Censorship, fake news, perception management

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Tue Jun 21, 2022 3:50 pm

The Guardian Churns Out Embarrassingly Awful Empire Propaganda

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The Guardian has put out a smear piece on critics of the imperial Syria narrative that reads like propaganda made by seven year-olds without adult supervision.

The article was initially released under the headline “Russia-backed network of Syria conspiracy theorists identified,” which was then hastily edited to “Network of Syria conspiracy theorists identified,” because the article does not even make an attempt to argue that all of the so-called “conspiracy theorists” it smears are backed by the Russian government. It claims only that the Russian government has at times cited and amplified information about Syria which is inconvenient for the US empire, which, you know, duh. Obviously it’s going to do that.

Your first clue that you are reading brazen empire smut is the feature image The Guardian uses for the article: a cinematic shot of a member of the “White Helmets” heroically carrying a child in front of a destroyed building. The photo is credited to Sameer Al-Doumy, whose own website describes him as an anti-Assad activist since childhood. Even if you knew nothing about the Syrian conflict or the White Helmets narrative control operation, if you knew anything at all about propaganda and how it’s used you would still instantly recognize that photo for what it is.

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Your next clue that you’re reading a very, very obvious piece of empire propaganda is that the article’s author Mark Townsend makes no attempt to justify his claims. He names a few people he claims are guilty of “disseminating disinformation” like Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and Aaron Maté, but, rather than presenting arguments and evidence that the claims those individuals have circulated are false, he simply asserts that it is so and moves on.

Your next clue is this line:

“Since 2020, journalist Aaron Maté at the Grayzone is said by the report to have overtaken Beeley as the most prolific spreader of disinformation among the 28 conspiracy theorists identified.”

Anyone who follows Maté’s reporting knows that he is an extremely careful journalist who only makes claims he knows he can back up with hard facts. As far as I know, to this day nobody has even attempted to refute his excellent reporting on the role of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in manipulating its own investigation into an alleged chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria in 2018.

Maté says Townsend made no attempt to contact him before sending this incendiary accusation out into the world, a glaring yet unsurprising breach of standard journalistic ethics.

Your next clue that this is a propagandistic smear piece disguised as a news story is Townsend’s sourcing. The article revolves around a report by The Syria Campaign based on information gathered by a think tank called the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. As The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal documented in 2016, The Syria Campaign is an imperial narrative management operation that is registered as a private company in the UK and has lots of shady connections and funding. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue is funded directly by the US and UK governments and a whole host of other US-aligned nations, as well as the foundations of western oligarchs like Bill Gates, Pierre Omidyar and George Soros.

Townsend’s other sources for his smear piece are “Farouq Habib, White Helmets deputy manager,” and an unnamed “former official at the US Department of State.”

Yeah. Don’t think we need to say much more about that.

The Syria Campaign’s report contains no more evidence or substantiation than Townsend’s mindless regurgitations. It simply redefines the word “disinformation” to mean “information I don’t like,” and then discusses data about people whom it has deemed guilty of spreading that category of information. It defines extensively well-evidenced information like leaked documents from whistleblowers in the OPCW as “disinformation”, and then on that absurd basis convicts journalists like Aaron Maté of “disseminating disinformation” for reporting on it.

The Syria Campaign’s report contains blatantly ridiculous claims, like the nonsensical assertion that people who’ve said the “White Helmets” aren’t what they purport to be have somehow caused its members to be killed:

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Of all the ham-fisted propaganda I’ve seen The Guardian churn out over the years, this article was definitely one of the worst. Not quite on the level of its notoriously bogus but still-unretracted Assange-Manafort report, but it’s right up near the top.

In 2019 Declassified UK put out a report on how The Guardian lost all semblance of journalistic integrity when it was successfully absorbed into the British national security machine not long after it published the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013. This tracks with comments made by Australian journalist John Pilger that there had been a “purge” of critical anti-imperialist voices around that time.

“My written journalism is no longer welcome in the Guardian which, three years ago, got rid of people like me in pretty much a purge of those who really were saying what the Guardian no longer says any more,” Pilger said in a January 2018 radio interview.

Because of its apparent respectability and ostensible place on the leftish side of the political spectrum, The Guardian plays a crucial role in manipulating public perception in a way that advantages the empire. Whether that’s smearing people who question the imperial line on Syria, smearing Assange, or smearing Jeremy Corbyn, it provides a pathway into the minds of a crucial sector of the population who would respond to such manipulations more critically if they came from conservative publications.

In reality The Guardian is no less propagandistic than the Murdoch press, and is frequently more destructive due to its ability to market right-wing horrors to an unsuspecting demographic who otherwise wouldn’t buy what they’re selling. It pushes the same agendas, and it serves the same empire. The Guardian is just Fox News for people who eat organic produce.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2022/06/19 ... ropaganda/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Jun 23, 2022 3:28 pm

National Security State Censoring of Anti-Imperialist Voices the Latest Phase of Their Long-Term Strategy to Divide and Control the Left
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on JUNE 22, 2022
Stansfield Smith

The US rulers use many tools to disrupt and disorganize the anti-war and anti-imperialist left. Three discussed here include: one, corporate control of the news media gives them free reign to spread disinformation and fake news against foreign and domestic targets. Two, they use government and corporate foundation resources to fund and promote a compatible left to counter the anti-imperialist left. Three, the rulers use their control of social media and internet to censor those voices.

Since 2016 their censorship of websites, Facebook pages, Twitter, and Paypal accounts has escalated alarmingly. They target those who counter the narratives the government and big business media feed us, whether it be US intervention and attempted overthrow of other governments, covid, or stories of Russian interference.

With the Ukraine war, the US government and corporate media immense propaganda power has been directed against Russia and intensified on an overwhelming scale.

As the US empire began the Cold War soon after the end of World War II, with the rise of McCarthyism (which predated Joe McCarthy), news manipulation and suppression often fell under the control of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird. The corporate media followed CIA directions in representing the interests of the US rulers. The CIA secretly funded and managed a wide range of front groups and individuals to counter what the US rulers considered its enemies. It encouraged those on the left who opposed actually existing socialism, seeking to foster splits in the left to undermine the communist and build the non-communist left.

Significant liberal and left figures who worked with the CIA included Gloria Steinem, key feminist leader, Herbert Marcuse, considered a Marxist intellectual, Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers Union (1946-1970), David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (1932-1966). The CIA collaborated with Baynard Rustin, Socialist Party leader and close associate of Martin Luther King, with Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington, who became the fathers of the third campist (“neither Washington nor Moscow”) Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Likewise, Carl Gershman, a founder of Social Democrats, USA, and later founding director (1983-2021) of the CIA front National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Through the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA underwrote the publishing of leftist critics, such as Leszek Kolakowski and Milovan Djilas’ book The New Class. The CIA aided the “Western Marxism” of the Frankfurt School, which included Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer, former director of New School of Social Research, also subsidized by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Corporate foundations, such as the Rockefeller, Ford, Open Society, and Tides foundations, among many others, funneled CIA money to progressive causes. The Cultural Cold War (pp.134-5) noted that from 1963-66, nearly half the grants by 164 foundations in the field of international activities involved CIA money. The Ford Foundation continues as one of the main financers of progressive groups in the US; for instance, both Open Society and Ford foundations have heavily funded Black Lives Matter.

The CIA is regarded as a ruthless organization overthrowing democratic governments that US corporations considered a threat to their profits. While true, overlooked is “gentler” CIA work: underwriting and encouraging a compatible left, one which looks to forces in the Democratic Party for political leadership. This third camp left provides an alternative to an anti-imperialist or a communist left, and yet appears progressive enough to lure radicalizing youth, activists and intelligentsia. This cunning CIA strategy has fostered confusion, dissension, and divisions among these sections of the population.

These secret US government and CIA operations have been detailed in The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, The Cultural Cold War, and AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?

In 1977 Carl Bernstein revealed CIA interconnections with the big business media. More than 400 journalists collaborated with the CIA, with the consent of their media bosses. Working in a propaganda alliance with the CIA included: CBS, ABC, NBC, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, United Press International, Miami Herald, Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald Tribune. The New York Times still sends stories to US government for pre-publication approval, while CNN and others now employ national security state figures as “analysts.”

Reuters, BBC, and Bellingcat operate similarly, participating in covert British government funded disinformation programs to “weaken” Russia. This involves collaboration with the Counter Disinformation & Media Development section of the British Foreign Office.

The CIA pays journalists in Germany, France, Britain, Australia and New Zealand to plant fake news. Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest German newspapers, showed how the CIA controls German media in Presstitutes: Embedded in the Pay of the CIA. Ulfkotte said the CIA had him plant fake stories in his paper, such as Libyan President Gaddafi building poison gas factories in 2011.

The CIA was closely involved with the long defunct National Students Association and with the trade union leadership. The AFL-CIO’s American Institute of Free Labor Development, received funding from USAID, the State Department, and NED to undermine militant union movements overseas and help foment murderous coups, as against President Allende of Chile (1973) and Brazil (1964), as well as defended the rule of their masters at home. This continues with the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, which receives $30 million a year from NED.

The CIA created publishing houses, such as Praeger Press, and used other companies such as John Wiley Publishing Company, Scribner’s, Ballantine Books, and Putnam to publish its books. It set up several political and literary journals such as Partisan Review. This CIA publishing amounted to over one thousand books, mostly geared to a liberal-left audience, seeking to bolster a third camp left, and undermine solidarity with the once powerful world communist movement.

That mission largely accomplished years ago, today the national security state works to undermine the anti-imperialist left and build up a left inclined towards the “lesser evil” Democratic Party.

Recent US Government and Media Thought Control Measures

CIA use of corporate media to undermine perceived threats to the national security state escalated with Obama signing NDAA 2017, which lifted formalistic restrictions on security state agencies feeding fake news directly to the US population. The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act in the NDAA, which went into effect in the early stages of Russiagate, created a central government propaganda organ:

“to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments (with the role of the Russian Federation hidden or not acknowledged publicly) through front groups, covert broadcasting, media manipulation, disinformation or forgeries, funding agents of influence, incitement, offensive counterintelligence, assassinations, or terrorist acts. The committee shall expose falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism, and assassinations carried out by the security services or political elites of the Russian Federation or their proxies.”

Glen Ford observed, “Every category listed [above], except assassinations and terror, is actually a code word for political speech that can, and will, be used to target those engaged in ‘undermining faith in American democracy’ — such as Black Agenda Report and other left publications defamed as ‘fake news’ outlets by the Washington Post [article on PropOrNot].”

This Disinformation and Propaganda Act created the innocuously named Global Engagement Center, operated by the State Department, Pentagon, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors [renamed US Agency for Global Media], the Director of National Intelligence, and other spy agencies. This Center oversees production of fake news supporting US imperial interests, focused primarily against Russia and China (such as Uyghur genocide and Russiagate), but also against Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and others. Verifiable reports exposing US regime change operations and disinformation are often outright censored or labeled pro-Russian or pro-Chinese propaganda.

The Global Engagement Center finances journalists, NGOs, think tanks, and media outlets on board with campaigns to vilify non-corporate media reporting as spreaders of foreign government disinformation. This may shed light on the origins of smears that opponents of the US regime change against Syria or in Ukraine are Putinists, Assadists, tankies, Stalinists, part of a red-brown alliance.

National security state propaganda against Russia surged after it aided Syria in thwarting the US-Saudi war against the Assad government. It reached levels of hysteria with the fabricated Russiagate stories designed to sabotage the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. Seymour Hersh disclosed that the widely covered news of Russian hacking of DNC computers in 2016 was CIA disinformation. Hersh confirmed from FBI sources that Hillary’s emails were taken by Seth Rich and offered to Wikileaks for money, and that the fake news story of Russian hacking was initiated by CIA head John Brennan. However, exposures of the Clinton-neocon-national security state Russiagate fake news were themselves written off as disinformation concocted by pro-Russian operators.

An example of Global Engagement Center work may be a recent smear against anti-imperialists as agents of Russia appeared in The Daily Beast. It targets Lee Camp, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, and others: “propaganda peddlers rake in cash and followers at the expense of the truth and oppressed people in Ukraine, Xinjiang, and Syria” because of their accurate reporting that goes against the US propaganda line.

Other articles may indicate this government Disinformation Center use of the third camp left in the tradition of Operation Mongoose. George Monbiot’s article in The Guardian fit the billing: “We must confront Russian propaganda – even when it comes from those we respect – The grim truth is that for years, a small part of the ‘anti-imperialist’ left has been recycling Vladimir Putin’s falsehoods.”

Louis Proyect crusaded for Syria regime change, and against those opposing the US war on the country as being part of a “red-brown alliance.” Proyect often relied on British Foreign Office funded Bellingcat for his articles, writing, “The Bellingcat website is perhaps the only place where you can find fact-based reporting on chemical attacks in Syria.” Proyect defended “Syrian revolution” “socialist” Anand Gopal, of the International Security Program at the New America Foundation, funded by the State Department and corporate foundations, and run by Anne-Marie Slaughter, former State Department official.

Democracy Now, which also repeatedly relied on Anand Gopal as a news source, has long received foundation money, and we see the self-censoring effect this has on its former excellent anti-war journalism degenerating into compatible leftism.

Another product of this government-corporate aid for this Democratic Party “lesser evil” left may be NACLA’s articles smearing the Nicaraguan government. NACLA Board Chair Program Director is Thomas Kruse of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. In 2018, NACLA, New York DSA, and Haymarket Books hosted anti-Sandinista youth activists while on a tour paid for by rightwing Freedom House.

In These Times, which receives hundreds of thousands in foundation money, ran similar articles smearing socialist Cuba. It claimed Cuba was “the Western Hemisphere’s most undemocratic government” – not Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Chile with its police who blinded pro-democracy protesters, not Colombia’s death squad supporting government, nor Honduras’ former coup regime, or Haiti’s hated rulers.

Haymarket Books, which produces many third camp left books, receives Democratic Party aligned think tank and nonprofit money via the pass through Center for Economic Research and Social Change. The Grayzone reported that the DSA, Jacobin Magazine, and Haymarket sponsored Socialism conference featured NED and State Department funded regime-change activists.

Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara is former vice-chair of the Democratic Party’s reform oriented DSA. In 2017 the Jacobin Foundation received a $100,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation, set up by billionaire publisher and Nixon administration U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Annenberg.

This milieu includes New York’s Left Forum, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, underwritten by the German government.

Bob Feldman revealed corporate financing for the Institute of Policy Studies, The Nation, In These Times, NACLA, Middle East Research & Information Project (MERIP), Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), Progressive, Mother Jones, AlterNet, Institute for Public Accuracy, among others.

The US Chamber of Commerce discovered that foundations gave $106 million to workers centers between 2013-2016, and concluded that the worker center movement was “a creature of the progressive foundations that encouraged and supported it.”

These are but a few examples of US ruling class financing of anti anti-imperialist leftists, an effective means to channel and organize the left milieu into an opposition that poses no real threat to their control.

An essential characteristic of this milieu is looking to the Democratic Party as a lesser evil ally.

Alexander Cockburn pointed out the dangers of this financing back in 2010:

“the financial clout of the “non-profit” foundations, tax-exempt bodies formed by rich people to dispense their wealth according to political taste… Much of the “progressive sector” in America owes its financial survival – salaries, office accommodation etc — to the annual disbursements of these foundations which cease abruptly at the first manifestation of radical heterodoxy. In the other words, most of the progressive sector is an extrusion of the dominant corporate world, just as are the academies, similarly dependent on corporate endowments.”

Right after Trump’s surprise 2016 election win, the Washington Post cranked up the anti-Russia McCarthyism by introducing PropOrNot. ProporNot’s catalog of supposed Putin-controlled outlets sought to resurrect the witchhunts of the Red Scare era, when 6.6 million people were investigated just between 1947-1952. The PropOrNot blacklist includes some of the most alternative and anti-war news sites on the web, including Anti-war.com, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism, Consortium News, Truthout, Lew Rockwell.com, Global Research, Unz.com, Zero Hedge, and many others.

PropOrNot asserted 200 websites were “Russian propaganda outlets.” No evidence was offered. PropOrNot refused to reveal who they were or their funding. Alan Mcleod recently uncovered: “A scan of PropOrNot’s website showed that it was controlled by The Interpreter, a magazine of which [Michael] Weiss is editor-in-chief…[a] senior fellow of NATO think tank The Atlantic Council.” The Atlantic Council itself is financed by the US government and Middle Eastern dictatorships, weapons manufacturers Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs; and petrochemical giants like BP and Chevron. Mcleod concluded, “Thus, claims of a huge [foreign] state propaganda campaign were themselves state propaganda.”

Soon after PropOrNot, the German Marshall Fund, largely financed by the US government, concocted Hamilton 68: A New Tool to Track Russian Disinformation on Twitter. This identifies supposed “accounts that are involved in promoting Russian influence and disinformation goals.” Daniel McAdams of Ron Paul Liberty Report noted, “They are using US and other government money in an effort to eliminate any news organization or individual who deviates from the official neocon foreign policy line on Russia, Syria, Ukraine, etc.”

This year, the Department of Homeland Security presented a new censorship and disinformation organ, allegedly to combat pro-Russian fake news, the Disinformation Governance Board. As the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act and PropOrNot showed, what challenges US national security state narratives is often labeled Russian disinformation. Glenn Greenwald forewarned, “The purpose of empowering the Department of Homeland Security to decree what is and is not “disinformation” is to bestow all government assertions with a pretense of authoritative expertise and official sanction and, conversely, to officially decree dissent from government claims to be false and deceitful.”

The national security state, which lied about Russiagate, lied about National Security Agency’s 24/7 spying on the US population, lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, plans to decide what is true and false, and enforce that on big business and alternative media outlets.

Thus, the CIA’s secret Operation Mongoose, devoted to encouraging hostility to actually existing socialism among the left, has morphed into official, public US government McCarthyite agencies directed at shutting down or smearing outlets and activism opposing the US empire and its wars.

What Corporate Social Media instruments are targeting which anti-war outlets?

This joint US government corporate media censorship has become an increasingly open attack. Paypal has allied itself with the Zionist Anti-Defamation League to “fight extremism and hate through the financial industry and across at-risk communities… with policymakers and law enforcement.”

Twitter has shut down many political accounts, even possessed the power to suppress the President of the United States’ account. In 2020, Twitter deleted 170,000 accounts “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China,” and in 2021, it deleted hundreds of accounts for “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.” The company has hired a number of FBI officers for this censorship work. Twitter executive for Middle East is British Army ‘psyops’ soldier Gordon MacMillan of the 77th Brigade, which uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to conduct “information warfare.”

Google and Youtube executives team up with government spy agencies to censor anti-imperialist voices. Google’s “Project Owl,” designed to eradicate “fake news,” employed “algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative [compatible] content” and downgrade “offensive” [anti-imperialist] material. As a result, traffic dropped off to websites such as Mint Press News, Alternet, Global Research, Consortium News, liberal-left Common Dreams and Truthout.

Wikipedia censors articles on its website, as Ben Norton notes: “The CIA, FBI, New York Police Department, Vatican, and fossil fuel colossus BP, to name just a few, have all been caught directly editing Wikipedia articles.”

A minor player, NewsGuard, “partners” with the State Department and Pentagon to tag websites that deviate from the establishment line.

Facebook relies on PropOrNot’s Atlantic Council to combat reporting contrary to the US government line. Facebook later announced it would further fight “fake news” by partnering with two propaganda organizations sponsored by the US government: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The NDI was chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, while Senator John McCain was the longtime IRI chair.

Just as The Mighty Wurlitzer, The Cultural Cold War, and Bernstein’s The CIA and the Media showed with the big business print media, we are witnessing an integration of social media companies into the national security state.

Who have been censored by this corporate media and social media integration with the national security state?

Like with any censored book list, national security state targets provide a Who’s Who of what we should be reading and watching: The Grayzone, TeleSur, Venezuelanalysis, Lee Camp, By Any Means Necessary, Caleb Maupin, Syria Solidarity Movement, Consortium News, Mint Press News, Abby Martin, Chris Hedges, CGTN and other Chinese media, George Galloway, Pepe Escobar, Scott Ritter, ASB Military News, RT America, Strategic Culture Foundation, One World Press, SouthFront, Gonzalo Lira, Oriental Review, Revolutionary Black Network, Sputnik News, Ron Paul’s Liberty Report. Youtube warns us of watching Oliver Stone’s Ukraine on Fire. Journalists who have collaborated with a Russian media outlet are now dubbed “affiliated with the Russian government.”

The FBI directly shut down American Herald Tribune and Iran’s Press TV. RT and Sputnik are already shut down in Europe. PropOrNot listing of 200 media sites catalogs for us what the national security state doesn’t want us to read, listen to, know, or think.

Since the beginning of the first Cold War, there has been a continuous CIA-national security state operation to neutralize, marginalize, and create disunity among its opponents, often with the collaboration of the left that consider the Democratic Party a lesser evil. This strategy includes extensive foundation financing of leftist outlets and NGOs in order to tame them.

Therefore, it is mistaken to fault the US left for its weakness. The CIA and the foundations have been key players in covertly manipulating opposition to US imperial rule, in part by strengthening the left soft on the Democrats to undermine any working class or anti-US empire challenge. To date, this national security state mission has also shown considerable success.

The problems of building a working class leftwing partly results from the US rulers’ decades long campaign to disrupt the movement. This involves not just imprisoning and killing activists, such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or the Black Panthers, but also big business media marketing disinformation as news, their funding of a compatible left, and the present social media and internet censorship of anti-imperialist voices. Rebuilding an anti-war and working class left wing requires us to directly address and navigate through this maze ruling class sabotage has created.

https://libya360.wordpress.com/2022/06/ ... -the-left/
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sat Jun 25, 2022 2:23 pm

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NED Democracy Award, a small-scale replica of the Goddess of Democracy that was constructed in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, during the student movement for freedom and democracy in 1989. [Source: ned.org]

Is there really a U.S. government agency that gives out awards for deceiving the public?
By Jeremy Kuzmarov (Posted Jun 24, 2022)

Originally published: CovertAction Magazine on June 21, 2022 (more by CovertAction Magazine) |

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Directors of NGOs receiving 2022 NED Democracy Award. (Clockwise from top left) Daria Kaleniuk, Oleksandra Matviychuk, Nataliya Gumenyuk, Anna Bondarenko. [Source: twitter.com]

On June 8, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) awarded its annual “Democracy Award” to “partner organizations” whose purpose is to mobilize public opinion in support of an escalation of U.S. military involvement in Ukraine.
The NED is a CIA offshoot founded in the early 1980s to support NGOs and political parties loyal to the U.S. and to advance U.S. propaganada. Virtually all its funding comes from the U.S. government, specifically earmarked by an act of Congress.

William Blum, one of the founders of CovertAction Magazine, called the NED “a Trojan Horse agency” because it pretends to promote democracy while secretly working to undermine it.

In the 1980s, the NED provided $140 million to dissident groups in the Soviet Union in an attempt to facilitate its downfall. Since 1989, the NED has financed 103 organizations in Ukraine with the goal of prying Ukraine away from Russia and into the Western orbit.

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Kenneth Wollack [Source: ned.org] / James Risch [Source: idahopress.com]

NED-supported groups—including those receiving this year’s “Democracy Award”—were a key force behind the 2014 coup overthrowing the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych and now play a key role in trying to sustain the regime of Volodymyr Zelensky and defeat Russia, including by waging a worldwide propaganda war against it.

Reviving a Cold War Atmosphere

The attempt to revive a Cold War-type atmosphere was apparent at the “Democracy Award” ceremony on June 8 where Ronald Reagan was invoked as a hero by Kenneth Wollack, the NED’s Chairman of the Board, and by the NED’s CEO, Damon Wilson, a former Executive Director of the anti-Russia, pro-NATO Atlantic Council and a U.S. embassy official in Baghdad during the Iraq War.

Senator James Risch (R-ID), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, compared the Ukrainian struggle to that of the American colonies fighting Great Britain in 1776 while conflating modern-day Russia with the Soviet Union.

NED Director Calls for Regime Change in Russia

Damon Wilson said that the NGOs receiving the NED’s Democracy Award “exemplify the heroic struggle, courage and determination of millions of Ukrainians who risk everything to defend freedom and democracy.”

Ukraine though is not a functioning democracy: President Zelensky has banned eleven opposition parties and increased the power of Ukraine’s security services which have enacted an extra-legal campaign to arrest and in numbers of cases execute civilian officials advocating peaceful rapprochement with Russia.

In a February 27 rally at the White House, Wilson advocated for the “largest solidarity package the world has seen since the Marshall Plan” to “stop Putin’s aggression,” claiming that a “generational movement” was required to “defeat his tyranny.”

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Damon Wilson addresses pro-Ukraine rally on February 27, 2022, in front of White House demanding that the U.S. send more weapons and advance regime-change efforts in Russia. [Source: ned.org]

Wilson concluded his speech by stating that “only when Putin is out of Ukraine, only when Putin is out of the Kremlin, will our freedom be safe and secure. Slava Ukraini!”
In short, Wilson was advocating for regime change within Russia—in violation of Russian sovereignty.

Anti-Corruption Action Center
One of the NED Democracy Award re
cipients, the Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC) has shifted its focus during the war from anti-corruption investigations to trying to “bring global awareness to atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine.”

The AntAC has also adopted a “Block Putin Wallets” campaign, whose purpose is to “raise awareness of how Kremlin-linked wealth buys influence in Western democracies.”

The campaign, with NED support, has employed a team of analysts that helped to locate the property of Russian oligarchs loyal to Vladimir Putin. It in turn pushes for the freezing and confiscation of their assets and aims to stop the flow of money allegedly being used to finance the war in Ukraine.

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[Source: putinwallets.org]

The “Block Putin Wallets” campaign is part of a propaganda effort—in support of the U.S. sanctions policy—that obscures the structural forces driving corruption worldwide and the fact that Putin actually took measures to curb corruption under his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, which resulted in large part from an ill-conceived privatization initiative promoted by the U.S.
The neo-McCarthyist undertones of the “Block Putin Wallets” campaign is apparent in the charge that Russia is subverting Western democracies and controls Western politicians who advocate for more cooperative policies with Russia.

The rhetoric fits a long-standing pattern in Western history—detailed in Guy Mettan’s book, Creating Russophobia: From the Great Religious Schism to Anti-Putin Hysteria (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2017)—of playing up the threat of Russian subversion in order to justify Western imperialism.

Ironically, AntAC was itself investigated for corruption as part of a larger probe by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office into whether $4.4 million in U.S. funds to fight corruption inside the former Soviet Republics had been improperly diverted—an investigation which the Obama administration had tried to squelch.

AntAC’s supervisory board includes Francis Fukuyama, a Reagan-era State Department staffer who also sits on the NED’s board. He wrote the famous essay, “The End of History and the Last Man,” which celebrated the triumph of capitalism over communism following the end of the Cold War.

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[Source: putinwallets.org]

Another board member is Karen A. Greenway, a former FBI special agent. Greenway had led investigations into corruption in the inner-circle of Ukraine’s pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych (2010-2014) and helped block the return of funds to him that had allegedly been stored in offshore banks.
From its founding in 2012, AntAC was focused on uncovering corruption in Yanukovych’s government as part of U.S. regime-change designs.

More recently, AntAC has targeted the Platform for Life, an opposition party consisting of many of Yanukovych’s supporters which favors negotiation with Russia.

AntAC claims that Platform for Life members are not only corrupt but have conducted “anti-Ukrainian activities” for years in order to “undermine Ukrainian independence and to strengthen Russian influence” in Ukraine.

The executive director of AntAC, Daria Kaleniuk, has taken to the airwaves of MSNBC to criticize U.S. President Joe Biden for his alleged “inaction” on Ukraine—despite his having sanctioned more than $54 billion in arms supplies to Ukraine this year—and to lobby for more weapons and intervention from the West.

A graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law and fellow at the World Economic Forum where she was a young Global leader in 2004, Kaleniuk came to international media prominence when she asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a press conference in Warsaw why Johnson did not support the establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine that would have started World War III.

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[Source: audible.com]

Characterizing Putin’s regime as “totalitarian,” Kaleniuk’s political extremism was further apparent in her call in 2020 in the Kyiv Post for “economic sanctions directed against all “anti-Western MPs in Ukraine”—meaning MPs who did not want to acquiesce to the transformation of Ukraine into a vassal state of the EU, U.S. and NATO.
In her view, these politicians committed the sin of promoting a “consistent series of messages designed to undermine Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration.”

Center for Civil Liberties

The Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) is another NED grantee and Democracy Award recipient that has been at the forefront of the propaganda war over Ukraine.

A key part of its mission is to document Russian war crimes in Donbas— though Ukraine has been responsible for the majority of human rights crimes there since the war started after the U.S.-backed coup in 2014.

Residents from towns in eastern Ukraine have reported on widespread rapes and torture of captured prisoners by Ukrainian troops and constant shelling of civilian centers and terror bombing over an eight-year period.

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Pseudo-scholar Francis “The End of History” Fukuyama. [Source: demidigest.org]

This is ignored by the CCL, which instead has tried to spotlight the stories—real or imagined—of victims of sexual violence by Russian troops in Ukraine and women abducted by Russian troops and taken into captivity in Russia.1
The CCL has further mounted an international campaign to release the Kremlin’s political prisoners, and aims to raise awareness about political persecution in what it calls Russian-occupied Crimea—though Crimeans voted to rejoin Russia in a referendum following the 2014 Maidan coup.

CCL Director Oleksandra Matviychuk—whose Twitter account featured a photo of Vladimir Putin looking like Adolf Hitler and says that Russia started the war in Ukraine in 2014 by invading Crimea and Donbas—co-authored a study “The Fear Peninsula: Chronicles of Occupation and Violations of Human Rights in Crimea.”

Much like AntACT, CCL helped support the 2014 Maidan coup by providing legal aid to demonstrators who were detained by Ukrainian security forces and by documenting human rights abuses of those security forces.

On its website, the CCL highlights the plight of a Belarusian journalist, Andrei Alexandrov, who was given a fifteen-year sentence for high treason by the Alexander Lukashenko government after he paid the fines of people who had been detained during foreign-sponsored protests designed to bring down Lukashenko’s government.

Lukashenko has been a target of U.S. regime-change and color revolution operations as one of Europe’s last remaining socialist leaders and a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

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Karen A. Greenway [Source: censor.net]

The CCL has also taken up the cause of Crimean Tatar political prisoners accused of high treason as a result of their connection to the Islamic party, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which the Russian Supreme Court declared a terrorist organization in 2003.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is also banned in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Turkey and China, with former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron calling for its banning in the UK. Hizb ut-Tahrir has supported the overthrow of governments and its literature supports suicide bombings in Israel.

While the CCL on the whole addresses some real injustices, its political agenda is apparent in the causes it takes up—which dovetail perfectly with U.S. imperial interests and efforts to demonize and weaken Russia, and advance NATO.

“Countering the Russian Propaganda Machine” with Its Own Propaganda

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Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC) Director Daria Kaleniuk, second from the right, and other Ukrainian activists meet with Senator Mitch McConnell. [Source: ned.org]

Characterizing itself as a partner of the NED, the Public Journalism Lab (PJL) has set out to counter what it terms the “Russian propaganda machine” by offering one-sided propaganda of its own which heroizes the Ukrainian side in the war and spotlights alleged Russian war crimes.
The PJL’s director, Nataliya Gumenyuk—who previously worked for the NED-funded Hromadske TV and wrote a book that was shortlisted for a BBC book-of-the-year award entitled The Lost Island: Tales from Occupied Crimea (2020)—has promoted misleading information about alleged Russian atrocities at Bucha, suppressing evidence that suggests Ukrainian militias carried out executions there.

Gumenyuk, whose group feeds the Western media information about Ukraine, has been granted access to the pages of The Atlantic, The Washington Post and The Guardian to promote her viewpoint that “the [Ukraine war] is a black and white war,” with an “aggressor [Russia]” and a “democratic country defending itself.”

In one piece in The Guardian, Gumenyuk referred to Luhansk as being occupied by the Russians. However, its people voted for autonomy in a referendum and mostly welcomed Russian intervention after being subjected to years of atrocities and shelling by the Ukrainian army—something that Gumenyuk and her ilk never reported on.

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CCL staffers with yellow vests out to investigate Russian war crimes. [Source: ned.org]

In Gumenyuk’s writings and those of other NED-sponsored luminaries, the Russians are always the occupiers and Ukrainians the liberators; the Russians commit all the atrocities and Ukrainians are the victims.
These designations are key to the “manufacture of public consent”—and psyops being waged on the U.S. public with their own tax dollars through the NED.

Notes:
↩ Some of the stories of Russian rapes it should be noted were found to be fakes. The extent to which this has occurred is uncertain and there is no evidence that it has been sanctioned by any higher authorities in Russia.

https://mronline.org/2022/06/24/is-ther ... he-public/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sun Jun 26, 2022 10:49 pm

HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE INTER-ORGANIZATIONAL ASSOCIATIONS
FBI, CIA AND NATO CONTROL THE OPERATIONAL THREADS OF TWITTER
Jun 24, 2022 , 11:39 a.m.

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Silicon Valley further aligns itself with the US government by hiring former officials from national security organizations (Photo: File)

In recent times, Twitter has been filling its operations plant with former agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other agencies to put them in important positions in the fields of security, trust and moderation of information. contents of the technological corporation. MintPress did some research on the subject and compiled the profiles of several of them:

Dawn Burton worked for the military industry at Lockheed Martin and served as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Director of the FBI. Burton left the FBI in August 2019, joining Twitter the following month as director of strategy and operations and an advisory organization.

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(Photo: Screenshot / LinkedIn)

*Karen Walsh was appointed to Twitter's Corporate Resiliency Directorate in 2020. Prior to that, she spent 21 years working for the FBI, the last of which was a Special Agent in Public-Private Disclosure.
*The Silicon Valley company hired attorney and former FBI General Counsel James Baker in 2020. The man also spent nearly 20 years at the Justice Department, holding various positions, including intelligence policy adviser.
*Most of the information available about the former FBI officials recruited by Twitter was collected from their LinkedIn profiles, where they usually put only the initial of their last name. Matthew W. spent 15 years at the federal agency before coming to Twitter to serve as CEO of product trust.
*Patrick G. was with the FBI for 23 years, serving as a Supervisory Special Agent. He was hired by the tech giant in 2015 and is currently the head of corporate security.
*Bruce A. is the director of internal risk and security investigations at Twitter. In his LinkedIn profile he mentions that, during his time with the FBI, he held "various intelligence and law enforcement roles in the United States, Africa, Europe and the Middle East" and was a "regional specialist in human intelligence and counterintelligence" .

PERSONNEL WANTED, AND IF IT COMES FROM THE CIA OR NATO, BETTER

The FBI is just one more in the list of agencies directly linked to the US government that Twitter has turned to to fill its plant. We are talking about the major leagues: the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are on that list.

Regarding the CIA, one of its analysts, Michael Scott Robinson , who worked for ten years in the intelligence service, was hired to assume the position of general manager of integrity, trust and security policies of the social network.

The Atlantic Council, a think tank financed by the United States State Department and which puts its expert groups at the disposal of NATO, especially elaborating scenarios of regime change in countries that the West considers its enemies, have also come out professionals to join the Twitter team. This is not surprising, since in 2018 Facebook allied itself with the Atlantic Council to "monitor misinformation and foreign interference".

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Kanishk Karan and Daniel Weimert worked at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research (DFR) Laboratory before joining Twitter. Karan left his position as a research associate at the DFR and is now an information security and integrity specialist at the social network. His job is basically to help "police what Twitter considers to be legitimate information and nefarious disinformation," says the MintPress investigation .

Before continuing with Weimert, a couple of things about the Atlantic Council should be recalled: some research suggests that the institute sponsored PropOrNot, a shadow organization that defamed many alternative websites to the mainstream media, falsely branding them as " Russian propaganda". That said, we can move on to the position Weimert now holds: senior public policy associate for Russia, perfectly aligned with the interests of the Atlantic Council.

The MintPress article indicates that Twitter also directly employs active military officers.

"In 2019, it was revealed that Gordon Macmillan, the managing editor of the entire Europe, Middle East and Africa region, was an officer in the British Army's notorious 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online warfare and operations. psychological. This explosive news was ignored by the media."

SURVEILLANCE AND HARASS THE SAME COUNTRIES, FROM A DIFFERENT OFFICE

The California-based technology corporation could justify recruiting FBI and related officials by arguing that the social network's worldwide influence and popularity merits having security and surveillance experts regulating the website. Certainly, there are more than 220 million active users on the platform, who have, in theory, the possibility of spreading and positioning narratives according to their interests.

There, Twitter's resources are exhausted to justify itself, since, as we have verified with the history of the employees who occupy the most relevant positions, the company has not formed a team to moderate the content that circulates on the social platform and guarantee that the virtual community is protected from disinformation, extremist messages or manipulation; on the contrary, its employees come from having protected, from United States government institutions, the unilateral vision that the Western Empire has of the world. Knowing that the imperial pinnacle is occupied by corporations, there is no reason to doubt that the Twitter tasks of former FBI agents, the CIA and former members of the Atlantic Council are different.

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Twitter has blocked media, people and institutions that deny the US narrative. For example, the events of the war in Ukraine (Photo: AP)

Twitter 's list of countries reported for "state-linked intelligence operations" proves that former US security agency officials are still keeping an eye on the same enemies: Russia named in seven reports, Iran in five, China in four and Venezuela in three. Other countries on the list include Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Serbia, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Ghana, Nigeria, Honduras, Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand, Armenia, Spain, Tanzania, Mexico, and Uganda.

CONFLICT OF INTERESTS?

Many times there has been talk of the conflict of interest that exists when a person who exercises a public function has private interests related to his function. Regarding ex-FBI employees working for the corporation they previously oversaw, MintPress asked former agent Coleen Rowley for her opinion and she said she was "not at all surprised" noting that it's common practice for agents to look at where they're going to go. work after retiring from the FBI.

The federal agency's public outreach programs, billed as an initiative to promote community confidence in the institution, are frequently used by officials to gain connections with important people who may hire them after they retire. Such a practice "distorts and perverts the criminal investigative work that agents do when they are still working as agents because they anticipate gaining lucrative jobs after retiring or leaving the FBI," Rowley acknowledges.

Another issue Rowley highlighted is that there have been cases of retired officers contacting current officers to find out the progress of an investigation. "If you work for a company, that company will like that clout," he says.

Recruiting former US government officials is a common practice among technology corporations. We know that the Atlantic Council, thus NATO, has strong influence over what can and cannot be disclosed on Facebook, and another investigation on MintPress points to who TikTok has recruited from NATO, the CIA, and the Department of Defense. Condition. For that reason, social network users have witnessed the increasing measures taken by companies by removing accounts of people linked to nations that are on Washington's blacklist.

It does not make much sense to apply the concept of "conflict of interest" in the United States because the lines between public and private have been blurred for a long time, since any professional can rotate from government institutions to corporations, as is convenient for the capital interest.

https://misionverdad.com/globalistan/fb ... de-twitter

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Mon Jun 27, 2022 2:00 pm

Imperial Narrative Control Has Five Distinct Elements
JUNE 26, 2022

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The five elements of the imperial narrative

By Caitlin Johnstone — Jun 24, 2022

All of our world’s worst problems are created by the powerful. The powerful will keep creating those problems until ordinary people use their superior numbers to make them stop. Ordinary people don’t use their superior numbers to stop the powerful because the powerful are continuously manipulating people’s understanding of what’s going on.

Humans are storytelling creatures. If you can control the stories humans are telling themselves about the world, you control the humans, and you control the world.

Mental narrative plays a hugely prominent role in human experience; if you’ve ever tried to still your mind in meditation you know exactly what I’m talking about. Babbling thought stories dominate our experience of reality. It makes sense then that if you can influence those stories, you’re effectively influencing someone’s experience of reality.

The powerful manipulate the dominant narratives of our society in approximately five major ways: propaganda, censorship, Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation, government secrecy, and the war on journalism. Like the fingers on a hand they are distinct from each other and each play their own role, but they’re all part of the same thing and work together toward the same goal. They’re all just different aspects of the US-centralized empire’s narrative control system.

1. Propaganda


Propaganda is the empire’s narrative creation system. While the other four elements of imperial narrative control are geared mostly toward preventing inconvenient narratives from circulating, propaganda is the means by which the empire generates narratives which benefit it.

That foreign leader is a dictator and needs to be removed. That inconvenient politician is sinister in some way and must not be permitted to lead. Your government loves human rights and all its wars are humanitarian. Voting works. Capitalism is great. You can trust us, we’re the good guys.

You’ll see variations on these and similar narratives churned out day after day by the corporate media and Hollywood. The wealthy media-owning class protects its own class interests by hiring media executives whose worldview matches its own, and those executives hire underlings with the same worldview, who hire their own underlings with the same worldview, and before you know it you’re looking at a media conglomerate full of people who all support the status quo politics of the media-owning class whose kingdoms are built upon that status quo.

In fact these giant media institutions are so invested in protecting the status quo that they have a very large degree of overlap with other institutions responsible for maintaining the imperial status quo, like the US intelligence cartel. News punditry is now full of “former” intelligence officials, and anytime there’s a narrative an intelligence agency wants printed it simply has an officer or a proxy whisper it to a mainstream news reporter who then uncritically repeats that narrative disguised as a news story.

Reporters within this system are not explicitly told to generate propaganda to protect status quo power. Rather, they develop a sense for what kind of reporting will get published and earn them “attaboys” in the newsroom and what will get spiked and cause their career to stagnate. If they fail to learn to navigate the system in this way, you simply never hear about them, because their careers peter out.

2. Censorship


Propaganda is geared toward putting narratives favorable to the oligarchic empire in front of people, while censorship is all about keeping unfavorable narratives away from public vision. We’ve long seen this expressed in the way the mass media simply refuse to give any platform or voice to critics of capitalism and imperialism, but imperial narrative management has required a whole new order of censorship since internet access became widely available.

Because the widespread ability to share ideas and information poses a major threat to imperial narrative control, empire managers have been working toward normalizing and expanding censorship on internet platforms like Google/YouTube, Meta/Facebook/Instagram, and Twitter. Any online space where a large number of people gather will find itself pressured by the US government to remove a wider and wider spectrum of content in the name of public safety, election security, containing a virus, or just keeping people from thinking wrong thoughts about a war.

Every few months since the US election in 2016 we’ve been fed a new reason why more internet censorship is needed, which is always followed by a giant purge of the newly-banned content and the accounts which created it. This trend has escalated dramatically with the Ukraine war, where for the first time there’s no pretense being made that content is being censored to protect the public interest; it’s just being censored because it disagrees with what western government and media institutions tell us.

Related Content: The Bankruptcy of an ‘Anti-Imperialism’ That Sides With Imperialism.

3. Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation


This one relates to both propaganda and censorship, because it facilitates both. Silicon Valley officials have admitted to manipulating their algorithms to make sure that independent media doesn’t get seen very much while artificially elevating the online publications of mass media outlets on the basis that they are “authoritative sources” of information, despite the fact that those “authoritative sources” have lied to us about every war.

Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation does more damage than overt forms of online censorship, because its consequences are much more far-reaching and because people don’t even know it’s happening. When Google changed its algorithms to ensure that leftist and antiwar media outlets ranked much lower in search results than they used to, it influenced the way millions of people gather information about the most important issues in the world. And hardly anyone ever knew it happened.

If it weren’t for tech giants artificially directing traffic toward empire-approved media outlets, those outlets probably would have shut down by now. We saw a clear illustration of how disdainful the public is of mass media outlets when the paid streaming service CNN+ was forced to shut down just 30 days after its launch when it failed to maintain even ten thousand daily viewers. People don’t consume mainstream news media unless it is foisted upon them.

4. Government secrecy


Like censorship, government secrecy is another way the empire prevents inconvenient narratives from entering public awareness. By classifying information on the basis of “national security”, the empire prevents unauthorized narratives before they even get off the ground. As Julian Assange once said, “The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security.”

The amount of power you have should be inversely proportional to the amount of privacy you get. In a healthy society, ordinary people would have full privacy from the government while government officials should have to be fully transparent about their lives, finances and behavior. In our society it’s exactly reversed: the people are surveilled and monitored while those in power hide vast troves of information behind walls of government opacity.

They hide everything they’re doing from the view of the public, then when people start taking educated guesses about what they might be up to behind the veil of government secrecy they get called “conspiracy theorists”. There would be no need to form theories about conspiracies if there was complete transparency for the powerful, but of course this would greatly hinder the ability of the powerful to conspire.

They claim they need government secrecy to avoid giving an advantage to the enemy in times of war and conflict, but really they need government secrecy to start wars and conflicts.

Related Content: Mexico Renews Offer of Asylum to Julian Assange

5. The war on journalism


Lastly, in order to effectively control the dominant narratives about the world, the empire needs to wage a war on disobedient journalism. We’ve seen this unfold in various ways over the years, but right now none are so clear as the US empire’s persecution of Julian Assange.

The goal of the Assange case is to establish a legal precedent for extraditing any journalist or publisher anywhere in the world who tries to get around US government secrecy. Once a precedent has been set and consent has been manufactured, the war on journalism can really get going.

All of these five points are used to control the way people see, think about, and talk about their world, thereby controlling how they act and how they vote at mass scale. This enables the powerful to maintain an entirely enslaved populace which never tries to escape its enslavement, because it thinks it is already free.

https://orinocotribune.com/imperial-nar ... -elements/

Here's some 'wisdom' from ancient Rome, the conscious and subconscious model for our ruling class:

If you work for wages or are in any way held in bonds you are not free.

'Liberty' consist of the ability of the rich to do any damn thing that pleases them.


And as Thomas Sankara observed:

If you are indebted you are not free.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Tue Jun 28, 2022 3:12 pm

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Capitalism Is the Real Information War
By Eli Horowitz (Posted Jun 26, 2022)

In the foreword to Last Dance, Last Chance, Ann Rule meditates on the nature of liars. “Once a lie is successful,” she says, “it grows and multiplies, burnished and perfected until it works every time. It’s a sad irony that the more honest a potential victim is, the more innocent, the more likely such a person is to become prey. Honest people don’t expect to be lied to, because they wouldn’t lie to someone else. That doesn’t matter at all to dedicated liars. They only smile.” As a true-crime writer, Rule was talking about murderers, kidnappers, and other violent offenders. But she could just as easily have been talking about corporations.

Under capitalism, corporate dishonesty has become so commonplace that most of us take it for granted. In doing so, however, we’ve allowed ourselves to become numb to the breathtaking scale and bottomless arrogance of corporate deception. To be blunt, capitalism wages a constant, active, ever-evolving war against knowledge and reason. Not only are we constantly deluged by false and misleading advertisements for goods, services, and even jobs, we’ve been sold ideals that do not and cannot exist, told to navigate a supply and demand system that’s been maliciously bent out of shape, and led astray on crucial matters of public interest by industry-backed disinformation campaigns. Capitalism even interferes with language itself, hindering our fundamental ability to name our world and cooperate with one another in order to bring about a better one. What’s more, these aren’t rare or abnormal events. Once you stop taking all of this for granted, the list of ways in which capitalists lie is frighteningly endless.

Selling Lies: Deception, Misdirection, and Befuddlement in Advertising

The most pervasive type of capitalist lie is the advertisement. As a class, commercials and print ads are so obviously untrustworthy that they may seem beneath serious criticism. Indeed, many of us had a good time poking fun at the Fyre Festival, the fraudulent 2017 music “festival” that advertised luxury accommodations to the well-off but delivered dirt floors, soaked mattresses, and cheese sandwiches. But misleading ads are no joke. To the contrary, one study found that nearly three-quarters of humorous ads were deceptive. And even when corporations aren’t trying to be funny, they bombard us with false and dubious advertising claims every day.

These lies come in all different flavors. Truth In Advertising, a pro-consumer nonprofit, lists twenty-three false or misleading ads in the first quarter of 2022 alone, covering products that range from chewing gum to cell phone plans. For months or years prior to a 2013 investigation, grocery stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland sold horse meat that was falsely labeled as beef. And written lies are only the beginning. Photoshop disasters give the lie to falsified images in print and web ads, and fast food commercials are so reliant on deceptive imagery that there are now careers in “food styling.”

Then there are the lies that are subtler and harder to detect, like the ones about image or lifestyle. Influencers may not say anything misleading or doctor their images, but they can still get you to shell out money for a fairy tale. “It was almost funny that we were depicted in this slow-living, lazy lifestyle,” one Instagrammer says, “but we were super busy, you know?” The same goes for #VanLife, the tiny house craze, and a hundred other fads: everyone on the other side of the camera knows that the story isn’t really true, but they still want you to believe. Worse yet, these false ideals extend into our very bodies. Though the burden falls more heavily on certain genders, capitalism leads both women and men to pursue the unrealistic and unhealthy bodies that are depicted as normal in commercials and ads. Add all of this up and you’re more likely to come across an advertisement that is trying to fool you than one that isn’t.

Lest you think that this is all just a harmless market peccadillo limited to hamburgers and makeup ads, think again. Hyundai and Kia sold a combined one million vehicles using false claims about emissions and fuel economy. Two hundred thousand people die every year because they fall for claims relating to fake antimalarial drugs. False advertising even played a significant role in the U.S. opioid epidemic, which has killed over 760,000 people. And those are just the consequences of the false claims that the market makes about products. When companies advertise jobs, the lies can do even more harm.

As a small-scale example, consider Madbird, a fake design agency that fraudulently “employed” over fifty people in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those deceived workers went months without income from their so-called employer. Some even went into debt on the company’s behalf. If this seems extreme, think again: compared to how the market works in less fashionable industries, Madbird’s “employees” got off easy. Dishonest or fraudulent job postings play a major role in the global slave trade, which affects some forty million workers across a wide array of economic sectors. Slavery is one of the most poisonous fruits that thrive under capitalism, and the seed from which it grows is deception.

Then again, you don’t have to travel to the nadir of human life in order to be victimized by a fake job listing. Job sites are becoming a popular vector for scammers, who convince applicants to hand over their personal or financial information. It is also disturbingly common for companies to lie about wages and work arrangements in their job ads, to say nothing of corporations that intentionally misclassify their employees as contractors in order to evade pro-worker regulations.

Bent Curves: Manipulated Supply, Demand, and Pricing

But if we cannot trust companies to tell us what we’re spending our money on or how we’re earning it in the first place, surely, we can trust one another, right? If a product, person, or piece of media is well-liked by regular people who have no financial incentive to promote it, then that gives us information about its quality, at least in theory. There are some exceptions—Fox News springs to mind—but the rule is a good one, at least most of the time. There’s only one problem: thanks to capitalism, it’s becoming impossible to know what regular people really think.

Take music concerts or other live events. Headlines regularly boast of sold-out shows, thereby creating the impression that the performers must be wildly popular. But in many cases, these sellouts are simply not real, meaning that consumers who read “sold-out” headlines have no real idea how hard it would be to get a ticket or how much one would be worth. Online follower counts are another prime example. You may think that your favorite content creators are loved by millions, but buying followers on sites like Instagram and Twitch is a common practice. Brands also create a false impression of popularity by straight-up lying about their site traffic. Facebook got in trouble with its advertisers in 2018 for doing this, but these lies affect consumers, too. If you’ve ever rushed to buy something because a website told you that other shoppers were looking at the same product, you may be upset to learn that those counters are often fake.

Reviews aren’t necessarily any more helpful, either. We have good evidence that many so-called consumer reviews on sites like Rotten Tomatoes are bogus, left either by bots or humans who are paid to act like bots. Similarly, Yelp’s so-called “elite” reviewers have been known to sell their reviews, thereby undermining the entire point of the system. Incredibly, even when consumer reviews are legitimate, they may not pertain to the actual product or service that you’re currently looking at. Companies have learned that they can sell one product (say, socks) on a site like Amazon, collect positive reviews, and then use the same digital listing to sell something completely different (like an adapter). That way, shoppers who only look at the average review score will think that the newly listed product (the adapter) is good when in fact all of the good reviews pertain to the old one (the socks). When these so-called hijacked reviews happen, they completely invalidate star ratings and other common data aggregations that we trust to inform us about a product’s quality.

Then there are the algorithms that supposedly tell us what we (or people like us) want. By now, you’ve probably guessed the pattern. Those algorithms? Far too many of them are intentionally skewed. Instead of telling you what you might want or like, they are designed to sell you on what a corporation likes. In the music world, this is called payola. The rest of us can just call it what it is: a scam.

Prices are hardly any better. Whereas economists will tell you that prices reflect the true value of a good or service and are determined by a natural equilibrium between supply and demand, the truth is far less flattering. For one thing, as we have just seen, supply and demand are themselves subject to manipulation. But corporations hardly need to jump through hoops to confuse us about prices. As the existence of “meme stocks” demonstrates, prices in a capitalist market can be made to look like just about anything for just about any reason. This is why business experts talk about pricing “strategy” and why prices for things like medicine can jump 5,000 percent overnight: in actual fact, prices are whatever corporations say they are, meaning that they can’t be trusted to convey any information about what something is “really” worth.

People have reported finding going-out-of-business events where the “sales” price was more than the original price. Black Friday, the annual post-Thanksgiving bacchanalia of purchasing, is now a hotbed of such fake discounts. But you don’t have to wait until November to get taken for a ride. Algorithmic pricing, a technique that dynamically sets the price for an item by guessing the maximum you’d be willing to pay based on your consumer profile, is featured on sites like Amazon year-round.

Bigger Is Badder: Disinformation Economies of Scale
As if all of this wasn’t already bad enough, capitalists also engage in coordinated disinformation campaigns. You likely already know about some of these: the infamous “tobacco industry playbook” that protected cigarette revenues for decades against the threat of cancer lawsuits; the National Football League’s history of muddying the waters on concussions; and, of course, the fact that the oil industry knew about global warming nearly fifty years ago and chose to cover it up rather than lose out on profits. But corporate-backed disinformation programs like these are much more common and much older than you may think.

Instead of admitting that its products poisoned millions of children, the lead industry threatened to sue television networks and ran public relation campaigns blaming parents. The industry-backed National Rifle Association has been pushing pro-gun propaganda for decades. Not satisfied with having hidden the reality and severity of climate change from us for decades, the oil industry is now spreading lies about electric vehicles. Coca-Cola and Georgia-Pacific have been known to launder their propaganda through flawed publications in science journals. Sometimes, corporations even wage these campaigns against one another, as in the recent case of Facebook hiring a right-wing political strategy firm to spread false claims about TikTok, one of its competitors.

Nor is the problem limited to corporations that want to downplay specific dangers so as to protect their existing business models. More and more, falsehoods are the business model. The capitalist need for deception has become so widespread that there’s now an entire “disinformation-for-hire” industry whose entire purpose is to mislead and confuse the public. At the same time, traffic-oriented businesses like Facebook have learned to build themselves around anything that grabs users’ attention, even if those things are misinformation, manufactured controversies, or lies.

False Names: “Procrustics” and the Capitalist Attack on Free Communication

In an ideal world, all of these nefarious tactics would be met by a robust response from governments, researchers, nonprofits, and the press. But we are not living in an ideal world. If anything, the opposite is closer to the truth: under capitalism, we are fast approaching dystopia.

Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science-fiction master, foresaw our situation in a way that no other writer did. In his 1958 novel Eden, he proposed a method by which a tyrant could achieve total, permanent control over a populace—but without the use of jails, guards, or even constant surveillance. He called this method procrustics, and he described it like this: “It’s not that they do not have names for things, and for the relations between things, but that the names they have are in fact false, are masks.… In order to control the world, one must first name it.” Without the ability to speak the truth to one another, we cannot unite in action; and without the ability to unite in action, we cannot overthrow the tyrant that drives us toward poverty, strife, sickness, and misery. In Eden, the name of this tyrant is never revealed. In the real world, however, we know its name: capital.

Thanks to the constant presence of corporate deception in our lives, we barely even have the words to describe what is happening to us. Regulatory agencies are dwarfed by the corporations they are supposed to oversee, watchdog nonprofits are overwhelmed, and the higher education system is buckling under the weight of private profiteering. But it is media organizations that have been hardest-hit in recent years, as private equity firms and other hostile investors have stripped newsrooms and shuttered entire reporting divisions. In other words, even when capitalism isn’t profiting by lying to us, it finds a way to profit by silencing the voices that want to offer us the truth.

As news outlets get picked off like so many deer in hunting season, the ones that remain are being increasingly corrupted by hard-right ideologies and corporate money. Paid content and “advertorials” are now ubiquitous, making it difficult to know whether we are reading honest reporting or an ad with a byline. Profit-maximizing news organizations also shy away from stories that might damage their bottom lines, even when the stories are indisputably true. In 2018, for example, ESPN altered a fluff piece about a linebacker’s diet in order to avoid offending Wendy’s, one of its advertising partners. All of these practices are blatant violations of journalistic ethics, but capitalism will never choose transparency—let alone morality—over money.

Not even our day-to-day conversations are safe. As many observers have noted in recent years, capitalist culture has begun leaking out into the broader world, interfering with our ability to simply talk to one another. Corporate “garbage language” has spilled over into casual speech, filling our conversations with meaningless jargon and inspiring many of us to think in toxic, empty-headed “grindset” memes. Naturally, the situation inside the workplace is even worse. Hundreds of posts on the popular r/antiwork subreddit feature bosses who falsely tell their employees that they are not allowed to discuss their wages. Other workers strain against job requirements that require them to lie to customers and colleagues. And by threatening, censoring, and retaliating against any workers who dare to speak their minds, corporations chop away at our ability to communicate with one another, thereby attacking dissent at the root.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Capitalist Lies

Resurgent labor unions can act as a partial solution to these problems—that is, assuming that workers do not believe the lies that companies tell about them. Still, the truly grim thing is that the problems exist—and are so deeply integrated into our way of life—in the first place. Let us be brutally honest: our economic system is so completely saturated with deceit that it is impossible to imagine a version of it that we could actually trust. The examples above are just the tiniest sliver of what we already know about capitalism’s assault on knowledge, and what we know is only a fraction of the whole truth. Even when we aren’t being actively lied to, misled, confused, or distracted, we have to struggle to find important information because capitalist investors go out of their way to hamstring the organizations that are supposed to keep us informed.

In recent years, philosophers have begun to discuss what they call epistemic harms. As they see it, an epistemic harm is something that interferes with our ability to know or reason. Under capitalism, we suffer not just epistemic harms but epistemic aggression, that is, intentional, targeted acts of epistemic interference that are aimed at achieving dominance. Indeed, given how broadly and how routinely capitalist agents lie, we should all consider ourselves to be belligerents in an epistemic battle—or, to repurpose Alex Jones’s phrase, an information war.

And it’s not getting better. As we develop more advanced forms of communication and more reliable knowledge about how humans form beliefs, capitalists race to invent new forms of deception. Corporate propagandists quickly learned to take advantage of influencers and streamers. Thanks to advances in information technology, scams are now automated, cons are data-driven, and profitable hoaxes spread algorithmically. As deepfakes proliferate and virtual worlds blend with the physical one, the potential for capitalistic dishonesty will only grow.

Nor are capitalists satisfied with lying their way to the top of the digital world. They aim to expand their influence in the physical world by forming privately owned cities, replacing the public courts with their own private arbitration system, and perfecting the gatekeeping mechanisms that punish us for being anything other than productive, compliant subjects. If corporations can succeed in replacing public and community services with capitalist surrogates, they can redefine every part of our lives, changing the very meanings of the words and concepts that structure our reality.

To understand just how much depends on these efforts, look to the current right-to-repair movement. Until recently, everyone understood that ownership of an object implied the right to alter that object. If you bought a book, you could highlight the passages you liked; if you bought a couch, you could replace the cushions; and if you bought a lawnmower that eventually broke, you could repair it yourself using whichever parts you liked. But many corporations now want you to believe that you are “not permitted” to tinker with your own property. To most of us, this is patently absurd—but if the procrustic capabilities of capitalism continue to grow, we may soon find ourselves in a society where “ownership” and other key ideas have radically different meanings.

https://mronline.org/2022/06/26/capital ... ation-war/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sat Jul 02, 2022 3:12 pm

British Security State Collaborator Paul Mason’s War on ‘Rogue Academics’ Exposed
JUNE 29, 2022

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Photo of UK journalism Paul Mason with a sample of an email. Photo: The Grayzone.

By Kit Klarenberg and David Miller – Jun 21, 2022

In his covert assault on antiwar scholars, “left-wing” journalist and security state collaborator Paul Mason enlisted an academic snitch who knew his targets well.

In the latest installment of The Grayzone’s ongoing investigation into the anti-democratic, security state-influenced activities of Paul Mason, we look at how one of Britain’s most prominent alleged left-wing journalists and an ever-expanding cast of covert helpers targeted scholars who dared challenge establishment narratives on the conflict in Ukraine.

Amidst his campaign to neutralize the UK antiwar left, Paul Mason declared in an email to several academics willing to inform on and undermine their own colleagues: “the far left rogue academics is who I’m after… The important task is to quarantine their ‘soft’ influencers and expose/stigmatise the hard ideologists.”

Mason’s fishing expedition was conducted in apparent coordination with Andy Pryce, a senior British intelligence official involved in a series of malign information warfare and censorship initiatives.

The journalist’s key academic enabler, self-styled counter-disinformation researcher Emma Briant, not only helped further his campaign to target antiwar figures, but furnished bogus claims about one individual which appears to have inspired a BBC smear piece on academic critics of the established narrative about killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. Many of those she snitched on considered her a colleague and even a comrade.

Rather than own up to the activities exposed by the leaked emails, Briant has engaged in lawfare, threatening The Grayzone with a formal “cease and desist” demand. Sent by her lawyer on June 10th, the filing falsely charged that Kit Klarenberg, one of the authors of this article, played a direct role in the “misappropriation” of private communications.

Briant’s legal counsel went on to threaten that his client would seek a “prohibitory injunction” to prevent further reporting on the leaked material, if not launch a claim for compensation due to “damage to her career and reputation,” if this outlet failed to comply with the demand.

Briant’s attempt to muzzle The Grayzone is understandable, for as we will see, she has a lot to hide.

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Self-styled disinformation researcher Emma Briant

Naming names within academia

On March 3rd, Paul Mason emailed his intelligence contact Andy Pryce to ask for help in identifying “a tool to trace memes and talking points to their source,” in order to “demonstrate to people how innocent amplifiers end up echoing disinfo and themes.”

Pryce was amenable, stating that he would “raise this need with colleagues.” He added that, “we need an organisation alongside Full Fact that is delving deeper and being more pointy in its messaging.” Two days later, he and Mason sketched out a blueprint for a covert propaganda mill they dubbed the International Information Brigade. (See the second installment of this series for more on this shady endeavor).

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Just over a month later, Emma Briant introduced Mason to Edinburgh University academic Huw Davies and Trevor Davis of the private intelligence firm Counter Action. The meet and greet was convened to equip Mason with the meme-tracing tool he requested of Pryce, and to help him produce an “important article” for Byline Times.

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Briant urged Mason to tell the pair “more about what you are looking for, particularly any keywords or accounts/organizations you are most interested in.” Mason responded that he was seeking to identify “British left reactions to the Bucha massacre,” and “how pro-Putin/pro-PRC influence happens around Stop The War,” of which he already “had a pretty good analog mindmap.”

“I’d be interested in the disciplines and tools either of you might possess in order to bring rigour to the question: who in Britain denies the Bucha massacre/reflects the Russian line,” the journalist wrote. “It’s a harder search because I am also looking for those who downplay, ignore or question the evidence and I’m not sure what kind of keywords might be useful.”

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Davies offered to conduct “network analysis” using “software” he’d previously employed in his academic work to “make some visualisations about the Bucha denialists and run the same analytics.” First, he asked Mason for “data such as who retweets who or who belongs to [Stop the War], who used to work for Corbyn etc.”

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There was a problem, however: those whom Mason predicted would deny the Bucha massacre and/or reflect the “Russian line” on the incident failed to do so.

“I am more and more convinced the people I am analysing simply don’t want to talk about Bucha. Most of Stop the War’s officers have not tweeted about it,” he lamented the next day. “I wonder if anyone has done a basic – ‘who spread the Russian counternarrative’ chart? That might help me?”

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After clarifying that “far left rogue academics” were “who I’m after [emphasis added],” Mason outlined the issues involved: “There’s a progression – White Helmets, Anti-Semitism ‘was a scam’ and now Bucha was a false flag.” He emphasized, though, “I don’t monitor the rogue academics much and Emma’s tipped me off [emphasis added] to their current activities.”

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Davies suggested that rather than “outright naming” particular individuals, Mason try “genealogical exposure of their techniques,” as publicly identifying people as “what they are” would simply lead to denials, and “their troll affiliates” coming after him.

Davies included a recent Twitter thread listing “a few rogues,” including Tim Hayward, a fellow Edinburgh University academic, and member of the Working Group for Syria, Propaganda and Media.


His suggestion prompted Briant to issue a revealing disclosure: “I can give you the name [sic] of all the main organisers on the academic side of things as I’m on their organizing listserve.” She was referring to an academic mailing list known as the “Organised Persuasive Communication,” and run by Piers Robinson, a dissident academic who has been relentlessly targeted in UK mainstream media.

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Robinson was shocked to learn that a participant on his listserv was ratting out fellow members to a security state collaborator.

“I’m dismayed that a former colleague whom I have supported over the years appears to have abused an academic listserv,” Robinson told The Grayzone. “Rather than engaging in open debate and critique, which would have been the scholarly and ethical thing to do, Briant has instead sought to support what seems to be underhand and nefarious attempts to damage reputations and silence critics.”

“This puts a big spotlight on the professional integrity and knowledge of Briant”
When Briant singled out a member of the listserv, it was to accuse them of secret collusion with an enemy state.

“I know he might not look influential from Twitter,” she told Mason, “but the one I know has DIRECT RUSSIAN STATE CONTACT [emphasis in original] and spreads what will help Putin to the other academics to then hopefully spread or respond to is Greg Simons.”

Greg Simons happens to be a communications researcher at Sweden’s Uppsala University specializing in Russian mass media. As for his supposed “direct Russian state contact,” it turns out to be far more mundane than Briant’s menacing all-caps characterization implied.

The evidence of Simons’ contact with the Russian state consisted of an email delivered to him in broken English by Andrei Kovalev of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Kovalev had written Simons to request he fill out a survey related to conflict and forward it onto colleagues for use in a research paper. Simons duly circulated the request via “Organised Persuasive Communication.”

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Kovalev could hardly have been accused of serving as a Putin asset. He played a key role in Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s liberalization agenda, freeing political prisoners, ending regulations on foreign travel, and enshrining fundamental rights in the country’s new constitution. He subsequently became involved with Rights in Russia, a UK-registered charity promoting “the work of human rights organizations based in the Russian Federation.”

For his part, Simons stated to The Grayzone that Briant’s claims about him have “no basis in truth or reality.”

“This puts a big spotlight on the professional integrity and knowledge of Briant, who spreads propaganda and misinformation on people, something claims on her Twitter profile to fight,” Simons added. “It also demonstrates a clear lack of personal integrity and deficiency in knowledge on topics that she claims to be an expert in.”

Email correspondence casts doubt on Briant’s denials
In subsequent communications, Briant revealed her “own focus” was on the role of academics in perpetuating Russian “disinformation,” professing to be “very disturbed and angry with some of what I’ve seen among the academics I’ve known quite well.”

“It’s more than just an embarrassment, some of these folks are raising genuine national security risks,” she claimed.

Briant nonetheless agreed with Trevor Davies’ warning against publicly naming and shaming academics, though only on tactical grounds – because she felt that “the approach taken to tackling the academia problem” was “backfiring.”

Briant argued instead that “identifying the strategy, techniques of recruitment, breaking down the ideology and gaslighting” offered a “sound” alternative, as it would “educate and raise awareness” of the “grooming” of individuals by the Kremlin.

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Following The Grayzone’s revelations of Briant’s secret collusion with Mason, the academic has strenuously denied suggestions she was in any way attempting to censor and ostracize members of the British left. However, she seemed aware of the harm that could come to the individuals and organizations she named as Kremlin stooges – if not from Mason, then British intelligence.

Paul Mason fulminates about Michael Tracey’s presence at pro-Ukraine rally
On April 10th, Mason emailed Pryce and Briant to complain that independent US journalist Michael Tracey had attended “our” pro-Ukraine rally a day before.

Tracey has claimed that while covering the rally, which consisted of self-proclaimed leftists and unionists marching through London in support of military aid to Ukraine, Mason told him to “fuck off,” then threatened him with physical ejection from the site, before bizarrely inviting Ministry of Defence officials to join the “anti-war” demonstration via bullhorn.

In private, Mason was even more malevolent, telling Pryce and Briant, “I’d be interested to know who pulls Tracey’s (sic) strings – and what reason he’s in the UK.”

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In response, Tracey told The Grayzone, “Mason ought to consider a new career – in comedy.”

While his conspiratorial outlook might have been amusing, Mason seemed to be implying that an official probe into the journalist was in order, perhaps along with his removal from social media platforms, or worse.

Briant commented to Mason that she’d been “noticing [Tracey] on Twitter too,” claiming his following consisted of “the conspiracist right in the US.”

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One of the few publicly available photos of Andy Pryce

Pryce was the founding director of the Counter Disinformation and Media Development (CDMD) programme at the UK Foreign Office. Yet this secretive role was never mentioned on his LinkedIn page, where he listed his bio. What’s more, Pryce deleted the entire LinkedIn in 2018 after he was exposed as a key player in the scandalous MI6/military intelligence project known as the Integrity Initiative.

In December 2018, Pryce listed himself simply as a ‘diplomat’ – a classic MI6 cover title. Further, the UK Foreign Office had studiously avoided mentioning Pryce’s CDMD until it was exposed in the tranche of leaked emails revealing the existence of the Integrity Initiative in 2018. The highly secretive nature of the project strongly suggested it was operating under the purview of MI6 intelligence service.

Pryce’s likely intelligence role is reinforced by the fact that public summaries of the CDMD’s existence which appear on government websites have redacted the name of the organization currently in charge of the program.

A January 2020 European Commission event listing identifies Pryce as the head of public diplomacy at UKREP, London’s diplomatic mission to the EU. However, the same month Pryce appeared at the EU event, UKREP was replaced with a new office, the UK Mission to Europe, and Pryce has not been publicly mentioned in any official capacity since. So where did he go?

In his communications with Mason, Pryce mentions his personal involvement in activities placing him at the forefront of London’s public relations strategy on the Ukraine crisis, which is delivered by the recently formed Government Information Cell (GIC) and Counter Disinformation Unit (CDU).

Staffed by spies and charged with disseminating intelligence through the media and other forums for the purpose of information warfare, both the units have operated in highly clandestine fashion. Largely unknown to the public, they have played a pivotal part in NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine.

What did Briant know and when did she know it?

Emma Briant has implied that she was wholly unfamiliar with Pryce before The Grayzone’s most recent investigation was published. However, she was copied in on the same email as the state operative.

Further, an April 7th email from Mason to Briant – delivered just hours before she introduced him to the researchers Davis and Davies – contains a reference to “Andy,” suggesting that she was on first name terms with the state operative.

It was in this missive that Mason shared his McCarthyite “network map” of Russian and Chinese influence, clearly insinuating it had been prepared specifically for official review.

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While numerous emails confirm Mason’s direct role in assisting and encouraging Pryce, a question lingers: what did Briant know about their malign initiative, and when did she know it? So far, she has declined numerous requests for comment from The Grayzone, hiding instead behind a lawyer who has threatened this outlet with unspecified retaliation for publishing factual reporting about his client’s activities.

Briant still has the chance to clarify the nature of her relationship with Pryce and Mason, and to even denounce their anti-democratic machinations. A similar opportunity remains for Mason to cease his evasions and elucidate his motives to those mentioned in his network map, and the British left more generally. It might also be productive for him to explain why he has been collaborating so closely with a certain “friend” in the Foreign Office.


David Miller is a broadcaster, writer, and investigative researcher who produces the program, Palestine Declassified, and directs Spinwatch.

(The Grayzone)


https://orinocotribune.com/british-secu ... s-exposed/

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How Spooks and Establishment Journalists are Circling the Wagons
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on JULY 1, 2022
JONATHAN COOK

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Earlier this month, Russia banned 29 British journalists, including several from the BBC and The Guardian, on the grounds that they were “associated with the defense complex”. That claim was not, at least in all cases, quite as preposterous as was widely assumed.

In part one of this two-part series, we saw how the Guardian’s Luke Harding – one of the journalists banned by Russia – has promoted entirely unsubstantiated smear stories that have hewn closely to the agenda of Western intelligence services. Harding even wrote a prominent Russiagate book and could not defend its basic claims when challenged by independent journalist Aaron Maté.

Although Russia’s ban provoked a predictable, self-righteous backlash from the U.K. media – and was adduced as further evidence of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian tendencies – Moscow was, in fact, mirroring earlier bans by the British authorities and the European Union on Russian state-sponsored media. None of the British journalists now barred from Russia raised their voices in protest at the banning of the English-language broadcasts and the websites of RT and Sputnik.

In popular imagination, cultivated jointly by Western establishment media and Western intelligence agencies, both outlets are staffed by Russian spooks strong-arming a few impressionable Westerners with Stalinist tendencies. The reality is very different. RT wants to have influence in the West, and the only way to achieve that is by recruiting credible Western journalists who have trenchant criticisms of the Western national-security state and its war industries but cannot – for that very reason – find a platform in the establishment media at home. RT might not be the best place to get a neutral view of what Russia is up to, but it had attracted a growing audience in the West by providing an outlet for disillusioned Western journalists who are ready to paint a realistic picture of the failings of their own states.

One of RT’s journalists, for example, was Chris Hedges, a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He has had a long and distinguished journalistic career and has won major journalism awards. Nonetheless, six years of his Emmy-nominated “On Contact” programme for RT America – interviewing major public figures – was erased from Youtube’s channel overnight.

In part one, we considered the cases of two celebrated British journalists – Paul Mason and Carole Cadwalladr – who were revealed to be covertly colluding with Western intelligence services. Not only that, but they had used those contacts to try to harm other journalists who have been taking on the British and U.S. security states. They had been effectively recruited – or in Mason’s case, possibly recruited himself – to a covert, and dirty, information war. The paradox is that, while Cadwalladr and Mason have been accusing – without evidence – journalists in the West of colluding with foreign intelligence agencies, they themselves have been colluding with their own intelligence services to smear other reporters. If Russian intelligence needs a troll farm to spread disinformation, Western intelligence can rely, it seems, on compliant celebrity journalists in British mainstream outlets to do the same work.

CIRCLING THE WAGONS

Neither Cadwalladr nor Mason is likely to pay a price for their actions. In fact, they can expect to be rewarded – a sign that this kind of covert collusion is desired by establishment media, not least liberal outlets like the Guardian that try to create the misleading impression that they are somehow oppositional to the security state.

That should come as no surprise – and not just because these types of collusion work to the joint benefit of the establishment media and the intelligence services. The media outlet gets an exclusive – often one rooted in a smear operation by the state, as with Cadwalladr’s story of Farage meeting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (documented in part one) – which they do not need to stand up beyond the simple attribution to a “well-placed”, anonymous “source”.

Meanwhile, the intelligence services set the news agenda, including with smears that target those trying to hold them to account, but cannot be scrutinized over such claims because they can shield behind anonymity. In such cases, the so-called Fourth Estate serves as simply a stenographer for the state. It amplifies the state’s self-serving allegations but adds a veneer of legitimacy through its own supposed verification via publication.

The media’s collusion, however, is not just servile. With the advent of the internet and social media, the establishment press and the intelligence services have found their interests more in tune than ever before. Independent media of the kind that seeks to hold state power to account – such as, for example, MintPress News or the Grayzone, about which Mason was so keen to spread disinformation (again, documented in part one) – or foreign channels like RT that give a platform to independent Western journalists, are treated as a threat by both the intelligence services and the establishment media.

But whereas foreign channels like RT can be easily vilified because of their ties to “enemy” states, and shut down on those grounds alone, it is more difficult to make the case for censoring independent media. It requires first a concerted campaign of Western disinformation and smears to undermine independent journalism – as we shall examine later in this article.

The powerful see such smear campaigns as vitally important. Because it is free to report stories of state crimes the establishment media mostly avoids, independent media exposes the establishment media for what it really is: the public relations arm of the state. It shows the extent to which serious, critical journalism is absent from the mainstream. And as a rival source of news, independent media leaves readers more aware of what the establishment media is choosing not to cover – and hints at why.

Paradoxically, the more effective independent media has become, the more the establishment media has circled the wagons to protect itself from this upstart media, labeling its competitors’ coverage “fake news” and “Russian disinformation”. Meanwhile, the new establishment media monopolies emerging from the digital revolution – Silicon Valley platforms like Facebook/Meta, Google/Youtube and Twitter – have gradually joined this assault, changing their algorithms to make it ever harder for people to read independent media.

RECRUITED TO SPY

If the suggestion of widespread collusion with the intelligence services by our most celebrated journalists and the establishment outlets they work for sounds improbable, consider this:

Jon Snow, who gained national treasure status in the U.K. after serving as Channel 4 News’ front man for many years, revealed in 2015 that the British intelligence services had tried to recruit him 40 years earlier, when he was an up-and-coming broadcast journalist. He was asked to spy on “left-wing” television colleagues, in return for a secret, tax-free salary that would match what he was already being paid by his employer.

Most journalists are not likely to talk of such approaches, either because they have accepted them or because disclosure might harm their careers. Snow left it until very late in his own career before mentioning the incident. But there is no reason to imagine such approaches do not continue to be made on a regular basis.

I have never written of it before – it seemed too self-aggrandising, and until now not particularly pertinent to any piece I was writing – but a decade or so ago, I was quietly “sounded out” by a British diplomat. He wanted to see if I would supply the Foreign Office with off-the-record information on my specialist subject: the Palestinian minority in Israel. I refused, and the official dropped contact.

Given that I am a left-wing, freelance journalist far from the center of power, I was left wondering how common it is for better-placed, more mainstream journalists, ones who mix regularly with British officials, to be on the receiving end of such offers. Presumably an initial, low-key approach like the one made to me is intended to see how amenable a journalist might be to becoming more involved with the intelligence services. Mutual trust is gradually built.

ON THE CIA PAYROLL

Back in 1977, Carl Bernstein, who was, alongside Bob Woodward, one of the world’s most famous journalists thanks to their reporting of the Watergate scandal, turned his attention to the extent of collusion between the U.S. media and the CIA. His engagement with this contentious subject likely damaged his career – at least compared to Woodward, who spent his later years continuing to make a name for himself hanging around the Oval Office relaying insider gossip.

Bernstein’s interest in the relationship between the intelligence services and journalists probably derived from his own Watergate experiences. Ultimately, he and Woodward got their scoop – later turned into a book, then a film called “All the President’s Men” – not only through hard graft but because they were used as pawns in a high-level power battle.

As would become public knowledge in 2005, Deep Throat, the insider who gave them the leads they needed to bring down President Richard Nixon, was Mark Felt, then the FBI’s associate director and a loyalist of longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Felt had a score to settle with Nixon after he was passed over for the top job at the bureau when Hoover died.

Woodward knew Felt from his navy days, and had cultivated a relationship with his man in the FBI long before Watergate. Those long-term ties had presumably assisted them both: Felt because he could release stories that helped the bureau secretly shape the public narrative, and Woodward because he had access to information that gave him an edge over rival journalists.

Bernstein’s mammoth investigation in 1977 for Rolling Stone exposed the collusion between the CIA and journalists – collusion that had parallels with that between Woodward and Felt. Bernstein found evidence in the agency’s files that at least 400 U.S. journalists had “secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency”.

Bernstein observed:

“Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors without‑portfolio for their country. Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work; stringers and freelancers who were as interested in the derring‑do of the spy business as in filing articles; and, the smallest category, full‑time CIA employees masquerading as journalists abroad.”

CIA documents also showed, as Bernstein reported, that “journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.”

The agency particularly valued its relationship with more liberal U.S. outlets like The New York Times, Time magazine and CBS News, who were seen as more credible as vehicles for its information war. The CIA-recruited journalists signed secrecy agreements, pledging never to divulge their relationship to the agency. But in fact, as Bernstein makes clear, the existence of these CIA-journalists was an open secret in most newsrooms.

Bernstein suggests it was easy for the CIA to recruit journalists to carry out its covert work, and get editors to cooperate or turn a blind eye, because of the paranoid political climate produced by the Cold War. Journalists did not feel they were taking a side; they were supposedly involved in an existential fight to defend the right of people to live in freedom.

One has to wonder how much has changed in a world where the aggressively promoted threats of Islamist extremism, Russian “imperialism” and a more nebulous “clash of civilizations” obsess the West’s political class. Journalists are as susceptible to those fears as their predecessors were to the Cold War, and doubtless as easily manipulated.

IN THE SHADOWS

Investigative journalist Nick Davies dedicated a chapter of his 2009 book “Flat Earth News” to assess how deeply the Western intelligence services had penetrated the media, at home and abroad. Ultimately, Davies concedes, it is almost impossible to know, given that such collusion necessarily happens in the shadows.

Back in the mid-1970s, around the same time as Bernstein’s work, two Congressional committees – led by Senator Frank Church and House Representative Otis Pike – had set out to investigate the matter. This was the period, we should note, when Snow was being incentivised to spy on colleagues in the U.K.

As Bernstein points out, the Church Committee mostly covered up what it found; refused to question any of the journalists involved; accepted highly redacted, or “sanitized”, documents; and was heavily swayed by senior figures from the CIA, such as William Colby and George H. W. Bush. The Pike Committee fared little better, and publication of its findings were suppressed in the U.S.

Both Congressional investigations had been triggered by concerns, post-Watergate, about the dangers of presidential abuse of the CIA’s powers and the need for greater Congressional oversight.

Under this pressure, the CIA promised to wind down its activities and banned direct payments to journalists. But the powerlessness of Congress to truly get to grips with what the CIA was up to suggests that the agency likely refashioned the program in new ways.

In any case, the agency’s ability to control media coverage probably grew easier over time with the concentration of media ownership. The handful of giant corporations that now control almost all mainstream media in the U.S. share most of the security establishment’s concerns, just as ordinary journalists did during the Cold War.

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A PAPER IN EVERY CAPITAL

Nonetheless, in his book, Davies pieced together what he could from the available documents. They showed that in the post-war period the CIA had employed at least 800 covert journalist “assets” – reporters, editors, media owners – around the world, pumping out its disinformation. The figures included only those on the agency’s payroll, not those who cooperated with it, shared its aims, or were influenced by its briefings.

These journalists were likely operating as part of a wider CIA covert information war known as “Operation Mockingbird”. The aim was to conceal the agency’s covert or illegal foreign operations, such as its overthrow of democratic governments in Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954, and control the media’s coverage of foreign policy fiascos such as the failed U.S.-directed invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs in 1961.

To achieve these deceptions, as one CIA official admitted to the New York Times, the agency had investments in a large number of newspapers and TV stations around the world, and even covertly set up its own media outlets. “We had at least one newspaper in every foreign capital at any given time,” he said.

Operating outlets abroad meant the CIA could manipulate more convincingly the domestic news agenda. Once it had placed a false or skewed local story in an outlet it secretly owned – such as The Tokyo Evening News or Chile’s South Pacific Mail – news agencies like Reuters and Associated Press, as well as major U.S. TV stations and newspapers, could be relied on to pick it up and spread the CIA’s disinformation around the world. The agency could quickly turn the world’s media into its own echo chamber on any major topic. Thus, just as mockingbirds mimic the songs of other birds, so the media came to repeat CIA talking points.

In 1983 John Stockwell, a former head of the CIA’s Angola task force, explained on camera the ease with which the CIA channeled its propaganda through witting and unwitting journalists. “I had propagandists all over the world,” he observed. Referring to his involvement in a disinformation campaign against Cuba, he said:

“We pumped dozens of stories about Cuban atrocities, Cuban rapists [to the media]… We ran [faked] photographs that made almost every newspaper in the country… We didn’t know of one single atrocity committed by the Cubans. It was pure, raw, false propaganda to create an illusion of communists eating babies for breakfast.”

According to Stockwell, the CIA secretly sponsored the publication of thousands of propaganda books promoting its preferred angles on Vietnam, communism and U.S. foreign policy. Some of the authors, noted Stockwell, “are now distinguished scholars and journalists”.

The Pike Committee estimated conservatively from the limited documents it gained access to that almost a third of the CIA’s budget was spent on propaganda operations. It noted that the figure might be much higher. Even so, the sum was more than the combined budgets of the world’s three largest news agencies: Associated Press, UPI and Reuters.

The CIA and its British counterpart, MI6, could boast numerous agents in the foreign bureaux of all three international news agencies. The CIA even created its own news agency, sending stories to 140 newspapers around the globe.

CIA agents were also found to have been working in the most prestigious U.S. media outlets. The New York Times employed at least 10 of them. At various times, Newsweek’s editor, foreign editor, Washington bureau chief and a host of reporters were on the CIA’s books. Time magazine, Reader’s Digest and the Christian Science Monitor all cooperated closely with the agency. American television networks routinely allowed the CIA to monitor their newsrooms.

Davies cites a report in the Guardian from 1991 that the CIA was found to have made payments to 90 British journalists. MI6 presumably had a separate, and at least as large, cadre of senior U.K. journalists on the payroll.

During that period, Britain ran its own propaganda unit, the Information Research Department (IRD), which cultivated journalists in similar ways to the CIA. Its task, according to Declassified U.K., was “to discredit human rights figures, undermine political opponents overseas, help overthrow governments, and promote U.K. influence and commercial interests around the world.” The British government also used the IRD to damage anyone perceived to be a domestic opponent.

Earlier this month, Declassified U.K. revealed that, in 1971, the Australian government set up its own unit modeled on Britain’s IRD and recruited senior Australian journalists to collaborate with it.

CREDULOUS REPORTING

It would be foolish to imagine that, in this more complex information age, the U.S. and U.K. intelligence services’ influence over journalists has diminished. Both Cadwalladr and Mason’s cases illustrate how intimate those ties still are.

The New York Times “let go” one of its star reporters, Judith Miller, in 2005. Her reports of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction – coverage that was critical to rationalizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq in violation of international law – were utterly discredited by later developments. There were no WMDs in Iraq. Western inspectors had consistently said this, but their voices were drowned out by pro-war media. Miller, who claimed she was given special Pentagon security clearance, had been fed stories by U.S. intelligence agencies. She had acted as an uncritical conduit for CIA disinformation that was then repeated by other major outlets.

She was far from alone in channeling fake news from intelligence agencies in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. The New York Times apologized for its mistakes, promising it would learn from the episode. But it has been just as credulous in regurgitating the intelligence services’ claims in recent U.S. proxy wars and regime change attempts – in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Venezuela and elsewhere. Miller was not sacked because she served as a willing channel for Western disinformation. Rather, real-world events required the New York Times to make someone a sacrificial victim for its all-too-obvious failings over Iraq. She was the ideal scapegoat.

Institutional collusion with the intelligence services has also become all too evident at the Guardian, the New York Times’ U.K. counterpart. Declassified U.K. has documented how the the Guardian has been increasingly co-opted by the British intelligence services after its publication in 2013 of the Edward Snowden leaks. Among other things, those leaks revealed that the U.S. and U.K. were operating secret and illegal mass surveillance programmes.

At that time, the Guardian, unlike other British media outlets, had a well-publicized opposition to taking part in the supposedly voluntary D-notice system, run by the Ministry of Defense, to regulate information that might threaten national security. After the initial Snowden revelations from the Guardian, the D-Notice Committee issued a notice against further publication of information released by Snowden. Most British outlets either ignored the leaks or offered minimal coverage. The Guardian, however, defied the government’s advice.

Shortly afterwards, officials from GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the National Security Agency, arrived at the paper and ordered it to destroy the laptops containing the Snowden material. The paper complied, with deputy editor Paul Johnson overseeing the destruction. Soon, the D-Notice Committee was able to report that “engagement” with the Guardian was strengthening and there was “regular dialogue” with its staff. The “culmination”, as the committee referred to it, was Paul Johnson’s agreement to sit on the committee itself.

When in 2015 the Guardian appointed a new editor, Katharine Viner, whose background was in fashion journalism, the security services appeared to seize the chance to lure the newspaper into greater cooperation. A year later the paper boasted that it secured the “first newspaper interview given by an incumbent MI5 chief in the service’s 107-year history” – MI5 being Britain’s domestic intelligence service. The article was co-written by Johnson and headlined on Russia – what else – as a “growing threat” to the U.K. The Guardian would follow up with exclusive interviews with the heads of MI6 and with the U.K.’s most senior counter-terrorism officer. All were softball interviews in which the British security state was allowed to set the agenda.

Under Viner, a host of investigative journalists with experience of covering national security issues departed. A former Guardian journalist told Declassified U.K.,

“Effective scrutiny of the security and intelligence agencies – epitomized by the Snowden scoops but also many other stories – appears to have been abandoned… [It] sometimes seems the Guardian is worried about upsetting the spooks.”

Instead, the paper has focused on targeting those who are in the crosshairs of the intelligence services – most obviously Julian Assange, whose publication of leaked official documents in 2010 exposed U.S. and U.K. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recent years, as the U.S. has sought Assange’s extradition so it can lock him out of sight for up to 175 years, the Guardian has run a series of barely credible stories that appear to have been supplied to it by the intelligence services and clearly serve its interests. Those hit-pieces include articles written by Carole Cadwalladr and Luke Harding, and were discussed in part one.

As Declassified U.K. noted, the Guardian was also key to injecting credibility into a relentless media campaign to smear the then left-wing leader of Britain’s Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn. He was variously portrayed as a national security threat, a traitor and an antisemite. Again, the fingerprints of the security services were all over these stories. They had begun with an anonymous army general, interviewed by The Sunday Times, warning that the military “would use whatever means possible, fair or foul, to prevent” Corbyn becoming prime minister. The Guardian’s uncritical echoing of evidence-free claims of an antisemitism problem in Labour under Corbyn was particularly damaging because so many of the paper’s readers were traditional Labour voters.

DISAPPEARING NEO-NAZIS

The intelligence services’ cultivation of ties with journalists in an increasingly digital, more defused media environment is likely to be as covert as ever. But there are occasional, brief glimpses of what they may be up to. As mentioned in part one, it emerged in 2018 that national clusters of journalists, along with academics and politicians, were working with the opaque Integrity Initiative, a covert operation supposedly against “Russian disinformation” supported by the British Foreign Office and Defense Ministry. The Initiative’s registered address in Scotland turned out to be an abandoned, semi-derelict mill. Its real offices were eventually tracked down to a plush part of central London.

The Integrity Initiative’s British cluster included some well-known names in British journalism. Its real aim was – once again – to paint independent media and left-wing politicians critical of Western wars as in the pocket of Russia and Vladimir Putin. The Initiative was also found to have been involved in efforts to bring down Corbyn.

The media’s memory-holing of the Snowden revelations and its silence on Assange’s persecution – despite the very obvious threat posed to a free press – are themselves an indication of the degree to which the establishment media share the aims of the security state and are complicit in its narrative manipulations.

Coverage of the West’s recent proxy wars have provided further clues as to the extent of that collusion. It has been hard to ignore the establishment media’s uncritical promotion of narratives in Syria and Ukraine that look suspiciously like they were crafted by Western intelligence agencies. That has involved some stunning about-turns in their coverage that should set alarm bells ringing with observers.

In Ukraine, that has been evident in the media’s frantic efforts to obscure its own recent concerns about neo-Nazi groups like the Azov Battalion being integrated into the Ukrainian military, and portray any attempt to remind us of that earlier coverage as Russian disinformation.

Those maneuvers echo similarly desperate moves by the establishment media to obscure the fact that groups allied to al-Qaeda and Islamic State ended up comprising the bulk of the “rebel” forces in Syria. Only a short time earlier, both had been regarded as the West’s most fearsome foes.

Russia was revived as the West’s number one enemy about the time the media – and the intelligence services – found themselves unable to continue fearmongering about Islamist extremists because those groups needed to be transformed into our allies in Syria.

In both conflicts, it has been hard not to notice too how easily the establishment media has been swayed not by facts on the ground but by what look more like branding exercises guided by Western marketing firms.

Ukraine’s president, Volodomyr Zelensky, reportedly took time out of his schedule last week to brainstorm with “marketing professionals” at Cannes about how to use “creative ingenuity” to keep the war in the spotlight, after earlier opening the film festival. Last week too, he made an appearance on a giant video screen at the popular Glastonbury music festival in the U.K. On each occasion, wore his now-signature designer wartime outfits.

WHITE HELMETS RINGFENCED

Similarly, the White Helmets have received unquestioning adulation from the Western media. A hagiographic documentary on their work was even awarded an Oscar. Yet the mysterious emergency rescue outfit appears only to work in areas of Syria controlled by jihadist groups the West has previously opposed for their human rights abuses and mistreatment of women and girls.

Liberal media has gone all-out to ringfence the White Helmets – and their jihadist allies – from journalistic and academic scrutiny. Independent journalists brave, or foolish, enough to try to break through this cordon sanitaire have found themselves smeared, and accused of spreading disinformation on Russia’s behalf. Western intelligence agencies have every incentive to malign these critics because the White Helmets are a central pillar upholding claims that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, assisted by Russia, used chemical weapons against his own people in rebel-held areas.

If the White Helmets are a credible, neutral humanitarian movement – a Syrian version of the Red Cross – then the media might be justified in treating their claims of atrocities by Assad uncritically. But if they are really a partisan rescue service involved in rebranding Islamist extremism to promote the goal of Western-sponsored regime change in Syria, then the media needs to be skeptical and scrutinize their every assertion. The establishment media has adopted the first approach, ignoring any indication that the White Helmets might not be quite what they seem.

That failure has been thrown into especially stark relief by the media’s extraordinary refusal to publicize the testimonies of whistleblowing inspectors at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Those whistleblowers say their findings at one site of an alleged chemical attack, at Douma in 2018, were rewritten by their own management under threats from the U.S.

The media’s silence is all the more astounding given that Jose Bustani, a former head of the OPCW, and Hans von Sponeck, the U.N.’s former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, have found the whistleblowers’ allegations credible and urged that they be investigated.

The story, if confirmed, has the potential to unravel much of the narrative in Syria jointly promoted by the Western intelligence services and the establishment media. Which is why any effort to examine it more closely is being crushed. If Douma was a staged attack rather than one carried out by Assad’s forces, as the whistleblowing inspectors’ evidence suggests, it would implicate the White Helmets in the deception – and possibly the murder of the civilians alleged to have been gassed in Douma. It could also mean that other chemical attacks assigned to Assad might have been the responsibility of jihadists.

That is why the stakes are so high. It may also explain why there has been an incessant stream of stories in liberal media outlets shoring up the Western narrative by smearing once again as a Russian asset any journalist tackling the subject in a critical manner.

The media’s defamation campaigns have been assisted by various, “expert” bodies, seemingly cut-outs covertly funded by Western governments, such as Bellingcat, the Institute for Strategic Studies (the parent “charity” of the Integrity Initiative) and, most recently, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. These organizations produce smear-laden reports on which the establishment media builds its hollow case against independent media.

This month, the Guardian ran the latest of its evidence-free smear pieces designed to silence independent journalists and protect the White Helmets. The article accuses independent journalists of being part of a supposedly Russian-backed disinformation “network”. The piece implicitly discredits the OPCW whistleblowers by ignoring their existence and instead attributing their claims to “a core of 28 conspiracy theorists”.

Despite its grand claims, the paper provides no evidence of any collusion between Russia and the named independent journalists, or even between the journalists themselves, that might justify labeling them a network, let alone a Russian-backed one. Nor does the article provide any examples of what disinformation these journalists are supposedly spreading – apart from their questioning of the actions of Western states.

In The Guardian, @TownsendMark calls me “the most prolific spreader of disinformation” on Syria. His source is a study by the ISD think tank.

Mark has failed to:

-contact me
-offer an example of my alleged “disinformation”
-disclose that ISD is funded by US, UK & allied states pic.twitter.com/qnmN7npYr9

— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) June 19, 2022


Aaron Maté, who is named, has been one of the main channels by which the OPCW whistleblowers have been able to make public their concerns about the organization’s tampering with their findings in its final report. And yet the Guardian makes no mention that Maté’s supposed “disinformation” is actually sourced directly from OPCW inspectors themselves. The Guardian article is, in fact, exactly what it accuses independent media of being: pure disinformation (from Western intelligence agencies).

The BBC has been ready with the smears too. It ran an extraordinarily lengthy, though flimsy, podcast series trying to shore up the humanitarian credentials of James Le Mesurier, a former U.K. military intelligence officer who founded the White Helmets in 2014. Shortly after he had been accused of embezzling donor money, Le Mesurier fell to his death from an apartment in an Istanbul building, in what was judged to be a suicide.

The BBC series, “Mayday”, however, spent an inordinate amount of time trying to deflect attention from these facts. Instead, it sanitized Le Mesurier and the White Helmets’ reputation, implied independent journalists and academics had tipped Le Mesurier into suicide through their criticisms, and, like the Guardian, sought to discredit the OPCW whistleblowers.

MI6 could not have done a better job. When Maté posed a series of questions over the programme’s “smears, gaping omissions, leaps of logic, and factual errors”, Mayday’s producers went to the ground. The BBC journalist who fronted Mayday, Chloe Hadjimatheou, repeated the formula last month for BBC Radio 4 with “Ukraine: The Disinformation War”, covering much the same ground and defaming many of the same targets. Once again, Hadjimatheou has failed to respond to criticisms.

REAL-WORLD MARVEL UNIVERSE

There are a whole raft of reasons why journalists working for the establishment media end up parroting the narratives of Western intelligence agencies engaged in an information war against critics that very much include independent media.

It would be naïve in the extreme to imagine that the establishment media severed its well-documented connections with the intelligence services back in the 1970s. Some journalists are doubtless still on the payroll and operating covertly, even if that number is probably small. Most, however, don’t need payment. By temperament and circumstance, they are extremely susceptible to the West’s sophisticated influence campaigns.

The tools at the disposal of Western security services, so ready to accuse Russia of using troll farms, grow all the time. The West has its own troll armies, enthusiastically spreading the work of intelligence cut-outs like Bellingcat and the Institute for Strategic Studies.

Last year, Newsweek revealed an undercover army of at least 60,000 operatives run by the Pentagon that used “masked identities” to exert influence on the digital world: “The explosion of Pentagon cyber warfare, moreover, has led to thousands of spies who carry out their day-to-day work in various made-up personas, the very type of nefarious operations the United States decries when Russian and Chinese spies do the same.”

There are a variety of reasons why journalists working for establishment media outlets so readily follow scripts written for them by Western intelligence agencies. In part, journalists successful in establishment media are products of lengthy selection processes effected through their upbringing, social class and education. Those who reach influential media positions are sympathetic to, and easily swayed by, the kinds of narratives that present Western states as the good guys fighting evil foes and Western crimes as unfortunate mistakes that cannot be compared to the atrocities committed by enemies. Like the public, Western journalists are socialized to interpret events as though we inhabit a real-world Marvel universe where our side is a mix of Captain America and Iron Man. As Noam Chomsky once observed to the BBC’s Andrew Marr during an interview:

“I’m not saying you’re self-censoring. I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that, if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”

In any case, Western journalists work inside large media corporations where they will not survive long unless they submit – mostly unconsciously – to the dominant corporate culture. Further proving Chomsky’s point, Marr claimed on another occasion that his “Organs of Opinion were formally removed” when he began working at the BBC. It was an extreme, fundamentalist view that suggested Marr believed he and the BBC – funded by, and accountable to, the British state – were able to divine absolute, eternal truths that they then disinterestedly passed on to viewers.

In fact, as the consolidation of corporate America continues, the situation for critically-minded journalists working in the establishment media grows ever worse. Media corporations have diversified their interests in ways that entrench them even more deeply in a neocolonial ideology that seeks both absolute control over global resources and their exploitation, and profits from the war, surveillance and security industries that enforce that control.

It is no accident that media corporations produce Hollywood fare that encourages the Western public to identify with superheroes and reduces the world to black-and-white struggles. Independent journalists trying to question this simple-minded narrative are easily cast as Thanos.

On top of that, any journalist trying to look into the darkest corners of Western foreign policy can be herded back into the fold through threats – if not from their editors, then from the security services, as the Guardian’s Paul Johnson experienced at first hand. The security state has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. Complicit social media can punish independent-minded reporters through its algorithms, starving them of readers. Complicit online financial services like PayPal can punish independent journalists by starving them of income, as happened to MintPress and Consortium News. And if all that fails, there is always the example of Julian Assange, whose head has been displayed on a pike in London over the past decade – as was once the norm in Medieval times for those who angered the king – initially outside the Ecuadorian embassy and now outside Belmarsh high-security prison.

In the circumstances, it is surprising that there are any journalists left who are not simply regurgitating what the intelligence services tell them. The rapid rise of independent media may soon look like a brief, digital aberration in our media landscape – unless we dig in and fight the security state to keep the spirit of critical journalism alive.

https://libya360.wordpress.com/2022/07/ ... he-wagons/
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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