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Plotting a Coup In the Internet Age 183

Posted by timothy
from the just-become-mayor-via-foursquare dept.
chrb writes "The Guardian is reporting on the attempts of an exiled Sheikh to regain power in a bloodless coup. The plot, led by British solicitor Peter Cathcart, involves the use of Washington political lobbyists, PR agencies writing fake blogs and Twitter accounts, and a newspaper advertising campaign in the US. The coup attempt is remarkable in its choice of modern communications and political lobbying, rather than the traditional resort to violence."
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Plotting a Coup In the Internet Age

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  • Anyone else think of him first?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by i_ate_god (899684)

      I thought of Ender's brother

      • by AnonGCB (1398517)
        I'll admit, that one is way better.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Arancaytar (966377)

        "Dear Peter Wiggin: This letter is to inform you that you have received enough upvotes on your reddit comments to become president of the world. Please be at the UN tomorrow at 8:00 sharp." :D

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RDW (41497)

      Hmm, sounds more like Milo Minderbinder. From TFA:

      "Documents seen by the Guardian show that Cathcart has acted as a paid agent for Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi in a multimillion-pound campaign to "undermine the current regime's standing"...Cathcart, a miniature steam train enthusiast and chairman of his local parish council who operates from modest offices in the outer London suburbs, cuts an unlikely figure in the plot, which involves highly paid US PR consultants, Washington lobbyists and former US-sp

      • by causality (777677)

        Hmm, sounds more like Milo Minderbinder. From TFA:

        "Documents seen by the Guardian show that Cathcart has acted as a paid agent for Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi in a multimillion-pound campaign to "undermine the current regime's standing"...Cathcart, a miniature steam train enthusiast and chairman of his local parish council who operates from modest offices in the outer London suburbs, cuts an unlikely figure in the plot, which involves highly paid US PR consultants, Washington lobbyists and former US-special forces strategists hired at a cost of at least $3.7m (£2.6m)."

        Is this a serious attempt to 'undermine the current regime's standing', or just a successful scheme for undermining the Sheikh's bank balance? I guess Cathcart's alleged cut of the proceeds will really help him expand his model train layout, though.

        Yet more evidence that PR people are evil and have no good purpose. Tell me, if what you are doing is really good and true, why are the facts of the matter not enough? Why do you need public relations people to spin something favorably if the facts are already on your side? They're little more than mercenaries who don't give a damn about whether the conflict is justified so long as they get paid.

        Same deal with lobbyists. If the thing in question really is sound public policy, why can it not stand on

        • by i_ate_god (899684)

          But if everyone's stuff could stand on its own merits, then you still have a signal noise ratio problem. You need PR and marketing to cut through noise.

          • by causality (777677)

            But if everyone's stuff could stand on its own merits, then you still have a signal noise ratio problem. You need PR and marketing to cut through noise.

            I must disagree here. You don't need PR and marketing. What you need is critical thinking. I suppose you could call that an ability to research coupled with an ability to interpret your own information. Then you don't need PR and marketing, which are all about interpretations and how to encourage particular ones that suit their purposes. I like that much better than depending on highly compensated parties to be honest about something they are paid to slant and spin.

            Signal-to-noise isn't a problem wh

            • by Miseph (979059)

              the problem then, is that it is substantially easier to employ PR and marketing than it is to instill critical thinking in the masses. Not to mention the difficulty of overcoming oppositional PR and marketing, which will cloud your truths. Surely you don't expect that those without fact on their side to simply roll over and let you win simply because you're right and they're wrong?

              • by causality (777677)

                the problem then, is that it is substantially easier to employ PR and marketing than it is to instill critical thinking in the masses. Not to mention the difficulty of overcoming oppositional PR and marketing, which will cloud your truths. Surely you don't expect that those without fact on their side to simply roll over and let you win simply because you're right and they're wrong?

                The only reason you wouldn't "win" is because people so enjoy being lied to. It appeals to their ego, that someone would want so badly to please them by telling them what they want to hear that even the truth is less important. A worthless sense of worth, to borrow a phrase. It still doesn't stand up to solid roots in a real sense of worth wherever a comparison has been made. That's the point.

              • the problem then, is that it is substantially easier to employ PR and marketing than it is to instill critical thinking in the masses.

                I doubt the choice arises, because those doing the former are unlikely to be advocates of the latter.

          • You need PR and marketing to cut through noise.

            They don't cut through noise. They create even more noise. Sometimes they create so much noise they overwhelm any signal that was present.

        • by stdarg (456557)

          Yet more evidence that PR people are evil and have no good purpose. Tell me, if what you are doing is really good and true, why are the facts of the matter not enough?

          There are almost no facts when it comes to complex human behavior.

          Why do you need highly paid professionals to use skilled salesmanship and slick presentations to impress people in order to promote something with inherent merit?

          Think of them as teachers.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:28PM (#32479012) Homepage Journal

    Can we finally close this legal loophole? There's no reason why lawmakers should be allowed to take money from non-US citizens, and particularly from other countries. Only US Citizens can vote in elections; there's no reason why other countries and non-citizens should be able to influence how citizens vote, or dictate our foreign policy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If this happens then they will just setup a US shell corporation for a few hundred bucks in Nevada or whatever to channel the money through. Or in the case of Canadian elections a company funneled the money through children and relatives to bypass the maximum donation per person. At least with it out in the open we can easily see who (politicians that is) is accepted what from whom.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Hadlock (143607)
        Corporations have to funnel money through PACs. PAC spending is closely monitored by competing PACs. PACs are generally limited to ~$5,000 per employee. Shell corporations only have a handful of employees. It's not a perfect system and can be abused, but at least something exists to avoid wholesale abuse of the lobbying system. From wikipedia:

        Contributions by individuals to federal PACs are limited to $5,000 per year. Federal multi-candidate PACs are limited in the amount of money they can contribute to can

    • by KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:32PM (#32479032)

      An outright ban on lobbying would be nice in any case.

      • yah! Better yet, how about an outright ban on campaign contributions?

        "Vote with your wallet" should be reserved for consumer activities.

        • Except that if you ban campaign contributions outright, the winners of your elections will be the candidates with the most money.

          • by Shajenko42 (627901) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:52PM (#32479148)
            Whereas now the winner is the candidate backed by the organization with the most money. I'm not sure how this is better.
            • Pausing my cynicism for a second, you might get candidates who, having been successful in private enterprise, have turned their mind to the public service. That might be a good thing. See for example Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

              Unpausing the cynicism, it may just result in payments being covert and jobs-for-the-boys being the order of the day, at least until the Other Rich White Guy gets in to power.

          • Other countries just cap expenditures, campaign advertising, etc. I think this is the entire point... America has a broken political system where its perfectly acceptable to buy an elected official and rather than look to the rest of the world for how to solve this they just declare that they are already living in the best of all possible worlds.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by rhakka (224319)

              I don't think that's necessary. I believe it's been shown in studies that there is a basic threshold for monetary expenditures in elections: below that, and your message doesn't reach the whole electorate well enough. but beyond that point, more money doesn't help.

              we will never keep money out of politics. there is just too many ways to give gifts, favors, contributions, bribes, you name it.

              However, we CAN make political survival not dependent on private money. the answer is public campaign financing to

              • we will never keep money out of politics. there is just too many ways to give gifts, favors, contributions, bribes, you name it.

                There we go again. Existence proofs only work if the people you're talking to as willing to look at the proof. Listen up Americans, there's plenty of other civilized countries around the world that send politicians to jail for taking gifts, favors, contributions and bribes. Wake up and demand accountability.

                • by rhakka (224319)

                  did you finish reading my post?

                  the point is that you can minimize the damage money can do in politics. this will minimize corruption, since being corrupt then offers no advantage to campaigning and keeping your job. Nothing *eliminates* corruption. You can only minimize it. it's like the 'war on drugs' in that respect.

                  I believe many of those other countries have public financing as a very important part of their corruption reduction scheme. it's illegal to take bribes here too, it's just a lot harder t

                  • a bribe is a bribe. Splitting hairs and calling it a "campaign contribution" is a symptom of a sick society. If you're a politician and you're receiving any incoming beyond what your position pays you, you're accepting bribes. The possibly permissible exception is if you own shares in a company, in which case you need to keep away from anything which may be a conflict of interest. And no, it doesn't matter if you set up a shell company to receive the payment, or it's your political party that is receiving the payment, or it's your wife or your friends that are receiving the payment.

                    Nothing *eliminates* corruption. You can only minimize it. it's like the 'war on drugs' in that respect.

                    Wow, you really don't get it do you? Every other civilized country in the world has done it. Corruption is headline news in these countries. The US is not the norm, it's the sick exception.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                      by valdezjuan (83925)

                      I think the greater point is that corruption doesn't always look like corruption. Other countries have helped mitigate this problem, but I seriously doubt the public knows about even a fraction of how often this happens on a global scale. Especially given how many countries are not open books when it comes to these sort of things. Not to mention the rampant corruption organized crime helps create. While a bribe is always a bribe, a bride doesn't always look like one.

                      The companies that offer bribes also need

                    • by rhakka (224319)

                      first, again, I would point out that it is not "rules against bribery" that end corruption. We have "rules against bribery" too. other countries have very strict campaign rules and they include large doses of PUBLIC FINANCING. that's a key element.

                      here, we make politicians raise their own money to campaign. they have to raise it from somewhere. that's why it's complicated to figure out what is a "bribe" and what isn't here, because we FORCE our politicians to, as you would call it, "take bribes" legall

                    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                      by Dishevel (1105119) *

                      Every other civilized country in the world has done it.

                      Your statement proves beyond any doubt whatsoever that you sir are and most likely always will be an idiot. You lose.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by Pwipwi (973243)

                      So if my best friend is running for political office, I can't buy him a birthday gift, or even a drink at the bar, because that would be corruption & bribery under your definition.

                      Fallacy spotted. Please contribute to the debate with real arguments, thank you.

                      Wow, you really have your head up your ass, don't you? Every other civilized country in the world has enacted anti-corruption laws which have loopholes.

                      I'd be delighted if you could actually show me those loopholes in european countries. We have our fair share of corrupt politician over here, but they don't use any loopholes. They falsify, and when they get caught, they (hopefully) go to jail. There is no intended loophole.

                      So if I own a holding company, which in turns owns two other companies of mine, I am not allowed to receive any money from MY company.

                      If the company is yours, there is no problem in you perceiving money from it. There is however a potential problem of conflict of interests that will have to

                    • by stdarg (456557)

                      Fallacy spotted. Please contribute to the debate with real arguments, thank you.

                      The proposed definition is very strict. Pointing out an example where it doesn't make sense is a fallacy?

                      I'd be delighted if you could actually show me those loopholes in european countries. We have our fair share of corrupt politician over here, but they don't use any loopholes. They falsify, and when they get caught, they (hopefully) go to jail. There is no intended loophole.

                      Could you clarify this? You're saying there are no legal ways for politicians in Europe to profit from their positions?

                    • by WNight (23683)

                      So if my best friend is running for political office, I can't buy him a birthday gift, or even a drink at the bar, because that would be corruption & bribery under your definition.

                      No, because it would look like possible corruption and would disguise the real corruption.

                      You'd refrain because of respect for the system your friend is trying to build and how it requires him to live to a higher standard than otherwise.

                    • by WNight (23683)

                      But nobody gets rid of it until they label it corruption.

                      It might be corruption that our other rules almost mandate, but it's still corruption. It's obvious where it's a citizen giving a cop a "gift" but grayer at the politician/corporation level.

                      When you don't call it corruption it raises the question "why get rid of it then?"

                • by EdIII (1114411) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @11:13PM (#32480146)

                  send politicians to jail for taking gifts, favors, contributions and bribes. Wake up and demand accountability.

                  Neato Idea. That's awesome. Seriously, not trolling here. Plain. Fucking. Awesomeness. If I could choose between You and bottled lightning, I would choose you.

                  So we have established:

                  1) Your Awesome.
                  2) You clearly have more morality in your fingernail (any one of them) than any politician in Washington.

                  Now..... let's start...

                  We need to make it a crime to be "taking gifts, favors, contributions and bribes" if you hold political office.... Hmmmm....

                  Okay. I'll fire up my word processor of +10 Legal Lawyerin' and get to work on making the law and you get out there and explain to people what we are trying to accomplish and secure enough votes so we have a majority of the US and can get the law enacted.

                  Huh? What do you mean we can't do that? We're a democracy! WTF! Reprawhatsits?

                  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh.. Representative Democracy. We elect those people and they are supposed to represent us. Wellll... it seems like a catch-22 here. They won't vote the law in, and we can't make the law ourselves..

                  Wait... We can get you elected and have you propose the law and change things right?

                  Let's take over a small state with enough like minded people and get you into the Senate. The people need your common sense and decency based approach to government and politics.

                  ********************
                  a few years pass
                  ********************

                  Senate: "The Senate floor will recognize the junior member QuantumG from the State of Complete-Awesomeness (we managed to rename Idaho or some shit)"

                  QuantumG: "I propose a law criminalizing the acceptance of any campaign contributions, material items, gifts, bribes, or sexual favors from willing pages in a completely non-homosexual manner"

                  Senate: (hushed) "We have a turd in the punchbowl.. repeat ... turd in the punchbowl"

                  *******************

                  Do you seriously wonder at all why most Americans are either a) Completely disillusioned and apathetic (the smart ones), or b) Raving fucking lunatics screaming at the top of their lungs about how the other side is evil, bruises fruit on sight, and beats small children?

                  Even the most idealistic and decent people will be tainted by government within the first few months and you can't get shit done till you have been in Washington for years. It's seniority and it is just a huge boys club up there. You wait, Al Franken will turn into Palpatine given enough time.

                  Wake Up?

                  I am awake. I also have no power to change a god damn thing. It does not matter who I vote for, it does not matter if the person I voted for is a good person either, nothing good will come from anything in government.

                  We have not been represented in forever. The last thing I really remember that was profoundly good and representative of our collective will (most of us) was civil rights. Back to bullshit as usual after that.

                  Those that have the power right now are only going to grant, or delegate, that power to like minded people willing to promulgate their views. You seem to think that if enough Buddhist Monks were to join the Yakuza that in a few years the Yakuza would be all peaceful, shiny, and happy and shit. No. You would have monks with tainted souls and bad Karma.

                  I just hope we don't turn into a police state within my lifetime so I don't have to get in better shape and start putting bullets through storm troopers heads. I am too old and tired at this point to start and participate in the inevitable revolution to come.

                  Yes, I am hopelessly cynical and disillusioned with government and politics, and deservedly so. It's a fucking circus, has been my whole life, and will continue to be one. It has only serviced the agendas of the powerful and influential (corporations) and consistently shafted the people. My disillusionmen

                  • I was going to mod you up, but instead I wanted to congratulate you on your post. This was, by far, the most entertaining and insightful anti-government rant I have read in a long time. No, this is not sarcasm, I'm dead serious. Yes, there are a few flaws in your argumentation, such as generalizing from specific cases. But overall, you nailed one of the issues that a representative democracy will always have: if you're an asshole, you can enact laws for the sole benefit of yourself. And to run, you kinda ha

                  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, 2010 @03:46AM (#32481438)

                    The rational person understands that changing the world is unlikely to succeed, and gives up. Thus the world is changed by the irrational.

                  • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                    by Anonymous Coward

                    You have enormous power. You are just afraid to exercise it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Emetophobe (878584)

              The U.S should adopt election laws like the ones we have up here in Canada. Take a look at the Federal Accountability Act [elections.ca].

              Here are some key points:

              • Corporations, trade unions, associations and groups can no longer make political contributions.
              • You can make a political donation to registered political entities only if you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
              • You can donate a maximum of $1100 to each party or candidate every year.
              • You can no longer make a cash contribution of more than $20 to register
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                You can donate a maximum of $1100 to each party or candidate every year.

                Yes, and there are people who follow the lead of Howard Hughes, and do exactly that: give the maximum to every candidate, no matter what their platform. That way, whoever wins, they'll be able to say, "I gave."

            • by Shihar (153932)

              I don't claim to have the solution and I am not proposing one. Seriously. That said, it is a lot more complex than simply limiting the money flow and "leveling" the playing field.

              There are two very large problems with mucking around in campaign financing law.

              1) People with an interest should be able to present a perspective. If a private individual or a group is going to be harmed by a law, it is pretty well enshrined that they have a right to express themselves. When you start trying to cut off money,

              • by ultranova (717540)

                What does it say about the quality of a democracy when all it takes to win is to advertise more? If victory goes to whoever spends the most, there is a deeper and far more fundamental flaw in democracy than just too much money. You are not having citizens select good leaders any more. What you really have is just a game where the person who can raise the most money wins.

                The purpose of democracy isn't to select good leaders, it's to limit the damage bad leaders can do and to get rid of them without that mes

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by Shihar (153932)

                  I agree with almost everything you have said and that has been more or less my position for a while. The only point where I take issue is on alternatives to democracy. I personally don't think that we have ever given them a fair shake. We have tried a few variants on the structure of democracy (parliamentarian, congressional, constitutional monarchy, even a little direct democracy) , and we have tried a few variants on authoritarian forms of government (military dictatorship, communism, monarchy, theocra

            • Exactly. I was talking to a bloke I work with about the recent UK elections, and before the campaigning started, they were saying that they were hoping to raise $40k to give them a good shot.

              Imagine what $40k would get you in the US.

        • by qbzzt (11136) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:06PM (#32479242)

          Better yet, how about an outright ban on campaign contributions?

          So you'd limit lobbying to organizations powerful enough to directly support a candidate, such as TV stations, newspapers, and organizations who can open their own TV stations and newspapers?

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by QuantumG (50515) *

            As I said in another post, other countries have already solved this problem.

        • Or better yet, "If you can't vote for them, you can't contribute to their campaign. If you could vote for them, you can contribute _a limited amount of money_ to their campaign." Thus for a federal office, you have to be a registered voter somewhere in the US to contribute to a candidate running for that office; for a state office, a registered voter somewhere in the state; for a town or city office, a registered voter in the town or city. This would also help with the situation where every other commerc
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hax0r_this (1073148)
        There is a term for a government that bans lobbying. Its called a dictatorship.

        I know we're supposed to hate corporations, lobbyists, etc, but I wish that people would stop and think about what they're saying.
        • by Hadlock (143607) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:55PM (#32479164) Homepage Journal

          Right; I'm not saying to ban lobbying, simply, ban lobbying by those who can't vote in our country. To bring up the old Nazi defense, how would things have turned out in WW2 if the Nazis had dumped a bunch of money into US lobbying to win support for Germany in the war? Or at least delayed it until they'd occupied Britain and Sweden?
           
          That's an extreme point of view, but on a smaller scale, Israel dumps a huge amount of money into our political system, and in return they get $100 for every $1 they spend on lobbying in terms of foreign aid, $15 billion dollars worth of "military aid money", in addition to discounts on US military hardware and preferential treatment on military equipment sales to the US government.
           
          We do help out a lot of smaller countries financially and send aid, but it is nowhere near what we send to Israel, and Israel's funding on lobbying reflects that. The whitehouse has been mum on this whole flotilla disaster so far, and while they've been more vocal lately, it's generally very muted response in general.
           
          There's no reason why you can't have lobbying, it's a good system that definitely gets abused, but in a two party system you definitely need lobbying so that special interest groups like PETA, Pro-Lifers, Pro-Choicers, Gun Control, NRA, Socialized Medicine-ites, "Hands off my Medicare!"-ers and every other group out there can have their say in Washington. By no means end lobbying outright.... just limit it to domestic and foreign policy that is actually beneficial to our country, not policies that are detrimental to the USA.

          • by qbzzt (11136)

            just limit it to domestic and foreign policy that is actually beneficial to our country, not policies that are detrimental to the USA.

            And who decides if a policy being lobbied for is actually beneficial to our country before it can be lobbied for?

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Hadlock (143607)

              I think you're twisting what I'm saying here. Otherwise known as trolling. I am saying to limit lobbying from international entities. Only allow domestic dollars and companies to lobby our government. In practice domestic entities are typically looking for some sort of gain.

              I'm sure the Chinese or Russians wouldn't like it very much if I started paying their party leaders to enact policies that awarded me (not a Chinese or Russian citizen) lots and lots of contracts for military hardware, sold me t

              • by qbzzt (11136) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @10:12PM (#32479896)

                So you'd ban all foreign lobbying, not just what appears detrimental to the country? That makes more sense.

                However, it is often incredibly difficult to separate domestic from foreign. In Check Point, for example, a foreign company (HQ in Israel), or a domestic company (shares traded on the NASDAQ, most share owners probably US entities)? What about IBM (HQ in the US and the majority of employees in other countries, shared publicly traded)?

                • by Rasperin (1034758)
                  Why are corporations giving to the candidates in the first place? Only recently did that become legal because not allowing it is a violation of free speach. I say we A) don't make corporations the same as "people" and B) remove the right for a corporation to give money to candidate. Then this pesky problem wont be a problem anymore.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by causality (777677)

            There's no reason why you can't have lobbying, it's a good system that definitely gets abused, but in a two party system you definitely need lobbying so that special interest groups like PETA, Pro-Lifers, Pro-Choicers, Gun Control, NRA, Socialized Medicine-ites, "Hands off my Medicare!"-ers and every other group out there can have their say in Washington.

            But there is already a way that those groups and all others, including those not affiliated with an organization, can have their say in Washington. That'

          • by belmolis (702863)

            While it's true that money spent on lobbying can have a large impact, Israel is hardly the prime example of this. A far better example is that of Saudi Arabia, a far richer country that has succeeded through lobbying and the cultivation of connections with people like the Bush family in deflecting serious criticism of its awful human rights record and support for Islamic extremism. In the case of Israel there are several additional factors: (a) the very strong moral case for supporting Israel; (b) the fact

            • by makomk (752139)

              Ah, the usual propaganda:

              (a) the blockade does not and never has affected critical supplies such as food and medicine;

              Lie. Foods not on a very restricted and arbitrary list cannot be imported, the list changes so that NGOs attempting to provide aid can't keep track of what's allowed, and the total quantity allowed through is intentionally too small to feed the population. Yes, intentionally: "The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger", to quote the then-PM's advisor. While medicines are allowed, medical equipment isn't, and for that matter neither are fridges

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Right; I'm not saying to ban lobbying, simply, ban lobbying by those who can't vote in our country. To bring up the old Nazi defense, how would things have turned out in WW2 if the Nazis had dumped a bunch of money into US lobbying to win support for Germany in the war? Or at least delayed it until they'd occupied Britain and Sweden?

            Well, seeing how US stayed out of the war until Japan attacked it, at which point it's doubtful any amount of money would had been sufficient to keep it from responding, I'd sa

        • by copponex (13876) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @09:02PM (#32479570) Homepage

          Your statement makes no logical sense. Any form of government could ban lobbying for any number of reasons.

          There's a term for government that is run by the majority population. It's called a democracy, and if it's people choose, they can ban lobbying. And if that doesn't work, they can bring it back.

          A country run by lobbyists paid by the rich is called a plutocracy, and while not quite as bad as some dictatorships, is still highly undesirable if you have any interest in equality before the law. I'd say paid lobbyists distort the government that's supposed to represent the will of the majority of americans, since lobbyist access is wealth dependent.

      • An outright ban on lobbying would be nice in any case.

        Except for the fact that lobbying is protected explicitly by the US Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by EdIII (1114411)

          and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

          You think you have a point.... but you really don't.

          Petition does not mean offer money, or some other form of compensation. It means, in this context, "a written document signed by a large number of people demanding some form of action from a government or other authority".

          No, it does not "explicitly" state anywhere that the act of proffering anything other than words is constitutionally protected behavior.

          It was an interesting argument, but 60 se

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        An outright ban on lobbying would be nice in any case.

        Standing in front of your or someone else's representative and giving them an opinion allegedly representative of a group is called lobbying. You want to ban this?

        If you want lobbying reform including full disclosure, that's cool with me. Personally I think that every conversation which occurs in a representative's office should be recorded and released on a "does not interfere with national security" basis. All unreleased recordings should at least be listed; if the list of participants is not a threat to

    • Though I completely agree with you it's not "people" but "companies" purchasing lobbying every minute of every day here in the US. Our country has been for sale to industries and individual companies for quite a while. The politicians don't care who writes the checks as along as they clear. It's just a sad state of affairs.
    • If your foreign policy involves invading their country and killing thousands of innocent people (or funding others to do it instead), then why shouldn't they have a say?
    • Such a thing might be nice if we had a sane foreign policy or sustainable economic policy but they don't. "Our" country thinks nothing of financially supporting an unpopular dictator (because heaven forbid we have a "communist" third world country!), bombing third world nations into submission, destroying economies because they produce "drugs", and giving aid to corrupt regimes.

      Until we fix this situation and focus on having a limited, sustainable and sane government, I don't blame foreign countries fro
    • by mangu (126918)

      There's no reason why lawmakers should be allowed to take money from non-US citizens

      How would you enforce that? How can you verify that none of the people who go around distributing fliers and organizing campaigns and all the ways money is spent in electing a politician have not received money from someone out of the country?

      You know, it's not only the money that gets deposited in a bank account that counts.

    • Hey, keep it down, or not only will US corporations gain personhood... which they already have... but if they can't grease congress, they'll grant them citizenship so they can!
    • Let's assume we ban campaign donations from foreign individuals -- can they give money to citizens who may be sympathetic to their cause? Or organizations formed inside the U.S.?

      What about, say, BP, which, though of foreign origination, is a legally recognized entity inside the U.S.? Now that the Citizens United Ruling [scotuswiki.com] has come down, what kind of law will you pass to keep them from spending as money as they like getting people who are sympathetic to them elected this fall?

      Even if you manage some way to fenc

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        PACs already have a capped limit for donations. Lobbyists have to register with the government on the federal and (most) state levels. Checks and balances already exist on some (low) level.

        Foreign companies are already advertising in mass media (freedom of speech and all that). Money spent on PR firms and advertising funnels money back into the country so I'm not against that. It's the direct lobbying that is an issue and we already have an (admittedly low, with lots of holes in it) fence, b

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by liquidsin (398151)

      Can we finally close this legal loophole? There's no reason why lawmakers should be allowed to take money

      i stopped reading after this.

    • by wall0159 (881759)

      What would that actually achieve? Surely any foreign lobbyist would simply establish/find a US proxy to funnel the donations? Seems to me that other posters have made better suggestions -- ban lobbying altogether.

    • Only US Citizens can vote in elections; there's no reason why other countries and non-citizens should be able to influence how citizens vote, or dictate our foreign policy.

      You do realise that your country is capitalist (i.e., that everything is driven by money, by design), right?

    • Why shouldn't foreigners be allowed to contribute money to campaigns? It seems like a great way to bring more money into the country!

  • Not a coup... (Score:5, Informative)

    by marco.antonio.costa (937534) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:29PM (#32479014)

    attempts of an exiled Sheikh to regain power in a bloodless coup. The plot, led by British solicitor Peter Cathcart, involves the use of Washington political lobbyists, PR agencies writing fake blogs and Twitter accounts, and a newspaper advertising campaign in the US.

    That's called politics.

    • by arcite (661011)
      If there is no true democratic process and you are trying to undermine the system, then yes, it is a coup!
  • Because, apart from the Washington lobbyists/PR agencies this is not mentioned anywhere in the link provided.

    The headline is misleading. Doesn't look like the internet has anything to do with it.

    The plot, led by British solicitor Peter Cathcart, involves the use of Washington political lobbyists, PR agencies writing fake blogs and Twitter accounts, and a newspaper advertising campaign in the US.

    • by chrb (1083577)

      Yes, How Peter Cathcart's Uxbridge offices became the base for a coup [guardian.co.uk]:

      "California Strategies, a US west coast PR firm, has been employed to use blogs, Twitter accounts and a multimillion pound PR and advertising budget to this end. "

      "California Strategies set up a website for him – rakforthepeople.com – and a Twitter account. It placed adverts on the side of municipal buses in Washington featuring Khalid's face and the quote: "Thank you America, our people will soon be safe, secure and prosperou

  • ...involves the use of Washington political lobbyists, PR agencies writing fake blogs and Twitter accounts, and a newspaper advertising campaign in the US.

    "Credibility is a condition of persuasion. Before you can make a man do as you say, you must make him believe what you say." ~ Daniel Lerner

    You killed your credibility the moment you made it public, guys. Fail.

    • ...involves the use of Washington political lobbyists, PR agencies writing fake blogs and Twitter accounts, and a newspaper advertising campaign in the US.

      "Credibility is a condition of persuasion. Before you can make a man do as you say, you must make him believe what you say." ~ Daniel Lerner

      You killed your credibility the moment you made it public, guys. Fail.

      All they have to do is to say "conspiracy theory" and their credibility will magically reappear.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      Next step, make this the plot the line of the next James Bond film. After that you'll have a real hard time convincing the general public that its not true.

    • "Credibility is a condition of persuasion. Before you can make a man do as you say, you must make him believe what you say." ~ Daniel Lerner

      That's one way. You could equally just hit him with a big stick.
          - Joseph Stalin.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:42PM (#32479086)

    use gnu-plot and gnu-coup

  • Historically wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:52PM (#32479146)

    The coup attempt is remarkable in its choice of modern communications and political lobbying, rather than the traditional resort to violence

    How is this unique? History has been dotted with bloodless revolutions, The Glorious Revolution in England, the mostly-peaceful resistance to the 1991 soviet coup attempt, resistance to the salt laws in India, etc.

    Heck, the majority of successful revolutions have been bloodless. Those that involve wars and the such usually have to fight another war or conflict to solidify the victory. Had the American Revolution been bloodless chances are the War of 1812 wouldn't have happened, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fnj (64210)

      It's an interesting thought. The American "Revolution" was not so much a revolution as a war of independence (as was the American "Civil" War). One succeeded (with important outside help), and one failed. Both were clearly different from real revolutions such as the French Revolution and the October Revolution. I am not sure what bearing, if any, this has on your remark about bloodless revolutions. I think the reason that bloodless revolutions, if successful, seldom have return engagements, is simply t

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:26PM (#32479374) Homepage

    Dear Sir,

    I am the ousted prince of an Arab Emerite, in possession of $22 million US dollars, and need your assistance in transfering those funds into another account. If you help me, a payment of $220,000 US dollars will be transferred to you for you5r help.

    If you are interested, please visit http://www.scams-r-us.com/ [scams-r-us.com].

    Sincerely,
    Sheikh Khalid, Crown Prince of Ras al-Khaimah

  • by incubbus13 (1631009) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:27PM (#32479376)

    I bet nobody in that country notices the coup. Damn paywalls.

    K.

  • by keeboo (724305) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:40PM (#32479462)
    This looks more an internal power struggle. Why should any other country be involved?

    The article says the champaign claims that UAE "a rogue state and gateway for Iran", while it's conveniently forgotten that before 2003 there was already Al-Qaeda money in transit there.
    The sheik-whatever seems to be playing the US fears towards Iran too, that's very convenient.

    Most worrying, is the fact the presence of "regime change" referring to the attempt of that sheik's return, while expecting support from the US (since he's sympathetic to that country). Sounds familiar?
    Nowhere in the article I could see the wishes of UAE's people being considered. But that's a minor detail, it seems.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mallydobb (1785726)

      I agree with you completely. Seems that this enterprising man discovered that if you can claim your country has connections to terrorism, Iran, being roguish, and is otherwise a junior member of the Axis of Evil then you can get the US ad Britain to help you overthrow the government. As you said, playing off the fears of the US. We have no business being involved with a spoiled baby who is mad because the family cut off his 'trust fund'.

  • by whitefox (16740) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @10:52PM (#32480052)
    I just finished reading a fictional book with a similar plot. In summary, a defense contractor wishes to restart the cold and so hires a "perception management" (PM) consultant to whip up world hysteria against Russia via the internet by utilizing fake blogs & news reports.
  • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @11:31PM (#32480258)
    If Garry Trudeau had put this into Doonesbury ("Duke's PR Coup"), his readers might have accused him of going too far off the deep end.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    in 2000, done through the courts and influence on the media. It was called Bush v. Gore.

  • These are just a slight upgrade of old techniques. In the past the newspapers would be astroturfed, the opposition party (or group) funded surreptitiously, news reporters bought, officials in the ruling government bribed, agitators sent to labor union meetings, etc. The only new thing is they are using more electronic media. Which makes it easier to do.

    See the overthrow of the Australian gov't by the US in the early 70's as an example.

    It occurs to me that the "Tea Party" might be part of this pattern these

  • Regardless of who's actually in the right, this beats the hell out of tanks and combat troops.

If all the world's economists were laid end to end, we wouldn't reach a conclusion. -- William Baumol

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