Censorship, fake news, perception management

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu May 23, 2019 1:35 pm

Sick of fake news? Get yours from Ghana!
US ‘Deliberately Ignores’ OPCW Report Noting Douma Chemical Attack Was Staged
US ‘Deliberately Ignores’ OPCW Report Noting Douma Chemical Attack Was Staged

Recent remarks made by the US State Department regarding Syria’s alleged intention to renew its use of chemical weapons show the agency is deliberately ignoring a report from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that stated last year’s chemical attack in Douma was staged, former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford told Sputnik.

"The May 19 alleged attack in northwest Syria is part of a violent campaign by the Assad regime that violates a ceasefire that has protected several million civilians in the greater Idlib area," the US State Department wrote in its press release Tuesday, referring to recent alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. The release also adds that "the facts are clear" and that "the Assad regime itself has conducted almost all verified chemical weapons attacks that have taken place in Syria — a conclusion the United Nations has reached over and over again."

​In addition, the US and its allies continue to claim that the Syrian government is responsible for a series of chemical attacks, particularly one in Syria's Douma on April 7, 2018, blatantly ignoring evidence that exonerates Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

AP Photo / Alfonso Perez Alleged Chemical Weapons Use in Syria Needs Investigation, Not Accusations - Moscow

On May 13, the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media unveiled an unpublished report by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission, saying that the alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government last year, which were used to justify retaliatory strikes in a Damascus suburb by the US, UK and France shortly thereafter, were in fact staged by Syrian rebels.
The OPCW document reveals that the "dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the [chlorine] cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft."

"In one event a chlorine canister that was damaged on another occasion was placed on the roof with its head inserted into an existing crater hole, and in the other case a damaged chlorine cylinder was placed on a bed supposedly after it penetrated the building roof and bounced from its original trajectory into a bed. In both cases the damage to the chlorine cylinders was incompatible with the damage to the surroundings that was allegedly caused by the cylinder impacts," Theodore Postol, professor of science, technology and international security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the Institute for Public Accuracy.
"As such, 35 deaths that were originally attributed to these staged chlorine events cannot be explained, and it cannot be ruled out that these people were murdered as part of the staging effort."

This picture taken on May 22, 2019 shows smoke plumes rising from the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun in the southern countryside of the rebel-held Idlib province. ©

AFP 2019 / Anas AL-dyab US Cannot Confirm Reports of Use of Chemical Weapons in Idlib - Envoy for Syria

The alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on May 19 "appears to be… a claim made by a hospital working in an area controlled by the the Al-Qaeda affiliates in Idlib, that some of their guys came in coughing and wheezing and there was a smell of chlorine," Ford told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker on Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear.

"And the [US] State Department, as it usually does, just took it at face value… that chemical weapons are being used by Syria. Isn't it strange that this happened just when this scandal is erupting? It's been slow-burning news because the mainstream media has been very reluctant to take it up, the story, as we know, that… [OPCW] engineers [discredited] the official narrative that Assad helicopters dropped gas canisters. The engineers completely discredited this, and their report was hushed up. Isn't it odd that these latest claims come through just as this story is beginning to get some leg?" Ford noted.
"It [the recent US press release] very deliberately ignores the hard news about the leak of the OPCW internal report, which effectively concluded that the jihadis fabricated the scene in Douma. This is what the US, Britain and France want to ignore. They want to kick up a sandstorm with fresh allegations and reheat all the incredible allegations to try to distract attention from this bombshell, this absolute bombshell, this hushed up report… They drummed up support for official narrative; they're not going to be the ones to highlight the news that they were all all wrong," Ford said.

In this Sept. 19, 2013, file photo, smoke rises after a TNT bomb was thrown from a helicopter (archive) ©
AP Photo / Terror Chemical Attack Plotted in Syria's Idlib, Aleppo - Russian MoD

Following the US Department of State's press release, the Russia Ministry of Defense accused Syrian rebels operating in the Idlib de-escalation zone of equipping ammunition "for the performance of so called use of chemical weapons against the civilian population by the government troops."
However, despite the leaked OPCW internal report, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus rejected the Russian allegations against the White Helmets and others in a statement, claiming they are "part of a continuing disinformation campaign by the Assad regime and Russia to create the false narrative that others are to blame for chemical weapons attacks that the Assad regime itself is conducting."Source: sputniknews.com

https://ghanaguardian.com/us-deliberate ... test-posts
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu May 23, 2019 1:48 pm



US Navy Wants An Archive Of 350 Billion Social Media Posts In All Languages "For Research"

The US Navy posted a solicitation asking for bids by contractors who are willing to amass an archive of 350 billion social media posts spanning between July 1st, 2014 and December 31st, 2016.

The solicitation says that the data would all come from one social media platform and it will be in all languages that it offers, but it doesn’t specify which platform in question is.

“Data includes messages from at least 200 million unique users in at least 100 countries, with no single country accounting for more than 30% of users.

Data must include messages written in at least 60 languages, with at least 50% of the messages written in non-English languages.”

Furthermore, the date and timestamps should be included, as well as the entire text and not simply a quote from a post.

It should further include information about whereabouts of the user that posted it. All publicly-available metadata would be gathered, such as country, language, hashtags, location, handle, timestamp, and URLs, that were associated with the original posting. According to it “no private communications or private user data” will be included in the database, apparently where you live and your name is not private enough.

“Approximate location information, providing self-reported user hometowns, or other publicly available geo-location information, must be included for at least 20% of the records.”

The Navy plans to use the archive for “ongoing research efforts” into the “evolution of linguistic communities” and “emerging modes of collective expression, over time and across countries.”

“We seek to acquire a large-scale global historical archive of social media data, providing the full text of all public social media posts, across all countries and languages covered by the social media platform,” the solicitation reads.

SHFTPlan reminded that in 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a notice asking contractors to bid on a database that tracks 290,000 global news sources in over 100 languages. The contract further planned to keep tabs on “influencers,” raising fears that it could be used to monitor journalists.

It appears that the death of freedom of speech and independent journalist is quite quickly reaching its advent.

It should be reminded that just a few days ago in France, a country that is ranked among the top 50 of Press Freedom on the global rankings, is threatening to send 3 investigative journalists to prison for sharing secret documents without government approval.

https://southfront.org/us-navy-wants-an ... -research/

It should be noted that the Navy has always been the military branch with a grand strategic outlook.
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu May 23, 2019 3:32 pm

The Disinformationists
CJ Hopkins

Above: A Russian spy whale from Russia. You can tell because of the spy harness.

So, the election-meddling Putin-Nazi disinformationists are at it again! Oh yes, while Americans have been distracted by Russiagate, Obstructiongate, Redactiongate, or whatever it’s being called at this point, here in Europe, we are purportedly being bombarded with Russian “disinformation” aimed at fomenting confusion and chaos in advance of the upcoming EU elections, which are due to take place in less than two weeks.

The New York Times reports that an entire “constellation” of social media accounts “linked to Russia and far-right groups” is disseminating extremist “disinformation,” “encouraging discord,” and “amplifying distrust in the centrist parties that have governed for decades.”

These accounts share some of the same “digital fingerprints,” and are engaging in “tactics” similar to the “tactics used in previous Russian attacks,” notably the Kremlin’s notorious mass-brainwashing of millions of defenseless African Americans with those deceptive anti-masturbation memes during the 2016 elections.

Now, this is not just a bunch of nonsense dressed up with authoritative-sounding lingo. No, The Times spoke to “analysts” and “advocacy groups,” which informed them that certain websites in Italy “share the same signatures” as certain other websites sharing certain “pro-Kremlin views.”

Moreover, two “political groups” in Germany used the same Internet service providers as those “Russian hackers” who attacked our democracy by stealing those Democratic Party emails that transformed Americans overnight into a nation of Trump-loving white supremacists!

That hasn’t happened here in Europe yet, but I’m not sure how much longer we can hold out against this relentless onslaught. According to an “analysis” concocted by some cloud-based cybersecurity firm and authoritatively cited by Politico, at this point, “more than half of Europeans might have seen some form of disinformation” spread by “Russians” on social media.

They might have been exposed to “extremist views” and “amplified content” possibly produced by the far-right Alternative for Germany party, and even (God help them!) supporters of Brexit.

SafeGuard Cyber (the cybersecurity firm in question, which offers “digital risk protection and empowers businesses to embrace new technologies,” or whatever mumbo jumbo it says on their website) identified, and is now presumably surveilling on a more or less around the clock basis, “a vast network of automated social media accounts allegedly controlled by Russian actors” which is spreading this “amplified extremist content.”

Although Politico “was unable to independently verify” whether the social media accounts the SafeGuard Cyber analysis “identified” (and used to generate a meaningless graph) were in any way actually linked to Russia, and although SafeGuard Cyber would not provide Politico with a list of the users it assured Politico were “linked to Russia,” SafeGuard Cyber’s CTO informed Politico that his team of experts had used “more than 50 identifiers,” among them, the location from which the messages were sent and “activity linked to Russian interests,” to identify these “Russian actors” who are exposing innocent Europeans and expatriate Americans like myself to Lord knows what kind of jargon-laden, dangerously amplified, extremist content in order to disinform and confuse us.

And it’s not just the upcoming EU elections that the Putin-Nazi disinformationists are targeting.

An outfit called Global Security Review, which “publishes objective, solutions-oriented insight into geopolitical issues” which can be authoritatively referenced by the corporate media to lend whatever story they are pushing an air of credibility, warn that Russia is conducting a campaign to “overwhelm democracies” with disinformation!

According to the experts at GSR, Putin-Nazi disinformationists working for Russia Today and Sputnik brainwashed the citizens of Catalonia into voting for their independence from Spain with a network of bots (or “zombie accounts”).

In France, they brainwashed the Gilets Jaunes protesters into attacking the windows of upscale stores and setting fire to luxury vehicles by “magnifying the brutality of the French police,” who have been doing their utmost to show restraint as they shoot people’s eyes out with rubber bullets and indiscriminately tear-gas the hell out of everyone.

And then there’s the evil Russian spywhale, which the disinformationists want us to believe is just a harmless “therapy Beluga” for kids, but which has clearly been strapped with some sort of monstrous, mind-controlling apparatus that enables the Kremlin to remotely implant a host of dangerous “populist” ideas in the brains of defenseless Norwegian fishermen, weaponizing them into a horde of neo-Odinist Viking berserkers who will scream down out of Scandinavia and storm the EU Parliament in Brussels smelling of akvavit and fermented shark.

These Putin-Nazi disinformationists are not to be confused with the corporate media, or other sources of real information, like SafeGuard Cyber, Global Security Review, Bellingcat, Integrity Initiative, The Atlantic Council, E.U. East StratCom Task Force, Foreign Policy Research Institute, and countless other companies, foundations, think tanks, and intelligence agency fronts. These are legitimate information providers, who would never try to disinform the public to serve any sort of corporatist agenda, or to generate any kind of mass hysteria over “terrorists,” “Russians,” “fascists,” or “populists.”

OK, granted, these sources are not perfect, but it’s not like they intentionally lied about those non-existent WMDs in Iraq, or those babies that weren’t yanked out of their incubators, or those nerve gas canisters that Assad didn’t drop, or when Russia didn’t hack the Vermont power grid, or attack us with crickets, or hack into CSPAN, or “collude” with Trump via a secret server, or when Manafort didn’t meet with Assange, or when Corbyn didn’t lay a wreath for terrorists, and all the other things that didn’t happen … no, they just got their stories “wrong,” over and over, and over again.

Plus, what motive would they possibly have, these enormous corporate media conglomerates, and the transnational corporations that own them, and these intelligence agencies, and their fronts and cutouts, and corporate lobbyists and PR firms, and councils, and think tanks, and research institutes, to disinform the Western masses, or to manufacture an official narrative that allows them to systematically stigmatize, marginalize, criminalize, deplatform, demonetize, and otherwise eliminate any type of speech they deem to be “Russian disinformation,” or “extremist content,” or a “conspiracy theory,” or simply too “dangerous,” “divisive,” or “confusing” to circulate among the general public?

No … see? That makes no sense. That’s just an example of the type of fascist disinformation these Putin-Nazi disinformationists are trying to spread to confuse us to the point where we can’t even concentrate long enough to think anymore, or parse the meaningless jargon-laden nonsense they’re trying to deceive us with, and just devolve into these Pavlovian imbeciles conditioned to respond to specific trigger words, like “extremist,” “terrorist,” “fascist,” “populist,” “anti-Semitic,” “Russians,” “hackers,” and whatever other emotional stimuli we are being trained to instantly recognize and robotically react to like circus animals.

Or … I don’t know, maybe it isn’t. I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say. Probably they’ve already got to me. I’d better get back down into my anti-disinformation bunker, pull up The Guardian, or The Washington Post, or Der Spiegel on my child-proof computer, and immerse myself in some objective journalism, before the Putin-Nazi spywhale makes its way up the Landwehrkanal, takes control of what’s left of my mind, and forces me into going out and trying to vote for Hitler or something.

I recommend you do the same, and I’ll see you when this nightmare over.

https://off-guardian.org/2019/05/21/the ... ationists/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sun May 26, 2019 12:47 pm

The internet...

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:27 am

Sky News and the Western Press Have Once Again Failed Syria
By whitewashing the role of the Idlib mercenaries and extremist groups, the Western press acts as de facto protection racketeers for the very forces exploiting civilians as human shields in Idlib and preventing their exodus via the Russian/Syrian-established humanitarian corridors.

by Vanessa Beeley


Recent storylines from the Western press on the “Idlib” narrative, particularly the extraordinary spate of “on-the-ground” reports from Sky News reporter Alex Crawford, have failed to paint an accurate picture of the reality faced by Syrian civilians.

Brett McGurk – the U.S. government’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL — described Idlib as “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11,” adding that the presence of Al Qaeda in Idlib was a “huge problem” and had been so “for some time.” Mint Press journalist Whitney Webb covered McGurk’s statements and U.S. policy in Idlib in late 2018.

McGurk’s statement seems to have been forgotten by both corporate media and “human rights” commentators alike since the Syrian Army’s military campaign to liberate areas of Idlib began in earnest a few weeks ago. In fact, there seems to be an ongoing campaign by the Western press to normalize militant groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.

On May 27, 2019 a headline in a Reuters article read “Idlib government chief urges defense against Assad attack” (emphasis added). The “head” of the Idlib “Salvation Government,” Fawaz Hilal, was calling upon Turkey to intervene on their behalf to protect them from SAA military advances.

While Reuters openly admits that the Salvation Government is heavily backed by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS)/Al Qaeda, there is minimal reference to the daily war crimes committed by armed groups against civilians in Syrian government-secured territory as a valid reason for the uptick in Syrian military operations to liberate areas of Idlib province.

The reader is ultimately left with the impression that the Salvation Government is legitimate Syrian “opposition” rather than an Al Qaeda construct established with the involvement of the notorious Abu Mohammed Al-Jolani.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants in Idlib execute Syrian civilians accused of working with Russia. These extrajudicial executions are commonplace in terrorist controlled areas of Syria. Photo | Iba’a

Even the partisan Crisis Group, which tends to lean heavily in favor of the U.S. Coalition, described the Salvation Government’s clear Al Qaeda affiliations and its role in securing financing for the violent, extremist organization. A January 2019 Crisis Group report concluded:

The centrepiece of HTS’s project is the ‘Salvation Government,’ formed in November 2017 … For HTS, the Salvation Government seems to be both a political project and a money-making tool.”

Supposed to be a safe place
Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and former European director of Human Rights Watch, told the BBC:

Idlib was supposed to be a safe place. Where war should not be, so it has to end. We cannot have war take place in what is essentially a refugee camp.”

SYRIA: As air raid attacks intensify across #Idlib, Secretary General @NRC_Egeland tells @BBCWorld news: "Idlib was supposed to be a safe place. Where war should not be, so it has to end. We cannot have war take place in what is essentially a refugee camp."

1:01 PM - May 29, 2019
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Egeland “disappeared” the estimated 120,000 terrorist fighters controlling the majority of Idlib province and pockets of northern Hama. Aleppo MP and head of the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce, Fares Shehabi, told the BBC in September 2018 that 100,000 extremist fighters were controlling Idlib, 40,000 of whom were “hard-core radicals.”

Shehabi has since told me that he believes the numbers to have increased to 120,000 extremist fighters, with up to 50,000 hard-core radicals that Shehabi says includes large numbers of foreign mercenaries, hardline soldiers from around the world. While these numbers may be on the high side, it is clear that the size of the Al Qaeda-dominated force in Idlib is alarming.

Armed extremists leaving Al Waer, Homs for Idlib in January 2018. Some of the fighters’ clothing bore Nusra Front insignia. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

Considerable numbers of “hard-core” extremists were bused to Idlib after the liberation of East Aleppo, Homs, Eastern Ghouta and southern provinces of Syria from December 2016 through July/August 2018 as part of Syrian government amnesty and reconciliation deals.

By whitewashing the role of the Idlib mercenaries and extremist groups — which include Jaish Al Islam, who ruled Douma with a regime of torture, execution, slave labor and imprisonment — the Western press has acted as de facto protection racketeers for the very forces exploiting civilians as human shields in Idlib and preventing their exodus via the Russian/Syrian-established humanitarian corridors.

SMM Syria
⚡️⚡️MUST WATCH⚡️⚡️
Residents of refugee camp in #Atme village (northern #Idlib CS) suffer from #HTS activities. Motivated by financial benefit, jihadists force displaced #Syria|ns to leave the camp! It would be useful video for western audience to realize who rules in Idlib...

9:23 AM - Jun 6, 2019
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This is a familiar pattern that was seen previously during the liberation of East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, when extremist groups would shell or snipe fleeing civilians, often blaming the crimes on advancing SAA forces.

A narrow escape?
Sky News’ Alex Crawford first produced a story from inside Idlib, claiming her team had been “deliberately” targeted by Syrian government forces. Crawford and her team said a Syrian drone had zeroed in on them, relaying their location to the SAA.
Louisa Loveluck

“The Sky News crew - clearly identified as journalists - was deliberately targeted and attacked by Syrian regime forces using military drones to pinpoint our location, before launching a series of strikes.” https://news.sky.com/story/sky-news-cre ... s-11727044

2:56 PM - May 23, 2019
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Crawford Idlib
Syria: Sky News witnesses horrors of Syria's last rebel outpost
Sky's Alex Crawford says the crew was attacked with tank shells, as an activist they were travelling with was hit by shrapnel.

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Crawford most likely entered Idlib via the Turkish border and was being escorted by the HTS fighters on motorbikes, which were visible in a longer video published by Sky News. Under these circumstances and in the midst of an ongoing military campaign, traveling with a known extremist group through their enclave while they were actively engaged in combat with the Syrian Army would indicate that the SAA was not targeting journalists, but instead the extremists with whom they traveled.

The military drones — which Crawford alleges were used to “pinpoint” her team’s location prior to a “deliberate” attack — were never shown in the video produced by Sky News, nor is there any sound of drone activity in the video. This reporter has heard drones in action in Gaza during the 2012 Israeli offensive and their sound is very audible, particularly when they descend to attack or close-surveillance altitude.

A screenshot from the Sky News report shows Crawford’s team lacking any ‘press’ tabards

Crawford and the Sky News team also don’t appear to be wearing “Press” tabards or helmets in their video report, although it is difficult to distinguish much at all in the report, save a lot of confusion and expletives from Crawford.

An HTS or affiliated fighter on a motorbike in footage from Sky News. Screenshot | Sky News

Crawford’s Sky News report carried the headline: “Syria: Sky News witnesses horrors of Syria’s last rebel outpost” (emphasis added), reducing HTS — an established terror group — to simply “rebels.”

The “civilian activist” described by Crawford in her report is none other than Nusra Front acolyte Bilal Abdul Kareem, who is (by his own admission) on the U.S terrorist “kill list.” In a July 2018 Rolling Stone article, Kareem claimed that he was tipped off by a Turkish source that “he had been put on a list of targets at Incirlik Air base, a launching pad for American drones.”

Bilal Abdul Kareem is pictured with the leader of an armed militant group in Aleppo, Syria. Photo | OGN

Crawford’s working with Kareem, while wearing a “long black abaya” without any press identification in HTS-held territory, was not only a foolhardy enterprise, but a very risky endeavor in a time of war.

Sky News is not the first media outlet to collaborate with Kareem. In a July, 2017 article for Mint Press News, journalist Whitney Webb delved into Kareem’s working relationship with CNN when Kareem assisted in the making of the Clarissa Ward award winning documentary, “Undercover in Syria”.

Kareem was responsible for organising access to the extremist-held territory for the CNN team. In the article, Webb highlights the armed group members who were interviewed by journalist Max Blumenthal – who “confirmed that Kareem was a well-known member of al-Nusra and was commonly referred to as the “American mujahid.”

Was Crawford unaware of Kareem’s ties to Al Qaeda when the Sky News team chose him as their “activist” escort and fixer?

According to its report, Sky News retreated to the town of Khan Sheikhoun, another Nusra Front/HTS stronghold in Idlib. The ease of movement with which Sky News was able to traverse Idlib territory, which is amongst the most densely populated by Al Qaeda offshoots and extremist underling groups, without threat of kidnap or worse is perplexing. Journalists are regularly targeted or kidnapped by terrorist groups operating in Syria.

The last “last hospital”

When challenged on the veracity of her maiden report from Idlib, Crawford resorted to a tried and tested rallying cry for Western journalists still clamoring to paint Syria’s opposition forces as legitimate anti-government resistance – the last hospital:
Alex Crawford

To the apologists: targeting hospitals is a war crime whatever has happened in previous conflicts and whoever the attackers - east, west, whoever. No proper journalist is suggesting otherwise.

3:20 PM - May 29, 2019
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Crawford expressed outrage at the alleged targeting of “hospitals” by the Syrian government and its allies. The “last hospital” narrative, previously used heavily in East Aleppo, comprised repeatedly recycled sensationalist headlines that the Syrian government and its allies were deliberately targeting the last remaining hospital in a given area during the final stages of liberation from armed groups — a narrative discredited by independent journalists reporting on the ground in Aleppo during the final stages of the military campaign to liberate East Aleppo from the grip of international terrorism.

Civilians arrive at the Jebrin registration center in December 2016 after fleeing armed militant groups to government-controlled areas during the liberation of East Aleppo. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

I covered the “last hospital” narrative in a separate article for MintPress, where I highlight how this narrative is deployed by many in the Western press as a distraction from the reality in Syria. It was previously brought into play — as the SAA were sweeping East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta clean of the occupying sectarian gangs — in order to effectively protect the extremist militants who had ruled these areas for more than five years, inflicting their brutal, violent ideology upon captive civilians. The narratives served to effectively delay the release from occupation for these civilians, who were desperate to escape to the safety of government-held areas.

Idlib reality succinctly described

Peter Ford, former U.K. ambassador to Syria, explained the current operations in Idlib very succinctly:

In brief, what is happening at the moment is not a full-scale assault by Syrian government forces aimed at liberating the whole of Idlib. Rather it is a limited operation, the main goal of which is to chip away at the southern fringes of what is effectively the Al Qaeda caliphate.”

The reporting from the likes of Alex Crawford and Sky News does not convey this reality nor does it reveal the existence of the Al Qaeda caliphate described by Ford. Crawford has entirely disappeared the extremist group’s aggression against the border towns and villages which has been ongoing since the establishment of the “deconfliction zones” in September 2018 and which entirely validates the Syrian military response to defend civilians against further bloodshed to halt those violations.

It must also not be forgotten that another of the Sochi agreement terms was the freeing up of the M5 highway that links Idlib to the rest of Syria and ultimately serves as the main trade route from Turkey to Syria and on into Jordan, whose trade borders with Syria have been successfully reopened after liberation of the south of Syria from the armed-group’s occupation.

Screenshot from an AJE video depicting hard-core extremists still occupying Idlib “deconfliction zones” after deadline had expired according to Sochi agreement; October 2018.

The HTS control of significant areas of the M5 route has prevented this agreed-upon development and is another reason for the recent intensification of Syrian allied military activity in Idlib — again ignored completely by the majority of the Western press, whose selective coverage plays into the hands of these extremist groups.

Were Sky News to adhere to true journalism ethics, it would identify Turkey, a member of NATO, as the cause of the recent military confrontation that is threatening civilian lives on both sides of the Idlib/Hama border. As Peter Ford states:

The jihadis have been bolstered with arms supplied by Turkey (including tanks and deadly U.S.-made TOW anti-tank weapons) and paid for by Qatar, which also pays salaries. As long as Turkey continues to prop up the jihadis and Qatar to fund them, fighting is likely to continue, with the [Syrian] government continuing to put its faith in softening up with aerial bombing and artillery shelling rather than risk its sparse ground forces.”

Ford even offers a pragmatic solution in Idlib, never presented or even examined by the Western press:

The only way realistically to limit the fighting is for Turkey to withdraw its support for the jihadis and let them melt back into the Turkish border zone where they could affiliate with the Turkish-controlled militias there. This would still leave a problem for later but Idlib could breathe.”

A deliberate attempt to mislead
There is no nuance to the Sky News reports, no analysis of complexity, no diverging opinions or context. Therefore, in my opinion, this is not journalism; it is a deliberate intent to mislead a gullible public fed a media diet of “war on terror” fear and insecurity for years. It is information bias and cynical misdirection of narratives designed to support U.S. military adventurism in Syria and the region.

After Crawford was taken to task by educated Twitter accounts, she put out a Tweet stating:

Sometimes, just sometimes, twitter and some on it, make me want to explode with frustration at the unregulated untruths and constant misrepresentation of facts without check.”

No, Ms. Crawford, what is happening is that people who inform themselves no longer accept unregulated untruths and constant misrepresentation of facts without check from media channels whose public trust has been irreparably eroded by years of falsification and obfuscation of “facts” in relation to the U.S. Coalition war waged against Syria since 2011.

The recently published documentary, The Veto, a collaboration between Syrian journalist Rafiq Lutf and this correspondent, exposes the depth of media complicity in sustaining the Syrian conflict and the level of fabrication by CNN and other mainstream channels that have heavily influenced public opinion against the Syrian government since the early days of the campaign to topple President Bashar Al Assad from power and to destabilize the country.

The true frustration explosion is the public response to the conversion of their media into a fifth column for power and the resulting mayhem, bloodshed and misery it brings to the peoples of countries targeted for regime change or resource plundering by the U.S. and allied globalist nations — powers that have zero regard for “human rights” when it comes to achieving their aims and no qualms about usurping any government or population that stands in their way.

We live in an unprecedented age of media and state deceit and the expression of frustration is a natural reaction when we wake up to this gaslighting abuse. Crawford and other establishment journalists who have effectively served the abusers — the state mind-controllers — need to be aware that the long-time victims are finally turning against them. They have two choices: to continue serving power or finally becoming agents of the people. Which will it be?

Feature photo | Armed extremists leaving Al Waer, Homs en route to Idlib in January 2018. The fighter at the forefront of the photograph is wearing a Nusra Front/Al Qaeda armband. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:20 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Documents expose how Hollywood promotes war on behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA
US military intelligence agencies have influenced over 1,800 movies and TV shows

Jul 4, 2017 · 10 min read
By Tom Secker and Matthew Alford

Plato’s Cave reimagined for the Hollywood era — copyright Derek Swansonn

Published by INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a crowdfunded investigative journalism project for people and planet. Support INSURGE to keep digging where others fear to tread.
Tom Secker and Matthew Alford report on their astonishing findings from trawling through thousands of new US military and intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The documents reveal for the first time the vast scale of US government control in Hollywood, including the ability to manipulate scripts or even prevent films too critical of the Pentagon from being made — not to mention influencing some of the most popular film franchises in recent years.
This raises new questions not only about the way censorship works in the modern entertainment industry, but also about Hollywood’s little known role as a propaganda machine for the US national security apparatus.
When we first looked at the relationship between politics, film and television at the turn of the 21st century, we accepted the consensus opinion that a small office at the Pentagon had, on request, assisted the production of around 200 movies throughout the history of modern media, with minimal input on the scripts.
How ignorant we were.
More appropriately, how misled we had been.
We have recently acquired 4,000 new pages of documents from the Pentagon and CIA through the Freedom of Information Act. For us, these documents were the final nail in the coffin.
These documents for the first time demonstrate that the US government has worked behind the scenes on over 800 major movies and more than 1,000 TV titles.
The previous best estimate, in a dry academic book way back in 2005, was that the Pentagon had worked on less than 600 films and an unspecified handful of television shows.
The CIA’s role was assumed to be just a dozen or so productions, until very good books by Tricia Jenkins and Simon Willmetts were published in 2016. But even then, they missed or underplayed important cases, including Charlie Wilson’s War and Meet the Parents.

Jon Voight in Transformers — in this scene, just after American troops have been attacked by a Decepticon robot, Pentagon Hollywood liaison Phil Strub inserted the line ‘Bring em home’, granting the military a protective, paternalistic quality, when in reality the DOD does quite the opposite.

Alongside the massive scale of these operations, our new book National Security Cinema details how US government involvement also includes script rewrites on some of the biggest and most popular films, including James Bond, the Transformers franchise, and movies from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes.
A similar influence is exerted over military-supported TV, which ranges from Hawaii Five-O to America’s Got Talent, Oprah and Jay Leno to Cupcake Wars, along with numerous documentaries by PBS, the History Channel and the BBC.
National Security Cinema also reveals how dozens of films and TV shows have been supported and influenced by the CIA, including the James Bond adventure Thunderball, the Tom Clancy thriller Patriot Games and more recent films, including Meet the Parents and Salt.
The CIA even helped to make an episode of Top Chef that was hosted at Langley, featuring then-CIA director Leon Panetta who was shown as having to skip dessert to attend to vital business. Was this scene real, or was it a dramatic statement for the cameras?

James Bond and Domino are rescued via a plane and skyhook that was loaned to the production by CIA front company Intermountain Aviation — Thunderball

The Military’s Political Censorship of Hollywood

When a writer or producer approaches the Pentagon and asks for access to military assets to help make their film, they have to submit their script to the entertainment liaison offices for vetting. Ultimately, the man with the final say is Phil Strub, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) chief Hollywood liaison.
If there are characters, action or dialogue that the DOD don’t approve of then the film-maker has to make changes to accommodate the military’s demands. If they refuse then the Pentagon packs up its toys and goes home. To obtain full cooperation the producers have to sign contracts — Production Assistance Agreements — which lock them into using a military-approved version of the script.
This can lead to arguments when actors and directors ad lib or improvise outside of this approved screenplay.
On set at Edwards Air Force base during the filming of Iron Man, there was an angry confrontation between Strub and director Jon Favreau.
Favreau wanted a military character to say the line, ‘People would kill themselves for the opportunities I have’, but Strub objected. Favreau argued that the line should remain in the film, and according to Strub:
‘He’s getting redder and redder in the face and I’m getting just as annoyed. It was pretty awkward and then he said, angrily, “Well how about they’d walk over hot coals?” I said “fine.” He was so surprised it was that easy.’
In the end, this compromised line did not appear in the finished film.

One of several scenes for Iron Man filmed at Edwards Air Force Base

It seems that any reference to military suicide — even an off-hand remark in a superhero action-comedy adventure — is something the DOD’s Hollywood office will not allow. It is understandably a sensitive and embarrassing topic for them, when during some periods of the ever-expanding and increasingly futile ‘War on Terror’, more US servicemen have killed themselves than have died in combat. But why shouldn’t a movie about a man who builds his own flying suit of armour not be able to include such jokes?
Another one-line quip that was censored by the DOD came in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.
When Bond is about to HALO jump out of a military transport plane they realise he’s going to land in Vietnamese waters. In the original script Bond’s CIA sidekick jokes ‘You know what will happen. It will be war, and maybe this time we’ll win.’
This line was removed at the request of the DOD.
Strangely, Phil Strub denied that there was any support for Tomorrow Never Dies, while the pre-eminent scholar in the field Lawrence Suid only lists the DOD connection under ‘Unacknowledged Cooperation’.
But the DOD are credited at the end of the film and we obtained a copy of the Production Assistance Agreement between the producers and the Pentagon.

Vietnam is evidently another sore topic for the US military, which also removed a reference to the war from the screenplay for Hulk (2003). While the military are not credited at the end of the film, on IMDB or in the DOD’s own database of supported movies, we acquired a dossier from the US Marine Corps detailing their ‘radical’ changes to the script.
This included making the laboratory where the Hulk is accidentally created into a non-military facility, making the director of the lab an ex-military character, and changing the code name of the military operation to capture the Hulk from ‘Ranch Hand’ to ‘Angry Man’.
‘Ranch Hand’ is the name of a real military operation that saw the US Air Force dump millions of gallons of pesticides and other poisons onto the Vietnamese countryside, rendering millions of acres of farmland poisoned and infertile.
They also removed dialogue referring to ‘all those boys, guinea pigs, dying from radiation, and germ warfare’, an apparent reference to covert military experiments on human subjects.
The documents we obtained further reveal that the Pentagon has the power to stop a film from being made by refusing or withdrawing support. Some movies such as Top Gun, Transformers and Act of Valor are so dependent on military cooperation that they couldn’t have been made without submitting to this process. Others were not so lucky.
The movie Countermeasures was rejected by the military for several reasons, and consequently never produced. One of the reasons is that the script included references to the Iran-Contra scandal, and as Strub saw it ‘There’s no need for us to… remind the public of the Iran-Contra affair.’
Similarly Fields of Fire and Top Gun 2 were never made because they couldn’t obtain military support, again due to politically controversial aspects of the scripts.
This ‘soft’ censorship also affects TV. For example, a planned Louis Theroux documentary on Marine Corps recruit training was rejected, and as a result was never made.
It is impossible to know exactly how widespread this military censorship of entertainment is because many files are still being withheld. The majority of the documents we obtained are diary-like reports from the entertainment liaison offices, which rarely refer to script changes, and never in an explicit, detailed way. However, the documents do reveal that the DOD requires a preview screening of any project they support and sometimes makes changes even after a production has wrapped.
The documents also record the pro-active nature of the military’s operations in Hollywood and that they are finding ways to get involved during the earliest stages of development, ‘when characters and storylines are most easily shaped to the Army’s benefit.’
The DOD’s influence on popular culture can be found at all stages of production, granting them the same kind of power as major studio executives.
Agencywood: The CIA and NSA’s Influence on Movie Scripts
Despite having far fewer cinematic assets the CIA has also been able to wield considerable influence on some of the projects they have supported (or refused to support).
There is no formal CIA script review process but the Agency’s long-serving entertainment liaison officer Chase Brandon was able to insert himself into the early stages of the writing process on several TV and film productions.

Brandon did this most prominently on the spy thriller The Recruit, where a new agent is put through CIA training at The Farm — an obvious vehicle for inducting the audience into that world and giving them a glimpse behind the curtain. The original story treatment and early drafts of the script were written by Brandon, though he is only credited on the film as a technical advisor, covering up his influence on the content.
The Recruit includes lines about the new threats of the post-Soviet world (including that great villainous justification for a $600 billion defense budget, Peru), along with rebuttals of the idea that the CIA failed to prevent 9/11. And it repeats the adage that ‘the CIA’s failures are known, but its successes are not’. All of this helped to propagate the idea that the Agency is a benevolent, rational actor in a chaotic and dangerous world.
The CIA has also managed to censor scripts, removing or changing sequences that they didn’t want the public to see. On Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal ‘verbally shared’ his script with CIA officers, and they removed a scene where a drunk CIA officer fires an AK-47 into the air from a rooftop in Islamabad, and removed the use of dogs from the torture scenes.
In a very different kind of film, the hugely popular romantic comedy Meet the Parents, Brandon requested that they change a scene where Ben Stiller’s character discovers Robert De Niro’s (Stiller’s father-in-law to be) secret hideaway. In the original script Stiller finds CIA torture manuals on a desk, but Brandon changed that to photos of Robert De Niro with various dignitaries.

Ben Stiller discovers that Robert De Niro is working for the CIA — Meet the Parents

Indeed, the CIA’s ability to influence movie scripts goes back to their early years. In the 1940s and 50s they managed to prevent any mention of themselves appearing in film and TV until North by Northwest in 1959. This included rejecting requests for production support, meaning that some films were never made, and censoring all references to the CIA in the script for the Bob Hope comedy My Favourite Spy.
The CIA even sabotaged a planned series of documentaries about their predecessor, the OSS, by having assets at CBS develop a rival production to muscle the smaller studio out of the market. Once this was achieved, the Agency pulled the plug on the CBS series too, ensuring that the activities of the OSS remained safe from public scrutiny.
While very little is known about the NSA’s activities in the entertainment industry we did find indications that they are adopting similar tactics to the CIA and DOD.
Internal NSA emails show that the producers of Enemy of the State were invited on multiple tours of NSA headquarters. When they used a helicopter to film aerial footage of Fort Meade, the NSA did not prevent them from using it in the movie.
According to a 1998 interview with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, they changed the script at the NSA’s request so that the wrongdoings were the actions of one bad apple NSA official, and not the agency in general.
Bruckheimer said:
‘I think the NSA people will be pleased. They certainly won’t come out as bad as they could have. NSA’s not the villain.’
This idea of using cinema to pin the blame for problems on isolated rogue agents or bad apples, thus avoiding any notion of systemic, institutional or criminal responsibility, is right out of the CIA/DOD’s playbook.

NSA headquarters at Fort Meade — Enemy of the State

In all, we are looking at a vast, militarised propaganda apparatus operating throughout the screen entertainment industry in the United States.
It is not quite an official censor, since decisions on scripts are made voluntarily by producers, but it represents a major and scarcely acknowledged pressure on the kind of narratives and images we see on the big and small screens.
In societies already eager to use our hard power overseas, the shaping of our popular culture to promote a pro-war mindset must be taken seriously.

Tom Secker and Matthew Alford are co-authors of the new book, National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood.
Secker is a British-based writer who covers the security services, Hollywood and the history of terrorism. He runs the SpyCulture blog which can be supported via Patreon.com. His work has been covered by The Mirror, The Express, Salon, TechDirt and elsewhere.
Dr Alford is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Politics, Language and International Studies at the University of Bath. His documentary film based on his research, The Writer with No Hands, was premiered in 2014 at Hot Docs, Toronto and won runner-up at the Ammar Popular Film Festival, Tehran.

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:31 pm

Russiagate as Organized Distraction
July 29, 2019 • 61 Comments

Oliver Boyd-Barrett looks at who benefits from having the corporate media suffocate their public with a puerile narrative for over two years.

By Oliver Boyd-Barrett
Organisation for Propaganda Studies

For over two years Russiagate has accounted for a substantial proportion of all mainstream U.S. media political journalism and, because U.S. media have significant agenda-setting propulsion, of global media coverage as well. The timing has been catastrophic. The Trump administration has shredded environmental protections, jettisoned nuclear agreements, exacerbated tensions with U.S. rivals and pandered to the rich.

In place of sustained media attention to the end of the human species from global warming, its even more imminent demise in nuclear warfare, or the further evisceration of democratic discourse in a society riven by historically unprecedented wealth inequalities and unbridled capitalistic greed, corporate media suffocate their publics with a puerile narrative of alleged collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

MSNBC news host Rachel Maddow schooling viewers.

The Russiagate discourse is profoundly mendacious and hypocritical. It presumes that the U.S. electoral system enjoys a high degree of public trust and security. Nothing could be further from the truth. The U.S. democratic system is deeply entrenched in a dystopian two-party system dominated by the rich and largely answerable to corporate oligopolies; it is ideologically beholden to the values of extreme capitalism and imperialist domination. Problems with the U.S. electoral system and media are extensive and well documented.

U.S. electoral procedures are profoundly compromised by an Electoral College that detaches votes counted from votes that count. The composition of electoral districts has been gerrymandered to minimize the possibility of electoral surprises. Voting is dependent on easily hackable corporate-manufactured electronic voting systems. Right-wing administrations reach into a tool-box of voter-suppression tactics that run the gamut from minimizing available voting centers and voting machines through to excessive voter identification requirements and the elimination of swathes of the voting lists (e.g. groups such as people who have committed felonies or people whose names are similar to those of felons, or people who have not voted in previous elections). Even the results of campaigns are corrupted when outgoing regimes abuse their remaining weeks in power to push through regulations or legislation that will scuttle the efforts of their successors. Democratic theory presupposes the formal equivalence of voice in the battlefield of ideas. Nothing could be further from the reality of the U.S. “democratic” system in which a small number of powerful interests enjoy ear-splitting megaphonic advantage on the basis of often anonymous “dark” money donations filtered through SuperPacs and their ilk, operating outside the confines of (the somewhat more transparently monitored) electoral campaigns.

Free and Open Exchange of Ideas

Regarding media, democratic theory presupposes a public communications infrastructure that facilitates the free and open exchange of ideas. No such infrastructure exists. Mainstream media are owned and controlled by a small number of large, multi-media and multi-industrial conglomerates that lie at the very heart of U.S. oligopoly capitalism and much of whose advertising revenue and content is furnished from other conglomerates.

The inability of mainstream media to sustain an information environment that can encompass histories, perspectives and vocabularies that are free of the shackles of U.S. plutocratic self-regard is also well documented. Recent U.S. media coverage of the U.S.-gestated crisis in Venezuela is a case in point.

(Book Catalog/Flickr)

The much-celebrated revolutionary potential of social media is illusory. The principal suppliers of social media architecture are even more corporatized than their legacy predecessors. They depend not just on corporate advertising but on the sale of big data that they pilfer from users and sell to corporate and political propagandists often for non-transparent AI-assisted micro-targeting during “persuasion” campaigns. Like their legacy counterparts, social media are imbricated within, collaborate with, and are vulnerable to the machinations of the military-industry-surveillance establishment. So-called election meddling across the world has been an outstanding feature of the exploitation of social and legacy media by companies linked to political, defense and intelligence such as – but by no means limited to – the former Cambridge Analytica and its British parent SCL.

Against this backdrop of electoral and media failures, it makes little sense to elevate discussion of and attention to the alleged social media activities of, say, Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

Russian Contacts Deplored

Trump and Putin at a working lunch, July 16, 2018 (White House/ Shealah Craighead)

Attention is being directed away from substantial, and substantiated, problems and onto trivial, and unsubstantiated, problems. Moreover, in a climate of manufactured McCarthyite hysteria, Russiagate further presupposes that any communication between a presidential campaign and Russia is in itself deplorable. Even if one were to confine this conversation only to communication between ruling oligarchs of both the U.S. and Russia, however, the opposite would surely be the case. This is not simply because of the benefits that accrue from a broader understanding of the world, identification of shared interests and opportunities, and their promise for peaceful relations. A real politick analysis might advise the insertion of wedges between China and Russia so as to head off the perceived threat to the USA of a hybrid big-power control over a region of the world that has long been considered indispensable for truly global hegemony.

Even if we address Russiagate as a problem worthy of our attention, the evidentiary basis for the major claims is weak.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments and investigations implicated several individuals for activities that in some cases have no connection whatsoever to the 2016 presidential campaign. In some other instances they appear to have been more about lies and obstructions to his investigation rather than material illegal acts, or amount to charges that are unlikely ever to be contested in a court of law.

Robert Mueller at July 24, 2019, congressional hearing.

The investigation itself is traceable back to two significant but extremely problematic reports made public in January 2017. One was the “Steele dossier” by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele. This is principally of interest for its largely unsupported allegations that in some sense or another Trump was in cahoots with Russia. Steele’s company, Orbis, was commissioned to write the report by Fusion GPS which in turn was contracted by attorneys working for the Democratic National Campaign. Passage of earlier drafts of the Steele report through sources close to British intelligence, and accounts by Trump adviser George Papadopoulos concerning conversations he had concerning possible Russian possession of Clinton emails with a character who may as likely have been a British as a Russian spy, were instrumental in stimulating FBI interest in and spying on the Trump campaign.

There are indirect links between Steele, another former MI6 agent, Pablo Miller (who also worked for Orbis) and Sergei Skripal, a Russian agent who had been recruited as informer to MI6 by Miller and who was the target of an attempted assassination in 2018. This event has occasioned controversial, not to say highly implausible and mischievous British government claims and accusations against Russia.

The most significant matter raised by a second report, issued by the Intelligence Community Assessment and representing the conclusions of a small team picked from the Director of Intelligence office, CIA, FBI and NSA, was its claim that Russian intelligence was responsible for the hacking of the computer systems of the DNC and its chairman John Podesta in summer 2016 and that the hacked documents had been passed to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. No evidence for this was supplied.

Although the hacking allegations have become largely uncontested articles of faith in the RussiaGate discourse they are significantly reliant on the problematic findings of a small private company hired by the DNC. There is also robust evidence that the documents may have been leaked rather than hacked and by U.S.-based sources. The fact that the documents revealed that the DNC, a supposedly neutral agent in the primary campaign, had in fact been biased in favor of the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, and that Clinton’s private statements to industry were not in keeping with her public positions, has long been obscured in media memory in favor a preferred narrative of Russian villainy.

Who Benefits?

Why then does the Russiagate discourse have so much traction? Who benefits?

Russiagate serves the interest of a (No. 1) corrupted Democratic Party, whose biased and arguably incompetent campaign management lost it the 2016 election, in alliance (No. 2) with powerful factions of the U.S. industrial-military-surveillance establishment that for the past 19 years, through NATO and other malleable international agencies, has sought to undermine Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, dismember Russia and the Russian Federation (undoubtedly for the benefit of Western capital) and, more latterly, further contain China in a perpetual and titanic struggle for the heart of EurAsia.

In so far as Trump had indicated (for whatever reasons) in the course of his campaign that he disagreed with at least some aspects of this long-term strategy, he came to be viewed as unreliable by the U.S. security state.

While serving the immediate purpose of containing Trump, U.S. accusations of Russian meddling in U.S. elections were farcical in the context of a well-chronicled history of U.S. “meddling” in the elections and politics of nations for over 100 years. This meddling across all hemispheres has included the staging of coups, invasions and occupations on false pretext in addition to numerous instances of “color revolution” strategies involving the financing of opposition parties and provoking uprisings, frequently coupled with economic warfare (sanctions).

A further beneficiary (No.3) is the sum of all those interests that favor a narrowing of public expression to a framework supportive of neoliberal imperialism. Paradoxically exploiting the moral panic associated with both Trump’s plaintive wailing about “fake news” whenever mainstream media coverage is critical of him, and social media embarrassment over exposure of their big-data sales to powerful corporate customers, these interests have called for more regulation of, as well as self-censorship by, social media.

Social media responses increasingly involve more restrictive algorithms and what are often partisan “fact-checkers” (illustrated by Facebook financial support for and dependence on the pro-NATO “think tank,” the Atlantic Council). The net impact has been devastating for many information organizations in the arena of social media whose only “sin” is analysis and opinion that runs counter to elite neoliberal propaganda.

The standard justification of such attacks on free expression is to insinuate ties to Russia and/or to terrorism. Given these heavy handed and censorious responses by powerful actors, it would appear perhaps that the RussiaGate narrative is increasingly implausible to many and the only hope now for its proponents is to stifle questioning. These are dark days indeed for democracy.

Oliver Boyd-Barrett is professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University. He is author of “RussiaGate and Propaganda: Disinformation in the Age of Social Media” London and New York (Routledge).

An earlier version of this article was published by the Organisation for Propaganda Studies.

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/07/29/r ... straction/

Consortium is suspect, to say the least. However this is a republication.
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:23 pm

15 Former Spooks Who Work At CNN And MSNBC Now


August 23, 2019
1:33 PM ET
CNN added to its stable of retired FBI and CIA officials Friday by hiring Andrew McCabe, who was fired by the bureau due to a lack of candor during an internal probe.
McCabe is the 10th ex-FBI or CIA official hired by the network in recent years, with MSNBC having hired five.
A vast majority of the 15 CNN/MSNBC analysts have pushed the now-debunked theory that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia.
CNN added to its deep roster of former FBI and CIA officials-turned-analysts Friday with the hiring of Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director fired for lack of candor during an investigation last year.

McCabe is the tenth ex-FBI, CIA or intelligence community official CNN has hired during the Trump administration, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis. MSNBC has followed closely behind, having hired five former officials, including former CIA Director John Brennan.

CNN was widely mocked on Friday after announcing the McCabe hiring, largely because the network has criticized its competitors for hiring former Trump administration officials. But the personnel move is also part of a larger trend that has come under scrutiny from some media observers.

Jack Shafer, a media critic who writes for Politico, noted the potential pitfalls of networks like CNN and MSNBC having a stable of ex-spies and G-men as paid, on-air contributors.

“But the downside of outsourcing national security coverage to the TV spies is obvious,” Shafer wrote in a Feb. 5, 2018 article at Politico. “They aren’t in the business of breaking news or uncovering secrets. Their first loyalty — and this is no slam — is to the agency from which they hail.”

Glenn Greenwald, an editor at The Intercept who covers national security issues, echoed that sentiment during a Fox News interview in March.

“And not only did MSNBC and CNN use those people as their sources, they hired them as their news analyst. So if you turn on CNN or MSNBC, it was basically state TV. It was CIA TV,” he told Tucker Carlson March 26.

Greenwald and others have noted the lopsided analysis offered up by the former officials, especially on the topic of the Trump-Russia probe.

Most have hewed to their networks’ general viewpoint that Trump or his associates conspired with Russia. Others, like McCabe, Brennan, and former national intelligence director James Clapper, have all defended the investigation of the Trump campaign. They’ve maintained their defense even in the wake of the special counsel’s report, which debunked the theory that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia.

Here is a rundown of CNN and MSNBC’s most prominent analysts.

James Clapper, director of national intelligence under President Obama. As the nation’s top intelligence official, Clapper was intimately involved in the investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian government. He set up a now-infamous Jan. 6, 2017 meeting with top intelligence officials and then-President-Elect Donald Trump. During that briefing, then-FBI Director James Comey told Trump about the existence of the Steele dossier.

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper testifies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on “Russia’s intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts | Clapper Slams Ryan & McConell in New Book
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper testifies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on “Russia’s intelligence activities” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Four days later, CNN reported that the briefing occurred. Hours after that, BuzzFeed News published the Steele dossier in full.

Republicans have accused Clapper of leaking information to CNN for its report, though he has denied it.

Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director. CNN announced on Friday that McCabe would serve as a law enforcement analyst.

McCabe was fired from the FBI on March 16, 2018 upon the recommendation of the bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility. An investigation determined that McCabe lacked candor under oath regarding his authorization of a leak to the media in October 2016 regarding the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation. (RELATED: CNN Hires Andrew McCabe As A Contributor)

McCabe sued the Justice Department and FBI Aug. 8, claiming that he was fired due to pressure from Trump.

James Baker, former FBI general counsel. Baker, a CNN legal analyst, left the FBI in May 2018 under a cloud of suspicion. In a congressional interview on Oct. 18, Baker’s lawyer revealed he was under criminal investigation for an unauthorized leak to the media.

Baker was also deeply involved in the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation. He personally reviewed the surveillance warrant applications against Trump aide Carter Page. The applications relied heavily on the unverified Steele dossier.

Baker had contact prior to the 2016 election with Mother Jones reporter David Corn, his longtime friend. Corn passed Baker parts of the Steele dossier in hopes of confirming the FBI was investigating claims from the salacious documents. Baker also told Congress he met in September 2016 with Michael Sussmann, a lawyer for the DNC. Baker said that Sussmann provided him with documents alleging there were covert communications between a Russian bank and the Trump Organization.

Josh Campbell, former FBI aide to James Comey.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on Feb. 8, 2018 that the FBI circulated a flyer in honor of Campbell’s gig, saying that he was embarking on a “new endeavor defending the bureau.” Like McCabe and Baker, Campbell often appears on CNN to defend the FBI’s investigation of Trump.

Asha Rangappa, former FBI special agent and leading collusion conspiracy theorist.

Steven Hall, former CIA Moscow station chief and outspoken critic of Trump.

Phil Mudd, former FBI and CIA official. Mudd, who is known for his fiery presentations on CNN, has largely been a critic of President Trump. But he has also pushed back on some of the underlying aspects of the Trump-Russia probe.

He predicted June 4 that an inspector general’s investigation into the Steele dossier will “not end up well” for Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the salacious document.

Susan Hennessy, former attorney for the National Security Agency. Hennessy has also been a leading proponent of the now-debunked theory that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia.

Samantha Vinograd, former adviser to the Obama administration’s National Security Council. On March 2, Vinograd said on CNN that a speech Trump made reminded her of Adolf Hitler. She also said that Trump’s speech included items on “Putin’s to-do list.”

James Gagliano, former FBI supervisory special agent. Gagliano typically discusses breaking news stories regarding active shootings, terrorism incidents. He has been an outspoken critic of both James Comey and Andrew McCabe.

John Brennan, former CIA director. Brennan appeared frequently on the network during the Russia probe, and has been a fierce critic of Trump. In the weeks before the special counsel’s report was released, Brennan inaccurately predicted that members of Trump’s family would be indicted in the investigation.

Former CIA director John Brennan (2nd L) and former director of National Intelligence James Clapper (R) arrive at a closed hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee May 16, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence. On Aug. 6, Figliuzzi floated a theory on air that Trump’s decision to lower flags in honor of mass shooting victims earlier this month was somehow tied to white supremacy. Figliuzzi noted that Trump’s order to lower the flags would expire on Aug. 8. Using numerology, Figliuzzi argued that the date, 8/8, is significant for white supremacists because it translates into “Heil Hitler.” (RELATED: MSNBC Analyst Uses Numerology To Tie Donald Trump To White Supremacy)

Chuck Rosenberg, former chief of staff to James Comey and administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Like most of his colleagues, Rosenberg’s analysis has typically perpetuated the theory that Trump & Co. conspired with Russia. Rosenberg also argued in a report published at Lawfare on Dec. 14 that the Steele dossier “holds up well over time, and none of it, to our knowledge, has been disproven.”

That assessment has not held up well in the months since Rosenberg published the piece. The special counsel’s probe undercut the dossier’s core claim that the Trump campaign took part in a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” with the Russian government. The investigation also undercut the dossier’s most specific claim of collusion: that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Russian intelligence officials.

Malcolm Nance, former Naval chief petty officer. Nance has also been noted for pushing the collusion conspiracy theory.

Jeremy Bash, former CIA chief of staff.

https://dailycaller.com/2019/08/23/cnn- ... ks-mccabe/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:30 pm

How The BBC's Quentin Sommerville Created Fairytales Of Underground Hospitals In Syria
In August 2013 the BBC produced a fake video headlined "Saving Syria’s Children" about an alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria which it claimed was caused by the Syrian government. Robert Stuart has since pressed the BBC to admit the obvious fabrication of these scenes.

Today the BBC posted on its website another Syria clip under the title Idlib's secret hospitals hiding from air strikes:

Air strikes have been targeting hospitals in the rebel-held province of Idlib, Syria, despite the fact that it is a war crime. Medics have been forced underground in order to survive.
The UN accuses the Syrian government and allied Russian warplanes of conducting a deadly campaign that appears to target medical facilities.

BBC's Middle East correspondent, Quentin Sommerville, visits one hospital in a secret location.

Sommerville starts with standing next to destroyed building claiming that it has been a hospital that was bombed.


It isn't the "only building that was targeted" there. It is the only building that was there. The building is standing within an orchard. There are no other buildings or infrastructure around it. Why would anyone have built a hospital far from a town? There are no signs that building ever was a hospital and is doubtful that it was one.

The next shot has been shown in other TV clips (on Channel 4?). It shows the entrances to some caves but no car, no persons and nothing else is around it.


Suddenly six explosions happen at the very same time.


Immediately after the explosions, but not before them, the sound of a passing jet is heard.

I have never heard or seen of a jet that manages to release six bombs that land in such a tight pattern and explode all at the very same time. Compare the impact pattern and explosion timing with this recent carpet bombing (vid) of an island in Iraq. And why please was the camera in place that made such a tight shot of it?

This was clearly a stunt made with some buried explosives that were centrally ignited at the same time. The jet noise was later added to the shot.

In the next scene two people walk down a concrete stairway within a regular building.


https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/09/h ... syria.html

Much more to this at link, photo heavy.
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Mon Sep 30, 2019 3:16 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Twitter executive for Middle East is British Army 'psyops' soldier
Head of editorial for MENA is part-time officer in the 77th Brigade, an 'information warfare' unit which has worked on 'behavioural change' projects in the region

The head of the British Army has described the 77th Brigade's talents as including "social media, production design, and Arabic poetry" (British Army)
By Ian Cobain
Published date: 30 September 2019 08:00 UTC | Last update: 30 min 15 sec ago

The senior Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British Army’s psychological warfare unit, Middle East Eye has established.

Gordon MacMillan, who joined the social media company's UK office six years ago, has for several years also served with the 77th Brigade, a unit formed in 2015 in order to develop “non-lethal” ways of waging war.

The 77th Brigade uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as podcasts, data analysis and audience research to wage what the head of the UK military, General Nick Carter, describes as “information warfare”.

Carter says the 77th Brigade is giving the British military “the capability to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level”; to shape perceptions of conflict. Some soldiers who have served with the unit say they have been engaged in operations intended to change the behaviour of target audiences.

What exactly MacMillan is doing with the unit is difficult to determine, however: he has declined to answer any questions about his role, as has Twitter and the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Twitter would say only that “we actively encourage all our employees to pursue external interests”, while the MoD said that the 77th Brigade had no relationship with Twitter, other than using it for communication.

'Using non-lethal engagement... as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries'

- The British Army

The 77th Brigade's headquarters is located west of London. It brought together a number of existing military units such as the Media Operations Group and the 15 Psychological Operations Group.

At its launch, the UK media was told that the new unit of “Facebook warriors” would be around 1,500 strong, and made up of both regular soldiers and reservists. In recent months, the army has been approaching British journalists and asking them to join the unit as reservists.

While clearly engaged in propaganda, the MoD is reluctant to use that word to describe the unit’s operations.

Instead, the British army’s website describes the 77th Brigade as “an agent of change” which aims to “challenge the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries”.

MacMillan, whose editorial responsibilities at Twitter also cover Europe and Africa, was a captain in the unit at the end of 2016, according to one British army publication. The MoD will not disclose his current rank.

His involvement with the 77th Brigade was made public when he disclosed it on his page at LinkedIn, the online professional networking site.

As well as outlining his responsibilities at Twitter, MacMillan wrote that he had an interest in politics and international affairs, had trained at Sandhurst, the British military academy, “and am a reserve officer in the British Army serving in 77th Brigade, which specialises in non-lethal engagement”.

His page has recently been edited to remove all references to his service with 77th Brigade.

'Behavioural Change for the Middle East Region'
MacMillan is not alone in outlining his involvement with the unit on his LinkedIn page.

A former 77th Brigade officer has said on his page that he served with the unit’s “Information Warfare Teams” in the UK, Bosnia, France, Kenya and Albania.

Another, a former officer in the UK’s Royal Navy, has said that while serving with the 77th Brigade he was “the lead component on Behavioural Change for the Middle East Region and Counter-Radicalisation”.

This person - who is not a Twitter employee - added that his duties included “advising the Jordanian Armed Forces and Royal Hashemite Court” and that he was also seconded to the Strategic Effects Team at the UK Ministry of Defence.

Contacted by MEE, he declined to elaborate.

Some insight into the unit’s methods was provided by Carter in a speech last year at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based military and defence think tank.

“In our 77 Brigade … we have got some remarkable talent when it comes to social media, production design, and indeed Arabic poetry,” he said.

“Those sorts of skills we can’t afford to retain in the Regular component [of the army] but they are the means of us delivering capability in a much more imaginative way than we might have been able to do in the past.

“We also, though, need to continue to improve our ability to fight on this new battlefield, and I think it’s important that we build on the excellent foundation we’ve created for Information Warfare through our 77 Brigade which is now giving us the capability to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level.”

Carter went on to quote a recently published book, War in 140 Characters, in which journalist David Patrikarakos observes that during the war in Ukraine, “counter intuitively, it mattered more who won the war of words and narratives than who had the most potent weaponry”.

Covert influence campaigns
With the Arab Spring demonstrating, almost a decade ago, that protestors could topple tyrants after sharing information on social media – and with the wider realisation that technology has shifted some power from national governments and media companies towards networks of individuals – many observers assumed it was only a matter of time before the state began to counter that trend.

“Homo digitalis may challenge the state,” Patrikarakos writes, “but the state will always fight back.”

Covert influence campaigns being mounted by states such as Russia and China have been identified and exposed on a number of occasions.

In August, Facebook announced that it had shut down multiple accounts run by a company called New Waves, based in Cairo, and an Emirati firm, Newave.

LinkedIn page
An image of Gordon MacMillan's LinkedIn page, which has since been edited to remove reference to the 77th Brigade (Screengrab)
The two companies worked in concert, disseminating messages supportive of the foreign policy objectives of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Subsequently, the New York Times reported that New Waves was run by a retired military officer who describes himself as an “Internet wars researcher”, while the Emirati company operated from a government-run media complex in Abu Dhabi.

Together, they were reported to have managed 361 compromised accounts and pages with a reach of 13.7 million people, spending $167,000 on advertising and using false identities to disguise their role.

One focus for their social media campaigns was Sudan, where democracy advocates noticed a stream of pro-military tweets. Another was Libya, where accounts controlled by the two companies promoted General Khalifa Haftar, commander of his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).

Twitter also announced in September that it had suspended hundreds of coordinated accounts which it said breached its “platform manipulation” policies. These had been operated from Spain, Ecuador and China, as well as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The company said in a statement: “We will continue to enhance and refine our approach to disclosing state-affiliated information operations on our service.” It also promised greater disclosure of data about state-affiliated information operations.

Twitter 'one of many social media platforms used'
The British Army declined to disclose anything about MacMillan’s duties with the 77th Brigade, or say whether Twitter helps it, in Carter’s words, “to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level”.

It would not say anything about the military’s use of Arabic poetry, as revealed in the general’s speech. Nor would it say anything about the military initiative intended to achieve “behavioural change” among audiences in the Middle East.

In a statement, an army spokesperson said: “There is no relationship or agreement between 77th Brigade and Twitter, other than using Twitter as one of many social media platforms for engagement and communication.

“The Army does not comment on the specific activities of reservists working within the division.”

The identities of the Twitter accounts which the 77th Brigade uses for engagement and communication remain unclear, however: the unit’s acknowledged account has been locked since it was hacked earlier this year, with the result that only approved followers can see its tweets.

Twitter also declined to answer questions about its executive’s British Army duties, despite its pledge to disclose further information about state-affiliated information operations.

In a statement, the company said: “Twitter is an open, neutral and rigorously independent platform. We actively encourage all our employees to pursue external interests in line with our commitment to healthy corporate social responsibility, and we will continue to do so.

“We also proactively publish datasets on potentially state-backed foreign information operations on the service. We deliver this in conjunction with partners in government, civil society and academia, to promote a better social understanding of these threats.”

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/twit ... rfare-unit

Weird, 'puter got really wanky while c&p this post from twitter link. Had to shut down & restore. I dunno.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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