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Pure: Ten Points I Just Can’t Believe About the Official Skripal Narrative

By Craig Murray | March 7, 2019

I still do not know what happened in the Skripal saga, which perhaps might more respectfully be termed the Sturgess saga. I cannot believe the Russian account of Borishov and Petrov, because if those were their real identities, those identities would have been firmly established and displayed by now. But that does not mean they attempted to kill the Skripals, and there are many key elements to the official British account which are also simply incredible.

Governments play dark games, and a dark game was played out in Salisbury which involved at least the British state, Russian agents (possibly on behalf of the state), Orbis Intelligence and the BBC. Anybody who believes it is simple to identify the “good guys” and the “bad guys” in this situation is a fool. When it comes to state actors and the intelligence services, frequently there are no “good guys”, as I personally witnessed from the inside over torture, extraordinary rendition and the illegal invasion of Iraq. But in the face of a massive media campaign to validate the British government story about the Skripals, here are ten of the things I do not believe in the official account:

1) PURE

This was the point that led me to return to the subject of the Skripals, even though it has brought me more abuse than I had received in my 15 year career as a whistleblower.

A few months ago, I was in truth demoralised by the amount of abuse I was receiving about the collapse of the Russian identity story of Borishov and Petrov. I had never claimed the poisoning, if any, was not carried out by Russians, only that there were many other possibilities. I understood the case against the Russian state is still far from established, whoever Borishov and Petrov really are, and I did not (and do not) accept Bellingcat’s conjectures and dodgy evidence as conclusive identification. But I did not enjoy at all the constant online taunts, and therefore was not inclined to take the subject further.

It is in this mood that I received more information from my original FCO source, who had told me, correctly, that Porton Down could not and would not attest that the “novichok” sample was made in Russia, and explained that the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” was an agreed Whitehall line to cover this up.

She wanted to explain to me that the British government was pulling a similar trick over the use of the word “pure”. The OPCW report had concluded that the sample provided to them by the British government was “of high purity” with an “almost complete absence of impurities”. This had been spun by the British government as evidence that the novichok was “military grade” and could only be produced by a state.

But actually that is not what the OPCW technical experts were attempting to signal. The sample provided to the OPCW had allegedly been swabbed from the Skripals’ door handle. It had been on that door handle for several days before it was allegedly discovered there. In that time it had been contacted allegedly by the hands of the Skripals and of DC Bailey, and the gloves of numerous investigators. It had of course been exposed to whatever film of dirt or dust was on the door handle. It had been exposed to whatever pollution was in the rain and whatever dust and pollen was blowing around. In these circumstances, it is incredible that the sample provided “had an almost complete absence of impurities”.

A sample cannot have a complete absence of impurities after being on a used doorknob, outdoors, for several days. The sample provided was, on the contrary, straight out of a laboratory.

The government’s contention that “almost complete absence of impurities” meant “military grade” was complete nonsense. There is no such thing as “military grade” novichok. It has never been issued to any military, anywhere. The novichok programme was designed to produce an organo-phosphate poison which could quickly be knocked up from readily available commercial ingredients. It was not part of an actual defence industry manufacturing programme.

There is a final problem with the “of high purity” angle. First we had the Theresa May story that the “novichok” was extremely deadly, many times more deadly than VX, in minute traces. Then, when the Skripals did not die, it was explained to us that this was because it had degraded in the rain. This was famously put forward by Dan Kaszeta, formerly of US Intelligence and the White House and self-proclaimed chemical weapons expert – which expertise has been strenuously denied by real experts.

What we did not know then, but we do know now, is that Kaszeta was secretly being paid to produce this propaganda by the British government via the Integrity Initiative.

So the first thing I cannot believe is that the British government produced a sample with an “almost complete absence of impurities” from several days on the Skripals’ doorknob. Nor can I believe that if “extremely pure” the substance therefore was not fatal to the Skripals.

2) Raising the Roof

Three days ago Sky News had an outside broadcast from the front of the Skripals’ house in Salisbury, where they explained that the roof had been removed and replaced due to contamination with “novichok”.

I cannot believe that a gel, allegedly smeared or painted onto the doorknob, migrated upwards to get into the roof of a two storey house, in such a manner that the roof had to be destroyed, but the house inbetween did not. As the MSM never questions the official narrative, there has never been an official answer as to how the gel got from the doorknob to the roof. Remember that traces of the “novichok” were allegedly found in a hotel room in Poplar, which is still in use as a hotel room and did not have to be destroyed, and an entire bottle of it was allegedly found in Charlie Rowley’s house, which has not had to be destroyed. Novichok was found in Zizzi’s restaurant, which did not have to be destroyed.

So we are talking about novichok in threatening quantities – more than the traces allegedly found in the hotel in Poplar – being in the Skripals’ roof. How could this happen?

As I said in the onset, I do not know what happened, I only know what I do not believe. There are theories that Skripal and his daughter might themselves have been involved with novichok in some way. On the face of it, its presence in their roof might support that theory.

The second thing I do not believe is that the Skripals’ roof became contaminated by gel on their doorknob so that the roof had to be destroyed, whereas no other affected properties, nor the rest of the Skripals’ house, had to be destroyed.

3) Nursing Care

The very first person to discover the Skripals ill on a park bench in Salisbury just happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army, who chanced to be walking past them on her way back from a birthday party. How lucky was that? The odds are about the same as the chance of my vacuum cleaner breaking down just before James Dyson knocks at my door to ask for directions. There are very few people indeed in the UK trained to give nursing care to victims of chemical weapon attack, and of all the people who might have walked past, it just happened to be the most senior of them!

The government is always trying to get good publicity for its armed forces, and you would think that the heroic role of its off-duty personnel in saving random poisoned Russian double agents they just happened to chance across, would have been proclaimed as a triumph for the British military. Yet it was kept secret for ten months. We were not told about the involvement of Colonel Abigail McCourt until January of this year, when it came out by accident. Swollen with maternal pride, Col. McCourt nominated her daughter for an award from the local radio station for her role in helping give first aid to the Skripals, and young Abigail revealed her mother’s identity on local radio – and the fact her mother was there “with her” administering first aid.

Even then, the compliant MSM played along, with the Guardian and Sky News both among those running stories emphasising entirely the Enid Blyton narrative of “plucky teenager saves the Skripals”, and scarcely mentioning the Army’s Chief Nurse who was looking after the Skripals “with little Abigail”.

I want to emphasise again that Col. Alison McCourt is not the chief nurse of a particular unit or hospital, she is the Chief Nurse of the entire British Army. Her presence was kept entirely quiet by the media for ten months, when all sorts of stories were run in the MSM about who the first responders were – various doctors and police officers being mentioned.

If you believe that it is coincidence that the Chief Nurse of the British Army was the first person to discover the Skripals ill, you are a credulous fool. And why was it kept quiet?

4) Remarkable Metabolisms

This has been noted many times, but no satisfactory answer has ever been given. The official story is that the Skripals were poisoned by their door handle, but then well enough to go out to a pub, feed some ducks, and have a big lunch in Zizzi’s, before being instantly stricken and disabled, both at precisely the same time.

The Skripals were of very different ages, genders and weights. That an agent which took hours to act but then kicks in with immediate disabling effect, so they could not call for help, would affect two such entirely different metabolisms at precisely the same time, has never been satisfactorily explained. Dosage would have an effect and of course the doorknob method would give an uncontrolled dosage.

But that the two different random dosages were such that they affected each of these two very different people at just the same moment, so that neither could call for help, is an extreme coincidence. It is almost as unlikely as the person who walks by next being the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

5) 11 Days

After the poisoning of Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, the Police cordoned off Charlie Rowley’s home and began a search for “Novichok”, in an attitude of extreme urgency because it was believed this poison was out amidst the public. They were specifically searching for a small phial of liquid. Yet it took 11 days of the search before they allegedly discovered the “novichok” in a perfume bottle sitting in plain sight on the kitchen counter – and only after they had discovered the clue of the perfume bottle package in the bin the day before, after ten days of search.

The bottle was out of its packaging and “novichok”, of which the tiniest amount is deadly, had been squirted out of its nozzle at least twice, by both Rowley and Sturgess, and possibly more often. The exterior of the bottle/nozzle was therefore contaminated. Yet the house, unlike the Skripals’ roof space, has not had to be destroyed.

I do not believe it took the Police eleven days to find the very thing they were looking for, in plain sight as exactly the small bottle of liquid sought, on a kitchen bench. What else was happening?

6) Mark Urban/Pablo Miller

The BBC’s “Diplomatic Editor” is a regular conduit for the security services. He fronted much of the BBC’s original coverage of the Skripal story. Yet he concealed from the viewers the fact that he had been in regular contact with Sergei Skripal for months before the alleged poisoning, and had held several meetings with Skripal.

This is extraordinary behaviour. It was the biggest news story in the world, and news organisations, including the BBC, were scrambling to fill in the Skripals’ back story. Yet the journalist who had the inside info on the world’s biggest news story, and was actually reporting on it, kept that knowledge to himself. Why? Urban was not only passing up a career defining opportunity, it was unethical of him to continually report on the story without revealing to the viewers his extensive contacts with Skripal.

The British government had two immediate reactions to the Skripal incident. Within the first 48 hours, it blamed Russia, and it slapped a D(SMA) notice banning all media mention of Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller. By yet another one of those extraordinary coincidences, Miller and Urban know each other well, having both been officers together in the Royal Tank Regiment, of the same rank and joining the Regiment the same year.

I have sent the following questions to Mark Urban, repeatedly. There has been no response:

To: mark.urban@bbc.co.uk

Dear Mark,

As you may know, I am a journalist working in alternative media, a member of the NUJ, as well as a former British Ambassador. I am researching the Skripal case.

I wish to ask you the following questions.

1) When the Skripals were first poisoned, it was the largest news story in the entire World and you were uniquely positioned having held several meetings with Sergei Skripal the previous year. Yet faced with what should have been a massive career break, you withheld that unique information on a major story from the public for four months. Why?
2) You were an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment together with Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller, who also lived in Salisbury. Have you maintained friendship with Miller over the years and how often do you communicate?
3) When you met Skripal in Salisbury, was Miller present all or part of the time, or did you meet Miller separately?
4) Was the BBC aware of your meetings with Miller and/or Skripal at the time?
5) When, four months later, you told the world about your meetings with Skripal after the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you said you had met him to research a book. Yet the only forthcoming book by you advertised is on the Skripal attack. What was the subject of your discussions with Skripal?
6) Pablo Miller worked for Orbis Intelligence. Do you know if Miller contributed to the Christopher Steele dossier on Trump/Russia?
7) Did you discuss the Trump dossier with Skripal and/or Miller?
8) Do you know whether Skripal contributed to the Trump dossier?
9) In your Newsnight piece following the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you stated that security service sources had told you that Yulia Skripal’s telephone may have been bugged. Since January 2017, how many security service briefings or discussions have you had on any of the matter above.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Craig Murray

The lack of openness of Urban in refusing to answer these questions, and the role played by the BBC and the MSM in general in marching in unquestioning lockstep with the British government narrative, plus the “coincidence” of Urban’s relationship with Pablo Miller, give further reason for scepticism of the official narrative.

7 Four Months

The official narrative insists that Borishov and Petrov brought “novichok” into the country; that minute quantities could kill; that they disposed of the novichok that did kill Dawn Sturgess. It must therefore have been of the highest priority to inform the public of the movements of the suspects and the possible locations where deadly traces of “novichok” must be lurking.

Yet there was at least a four month gap between the police searching the Poplar hotel where Borishov and Petrov were staying, allegedly discovering traces of novichok in the hotel room, and the police informing the hotel management, let alone the public, of the discovery. That is four months in which a cleaner might have fatally stumbled across more novichok in the hotel. Four months in which another guest in the same hotel might have had something lurking in their bag which they had picked up. Four months in which there might have been a container of novichok sitting in a hedge near the hotel. Yet for four months the police did not think any of this was urgent enough to tell anybody.

The astonishing thing is that it was a full three months after the death of Dawn Sturgess before the hotel were informed, the public were informed, or the pictures of “Borishov” and “Petrov” in Salisbury released. There could be no clearer indication that the authorities did not actually believe that any threat from residual novichok was connected to the movements of Borishov and Petrov.

Similarly the metadata on the famous CCTV images of Borishov and Petrov in Salisbury, published in September by the Met Police, showed that all the stills were prepared by the Met on the morning of 9 May – a full four months before they were released to the public. But this makes no sense at all. Why wait a full four months for people’s memories to fade before issuing an appeal to the public for information? This makes no sense at all from an investigation viewpoint. It makes even less sense from a public health viewpoint.

If the authorities were genuinely worried about the possible presence of deadly noivchok, and wished to track it down, why one earth would you wait for four months before you published the images showing the faces and clothing and the whereabouts of the people you believe were distributing it?

The only possible conclusion from the amazing four month delays both in informing the hotel, and in revealing the Borishov and Petrov CCTV footage to the public, is that the Metropolitan Police did not actually believe there was a public health danger that the two had left a trail of novichok. Were the official story true, this extraordinary failure to take timely action in a public health emergency may have contributed to the death of Dawn Sturgess.

The metadata shows Police processed all the Salisbury CCTV images of Boshirov and Petrov a month before Charlie Rowley picked up the perfume. The authorities claim the CCTV images show they could have been to the charity bin to dump the novichok. Which begs the question, if the Police really believed they had CCTV of the movements of the men with the novichok, why did they not subsequently exhaustively search everywhere the CCTV shows they could have been, including that charity bin?

The far more probable conclusion appears to be that the lack of urgency is explained by the fact that the link between Borishov and Petrov and “novichok” is a narrative those involved in the investigation do not take seriously.

8 The Bungling Spies

There are elements of the accepted narrative of Borishov and Petrov’s movements that do not make sense. As the excellent local Salisbury blog The BlogMire points out, the CCTV footage shows Borishov and Petrov, after they had allegedly coated the door handle with novichok, returning towards the railway station but walking straight past it, into the centre of Salisbury (and missing their first getaway train in the process). They then wander around Salisbury apparently aimlessly, famously window shopping which is caught on CCTV, and according to the official narrative disposing of the used but inexplicably still cellophane-sealed perfume/novichok in a charity donation bin, having walked past numerous potential disposal sites en route including the railway embankment and the bins at the Shell garage.

But the really interesting thing, highlighted by the blogmire, is that the closest CCTV ever caught them to the Skripals’ house is fully 500 metres, at the Shell garage, walking along the opposite side of the road from the turning to the Skripals. There is a second CCTV camera at the garage which would have caught them crossing the road and turning down towards the Skripals’ house, but no such video or still image – potentially the most important of all the CCTV footage – has ever been released.

However the 500 metres is not the closest the CCTV places the agents to the Skripals. From 13.45 to 13.48, on their saunter into town, Borishov and Petrov were caught on CCTV at Dawaulders coinshop a maximum of 200 metres away from the Skripals, who at the same time were at Avon Playground. The bin at Avon playground became, over two days in the immediate aftermath of the Skripal “attack”, the scene of extremely intensive investigation. Yet the Borishov and Petrov excursion – during their getaway from attempted murder – into Salisbury town centre has been treated as entirely pointless and unimportant by the official story.

Finally, the behaviour of Borishov and Petrov in the early hours before the attack makes no sense whatsoever. On the one hand we are told these are highly trained, experienced and senior GRU agents; on the other hand, we are told they were partying in their room all night, drawing attention to themselves with loud noise, smoking weed and entertaining a prostitute in the room in which they were storing, and perhaps creating, the “novichok”.

The idea that, before an extremely delicate murder operation involving handling a poison, a tiny accident with which would kill them, professionals would stay up all night and drink heavily and take drugs is a nonsense. Apart from the obvious effect on their own metabolisms, they were risking authorities being called because of the noise and a search being instituted because of the drugs.

That they did this while in possession of the novichok and hours before they made the attack, is something I simply do not believe.

9 The Skripals’ Movements

Until the narrative changed to Borishov and Petrov arriving in Salisbury just before lunchtime and painting the doorknob, the official story had been that the Skripals left home around 9am and had not returned. They had both switched off their mobile phones, an interesting and still unexplained point. As you would expect in a city as covered in CCTV as Salisbury, their early morning journey was easily traced and the position of their car at various times was given by the police.

Yet no evidence of their return journey has ever been offered. There is now a tiny window between Borishov and Petrov arriving, painting the doorknob apparently with the Skripals now inexplicably back inside their home, and the Skripals leaving again by car, so quickly after the doorknob painting that they catch up with Borishov and Petrov – or certainly being no more than 200 metres from them in Salisbury City Centre. There is undoubtedly a huge amount of CCTV video of the Skripals’ movements which has never been released. For example, the parents of one of the boys who Sergei was chatting with while feeding the ducks, was shown “clear” footage by the Police of the Skripals at the pond, yet this has never been released. This however is the moment at which the evidence puts Borishov and Petrov at the closest to them. What does the concealed CCTV of the Skripals with the ducks show?

Why has so little detail of the Skripals’ movements that day been released? What do all the withheld CCTV images of the Skripals in Salisbury show?

10 The Sealed Bottle

Only in the last couple of days have the police finally admitted there is a real problem with the fact that Charlie Rowley insists that the perfume bottle was fully sealed, and the cellophane difficult to remove, when he discovered it. Why the charity collection bin had not been emptied for three months has never been explained either. Rowley’s recollection is supported by the fact that the entire packaging was discovered by the police in his bin – why would Borishov and Petrov have been carrying the cellophane around with them if they had opened the package? Why – and how – would they reseal it outdoors in Salisbury before dumping it?

Furthermore, there was a gap of three months between the police finding the perfume bottle, and the police releasing details of the brand and photos of it, despite the fact the police believed there could be more out there. Again the news management agenda totally belies the official narrative of the need to protect the public in a public health emergency.

This part of the narrative is plainly nonsense.

Bonus Point – The Integrity Initiative

The Integrity Initiative specifically paid Dan Kaszeta to publish articles on the Skripal case. In the weekly collections of social media postings the Integrity Initiative sent to the FCO to show its activity, over 80% were about the Skripals.

Governments do not institute secret campaigns to put out covert propaganda in order to tell the truth. The Integrity Initiative, with secret FCO and MOD sourced subsidies to MSM figures to put out the government narrative, is very plainly a disinformation exercise. More bluntly, if the Integrity Initiative is promoting it, you know it is not true.

Most sinister of all is the Skripal Group convened by the Integrity Initiative. This group includes Pablo Miller, Skripal’s MI6 handler, and senior representatives of Porton Down, the BBC, the CIA, the FCO and the MOD. Even if all the other ludicrously weak points in the government narrative did not exist, the Integrity Initiative activity in itself would lead me to understand the British government is concealing something important.

Conclusion

I do not know what happened in Salisbury. Plainly spy games were being played between Russia and the UK, quite likely linked to the Skripals and/or the NATO chemical weapons exercise then taking place on Salisbury Plain yet another one of those astonishing coincidences.

What I do know is that major planks of the UK government narrative simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

Plainly the Russian authorities have lied about the identity of Borishov and Petrov. What is astonishing is the alacrity with which the MSM and the political elite have rallied around the childish logical fallacy that because the Russian Government has lied, therefore the British Government must be telling the truth. It is abundantly plain to me that both governments are lying, and the spy games being played out that day were very much more complicated than a pointless revenge attack on the Skripals.

I do not believe the British Government. I have given you the key points where the official narrative completely fails to stand up. These are by no means exhaustive, and I much look forward to reading your own views.

March 7, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Integrity Initiative: New leaks show UK-funded project sought £5.5m for Balkans influence campaign

RT | February 12, 2019

Hackers have released a sixth batch of Integrity Initiative leaks, this time focusing on how the project sought £5.5 million in funding from the British government to establish an influence campaign in the Western Balkans.

According to the leaks, Chris Donnelly, who heads the Institute for Statecraft (IfS) — the Integrity Initiative’s parent organization — used his NATO contacts and extensive background in military intelligence to try to secure the money for the program.

The Integrity Initiative (II) had been positioning itself as an “independent” anti-disinformation charity until hackers began dumping batches of internal documents last November which revealed its government funding and the fact that it was running Europe-wide anti-Russia influence campaigns using “clusters” of cooperative journalists, academics and politicians. In response to the leaks, the II wiped all content from its website and claimed that while some of the documents were “genuine,” others were “falsified” — but did not provide any proof that this was the case.

The latest leaks show that the Balkan program would be run in conjunction with global marketing and communications firm Edelman, which Donnelly said could help produce “advertising campaigns on TV promoting change,” English-language training promoting the “right messages” and even “a TV soap opera looking at the problem of corruption.”

To aid ‘Her Majesty’s Government’

In a letter to former MI6 employee Guy Spindler and good governance expert Keith Sargent — who would be a key figure in the Balkan effort — Donnelly explains how the project would need “local partners” in the WB6 countries. The partners will help find journalists “who can be allies” in their efforts and who could be brought “on trips to London, HQ NATO etc.”

Donnelly’s letter is dated October 15, but no year is given. It appears, however, that it is from 2018, based on the fact that the proposal documents for the Balkan project make reference to the year 2018 and January 2019 as the potential start date.

The letter focuses on the efforts to set up the “anti-corruption” and “good governance” influence campaign across the Western Balkans, which a separate document says would “contribute to the aims and strategy of HMG” (Her Majesty’s Government) and would shield the region from corruption “being used as a method of external influence.”

Stumbling blocks and help from the BBC

Perceptively, the document — which lays out the projected three-year costs of £5.5 million ($7.87mn) — also recognizes that the program itself could be “identified as external interference” in the domestic affairs of the Balkan countries. Another leaked document notes “Russian hostility” and “traditional Soviet ties” as potential stumbling blocks to the Western influence campaign.

One serious concern is that many Serbian organizations “promote friendly ties with Russia” and it is suggested that BBC broadcasts could help to “counter Russian fake news” in the region. The fact that Serbia, Russia and a number of other countries do not recognize Kosovo’s independence is also cited as a “major problem” for the project.

‘A Bellingcat for counter-corruption’

To achieve success Donnelly said they would need to “identify a national goal” that could be used as a “lever”— citing Macedonia’s efforts to join NATO as an example. Donnelly boasts about his efforts in Slovakia in the 1990s using MPs to teach businesses how they could lobby government “legitimately in a democracy” rather than using “their then model of cash in brown envelopes.”

Part of the so-called anti-corruption program would entail building “training courses for journalists, students and wider public activists” to help them obtain the relevant investigative tools. Such a program could be “a Bellingcat for counter corruption,” the proposal document states. Bellingcat shot to prominence as a controversial one-man investigative website, which later expanded, received money from the notorious US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and was also linked to the II.

Anti-Russia entertainment

The latest leaks also reveal contacts between IfS fellow Euan Grant and a number of journalists, academics and think tank lobbyists. Grant sent a “memorandum of cooperation” to US writer Martha Bayles after a “detailed Skype call” in July 2018. He was looking for her “input into media documentaries and fictional entertainment” to counter Russian narratives.

Governments seeking help from writers and the entertainment industry to counter Russian narratives is nothing new. The 2014 hack of Sony Pictures revealed that the US State Department enlisted Hollywood’s help with “anti-Russia messaging” for movies and TV shows. It appears from these leaks that the British government is also trying to use thinly-disguised entertainment propaganda to promote divisive anti-Russia messaging onto TV screens in politically volatile regions of Europe.

The leaks say that the II should “alert” the press, radio and TV journalists to the “relevance” of already-made entertainment like the BBC series ‘McMafia’ which focuses on a London-based corrupt Russian family.

‘Sympathy for Russia’ in Scotland

There was also contact between the IfS and Neal Stewart, an adviser to the Scottish National Party’s Westminster front bench about “considerable sympathy for Russia” in Scotland in general, but particularly within academia. The “significant Russian speaking presence in private schools and in the Universities could fuel such attitudes,” the document warns. Another leaked document also cites “academic sympathies with Russia” as an indicator of “malign influence and disinformation.”

Targeting academics and students for their ‘Russian sympathies’ brings up rather negative historical parallels, particularly with the McCarthy era in the US, during which entertainers, academics and left-leaning activists were aggressively accused of being Communist sympathizers or agents and were placed on industry blacklists.

More recently, in Britain, a group of academics were smeared on the front page of the Times for similar sympathies, based on the fact that they publicly expressed doubts over certain anti-Russia media narratives. One of the academics involved called it a“coordinated smear campaign” against anti-war journalists and activists. The authors of the Times report were later named in Integrity Initiative documents, proving the existence of collusion between the British government and pro-establishment journalists to target those who do not stick to certain narratives.

High profile names & media ties

In an II“weekly report,” Grant names University of Exeter Professor Jeremy Black and Sunday Times journalist Roland White as two people who expressed interest in collaborating with the II. Roderick Parkes of the Paris-based ISS think tank and Nigel Gould-Davies, an associate fellow at Chatham House, were also named.

The leaks also say that Deborah Haynes of Sky News (a co-author of the aforementioned Times report) and Jonathan Beale of the BBC attended a speech by Air Marshal Sir Philip Osborn on the future of intelligence and information warfare in May 2018. The speech was described in the document as “manna from heaven for the Integrity Initiative.”

Grant writes that the government-funded IfS has “particular links with the Times, Telegraph, Guardian and BBC TV and radio” but says that it needs to “strengthen” its relationship with the Mail.

Times writer and CEPA lobbyist Edward Lucas also crops up in the latest leaks and due to his “considerable interest” is named as the II’s way into getting “articles and references” in the Times. Lucas recently defended the II in an op-ed for the newspaper and argued that criticism of the project would “play into the Kremlin’s hands.”

NGOs and the ‘Australian cluster’

The documents also reveal that the II wanted to provide NGOs with manuals on Russian corruption. Among the named organizations are Transparency International, Global Witness and the World Wildlife Fund.

One of the newly leaked documents also shows just how far the II has extended its reach, referencing an”Australian cluster.” Given the issue of Russian and Chinese influence in that region, Grant writes that there is “scope for a lot of crossover with media in Europe” and Australia relating to “Russian issues.”

Presenting the new leaks, the Anonymous-linked hackers claim that the Integrity Initiative has been trying to “divert people’s attention from the organisation’s wrongful activity” since the documents were made public. The leakers bash the II’s “pathetic attempt” to cover its tracks and say all its efforts have been “shattered to pieces by irrefutable evidence” of wrongdoing that has been shared with the public.

RT sent requests for comment to the people named in the story who were linked to the Integrity Initiative in the latest leaks.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Integrity Initiative’s ‘Counterfeit Expert’ Perpetuated Novichok Narrative

By Kit Klarenberg | Sputnik | 07.02.2019

In the days following the apparent poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on 4 March 2018, speculation abounded. What substance had rendered the double agent and his daughter comatose? How? Who was responsible? Why?

By 7 March, it’d been established the pair were struck by a nerve agent, confirmation merely triggering yet further frenzied theorizing — much of it unscientific — on what precise variety had struck the pair. Could it have been VX for instance, first synthesized in the 1950s at Porton Down, the UK’s secretive and controversial chemical and biological weapons testing centre situated a mere eight kilometres from Salisbury?

A day later, security consultant Dan Kaszeta offered an alternative explanation — writing for controversial website Bellingcat, he suggested the agent may have been ‘novichok’.

“The Soviet Union developed a new series of nerve agents in the 1970s and 1980s. The exact nature of these so-called novichok agents is still debated and the information on them varies a bit depending on what source you are looking at… some Novichok agents of interest include A230 and A232,” Kaszeta said.

It was seemingly the first time anyone anywhere had connected the substance with the Salisbury incident — but it would soon become a crucial feature in the UK government’s official narrative, helping lay blame for the attack squarely on the Russian state, before a motive had been established, any perpetrators identified, or other basic facts ascertained.

Own Initiative?

Due to Kaszeta’s amazingly fortuitous insight, he would become a central figure in media reporting on the Skripals, a go-to ‘independent chemical weapons expert’ quoted in a great many articles and reports.

At no point however did Kaszeta disclose his intimate relationship with the Integrity Initiative, a shadowy military intelligence outfit funded by the British state and NATO — and moreover, an organization that specifically sought to systematically shape media reporting on, and Whitehall’s response to, the Salisbury incident from day one.

Dan Kaszeta’s Integrity Initiative Biography

In fact, were it not for hacking syndicate Anonymous, his role within the organization’s ‘Specialist Team’ would be entirely unknown, the only documentation linking him to the organization in any way a series of articles he wrote on novichok for the Initiative’s official website over the course of 2018 — which have since been removed from the web, along with all other site content.

Among them was a puff piece ardently defending Porton Down, stating the UK urgently needed the facility “to do valuable work to protect not just the nation’s armed forces but also to protect all of us who live here”, and dismissing as ludicrous the notion any poison could somehow be smuggled out of the “secure compound”.

Given US Fort Derrick is also highly secure, and anthrax was apparently smuggled out of the grounds successfully in 2001, leading to a notorious wave of anthrax attacks in the week after 9/11, this argument is surely dubious. What’s more, Kaszeta would surely have been aware of this, given he claims to have been “heavily involved in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the 2001 Anthrax incidents” — in what capacity though, he doesn’t clarify. Moreover, what published literature exists on novichok (or A-234) indicates the substance can be produced at bench scale by any laboratory.In addition to offering technical information on novichok to journalists — including then-Times Defence Editor Deborah Haynes, part of the Initiative’s UK Cluster — Kaszeta sought to rebut alternative explanations for the attack, and answer key questions such as why the Skripals didn’t die on the spot, and how novichok could poison two further people four months after the incident, writing a dedicated article on the former for politics.co.uk on 6 April. Conspicuously, much of this analysis relied on conjecture rather than science — for instance, when asked by NPR on 12 March 2018 why anyone would use “such an unusual agent”, Kaszeta responded “it was possible, given the historic secrecy around the programme, the culprit may have thought it would go undetected”.

“Maybe somebody somewhere felt they could get away with it,” he says. Then again, he says, it could have just as well been used to send a clear message to would-be spies and defectors. “It’s much more than waking up with a horse head in your bed,” he postulated.

He also frequently tweeted on the subject, the postings apparently becoming newsworthy in themselves — it’s difficult to quantify the exact number of articles featuring his Twitter output, although a 5 July 2018 Yahoo article — Weapons expert busts conspiracy theories about the Wiltshire Novichok attack — is certainly representative in terms of tone and content.

Integrity Initiative Monitors Social Media Activity Related to Salisbury Incident

Every step of the way, Kaszeta’s activities were closely tracked by the Initiative, with ‘expert team’ member Chris Hernon (ex-BBC) noting them in regular roundups. Elsewhere, in an internal email titled ‘FCO Disinformation Update’, FCO Head of Counter Disinformation Andy Pryce hailed his “strong rebuttal of conspiracy theories”.

‘Deep in the Pentagon’

Quite where, and indeed when, Kaszeta gleaned his specialist knowledge of novichok is unclear — particularly as he’s repeatedly (and wrongly) claimed the operation that produced the nerve agent was extremely secretive, and little is known about the substance outside the former Soviet Union.

Moreover, he doesn’t appear to have written a single word about novichok prior to his 8 March 2018 Bellingcat article — and his oft-touted chemical weapons and/or warfare prowess doesn’t appear justified by his professional or academic history either. Kaszeta’s work experience in that regard seems strictly limited to crisis response planning, and he holds a BA in political science and an MA in international affairs — but his LinkedIn profile nonetheless makes for fascinating reading.

His first listed role, from August — December 1990, was ‘policy intern’ at the Office of the Secretary of Defence, which he describes as “hard work at a desk deep in the D ring of the Pentagon during the final days of the Cold War” — and between 1994 — 1996 he engaged in “hard thankless toil in the depths of the beltway bandit universe, relieved only by boondoggles to the [Pentagon think tank] RAND Corporation” at Defence Group Inc. Thereafter, he worked in a number of positions within the US military-industrial complex, including the White House Military Office and Secret Service, before entering the private sector.

Dan Kaszeta’s LinkedIn Profile

In 2011, Kaszeta founded Strongpoint Security, which “provides consultancy and advice across a wide variety of defence and security disciplines, with a focus on unconventional threats, CBRN defence, crisis management, and physical security assessment”. The company’s website is rudimentary in the extreme, with many sections appearing to have not been updated for many years — for instance, references are made to Kaszeta’s “new” and “recently published” book, CBRN and Hazmat Incidents at Major Public Events, which was released in November 2012. He claims the work is “the first serious attempt to address the diverse and challenging issues of safeguarding the major event environment against the full spectrum of CBRN and Hazmat incidents and accidents”.

Self-aggrandizement is a recurring theme on the site, with Kaszeta boasting that his “degree and depth of expertise is relatively unique [sic] in Europe” — but while he’s bragged about the size of his “expert daily rate”, Companies House records indicate the firm has very little in the way of capital, cash reserves or assets, with annual post-tax profits typically in the low thousands, falling to just US$448 (£394) in the 2016/2017 tax year.

Strongpoint’s yearly takings certainly don’t appear to have ever reached levels by which Kaszeta could support himself, and references to the company online are sparse — any firms that have ever employed his services have certainly not advertised the fact in any way, and neither Strongpoint’s outdated website nor barely active Twitter account offer any sign of the company or its founder actually working, the latter consisting almost exclusively of retweets, often of Integrity Initiative posts.Strongpoint’s lack of assets is even more puzzling given it operates out of Kaszeta’s flat in Pimlico, one of Central London’s most expensive areas, where housing costs an average of US$1.9 million (£1.4 million) in 2019, 135 percent above the city average.

It’s unclear whether Britain’s spying agencies MI5 and MI6, both situated a few minutes’ walk from Strongpoint, have played any role in boosting property prices there — the organizations maintain a large portfolio of lodgings in the district, including 36 Alderney Street (located half a mile from Kaszeta’s home-cum-office), where GCHQ secondee to MI6 Gareth Williams died in extremely mysterious circumstances in August 2010.

Proximity of Strongpoint Security to MI6 HQ

Nonetheless, Kaszeta owns the residence, so obvious questions must be asked — namely, how is he actually making his living, and is Strongpoint merely a legitimizing professional ‘front’ for other activities, lending superficial credence to his status as ‘independent’ specialist?

‘Counterfeit Expert’

Kaszeta’s rise to media prominence is also somewhat curious. Prior to 2013, he was entirely unheard of in the mainstream — that would change when he began writing articles for Elliot Higgins’ ‘Brown Moses’ blog (the forerunner of Bellingcat ) on 20 August that year, a day prior to the notorious chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, Syria. With Western leaders claiming Syrian government forces were behind the strike, but unable to provide supporting evidence, Kaszeta eagerly filled the void, being a frequent fixture of media reporting on the incident for months afterward.

Among a variety of allegations, his core contention was hexamine had been found by UN inspectors investigating local soil samples and metal fragments, a discovery apparently amounting to “smoking gun” evidence proving Syrian government forces were behind the contested strike, as — he alleged — the fuel can be used in the production of sarin gas, the chemical weapon purportedly used in the Ghouta attack. While Kaszeta has never cited a single scientific paper supporting this thesis, journalists invariably presented his analysis without critique.

He was nonetheless questioned on his various assertions and credentials via email by Theodore Postol, professor emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, correspondence the academic later published in a wider July 2014 review.

Over the course of their discussion, Postol writes that Kaszeta made “numerous false science-based claims” which he’d “not researched before [he] made the statements”, referenced quotes “not made by the individuals [he] cited” and claimed scientific expertise he “amply demonstrated” he didn’t have.

Dan Kaszeta Defends Integrity Initiative Employment

Concluding Kaszeta to be a “counterfeit expert”, the professor notes the self-avowed CBRN aficionado’s aforementioned book contains “no technical or scientific information” that couldn’t be obtained by a “superficial” internet search, and suggests Kaszeta’s prominence in news reports on Ghouta stemmed from a “complete failure” by the media “to exercise the most rudimentary levels of editorial due diligence” and challenge his “ill-informed and inflammatory use of false technical facts”.

Moreover, this bogus “empowerment” of Kaszeta, Postol writes, resulted in “controversy [with] no basis in sound science”, which could’ve played a role in justifying US military involvement in Syria.

Despite this extremely damning indictment of his probity and professional competency, mainstream journalists and news outlets were evidently indifferent, as Kaszeta’s media profile would grow exponentially in the years afterward, leading to his central role in perpetuating the novichok narrative.

Notably, not once in this period has Kaszeta ever provided ‘expertise’ even vaguely inconvenient for Western governments — in fact, he has unfailingly supported and perhaps even legitimized their aggressive policies, in the manner his Ghouta analysis potentially offered a pretext for US action in Syria.

Urban Planning

One of the most renowned journalists to promote Kaszeta’s views on novichok was BBC Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban, who championed his politics.co.uk article as a “common sense answer” to the question of why the Skripals weren’t killed by the poison they seemingly came into contact with, written by a “real expert”.

Mark Urban Promotes Dan Kaszeta’s ‘Expertise’ on Twitter

Urban’s advocacy of Kaszeta is perhaps unsurprising given his own peculiar connections to the Skripal affair — for in a shock disclosure, in July he revealed he’d repeatedly met with and interviewed the former Russian intelligence officer in the year prior to the Salisbury incident, while researching a book on the history of East-West Espionage.

That Urban neglected to mention securing such a seismic, serendipitous scoop until four months after that fateful March day — a period in which discussion of the attack, and Skripal, utterly dominated media reporting the world over — is somewhat staggering, but not quite as astounding as him having once served in the same tank regiment as Pablo Miller, Skripal’s MI6 recruiter and handler, and neighbour in Salisbury.

Serious questions hang over Miller’s involvement in the incident, not least because immediately afterward he deleted his LinkedIn, which revealed him to be a Senior Analyst at Orbis Intelligence, the private “investigative consultancy” run by former MI6 operative Christopher Steele, author of the highly controversial ‘Trump-Russia’ dossier — which Integrity Initiative operatives worked to circulate among US politicians.

Furthermore, on 7 March the UK government issued a D-notice related to the Salisbury incident, effectively blocking mention of Miller in the mainstream media since.

“The issue surrounding the identity of former MI6 informer Sergei Skripal is already widely available in the public domain. However, the identities of intelligence agency personnel associated with Sergei Skripal are not yet widely available in the public domain. The provisions of DSMA Notice 05 therefore apply to these identities. If any editor is currently considering publication of such material, may I ask you to seek [the] advice [of the Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee] before doing so?” the notice reads.

Adding to the intrigue, Miller also has an unclear relationship with Integrity Initiative, a leaked file naming him in a list compiled by Initiative chief Chris Donnelly, alongside representatives of the BBC, Porton Down, the FCO, the MOD and the US Embassy. The nature of the register is neither clear from the file itself, nor referenced in any other internal Initiative documents, although Anonymous claim the individuals were invitees to a private meeting with Syria’s notorious White Helmets group. Conversely, former Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has speculated the event was in fact related to the Skripal incident, a hypothesis partially supported by the presence of Howard Body, Assistant Head of Science Support at Porton Down (and Assistant Head of Strategic Analysis at the Ministry of Defence) among the names.

Integrity Initiative Promotes Dan Kaszeta’s ‘Skripal Files’ Review on Twitter

Whatever the truth of the matter, Urban’s aforementioned book, The Skripal Files — widely marketed as the “definitive account” of the incident — was published 4 October 2018. On 21 December, a glowing review of the work authored by none other than Dan Kaszeta was published on the Integrity Initiative website — strikingly, in its introductory paragraph the “counterfeit expert” revealed he’d met with Urban “several times over the past few years”. On 20 January, I emailed Kaszeta seeking clarity on how, why and when it was he crossed paths Urban — predictably he didn’t respond, a recurring theme with Initiative-connected individuals.

Dan Kaszeta Reviews Mark Urban’s Book, ‘The Skripal Files’

A mere two days later the organization would remove all content from its website, pending an “investigation” into the hack which acquired so much incriminating information from the organization’s servers. While there’s no necessary connection between my contacting Kaszeta and the purge, the timing is at least potentially significant given the review is one of very few Initiative site pages not still accessible via internet archiving services — it’s also not included among the now-dead links to the various articles he wrote for the Initiative on the Strongpoint website.

Wider Conspiracy

Shockingly, Kaszeta was but one cog within a much wider connivance — Operation Iris — constructed by Integrity Initiative. Under its auspices, many Institute for Statecraft and Initiative operatives — and journalists within the organization’s assorted international clusters — played a leading and early role in perpetuating various narratives, myths and recommended “responses” to the incident that would utterly dominate mainstream media reporting of the affair the world over for months afterwards.

2015 File Written By Victor Madeira on Possible Anti-Russian Actions

In addition to cementing an extremely negative public perception of Russia, the Initiative also sought to influence government policy in the UK — and ensure isolation of Russia internationally.

Disturbingly, many of these narratives, and recommended strategies, were originally mooted in a document produced in 2015 by Initiative staffer Victor Madeira, who likewise played a leading role in pushing particular angles in the wake of the Salisbury incident. Over the coming weeks, Sputnik will document the activities of each and every Operation IRIS operative, in an attempt to ascertain just what role the Initiative played in the Skripal affair, and why.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Integrity Initiative wipes website pending probe into ‘theft’ of disturbing leaked data

RT | January 22, 2019

The British state-funded Integrity Initiative, exposed last year for conducting Europe-wide political influence campaigns in leaked files, has removed all of its website content “pending an investigation” into the data “theft.”

A group claiming association with the loose hacktivist collective Anonymous has been dumping private Integrity Initiative documents online in various batches since November. The leaks revealed that the Scotland-based, government-funded organization, which bills itself as a non-partisan disinformation-busting charity, was actually using “clusters” of journalists, politicians, and academics to carry out secret anti-Russia campaigns, interfere in domestic politics across Europe and smear anyone who questioned its narratives.

In a surprise move on Monday, the Integrity Initiative abruptly announced on Twitter that it had “temporarily removed” all content from its site “pending an investigation into the theft of data” from the Institute of Statecraft, the II’s London-based parent operation.

In a statement posted on its now mostly bare website, the II claimed the leaks were “part of a campaign to undermine the work” of the Initiative which it said involved “researching, publicising and countering the threat” Europe faces in the in the form of “disinformation” and “hybrid warfare” – ironically, exactly what the shady organization itself was accused of engaging in with its hefty government paycheck.

It remains an open question if, in an effort to save face, the group would accuse Russia of being behind the leaks and even of doctoring the documents. While the statement admitted that some of the leaks were “genuine,” it claimed others were “falsified” – but did not provide any evidence to back up that claim. It is, however, apparent that Russia has been the Initiative’s main target during the course of its questionable work.

The website will be “relaunched shortly” and “analysis” of the hack and its “significance” will be published soon, the statement said. It doesn’t look as though many will be awaiting that analysis with bated breath, however.

Perhaps discouraging for the Integrity Initiative, few seemed upset to see their content disappear. Most responses to the announcement tweet are of the trolling variety, accusing the organization of simply being caught in the act and trying to clean house.

After the II leaks, Scottish newspaper the Daily Record wrote that the revelations – including that the government-funded organization had also conducted a domestic smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn – was “one of the biggest political scandals of the year.”

The scandal received scant coverage by mainstream British media, however. Labour MP Chris Williamson told RT earlier this month that the lack of interest could have something to do with the fact that high profile journalists themselves were seemingly involved in the shady operation.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Deception, 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

‘They made a mess & are fighting fires’: UK academic says Integrity Initiative fatally hurt by leaks

RT | January 8, 2019

Despite being ignored by Western media, leaks from Integrity Initiative have paralyzed the operations of this UK-funded covert influence network, and could lead to its dismantling, says a leading British academic.

“This has made a mess of [Integrity Initiative’s] operations, they are spending most of their time now trying to fire-fight on the coverage this is getting. And they are not doing essentially what they are being paid to do, which is to counter the Russians,” David Miller, Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol School for Policy Studies, told RT.

“The British government is getting bad value for money, if it was ever getting better value.”

As part of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, which studies Western attempts to control media coverage of key international events, Miller has played a crucial role in studying the four tranches of data anonymously uploaded and sourced from the previously little-known group, which has been backed by the UK Foreign Office, NATO and Facebook, to the tune of over £1 million per year.

The documents, whose authenticity has not been denied, contain details of psyops operations against public figures, of the manipulation of media coverage in leading Western outlets, and have also revealed worldwide networks of prominent journalists and academics, secretly engaged to discredit, at every turn, pro-Moscow points of view and political developments.

Despite the refusal by all of those named to either admit their connection or to say that there was nothing untoward in their activities, Miller believes that getting rumbled has made it more difficult for them to push and publish anti-Russian content.

“Most of the people named are trying to pretend that this is not all of great significance, but the revelation of the involvement of the government in manipulating other countries, and the political process in the UK, is extremely damaging for them,” he said, via video link.

For Miller, the “cardinal sin” from a UK perspective was smearing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, as a potential Kremlin ally in Whitehall, which would mean that a state-paid intelligence operation was meddling in domestic politics.

Miller bemoans the absence of coverage of what he calls a “real, genuine scandal” in top English-language news sources, which, he says, are themselves implicated in the fallout. But regardless, such is the scope of Integrity Initiative’s ambition – from indoctrinating schoolchildren to infiltrating Hollywood – that it should lead to a national dialogue about the role intelligence agencies should play in public life.

“Integrity Initiative are beyond the realms of sense. The activities they are engaged in are morally and ethically dubious, and will certainly – as we can see already – backfire on them,” he said.

“This will result hopefully in the ending of this operation, and if we are lucky, a sensible discussion in parliament about controlling the future British covert operations.”

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

British Government Covert Anti-Russian Propaganda and the Skripal Case

By Craig Murray | December 21, 2018

It is worth starting by noting that a high percentage of the Integrity Initiative archive has been authenticated. The scheme has been admitted by the FCO and defended as legitimate government activity. Individual items like the minutes of the meeting with David Leask are authenticated. Not one of the documents has so far been disproven, or even denied.

Which tends to obscure some of the difficulties with the material. There is no metadata showing when each document was created, as opposed to when Anonymous made it into a PDF. Anonymous have released it in tranches and made plain there is more to come. The reason for this methodology is left obscure.

Most frustratingly, Anonymous’ comments on the releases indicate that they have vital information which is not, so far, revealed. The most important document of all appears to be a simple contact list, of a particular group within the hundreds of contacts revealed in the papers overall. This is it in full:

Tantalisingly, Anonymous describe this as a list of people who attended a meeting with the White Helmets. But there is no evidence of that in the document itself, nor does any other document released so far refer to this meeting. There is very little in the documents released so far about the White Helmets at all. But there is a huge amount about the Skripal case. With the greatest of respect to Anonymous and pending any release of further evidence, I want you to consider whether this might be a document related to the Skripal incident.

The list is headed CND gen list 2. CND is Christopher Nigel Donnelly, Director of the Institute for Statecraft and the Integrity Initiative and a very senior career Military Intelligence Officer.

The first name on the list caught my eye. Duncan Allan was the young FCO Research Analyst who, as detailed in Murder in Samarkand, appears in my Ambassadorial office in Tashkent, telling me of the FCO staff who had been left in tears by the pressure put on them to sign up to Blair’s dodgy dossier on Iraqi WMD. During the process of clearing the manuscript with the FCO, I was told (though not by him) that he denied having ever said it. It was one of a very few instances where I refused to make the changes requested to the text, because I had no doubt whatsoever of what had been said.

If Duncan did lie about having told me, it did his career no harm as he is now Deputy Head of FCO Research Analysts and, most importantly, the FCO’s lead analyst on Russia and the Former Soviet Union.

Now let us tie that in with the notorious name further down the list; Pablo Miller, the long-term MI6 handler of Sergei Skripal, who lived in Salisbury with Skripal. Miller is the man who was, within 24 hours of the Skripal attack, protected by a D(SMA) notice banning the media from mentioning him. Here Pablo Miller is actively involved, alongside serving FCO and MOD staff, in a government funded organisation whose avowed intention is to spread disinformation about Russia. The story that Miller is in an inactive retirement is immediately and spectacularly exploded.

Now look at another name on this list. Howard Body. Assistant Head of Science Support at Porton Down chemical weapon research laboratory, just six miles away from Salisbury and the Skripal attack, a role he took up in December 2017. He combines this role with Assistant Head of Strategic Analysis at MOD London. “Science Support” at Porton Down is a euphemism for political direction to the scientists – Body has no scientific qualifications.

Another element brought into this group is the state broadcaster, through Helen Boaden, the former Head of BBC News and Current Affairs.

In all there are six serving MOD staff on the list, all either in Intelligence or in PR. Intriguingly one of them, Ian Cohen, has email addresses both at the MOD and at the notoriously corrupt HSBC bank. The other FCO name besides Duncan Allan, Adam Rutland, is also on the PR side.

Zachary Harkenrider is the Political Counsellor at the US Embassy in London. There are normally at least two Political Counsellors at an Embassy this size, one of whom will normally be the CIA Head of Station. I do not know if Harkenrider is CIA but it seems highly likely.

So what do we have here? We have a programme, the Integrity Initiative, whose entire purpose is to pump out covert disinformation against Russia, through social media and news stories secretly paid for by the British government. And we have the Skripals’ MI6 handler, the BBC, Porton Down, the FCO, the MOD and the US Embassy, working together in a group under the auspices of the Integrity Initiative. The Skripal Case happened to occur shortly after a massive increase in the Integrity Initiative’s budget and activity, which itself was a small part of a British Government decision to ramp up a major information war against Russia.

I find that very interesting indeed.

With a hat-tip to members of the Working Group on Syria, Media, and the Propaganda, who are preparing a major and important publication which is imminent. UPDATE Their extremely important briefing note on the Integrity Initiative is now online, prepared to the highest standards of academic discipline. I shall be drawing on and extrapolating from it further next week.

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Influencing Foreigners Is What Intelligence Agencies Do

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 20.12.2018

The Rand Corporation defines America’s influence operations as… “the coordinated, integrated, and synchronized application of national diplomatic, informational, military, economic, and other capabilities in peacetime, crisis, conflict, and post-conflict to foster attitudes, behaviors, or decisions by foreign target audiences that further US interests and objectives. In this view, influence operations accent communications to affect attitudes and behaviors but also can include the employment of military capabilities, economic development, and other real-world capabilities that also can play a role in reinforcing these communications.”

In a world where communications and social networks are global and accessible to many ordinary people, influence operations are the bread-and-butter of many intelligence agencies as a means of waging low intensity warfare against adversaries. During the past week there have been two accounts of how influencing foreign audiences has worked in practice, one relating to Russia and one to Great Britain.

The Russian story is part of the continuing saga of Russiagate. On Monday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released two reports on Russian operations before during and after the 2016 election to influence targeted groups, to include African-Americans, evangelical Christians and Second Amendment supporters to confuse voters about what the candidates stood for. Russia Internet Research Agency, headed by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, alleged to be a friend of President Vladimir Putin, reportedly coordinated the effort.

The New York Times, slanted its coverage of the story, claiming that Moscow was “weaponizing” social media and that it was intended to support the candidacy of Donald Trump who “had a Russian blind spot and an army of supporters willing to believe convenient lies and half-truths.” They also dubbed it “a singular act of aggression that ushered in an era of extended conflict.” Of course, one might note that in 2016 the Times itself had a blind spot regarding Hillary Clinton compounded by a bias against Trump and his “deplorable” supporters, while one must also point out that Russian intentions are unknowable unless one were a fly on the wall inside the Kremlin when the US election was under discussion, so one might conclude that the newspaper is itself spreading something like disinformation.

It is undoubtedly true that Russia had a vital national interest in opposing Clinton, whose malevolent intentions towards Moscow were well known. It is also undoubtedly true that there was a campaign of manipulation of social networks by the Kremlin and its proxies to influence readers and also to assess the development of the two major party campaigns. But it also should be observed that the claim that it was seeking to suppress Democratic voters is not really borne out given the other much more conservative demographics that were also targeted. Indeed, involvement by Russia did not alter the outcome of the election and may have had virtually no impact whatsoever, so the claims by the Times that the world is seeing a new form of warfare is clearly exaggerated to reflect that paper’s editorial stance.

The fact that the Times is trying to make the news rather than reporting it is clearly indicted by its sheer speculation that “The Internet Research Agency appears to have largely sat out the 2018 midterm elections, but it is likely already trying to influence the 2020 presidential election, in ways social media companies may not yet understand or be prepared for. And Russia is just the beginning. Other countries, including Iran and China, have already demonstrated advanced capabilities for cyberwarfare, including influence operations waged over social media platforms.” It is certainly convenient to have all one’s enemies collectivized in two sentences, but the Times manages that quite neatly.

The second story, much less reported in the US media, relates to how the British intelligence services have been running their own disinformation operations against Russia, also using social networks and the internet. The British government has been financing a program that was given the name Integrity Initiative. It has been tasked with creating and disseminating disinformation relating to Russia in order to influence the people, armed forces and governments of a number of countries that Moscow constitutes a major threat to the west and its institutions.

Former British intelligence officer and established Russo-phobe Christopher Nigel Donnelly (CND) is the co-director of The Institute for Statecraft and founder of its offshoot Integrity Initiative. The Initiative ironically claims to “Defend Democracy Against Disinformation.” According to leaked documents, the Initiative plants disinformation that includes allegations about the “Russian threat” to world peace using what are referred to as journalists ‘clusters’ in place both in Europe and the United States.

Even though the Institute and Initiative pretend to be independent Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), they are both actually supported financially by the British government, NATO and what are reported to be other state donors, possibly including the United States.

The Integrity Initiative aside, the United States has also long been involved in influence operations, sometimes also referred to as perception management. Even before 9/11 and after the breakup of the Soviet Union the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Agency were all active on the internet in opposing various adversaries, to include terrorist groups. The CIA has been spreading disinformation using paid journalists and arranging foreign elections since 1947. Sometimes US federal government agencies are operating openly, but more often they are using covert mechanisms and cover stories to conceal their identities. America’s internet warriors are adept at spreading misinformation aimed at target audiences worldwide.

The fact is that spreading disinformation and confusion are what governments and intelligence services do to protect what they consider to be vital interests. It is naïve for the US Senate and America’s leading newspapers to maintain that intelligence probing and other forms of interference from Russia or China or Iran or even “friend” Israel occur in a vacuum. Everyone intrudes and spreads lies and everyone will continue to do it because it is easy to understand and cheap to run. In the end, however, its effectiveness is limited. In 2016 the election result was determined by a lack of trust on the part of the American people for what the establishment politicians have been offering, not because of interference from Moscow.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Striking images to help public relate’: UK Integrity Initiative’s post-Skripal psyop leaked

RT | December 19, 2018

The UK government-funded ‘Integrity Initiative’ (II) actively monitored social media and suggested influencing foreign journalists with “pro-UK messaging” in the aftermath of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, latest leaks claim.

The shady II – a project of the Institute for Statecraft (IfS) – bills itself as a non-partisan, disinformation-busting charity. Yet, according to leaked documents by a group calling itself Anonymous, it ran a smear campaign at home and also meddled in the internal affairs of EU countries.

The latest – third – batch of leaks says that IfS also sprung into action after the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter earlier this year. London blamed the attack on Moscow, while Kremlin said the accusations lacked evidence and were part of smear campaign against Russia.

In the aftermath of the case, IfS suggested a “live monitoring” project to determine which “key influencers” and journalists were “friendly” toward the UK and which were not, in order to be able to provide an “early warning” of any “threat to HMG” (Her Majesty’s Government).

A proposal document for the Skripal project said that the social media monitoring service known as ‘SENTINEL’ and an investigative platform called ‘SEEKER’ would be used to identify accounts that were deemed “part of a Russian government media strategy.”

The latest leak also includes a number of short country reports on the Skripal monitoring project from across Europe including from Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Baltic states. A more lengthy report was produced for Italy, where the Integrity Initiative claimed that “the risk of Russian influence” remains “high.”

The reason was that that doubts had been raised about the UK government’s narrative on the Skripal story, even in “high quality” Italian newspapers. This was blamed on the fact that not enough Italians consider Russia a threat and therefore, people there reacted to the news with “emotions” rather than rational analysis, it is claimed. According to the docs, the way to remedy this, was to direct “an effective, discrete and articulated information campaign” toward Italian influencers in politics and media.

A document on “ramping up” IfS’s work suggests that posting “striking images” of Skripal in hospital might “help the public relate” more to the story. Notably, while the IfS denigrated the “emotional” reaction from Italians that did not go in their favor, they were not so reserved with the British public.

The same document argues that the IfS could potentially be“anonymous funders” of Patreon projects where users are creating high-quality anti-Russian content — and could even “commission” such content itself. IfS should “use public figures in our networks to approach celebrities” and other “social influencers” to spread the message, it says, giving former footballer Gary Lineker as an example.

The IfS could also help expand “recent efforts to develop media literacy in rural USA” by using the Skripal affair as a “vivid and timely case-study,” the document says, without elaborating on its US efforts. Another stated goal would be to “find ways” to remove content from RT and Ruptly news agency from anywhere it was found within mainstream media.

Earlier leaks claim that the group has already led a successful social media campaign to prevent the appointment of Colonel Pedro Banos as director of Spain’s Department of Homeland Security due to his so-called “pro-Russian” views. The government-funded group also launched a domestic smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in an effort to brand him as a tool of the Kremlin.

Read more:

Do it CIA style: What you need to know about latest leak on UK-funded psyop

December 19, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

UK and US PSYOP Collusion

By Margaret Kimberly | Black Agenda Report | December 19, 2018

Russiagate hysteria is an international conspiracy, with British spooks spreading lies on three continents. Now Black Americans are slandered as “dupes” of Moscow.

For more than two years the corporate media, elite think tanks, NATO leaders, and most Democratic Party politicians have insisted that Russia interferes in American and European elections. The charge doesn’t withstand scrutiny but the lies are repeated. There is proof that surveillance state meddling in the affairs of democratic nations is real, but Russia isn’t the culprit. It is the United Kingdom and the United States who lead in skullduggery and meddling with the rights they claim to uphold.

Thanks to the Anonymous hacker community the work of the Integrity Initiative  has been exposed to the public. The Integrity Initiative is a British “charity” founded in 2015. Its mission is to “bring to the attention of politicians, policy-makers, opinion leaders and other interested parties the threat posed by Russia to democratic institutions in the United Kingdom, across Europe and North America.” That mission is suspect in and of itself, a phony trope meant to cover up its own imperialist wrong doing. The Integrity Initiative is an arm of the British government and has received more than $2 million in funding from the British Foreign Office and Defense department. It has also raised money from NATO, Facebook and rightwing foundations.

The Integrity Initiative is a means of undermining the sovereignty of the British people by manipulating them with lies. It engaged in numerous efforts to libel Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and prevent him from ever being elected prime minister. Corbyn has been accused of Soviet era espionage, anti-Semitism and anything else his enemies choose to use against him. Academics and writers who spoke out against UK involvement in attacks on Syria were likewise targeted by The Timesand other influential British media. The reporters involved were part of this Integrity Initiative campaign. The attacks are consistent and are obviously coordinated at a very high level.

Integrity Initiative director Christopher Donnelly  is a former member of the British Army Intelligence Corps. He also helped to create the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, and served as an advisor to several Secretaries General at NATO. After the NATO instigated coup against the elected Ukrainian government Donnelly recommended placing mines in the Sevastopol harbor, an obvious provocation.

When Integrity Initiative isn’t planning to start wars it plots to interfere in the affairs of other countries through orchestrated “clusters” of journalists and academics. The Spanish cluster  quashed the appointment of a new defense secretary through the use of a coordinated social media campaign. They were also involved in subverting the Catalan independence vote.

Clusters are operating not just in the UK and Spain but in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway and Lithuania. After Julian Assange revealed the extent of interference in Spain the cluster targeted the Ecuadorean government to end his asylum.

There is evidence that the Integrity Initiative sent an operative into the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. An Englishman named Simon Bracey-Lane  got much media attention for volunteering in the Sanders Iowa caucus campaign. Bracey-Lane is now a research fellow at the Institute for Statecraft, the Integrity Initiative’s parent company. There was foreign meddling in the 2016 election but it came from British spooks like Christopher Steele and undercover operatives, not Russian agents.

The only Americans aware of the Integrity Initiative are those who use social media to gather information outside of the corporate media bubble. The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC haven’t covered this story. They repeat what Robert Mueller says about crooked and amateurish Trump allies who cheat on taxes or pay off porn stars. They repeat flimsy evidence of Russian collusion while America’s allies in the UK cheat their own citizens of their rights. It is miraculous when the people are able to find out anything they need to know.

These miracles occur when Wikileaks or Anonymous steal secrets the powerful want to keep hidden. Americans wouldn’t know about the existence of the FBI Counter Intelligence Program if a group of activists hadn’t stolen the documentary evidence. That is why the leakers and the hackers deserve support from anyone who wants to live in a truly democratic society.

While British spies operate covertly, their American counterparts work in the open as they make a profit off of their disinformation campaigns. The story of a Russian troll farm swaying Americans to vote for Donald Trump was relegated to old news but it was resurrected by a Silicon Valley surveillance state operation.

New Knowledge  is a tech firm created with venture capital cash and founders who are former operatives from the National Security Agency, U.S. military, and State Department. New Knowledge was hired by the Senate Intelligence Committee and tasked with finding out the extent of supposed Russian influence on social media.

As expected, they produced a report claiming not only that the Russians meddled in the election but that African Americans were the most targeted group . This is a rehash of the discredited story that click bait  ad selling schemes amounted to espionage. It also confuses with claims of millions of online interactions  that are a drop in the bucket in comparison with American political sites.

Of course phony concern for black people is the last refuge of many scoundrels. Now that there has been no evidence presented of Russian government collusion with Donald Trump, the rehashing will be more frequent. The Democratic Party and the corporate media cannot let this story die. They depend upon it and they must keep covering up their own lies. Russiagate is the gift that keeps on giving.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and their establishment supporters are responsible for the Donald Trump presidency. They were more concerned with covering up her scandals, attracting Republican voters and raising corporate money than they were about getting out the black vote that they always rely upon for victory. Despite raising more than $1 billion they presided over one of the worst debacles in American political history. Any outrage about the Trump presidency must be pointed in their direction.

No one should fear terms like conspiracy theory when there are proven conspiracies operating at the highest levels of government and media. There are no coincidences when certain people suddenly come under attack. There is every reason to be paranoid because collusion is quite real. But the stories we’re told about it are the most fake news of all.

December 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t Laugh – It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

By Caitlin JOHNSTONE | Medium | December 15, 2018

The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health — or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait of Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

December 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Leaked Memo Touts UK-Funded Firm’s Ability To Create “Untraceable” News Sites For “Infowar Campaign”

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 12/15/2018

The hacking collective known as “Anonymous” has published more explosive documents detailing a UK-based psyop to create a “large-scale information secret service” in Europe in order to combat “Russian propaganda”  which has been blamed for everything from Brexit to Trump winning the 2016 US election to this month’s anti-Macron “Yellow Vest” protests.

We previously detailed the first trove of documents which were dumped online November 5th to the site Cyberguerilla, revealing the private UK organization with deep government ties, the Integrity Initiative, to be engaged in an aggressive campaign to organize “clusters” of journalists across the West engaged in “counter-propaganda” efforts on social media networks and in media. And now a new trove of leaked Integrity Initiative documents has been dumped online Friday.

“Combatting Russian Disinformation” – Screenshot from a bombshell newly leaked document published Friday and hosted on the Cyberguerilla site.

This week the Integrity Initiative and its founding parent organization, the Institute for Statecraft — which is known for its close relationship with the UK military and defense officials — is at the center of debate in the House of Commons over its anti-Corbyn and anti-Labour smears involving labeling party leader Jeremy Corbyn a “useful idiot” for Moscow, even while the company is a recipient of official Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) funding.

The early November online leaks of confidential Integrity Initiative documents were the first to reveal the UK government’s relationship to the private project devoted to “fighting Russian disinformation”. According to The Guardian :

FCO funding of the Integrity Initiative was revealed by a set of stolen documents posted online last month by hackers under the banner of the Anonymous hacktivist collective. The organisation has not disputed their authenticity, but in a statement suggested that Russia was responsible for the hack and that Moscow had used its media channels to amplify its impact.

We noted previously that the work done by the Initiative  which claims it is not affiliated with government bodies, is done under “absolute secrecy via concealed contacts embedded throughout British embassies,” according to memos in the November leak. It does, however, admit to working with unnamed British “government agencies.”

Friday’s document dump via “Anonymous” is the third such release, and already some bombshell information has come to light.

The geopolitical blog, Moon of Alabama, was the first to unearth and analyze one of the more interesting among the document trove:

A “strictly confidential” proposal by the French company Lexfo to spread the Integrity Initiative’s state-sponsored propaganda through an offensive online influence campaigns for a monthly pay per language of €20-40.000. The proposal also includes an offer for “counter activism” through “negative PR, legal actions, ethical hack back, etc.” for €50,000 per month.

The document is marked “Strictly confidential” and lays out a “comprehensive action proposal” which repeatedly invokes Russian state funded media outlets RT and Sputnik as enemy disinformation to be defeated.

The proposal touts the ability of an Integrity Initiative partner  the French cybersecurity firm Lexfo — to create “indirect” and “untraceable” news content, including its ability to conduct “naming and shaming” campaigns targeting “allies” of “Russian disinformation”.

Presumably “allies” means any person or entity that happens to align with the Russian viewpoint on any given issue. The shaming campaigns and counter-information operations will be conducted “across hundreds of credible media outlets”.

Alarmingly, the document notes that:

 “where we lack platforms to publish our content… we will create news media sites serving our objectives…”

Again, both the contracting cybersecurity firm and the Integrity Initiative’s role in literally creating media sites out of thin air for the purpose of “serving our objectives” will remain “untraceable”.

As part of the “infowar campaign” teams of media operatives across Europe and the U.S. will “monitor” and edit social media pages as well as Wikipedia entries, according to the leaked document.

“Hot topics” which especially need to be monitored include the Ukraine conflict and any situation wherein “pro-Western local politicians” could be swayed by “Russian-backed trolls”

The teams will engage in “special operations” which are listed as:

  • negative PR
  • legal actions
  • ethical hack back 

And which populations are to be targeted? The document specifically mentions seeking out a Russian audience alongside Western countries: “This plan should be implemented in every targeted country and language, including Russia.”

These “influence operations” come at a price, according to the document. One figure which is floated is a monthly pay per language fee of €20-40.000, making it classic government subsidized mass propaganda (again, the company has been confirmed as receiving FCO funding).

Given that this looks like merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of similar such UK and US funded “combating disinformation” projects conducted in partnership with private entities out there, these initiatives have most likely already been active for years.

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment