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US media intensify pretext for ousting Trump

By Finian Cunningham | RT | January 16, 2019

It’s no secret that since his election in 2016, powerful elements in the US political and media establishment have been running a non-stop campaign to remove Trump from the White House. Lately, the stakes have been raised.

Spearheading the media effort to defenestrate Trump are the New York Times and Washington Post. Both have been prominent purveyors of the “Russiagate” narrative over the past two years, claiming that Republican candidate colluded with Russian state intelligence, or at least was a beneficiary of alleged Russian interference, to win the presidency against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Congressional investigations and a probe by a Special Counsel Robert Mueller, along with relentless media innuendo, have failed to produce any evidence to support the Russiagate narrative.

Now, the anti-Trump media in alliance with the Democratic leadership, the foreign policy establishment and senior ranks of the state intelligence agencies appear to have come up with a new angle on President Trump – he is a national security risk.

Ingeniously, the latest media effort lessens the burden of proof required against Trump. No longer has it to be proven that he deliberately collaborated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump could have done it “unwittingly,” the media are now claiming, because he is a buffoon and reckless. But the upshot, for them, is he’s still a national security risk. The only conclusion, therefore, is that he should be removed from office. In short, a coup.

Over the past couple of weeks, the supposed media bastions have been full of it against Trump. An op-ed in the New York Times on January 5 by David Leonhardt could not have made more plain the absolute disdain. “He is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?”

Follow-up editorials and reports have piled on the pressure. The Times reported how the Federal Bureau of Investigation – the state’s internal security agency – opened a counterintelligence file on Trump back in 2017 out of concern that he was “working for Russia against US interests.”

That unprecedented move was prompted partly because of Trump’s comments during the election campaign in 2016 when he jokingly called on Russia to release Hillary Clinton’s incriminating emails. Never mind the fact that Russian hackers were not the culprits for Clinton’s email breach.

Then the Washington Post reported former US officials were concerned about what they said was Trump’s “extraordinary lengths” to keep secret his private conversations with Russia’s Putin when the pair met on the sidelines of conferences or during their one-on-one summit in Helsinki last July.

The Post claimed that Trump confiscated the notes of his interpreter after one meeting with Putin, allegedly admonishing the aide to not tell other officials in the administration about the notes being sequestered. The inference is Trump was allegedly in cahoots with the Kremlin.

This week, in response to the media speculation, Trump was obliged to strenuously deny such claims, saying: “I have never worked for Russia… it’s a big fat hoax.”

What’s going on here is a staggering abuse of power by the US’ top internal state intelligence agency to fatally undermine a sitting president based on the flimsiest of pretexts. Moreover, the nation’s most prominent news media outlets – supposedly the Fourth Estate defenders of democracy – are complacently giving their assent, indeed encouragement, to this abuse of power.

The Times in the above report admitted, in a buried one-line disclaimer, that there was no evidence linking Trump to Russia.

Nevertheless, the media campaign doubled down to paint Trump as a national security risk.

The Times reported on January 14 about deep “concerns” among Pentagon officials over Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw the US from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The reporting portrays Trump as incompetent, ignorant of policy details and habitually rude to American allies. His capricious temper tantrums could result in the US walking away from NATO at any time, the newspaper contends.

Such a move would collapse the transatlantic partnership between the US and Europe which has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years,” claimed the Times.

The paper quotes US Admiral James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, calling Trump’s withdrawal whims “a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion.”

“Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin,” added Stavridis.

The Times goes on to divulge the media campaign coordination when it editorialized: “Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr Putin secret from even his own aides, and an FBI investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.”

Still another Times report this week reinforced the theme of Trump being a national security risk when it claimed that the president’s Middle East policy of pulling troops out of Syria was “losing leverage” in the region. It again quoted Pentagon officials “voicing deepening fears” that Trump and his hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton “could precipitate a conflict with Iran”.

That’s a bit hard to stomach: the Pentagon being presented as a voice of sanity and peace, keeping vigilance over a wrecking-ball president and his administration.

But the New York Times, Washington Post and other anti-Trump corporate media have long been extolling the military generals who were formerly in the administration as “the adults in the room.”

Generals H.R. McMaster, the former national security adviser, John Kelly, Trump’s ex-chief of staff, and James Mattis, the former defense secretary until he was elbowed out last month by the president, were continually valorized in the US media as being a constraining force on Trump’s infantile and impetuous behavior.

The absence of “the adults” seems to have prompted the US media to intensify their efforts to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.

A new House of Representatives controlled by the Democratic Party has also invigorated calls for impeachment of Trump over a range of unsubstantiated accusations, Russian collusion being prime among them. But any impeachment process promises to be long and uncertain of success, according to several US legal and political authorities.

Such a tactic is fraught with risk of failing, no doubt due to the lack of evidence against Trump’s alleged wrongdoing. A failed impeachment effort could backfire politically, increase his popularity, and return him to the White House in 2020.

Given the uncertainty of impeaching Trump, his political enemies, including large sections of the media establishment, seem to be opting for the tactic of characterizing him as a danger to national security, primarily regarding Russia. Trump doesn’t have to be a proven agent of the Kremlin – a preposterous idea. Repeated portrayal of him as an incompetent unwitting president is calculated to be sufficient grounds for his ouster.

When the Washington Post editorial board urges a state of emergency to be invoked because of “Russian meddling in US elections”, then the national mood is being fomented to accept a coup against Trump. The media’s fawning over the Pentagon and state intelligence agencies as some kind of virtuous bastion of democracy is a sinister signal for a military-police state.

January 16, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Russia-gate Evidence, Please

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | January 15, 2019

For those interested in evidence — or the lack of it— regarding collusion between Russia and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, we can thank the usual Russia-gate promoters at The New York Times and CNN for inadvertently filling in some gaps in recent days.

Stooping to a new low, Friday’s Times headline screamed: “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia.” The second paragraph noted that FBI agents “sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.”

Trump had been calling for better relations with Russia during his presidential campaign. As journalist Michael Tracy tweeted on Sunday, the Times report made it “not a stretch to say: the FBI criminally investigating Trump on the basis of the ‘national security threat’ he allegedly poses, with the ‘threat’ being his perceived policy preferences re: Russia, could constitute literal criminalization of deviation from foreign policy consensus.”

On Monday night CNN talking heads, like former House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers, were expressing wistful hope that the FBI had more tangible evidence than Trump’s public statements to justify such an investigation. Meanwhile, they would withhold judgment regarding the Bureau’s highly unusual step.

Evidence?

NYT readers had to get down to paragraph 9 to read: “No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.” Four paragraphs later, the Times’ writers noted that, “A vigorous debate has taken shape among former law enforcement officials … over whether FBI investigators overreacted.”

Brennan: “I don’t do evidence.” (White House photo)

That was what Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy was wondering when he grilled former CIA director John Brennan on May 23, 2017 on what evidence he had provided to the FBI to catalyze its investigation of Trump-Russia collusion.

Brennan replied: “I don’t do evidence.”

The best Brennan could do was repeat the substance of a clearly well-rehearsed statement: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign … that required further investigation by the Bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

That was it.

CNN joined the piling on Monday, quoting former FBI General Counsel James Baker in closed-door Congressional testimony to the effect that FBI officials were weighing “whether Trump was acting at the behest of [the Russians] and somehow following directions, somehow executing their will.” The problem is CNN also noted that Lisa Page, counsel to then FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe, testified that there had been “indecision in the Bureau as to whether there was sufficient predication to open [the investigation].’ “Predication” is another word for evidence.

Within hours of Comey’s firing on May 9, 2017, Page’s boyfriend and a top FBI counterintelligence official, Peter Strzok texted her: “We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy [McCabe] is acting [director].” After all, if Trump were bold enough, he could have appointed a new FBI director and who knew what might happen then. When Page appeared before Congress, she was reportedly asked what McCabe meant. She confirmed that his text was related to the Russia investigation into potential collusion.

Comey v. Trump Goes Back to Jan. 6, 2017

The Times and CNN, however unintentionally, have shed light on what ensued after Trump finally fired Comey. Apparently, it finally dawned on Trump that, on Jan. 6, 2017, Comey had treated him to the time-honored initiation-rite-for-presidents-elect — with rubrics designed by former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

It seems then-FBI Director James Comey rendered a good impersonation of Hoover that day when he briefed President-elect Trump on the scurrilous “Steele dossier” that the FBI had assembled on Trump. Excerpts from an interview Trump gave to the Times (below) after the firing throw light on what Trump says was at least part of his motivation to dump Comey.

To dramatize the sensitivity of the dossier, Comey asked then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper and the heads of the CIA and NSA to depart the room at the Trump Tower, leaving Comey alone with the President-elect. The Gang of Four had already briefed Trump on the evidence-impoverished “Intelligence Community Assessment.” That “assessment” alleged that Putin himself ordered his minions to help Trump win. The dossier had been leaked to the media, which withheld it but Buzzfeed published it on Jan. 10.?

‘This Russia Thing’

Evidently, it took Trump four months to fully realize he was being played, and that he couldn’t expect the “loyalty” he is said to have asked of Comey. So Trump fired Comey on May 9. Two days later he told NBC’s Lester Holt:

“When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”

Comey: Pulled a Hoover on Trump? (Carciature by DonkeyHotey)

The mainstream media and other Russia-gater aficionados immediately seized on “this Russian thing” as proof that Trump was trying to obstruct the investigation of alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. However, in the Holt interview Trump appeared to be reflecting on Comey’s J. Edgar Hoover-style, one-on-one gambit alone in the room with Trump.

Would Comey really do a thing like that? Was the former FBI director protesting too much in his June 2017 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee when he insisted he’d tried to make it clear to Trump that briefing him on the unverified but scurrilous information in the dossier wasn’t intended to be threatening. It took a few months but it seems Trump figured out what he thought Comey was up to.

Trump to NYT: ‘Leverage’ (aka Blackmail)

In a long Oval Office interview with the Times on July 19, 2017, Trump said he thought Comey was trying to hold the dossier over his head.

“… Look what they did to me with Russia, and it was totally phony stuff. … the dossier … Now, that was totally made-up stuff,” Trump said. “I went there [to Moscow] for one day for the Miss Universe contest, I turned around, I went back. It was so disgraceful. It was so disgraceful.

“When he [James B. Comey] brought it [the dossier] to me, I said this is really made-up junk. I didn’t think about anything. I just thought about, man, this is such a phony deal. … I said, this is — honestly, it was so wrong, and they didn’t know I was just there for a very short period of time. It was so wrong, and I was with groups of people. It was so wrong that I really didn’t, I didn’t think about motive. I didn’t know what to think other than, this is really phony stuff.”

The dossier, paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign and compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, relates a tale of Trump allegedly cavorting with prostitutes, who supposedly urinated on each other before the same bed the Obamas had slept in at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel. [On February 6, 2018, The Washington Post reported that that part of the dossier was written Cody Shearer, a long-time Clinton operative and passed it along to Steele. Shearer ignored a request for comment from Consortium News. [Shearer had been a Consortium advisory board member who was asked to resign and left the board.]

Trump told the Times: “I think [Comey] shared it so that I would — because the other three people [Clapper, Brennan, and Rogers] left, and he showed it to me. … So anyway, in my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there. … As leverage.

“Yeah, I think so. In retrospect. In retrospect. You know, when he wrote me the letter, he said, ‘You have every right to fire me,’ blah blah blah. Right? He said, ‘You have every right to fire me.’ I said, that’s a very strange — you know, over the years, I’ve hired a lot of people, I’ve fired a lot of people. Nobody has ever written me a letter back that you have every right to fire me.”

McGovern lays out more details during a 12-minute interview on Jan. 10 with Tyrel Ventura of “Watching the Hawks.”


Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. A CIA analyst for 27 years and Washington area resident for 56 years, he has been attuned to these machinations. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The US Mainstream Media Prefer Confrontation to Cooperation

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.01.2019

The Washington Post is a noisily anti-Russian newspaper which every weekday by email produces for subscribers (of whom I am one) the Daily 202 (“Power Post — Intelligence for Leaders”) which covers US politics, a little international stuff, and a section called “There’s a Bear in the Woods” aimed at denigrating, belittling and generally insulting Russia.

The Post is intent on convincing citizens of the United States and the world in general that nothing good is ever done by, in or with the government of Russia, and a favourite target is President Putin. A typical Editorial was headed “Trump just colluded with Russia. Openly” and dealt savagely with the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki last year. Much of the world believes that such discussions between nations’ leaders are better than hostile rhetoric, and most reasonable people are pleased and even relieved when meetings take place. They prefer amicable dialogue to venomous confrontation.

But the Post ended its comment on the meeting by asserting that “Mr Trump in fact was openly colluding with the criminal leader of a hostile power.”

That’s the ‘hostile power’ that has cooperated for twenty years with the United States in operating the International Space Station.

The Post doesn’t like such news as “[Russian space agency] Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin and Bill Gerstenmaier, head of NASA’s human explorations and operations, said after a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station that their agencies plan to collaborate on developing a moon orbiting outpost. Russia is working on a heavy booster rocket and a new spacecraft to complement American projects intended for a future moon mission, Rogozin said. ‘We absolutely trust each other, and political winds haven’t touched us.’ Gerstenmaier spoke in kind, noting that partnership in space exploration could be ‘an example to the outside world. It has been a blessing that our governments have both seen the wisdom of what we are doing and both our governments have avoided placing sanctions on us or getting us caught up in the political things’.”

It is most gratifying that the United States and Russia can cooperate so closely on such an important endeavour. As noted by CNN, “since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 the US has depended on Roscosmos to transport astronauts to the space station.” In other words, the space station could not exist without Russia’s no-strings collaboration.

But most western media play down, ignore or deplore such instances of harmony and amity. The UK’s Daily Telegraph, for example, is entirely negative, and grudgingly reported last December that the most recent “launch of the MS-11 ship was a closely watched test for Russia’s space industry, which has suffered several high-profile failures in recent years but remains the only reliable way to deliver crew to the orbiting station.” There had been an accident in the course of a previous launch but, to the regret of many in the West, Russia’s emergency procedures were flawless and there was no loss of life.

In spite of this example of outstandingly successful bilateral cooperation, a meeting scheduled for February between the space professionals of Russia and the United States was cancelled “after mounting pressure from Capitol Hill.” Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin had hosted his NASA counterpart, Jim Bridenstine, in October last year, so his February visit was to be a combination of practicality and courtesy — but this isn’t the way the US Senate sees or does things.

Senator Bob Menendez of the Foreign Relations Committee declared that “to welcome Mr Rogozin to the United States and provide him a platform to speak is an affront to our sanctions regime and will further undermine the Trump Administration’s limited credibility on Russia policy,” and Senator Jeanne Shaheen of the Senate panel that funds NASA said the planned meeting “undermines the United States’ core national security objectives” and “weakens the US’s global standing by demonstrating the ease by which Russian officials can get around transatlantic sanctions.”

The Senate’s pressure on NASA is part of the campaign of petulant and spiteful attacks on Russia which show that Washington is intent on destruction of even the slightest efforts to bring the US and Russia closer.

Which brings us back to the Washington Post which distinguished itself by getting just a little mixed up during one of its anti-Russia forays when it enthusiastically seized on a faulty piece in the New York Times.

It all started when the Times breathlessly revealed that during the 2016 election campaign, Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort “and his Russian associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, discussed a plan for peace in Ukraine.” This dastardly anti-America, pro-Russia activity could not be tolerated by the US mainstream media which reported that one of Mr Manafort’s menacing machinations involved sharing “political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence.”

(As an aside, it is difficult to believe that notification of political polling data is in some fashion a national security risk. Most of us know that poll results can be made public without release conditions. Every foreign mission in Washington analysed them.)

The Times continued, in a version of the report that has been deleted, that Manafort wanted the data passed on to “Oleg V Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin,” and in its ‘202’ the Washington Post went to town about this supposedly sinister character. It began by stating that “several experts said the Deripaska connection makes this news a huge deal” and quoted Steven Hall, a former head of Russia operations at the CIA, as tweeting “Remember, the polling info Manafort passed to Kilimnik was headed to Deripaska, who is close to Putin… The margins the Russians needed to change in key states during the 2016 elections [were] pretty small. Now we know how they were able to be so precise: Paul Manafort was providing polling data to Russia.” Shock! Horror!

Another expert shaken by such disclosures was Post columnist Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who declared “This is potentially very significant evidence of collusion… Why would Manafort share polling data with the Russians unless it was to help them target their pro-Trump social media campaign?”

On it went for over 400 words recounting how the dastardly Deripaska was up to his ears in conspiracy, although a cautionary note was sounded by former ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul who like a good diplomat injected the phrase “if proven” in his tweet before agreeing “this is serious.”

Yes, it was serious. But not as serious as the downplayed low-profile admission by the Washington Post that its chatter allegations were not “proven”. The Post noted that “the New York Times corrected a story we included in yesterday’s 202: ‘A previous version of this article misidentified the people to whom Paul Manafort wanted a Russian associate to send polling data. Mr. Manafort wanted the data sent to two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, not to Oleg V Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin’.”

So much for the Washington Post’s Bear in the Woods, but a sad indicator of how determined are some of the US media to help destroy any movement towards rapprochement with Russia. Fortunately, in spite of their malevolent efforts and the spiteful Senate shenanigans, the International Space Station cooperation will continue, which shows, thank goodness, that there are still some grown-ups in the woods.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Washington in Panic Mode as Trump Reportedly Mulled Withdrawal From NATO

Sputnik – 15.01.2019

Since taking office in 2017, Donald Trump has on a multitude of occasions slammed NATO member states for failing to meet their annual defence spending obligations and insisted on fair burden-sharing.

Over the course of 2018, US President Donald Trump repeatedly expressed a willingness to withdraw from NATO, The New York Times reported, citing current and former senior administration officials.

Although the unnamed sources said that they were not sure if Trump was serious, they allegedly feared that POTUS would return to his threat as other alliance member states failed to boost their military donations to NATO and reach the spending target set by the bloc.

Days ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels last summer, Trump purportedly questioned the alliance’s raison d’être while speaking to senior national security officials, describing it as an exhausting burden on the United States.

The New York Times report suggests that Trump complained about Europe’s failure to meet defence spending goals, thus leaving the US to “carry an outsize burden”.

POTUS was allegedly frustrated with the fact that his transatlantic allies would not, on the spot, pledge to donate more. But at another leaders meeting during the same summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg praised Washington’s example and suggested that European member states follow suit — Trump was allegedly taken by surprise.

Trump was purportedly annoyed, in particular, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her country’s military spending of 1 percent of its GDP.

At the time, then-Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton struggled to stick to American strategy without mentioning the potential withdrawal that would inevitably undermine Washington’s influence in Europe and embolden Russia, the newspaper wrote.

According to The New York Times, national security advisers are increasingly concerned over a possible pullout from NATO, as well as Trump’s purported efforts to keep his encounters with Russian President Vladimir Putin secret from his own aides, and an ongoing investigation into the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

“It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history. And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of”, Michèle A. Flournoy, an under-secretary of defence under President Barack Obama, told the media outlet.

The newspaper further cited retired Adm. Gen. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, who said that “even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin”.

After The New York Times reached the White House for comment, a senior administration official cited Trump’s remarks in July 2018, when he described Washington’s commitment to the military alliance as “very strong”, with the bloc itself being “very important”.

The insiders, who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity, assumed that with a weakened NATO, President Putin would have “more freedom to behave as he wishes”, thus setting up Russia as a “counterweight” to the United States and Europe.

Although President Trump has not publicly threatened to leave the transatlantic alliance, relations between the US and Europe have hit their lowest point since he blasted other NATO members for not complying with their obligations to boost defence spending.

Trump has on numerous occasions emphasised that the other members of the bloc should pay their “fair share” and stressed that only five of the 29 member states were spending two percent of their GDP to defence, which was “insufficient to close gaps in modernising, readiness and the size of forces”.

On the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels in July, the allies agreed to start spending two percent of their GDP by 2024, with Trump pointing out that he was convinced that they would increase defence expenditures in line with their commitments.

At the same time, the US president suggested raising the military spending commitment up to four percent of GDP – that proposal, however, failed to find support.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Integrity Initiative: By all means smear & attack, but at least be honest about it

By Simon Rite | RT | January 13, 2019

We’ve all met those people who describe themselves as laid back, when in reality they’re just one loud noise from a mouth frothing breakdown. So when something describes itself as having integrity, be wary.

Enter the Integrity Initiative (II), Britain’s very own government funded influence network which is currently in the process of having its underpants revealed to the world. There’s no doubting it’s an initiative, the jury’s out on the other bit. Some of the people behind it are alleged former spies (can you be a former spy?), a calling not often linked to integrity.

There’s a good chance you may not know much about the Integrity Initiative, the mainstream media is not exactly straining to tell you about it. Labour MP Chris Williamson suggests that’s because a number of mainstream journalists have signed up to work with it.

The only time II briefly attracted the attention of the mainstream world was when it became clear it had been pushing conspiracies about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s links to the Kremlin. That’s not a good look for an organization which receives cash from the Foreign Office.

It describes itself as non-partisan, but then as we’ve discussed, it also has “Integrity” in the title. Maybe it can get away with it, always worth a try I suppose. It also claims to be “combating propaganda and disinformation,” but as you’ll see for yourself on its Twitter account, it’s simply a stream of invective and criticism about Russia. If you want to spend cash smearing an entire nation, fine, fill your boots, but don’t then act all moral about it.

Integrity Initiative deals in propaganda, mainly against Russia, and if anyone involved tries to deny that, then they’ve clearly been drinking their own Kool Aid. Of course, it defends itself by saying it’s on the front line of the fight against so-called Russian disinformation, which is a pretty wide category these days. But it doesn’t matter if it’s propaganda you agree with or disagree with, it’s still propaganda.

One of its main aims is to put together what it calls ‘clusters’ of journalists, writers and the like who are sympathetic to the cause. If you’ve been paying attention, you won’t be surprised to find out who are making up those clusters.

Some of those journalists who have had their links revealed are carefully backtracking. One interesting form of mea culpa from some of them is to admit that while they did do some work for II, they didn’t get paid much to do it, which is a curious defense if you think about it. If you’re involved in something you might feel the need to defend in the future, at least make sure you getting paid! About £200 for a talk or an article seems to be the going rate if you’re interested.

Good luck to anyone signing up to work with II, we’ve all got mortgages to pay, there’s no judgement from me, but at least take responsibility for it. And if you really didn’t know you were engaging in propaganda, then perhaps a period of self-reflection is in order.

Guardian journalist James Ball, for example, wrote a column in which he came clean on his links to II (he gave a training talk for about 225 quid) but there was no real self-reflection. The headline “When free societies copy Russian media tactics, there’s only one winner” is indicative of the myopia which drives the movement against so-called Russian disinformation. Even when he is literally caught up in a Western government funded propaganda effort, he somehow still manages to reflect it back on Russia. Moscow made me do it!

Ball goes on to lament the hacking of Integrity Initiative in a newspaper which revelled in publishing juicy stories from WikiLeaks.

He even analyses the events around the Salisbury poisoning by saying: “Russian-backed outlets and supporters threw question after question to cast doubt on the official narrative.”

There we have it, the biggest crime of all – casting doubt on the official narrative.

January 14, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

WaPo recycles old Russiagate memes in latest gossip piece about Trump-Putin secret collusion

RT | January 13, 2019

Donald Trump’s reluctance to provide unfettered access to his conversations with Vladimir Putin has upset nameless American officials, the Washington Post has revealed. The US president dismissed the story as absurd and offensive.

According to the revered paper, Trump has “gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details” of his face-to-face conversations with Putin. During a meeting with the Russian leader in Hamburg in 2017, Trump even purportedly confiscated the notes of his own interpreter, who was then instructed not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials.

Various (and of course nameless) US officials have now apparently complained to the Washington Post about how they’ve been left in the dark about five conversations that Trump had with the Russian leader, colorfully described by the newspaper as “one of the United States’ main adversaries.”

The story’s thinly veiled assumption is of course that Donald Trump has used his handful of private meetings with Putin to receive secret instructions from Moscow – impose new sanctions on Russia, bomb Syria, send lethal weapons to Ukraine, shred the Iran deal and missile treaties, and so forth.

The creatively framed story suffers from a few other inconvenient plot holes. The super-secret meeting with Putin in Hamburg was also attended by then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson. Does this mean that Tillerson is also a deep-cover KGB agent? Tillerson even released a readout after the meeting – following completely standard, but apparently unsatisfactory protocol.

The self-contradictory report goes on to explain how, as part of Trump’s obsession with ultra-secret Putin pow-wows, the president “generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations” with the Russian leader.

Trump “allies” interviewed by the Post said that the president’s caution when it comes to meeting with Putin may be “driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency.” This theory is of course way less fun than the airtight idea that Trump is actually a Russian agent – that’s why WaPo only gave it one sentence.

Responding to the report, Trump told Fox News that there was nothing scandalous about his talks with the Russian leader. When Fox News host Jeanine Pirro asked if he is or has ever been working on behalf of the Kremlin, Trump responded: “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.” Among hardcore Russiagaters, his answer was naturally interpreted as an explosive non-denial.

“Credit to Jeannine Pirro for asking Trump if he’s a Russian Agent. The President, notably, never actually answered that question,” Colby Hall, founding editor of Mediaite, tweeted.

Rehashing months-old Russiagate news, the Washington Post also disclosed that Democratic lawmakers are still demanding details about Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki last summer. House Democrats reportedly plan to form a subcommittee which aims to obtain State Department records of Trump’s various encounters with the Russian president.

January 13, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

The Original ‘Fake News’? The BBC and the Information Research Department

By Ian Sinclair | Morning Star | January 9, 2019

Last month Ritula Shah presented a BBC World Service discussion programme entitled Is “Fake News” A Threat To Democracy?

Predictably the debate focused on Russian attempts to influence Western populations and political systems.

Asked whether the US has been involved in similar activities, Dr Kathleen Bailey, a senior figure in the US State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the 1980s, was dismissive:

“We [the US] certainly do not have a budget, bureaucracy or intellectual commitment to doing that kind of thing.”

Carl Miller, the research director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, also played down the West’s activities:

“I think Western countries do do less of this as a kind of tool of foreign policy than autocracies.”

“Read real journalism” — presumably BBC journalism — was one of the guest’s suggestions for countering Fake News.

Putting this self-serving and self-congratulatory narrative to one side, it is worth considering the BBC’s, and particularly the BBC World Service’s, own relationship to the British government’s own propaganda.

“Directly funded by government [the Foreign Office], rather than the licence fee” the World Service is “deeply embedded in the foreign policy, security and intelligence apparatus of the British state,” Dr Tom Mills notes in his must-read 2016 book The BBC: Myth of a Public Service.

In particular, the BBC had a very close relationship to the Information Research Department (IRD) — “a Foreign Office propaganda outfit which sought especially to foster anti-communist sentiments on the left,” explains Mills, a Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University.

Set up in 1948, the IRD “was one of the largest and best-funded sections of the Foreign Office until it was discreetly shut down in 1977 on the orders of [then foreign secretary] David Owen,” investigative journalist Ian Cobain reported in the Guardian in July 2018.

A 1963 Foreign Office review of IRD sets out the work of the covert unit:

“The primary aim is unattributable propaganda through IRD outlets — eg in the press, the political parties … and a number of societies.”

Focusing on the Soviet Union and its supposed influence around the world, “IRD material poured into the BBC and was directed to news desks, talks writers and different specialist correspondents,” according to Paul Lashmar and James Oliver in Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, their 1998 history of the clandestine organisation.

The programming of the BBC’s Overseas Service (which would change its name to the World Service in 1965) “was developed in close consultation with the Foreign Office and its information departments,” they highlight.

The BBC “were seemingly quite content to be directed by the FO [Foreign Office] as to how to deal with Middle Eastern personalities, and enquired whether it was desirable for them ‘to deal in a more or less bare-fisted manner with any of the leading statesmen (or their principle spokesmen)’,” notes Simon Collier in his 2013 PhD thesis on IRD and British foreign policy.

Infamously, the BBC played a key role in the US-British assisted overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected prime minister in 1953, with the signal for the coup to begin arranged with the BBC.

That day the corporation began its Persian language news broadcast not with the usual “it is now midnight in London,” but instead with “it is now exactly midnight,” reveals historian Mark Curtis in his 2003 book Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World.

When it came to nuclear war, the BBC was similarly careful about what was broadcast, effectively banning the dramatised documentary film War Game in 1965 (even though it had originally commissioned it).

Discussing the film’s depiction of a nuclear attack on Britain, the chairman of the BBC wrote to the cabinet secretary arguing that the “showing of the film on television might well have a significant effect on public attitudes towards the policy of the nuclear deterrent.”

Though formally concerned with foreign influence, IRD also took a close interest in British domestic politics, including in the Northern Ireland conflict, as well as carrying out campaigns against people they suspected were communists and trade unionists.

For example, writing in the Guardian last year Cobain reported:

“Senior figures in Harold Wilson’s Labour government plotted to use a secret Foreign Office propaganda unit [IRD] to smear a number of left-wing trade union leaders,” including Jack Jones, the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union.

In the same report Cobain highlights a letter the BBC director-general wrote to IRD in 1974 asking for a briefing on “subversives” working in broadcasting.

This, it seems likely, was a complement to the wider political vetting the BBC undertook, with the help of MI5, between the 1930s and 1985.

Communists and members of the Socialist Workers Party and Militant Tendency were barred from key positions at the BBC, or denied promotion if they were already working for the corporation, according to a memo from 1984, with an image resembling a Christmas tree added to the personnel files of individuals under suspicion.

It is important to understand the relationship between the BBC and IRD and the wider British state was kept deliberately vague, a quintessential British fudge of formal and informal connections and influence.

“Many of the executives of the BBC had gone to the same public schools, and inevitably Oxbridge, with their Foreign Office colleagues,” note Lashmar and Oliver.

“Both were part of the establishment, attending the same gentlemen’s clubs and having an implicit understanding of what constituted the national interest.”

Cutting through this fog, Mills provides a concise summary:

“During the Cold War period the BBC was … distributing propaganda material in close co-operation with the British state.”

However, he is keen to highlight that though “there is a temptation to view all this as merely a feature of the Cold War … there is no good reason to think that there is not still significant collusion.”

He quotes Dr Emma Briant, who notes in her 2015 book Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism that the BBC director-general receives direct briefings from the British intelligence services “on the right line to take on whether something is in the national and operational interest to broadcast.”

Indeed, out of all the British broadcasters’ coverage of the Iraq war, the BBC was revealed to be the most sympathetic to the government, according to a 2003 study led by Professor Justin Lewis from Cardiff University’s School of Journalism.

Defending the BBC’s reporting in a letter to prime minister Tony Blair in 2003, then BBC director-general Greg Dyke noted he had “set up a committee … which insisted that we had to find a balanced audience for programmes like Question Time at a time when it was very hard to find supporters of the war willing to come on.”

The same committee “when faced with a massive bias against the war among phone-in callers, decided to increase the number of phone lines so that pro-war listeners had a better chance of getting through and getting onto the programmes,” Dyke explained.

This “was done in an attempt to ensure our coverage was balanced,” Dyke wrote, apparently with a straight face.

Moreover, academic studies on issues such as the Israel-Palestine conflict and the financial crisis shows the BBC has tended to reflect “the ideas and interests of elite groups, and marginalised alternative and oppositional perspectives,” to quote Mills on the BBC’s overall journalistic output.

Turning to contemporary politics, in 2016 Sir Michael Lyons, the former chair of the BBC Trust, raised concerns about the corporation’s coverage of new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“I can understand why people are worried about whether some of the most senior editorial voices in the BBC have lost their impartiality on this,” he noted.

As is often the case, a careful reading of Establishment sources can provide illumination about what is really going on.

Concerned about the government’s proposed cuts to the World Service, the House of Commons foreign affairs committee highlighted the propaganda role of the BBC in 2014: “We believe that it would not be in the interests of the UK for the BBC to lose sight of the priorities of the FCO, which relies upon the World Service as an instrument of ‘soft power’.”

Fake news indeed.

January 13, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

The War on Populism

CJ Hopkins | Consent Factory | January 10, 2018

Remember when the War on Terror ended and the War on Populism began? That’s OK, no one else does.

It happened in the Summer of 2016, also known as “the Summer of Fear.” The War on Terror was going splendidly. There had been a series of “terrorist attacks,” in Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, each of them perpetrated by suddenly “self-radicalized” “lone wolf terrorists” (or “non-terrorist terrorists“) who had absolutely no connection to any type of organized terrorist groups prior to suddenly “self- radicalizing” themselves by consuming “terrorist content” on the Internet. It seemed we were entering a new and even more terrifying phase of the Global War on Terror, a phase in which anyone could be a “terrorist” and “terrorism” could mean almost anything.

This broadening of the already virtually meaningless definition of “terrorism” was transpiring just in time for Obama to hand off the reins to Hillary Clinton, who everyone knew was going to be the next president, and who was going to have to bomb the crap out of Syria in response to the non-terrorist terrorist threat. The War on Terror (or, rather, “the series of persistent targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” as Obama rebranded it) was going to continue, probably forever. The Brexit referendum had just taken place, but no one had really digested that yet … and then Trump won the nomination.

Like that scene in Orwell’s 1984 where the Party switches official enemies right in the middle of the Hate Week rally, the War on Terror was officially canceled and replaced by the War on Populism. Or … all right, it wasn’t quite that abrupt. But seriously, go back and scan the news. Note how the “Islamic terrorist threat” we had been conditioned to live in fear of on a daily basis since 2001 seemed to just vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the “existential threat” we were facing was “neo-nationalism,” “illiberalism,” or the pejorative designator du jour, “populism.”

Here we are, two and a half years later, and “democracy” is under constant attack by a host of malevolent “populist” forces …. Russo-fascist Black vote suppressors, debaucherous eau de Novichok assassins, Bernie Sanders, the yellow-vested French, emboldened non-exploding mail bomb bombers, Jeremy Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult, and brain-devouring Russian-Cubano crickets. The President of the United States is apparently both a Russian intelligence operative and literally the resurrection of Hitler. NBC and MSNBC have been officially merged with the CIA. The Guardian has dispensed with any pretense of journalism and is just making stories up out of whole cloth. Anyone who has ever visited Russia, or met with a Russian, or read a Russian novel, is on an “Enemies of Democracy” watch list (as is anyone refusing to vacation in Israel, which the Senate is now in the process of making mandatory for all U.S. citizens). Meanwhile, the “terrorists” are nowhere to be found, except for the terrorists we’ve been using to attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad, the sadistic nerve-gassing Monster of Syria, who illegally invaded and conquered his own country in defiance of the “international community.”

All this madness has something to do with “populism,” although it isn’t clear what. The leading theory is that the Russians are behind it. They’ve got some sort of hypno-technology (not to be confused with those brain-eating crickets) capable of manipulating the minds of … well, Black people, mostly, but not just Black people. Obviously, they are also controlling the French, who they have transformed into “racist, hate-filled liars” who are “attacking elected representatives, journalists, Jews, foreigners, and homosexuals,” according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the anointed “Golden Boy of Europe.” More terrifying still, Putin is now able to project words out of Trump’s mouth in real-time, literally using Trump’s head as a puppet, or like one of those Mission Impossible masks. (Rachel Maddow conclusively proved this by spending a couple of hours on Google comparing the words coming out of Trump’s mouth to words that had come out of Russian mouths, but had never come out of American mouths, which they turned out to be the exact same words, or pretty close to the exact same words!) Apparently, Putin’s master plan for Total Populist World Domination and Establishment of the Thousand Year Duginist Reich was to provoke the global capitalist ruling classes, the corporate media, and their credulous disciples into devolving into stark raving lunatics, or blithering idiots, or a combination of both.

But, seriously, all that actually happened back in the Summer of 2016 was the global capitalist ruling classes recognized that they had a problem. The problem that they recognized they had (and continue to have, and are now acutely aware of) is that no one is enjoying global capitalism … except the global capitalist ruling classes. The whole smiley-happy, supranational, neo-feudal corporate empire concept is not going over very well with the masses, or at least not with the unwashed masses. People started voting for right-wing parties, and Brexit, and other “populist” measures (not because they had suddenly transformed into Nazis, but because the Right was acknowledging and exploiting their anger with the advance of global neoliberalism, while liberals and the Identity Politics Left were slow jamming the TPP with Obama and babbling about transgender bathrooms, and such).

The global capitalist ruling classes needed to put a stop to that (i.e, the “populist” revolt, not the bathroom debate). So they suspended the Global War on Terror and launched the War on Populism. It was originally only meant to last until Hillary Clinton’s coronation, or the second Brexit referendum, then switch back to the War on Terror, but … well, weird things happen, and here we are.

We’ll get back to the War on Terror, eventually … as the War on Populism is essentially just a temporary rebranding of it. In the end, it’s all the same counter-insurgency. When a system is globally hegemonic, as our current model of capitalism is, every war is a counter-insurgency (i.e., a campaign waged against an internal enemy), as there are no external enemies to fight. The “character” of the internal enemies might change (e.g., “Islamic terrorism,” “extremism,” “fascism,” “populism,” “Trumpism,” “Corbynism,” et cetera) but they are all insurgencies against the hegemonic system … which, in our case, is global capitalism, not the United States of America.

The way I see it, the global capitalist ruling classes now have less than two years to put down this current “populist” insurgency. First and foremost, they need to get rid of Trump, who despite his bombastic nativist rhetoric is clearly no “hero of the common people,” nor any real threat to global capitalism, but who has become an anti-establishment symbol, like a walking, talking “fuck you” to both the American and global neoliberal elites. Then, they need to get a handle on Europe, which isn’t going to be particularly easy. What happens next in France will be telling, as will whatever becomes of Brexit … which I continue to believe will never actually happen, except perhaps in some purely nominal sense.

And then there’s the battle for hearts and minds, which they’ve been furiously waging for the last two years, and which is only going to intensify. If you think things are batshit crazy now (which, clearly, they are), strap yourself in. What is coming is going to make COINTELPRO look like the work of some amateur meme-freak. The neoliberal corporate media, psy-ops like Integrity Initiative, Internet-censoring apps like NewsGuard, ShareBlue and other David Brock outfits, and a legion of mass hysteria generators will be relentlessly barraging our brains with absurdity, disinformation, and just outright lies (as will their counterparts on the Right, of course, in case you thought that they were any alternative). It’s going to get extremely zany.

The good news is, by the time it’s all over and Trump has been dealt with, and normality restored, and the working classes put back in their places, we probably won’t remember that any of this happened. We’ll finally be able to sort out those bathrooms, and get back to paying the interest on our debts, and to living in more or less constant fear of an imminent devastating terrorist attack … and won’t that be an enormous relief?

#

Photo: Zakaria Abdelkafi – AFP

January 10, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the USSR: How to Read Western News

By Patrick ARMSTRONG | Strategic Culture Foundation | 08.01.2019

The heroes of Dickens’ Pickwick Papers visit the fictional borough of Eatanswill to observe an election between the candidates of the Blue Party and the Buff Party. The town is passionately divided, on all possible issues, between the two parties. Each party has its own newspaper: the Eatanswill Gazette is Blue and entirely devoted to praising the noble Blues and excoriating the perfidious and wicked Buffs; the Eatanswill Independent is equally passionate on the opposite side of every question. No Buff would dream of reading “that vile and slanderous calumniator, the Gazette“, nor Blue ”that false and scurrilous print, the Independent“.

As usual with Dickens it is both exaggerated and accurate. Newspapers used to be screamingly partisan before “journalism” was invented. Soon followed journalism schools, journalism ethics and journalism objectivity: “real journalism” as they like to call it (RT isn’t of course). “Journalism” became a profession gilded with academical folderol; no longer the refuge of dropouts, boozers, failures, budding novelists and magnates like Lord Copper who know what they want and pay for it. But, despite the pretence of objectivity and standards, there were still Lord Coppers and a lot of Eatanswill. Nonetheless, there were more or less serious efforts to get the facts and balance the story. And Lord Coppers came and went: great newspaper empires rose and fell and there was actually quite a variety of ownership and news outlets. There was sufficient variance that a reader, who was neither Blue nor Buff, could triangulate and form a sense of what was going on.

In the Soviet Union news was controlled; there was no “free press”; there was one owner and the flavours were only slightly varied: the army paper, the party paper, the government paper, papers for people interested in literature or sports. But they all said the same thing about the big subjects. The two principal newspapers were Pravda (“truth”) and Izvestiya (“news”). This swiftly led to the joke that there was no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestiya. It was all pretty heavy handed stuff: lots of fat capitalists in top hats and money bags; Uncle Sam’s clothing dripping with bombs; no problems over here, nothing but problems over there. And it wasn’t very successful propaganda: most of their audience came to believe that the Soviet media was lying both about the USSR and about the West.

But time moves on and while thirty years ago 50 corporations controlled 90% of the US news media, today it’s a not very diverse six. As a result, on many subjects there is a monoview: has any Western news outlet reported, say, these ten true statements?

  1. People in Crimea are pretty happy to be in Russia.
  2. The US and its minions have given an enormous amount of weapons to jihadists.
  3. Elections in Russia reflect popular opinion polling.
  4. There really are a frightening number of well-armed nazis in Ukraine.
  5. Assad is pretty popular in Syria.
  6. The US and its minions smashed Raqqa to bits.
  7. The official Skripal story makes very little sense.
  8. Ukraine is much worse off, by any measurement, now than before Maidan.
  9. Russia actually had several thousand troops in Crimea before Maidan.
  10. There’s a documentary that exposes Browder that he keeps people from seeing.

I typed these out as they occurred to me. I could come up with another ten pretty easily. There’s some tiny coverage, far in the back pages, so that objectivity can be pretended, but most Western media consumers would answer they aren’t; didn’t; don’t; aren’t; isn’t; where?; does; not; what?; never heard of it.

Many subjects are covered in Western media outlets with a single voice. Every now and again there’s a scandal that reveals that “journalists” are richly rewarded for writing stories that fit. But after revelationsadmissions of biaspretending it never happened, the media ship calmly sails on (shedding passengers as it goes, though). Coverage of certain subjects are almost 100% false: Putin, Russia, Syria and Ukraine stand out. But much of the coverage of China and Iran also. Many things about Israel are not permitted. The Russia collusion story is (privately) admitted to be fake by an outlet that covers it non stop. Anything Trump is so heavily flavoured that it’s inedible. And it’s not getting any better: PC is shutting doors everywhere and the Russian-centred “fake news” meme is shutting more. Science is settled but genders are not and we must be vigilant against the “Russian disinformation war“. Every day brings us a step closer to a mono media of the One Correct Opinion. All for the Best Possible Motives, of course.

It’s all rather Soviet in fact.

So, in a world where the Integrity Initiative is spending our tax dollars (pounds actually) to make sure that we never have a doubleplusungood thought or are tempted into crimethink, (and maybe they created the entire Skripal story – more revelations by the minute), what are we to make of our Free Media™? Well, that all depends on what you’re interested in. If it’s sports (not Russian athletes – druggies every one unlike brave Western asthmatics) or “beach-ready bodies” (not Russian drug takers of course, only wholesome Americans) – the reporting is pretty reasonable. Weather reports, for example (Siberian blasts excepted) or movie reviews (but all those Russian villains). But the rest is some weird merger of the Eatonswill Gazette and Independent : Blues/Buffs good! others, especially Russians, bad!

So, as they say in Russia, что делать? What to do? Well, I suggest we learn from the Soviet experience. After all, most Soviet citizens were much more sceptical about their home media outlets than any of my neighbours, friends or relatives are about theirs.

My suggestions are three:

  1. Read between the lines. A difficult art this and it needs to be learned and practised. Dissidents may be sending us hints from the bowels of Minitrue. For example, it’s impossible to imagine anyone seriously saying “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon“; it must have been written to subversively mock the official Russia panic. I have speculated elsewhere that the writers may have inserted clues that the “intelligence reports” on Russian interference were nonsense.
  2. Notice what they’re not telling you. For example: remember when Aleppo was a huge story two years ago? But there’s nothing about it now. One should wonder why there isn’t; a quick search will find videos like this (oops! Russian! not real journalism!) here’s one from Euronews. Clearly none of this fits the “last hospitals destroyed” and brutal Assad memes of two years ago; that’s why the subject has disappeared from Western media outlets. It is always a good rule to wonder why the Biggest Story Ever suddenly disappears: that’s a strong clue it was a lie or nonsense.
  3. Most of the time, you’d be correct to believe the opposite. Especially, when all the outlets are telling you the same thing. It’s always good to ask yourself cui bono: who’s getting what benefit out of making you believe something? It’s quite depressing how successful the big uniform lie is: even though the much-demonised Milosevic was eventually found innocent, even though Qaddafi was not “bombing his own people”, similar lies are believed about Assad and other Western enemies-of-the-moment. Believe the opposite unless there’s very good reason not to.

In the Cold War there was a notion going around that the Soviet and Western systems were converging and that they would meet in the middle, so to speak. Well, perhaps they did meet but kept on moving past each other. And so, the once reasonably free and varied Western media comes to resemble the controlled and uniform Soviet media and we in the West must start using Soviet methods to understand.

Always remember that the Soviet rulers claimed their media was free too; free from “fake news” that is.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

‘America must rebuild understanding of Russia’: How Integrity Initiative drafted US for new Cold War

RT | January 9, 2019

Shortly after Donald Trump’s election, a UK-funded covert influence group proposed opening a new office in the US to train a “younger generation of Russia watchers” and “strengthen” American role in countering Moscow, leaks show.

The latest tranche of documents, anonymously uploaded online last week, include an outline for “developing a US arm of [the] Integrity Initiative Program” and a schedule for a visit to Washington of its director, which details meetings with former senior Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, and top diplomats and officials.

‘West badly needs US leadership’

Despite the elected White House administration tentatively attempting a rapprochement with the Kremlin at the time, the group, effectively a foreign agent on US soil, suggests in the first document, dated to August 2017, that Washington needs to go in a radically different, if familiar, direction, “before it is too late.”

“The West is badly in need of a reassertion of US leadership. The EU has been unable to generate any strategic thinking or to exercise convincing leadership. Russia (& China) are successfully driving wedges between EU Member States and between Allies within NATO,” reads the plaintive precis.

The solution: revive the Cold War-era resistance to Moscow through a Washington-dominated NATO, which is elsewhere also listed as a financial sponsor of Integrity Initiative, alongside the UK’s Foreign Office.

“The US needs to rebuild its understanding of Russia and how to deal with it,” while “the UK needs reminding how to play its key role of encouraging/enabling US leadership in Europe/NATO.”

To serve these aims Integrity Initiative plans to “bring together academics, think tankers, journalists, civil servants, politicians, business people,” who understand “the problem” of Russia, but “have not been working coherently.”

This is a facsimile of the model Integrity Initiative rolled out in the UK after its founding in 2015, where it used its “cluster” of influential public voices to discreetly sway, manipulate or to outright dictate Russian coverage on such issues as cyber warfare, Syria and the Skripals. Or, as the text euphemistically puts it, their function is “to ensure the popular support for governments that democracies require.”

With many of the original Cold Warriors now of pensionable age, a vital responsibility of the recruits would be “attracting a new generation of younger analysts to learn from the older generation.”

Screenshot from the leaked US office proposal

There also appears to be implicit criticism of how the actual chosen US president is handling foreign policy, with the document urging the US to “improve its own governance at a time of transition.”

But, luckily for America, it doesn’t have to fear foreign meddling, as “the cluster will work completely impartially and not become involved in US party politics.”

Goulash with Gorka

The second document contains the dates and locations of a trip by Chris Donnelly, the UK military intelligence veteran and director of Integrity Initiative, to the American capital between September 18 and 22 of an unstated year. In the same upload folder, there are several support documents related to some of the events he was set to attend.

The trip involved wall-to-wall meetings, dinners, lectures and workshops, with separate visits to the State Department, National Defense University and the Pentagon, but several names stand out.

One is breakfast with Sebastian Gorka, the hawkish TV intelligence pundit, who served as a deputy assistant to Donald Trump between January and August 2017, and was credited as a key foreign policy inspiration prior to that. Another is a meeting with McCain Institute director Kurt Volker, a former US ambassador to NATO, who currently represents the US in the Ukrainian peace negotiations.

There is a meeting with officials from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, an official counter-propaganda department, which, perhaps not coincidentally, has recently switched from fighting jihadis online, to combating Russia, having received a boost in funding. On the last day of the four-day trip, Donnelly was due to talk to Dorothy Rayburn, an official at USAID, the civilian aid agency, which has previously been accused by foreign governments of operating as an arm of US intelligence, and has been expelled from Russia since 2012.

Screenshot from leaked file

It’s not ‘meddling’ when Integrity Initiative does it

Integrity Initiative has acknowledged that its private documents were “hacked” though it has not confirmed or denied the authenticity of any that have been made public in four separate tranches starting from November.

So, with only partial evidence available, it is not possible to conclude if Integrity Initiative did open an office in the US, or whether the talks held by Donnelly resulted in a shift in Russia policy.

Nonetheless, the first leak did contain a document listing a dozen names under the heading “US Cluster,” including several Donnelly was due to meet. There is also an exchange with an FCO official in which Integrity Initiative says that it is in the process of opening a non-profit in the US and, as well as a “simple office” in Washington, plans to create several clusters “in key states, not in DC.” It is not clear what would constitute a “key state” for an agency with Integrity Initiative’s apparently boundless remit.

What does appear certain is that the outfit was setting up its networks of influence covertly, and without declaring its true purpose, despite operating in an allied state. While the meeting with government figures seems to give it a sheen of legitimacy, it is also notable that none of those it met are representative officials, but rather narrowly-known but influential members of various Washington letter agencies. Its policy aims are not democratically-vetted, and possibly even at odds with those officially pursued by the United States.

Nonetheless, while a Russian outfit operating in “key US states” –even if it cultivated peaceful engagement– would surely command the attention of the Mueller investigation, the activities of a UK organization advocating a return to Soviet-era tensions are almost sure to be allowed to continue, without so much as a peep from Washington.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Collusion with… Ukraine? NY Times corrects its bombshell ‘Russiagate’ report

RT | January 10, 2019

It was supposed to be a slam-dunk proof of “collusion” with Russia: President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort shared polling data with a “Kremlin-linked oligarch,” the NY Times reported. Except he hadn’t.

Documents submitted by Manafort’s lawyers in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “Russiagate” probe, unsealed Tuesday, were redacted improperly and showed that Manafort was in communication with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian whom the FBI has “assessed” has “connections” with Russian intelligence based on where he went to college in the 1980s.

That was old news, however, so the Times needed something even more bombastic: citing an anonymous source described as “a person knowledgeable about the situation,” the paper reported that Kilimnik passed the data on to Oleg Deripaska, “a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin.”

“This is the closest thing we have seen to collusion,” the Times quoted Clint Watts, one of the professional Russiagate alarmists. And then… oops.

On Wednesday, the Times corrected the story: Manafort wanted the information sent not to Deripaska, but to “two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov.” In the edited article, the two are described as people who had “financed Russian-aligned Ukrainian political parties that had hired Mr. Manafort as a political consultant.”

The very same anonymous person quoted about Deripaska is also the source for the claim that some of the polling data shared with – well, whoever – was “developed by a private polling firm working for the campaign.”

By pure coincidence, news outlets across the West also breathlessly reported on Tuesday about the unsealed indictment against Natalia Veselnitskaya – making sure they mention “Trump Tower” even though the charges against the Russian attorney had nothing to do with that 2016 meeting, but with a case involving notorious tax dodge Bill Browder. It all seemed like a perfect storm of “Russiagate” stories, on the eve of Trump’s address to the nation amid the ongoing government shutdown.

Even as the Times was trying to correct its own record, Trump’s critics in the media-political sphere were picking up the original story and running with it. Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), ranking member on the Intelligence Committee and one of the driving forces of Russiagate on Capitol Hill, echoed the quote Watts gave to the Times almost verbatim on CNN, declaring that “This appears as the closest we’ve seen yet to real, live, actual collusion.”

That is actually a shocking admission by Warner, since he’s claimed for years that the so-called Russian collusion is a proven fact, rather than a figment of conspiracy theorists’ rich imagination, driven by projection and profits to be made from “securing our democracy” in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.

If a semi-retracted New York Times story, relying on an unreliable anonymous source and mistaking Ukrainians for Russians, is the “closest” thing to proof of collusion, perhaps there is no ‘there’ there after all.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Kristol a Kremlin agent? Shady outfit claims term ‘neocon’ is Russian propaganda

RT | January 9, 2019

Anyone using the term ‘neocon’ is doing the Kremlin’s bidding, according to PropOrNot, a shadowy outfit that sees Russian agents everywhere, in its quest to police social media on behalf of the ruling US establishment.

The anonymous and self-appointed guardians of democracy declared this week that terms such as “neocon,” “corporatist”, “imperialist”, “Zionist” or “establishment” – among others – are “tropes/slurs primarily used by Russian propaganda.” To illustrate this, they tweeted a chart by someone called “Northern Conspirator,” another anonymous Twitter thought-police account.

Reactions to PropOrNot’s claim have been swift and satirical, with outspoken critics of the corporatist imperial warmongering neocon-neoliberal establishment declaring themselves totally convinced.

“PropOrNot ID Service,” as its full name goes, first made headlines in late 2016, as one of the outfits cited by the Washington Post claiming Russian meddling in US politics. The Post described them as “an independent team of concerned American citizens.”

Hiding behind anonymity, the outfit compiled a list of websites and people it declared “Russian” agents. After protests from multiple people who found themselves on the blacklist, the Post had to publish an editor’s note, saying it could not “vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet.”

Its influence continued, however, with multiple outlets on its blacklist finding themselves banned by Facebook in October 2018 as “Russian propaganda.”

The efforts of anonymous outfits to police speech in the US is problematic, given the recent revelations that another self-appointed guardian of democracy, New Knowledge, actually spearheaded a “false flag” social media operation in 2017 – one of the four such operations identified so far, all on behalf of Democrats in a hotly contested Senate race in Alabama. New Knowledge was later commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee to write a report on social media meddling, in which they attributed their own methods and tactics to the Russian government.

In addition to its malice in declaring all criticism of US establishment “Russian propaganda,” PropOrNot is factually wrong: neoconservatism is very much an American thing, as argued by its “godfather” Irving Kristol.

The “historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy,” Kristol wrote in an essay titled The Neoconservative Persuasion, published in 2003 by the Weekly Standard. That was also the title of Kristol’s collected writings, which came out after his death in 2009.

Kristol’s son Bill now sits on the advisory council of ‘Alliance for Securing Democracy,’ the parent organization of the Hamilton68 dashboard, a brainchild of New Knowledge’s co-founder Jonathon Morgan that purports to track “Russian bots” on Twitter.

The burning question now in everyone’s mind is how such luminaries of neoconservatism – from Irving and Bill Kristol to Norman and John Podhoretz – have managed to be undetected Kremlin agents for so long.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment