Utah Territorial Militia (officially called the Nauvoo Legion) who recruited and were aided by some Southern Paiute Native Americans.[2] The wagon train, made up mostly of families from Arkansas, was bound for California, traveling on the Old Spanish Trail that passed through the Territory.

After arriving in Salt Lake City, the Baker–Fancher party made their way south along the Mormon Road, eventually stopping to rest at Mountain Meadows. As the party was traveling west there were rumors about the party's behavior towards Mormons, and war hysteria towards outsiders was rampant as a result of a military expedition dispatched by President Buchanan and Territorial Governor Brigham Young's declaration of martial law in response.[3][4][5] While the emigrants were camped at the meadow, local militia leaders, including Isaac C. Haight and John D. Lee, made plans to attack the wagon train. The leaders of the militia, wanting to give the impression of tribal hostilities, persuaded Southern Paiutes to join with a larger party of militiamen disguised as Native Americans in an attack. During the militia's first assault on the wagon train, the emigrants fought back, and a five-day siege ensued. Eventually, fear spread among the militia's leaders that some emigrants had caught sight of the white men, likely discerning the actual identity of a majority of the attackers. As a result, militia commander William H. Dame ordered his forces to kill the emigrants. By this time, the emigrants were running low on water and provisions, and allowed some members of the militia—who approached under a white flag—to enter their camp. The militia members assured the emigrants they were protected, and after handing over their weapons, the emigrants were escorted away from their defensive position. After walking a distance from the camp, the militiamen, with the help of auxiliary forces hiding nearby, attacked the emigrants. The perpetrators killed all the adults and older children in the group, in the end sparing only seventeen young children under the age of seven.[a]


So, blaming a common enemy has been a tried and true practice since the beginning of the nation.  In 2016 the spiel was *Russian interference* and it may have played a part, but it didn’t really play a major part. However, the seed was planted and was harvested in 2020.  They knew Hunter Biden’s laptop was real, yet they disguised themselves in *Russian interference* and the media was bound and determined to not let that happen again.

We may think of ourselves as far superior to our founding fathers, but we keep on using the same tricks to foul ourselves into thinking we are doing the right thing instead of letting the truth prevail.

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