The Beauty of Disinformation

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"This remarkable book will change the way you look at intelligence, foreign affairs, the press, and much else besides."

-- R. James Woolsey, Chairman, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Former Director of Central Intelligence.


"Here is a work that many of us have been waiting for, a book that—dare I say—history has been waiting for." Paul Kengor, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, Grove City College.

Most politicians, people in the academic world, and the media believe that disinformation is an obsolete Cold War phenomenon. As late as 1986, however, the word “disinformation” was not listed among the three hundred thousand entries of Webster’s New World Thesaurus, or even in the twenty-seven volumes of the New Encyclopedia Britannica. It is widely—and erroneously—believed that the word is simply a foreign synonym for misinformation. Even the Microsoft Word 2010 soft­ware used to type the draft of this book underlined the word disinforming and suggested replacing it with misinforming. In reality, disinformation is as different from misinformation as night is from day. Misinformation is an official government tool and recogniz­able as such. Disinformation (i.e., dezinformatsiya) is a secret intelligence tool, intended to bestow a Western, nongovernment cachet on govern­ment lies. Let us assume that the FSB (the new KGB) fabricated some documents supposedly proving that American military forces were under specific orders to target Islamic houses of worship in their bombing raids over Libya in 2011. If a report on those documents were published in an official Russian news outlet, that would be misinformation, and people in the West might rightly take it with a grain of salt and simply shrug it off as routine Moscow propaganda. If, on the other hand, that same material were made public in the Western media and attributed to some Western organization, that would be disinformation, and the story’s credibility would be substantially greater.

In April 2003, the Western media were inundated with hundreds of horror stories about the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad. Televi­sion stations around the world showed the weeping deputy director of the museum blaming the Americans for allowing the destruction of “170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years.” That was a piece of disinformation. Eventually it was reliably reported that museum employees had hidden the supposedly looted treasures in a safe place long before the Iraq War started, and at the end of hostilities they were safe, in American protective custody. Museum officials later listed only twenty-five artifacts as definitely missing. But the damage was done. Countless people around the world still talk about the devastating images of empty display cases repeat­edly shown on their television screens, accompanied by accusations that the Americans had allowed that to happen.