A false flag is, essentially, a misrepresentation of nationality in an operation of national or military significance -- leading to the appearance that an operation was carried out by operatives of a different government, implying the approval of that government.
 Historical Examples
The sinking of the USS Maine (1898), later determined to have been accidental, was used by the mainstream media of the time -- i.e. newspapers owned by Hearst and Pulitzer -- to prevent a peaceful resolution of existing disputes with Spain, in spite of the lack of clear evidence, and is generally seen as being a precipitating cause of the Spanish-American War which began two months later. (This is where the cry "Remember the Maine!" comes from.) The papers essentially painted a false Spanish flag over an incident whose causes were not yet known.
While responsibility for the Reichstag Fire (1933) has never been conclusively placed, there does not appear to be any evidence of the vast Communist plot for which the incident was used as evidence and thence justification for suspending key parts of the Weimar Constitution, which in turn allowed the arrest of the Communist delegates in the German Parliament, leaving the Nazi Party a majority.
In 1939, Nazi operatives attacked the radio tower at Gleiwitz (at that time a German town) while posing as Polish nationals -- creating the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany and therefore popular support for the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Operation Northwoods (1962) was a CIA plan to blame Cuba for a terrorist attack as a pretext for a "justified war" against them. A number of implementations were suggested, but all were rejected by President Kennedy. The existence of these plans only became public knowledge in 1997.
 Issuepedia Usage
In the years after the 9/11 attacks, the term false flag has been increasingly used to refer to any deadly event, not necessarily directly perpetrated by the "flagging" government but possibly merely encouraged or permitted by them, and then carefully blamed on a particular target (government or other threat) so as to build domestic support for a war on the blamed party. Issuepedia uses the term engineered provocation for this meaning, as there may or may not be an actual "false flag" involved.
 Related Pages
- Conservapedia: stub article
dKosopediano article as of 2008-01-10
SourceWatchno article as of 2008-01-10
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