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The Mother of All Limited Hangouts

The Mother of All Limited Hangouts has begun. Yes, I'm talking about the "Covid Twitter Files," which are finally being released to the public, in almost textbook limited-hangout fashion. I'll get into that in just a minute, but first, let's review what a "limited hangout" is, for those who are not familiar with the term.

The way a limited hangout works is, if you're an intelligence agency, or a global corporation, or a government, or a non-governmental organization, and you have been doing things you need to hide from the public, and those things are starting to come to light such that you can't just deny that you are doing them anymore, what you do is, you release a limited part of the story (i.e., the story of whatever it is you're doing) to distract people's attention from the rest of the story. The part you release is the "limited hangout." It's not a lie. It's just not the whole story. You "hang it out" so that it will become the whole story, and thus stop people from pursuing the whole story.

Victor Marchetti, a former special assistant to the Deputy Director of the CIA who went on to become a critic of the Intelligence Community, described the tactic this way in 1978 …

"… a favorite and frequently used gimmick of clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting, sometimes even volunteering, some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further."


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