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Russian disinformation site right here in our little corner of the world

Dan Kennedy discusses a Times story on some alleged Russian dupe who's set up a series of "news" sites to spread disinformatsiya around the US, including the alleged Boston Times. What, you've never heard of it? The Times fills you in on what you're missing:

Since its inception in 1972, located in the heart of Massachusetts, the Boston Times has been a beacon of journalistic integrity, illuminating the stories that shape our city, our nation, and our world. Founded with a vision to provide a platform for truth, fairness, and accountability, the Boston Times has evolved into a trusted source of news and information for generations of readers.

From the historic streets of Boston to the corridors of power in Washington D.C., the Boston Times has been there, reporting on the events that define our times. Our dedicated team of journalists, editors, and photographers are committed to uncovering the stories that matter most, whether it’s investigating corruption in city government or shining a light on the struggles of everyday citizens.

Over the years, the Boston Times has won numerous awards for excellence in journalism, including Pulitzer Prizes for investigative reporting, feature writing, and photography. But our greatest reward comes from the knowledge that we are serving our community by providing accurate, insightful, and unbiased reporting.

Ayup. As Kennedy writes, the point isn't to try to fool you with any particular story (one of its current home-page articles is titled "Trump Orders Arrest of Journalist for Reporting on Court Filings") as to Bannonize the news, to "flood the zone with shit" so thoroughly as to make you doubt everything you see. But as Kennedy notes, that would first require people to be reading the thing; he reports he couldn't even find it on Google, and instead found it on Duck Duck Go.

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Comments

Who would have ever guessed?! /s

Selling out his own country for a failed steak salesman.

Hope you like Moscow winters, traitor.

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How does this activity skirt an act of treason?

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Under US law, you either have to levy war against the United States or give and aid comfort to an enemy of the United States.

The term “enemies,” as used in the constitutional clause defining treason (Const, art. 3, § 3), applies only to subjects of a foreign power in a state of open hostility with us

US v. Greathouse et al. (1863)

Treason has a very narrow definition in our laws. As of 2001, there have been fewer than 30 cases of treason charges ever brought in the history of the United States, the most recent occurrences date back to World War 2 (https://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Few-ever-charged-or-convicted-of-tr...)

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Your argument being that a) Russia is not in a state of open hostility with the US or b) an active disinformation campaign doesn't count as aid or comfort (or maybe that this doesn't count as an active disinformation campaign)?

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It certainly can't meet the open hostility standard. And the aid & comfort standard is complicated, it requires "adherence" to that enemy with INTENT to betray the US. I can assume intent of what certainly appears to be a Russian disinformation campaign but assumptions do not convict people of the most serious offense that can be committed against the United States of America.

The National Constitution Center has a decent interpretation of the Treason Clause: https://constitutioncenter.org/the-constitution/articles/article-iii/cla...

Since I'm not an expert, we can look for expert voices on this, such as Collin Hart, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review: https://uclawreview.org/2018/10/15/treason-what-is-it/

that person must give aid or comfort in adherence to the enemy. Adherence to the enemy requires an “intent to betray” the U.S.

Finally, the crime of treason by aiding an enemy can only be committed during a time of war.

We are not in a state of war with Russia, even if our relationship with that country is currently adversarial at best.

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they wanna believe what they wanna believe, which usually involves punishing someone.

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...you have to be at war with the United States. Russia is unfriendly, but it's not at war with our country.

Curiously, Russia remains technically at war with Japan. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 9, 1945, and neither the Soviet Union nor Russia since the Soviet Union's demise ever signed a treaty ending that war. The two countries dispute the ownership of the southern part of the Kuril Islands, which Japan calls its northern territories, but which are occupied by Russia.

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it's a word in general use, and has a generally-understood sense that is not confined to the meaning defined by law. The archetype of an American traitor is Benedict Arnold, who betrayed a country that didn't exist yet, before there was any Constitution to define the term. If I say that Donald Trump is both an asshole, and a traitor, I am not assessing the probability that he could be convicted of either crime; I am judging him according to my own moral understanding. The entire theory of democracy depends on the principle that each individual citizen is capable of such discrimination.

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The legal definition of treason in the United States is narrower than how the word is used outside a courtroom: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

This is narrow enough that Americans are very rarely charged with treason, but with things like espionage, money laundering, or violating export control laws, which also carry heavy penalties. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed after being convicted of espionage.

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Far bigger issue is perceived credible local news orgs (Globe, local tv, WBZ) failing in their mission to keep the public better informed.

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Linking out to its site is one of the fastest ways to get it to show up there when you search for it.

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It has a rel="nolink" tag, which tells Google not to follow the link.

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https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/Attributes/rel#nofollow

(rel=nolink isn't a thing, but it's all good -- you actually have nofollow.)

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Many, many comments on Globe's comment page supporting the murder of women and children are from commentators which originated after October 7th.

Lots of bots there folks.

I hope the former Florida LEO officer the Times reports on gets bile duct cancer.

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this photo caption?

"Vladimir Putin reads the Boston Times. Why aren’t you? "

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But this stuff has been going on for decades. its just easier now with digital media and the internet. Make it look and sound newsy and official, throw it up on a website and *poof*

I JUST had a discussion with a friend about this and how both of us keep seeing Russian disinformation campaigns all over the web.

I just became clued in... and became very interested in reading more about these tactics a few years ago. Now I can smell them a mile away. Amazing how many news sites / news orgs will pick up the stories when they are riddled with falsehoods. Much stuff today I see about current events... And its sad to see many falling for much of it.

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They often don't know enough about the subjects they write about to be able to tell truth from falsehood, and their employers don't particularly care as long as the ratings stay up.

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"Boston Times" first time hearing about them and I was a free newspaper junky back when "The Boston Phoenix" "The Improper Bostonian" "The Weekly Dig" and others had print editions. Do they even distribute "Boston Times" in Boston Massachusetts?

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