In 1948, Frank Wisner, a man with a fascinating past, was appointed director of the Office of Special Projects, the espionage and counter-intelligence branch of the Central Intelligence Agency. Later that year, Wisner established Operation Mockingbird, a program to influence the domestic American media.

Commentary at National Review Online and American Thinker suggests that something similar is underway on the Internet and has readers concerned about the revelation that the Department of Justice has hired bloggers as propagandists and sock puppets.

They’re asking, “Is the Department of Justice engaging in fraud or is it trying to hide its propaganda?”

Additionally, the federal government is increasingly monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for tax delinquents, copyright infringers and political protesters. A public interest group has filed a lawsuit to learn more about this monitoring in hopes of starting a national discussion and modifying privacy laws as necessary for the online era.

Operation Mockingbird shows there is a precedent for behind-the-scenes media manipulation under the guise of national security.

John Simkin of Spartacus Educational writes, “One of the most important journalists under the control of Operation Mockingbird was Joseph Alsop, whose articles appeared in over 300 different newspapers. Other journalists willing to promote the views of the CIA included Stewart Alsop (New York Herald Tribune), Ben Bradlee (Newsweek), James Reston (New York Times), Charles Douglas Jackson (Time Magazine), Walter Pincus (Washington Post), William C. Baggs (Miami News), Herb Gold (Miami News) and Charles Bartlett (Chattanooga Times). According to Nina Burleigh [author of “A Very Private Woman”], these journalists sometimes wrote articles that were commissioned by Frank Wisner. The CIA also provided them with classified information to help them with their work.”

Could something similar be happening now within another federal government agency?

Meanwhile, in an effort toward fulfilling its promise of transparency, the administration expects you’ll find its newly launched site helpful. The governmental online data dump offers valuable information on topics ranging from child safety seats to tire safety ratings. The official government directive authorizing the “transparency” program is here. The government website is here.

Red China, green Google

Elsewhere, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chides China for controlling Internet access, but China says back off.

Meanwhile, Google has no comment in the matter, but stays for the money.

“We urge the United States to respect facts, and stop using the so-called Internet freedom issue to criticize China unreasonably,” said China in response to Clinton’s demand that Beijing investigate apparent cyber attacks on Google and other U.S. companies. Clinton spoke out against China’s increasing control over what its 384 million web users can view online. China’s response is the strongest since the flap over Google’s threat to leave the Chinese market because of its censorship rules.

Google, however, has decided to stay in China, as it revealed .

Cue the O’Jays: “For the love of money …”

For the love, here’s the money

Generous Americans have given upward of $150 million-plus and are still giving in the wake of the Haiti disaster.

On Jan. 12, a series of earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 6.5 to 7.3 devastated Haiti. Within 12 days, $153 millions was donated to the American Red Cross for Haiti Relief. Many took advantage of the ability to text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti. For current updates about fund-raising efforts, head to the American Red Cross’ newsroom.

“It’s not what you say. It’s what people hear.”

Pollster and Fox News contributor Frank Luntz wants your opinion. And why not? His focus groups have become so influential that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, after the PBS presidential debate said, “When Frank Luntz invites you to talk to his focus group, you talk to his focus group.”

Got an opinion? Luntz and company at The Word Doctors want to hear it. Sign on to take part in a focus group and give ’em a piece of your mind.

Go forth and blog! The pope gets tech savvy

A heavenly tweet? An RSS feed from your priest’s blog? Pope Benedict XVI is encouraging his flock to spread God’s word via social networking technology.

Said the pope, “The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.'”

The theme for the pope’s annual World Communications Day message, “New Media at the service of the Word,” saluting technology in the service of evangelism, was released last Saturday. The event is scheduled for May 16.

Here’s a brief clip of the pope announcing this on tech-savvy Benedict’s Vatican channel on YouTube.

Catholic News Service has more of the message.

Tales from the Twitterverse

Twitter’s ‘tweet’ takes top billing

Add the word “tweet” to the ever-evolving English language. Thanks to the technology of the 21st century – including the media and internet – new words and phrases are being created at an unprecedented rate. The American Dialect Society (ADS) has voted “tweet” – a short message sent via Twitter – as the 2009 word of the year.

Tweet your way to jail

A man suspected of being a terrorist was arrested and held for seven hours because of a tweet he jokingly twittered about blowing his local airport sky-high. The 26-year-old tapped out a comment to amuse friends when it appeared his planned trip to Ireland might be weather delayed.

“C**p! Robin Hood Airport is closed,” he tweeted. “You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s*** together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky-high!!”

O, no!

Meanwhile, Scott Baio, former star of “Happy Days,” wasn’t having any last week after he posted an unflattering photo of the first lady on his Twitter site. Michelle O. supporters threatened death to the actor, prompting Baio to contact the FBI. The upside? Scores of people began following him on Twitter. Happy days are here again?

“It was one small tweet for man …”

“Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station – the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s.” So tweeted astronaut Timothy Creamer, an Astronaut on board the International Space Station (I.S.S.).

The technical aspects of Tweeting from space are complicated. Mark Harris of CNET explained in an interview last year the logistics and hardware involved in connecting to the Internet 250 miles above the earth, while traveling at 17,300 mph.

Creamer is one month into a five-month mission. This “ultimate wireless connection” lets his fingers do the “space” walking.

Taking your tweet to go

Even the rich and powerful do it. And now you can do it in your car!

Last week we told you that Wi-Fi capability is now available on some Amtrak train routes in the Northeast. This week, it’s moving into your car. Take a closer look at online internet connectivity on four wheels. It’s amazing!

Interactivity! Cursor movement reveals a wealth of info – kinda like an egg hunt.

TiVo the radio

Fellow WorldNetDaily columnist Kathy Shaidle notes it is possible to “TiVo” talk radio shows even if you’re not a premium subscriber.

She writes, “Mac users can try RadioShift software (FREE trial); if you’re on a PC, this “how to” video demonstrates one way to schedule talk radio recordings.”

All the news that’s fit to tweet

The buzz over social media’s impact on journalism has been deafening, but are Facebook and Twitter enough news to go on?

BINGin’ the heat

Mmm … BING is really cookin’! And when it comes to ad clickin’, BING wins out over Google.

Those who don’t know history …

What’s playing at The Princess Theater in Urbana, Ill.?

Congratulations to Gus DeCoriolis of Ozark, Ala., who correctly identified actor John Travolta as Gabriel Shear who said in last week’s movie “Swordfish”: “You tried to kill me. You’ve misplaced your loyalty, Senator, you’ve sold out America. Patriotism does not have a four-year shelf-life, but unfortunately politicians do. … Thomas Jefferson once shot a man on the White House lawn for treason.”

Gus writes: “My uncle Paul was a Florida sheriff peripherally involved in the real “Swordfish: A True Story of Ambition, Savagery, and Betrayal” by David McClintick, which had nothing to do with the movie.”

The award-winning “Swordfish”, a 2001 film directed by Dominic Sena, tells the story of a secretive renegade counter-terrorist who co-opts the world’s greatest hacker to steal billions in US Government dirty money. It starred actors John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Sam Shepard and Don Cheadle.

In this week’s movie trivia, name the movie, the character and the actor who said the following: “The way I see it, I got three choices. One, I can shoot him. Two, I can kick the crap out of him. Or three, I leave you. Well, all that’s no good. You see, ’cause none of those options get me you.”

Send your answer to me at the email address below.

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