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Two Think Tanks Claim Sputnik Meddled in 2017 French Election, Present No Proof… Again

Sputnik – July 11, 2019

Russian media outlets last year faced accusations of interfering in France’s internal politics, but a recent probe by French intelligence has reportedly found no signs of such activities.

The French Institute of Strategic Research of the Military School (IRSEM) and American think-tank the Atlantic Council have in a recent collaborative project produced a report, the latest in a row of similar ones, claiming that Russia meddled in the internal affairs of a foreign government. This time, the researchers accused Moscow of trying to prevent the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 French presidential election.

The researchers try to prove that by using state-funded media outlets, namely Sputnik, as an “information weapon”, the Kremlin allegedly organised a coordinated “disinformation campaign” against then presidential hopeful Macron. However, like many similar papers on alleged “Russian meddling”, this research also fails to present solid facts that substantiate the claims and stumbles into certain problems when trying to prove that such a targeted “campaign” actually existed in the first place.

Notably, the report’s key author and head of the IRSEM, Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, who also serves on the Academic Advisory Board of the NATO Defence College, took most of his points of evidence from the works of Ben Nimmo, a researcher at the Atlantic Council. The latter, like many other Western think tanks, regularly publishes research devoted to proving the existence of Russian attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Western countries and proposing ways in which they can counter this alleged “threat”.

“Anti-Macron Campaign” or Factual Reporting?

The IRSEM study recalls that back in February 2017, Macron’s digital manager accused Sputnik of publishing “fake news” about his employer from the “very beginning of [the election] campaign”. The author of the paper, Vilmer, claims that this “disinformation campaign” began when the French edition of Sputnik published a report about statements by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in which he revealed that he possessed “interesting information” about Macron, albeit without specifying whether it was compromising in any way.

Referring to the Sputnik article as “menacing”, the IRSEM report draws parallels to the 2016 US presidential election and WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. At the same time, the paper didn’t elaborate any further on how exactly reporting on an interview with a famous whistle-blower, in which no compromising information about Macron was published, was able to affect the outcome of the election. It also failed to mention that WikiLeaks’ threats, covered by Sputnik, were not limited to Macron, but also touched his main opponent in the second round, Marine Le Pen.

“Hand-Picked” Speakers vs Hand-Picked Examples

The IRSEM head admits in the report that Sputnik didn’t publish any “fake news” during the election campaign in France, but instead accused it of “information manipulation”. Vilmer claims that the Russian media outlet had expressed “a strong bias” by allegedly leaving out important information and by “hiding behind the quotations” of the “right people”.

While failing to present any proof that Sputnik had omitted any important facts in its articles, the researcher instead tried to substantiate his claim by indicating that Sputnik had interviewed only two persons, who happen to be members of the French Parliament – Thierry Mariani and Nicolas Dhuicq – in regards to the upcoming election. However, a simple search on the news outlet’s website reveals that in reality Sputnik had interviewed far more contributors on the topic, such as Jacques Lamblin, another member of the country’s parliament, as well as various European lawmakers and pundits.

Alleged “Focus” on “Macron Affair”

The paper proceeds to claim that Sputnik covered the election in France with “a distinct bias against Macron”. According to Vilmer, this was expressed in a strategy of giving a deaf ear to scandals involving other contenders for the presidency, such as “the Kremlin’s favoured candidate”, Marine Le Pen, and instead focusing on “rumours” about Macron’s alleged offshore accounts.

The IRSEM research insisted that most of Sputnik’s articles were devoted to the “invented Macron affair” involving offshore accounts while it “defended Le Pen and amplified her party”. However, the paper does not include any factual proof of a discrepancy in the coverage of Macron-related scandals and controversies involving his rivals. It also fully omits the actual fact that Sputnik covered the latter.

“Blame Russia” Trend

France was the second Western country to try to blame Russia for interfering in its domestic affairs. This was preceded by an attempt by the US Democratic Party, and specifically its candidate Hillary Clinton, to shift the blame for the defeat in the 2016 presidential election on to supposed meddling by Moscow.

This blame-game later became a trend among Western governments and political parties in countries such as the UK, Germany, and Spain, to name only a few. But just as in the case of the US, none of these states managed to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the claims, at best referring to obscure “intelligence reports”. Moscow has repeatedly pointed out this lack of underlying proof when rejecting these groundless accusations

Notably, following Macron’s victory in the elections his team abandoned the narrative for a while, only to return to it in February 2019, accusing Moscow of “orchestrating” the Yellow Vest rallies, which demanded Macron’s resignation, and pointing to Sputnik and RT for this purpose. However, earlier reports by local news outlets said that the French intelligence services’ investigation had failed to find any signs indicating that the Russian media was able to impact French domestic affairs.

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Why UK report on ‘digital gangster’ Facebook is a thinly veiled call for censorship

RT | February 18, 2019

A new UK 108-page report on “disinformation and fake news” online strongly reprimands Facebook for its ongoing misuse of personal data — but also casually promotes unprecedented levels of political censorship on social media.

The report, which is the culmination of an 18-month investigation by a UK parliamentary committee, lambastes Facebook over its failure to protect its users’ data and accuses it of deliberate breaches of privacy and anti-competition laws. It offers numerous examples of Facebook sins, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the shady firm mine the personal data of 50 million users without permission.

The report also accuses CEO Mark Zuckerberg of showing “contempt” towards the UK parliament for refusing three requests to appear before the committee and admonishes Facebook for behaving like a “digital gangster.”

Grand intentions?

Despite its wide-ranging criticisms, however, it is immediately evident that the overarching goal of the report appears to be to force Facebook to engage in censorship to the benefit of Western governments. It focuses heavily on “malign forces” posting content which is intended to cause “disruption and confusion” online. Lest there be any confusion about the identity of those malign forces, the word “Russian” is used 51 times in the report.

While the authors claim to be interested in ensuring a “plurality of voices” online, they are extremely quick to resort to forms of censorship as a solution to the existence of content that does not adhere to certain approved narratives.

Censorship solution

There have been multiple examples in recent months of Facebook willingly and enthusiastically working in conjunction with US government-funded think tanks to target content critical of the US government, including its temporary removal of the English-language page belonging to Telesur, a Venezuela-based outlet which questions US policy in Latin America.

Facebook’s removal of that page happened weeks after it partnered with the US government-funded Atlantic Council to combat “inauthentic” content online.

The report admits that while it’s impossible to completely rid the internet of this politically inconvenient content, governments must focus on “the enforcement of greater transparency in the digital sphere” so that citizens “know the source” of information.

Facebook’s recent suspension of pages partly owned by RT video agency Ruptly (purportedly due to their failure to prominently disclose its funding) would surely please the UK committee. The problem is, these new transparency rules are being arbitrarily applied to pages publishing content critical of Western governments, while content funded by those governments so far is subject to no such oversight.

Further proving that the (thinly veiled) intent of the report is censorship of foreign (i.e., Russian) media, the report praises a French law which allows the French national broadcasting agency “to suspend television channels controlled by or under the influence of a foreign state” if they disseminate “false” information.

Discredited sources

The British report has some glaring flaws and inconsistencies, including its use of the New Knowledge cybersecurity firm as a credible source of information on Russian influence online, despite the fact that it was recently exposed by the New York Times for faking a Russian disinformation campaign in order to influence a local US election. Nonetheless, the report describes New Knowledge as an “information integrity company.”

It also praises NewsGuard, an app with deep ties to the US government, which applies trust ratings to news websites. As RT has documented before, however, NewsGuard applies its criteria selectively and exhibits clear bias against content critical of US policies. It is also lobbying to have its ratings installed by default on computers in schools and universities around the US — and even to have them installed by default on smartphones.

Ironically, the report criticizes people for giving credence to information which “reinforces their views” while dismissing content which they do not agree with as “fake news.”

Russian influence, or online democracy?

The report also takes a look at the “influence” Russian media may have had on the 2016 Brexit referendum, specifically outlets like RT and Sputnik. In an admission which is unintentionally quite funny, the report states that articles which had the “heaviest anti-EU bias” are the ones that went “most viral” online during the campaign.

Of course, by highlighting the fact that so many people were enthusiastically sharing content critical of the EU, the report inadvertently concedes that anti-EU sentiment was widespread, rather than some kind of evil plot by Russia to “sow discord” in the West.

The report also notes, however, that Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright MP admitted that he has seen no convincing evidence that Russian interference has had any “material impact” on how people choose to vote. Similarly, in the US, little evidence has been presented to suggest that so-called Russian online influence had any impact whatsoever on the outcome of the 2016 election.

Nonetheless, the report suggests that the UK government should launch new investigations into past elections, including the Brexit referendum and the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 to dig for elusive evidence of Russian interference.

Say goodbye to ‘harmful’ content

To ensure that social media companies comply with all its various demands, the report recommends that “a new category of tech company is formulated” which tightens their liabilities and would see those companies assume legal liability for content identified as “harmful.” It also advocates the establishment of a “compulsory Code of Ethics” setting out exactly what constitutes harmful content.

The British government should also “explore the feasibility” of adopting a UK version of the US Foreign Agents and Registration Act (FARA), it says. FARA requires persons acting “as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity” to disclose this information publicly. Ironically, a similar ‘foreign agents’ law in Russia was heavily criticized by Western media and politicians for targeting dissenting voices.

US government-funded outlets like Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) both wrote reports critical of the law, with VOA even suggesting it had “echoes of Stalin-era denunciations” of dissidents. No such outrage emerged from those outlets when RT was forced to register as a “foreign agent” in the US last year.

Finally, the report suggests that companies like Facebook should also be required to finance digital literacy learning as “the fourth pillar of education” alongside reading, writing and math.

If this report is anything to go by, there is no doubt that learning to identify (and ignore) content critical of Western governments would be a major element of such “digital literacy” courses.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas 2018: Iran and Syria show respect, Israel and Saudi Arabia don’t

By Neil Clark | RT | December 29, 2018

Christmas is a time of goodwill to all men. Or at least it should be. But while the West’s Middle East ‘bad guys’ Iran and Syria, showed the Yuletide spirit, its closest allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, failed to do so.

Iran is demonized by Western neocons and we’re meant to see the country as an evil, ‘monster‘ regime of foaming-at-the-mouth religious fanatics who hate everyone.

So it goes against the dominant narrative somewhat that Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted a Christmas message and wished ‘peace and joy to all in 2019’, on Christmas Eve.

It also goes against the narrative, that Zarif, back in September, wished Jews, in Iran and across the world, “a very Happy New Year filled with peace and harmony.”

We’re told repeatedly that the Iranian ‘regime’ is ‘anti-Semitic’, but do ‘anti-Semites’ wish Jews a happy ‘Rosh Hashanah’? If so, it’s a rather strange definition.

The Iranian Foreign Minister also tweeted on December 26 a message of goodwill to Iran’s Zoroastrian community.

Contrast this consideration to people of different faiths from Tehran, with the lack of congratulations on other religious holidays from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A week before Iran’s Foreign Minister was tweeting positively about Jesus, the KSA’s Customs Authority was also on the social media platform, confirming that Christmas trees were banned from entering the Kingdom for the festive season.

In fact, despite the large number of Christians from other countries who work in the country, including many Britons, the holding of any Christmas-related services or commemorations in Saudi Arabia is strictly banned. “The Christmas season – often a season where Christians around the world are most visible – is a tense time for Christians in Saudi Arabia, who have to celebrate the holiday in secret, risking arrest and deportation,” said Jeff King, President of the International Christian Concern, in 2016.

Imagine being a Christian and not being able to openly celebrate the birth of Christ. It happens in Saudi Arabia, yet Western leaders, so keen to lecture others about ‘human rights’ and ‘religious freedom’ stay silent, preferring to pick on Iran – where Christmas can be openly celebrated.

Syria is another country ‘monstered’ by the endless war lobby but where, against all the odds, the Christmas spirit is still maintained. Big seasonal celebrations were held this year in Aleppo and Damascus. Remember Aleppo?

It was recaptured by the Syrian Arab Army from Islamist ‘rebels’ two years ago this month, and the neocon/’liberal interventionist’ commentariat, and most of the political class portrayed it as a most terrible thing. Ian Austin MP said that people in Aleppo faced ‘slaughter’.

John Woodcock MP called the Morning Star newspaper ‘traitorous scum’ for referring to the recapture of Aleppo by Syrian forces of their own territory, as a ‘liberation’. But if you look at the pictures of Christians celebrating Christmas there once again, which they were forbidden to do under the western-backed head-chopping ’rebels’ you can see that the ‘L’ word was indeed appropriate.

This year in Damascus though, the festive celebrations were defiled by another act of aggression against Syria from a Western-supported-country, one which incidentally Ian Austin and John Woodcock have been Parliamentary ‘Friends’ of.

On the evening of December 25, loud explosions could be heard seven miles from the center of Damascus. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that Israel’s Christmas Day F-16 strikes endangered two civilian flights – as well as injuring three personnel at the logistics compound.

Whatever your stance is on Middle Eastern affairs – and leaving aside the illegality of the operation whenever it took place – the question is: did Israel really have to bomb Syria on Christmas Day?

Would Israel’s ’security’ have been lessened if the raid had taken place on December 28 and not the 25th? Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did tweet Christmas greetings out to ‘Christian friends’ in Israel and around the world on December 24, but why did his forces attack a country where Christians were celebrating one day later?

Just imagine the enormous outcry if Russia had carried out air strikes on Ukrainian targets on the evening of 25th December. In fact, the US magazine Newsweek, doing its best to ratchet up East-West tensions still further, predicted such an event only last week. They published an article on Christmas Eve which began with the words “As people in Western Europe and the United States get comfortable for the holidays, the chances increase that Russia will take advantage of the distraction to launch attacks against its neighbor Ukraine, experts said.”

And who are these ’experts’, I hear you ask. Well, guess what, they were all from the Atlantic Council.

The ‘experts’, surprise surprise, were wrong. The ‘monster’ Russia did not launch attacks on Ukraine over Christmas. But Israel did attack Syria – and there was silence from those who would have screeched very loudly (and be calling for RT to be taken off the air immediately) if the Kremlin had ordered such a sacrilegious act.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) were also busy bombing on Christmas Day. The genocidal group carried out suicide bomb attacks on Libya’s Foreign Ministry in Tripoli on Tuesday morning, killing three and leaving over half-a-dozen injured.

One doesn’t expect IS to respect Christmas, but you would expect Western leaders – of predominantly Christian nations to regard the group as public enemy number one. Yet in Syria, the US and its allies welcomed the group’s growth precisely because it threatened the secular, Christian-protecting government of Bashar al-Assad. A declassified US intelligence report from August 2012 predicted the establishment of a “Salafist principality in Eastern Syria” and said that this is “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

Furthermore, in a leaked tape recording the former Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that the US allowed IS to expand its territory to threaten Damascus.

At the same time, those fighting IS, and other al-Qaeda-linked death squads in Syria, namely the Syrian Arab Army, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, have been ‘monstered’ by the West and its regional allies’ propaganda machines.

Reflect on this: It wasn’t Syrian, Russia, Iranian or Hezbollah forces or followers who slaughtered British and other Western holiday-makers on the beach in Tunisia in 2015 – but an IS terrorist who is thought to have trained at a jihadist camp in neighboring Libya and whose government had been forcibly toppled by NATO powers four years earlier. Similarly, it wasn’t Syrian, Russian, Iranian or Hezbollah forces or followers who carried out murderous attacks against civilians in Paris, Nice, Brussels, and London, or at Christmas markets in Berlin and Strasbourg.

Respecting Christmas and what it stands for is an important litmus test, as it tells us a lot about the actors involved, especially if they are not themselves Christians.

The ‘monstering’ of those who do show the proper ‘Yuletide spirit’, and the turning of a blind eye to those that don’t, highlights the spectacular hypocrisy of those in power in the West who profess to support ‘Christian values’ but in fact do everything possible to subvert them.

If anyone needs an Ebenezer Scrooge-style epiphany this Christmas, it’s the ‘monster-slayers’ themselves.

Read more:

Christmas in Aleppo: Syrians celebrate as city recovers from years-long bloodshed (VIDEOS)

December 29, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Atlantic Council Podium Used to Force European Allies to March in Step

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.10.2018

Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, the administration’s top diplomat focused on Europe and Eurasia, has warned that Europe’s energy dependence on Russia is unacceptable for the United States. That official was addressing the Atlantic Council’s “Championing the Frontlines of Freedom, Erasing the Grey Zone” event on October 18. According to him, the competition between the great powers has returned to become “the defining geopolitical fact of our time.” Through their lack of vigilance, European and American officials have allowed the growing Russian and Chinese influence in that region to “sneak up on us.” “Western Europeans cannot continue to deepen energy dependence on the same Russia that America defends it against. Or enrich themselves from the same Iran that is building ballistic missiles that threaten Europe,” the assistant secretary emphasized. Adding, “It is not acceptable for US allies in central Europe to support projects like Turkstream 2 and maintain cozy energy deals that make the region more vulnerable to the very Russia that these states joined NATO to protect themselves against.”

Something else that was highly interesting was his mention of Belarus along with Ukraine and Georgia as allies. The assistant secretary believes that [t]he new principle is respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the allies: Ukraine, Georgia and even Belarus. Washington expects states to respect the rights of their neighbors.” This makes one wonder if the Belarusian government knows it has been granted a new status. The official also mentioned Iran, which should not be allowed to sell oil to Europe because it has refused to abandon its ballistic missile program. Washington calls “on our allies to follow our lead and strengthen their laws to better screen foreign investments in their countries for national security threats.”

So, the US laws are flawless, its allies are not viewed as equal partners because they must follow America’s lead, or, in other words, do what they are told, and it’s up to Washington, not the national governments and parliaments, to decide what investments they need and where that money should come from. The leaders of the Central and Eastern European states should find it awkward, being rebuked for having overlooked “the foundational importance of the nation-state and national sovereignty,” while allowing unfriendly China and Russia to move in. “Our allies in Central Europe must not be under any illusions that these powers are their friends,” Mr. Mitchell explained. Obviously, he is quite sure that the governments of these nations are unable to grasp who is their friend and who is not. They are as naïve as small children. It’s good that the US is right here ready to enlighten them.

This highly-placed diplomat went on to explain that the United States should be seen as the protector of sovereignty, as it “rejects Russia’s territorial aggression against its neighbor Ukraine and [rejects] China’s predatory ‘debt-mongering’ throughout Central and Eastern Europe.” 

Unlike its rivals, America does not seek dependencies, but rather independent states that should be “willing and able to share the burden of Western defense.” So, here is what independence à l’américaine is like, with its friends and allies absolutely free to comply with their protector’s instructions offering specific guidance about exactly how much they have to pay for defense, what investments to bring in, who to be friendly with, and how they should properly view the situation in their own region. Whatever happens in Central and Eastern Europe, everything has to revolve around the US.

“The United States has long had a tradition of not interfering in the details of European integration,” Mr. Mitchell assured us. Of course, telling the UK PM to sue the EU and thus expedite Brexit can certainly not be seen as interfering in European integration. Suggesting to French President Macron that he take France out of the EU is another example of noninterference. The Assistant Secretary expressed confidence that the allies could “beat back its competitors in Europe” with a little help from their American friends.

Also addressing the Atlantic Council’s October 18 conference, US Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, revealed that Washington plans to stiffen the sanctions regime against Moscow “every month or two” to make it more amenable over Ukraine. The new policy suggests increasing the sanctions periodically, over time. Those remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Valdai Club in Sochi that he hoped that a government more friendly toward Russia emerges from the Ukrainian presidential election that will be held on March 31.

Mr. Volker defied logic. On the one hand, he cited his “estimation… that the chances of their changing position now are lower then they were even a year ago.” Nevertheless, the best strategy for the West is to maintain pressure on Moscow through those economic sanctions —i.e., sticking to the very same measures that have proven to be useless, given that the “chances of their changing position now are lower.” So, the US and its allies should continue to implement a policy doomed to failure! But the ambassador states, “I think we need to keep on track. I believe that sanctions do have an impact and we see evidence of that in Russia.” What an bizarre way to convince his listeners!

“This is a shockingly big and important humanitarian catastrophe that no one talks about. We have over 10,000 people killed,” exclaimed this official who represents a nation that has just sent Ukraine, a country notorious for the corruption in its military ranks, a shipment of lethal arms so that it can kill more of its own citizens or let the weapons systems fall into the wrong hands and be used to kill other people outside of Ukraine. The “wrong hands” could use those weapons against the US military. With this kind of people you never know.

There is no penetrating insight, no reading between the lines, no wasting time on anything like analysis, and no attempts to find the logic in anything that’s said — nothing like that is required. It’s easy to understand highly-placed US State Department officials. You guys do what you are told, or else. And, just in case, don’t forget that your best friend and closest ally overseas carries a big stick to force you to march in step. These speeches are delivered from time to time to ensure that their “dear allies” remember that. The Atlantic Council’s podium fits the bill.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump accused of anti-Semitism over claim Soros funds ‘elevator screamers’

RT | October 5, 2018

Critics of US President Donald Trump were quick to accuse him of anti-Semitism over a tweet claiming that women accosting senators over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were paid by liberal billionaire George Soros.

“The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it!” Trump tweeted on Friday. “Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love!”

Outrage ensued, obviously. ThinkProgress, the media arm of John Podesta’s Center for American Progress think tank, immediately accused the president of anti-Semitism. A Slate editor chimed in, calling Trump’s words an “anti-Semitic dog whistle.” And a staff writer for The Atlantic called it a “conspiracy theory that a rich Jewish boogeyman is making women claim to have been raped and assaulted.”

Columnists for the New York Times and the Washington Post were quick to follow, denouncing what they said was an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory and adding a splash of guilt by association.

This would come as news to Israel, however. In July 2017, ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Hungary, the Israeli ambassador in Budapest condemned anti-Semitism in relation to a campaign poster depicting Soros negatively. The Israeli Foreign Ministry quickly reacted to clarify the statement, explaining that criticism of Soros was legitimate, because the Hungarian-born billionaire “continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments” and funds organizations “that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”

Speaking of conspiracy theories, though, an Atlantic Council hunter for Russian witches was quick to accuse “the Russians” – specifically, RT – of being behind the whole Soros story.

RT’s sin, you see, was to cite reporting by US journalists who listened in on conference calls in which groups were coordinating protests against Kavanaugh and handing cash to those arrested, and quote public records showing that Soros’s Open Society Foundation gave generously to these groups.

A common thread in all these reports is the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), which organized some of the protests against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee from day one. It was CPD activists and executives that led the ambush of Senator Jeff Flake in a Capitol Hill elevator, as well as several of his colleagues at the Washington National Airport.

Public records show that Soros’s Open Society Foundation is one of the major donors to CPD, giving $130,000 in 2014 and $1,164,500 in 2015. Soros gave an additional $1.5 million to the group in 2016 and 2017.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 7 Comments

Facebook Turns Into Manipulative Tool of US Intelligence – Moscow

Sputnik – 20.09.2018

ST PETERSBURG – Facebook is transforming into a manipulative tool of the US intelligence services and a lever to influence the domestic policy of other states, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

“Facebook continues to follow the path of stricter censorship… [Facebook], which was presented and has established itself as a means of free communication and exchange of various kinds of content, is now being transformed into an instrument of US intelligence agencies to cleanse the information space of materials that are unwanted by Washington,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday.

As an example, she named the agreement between Facebook and the Atlantic Council stated to be aimed to help monitor attempts to spread “disinformation” in elections around the world.

She further called the process “a manipulation and a deception” stressing that “the fighters for free democratic elections and the purity of the information space themselves are engaged in interference in affairs of other states and in the dissemination of false information.”

In addition, she said that under the pretext of fighting fake news, Facebook planned to check the personal data of users, as well as audio and video materials.

After the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook said it would take a number of steps to improve transparency, including stricter rules for ad placement, fact-checking photos, videos and links, as well as adding technology to get rid of fake accounts and improve security.

The United States has accused Moscow of meddling in its 2016 presidential election, with Russian authorities denying the accusations as groundless.

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook’s Atlantic Council censors are more interested in tanks than thinking

RT | September 13, 2018

Like all foreign policy and military think tanks, the Atlantic Council exists to manufacture consent for the goals of its paymasters. It hit the jackpot when the world’s largest social media network put it in charge of censorship.

While the ubiquitous presence of Atlantic Council lobbyists across the information space already imperilled fair discourse, Facebook’s May move empowered it to endanger freedom of expression. And founder Mark Zuckerberg’s reference to an information  “arms race” in a Washington Post op-ed last weekend exposes the grim reality behind the move.

That said, the spin has been impressive. Headlines such as “US think tank’s tiny lab helps Facebook battle fake social media (Reuters )” and “Facebook partners with Atlantic Council to improve election security (The Hill )”.

But the truth is very different. The Atlantic Council is effectively NATO’s propaganda wing. And it’s funded by arms manufacturers, various branches of the US military, and Middle Eastern autocratic regimes, among others, as it promotes the alliance’s agenda – which was best described by its first secretary-general, Hastings Ismay, as  “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

Let’s be clear. If people don’t believe in the “Russian threat,” NATO is essentially rendered useless. Promoting tensions with Europe’s largest country is an existential matter for The Atlantic Council. And now Facebook has effectively placed the lobby group in charge of political censorship on its platform. This presents chilling dangers to free speech and should worry anybody who believes in fairness and balance in the media. Especially after Zuckerberg admitted in the Washington Post piece how his company is being used by US authorities to control information and combat “foreign actors.” The tech boss also boasted that “we’ve worked with law enforcement to take down accounts in Russia.”

Roll of horror

Founded in 1961, with the mission of “encouraging the continuation of cooperation between North America and Europe that began after the Second World War,” the Atlantic Council slowly evolved from being a sort of forum for socialising to a pseudo-academic lobby group. While it professes to be a “think tank,” its lack of genuine debate and tolerance for dissent means in practice this description isn’t accurate in the classical sense of the term, as the Atlantic Council is clearly more interested in creating a market for tanks than thinking.

Funding comes from dozens of foreign governments and also individual vested interests. They include arms makers Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing, plus wealthy private backers such as Ukraine’s Viktor Pinchuk and Saudi billionaire Bahaa Hariri. State institutions who plough in funds vary from the National Endowment for Democracy to the British Foreign Office and the US Army itself.

The money is mainly used to hire lobbyists, who are known as “fellows.” And some of them are occasionally outsourced to cutouts like the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) – the department which works with Facebook.

Some of the Atlantic Council’s hires have significant media profiles. For instance, Dmitri  Alperovitch (of DNC hack fame), Anders Aslund (a radical economist who has predicted Russia’s collapse twice, and been wrong both times), Michael Carpenter (Joe Biden’s, usually misinformed, Russia-baiting sidekick), Borzou Daragahi (Middle East correspondent of Buzzfeed ), Maxim Eristavi (a pro-American Ukrainian activist), Evelyn Farkas (a rabidly anti-Russian Obama adviser), and Michael Weiss (a CNN ‘Russia analyst’ who has never been to Russia and can’t speak Russian). The DFR Lab is comprised of 11, almost uniformly young, tech enthusiasts from the US and Eastern Europe and previously worked to support NATO narratives in Ukraine and Syria.

Some are long-time Atlantic Council bodies, and others are some fresh recruits. The main men are Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, which specialises in media-friendly investigations of wars from the perspective which suits British and American interests, Aric Toler (a former private intelligence specialist who spent time in Russia on State Department-funded study programmes) and Ben Nimmo, a one-time NATO press officer.

Other censors include ex-Obama administration and NATO staff, with the managing editor, Graham Brookie, having previously worked at the US National Security Council. There is nobody listed as an employee who could be considered, in any way, neutral on Russia. This betrays the unit’s confidence in how the mainstream media won’t scrutinise them, as normally you’d expect at least one token dissenter.

Different times

In normal circumstances, Facebook’s engagement of the Atlantic Council to decide standards of permissible information would seem bizarre. But, in the current US climate, Zuckerberg’s motivations are quite obvious. Betrayed by the speed with which he engaged the pressure group shortly after his testimony to Congress on “election meddling” was widely derided by the establishment last Spring. And how better to avoid a repeat, and turn down the heat, than to engage the ultimate DC insider institution?

After all, an organisation that has helped to rehabilitate George W. Bush can probably rescue any reputation in the American capital.

Some of the stuff the Atlantic Council itself gets away with serves to show its power over the mainstream media. For instance, when Nimmo himself earlier this year ludicrously insisted grammar mistakes were “proof” that social media users critical of NATO were paid Kremlin trolls, and later when he smeared a British man by labelling him a Russian bot, the popular press didn’t bother to question whether he was a fit and proper person for Facebook to engage as a censor. Even after the victim appeared on Sky News to prove he was a real person. Thus, what should have been a warning of the dangers of DFR Lab was essentially ignored.

At the time, after Nimmo, instead of apologising, wrote “interesting to see the real face of Ian56789, rather than the David Gandy one, at last (referring to his Twitter avatar). Not a troll factory account. Rather, a pro-Kremlin troll(definition based on [sic] use of someone else’s picture, systematic use of Kremlin narratives, and repetitive abusive behaviour),”

WikiLeaks challenged the lobbyist. “You literally produced, with money from weapons companies and dictatorships, a fake news story that spread all over the world, defaming a very British retiree, who wants to reduce arms company profits, as a Kremlin bot,” its editors wrote. “So who’s the paid troll?”

Again, despite WikiLeaks’ prominence, no mainstream outlets connected the dots.

Higgins and Nimmo also focused on attempting to discredit the Twitter user ‘Partisan Girl’ (real name Maram Susli). Susli herself insisted an associate of Higgins had even written to her university accusing of her of plotting to make Sarin gas, and she provided evidence to back up her claims.

Susli was also insulted by Atlantic Council “fellow” Michael Weiss. After a group of pro-Syrian jihadist agitators accused her of having had cosmetic surgery, she responded with a photo of herself as a child to prove them wrong. Weiss interjected by asserting how the young Maram looked like a prostitute, writing “so, your parents raised you as a streetwalker? Honey, no wonder you are pro-Assad.”

The CNN contributor seems to have a habit of commenting on women’s physical attributes. A few months earlier, well-known Lebanese American journalist Rania Khalek accused Weiss of promoting a smear about her appearance on Twitter, falsely claiming she used funds donated to her journalistic work to get a nose job. The fact he has received no blowback, in this ‘MeToo’ era, again speaks volumes.

Deflecting dunces

Meanwhile, Higgins himself has been shy about taking on real experts. In Spring, he refused to debate Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at MIT, instead labelling him “an idiot.” Which led to a strange situation where a man with no training in science, whose background is in finance and administration, was smearing a skilled specialist from one of the world’s best universities. Perhaps this is the confidence a man gains by working for NATO’s propaganda adjunct.

His colleague, Weiss, also has a habit of insulting academics with genuine bona fides, running a long campaign of character assassination against Stephen Cohen. Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University.

Of course, to advance the goals of its paymasters,  the Atlantic Council also needs to shape the media narrative, and influence journalists, which is presumably why it has engaged the likes of CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto and Buzzfeed Foreign Editor Miriam Elder to moderate panels, in what amount to very profound conflicts of interests.

Nevertheless, while plenty of its press outreach is smooth, sometimes it can appear clumsy and amateurish. Take this tweet from lobbyist Agnia Grigas, for instance. Firstly, she misrepresents Vladimir Putin’s stated goal of making Russia a top five economy by using raw GDP, where the country currently scores badly due to weak exchange rates. In reality, economic experts regard purchasing power parity as a fairer snapshot of fiscal heft and by this measure, Russia was only $163 billion behind fifth-place Germany last year ($4,007.831 billion v $4,170.790 billion, IMF)so it doesn’t have much catching up to do. What Grigas does next with her disinformation is instructive. Because  she tags the Financial Times’ news editor, Peter Spiegel, on the tweet alongside other Atlantic Council lobbyists . Which blurs the lines between supposedly independent media and propaganda, dressed up as scholarship.

Tail wags dog

Anyway, now that you’ve seen the nature of these lobbyists, let’s circle back to the DFR Lab/Facebook link up, and the extraordinary power the social media giant has handed to this gang. Only last month, the same Reuters report quoted at the outset dropped this nugget.

“Facebook is using the group to enhance its investigations of foreign interference. Last week, the company said it took down 32 suspicious pages and accounts that purported to be run by leftists and minority activists. While some U.S. officials said they were likely the work of Russian agents, Facebook said it did not know for sure.”

Read the last line again. “Facebook said it did not know for sure.” But the accounts were removed anyway. Presumably, at the Atlantic Council’s behest.

Here we see the fallout of Mark Zuckerberg’s knee-jerk reaction to pressure from congressional leaders and prominent media talking heads. Instead of asserting his independence, the Facebook founder buckled. And the stakes are impossibly high. Put plainly, this amounts to a merger of the US national security state and Silicon Valley. With implications far beyond American shores.

Read more:

Facebook building a physical ‘war room’ for US midterm elections ‘arms race’

Zuckerberg admits social media is a weapon, says Facebook in ‘arms race’ against ‘bad actors’

September 13, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Does Twitter really care about pluralism and free speech? Let’s follow the money

RT | September 7, 2018

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has vigorously defended his platform as a place for free speech and political pluralism, but there’s one easy way to determine how much he really cares about all of that: Look at who Twitter gives money to.

In testimony to the US Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Dorsey proudly reminded senators that Twitter had last year banned advertising from RT and Sputnik. Then, presumably as some kind of gesture of apology, he said Twitter donated $1.9 million generated from RT and Sputnik advertising to “research” and “civil society” platforms working to counter Russian influence online.

When Twitter first announced that decision in October 2017, it said it was part of its “ongoing commitment to help protect the integrity of the user experience” and admitted that it had made the decision in light of a US intelligence community report that concluded that Russia “attempted to interfere” with the 2016 presidential election. That report was widely panned as being extremely light on evidence, even by journalists who are generally highly critical of Moscow.

To put it simply, Dorsey admitted banning RT from advertising on its platform and then handing the money generated from previous advertising over to US government-funded think tanks. This kind of capitulation suggests that Dorsey believes free speech and pluralism is limited to how he treats Americans of different political persuasions on his platform, but not how he treats everyone else.

When Dorsey talks about giving everyone a fair shake on Twitter and ensuring that political bias does not get in the way of how Twitter functions, he seems to only ever be talking about the “health” of the debate and conversation when it comes to American political discourse — but not everyone using Twitter is an American politic worried about being “shadowbanned”.

In other words, he’s implying that while all American individuals should indeed be treated fairly, more broadly speaking, it’s totally fine to be openly and proudly biased in favor of American foreign policy, despite the fact that Twitter is supposed to be a global platform. Twitter is a tool of the US government in much the same way Facebook is. So let’s look at those organizations Dorsey has given money to:

The Atlantic Council

To see that Twitter has offered money to none other than the Atlantic Council to help “research” flimsy claims of election interference by Russia should immediately set off alarm bells.

The Atlantic Council has become widely regarded outside of Washington political and media circles as a vehicle for Western foreign policy promotion and propaganda. The Washington DC-based think tank is funded by a slew of American weapons manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. The Atlantic Council is also funded by both the US government and a number of other NATO countries through various government agencies. Facebook is also a donor.

Unsurprisingly, given its donors list, the AC has lobbied consistently in favor of US military interventions around the world and has taken an almost exclusively negative view of Russia in international affairs. Is this think tank, funded by NATO governments and weapons makers really the kind of organization that can be trusted to fairly assess claims of Russian interference in American elections?

EU Disinfolab

Similar to the Atlantic Council, the Brussels-based EU Disinfolab has focused a huge amount of its attention on countering Russia online in recent years. Its stated mission is to “fight disinformation with innovative methodology” — but it certainly does not focus its attention evenly when it comes to fighting disinformation.

Disinfolab has drawn much criticism last month when it attempted to brand French Twitter users posting about a national scandal involving President Emmanuel Macron’s former bodyguard as “Russophiles” who were part of the “Russian disinformation system”. More of Twitter’s “research” money well spent?

Disinfo lab is also partnered with the Brussels-based European Values think tank which made headlines last year when it published a list of 2,327 people who had appeared as guests on RT, branding them all “useful idiots”  for their appearances on the channel. Included on the list were the likes of journalist Bob Woodward, former US Vice President Dick Cheney, actors Denzel Washington and Pierce Brosnan and the late Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.

Partners in fight against US ‘adversaries’, rather than ‘neutral arbiters’?

If any more evidence was needed that Twitter happily acts as a vehicle for US government propaganda, the Senate hearing on Wednesday provided it in abundance. When Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arizona) asked Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg, who was also present to give testimony on behalf of Facebook, if they would ever take any kind of action that would favor or “privilege” a “hostile foreign power” over the United States or its military, both Dorsey and Sandberg said no, they would not. It was only when Cotton asked “Do you prefer to see America remain the world’s dominant global superpower?” that Dorsey declined to answer directly, offering: “I prefer that we continue to help everywhere we serve.”

Cotton later suggested to Dorsey and Sandberg that Facebook and Twitter should be actively working on behalf of the US government and not acting as “even handed or neutral arbiters”.

The subdued responses from Sandberg and Dorsey to Cotton’s questions, clearly both afraid to say anything that would suggest their platforms are not there to serve US government interests, seemed to suggest that they have little interest in challenging the assumption that their job is to work on behalf of the White House against “bad actors” around the world.

During the hearing Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) told Sandberg and Dorsey that while they had come a “long way” in recognizing the threat posed by Russia’s “malicious activities” on their platforms, there was still “a lot of work to do”. Warner said it was unlikely that Facebook and Twitter could combat Russia alone without some action from Congress itself, declaring that the “era of the wild west in social media is coming to an end”.

It looks like when it comes to censorship and US government influence over social media platforms, this is just the beginning.

Read more:

Twitter permanently bans Alex Jones and Infowars for ‘abusive behavior’

Zuckerberg admits social media is a weapon, says Facebook in ‘arms race’ against ‘bad actors’

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media Giants Enter NATO Service

By Rick Rozoff | Ron Paul Institute | August 28, 2018

On August 22 Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that they had arbitrarily removed 652 accounts, groups and pages allegedly linked to Russia and Iran for “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” by which we’re safe in assuming is meant political information inconvenient for the US power structure and its “Euro-Atlantic” elite allies in Europe and elsewhere.

The purpose pursued and the criteria employed are both explicitly political, focusing especially on federal elections. Facebook boasted of recent successes in this regard in France and Mexico.

There are historically-decisive Senate and Congressional elections this November 6th in the US.

At the beginning of this month several major conservative and libertarian Facebook, YouTube and other social media accounts were closed by the above and other parties in a heavy-handed, coordinated manner. The sites and individuals banned are ones that have urged cooperation between the US and Russia and warned against worsening political and potential military conflict between the world’s two major nuclear powers.

What connects the two unprecedented social media purges is an agreement reached in May of this year between Facebook and the Atlantic Council.

The Atlantic Council of the United States was established in 1961 by former Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter to bolster support for NATO. Atlantic Councils were set up in other member states for the same purpose, and at the present time they now number more than 40 in NATO and Partnership for Peace countries. The name is derivative of North Atlantic Council, the highest governing body of NATO.

Due to its efforts, NATO has grown from 16 to 29 members since the end of the Cold War and in addition has recruited at least forty military partners throughout the world. With Colombia joining its Partners Across the Globe program earlier this year, NATO now has members and partners on all inhabited continents.

The partnership between Facebook and the Atlantic Council was described by the Atlantic Council’s president and CEO Fred Kempe as follows:

This partnership will help our security, policy and product teams get real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world. It will also increase the number of ‘eyes and ears’ we have working to spot potential abuse on our service – enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.

The collaboration, like NATO and Facebook themselves, are not only avowedly political but unabashedly global in scale.

In the interim Facebook has announced it’s hired “additional third-party reviewers” for the purpose advancing the aforesaid political censorship and furtherance of NATO’s international agenda.

Failing such methods, there are also those proposed by then-president presumptive Hillary Clinton two years ago: “As president, I will make it clear that the United States will treat cyberattacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses.”

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

A Four Person NATO-Funded Team Advises Facebook On Flagging “Propaganda”

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | August 7, 2018

This is not at all comforting: during a week that’s witnessed Alex Jones’ social media accounts taken down by Facebook, Apple, Spotify and Google, and what appears to be a growing crackdown against alternative media figures including several prominent Libertarians, notably the Ron Paul Institute director, and the Scott Horton Show, who found their Twitter accounts suspended — we learn that the Atlantic Council is directly advising Facebook on identifying and removing “foreign interference” on the popular platform. 

While the initiative was initially revealed last May through an official Facebook media release, more details of the controversial think tank’s role have been revealed.

Supposedly the whole partnership is aimed at bringing more objectivity and neutrality to the process of rooting out fake accounts that pose the threat of being operated by nefarious foreign states.

And yet as a new Reuters report confirmsFacebook is now itself a top donor to the Atlantic Council, alongside Western governments, Gulf autocratic regimes, NATO, various branches of the US military, and a number of major defense contractors and corporations. 

What’s more is that the team of four total individuals running the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFR Lab) is headed by a former National Security Council advisor for the last four years of the Obama administration, Graham Brookie, who is also its founder.

Apparently the group’s work has already been instrumental in Facebook taking action against over two dozen “suspicious pages” flagged potential foreign actors such as Russia. According to Reuters:

Facebook is using the group to enhance its investigations of foreign interference. Last week, the company said it took down 32 suspicious pages and accounts that purported to be run by leftists and minority activists. While some U.S. officials said they were likely the work of Russian agents, Facebook said it did not know for sure.

This is indeed the shocking key phrase included in the report:Facebook said it did not know for sure.” And yet the accounts were removed anyway.

The Facebook-Atlantic Council alliance reportedly springs from the social media giant’s finding itself desperate for outside “neutral” help after a swell of public criticism, mostly issuing from congressional leaders and prominent media pundits, for supposedly allowing Russian propaganda accounts to operate ahead of the 2016 elections.

And in perhaps the most chilling line of the entire report, Reuters says, “But the lab and Atlantic Council bring geopolitical expertise and allow Facebook to distance itself from sensitive pronouncements.” This is ostensibly to defuse any potential conflict of interest arising as Facebook seems a bigger presence in emerging foreign markets.

Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos recently told reporters, “Companies like ours don’t have the necessary information to evaluate the relationship between political motivations that we infer about an adversary and the political goals of a nation-state.” He explained further that Facebook would collect suspicious digital evidence and submit it to “researchers and authorities”.

Since at least May when the relationship was first announced, the DFR Lab has been key to this process of verifying what constitutes foreign interference or nefarious state propaganda.

But here’s the kicker. Reuters writes of the DFR Lab’s funding in the following:

Facebook donated an undisclosed amount to the lab in May that was enough, said Graham Brookie, who runs the lab, to vault the company to the top of the Atlantic Council’s donor list, alongside the British government.

Facebook employees said privately over the past several months that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wants to outsource many of the most sensitive political decisions, leaving fact-checking to media groups and geopolitics to think tanks.

Facebook has defended the process as part of ensuring that it remains politically neutral, yet clearly the Atlantic Council itself is hardly neutral, as a quick perusal of its top donors indicates.

Among the DFR Labs partners include UK-based Bellingcat, which has in the past claimed “proof” that Assad gassed civilians based on analyzing YouTube videos and Google Earth. And top donors include various branches of the US military, Gulf sates like the UAE, and notably, NATO.

The Atlantic Council has frequently called for things like increased military engagement in Syria, militarily confronting the “Russian threat” in Eastern Europe, and now is advocating for Ukraine and Georgia to be allowed entry into NATO while calling for general territorial expansion of the Western military alliance.

Further it has advocated on behalf of one of its previous funders, Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and gave a “Distinguished International Leadership” award to George W. Bush, to name but a few actions of the think tank that has been given authorization to flag citizens’ Facebook pages for possible foreign influence and propaganda.

Quite disturbingly, this is Mark Zuckerberg’s outside “geopolitical expertise” he’s been seeking.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bellingcat & Atlantic Council join to award exploited Syrian child & American Mass Murderer

MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images
By Eva Bartlett | RT | June 28, 2018

Just when we thought the over-used Bana al-Abed story was in the war propaganda dustbin, the wonder-child theme has again been re-hashed, this time by the Atlantic Council.

The so-called “think tank” recently highlighted the nine-year old at a conference that also included former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

Bana, the child presented to the world in late 2016 as tweeting from eastern Aleppo about wanting peace, Russia being bad, Assad being bad, etcetera, became colonial media’s darling, the perfect cover for war propaganda. We are told that Bana al-Abed has written a memoir. She has attended galas, met the Turkish president, and hobnobbed with movie stars and UN officials. Now, the girl has been trotted out on stage to receive an award from the Atlantic Council.

Critical-thinkers aren’t fooled by the Bana story. As I wrote earlier:

Critiques on Amazon reveal that thinking people aren’t buying brand Bana, in spite of her UN appearance and rehearsed speech about children dying from bombs and hunger (which the United Nations retweeted, as all good neutral and credible institutions might).

That her father was a member of a terrorist organization in Aleppo and worked in a Sharia Court has been documented, as has her family’s close proximity to numerous terrorist headquarters in their area of Aleppo alone.

But still, her official story is dragged on, endlessly.

Last April, after the world declared, with zero evidence, that Syria had used a toxic chemical on civilians in Douma, when Syrians testified to the contrary, Western leaders and corporate media labeled giving their testimony as a “masquerade,” “obscene.” They ignored the words of 11-year-old Hassan Diab from Douma. They ignored numerous reports of independent journalists whose reporting from Douma corroborate the testimonies. These people, corporate media tell us, are not to be believed.

Yet, as I wrote earlier, “Corporate media and Western leaders had no issues with the credibility of Bana, who was living surrounded by 25 terrorist cells in her district alone.”

What is the Atlantic Council?

Is the Atlantic Council some benevolent organization handing out awards to do-gooding people?

No. It’s a Washington DC-based think tank, which promulgates lies and propaganda to further imperialist wars and weapons sales, among other things. One of its Syria “experts” is none other than Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins, who recently took to social media to tell people to suck his “big balls,” making him more of a laughing stock than this backgrounder on the man with no qualifications to his title.

Some of the Atlantic Council’s funders include: the US State Department, oil and weapons manufacturing companies, banks, NATO, various nations’ ministries of defence, and the US Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy.

Even just based on funding alone, and ignoring their pro-NATO policy papers, the Atlantic Council clearly exists to further the interests of those involved in weapons manufacturing, wars, and oil.

‘Banging’: Bellingcat’s interview with Bana

In her interview with Bellingcat, Bana seems more natural than in her early 2017 “save, save the children of Syria” interview (her reply to what kind of food she liked). This time, she can answer basic ‘how are you’ questions. Her replies are met with “cool, cool, cool,” and “banging,” by Bellingcat’s Nick Waters.

After the chit-chat, Bana begins what is clearly a scripted soliloquy, staring forward, possibly concentrating on repeating what is likely being transmitted to her ear, speaking about children and war, destroyed schools, and of course not ever mentioning the terrorists who surrounded her home and occupied schools as headquarters, nor that her own father was a terrorist.

It is a transparently unauthentic recitation, with Bana continually pausing mid-sentence, presumably to hear the rest of what she is told to say. After two and a half minutes of this cringeworthy monologue, she breaks into song, singing “We shall overcome.”

When later receiving her Atlantic Council “Freedom Award,” she gives another rehearsed speech, again halting mid-sentence throughout her five minutes of talking.

These theatrical performances, hosted and encouraged by the Atlantic Council and Bellingcat, epitomize the depth that the NATO alliance is willing to stoop to, grasping desperately at legitimacy in their transparent war propaganda.

It was not only a shameful, but an embarrassing, fail for the Atlantic Council. As of two days later, there isn’t a single positive comment on the Youtube video of her interview. To the contrary, comments speak of child abuse, war propaganda, and that the girl is likely being fed her lines by an earpiece.

On the Atlantic Council’s Youtube channel, comments are disabled for Bana’s award speech.

Failed Sherlocks accuse a non-bot of being a troll

The DFRLab is a project of the Atlantic Council, ostensibly to identify those prolific (Russian) bots and trolls out there.

On June 22, Atlantic Council CEO and President Fred Kempe tweeted:

“Checking in at the 360 / OS #DigitalSherlocks! The @DFRLab team is working together with activists and journalists from all around the world to enhance our ability to identify trolls in the web spreading disinformation and fake news that pollute our open societies.”

The second photo in the tweet identifies three Twitter accounts as possible “trolls”: @Malinka1102, @ian56789, and @bowhunter_va.

One of the accused, @Malinka1102, tweeted about her preference for privacy and not being subjected to witch-hunts and harassment.

Having myself been a target of endless harassment and smear campaigns, I can appreciate her concerns, some of which are also included in a book by Phil Butler’s book.

In fact, a new article by Ben Nimmo—who previously targeted @ian56789 as a “Russian bot” (an accusation revealed to be baseless when Ian gave a live Sky News interview, revealing himself to be a concerned British man)—now targets a number of twitter profiles as “trolls”, including yours truly.

So basically, people who challenge the State Department, sorry, Atlantic Council, Human Rights Watch, and all the other arms of the US and UK governments on their war propaganda are not thinking people with consciences, they are just “trolls”. That’s what DFRLab wants you to believe.

Atlantic Council awards its own war propaganda

On awarding Bana al-Abed, the Atlantic Council tweeted about her humanizing the “Syrian civil war.”

Oh, the irony. The exploited child’s Twitter account has called for World War Three, has whitewashed Al-Qaeda and indeed Bana’s own father Ghassan, a terrorist with the Safwa Brigade.

The irony of also awarding Madeleine Albright — known for her lack of remorse over the 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a result of sanctions — was not lost on people.

Every new Bana production mocks the children in Syria who are actually starving — like those in Ghouta when under terrorist rule, those when under terrorist rule in eastern Aleppo, in Madaya, in al-Waer — and who are being maimed or murdered by terrorist bombings.

The Atlantic Council and Bellingcat are guilty of war propaganda. As @ian56789 wrote to me in a message:

“The members of the Atlantic Council and DFRLab should be indicted as accomplices to War Crimes, for providing actual material support to al-Qaeda terrorists, and for Treason (actively supporting official enemies of the US & UK). They should be spending the rest of their lives in jail and fined every penny they’ve got.”

And those abusing and exploiting Bana al-Abed in their ongoing war propaganda should join them.


Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist with extensive experience in the Gaza Strip and Syria. Her writings can be found on her blog, In Gaza.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Raised eyebrows as Madeleine Albright & Bana Alabed to be honored for ‘defending freedom’

RT | June 20, 2018

The pro-NATO Atlantic Council think tank is set to honor former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Syrian child activist Bana Alabed at its Freedom Awards this week.

The Freedom Awards honor individuals who “defend and advance the cause of freedom around the world” and will be hosted in Berlin later this week — but the nominations have caused quite a few puzzled reactions online.

According to the Atlantic Council website, Albright will be recognized for her “championing of global democracy” and as an exemplar of “the power of diplomacy in achieving solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our world.”

Albright seems like an odd choice, however, given she is known around the world for defending US sanctions on Iraq which caused the deaths of more than half a million Iraqi children.

When asked in an infamous 1996 interview if she thought the sanctions were “worth” the price — the price being hundreds of thousands of dead children — Albright replied almost without hesitation, that “the price is worth it.”

Alongside Albright will be a 9-year-old Twitter activist who is no stranger to controversy herself. Numerous Syrian and international commentators have argued that Syrian opposition icon Bana Alabed has been exploited by her parents and others as a propaganda tool for a pro-war agenda.

Bana began tweeting pro-US intervention messages on Twitter when she was just seven years old. Her tweets were written in perfect English and often incendiary. On one occasion, Bana’s Twitter account posted that it was “better to start 3rd world war instead of letting Russia & assad commit #HolocaustAleppo.”

Despite the controversy surrounding her account and accusations of child exploitation, Alabed will be honored by the Atlantic Council for her “use of social media to bring global attention to the plight of children in rebel-held areas of Syria.”

But maybe the Atlantic Council’s choice of nominees for its Freedom Awards shouldn’t be so surprising. In 2016, the think tank chose to bestow the award on the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets – a controversial outfit which bills itself as a first-responders group in the Syrian war, but operates exclusively in militant-held areas and has been accused of links to terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment