Meet ‘Brig. Gen. Joel Harding’ - NATO’s Online Troll Extraodinaire - Part I

Who is 'Brig. Gen. Joel Harding', a man endowed with the super-human ability to troll 24/7 over 365 days a year?

Fri, Sep 9, 2016
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Ivan Zaitsev is a retired journalist who now spends time outdoors while Yana Dianova is a Moscow-based lawyer.

This article is the first of a three part investigation for RI.

  • Joel Harding is a self - styled "information operations (IO) expert" who claims to be a former "senior intelligence officer" in the US Army as well as a "senior adviser" to NATO.
  • He sees himself as one of the few " cyber warriors" standing between the "free world” and a totalitarian world mind-controlled by Vladimir Putin.
  •  Together with a small team of dedicated trolls, Harding’s real talents lie in openly harassing and libeling various journalists, authors and even casual users of LinkedIn as Kremlin agents.​

​From a dirty alley, a figure emerges from the shadows to conduct yet another covert operation. His mission is officially deniable, much like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible or the Houndcats in the old cartoon series. It is to stalk any target of opportunity conjured up in his mind. Striking terror and bewilderment in passersby, a phosphorescent rainbow-hued lightning streak formed his trademark facial camouflage, reminiscent of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. This pretty much described the world he inhabited, which remains his world today.

Meet “Brig. Gen.” Joel Harding. His exploits from the Cold War and since are classified, but anyone can visit his bare-knuckled WordPress-based blog to read about the deeds of this maestro of all “dark arts.”

He sees himself as one of the 10 men standing between the “free world” and a totalitarian world mind-controlled by the FSB-GRU-SVR and Vladimir Putin, and his mission is the same as it was in his glory days.. The other nine have since passed on, and there is a growing suspicion that “Putin did it.” Only Brig Gen. Harding stands tall, the only consummate professional cum patriot saving the United States from a possible Kremlin takeover via Donald Trump, whom he sees as a Manchurian Candidate for Putin.

Like a true general, he leads a small army of allegedly taxpayer-funded trolls who have done more to burnish the Kremlin’s credibility than the combined efforts of Russia Today, Sputnik, Tass and a host of other Russia-based mainstream media, news-zines and blogs.

As an information warfare specialist told one of the authors earlier this year:

“There is no substitute for rock-bottom stupidity. It’s a highly-valued trait – for the other side. Therefore, it’s in the Kremlin’s interest for the likes of Harding to thrive. His dimwitted, arbitrary accusations and libelous posts on randomly-selected victims whom he calls “Putin trolls” create more hostile reactions to US perception management exercises. Soon, he’ll tag Donald Trump as a Russian agent. Harding reflects the bottomless credibility prevalent in the United States. You want to know why Russia is winning the propaganda war? Check out Harding’s blog!”

Harding has published a slew of blog posts recently, accusing Trump of being "a Russian agent", or hinting at “Russia’s alleged support for Donald Trump”, asking “Is Trump pro-Russian?”, not to mention the homo-erotic “Trump Putin kiss”. Typically, to cover his tracks, Harding compiles similar innuendoes from other blogs he himself probably created, as well as from the works of non-established writers to create the illusion of mass, mainstream allegations. One wonders what else the Justice Department, the FBI and the CIA missed. Shouldn’t they interview this distinguished “senior military officer” to prevent a Russian takeover of the White House? Or are the Justice Department and FBI distracted by the never-ending fallout from Hillary Clinton’s email-gate which ironically references large donations by Russian oligarchs to the Clinton Foundation.

Some people walk the walk, some merely talk the talk, but Brig. Gen. Harding stalks the stalk. Which is why any inquiries are either countered with an expletive-riddled reply like “Don’t waste my time with this garbage” from otherwise polite and gentlemanly former-US military officers, or delirious praise from more obscure figures. In fact, if you look up Harding online, the chances are you will be inundated with glowing reports of his military exploits. If the authors are repeatedly pressed for information on his military rank, they will admit a lack of specifics venturing that he “probably retired as a Brigadier General.”

His constantly-changing LinkedIn profile once boasted: “Primary author Ukraine National Strategy for Information Policy, submitted in 2015 and again in 2016.”. In addition to being a prolific blogger, currently he is a "Wikistrat analyst" (a post usually reserved for former top military personnel and college interns), "Principal IOHO" and "Founder and Moderator SIOAC".

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So, who is Brig. Gen. Joel Harding? For starters, he is endowed with the super-human ability to troll 24/7 over 365 days a year. His team engages in childish rants, baseless accusations, libel, etc and still has lots of time on their hands.

Every politically incorrect rebuttal will be screenshot and saved for future stalking and possible blackmailing. This may be an effective “disrupt, deny, degrade and destroy” strategy in the United States, but it is a laughable — though admittedly irritating — ploy against foreigners. Complaints to LinkedIn go unanswered. Nor does LinkedIn publish the telephone names, numbers, or emails of key personnel in any department, let alone the legal one, so hordes of trolls presumably on the US government payroll have a free hand: complaints against them go unanswered, ignored or inadequately addressed by LinkedIn. What the trolls have achieved is to “disrupt, deny, degrade and destroy” LinkedIn’s profit margins. This “crapper-level McCarthyism” does help stifle American free speech, which ma have been the idea in the first place.

Online trolling and stalking is one of Harding’s two unimpeachable qualifications. On his LinkedIn profile alone, the Brigadier General boasts 3,000 blogs “with international impact”, through which he engages multiple hostile targets and the global mind-controlling efforts of the FSB-GRU-SVR and Vladimir Putin. His last month’s online identity is today’s target of patriotic ire. To allay suspicion, random real victims are picked from LinkedIn and subjected to wolf-pack attacks (inspired by Nazi U-boat tactics) by Harding’s trolls. The victims have little choice but to respond, for the allegations get more lurid, relentless and random if ignored. Ignore Harding’s allegations in the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) LinkedIn group, and new allegations under your name may pop up in a sleeper group on pets. Worse, your employers listed on LinkedIn could be swamped with anonymous emails, photo-shopped comments — the works. On the other hand, if you react to their cyber-stalking, within 24 hours both your corporate and personal e-mail addresses in your LinkedIn profile will appear in bogus accounts created in your name in various LGBT,  X-rated movies and dating sites.

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Like emotionally-damaged children in need of constant attention, Harding and his soldiers never give up. You are forced to acknowledge that they exist, and that they matter, even as a parasitic life-form. LinkedIn is swamped with laughable, so-called legal, counter-arguments from Harding’s crew, if they fail get their 1st Amendment rights to libel, a trait that seems stuck to the head-honcho’s name. In a Federal Communication Commission document dated March 5, 2008, a maximum correctional prison inmate named Joel Harding was revealed to have successfully lobbied to get a ham operator’s address, this relentless stalking must have been duly noted.

The other Harding speciality is self-promotion. The gullible and the troll are equally roped in by the Harding aura.  In a Reading Eagle article, we find the Harding legend embellished with flights of fancy such as his “blog being blocked by the Russians” (false) because they were explosively effective against Russian propaganda. Also, “the head of Russian propaganda (Dr. Igor Panarin) hates me.” This is gravitas befitting a senior US military intelligence officer. Harding apologized graciously for not being able to answer enquiries earlier. He’s a really busy man, trolling 24/7 across 3,000 blogs, and has pressing matters of national security to attend. “I was on the phone with NATO…They invited me to speak on Tuesday about how it can best combat Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

The details were classified and that’s why he was telling me about the phone call. There are no photos of “Brig. Gen Joel Harding” with the NATO leadership, even on Google Images and Photoshop. But the Red Eagle did manage to establish his Russian counter-propaganda credentials with the photo below.

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Nothing better confirms your super-secret mission in Russia than a photo on Red Square. Ask any American. Can’t you see the vague silhouettes of FSB-GRU-SVR spotters and snipers in the background?

Otherwise, every Harding exploit comes with plausible deniability, a sacrifice every true soldier must make for his nation. Even now, one can see Harding swiveling his 300-pound figure on NSA’s famous Captain Kirk chair, watching multiple screen displays on Putinbots across the galaxy. As the Brigadier General himself once admitted to the Washington Post: “The whole thing was Star Trek, Star Trek to the max.” And as in Star Trek, Putinbots and other aliens will be zapped…along with spiders from Mars.

Part II will explore Brig Gen. Harding’s modus operandi and his Star Trek console station.

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