How “Q” Came To Be
Ex-Military Intelligence people weaponised Conspiracy Theories by using Internet Puzzle Trolls and New-Age Fascists, as part of an Attack on our Society and Truth in General.
“Conspiracy theories” serve a number of uses. On an individual level, they can provide a comfortingly simple explanation for the swirling complexity of existence. Chaos can be a more terrifying concept than even the most evil of imagined villains. On an evolutionary level, a certain level of paranoia probably kept our ancestors alive. People who acted as if there was a tiger behind the tree, or hordes of enemies over the hills, were more likely to survive than those who didn’t. And on a political level, that fear can be exploited with frightening ease. So for hundreds of years, they have been used to manipulate people into supporting a certain agenda.
They are believed by people from all walks of life. In part because many of them are true. The rich do have a disproportionate influence over the world, and they will use that influence to keep it that way. Governments have engaged in all sorts of horrible things, and often try to keep them a secret.
Psychological Operations are a common one. The fact is that physical weapons are just one, relatively arcane way of controlling people. A far more effective approach is to manipulate the “hearts and minds”. And the Military has developed a terrifyingly rich history of this style of warfare.
Or perhaps, having been subjected to the indoctrination of their institutions, and trained in the field of Psychological Operations, they understand the value of these narratives in manipulating people. It has been the bedrock of American Conservatism since at least the 1950s, when Robert Welch founded the John Birch Society. Republicans realised the power of painting progressivism in any form as a globalist / communist conspiracy, and have used that, with varying degrees of subtlety, as a cornerstone of their ideological propaganda ever since.
Either way, it is a very real phenomenon. And over the last 20 years, a number of them have formed a group called, ironically enough, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. This article is an investigation into the impact of this group on the modern world.
Let’s begin by looking at someone who, if not officially a member, certainly fits the mould:
It’s hard to say exactly where he went wrong and why, but most indications point to around 2013/14. After being nominated the next Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency by Obama in 2012, he attended a Nowruz Gala in 2013, hosted by Bijan Kian. Shortly afterward, he started getting suspiciously close to Russian contacts, acting weird to his staff and superiors, and getting racist, so he was fired in 2014.
He quickly started his own lobbying company with Kian, called Flynn Intel Group, selling consulting and advisory services to foreign businesses and governments, mostly Turkey and Russia. So they would pay him to write articles in The Hill, for example, to influence American opinion towards their favour.
They shocked the world by winning the election, and shortly after he gave a crowd of young republicans a fascinating insight into how they did it, and his motivating ideologies.
Aside from his gross invasion of the personal space of the woman introducing him, and the maddening meandering, there are a few key snippets:
“We cannot lose sight of what our county was built upon… Judeo Christian values and principles that make up the constitution. Individual liberties. You can go out and say negative things about the next president.. as long as you’re not being physical.. we allow that right, I mean, it’s crazy, but we allow that…Two big problems: One is Hollywood, and one is [DC]… You can’t sit back… You’re a part of something special. You made a decision…We don’t have to be polite. We have to stop being polite for our principles, our values. We have to stop apologising for who we are and what we believe. I’m looking at you young people… The reason I’m here is because there is a sense in this country that we were going in a county that was irreversible. To the point of it’s cool to be called progressive. “Progressive” is socialism. The riots and the protests that we have on the streets are not Donald Trump’s fault. That’s the corruption in our government… The sickness in our system, the lack of jobs and safety and security in our cities… There are paid anarchist in there. I tell you, I guarantee it, I know it for certain. And they will be dealt with by law enforcement. The biggest advantage our county has is the rule of law. […] I know the threats that we face.. Entire nation states that do not appreciate the American away of life. And we have to fight for it. We find ourselves fighting for it more here at home. I felt something.. I come up to NY and see Trump, summer of 2015, wonderful individual. Loves this country. He convinced me in 5 minutes. How much he loved this county. How much he saw what was happening. And how much he felt he could do something about it. And from that moment on my direction in life completely changed”
In other words, he had a theocratic fascist agenda, and saw that Trump was a way to deliver that. But in the modern socio-political media environment, that was going to be a challenge. So they had to think different. And helpfully, he explicitly outlines their strategy:
“We have an army... as a soldier and as a retired general… we have an army of Digital Soldiers. Because this was an insurgency folks. This was irregular warfare at its finest. We have what we call Citizen Journalists. Because the journalists that we have in our media […] displayed an arrogance that is unprecedented. So the American people decided to take over the idea of information. And they did it through social media”
What he’s talking about here is the force that created #Pizzagate. But we’ll get to that later, because there are other players we need to introduce first. For now, we need to recognise that this “irregular insurgency” worked, and they got their fascist in the White House.
Even looking back now, it’s hard to appreciate the significance of this. Where the Business Plot failed, this succeeded. The terror of having these people in the White House.. well, we’ve seen what happens.
A few weeks into the job, however, Flynn was fired for lying about his contacts with Russia. Trump famously pressured the FBI to not investigate, and if he hadn’t gone on to actually fire James Comey, who knows what else would have come out.
Since then, Flynn has been largely focused on frantically managing his defence fund, while still finding ways to support Trump and the agenda he represents.
A big part of that defence involved Qanon. Almost every Q promoter has at some point linked to the “fight like a Flynn” defence fund. (Which, if he’s not involved with it, would be a risky move, since he would know for a fact that it’s a fiction, and at any moment the joke could be revealed, destroying his credibility.)
Of course, not being officially in the administration does not preclude him from having influence. His brother, Charles, became Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the Army, and the Pentagon was also stacked with loyalists like Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Kash Patel.
After the 2020 election, unsurprisingly, he has been leading the charge on the election fraud hoax narrative.
There is plenty more to unpack here, including his role in openly inciting the insurrection, but let’s leave Flynn for now and come back to that later. We have lots of characters to explore. This army of digital soldiers and citizen journalists needs its lieutenants, and first up is someone who claims to be an ex CIA spy, called
It’s hard to know how seriously to take this guy. For many years, he seems to have been on a mission to straighten out the government though his #UNRIG movement. Which hosts what appear to be a few genuinely progressive ideas — overturning citizens united, slashing defence budget, radically open-source education, etc.
But as well as being a white nationalist, he’s also deeply, fundamentally, a “Conspiracy Theorist.”
He has literally claimed that children have been sent to Mars to work as slaves. He said that out loud, on a broadcast, unironically. “We actually believe that there is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space on a 20-year ride, so that once they get to Mars, they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony.”
So, perhaps unsurprisingly, he decided that Trump was in fact the best way to achieve this agenda. It’s hard to say exactly how the alignment came about — whether he was recognised and approached, or whether it was more organic. But it happened hard and fast. He’s either stupid enough to believe Trump is a saviour, or shameless enough to say such stupid things to further his agenda. Either way, he has gone on to become a key player in the operation.
He has a range of media platforms at his disposal he can weaponise. The first seems harmless enough, it’s called the Earth Intelligence Network, which has the effect of reaching, well, the audience you’d imagine:
The second also seems like a good thing: The International Tribunal for Natural Justice. It doesn’t take much more than a second glance before you quickly realise that it is a vehicle for propagating absolutely gruesome conspiracy theories, which he appears to have wholly and deliberately invented.
He has been relentlessly prolific in promoting this narrative, which would of course go on to form the foundation for things like “Save the Children”.
He is as close to the nexus of this network as it gets. He seems to spend most of his time on zoom calls promoting other Q promoters, talking about Trump’s plan to save the world, and exposing a wider audience to pro-Trump propaganda.
He also brings along a network of other ex-intelligence people with him, as he outlines in this post:
“Aided by enormous restraint on the part of Vladimir Putin, the soft coup in the USA has collapsed. […] Credit for the defeat has been earned by two men and one group. […] Trump earns most of the credit, bringing to the matter his deep business experience and common sense, he understood that the narrative against Russia was fabricated […] With that Foundation, he was able to listen to Michael Flynn, who’s deep personal experience in the nether world of black special operations and green clandestine and covert action operations in forms him in a manner few can claim.
The group has many members, but three stand out. William Binney, the senior executive (like an Admiral or general) who created the NSA capability that has been used against US politicians […]was the first to reveal the leaks were coming from insiders. Ray McGovern, a retired CIA analyst and founder of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, has been a respected voice challenging the false assertions by the CIA against Russia. Finally Steve Pieczenik... A former deputy assistant Secretary of State, who was instrumental in certifying the death of Bin Laden in 2001, and announcing the multiple false Bin Ladens created by the CIA thereafter, (including the final patsy provided by Pakistan to enable of theatrical rescue that killed many US special operators for no reason other than to get Barack Obama and edge towards re-election). Pieczenik was the first to announce the countercoup against Hillary Clinton was being undertaken by insiders. I have done what I could and I am proud to stand in support of Donald Trump…”
The names he helpfully referenced in the post above all have a role to play, and we’ll go over all of them. Let’s start with Steve.
If Qanon was a band, Steve would be the songwriter. He is actually a fiction writer of sorts, drawing on his military experience to partner with Tom Clancy in the creation of dozens of best selling military thrillers.
He’s also frighteningly real.
He’s been a prolific guest on Alex Jones’ Infowars over the years, masterfully using the platform to blend fantasy and reality, in a way that created the narrative foundation from which Q would ultimately emerge.
In October 2015 he began to talk about Trump (for the record, he spoke about Ben Carson as a back up too):
“Alex I want to thank you and particularly your audience […] truthers, the marginalised majority […] the administration has been very afraid of me. The head of cyber command said I was the most dangerous man in America, for the very simple fact that they know that I can run PsyOps against them, which I have for 14 years.. as well as over seas where they were successful. You were there when I needed you […] I am very proud to be a so called conspirator […] No family has been more detrimental to this country than the Bush and the Clinton. Let me repeat that again, I work in intelligence, I ran psyop operations, I work very closely with the Bushes, I know Roger Ailes, I know exactly what they’re trying to cover up and what they’re doing. It is not working. Thanks to you Alex, and thanks to your listeners, and the American public, they are falling apart […] the globalists did get control, but now there is a war to expose them, and they are losing […] The work you the audience has done…is now bearing fruit. And it’s going to continue […] Geopolitically, what does this do to the criminal cabals on the inside? The truth of the matter is, this is one of the most phenomenal revolutions America has ever seen, and the one we were waiting for Alex, I thank you and I thank the audience, and I thank the alternative media […] Reality is Trump had been monitoring the MSM for some time.. many of us had known that. And in fact when we put his name up for the next presidency, he took it, and basically ran with it, and this is the true expression of the moral majority […] we are so tired of the people who committed the crime of 9/11, that once Trump gets in, my suspicion is that many of them will be arrested […] I know a lot about his character. He is a man who will do exactly what he says […] we have to look at this as very positive movement. We have the names […] they will be known very well and arrested in time, and that depends on the American public. The backlash is huge. They never expected us to come in and be able to pronounce the truth […] Russia in effect watched what we were doing. And Putin went from a tactical genius to a chessboard genius.. and he understood that our military could not effect a successful combat mission […] I suggested that Russians come in. In return for which they would come back into an alliance that would be quite strong. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. I don’t condone what Assad did, but I do know that he was there to protect the Christians. I have warned [Trump] is a target for assassination, he’s able to manipulate emotions very effectively. Plus you have the dynasties out there who are known to kill people — the Bushes and the Clintons. That’s not theory, that’s not some make believe notion […] America is not going quietly into totalitarianism without a fight […] We want them to show how stupid they are.”
If people want to continue insisting that Q drops came from an unrelated 3rd party, it is hard to deny that this was the genesis and the inspiration. Steve was not saying this for fun. He had a very clear purpose, and it worked. It was the beginning of the psychological operation which would go on to create Qanon.
We don’t need to go through each of them individually, because it’s all the same story — they worked in the military / intelligence community, got pissed off for some reason, and apparently decided there was a conspiracy afoot. And around the same time, all started spouting curiously pro-Russian propaganda. Not necessarily talking about how great Russia was, but talking about the things that Russia wanted to talk about, in the way they wanted to talk about them. Like how Assad isn’t so bad, or how they didn’t interfere in the election. Speculating about how that came to be is beyond the scope of this article. So, let’s press on:
Not so much ex-military intelligence, as current-corporate mercenary. Worth noting that Blackwater is literally a technical term for sewage, which is a generous way of describing his contribution to society. While sewage spreads diseases, it at least has a potentially valuable calorific content. Erik, meanwhile, profits from death. The Obama years were not so good to him, and he had high hopes for a Trump administration. So he signed up to help however he could. He introduced the campaign to professional psychological influence agencies, and personally promoted the kind of disinformation that helped lead to the election.
He arranged a meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Stephen Miller, Joel Zamel (an Australian Israeli owner of multiple influence agencies we’ll get to next), and George Nader (an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes), who offered a backchannel of communication. Shortly after, Nader paid Zamel $2 million. Prince then lied about it to congress:
Sure enough, the Trump presidency proved profitable for the Prince family. Troops were pulled out of war zones, allowing Erik to walk into government contracts. Remember, war is not just about physical weapons any more. Psychological Weapons can be even more powerful. So, let’s look at the world of professional influence agencies.
“Psychological Operations” have been around for a while (as retired Lt. Colonel Michael Aquino has explained), but they were usually the domain of the military. These days, however, there is now an entire commercial industry serving this space. Psy Group, WikiStrat, Black Cube, and White Knight, are all companies founded by an ambitious young Australian Israeli named Joel. They specialise in offering manipulation campaigns for governments and corporations, through online perception management, opposition research, honey traps, as well as clandestine on-the-ground activities.
According to the Daily Beast: “Zamel wanted former national security adviser Michael Flynn to be a member of the firm’s advisory board. Zamel spoke with him about it on multiple occasions around the time Flynn was forming the Flynn Intel Group. “Flynn took a real shining to Joel.” They had been introduced by Bijan Kian.
In April 2016, during the Republican primaries, Trump Campaign official Rick Gates asked Psy Group for a proposal. They responded with a quote for $3,125,000 plus media costs, and promised to make it virtually untraceable.
In 2016, they signed a memorandum of understanding with the infamous Cambridge Analytica (now Emerdata, or whatever else SCL want to re-brand themselves as). Along with companies like Gloo, they use unprecedented volumes of Big Data to create create campaigns specifically to manipulate voter behaviour, and aim the content at just the right market for maximum impact.
All the people above were happy to support Trump after he came to political prominence. Now, it’s time to look at the man who got him there:
For 40 years, Stone has been polluting the world of politics with his partner Paul Manafort. Together, they basically invented the “industrial lobbying complex”. They would use a big bag of dirty tricks to get candidates elected, and then shamelessly charge a long list of clients for access to the politician afterwards. Paul would represent the interest of foreign warlords and dictators like Jonas Savimbi, Ferdinand Marcos, Oleg Deripaska, and Viktor Yanukovych. He deliberately prolonged conflicts and enabled genocides so that his clients could sell more weapons and/or take more power. Roger, meanwhile, was busy back home perverting the course of domestic democracy with dick moves. A guy called Arthur Finkelstein had developed a new style of smearing, which Roger used to attack any of his progressive political opponents, like his arch-nemesis George Soros.
In the early 80s, Trump was in trouble for discriminating against African American tenants in his properties, and facing competition in his Atlantic City casino from Native Americans. Long-time family associate Roy Cohn advised him to meet with the Manafort and Stone, who in turn advised him to basically be an asshole, which was, sadly, effective.
Trump was a lot of things, and they were all on Stone’s list of things he looked for in his ideal presidential candidate. An outsider and a narcissist, who was well and truly infected with the Conspiracy Virus. A gossip who loved attention. Perhaps most importantly, he was prepared to say the quiet part out loud. He actually enjoyed it. And so, Stone noticed, did The People. So over the years, he began to explore the possibilities of a path to the election. In the wake of the rise of the Tea Party, it started to look like it might actually work. One thing he would need, was a disinformation cannon. And in 2015, he began to work with Alex Jones. (American readers: PBS documentary. Non American readers: Same documentary on YouTube)
It was probably at this point that he converged with Steve Pieczenik and Robert David Steele. And that is likely how all this came to be. If Q is a band, Stone is a co-producer. Along with people like Ed Butowsky, Matt Couch, Sean Hannnity, Liz Cronkin, Jerome Corsi, Julian Assange, and hand in hand with Flynn and Prince, they began to flood the zone with conspiracy theories like #Pizzagate, the Seth Rich assassination story, Project Clintonson, etc. Rather than debating on policy, they simply painted the other side as cannibalistic pedophiles.
The Truth was overwhelmed by the onslaught of lies, and Trump went on to win the White House. (note — not suggesting that this was the only factor at play).
A notorious disinformation merchant and shameless grifter, Jack has an interesting role to play in this saga — namely running interference. Muddying the waters, and promoting the idea that it’s just a hoax, by telling people that he found the two trolls who were wholly responsible:
When Jack Posobiec is telling you something on InfoWars and OAN, you’d be wise to wonder why.
Shockingly, this narrative even made its way to a leading “Q Watching / debunking” show, QAnon Anonymous, who gave a microphone to one of the trolls Jack mentioned (James Brower), and let him talk for about 20 minutes. They weren’t completely uncritical, but the idea that it was “just a troll” seems to have taken a nearly unshakeable hold.
Now, all these ex-military intelligence folk aren’t going to be able to do this on their own. They know the tactics, they know the narrative, but they don’t necessarily know the internet. They need some specialists. And to find them, we introduce our next character:
Trevor used to have a relatively successful political PR firm, then he got accused of a sexual harassment scandal in 2015, and in the fall-out seems to have fallen down a conspiracy hole. Now his business appears to mostly consist of representing conspiracy theorists:
In 2016, he began working for Julian Assange, creating #Unity4J as a way to manage his image and build support for his cause.
This would serve a key cross-pollinating event, bringing people from the left into this world of far-right conspiracies. On the list of participants below, note Bill Binney, Jack Posobiec, Cassandra Fairbanks, Cynthia McKinney, Kim Dotcom, and Breitbart’s Lee Stranahan, sharing a stage with people like legendary Australian Greens’ Scott Ludlum.
The full significance of this “movement” is beyond the scope of this article, but it is absolutely worth looking in to. For now we’re going to focus on his connection to a company called ShadowBox.
Their promotional material describes them as:
“An elite online reputation management firm … We address smear assaults head-on by custom-creating shadow ‘bot’ campaigns as a counter strategy … use targeted chaos to confuse your opponents… your army … use cyber-guerrilla tactics…. Where your enemies have lied to paint you as the bad guy, we sow the seeds of doubt and present the counter-narrative that they are, in fact, the villains, and you have been unjustly accused… We do this through sophisticated use of internet technology, meme creation, PR, and cyber-guerrilla tactics that stop the bleeding and begin to sway public opinion and the media in your favor.”
Sort of like a shittier version of Psy Group / Black Cube / Wikistrat. Their first client was Ed Butowsky, the deep-pocketed GOP operative who pushed the Seth Rich theory. One of the founders was a guy called:
If Q was a band, he’d be the egomaniacal frontman and rhythm guitarist. He’s always been into messing with people’s minds.
He’s also an overt fascist.
He does get off on bragging about it, and it’s possible he’s exaggerating in some way, but he definitely did have something going on with Bijan. Also mentioned there is Nasser Kazeminy. His company, NJK holdings, paid Michael Flynn $140,000. And if he wasn’t involved with Thomas’ company Amadeus Investors, a woman he also shares a company with was.
Thomas also knows Erik Prince, who’s family was invested in a company called “Neuro Core”, who use “entraining brainwave” technology, to do things like implanting subliminal messages in video, as discussed in the email on the left below. On the right, we see some discussion of using another type technology to create immersive experiences.
Somewhere along the line he got a hard-on for puzzles and prime numbers, and worked them into his music as a way to generate more sales.
Cicada 3301 was by far and away the best puzzle going around. By 2016, it had seemed to go quiet, and he basically tried to take it over.
If it’s just a puzzle, who cares? All fun and games. First of all, puzzles are a powerful way of drawing people into a world, where they can be manipulated. And secondly, we have to take into account his character, and long history of psychologically violent abuse:
Now, we also need to look at his business partner in ShadowBox, and his creative partner in Cicada:
Manuel Chavez III (aka Defango).
Manny was a YouTuber / 4Channer who enjoyed puzzles, encryption, and prolifically producing livestreams.
Like many Channers, somewhere along the line, he came to hate Antifa, and the broader progressive movement they essentially represented.
In the course of the above he came to meet Thomas. Exactly who had what idea and latched on to which plan for whatever reason is always going to be murky. Manuel has famously claimed to be the one who came up with the idea for “Qanon”. He says he found a book by late 20th century Italian anarchist collective Luther Blissett (now Wu Ming), about an anonymous radical fighting a revolution, while being chased by a spy from the Church called “Q”. He also took some inspiration from the much loved Star Trek character, and other LARPing threads which were active on 4Chan at the time.
He says that his intention was to expose the grifters who fall for disinformation (yet seems unfamiliar with the Sokal Scandal), while also giving the alt-right something to rally around. To energise people in the fight against the woke-antifa-mobs. He also says that he bailed before the first drops were ever made, because the crew of pro-Trump trolls (like Posobiec’s buddy Microchip) that came in to flesh it out and promote were too racist for his taste. Like with James Brower and Posobiec, we definitely shouldn’t take it at face value, but the broad strokes are largely consistent with the evidence.
Alright. We’ve met most of the characters. Now we need to look at how they’re connected. This is not an easy task. The whole thing has been deliberately shrouded in lies and disinformation. It’s literally their trade. So the job of the investigation is to bring all of the evidence together and weigh it all in aggregate.
It’s hard to know how long all these people have been working together. What we do know is that by 2017, Thomas, Trevor, and RDS, were all in regular email correspondence, along with Devin Nunes’ lawyer Steven Biss, his wife Tanya Cromwell, and Trump advisor Carter Page.
And sure enough, there are plenty of emails between them all discussing the “Q” project, and how best to manage it in varying degrees of deniability:
Anything can be faked of course, and we know that humans will go to great lengths to deny things that contradict their deeply held beliefs. But making that argument means explaining who faked it, and why. If they are doing it for clout, why do it so indirectly, and why deny it? And if someone is trying to frame them for revenge, why choose to make oblique references to culpability for an obscure internet cult which probably isn’t even a prosecutable crime?
At this point we do need to introduce one more character, who surprisingly, is perhaps one of the most terrifying of them all. A woman named:
She is the one who helped this operation infiltrate the “New Age” circles the way that it has.
Her story seems somewhat similar to Robert David Steele’s. As usual, it’s hard to know for sure, because it’s all shrouded in disinformation. But her public posts from 2015 give us an indication of where she’s coming from:
Here is Lisa, giving an adoring interview to this lovely lady who wants to wipe out a quarter of the world’s population. This is a fact we unfortunately have to reckon with. That underlying a lot of New Age woo woo, is an inherently Fascist soul. They do believe that humanity is on the verge of a Great Awakening. They are evangelically excited about it. And they feel that fascism is the way to get us there. This is why and how we see people like JP Sears go off the deep end lately, to push Trump’s propaganda.
As well as being involved with both Gaia and Foster Gamble / Thrive in one way or another, she hosts a bunch of her own media platforms, which she has used to promote both the Q and its associated narratives:
She was also at the Standing Rock NODAPL protest in 2016. There she spent time with Mikki Willis, who went on to produce the infamous film “Plandemic”, which served as a radicalisation vehicle for millions of people around the world, making them think that COVID was part of a UN conspiracy to control the world, and ultimately leading them to Q.
The Hacker Collective known as Anonymous is another thing we need to talk about. In the early 2000s, they showed that the decentralised forces of the internet had incredible power. “Project Chanology” used that power for Chaotic Good. Obviously, it can also be used for Chaotic Evil. And as well as being famously infiltrated by the FBI, they were also infiltrated by people like Lisa Clapier, who created “offical” looking accounts impersonating the “brand”, to give the the new age fascist narrative another entry point into the world, by targeting that audience too.
She was also deeply involved with the #Unity 4J movement. And this is where it starts to come undone. Because below, we find a volunteer who goes by the name Lestat. He noticed that some people from the Q community were going after Julian Assange’s mother, Christine, and that Lisa was not defending her. Then she asked to take the discussion offline. This was when his alarm bells started ringing:
“Follow the White Rabbit” appeared in a (hijacked) Cicada puzzle 5 weeks before Q first posted. Thomas tries to use this to say that it wasn’t him, apparently failing to realise that in no way does it disprove his involvement.
We don’t know how they met, but we do know that in early 2017, Lisa reached out to Thomas about working on a project together:
And here she is basically admitting to the whole thing.
If Q is a band, Clapier is on backing vocals and the ambient harp, handing out flyers to her hippy friends and talking about how their revolutionary sound is really going to blow their minds. By all accounts, she genuinely believes this is the best path forward for humanity. To her, this whole thing is a lie worth telling, to trick people into supporting Trump for the sake of his fascist agenda. She is a modern day Savitri Devi.
Next we have the Promoters. The proselytising super-fans, who brought it to the broader audience it reaches today. One of the primary characters here, who has been pushing it from the very beginning all the way to now, is a woman who goes by Tracy Beanz. Her name came up before, because guess what she was in to right before this took off? Cicada 3301.
Along with two 4Channers called PamphletAnon and BaruchTheScribe, Tracy took Q to Reddit and Youtube, launched Patriot Soapbox, and from there it took off. Tracy even excitedly told Trump that she “was” Q. Whether or not they believed it was real, or like Lisa, thought it was a “lie worth telling”, will probably be between them and their maker.
The rest of the core team was a combination of youtube’s conspiracy community (Jordan Sather, Victurus Libertas, All News Pipeline, etc), pro-trump trolls of the MAGA coalition (Microchip, Dreamcatcher, etc), and people like Sean Stone and Sacha Stone, who all had their own reasons to take this narrative and run with it. Indeed, here is Sean Stone accidentally admitting to “making the Q drops” as part of this movement.
From here, influencers like Praying Medic, Julian’s Rum, Major Patriot, and InTheMartixxx are able to take the content and use it to collectively amass millions of followers, often building themselves profitable businesses in the process. It became a self sustaining industry. Their involvement is fairly straightforward and pretty well documented already, so we won’t go too far into it.
Algorithms of social media are built to keep people on platforms, and recommending this kind of captivating content did that very effectively. With just a little gaming and exploitation, they can quickly become extreme radicalisation tunnels.
Ok, so now we have an idea of the characters and their connections, it’s time to have a look at the tools they used. Which means taking a trip to an anonymous message board in a dark corner of the web called 4Chan. Founded in 2003, it was a place for people who liked anime and computers to come together and share stories. These people didn’t always fit in to the social groups of the outside world, and here they found their tribe. A community grew. The anonymity created a culture with a unique kind of creativity.
The anonymity also created a culture with a not-so unique kind of racism and misogyny. Without the social filters a face forces upon us, the deepest darkest impulses can and do emerge. This was a collective of hundreds of thousands of people who resented the mainstream society that had rejected them. On 4Chan, they could make the “edgiest” jokes imaginable, and be validated rather than ostracised. Before long it became somewhat of a cesspool. Users reported that their beloved playground, which gave birth to Rickrolling and LOL cats, had now become a honeypot for fascists.
It didn’t take long for Steve Bannon (probably inspired by Jeff Giesea and/or Chuck Johnson) to recognise the political value of this. If Q is a band, Bannon is the studio head. It’s hard to know when or how he began operating in there, and how hard he had had to push it. But analysis reveals that hate speech has spiked by more than 40% since 2015. There are lots of reasons that could have happened, and correlation is not causation, but when he’s out there openly admitting it, there is obviously some causation at work.
This army of disaffected white nationalists, who got off on “triggering normies”, was famously mobilised during the 2016 election. Not only did they create content for free, they eagerly spread it to mainstream platforms like Reddit and Facebook.
The freedom to be radically racist without consequence wasn’t the only thing the anonymity provided. It also allowed for the creation of characters, in a tradition known as LARPing. People could pose as anyone they wanted, including supposed “government insiders”: WhiteHouseInsiderAnon, HighLevelInsiderAnon, CIAanon, etc. They essentially created a portal between an alternative universe and the real one, which provided an opportunity for the creation of any narrative you could imagine. Again, to a propagandist like Steve Bannon, this has incredible political value. Especially because just as important as what’s on the other side of that door; is what’s on this side: 4chan. Hundreds of thousands of disaffected white nationalists, who have the internet and know how to use it. It’s like a virus coming into an airport, with a forum full of racist taxi drivers ready to spread it all over town.
Because it came from a racist joke site, with a long history of racist jokes, many people look at this as just another racist joke. But given the impact it’s had on the world, with its role in the creation of the #pedogate conspiracy, it’s worth a closer look.
The narrative itself clearly came from the Roger Stone / Steve Pieczenik universe: The Clintons were engaged in not just corruption, but occult rituals and child sex trafficking. The point of spreading these narratives in the first place was for them to be picked up organically, so that in itself doesn’t tell us much. But it also comes with very specific instructions:
“The task is this: unleash every meme, image, and horrible story about HRC that you can muster… In order to be effective, you must proselytize… For example: Start a website aggregating the images/facts and then try to get it linked to Drudge. Shove the images down every news anchor/journalists throat. Push out to people who you normally would have nothing to do with… Why don’t you invade their circles? … We should be spreading memes to subs on Reddit.… blitz Twitter, Tumblr, and all social media with memes on the Clinton Foundation tonight, the last night of the DNC… We need TrumpGen with us, and the meme division blasting the Tumblr tags. Bring up the old methods that /b/ used to use during their Tumblr raids… We’re going to war tonight …Repeat something often enough and it becomes the truth. Repeat after me: ‘Hillary is evil and will destroy the planet.’…”
If this is just a joke, then it is functionally indistinguishable from the campaign. The digital director could not have scripted it better. Still, it’s possible that a passionate volunteer had the same singular devotion to getting Trump in office as Roger Stone, as well as the strategic knowledge for how to direct people to do it. But. They also say:
“More leaks will come. The time is not right yet. Expect an October Surprise.”
And when Wikileaks do release the second round of emails, they add:
“When you are reading Podesta’s e-mails, remember that the Clintons deal in weapons, drugs, and people. Some terminology in use is far more nefarious than many of you suspect.”
Again, perhaps a passionate volunteer was paying close attention to the exact same things as Roger, with the exact same intent, and for some reason a stunt like this would have been beyond the imagination and/or capabilities of a couple of doddering old fuddy-duddies like Bannon and Stone, and this cornerstone of their whole plan to create this narrative was just a happy accident. It will always be impossible to prove the provenance of an anonymous account. Our task is to weigh up the possible explanations of the evidence before us, and reckon with their implications. Because it was not beyond their imagination or their capabilities. There is a very real chance that FBIanon was a new kind of vehicle for political propaganda, which represents a chilling and hitherto unrecognised development in the field of psychological operations.
All this meant that they were able to take emails like these:
And turn it into “evidence” of a vast conspiracy to fuel the fire of #Pizzagate.
Child trafficking is a real and serious problem, and this campaign exploited the important work being done in this space, making it harder for the professionals to do their job. The hashtags flooded social media and completely drowned out the vital information with a tsunami of fanciful stories of tunnels, celebrities, adrenochrome, and pizza.
Of course an account on 4Chan couldn’t do this alone. There were Russian hackers like Guccifer 2.0 and Fancy Bear, Wikileaks, Bot Networks, accounts on Reddit, Facebook and YouTube, sockpuppets on 4Chan, the team’s own Twitter accounts, other alt-right influencers, and fake news sites like ‘Conservative Daily Post’, ‘SubjectPolitics.com’, and ‘True Pundit’, who ran stories like: “FBI confirms evidence of huge underground Clinton sex network”, claiming a “massive child trafficking and pedophile sex ring in DC, run directly with the Clinton Foundation as a front.” The source for all this, literally, was FBIanon, who fanned the flames that were smouldering away in an environment like 4Chan.
By far the most prolific promotor was InfoWars, and the image on the left below shows their frontpage at this exact time (November 2016). The narrative was then able to make its way to more mainstream platforms, through people like Sean Hannity, which can be seen, as usual, on the right:
But this is only half the picture. Because Jones’ and Hannity’s viewers were more or less in the tank already. They key is to reach new demographics, who otherwise wouldn’t vote for Trump. So at the same time, we see the narrative being pushed on different kinds of platforms, targeting a different kind of demographic:
Both of these platforms, “Stillness in the storm” and “Collective Evolution”, are listed as part of Lisa Clapier’s network of media channels. The “Anonymous” video that the above mentions is not the original hacker group. It is account run by Lisa Clapier, set up to target their audience, as discussed earlier. (One of the pitfalls of having a decentralised faceless movement is that it’s susceptible to hijacking).
So. With all that in mind, let’s now look at the Q-drops themselves.
This has all the hallmarks of a Steve Pieczenik story, being told by a fascist with experience in creating internet puzzles. It is absolutely aligned with everything else that RDS and Roger Stone were doing with Alex Jones. It is part of their operation.
It drew people in with its captivating method of participatory storytelling. It made them feel special, like they were part of a righteous crusade for justice, with secret knowledge the sleeping sheep were not smart enough to know about. It created a sense of community. Those are all tremendously powerful things on their own. Combined, they are a veritable mind-fucking machine.
Critically, this was not just an idle prank. It used all this engagement for a purpose — to to drive support for Trump, to give the audience the idea that he was the one leading the charge. That was the intent. Again, if it was just a passionate volunteer, or an unrelated 3rd party, they put in a hell of a lot of work, and gave the professionals on the campaign a run for their money.
Whether or not the “campaign” wrote the drops (which, because they’re anonymous, is literally impossible to prove), Qanon is a part of their operation. It is the product of Roger and Steve and RDS going on Infowars to spread their narrative. Like Q, their actions have successfully manipulated people into organically creating rabbit holes, which then go on to manipulate more people into creating more rabbit holes.
This is not an accident, and it is not a joke. This is an unprecedented ARG-based propaganda campaign in full flight, created by people using sophisticated psychological manipulation techniques. We’ve seen exactly how powerful and dangerous it is. Despite having a protagonist as terrible as Trump, it has convinced millions of people, in countries all around the world, that he is quite literally God’s Gift.
And crucially, it’s not just right-wing conservatives. People in the usually peaceful, spiritual, “wellness community”, as well as soccer mums and instagram influencers, who would not otherwise be within an ideological mile of the man, are now proudly spouting pro-trump, anti-progressive propaganda.
Let’s see how that looks on a human level:
It’s called being “pilled” (as in “red pilled”, from the choice Morpheus offers Neo in “The Matrix”), and it happens with startling rapidity and efficacy. This has devastated individuals, families, and the shared notion of Truth we require for a functioning democracy. It has taken conspiracies from the fringe to the mainstream of political discourse, opening the door to a fascist agenda. Exactly like the VIPS wanted.
So how does this play out politically? Well it turns out that when you spend 3 years brainwashing people into believing that the entire progressive movement is essentially a child sacrificing sex trafficking operation, and that Donald Trump is the one taking it down, you can get them invested enough to do some pretty serious shit.
We now know that Acting Sec Def Chris Miller effectively disarmed the National Guard, and Mike Flynn’s brother was on the call when it was decided not to send them to help the Capitol Police on January 6.
One of the most startling things about this operation, is the way it has been able to run un-investigated for so long. Indeed, there is often an outright aggressive disinterest in the very idea of getting to the bottom of who’s behind it:
Investigating who is behind it does not mean the whole problem goes away, nor does it mean we should ignore the broader sociological and psychological issues that make something like this possible in the first place. That’s like suggesting that prosecuting arsonists means ignoring the climactic factors that make wildfires possible. We can, and absolutely must, do both. Ignoring who is behind it means letting them live to lie another day, which leaves us dangerously exposed to another attack.
As Q has grown over the last 3 years, a “Q Watching” community has grown alongside it too. They have done valuable work in mapping out movements of this phenomenon.
Somehow the narrative seems to have settled on the idea that it’s a dumb prank from an anonymous LARPer, that got lucky enough to hit the right notes and spiralled out of control. They say that looking into who is behind is not just impossible, it’s dumb and pointless anyway, and openly mock those who suggest it is an operation. But it’s not impossible, and it’s not pointless.
A major hurdle appears to be believing that something so stupid could ever be intentional. And I think a good analogy here is the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team. None of their decisions could have been described as intended to win a championship. They hired a bunch of seemingly random players. They bought a catcher who’d retired due to injury and put him at first base. And professional commentators around the country laughed at them. But there was a strategy there, based on a unique statistical analysis. And they went on to win a record 20 games in a row. Or imagine looking at an Airbus A380. Without an understanding of aerodynamics, there is no way you’d think these hundreds of tonnes of steel could float in the air. But if you study the physics closely enough, and learn how to apply the forces, you can make the seemingly impossible happen. If you know how to use Alex Jones and 4Chan, you can convince millions of people that Trump is a righteous warrior who had the election stolen from him. By dropping in a few carefully placed lies, you can exploit the natural phenomena that this community writes about.
Remember the #Unity4J volunteer who called out Lisa Clapier for covering for Qanon? He also did graphics and video for Cicada. And when he once again noticed the connection between the two, he once again called it out. He identified that Qanon was a malignant force, at odds with the ideals he believed the movement supposedly embodied, and was upset by the affiliation. He has been blowing the whistle ever since, at the expense of vicious and sustained smear attacks that come at tremendous personal cost.
There is no doubt that Q came from the crew that game-jacked Cicada. We know they worked with RDS. We know he worked with Steve Pieczenik. We know they have connections to Flynn. This is not some intractable puzzle.
At this point, we need to remember what their business was.
“Elite Online Reputation Management…We address smear assaults head-on by custom-creating shadow ‘bot’ campaigns as a counter strategy… We use targeted chaos to confuse your opponents … we sow the seeds of doubt and present the counter-narrative that they are, in fact, the villains, and you have been unjustly accused… through sophisticated use of internet technology, meme creation, PR, and cyber-guerrilla tactics that stop the bleeding and begin to sway public opinion and the media in your favor.”
So with that in mind, let’s imagine how Thomas would react if he was confronted with any of this head-on. (A convenient thing about narcissists is they have a habit of injecting themselves into conversations, and feel a compulsive need to try and control the narrative)
That is the unmistakable hollering of a hit dog.
Yet somehow, he has managed to get the Q watching journalist community completely off the scent, and openly platforming his denials.
It’s honestly one of the most remarkable parts of this whole thing.
On the left there, giving an unchecked voice to Thomas’ narratives, is the guy who is essentially the primary source for most of this community, and one of the last characters we need to meet, Frederick Brennan. For all its wildness, 4Chan did have a modicum of moderation. 15 year old Fred felt this was too restrictive, so in 2013 made a forum of his own, called 8Chan. Anyone could make a board, and say literally anything. When Gamergate got run out of 4Chan, they wound up on 8Chan. It became the go-to place for the worst of the worst, up to and including child porn, mass shooters’ manifestos and livestreams of their massacres.
It was, understandably, haemorrhaging cash, and about to go out of business, when in walks a guy called Jim Watkins. He’d served in the US military as a helicopter repairman, was trained in computers, and then left to run a series of websites with names like “Asian Bikini Bar." He set up shop in the Philippines. In 2014, his son Ron told him about 8Chan and its troubles, so they swooped in to snatch it up.
The point of all this is that after about a month on 4Chan, Q moved to 8Chan (now 8kun). Fred and Jim had fallen out by this point, and Fred has now become a vocal opponent of 8kun, Watkins, and Qanon in general. Since August 2020, the Watkins’ connection to Q has been fairly well documented. If Q is a band, Watkins is the club owner, who gives them a stage, and has some say over the sets.
And yet, because people are convinced it’s just a grift or a prank, that seems to be where most investigations stop. I’d love to know the extent to which it was intentionally designed that way— if the drops were deliberately written to be smart enough to keep the audience in, and simultaneously stupid enough to throw the outsiders off. But I think we can all agree that this article is long enough as it is.
For now, we need to get on with the task of fixing this. That means finding the people responsible, as well as cleaning us the psychological mess they’ve made. “The Thinkin’ Project” is a collective group of dedicated volunteers approaching the victims of disinformation with empathy and understanding, and would love all the help you’re prepared to give. Get in touch to find out how you can be involved.
Trump isn’t actually the point of all this. He is merely a means to an end. The point is to fight Progressivism with Fascism. Despite its appeal to our primal urges, it’s an inferior ideology, so to do that, they have to lie. It’s a global problem. Putin, Modi, Duterte, Bolsonaro, all rely on weaponised disinformation to take and keep power. The entire Brexit movement and party was famously based on lies. A liar as loud as Trump took them a long way, and he doesn’t appear to be finished yet. But even when he is, the problem remains. Fascists like Bannon, the Kochs, Mercers, and Murdochs will continue to use conspiracies and other disinformation to advance their agenda however they can, without care for the consequences. We need to make sure we do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.
Let’s remember Q’s last words:
“We’re not going to take it. No, we ain’t gonna take it. We’re not gonna take it any more.”
Note: If you made it this far, then thank you and congratulations. This is not an easily compartmentalised phenomenon with a simple explanation. I promise I tried to make it as brief as it could possibly be, which meant leaving a lot out. There is still much to be done. In the meantime, here is a version which is half the size, that outlines the same conclusion without going through all the evidence: