Is a ‘Shadow Government’ Seeking a Coup Against President Trump?

A documentary produced by InfoWars correspondent Millie Weaver titled ShadowGate was released and went viral this week. The video has been taken off of many platforms, but continues to appear online on websites including Facebook. The video covers a wide range of topics and conspiracy theories during its 1 hour and 24 minutes running time. Many of the claims are not possible to truly fact check as they are presented with anecdotal evidence, if any evidence at all—things like MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski being a government asset, the Black Lives Matter protests being incited through government psychological operations, and the Deep State working against both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election with an end goal of a Pence presidency. However, a number of claims that Weaver and her sources make are contradicted by readily available evidence, and some items offered as evidence of conspiracy are misinterpreted or misrepresented.

“ShadowGate” is what Weaver has dubbed a conspiracy theory about a “shadow government” seeking to carry out a “coup” against President Donald Trump. The central claim of the video is that a network of government contractors is manipulating the government and general public as a part of a plot to create a surveillance state, take down President Donald Trump, and for members to enrich themselves (among other things). Weaver has two sources for the documentary: Patrick Bergy, who claims to be a cybersecurity expert and former Army psychological operations program developer, and Tore Maras-Lindeman, who goes only by her first name in the documentary and claims to be a linguist with the Navy and an intelligence contractor. As other factchecks of ShadowGate have pointed out, neither of their backgrounds has been verified. 

The “Shadow” in the title of the video refers to ShadowNet, a computer program Bergy calls an “IIA weapon.” IIA stands for Interactive Internet Activities, which Bergy, Tore, and Weaver present as something particularly nefarious, used by the government to control people, but the term is so loosely defined by Weaver and her sources that they use it to refer to everything from disseminating misinformation to celebrities endorsing politicians to polls that failed to accurately predict a Trump victory—though the polls were, in fact, generally accurate, and the results fell within the normal range of error historically seen in polls.

Examples of ShadowNet being used are given, though the basis Bergy and Tore give for these examples are generally speculative or based on anecdotal and inherently unprovable evidence. Bergy at one point, for example, says that in 2014, he “recognized Black Lives Matter movement during the Michael Brown riots is being influenced by IIA.” He does not explain further as to what specific actions were taken to manipulate the protesters to incitement, and said only that “a colleague of mine in South Korea did a trace route on it, trace-routed the source of the, what I believe to have been IIA, to Ukraine.” He did not explain what precisely was being traced. Weaver noted that in her interview with Bergy, he further claimed that “the contiguous release of the Obama Phone with an unlimited data plan played a significant role in fostering the Ferguson riots using IIA.” “Obama Phone” refers to a federal program called Lifeline that provides phone discounts, not phones themselves, to low-income subscribers. 

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