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Russia Report… A Triumph of Orwellian Bombast

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | July 24, 2020

The sensational headlines screaming on the front pages of British newspapers this week showed that the parliamentary Russia Report was a triumph of bombast.

The Daily Mail led with “Damning Russia Dossier” while The Times heralded “MI5 to get more powers” and “Tough new laws will combat threat of Russian spies”. The Times also splashed its front page with a large photograph of Russian President Vladimir Putin seemingly lurking behind a curtain, which just goes to show how much British journalism has descended into cartoonish trivia.

There is sound reason why the British government delayed until this week publication of the so-called Russia Report by a cross-party parliamentary committee. That’s plainly because there is nothing in it that could in any way substantiate lurid claims of alleged Russian interference in British politics.

The 55-page document was neither “damning” nor “devastating” as The Daily Mail asserted. The groundless hype suggests that the headline writers simply were looking for something to sell to readers regardless of facts.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, received a copy of the report 10 months ago, but decided to postpone its publication until after the general election that was held in December. That delay led to claims that his Conservative government was hiding something sinister. There were procedural hiccups from the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) being replaced with new members. However, now that the report is published any rational reader can see that the real cause of the delay is down to the report being a dud, despite all the breathless speculation. It is an empty vessel, with no evidence or substantive detail. It consists of entirely prejudiced assertions that Russia is “a hostile state” and the UK “is clearly a target for Russia disinformation campaigns and political influence”.

The nine lawmakers on the committee and their nine predecessors acknowledge among their sources for the report the following individuals: Anne Applebaum, William Browder and Christopher Steele. All of them are zealously anti-Russia and are prodigious purveyors of “Russian interference” narratives to anyone who will listen to them. Steele is the notorious former MI6 spy who cooked up the ludicrous “Russia Dossier” for the Democrats to smear Trump with in the 2016 elections. That dossier fueled the bogus “Russiagate” scandal.

Of course, the main sources for the parliamentary committee are British intelligence agencies, MI6, MI5 and GCHQ. Candid admission of all those sources should underscore with redlines that the so-called report is nothing but a propaganda screed. Yet the British media treat it with deference and respect as if it is a credible, objective assessment.

What is rather laughable is the unrestrained prejudice of the authors who are, in reality, propagandists more suited to being frozen in Cold War mentality than offering any kind of “expertise”. They claim Russian politics is “paranoid” and “nihilistic” driven by “zero-sum calculation”. All those attributed defects are merely self-projection by the authors of this report and their sources.

It is rather telling that in place of anything resembling substance of alleged Russian interference, the parliamentarians refer to “open sources” of media influence by Russian state-owned RT and Sputnik. They accuse these media of “direct support of a pro-Russian narrative in relation to particular events”. Oh, how shocking! And the British state-owned BBC does not also do the same?

Again referring to “open sources” – meaning public media reports – the parliamentarians claim that the Kremlin interfered in the Scottish referendum on independence back in 2014. So just because Russian news media featured that subject in its coverage is supposed to be “evidence” of Kremlin interference. The absurd accusation is also a convenient way to smear Scottish pro-independence.

Oddly enough, the report says there was no manifest Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Well that’s handy. The Tory government wouldn’t want to smear its ambitions of reviving the British empire, that’s for sure.

The ISC publication is a self-serving dud that is “not worth a penny”, as Russian lawmaker Aleksy Chepa put it.

It is loaded with complacent British self-regard and knee-jerk Russophobia.

The parliamentarians repeatedly rebuke the British government and state intelligence for not taking the “threat” of alleged Russian meddling seriously enough.

A more plausible explanation is because there is negligible Russian meddling in British politics, as Moscow has consistently stated. If the British government and its spooks fail to get excited – in private – about allegations of Russian malfeasance it’s because there is actually nothing to the allegations. Still, the parliamentarian anti-Russia ideologues assume to know better. They are convinced that Britain is a target for Kremlin hostility and they lambast the government and intelligence services for “not making it a priority issue”.

The Orwellian plot thickens when the authors of the boilerplate Russian Report then conclude by urging MI5 to be given more secretive powers to collaborate with social media networks in order to control information in the name of combating a “hostile state threat”. This is a sinister, anti-democratic call worthy of a dictatorship for censoring and blackballing any dissenting views under the guise of “defending democracy”.

One area where the ISC document begins to deal with reality – but only superficially and misleadingly – is on the subject of super-rich Russian expatriates living in London, which is dubbed “Londongrad”. Many of these oligarchs are beneficiaries of looting Russian state assets during the privatization-robbery frenzy under former President Boris Yeltsin. They are not “friends of Putin” as the British lawmakers make out. These shady oligarchs are often big donors to the Conservative party, not because they want to inject pro-Russian influence, but rather because they are typically opposed to the current Russian government and are seeking to destabilize it. If there is any Russian “influence” in British politics it is that which promotes illegal regime-change policies in opposition to the Russian state.

In every aspect the much-vaunted Russia Report is a worthless pile of propaganda. Even a glimmer resembling something real – the Russian oligarchs in Londongrad – turns out to be an inversion of reality. And yet, pathetically, the British media amplify the nonsense with reverence and gravitas.

July 24, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

“Putin’s Gonna Get Me”

By Craig Murray | June 15, 2020

Shakespeare’s heirs at the BBC produced this deathless and entirely convincing line as the climax of the first episode of “The Salisbury Poisonings”, a three part piece of state propaganda on the Skripal saga, of which I watched Part 1 as it was broadcast last night. The other two parts are to be broadcast today and tomorrow, which unusual scheduling reflects the importance our masters place on this stirring tale of the resilience of the great British nation under attack by devilish foreigners. You can watch all three episodes now on BBC iPlayer, but personally I suffer from overactive antibodies to bullshit and need a break.

The line about Putin was delivered by salty, ex-British military Ross Cassidy, so of course was entirely convincing. It may have been more so had he ever said it in public before this week, but there you are.

To judge by social media, an extraordinary proportion of the public find the official narrative entirely convincing. I find myself unable to pretend that does not fill me with despair at the future of democracy. That anybody could listen to the following dialogue without doubling up in laughter is completely beyond me. I do not quite understand how the actors managed to speak it.

Porton Down Man: “And it’s one of the deadliest synthetic substances on earth. It’s so toxic that a spoonful, with the right delivery mechanism, could kill thousands”.
Heroic Public Health Lady: “But if it’s so toxic, how come the Skripals are still alive?”
Porton Down Man: “The paramedics assumed that they had overdosed on fentanyl so they gave them a shot of Naloxone, which happens to combat nerve agent toxicity. Plus, it was cold, further inhibiting the speed with which the substance took effect.”

Aah yes, it was cold. A factor those pesky Russians had overlooked, because of course it is never cold in Russia. And everybody knows it is minus 40 inside Zizzis and inside the Bishops Mill pub. Once the nerve agent has entered the body, only in the most extreme conditions could exterior temperature have any kind of effect at all. Neither Sergei nor Yulia was anyway outdoors for any significant period after supposedly being poisoned by their door handle.

Many wildly improbable stories have been produced by the security services over the last three years to explain why this ultra deadly nerve agent did not kill the Skripals. Interestingly enough, the BBC drama left out a detail which the Daily Mail alleged came from a security service briefing, that:

“Completely by chance, doctors with specialist chemical weapons training were on duty at the hospital when the victims were admitted. They treated Sergei and Yulia Skripal with an atropine (antidote) and other medicines approved by scientists from Porton Down, the government’s top secret scientific research laboratory”

Which is very believable, I suppose, because it is no more of a coincidence than the Chief Nurse of the British Army being right there when they first collapsed on a bench.

Yet in all the multiple attempts to explain the non-deadly deadly nerve agent, “it was cold” appears to be a new one. It must have official approval, because all purpose security service shill, warmonger and chemical weapons expert, Lt Col Hamish De Bretton Gordon was listed in the credits as “military advisor” to this BBC production.

Let me offer you this tiny smidgeon of wisdom, for nothing: when the state broadcaster starts to make propaganda videos that credit a “military advisor”, you are well on the way to fascism.

Perhaps wisely, Part One at least of the BBC Drama made no attempt at all to portray how the alleged poisoning happened. How the Skripals went out that morning, caught widely on CCTV, to the cemetery according to this version, and then returned home without being caught coming back. How while they were back in their house two Russian agents walked up and, at midday in broad daylight on a very open estate, applied deadly nerve agent to the Skripals’ door handle, apparently without the benefit of personal protective equipment, and without being seen by anybody. How the Skripals then left again and contrived for both of them to touch the exterior door handle in closing the door. How, with this incredibly toxic nerve agent on them, they were out for three and a half hours, fed the ducks, went to the pub and went to Zizzis, eating heartily, before both collapsing on a park bench. How despite being different ages, sexes, body shapes and metabolisms they both collapsed, after this three hour plus delay, at exactly the same moment, so neither could call for help.

The BBC simply could not make a drama showing the purported actions that morning of the Skripals without it being blindingly obvious that the story is impossible. Luckily for them, we live in such a haze of British Nationalist fervor that much of the population, especially the mainstream media journalists and the Blairite warmongers, will simply overlook that. The omission of the actual “poisoning” from “The Salisbury Poisonings” is apparently just an artistic decision.

All those events happened before the timeline of this BBC Drama started. The BBC version started the moment people came to help the Skripals on the bench. However it omitted that the very first person to see them and come to help was, by an incredible coincidence, the Chief Nurse of the British Army. That the chief military nurse was on hand is such an amazing coincidence you would have thought the BBC would want to include it in their “drama”. Apparently not. Evidently another artistic decision.

The time from touching the door handle to the Skripals being attended by paramedics was about four hours. That Naloxone is effective four hours after contact with an ultra deadly nerve agent is remarkable.

I do not want to under-represent the personal suffering of policeman Nick Bailey nor his family. But he was shown in the drama as rubbing this “deadliest synthetic substance” directly into the soft tissues around his eye, but then not getting seriously ill for at least another 24 hours. Plainly all could not be what it seems.

The actual poisoning event, the specialist team coincidentally at the hospital and the Army Chief Nurse were not the only conspicuous omissions. Also missing was Skripal’s MI6 handler and Salisbury neighbour Pablo Miller, who did not rate so much as a mention. The other strange thing is that the drama constantly cut to newsreel coverage of actual events, but omitted the BBC’s own flagship news items on the Skripal event in those first three days, which were all presented by BBC Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban.

Now Mark Urban happens to have been in the Royal Tank Regiment with Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller. Not distantly, but joining the regiment together at the same rank in the same officer intake on the same day. I do love a lot of good coincidences in a plot. Mark Urban had also met frequently with Sergei Skripal in the year before his death, to “research a book”. Yet when Urban fronted the BBC’s Skripal coverage those first few days, he kept both those highly pertinent facts hidden from the public. In fact he kept them hidden for four full months. I wonder why Mark Urban’s lead BBC coverage was not included in the newsreel footage of this BBC re-enactment?

There is much, much more that is wildly improbable about this gross propaganda product and I must save some scorn and some facts for the next two episodes. Do read this quick refresher in the meantime. How many of these ten questions has the BBC Drama addressed convincingly, and how many has it dodged or skated over?

June 15, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

How the UK press supports the British military and intelligence establishment

By Mark Curtis | Declassified UK | March 11, 2020

Britain’s national press is acting largely as a platform for the views of the UK military and intelligence establishment, new statistical research by Declassified UK shows.

The UK press, from The Times to The Guardian, is also routinely helping to demonise states identified by the British government as enemies, while tending to whitewash those seen as allies.

The research, which analyses the UK national print media, suggests that the public is being bombarded by views and selective information supporting the priorities of policy-makers. The media is found to be routinely misinforming the public and acting far from independently.

This is the second part of a two-part analysis of UK national press coverage of British foreign policy.

Elite platform

Numerous stories or points of information on Britain’s intelligence agencies, such as MI6 and GCHQ, are being fed to journalists by anonymous “security sources” – often military or intelligence officials who do not want to be named.

The term “security sources” has been mentioned in 1,020 press articles in the past three years alone, close to one a day. While not all of these relate to UK sources, it indicates the common use of this method by British journalists.

Declassified’s recent research found that officials in the UK military and intelligence establishment had been sources for at least 34 major national media stories that cast Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a danger to British security. The research also found 440 articles in the UK press from September 2015 until December 2019 specifically mentioning Corbyn as a “threat to national security”.

Anonymous sources easily push out messages supportive of government policy and often include misleading or unverifiable information with no come-back from journalists. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) says it has 89 “media relations and communications” officers.

Many journalists regularly present the views of the MOD or security services to the public with few or no filters or challenges, merely amplifying what their sources tell them. In “exclusive” interviews with MI6 or MI5, for example, journalists invariably allow the security services to promote their views without serious, or any, scepticism for their claims or relevant context.

That the UK intelligence services are regularly presented as politically neutral actors and the bearers of objective information is exemplified in headlines such as “MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat” (in the Times) and “Russia and Assad regime ‘creating a new generation of terrorists who will be threat to us all’, MI6 warns” (in the Independent).

Press coverage of the RAF’s 100th “birthday” in 2018 produced no critical articles that could be found, with most being stories from the MOD presented as news. This is despite episodes in the RAF’s history such as the bombing of civilians in colonial campaigns in the Middle East in the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s and its prominent current role in supporting Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, which has helped create the world’s biggest humanitarian disaster.

Similarly, for GCHQ’s 100th anniversary in 2019, the press appeared to simply write up information provided by the organisation. Only the occasional article mentioned GCHQ’s role in operating programmes of mass surveillance while its covert online action programmes and secret spy bases in at least one repressive Middle East regime were ignored by every paper at the time, as far as could be found.

The national press are generally strong supporters of the security services and the military. A number of outlets, from the Times and Telegraph to the Mirror, are strongly opposed to government cuts in parts of the military budget, for example.

The British army’s main special forces unit, the SAS, which is currently involved in seven covert wars, is invariably seen positively in the national press. A search reveals 384 mentions of the term “SAS hero” in the UK national press in the past five years – mainly in the Sun, but also in the Times, Express, Mail, Telegraph and others.

Critical articles on the special forces are rare, and the journalists writing them can face a backlash from other reporters.

In some press articles, MOD media releases are largely copied and pasted. For example, recent MOD material on RAF Typhoons in Eastern Europe scrambling to intercept Russian aircraft has often been repeated word for word across the media.

A press release from the UK’s Royal Air Force, and how it was covered by two British newspapers, The Sun and The Independent.

Such “embedded journalism” poses a significant threat to the public interest. Richard Norton-Taylor, formerly the Guardian’s security correspondent for over 40 years, told Declassified : “Embedded journalists — those invited to join British military units in conflict zones — are at the mercy of their MOD handlers at the best of times. Journalists covering defence, security and intelligence are far too deferential and indulge far too much in self-censorship”.

Some papers are more extreme than others in their willingness to act as platforms for the military and intelligence establishment. The Express may well be the most supportive: its coverage of MOD stories and vilification of official enemies, notably Russia, is remarkable and consistent.

The Guardian, however, has also been shown to play a similar role. Declassified’s recent analysis, drawing on newly released documents and evidence from former and current Guardian journalists, found that the paper has been successfully targeted by security agencies to neutralise its adversarial reporting of the “security state”.

Censorship by omission

Articles critical of the Ministry of Defence or security services are occasionally published in the press. However, these tend to be either on relatively minor issues or are reported on briefly and then forgotten. Rarely do seriously critical stories receive sustained coverage or are widely picked up across the rest of the media.

Often, reporters will cover a topic and elide the most important information for no clear reason. For example, there is considerable coverage of possible MI5 failures to prevent the May 2017 Manchester terrorist bombing — failings which may be understandable given the large number of terrorist suspects being monitored at any one time.

However, the government admitted in parliament in March 2018 that it “likely” had contacts with two militant groups in the 2011 war in Libya for which the Manchester bomber and his father reportedly fought at the time, one of which groups the UK had covertly supported in the past. This significant admission in parliament has not been reported in any press article, as far as can be found.

People lay flowers in St Annes Square on the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing in Manchester, Britain, 22 May 2018. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nigel Roddis)

Last September, veteran investigative journalist Ian Cobain broke a story on the alternative news site Middle East Eye revealing that the senior Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British army’s psychological warfare unit, the so-called 77th Brigade.

This story was picked up by a few media outlets at the time (including the Financial Times, the Times and the Independent ) but our research finds that it then went unmentioned in the hundreds of press articles subsequently covering Twitter.

Similarly, in November 2018, a story broke on a secretive UK government-financed programme called the Integrity Initiative, which is ostensibly a “counter disinformation” programme to challenge Russian information operations but was also revealed to be tweeting messages attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Our research finds that in the 14 months until December 2019, the Integrity Initiative was mentioned less than 20 times in the UK-wide national press, mainly in the Times (it was also mentioned 15 times in the Scottish paper, the Sunday Mail ).

By contrast, when stories break that are useful to the British establishment, they tend to receive sustained media coverage.

Establishment think tanks

The British press routinely chooses to rely on sources in think tanks that largely share the same pro-military and pro-intervention agenda as the state.

The two most widely-cited military-related think tanks in the UK are the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) which are usually quoted as independent voices or experts. In the last five years, RUSI has appeared in 534 press articles and IISS in 120.

However, both are funded by governments and corporations. RUSI, which is located next door to the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, has funders such as BAE Systems, the Qatar government, the Foreign Office and the US State Department. IISS’s chief financial backers include BAE Systems, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Airbus.

This funding is mentioned in only two press reports that could be found – the Guardian reported that IISS received money from the regime in Bahrain while the Times once noted, “RUSI, while funded in part by the MoD, is an independent think tank”.

One Telegraph article refers to a “research fellow at RUSI who specialises in combat airpower”, without mentioning that its funder BAE Systems is a major producer of warplanes.

Although many senior figures in these organisations previously worked in government, press readers are rarely informed of this. RUSI’s chair is former foreign secretary William Hague, its vice-chair is former MI6 director Sir John Scarlett and its senior vice-president is David Petraeus, former CIA director.

The IISS’s deputy secretary-general is a former senior official at the US State Department while its Middle East director is a former Lieutenant-General in the British army who served as defence senior adviser to the Middle East. One of IISS’ senior advisers is Nigel Inkster, a former senior MI6 officer.

Media and intelligence

Richard Keeble, professor of journalism at the University of Lincoln, has noted that the influence of the intelligence services on the media may be “enormous” and the British secret service may even control large parts of the press. “Most tabloid newspapers – or even newspapers in general – are playthings of MI5”, says Roy Greenslade, a former editor of the Daily Mirror who has also worked as media specialist for both the Telegraph and the Guardian.

David Leigh, former investigations editor of the Guardian, has written that reporters are routinely approached and manipulated by intelligence agents, who operate in three ways: they attempt to recruit journalists to spy on other people or go themselves under journalistic “cover”, they pose as journalists in order to write tendentious articles under false names, and they plant stories on willing journalists, who disguise their origin from their readers — known as black propaganda.

MI6 managed a psychological warfare operation in the run-up to the Iraq war of 2003 that was revealed by former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter. Known as Operation Mass Appeal, this operation “served as a focal point for passing MI6 intelligence on Iraq to the media, both in the UK and around the world. The goal was to help shape public opinion about Iraq and the threat posed by WMD [weapons of mass destruction]”.

Various fabricated reports were written up in the media in the run-up to the Iraq war, based on intelligence sources. These included cargo ships said to be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (covered in the Independent and Guardian ) and claims that Saddam Hussein killed his missile chief to thwart a UN team (Sunday Telegraph ).

More recent examples of apparently fabricated stories in the establishment media include Guardian articles on the subject of Julian Assange. The paper claimed in a front page splash written by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns in November 2018 that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly met Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy three times.

The Guardian also falsely reported on a “Russia escape plot” to enable Assange to leave the embassy for which the paper later gave a partial apology. Both stories appeared to be part of a months-long campaign by the Guardian against Assange.

The exterior view of Thames House, MI5 Headquarters, in Millbank, on the bank of the River Thames, London, Britain. (Photo: EPA-EFE/ Horacio Villalobos)

Demonising enemies

The media plays a consistent role in following the state’s demonisation of official enemies. The term “Russian threat” is mentioned in 401 articles in the past five years, across the national press. The Express may be the largest press amplifier of the government’s demonisation of Russia — the paper carries a steady stream of stories critical of Russia and Putin.

The British establishment has invoked Russia as an enemy in recent years due mainly to the poisonings in the town of Salisbury and policy in eastern Europe. Whatever malign policies Russia is promoting, which can be real, false or exaggerated, it is noteworthy that this has been elevated by the press to a general “threat” to the UK. As during the cold war, this is useful to the British military and security services arguing for larger budgets and for offensive military postures in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Russia’s alleged interference in British politics has received huge coverage compared to alleged Israeli influence. A simple comparison of search terms using “Russia/Israel and UK and interference” in press articles in the past five years yields seven times more mentions of Russia than Israel, despite considerable evidence of Israeli interference.

UK press reporting on Iran is also noticeably supportive of government policy. A search for “Iran and nuclear weapons programme” reveals 325 articles in the past five years. While this large coverage is driven by president Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, it is also driven by Iran being a designated enemy of the US and UK, which have deemed it unacceptable that Tehran should ever acquire nuclear weapons.

By contrast, “Israel’s nuclear weapons” (and variants of this search term) are mentioned in under 30 press articles in the past five years. Natanz, Iran’s main nuclear arms facility, has been mentioned in around four times more press articles than Dimona, the Israeli nuclear site, in the past five years.

The contrast in reporting on Iran and Israel is striking since Iran does not possess nuclear weapons, and it is not certain that it seeks to, whereas Western ally Israel already has such weapons, estimated at around 80 warheads.

An aerial view of Israel’s nuclear site at Dimona. (Google Maps)

Labelling goodies and baddies

The national press strongly follows the government in labelling states as enemies or allies.

States favoured by the UK are mainly described in the press using the neutral term “government” rather the more critical term “regime”. In the past three years, for example, the term “Saudi government” has been used in 790 articles while “Saudi regime” is mentioned in 388. However, with Iran the number of instances is reversed: “Iranian government” is used in 419 articles whereas “Iranian regime” is mentioned in 456.

The same holds for other allies. The “Egyptian regime” receives 24 mentions while “Egyptian government” has 222, in the past three years. The “Bahraini regime” is mentioned in 10 articles while “Bahraini government” is mentioned in 60.

The precise term “Iranian-backed Houthi rebels”, referring to the war in Yemen, is mentioned in 198 articles in the last five years. However, the equivalent term for the UK backing the Saudis in Yemen (using search terms such as “UK-backed Saudis” or “British-backed Saudis”) appears in just three articles.

The pattern is also that the crimes of official enemies are covered extensively in the national press but those of the UK and its allies much less so, if at all.

Articles mentioning “war crimes and Syria” number 1,527 in the past five years compared to 495 covering “war crimes and Yemen”. While the press often reports that the Syrian government has carried out war crimes, most articles simply suggest or allege war crimes by the Saudis in Yemen.

Indeed, the UK press has been much more interested in covering the Syrian war—chiefly prosecuted by the UK’s opponents—than the Yemen war, where Britain has played a sustained widespread role. As a basic indicator, the specific term “war in Syria” is mentioned in well over double the number of articles as “war in Yemen” in the past five years.

Furthermore, government enemies are regularly described in the press as supporters of terrorism, which rarely applies to allies.

In the past three years 185 articles mention the term “sponsor of terrorism”, most referring to Iran, followed by Sudan and North Korea with the occasional mention of Libya and Pakistan. None specifically label UK allies Turkey or Saudi “sponsors of terrorism”, despite evidence of this in Syria and elsewhere, and none describe Britain or the US as such.

Some 102 articles in the past five years specifically mention Russia’s “occupation of Crimea”. However, despite some critical articles on UK policy towards the Chagos Islands in the Indian ocean—which were depopulated by the UK in the 1970s and which the US now uses as a military base—only two articles specifically mention the UK’s “occupation of Chagos” (or variants of this term).

Similar labelling prevails on opposition forces in foreign countries. Protesters in Hong Kong are routinely called “pro-democracy” by the press – the term has been mentioned in hundreds of articles in the past two years. However, protesters in UK allies Bahrain and Egypt have been referred to as “pro-democracy” in only a handful of cases, the research finds.

The special relationship

While demonising enemies, UK allies are regularly presented favourably in the press. This is especially true of the US, the UK’s key special relationship on which much of its global power rests. US foreign policy is routinely presented as promoting the same noble objectives as the UK and the press follows the US government line on many foreign policy issues.

The term “leader of the free world” to refer to the US has been used in over 1,500 articles in the past five years, invariably taken seriously across the media, without challenge or ridicule.

The view that the US promotes democracy is widely repeated across the press. A 2018 editorial in the Financial Times, written by its chief foreign affairs commentator Gideon Rachman, notes that, “Leading figures in both [US political] parties — from John Kennedy to Ronald Reagan through to the Bushes and Clintons — agreed that it was in US interests to promote free-trade and democracy around the world”. In 2017 Daniel McCarthy wrote in the Telegraph of “two decades of idealism in US foreign policy, of attempts to spread liberalism and democracy”.

It is equally common for the UK press to quote US figures on their supposed noble aims, without challenge. For example, the Sunday Times recently cited without comment the US state department saying “Promoting freedom, democracy and transparency and the protection of human rights are central to US foreign policy”.

The press often strongly criticises President Donald Trump, but often for betraying otherwise benign US values and policies that it assumes previous presidents have promoted. For example, Tom Leonard in the Daily Mail writes of “Mr Trump’s belief that US foreign policy should be guided by cold self-interest rather than protecting democracy and human rights”.

The Guardian is especially supportive of US foreign policy. A sub-heading to a recent article notes: “The US once led Western states’ support of democracy around the world, but under this president [Trump] that feels like a long time ago”. One of its main foreign affairs columnists, Simon Tisdall, recently wrote that the US fundamental “mission” was an “exemplary global vision of democracy, prosperity and freedom”, albeit one which has been distorted by the war on terror.

The Guardian regularly heaped praise on president Obama. An editorial in January 2017 commented that Obama was a “successful US leader” and that “internationally” his vision “could hardly be faulted for lack of ambition”. It also noted Obama’s “liberalism and ethics” and that: “Mr Obama has governed impeccably for eight years without any ethical scandal”.

Although the article noted US wars and civilian casualties in Yemen and Libya, the paper brushed these off, stating “But to ascribe the world’s tragedies to a single leader’s choices can be simplistic. The global superpower cannot control local dynamics”.

Research covered the period to the end of 2019 using the media search tool, Factiva. It analysed the “mainstream” UK-wide print media (dailies and Sundays) over different time scales, usually two or five years, as specified in the article. Media search engines cannot be guaranteed to work perfectly so additional research was sometimes undertaken.

Mark Curtis is the co-founder and editor of Declassified UK, an historian and author of five books on UK foreign policy. He tweets at: @markcurtis30.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

UK ran propaganda campaigns in Syria as cover for spying and potential military operations

The British military has several specialised propaganda and information warfare units, the largest of which is the Berkshire-based 77th Brigade
Press TV – February 19, 2020

The extent of the British government’s involvement in sophisticated propaganda campaigns in Syria appears to have been under-estimated.

In an exclusive report, the London-based Middle East Eye (MEE – a news and analysis outlet), has revealed that the UK covertly funded so-called “citizen journalists” inside Syria, often without the knowledge of the individuals affected, thus placing them in harm’s way.

The so-called citizen journalists who had been duped by British government officials were tasked to produce TV footage, radio programmes, social media, posters, magazines and in some cases even children’s comics.

FCO/MoD venture 

The project was jointly masterminded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), who used an anthropologist (with a counter-terrorism background) to supervise the operation.

The British military is known to make extensive use of anthropologists to supervise so-called “cultural” projects, which are in most cases barely concealed intelligence operations.

In that context, it is not altogether surprising that front companies run by former British military intelligence officers competed to win lucrative FCO-MoD contracts.

MEE reveals that “nine” companies bid for the contracts, most of which were run by former British “diplomats, intelligence officers and army officers”.

The division of labour between the FCO and the MoD appears to have been fairly simple: the FCO awarded the contracts whilst the MOD managed them, sometimes using serving (as opposed to former) military intelligence officers.

Turkish connection 

The successful companies established offices in Istanbul and Reyhanli (Turkey) and Amman (Jordan), and set about employing local Syrians who in turn recruited Syrians inside Syria to act as “citizen journalists”, or more accurately propagandists, and in some cases spies.

People involved in the clandestine British-led operations have described it as a “shady shady business” and an extensive effort to “pump out propaganda, inside Syria and outside”.

For their part, British officials were understandably anxious to keep the operation a secret, forbidding managers and implementers to “speak publicly (to the media or at academic conferences) about their work without the explicit permission of HMG [Her Majesty’s Government]”.

MEE claims that two Syrian “citizen journalists” captured and murdered by militant groups on the suspicion of spying were connected to the British-led information manipulation operation.

In terms of funding, at the peak of the operation in 2015, the project was in receipt of £410,000 per month.

The operations were wound down once it became clear that the Syrian government – and its Iranian and Russian allies – were prevailing in the country’s complex proxy wars.

The real agenda 

But chillingly, documents uncovered by MEE appear to indicate that the British government was using the propaganda operations to establish a foothold in Syria in anticipation of a military intervention involving British forces.

According to the core document (laying out the blueprint of the project), the operations should have “the capability to expand back into the strategic as and when the opportunity arises, to help build an effective opposition political-military interface.”

Those familiar with the British military’s idiosyncratic language would readily understand those words to mean that the UK was expecting to deploy a significant military force inside Syria with a view to shaping the country’s political future.

A failed project 

This latest revelation comes in the wake of the suspicious death of the White Helmets founder, James Le Mesurier, in Istanbul last November.

Le Mesurier was a former British military intelligence officer who is alleged to have also acted as an MI6 agent.

The failure of the joint FCO-MoD propaganda project, in addition to the death of Le Mesurier (who is alleged to have been murdered to protect secrets), point to the collapse of Britain’s Syria policy, which for years banked on the flawed assumption that the Syrian government would fall.

February 19, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Is the UK a rogue state? 17 British policies violating domestic or international law

By Mark Curtis • Declassified UK • February 7, 2020

UK governments routinely claim to uphold national and international law. But the reality of British policies is quite different, especially when it comes to foreign policy and so-called ‘national security’. This explainer summarises 17 long-running government policies which violate UK domestic or international law.

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab recently described the “rule of international law” as one of the “guiding lights” of UK foreign policy. By contrast, the government regularly chides states it opposes, such as Russia or Iran, as violators of international law. These governments are often consequently termed “rogue states” in the mainstream media, the supposed antithesis of how “we” operate.

The following list of 17 policies may not be exhaustive, but it suggests that the term “rogue state” is not sensationalist or misplaced when it comes to describing Britain’s own foreign and “security” policies.

These serial violations suggest that parliamentary and public oversight over executive policy-making in the UK is not fit for purpose and that new mechanisms are needed to restrain the excesses of the British state.

The Royal Air Force’s drone war

Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) operates a drone programme in support of the US involving a fleet of British “Reaper” drones operating since 2007. They have been used by the UK to strike targets in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Four RAF bases in the UK support the US drone war. The joint UK and US spy base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, northern England, facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. US drone strikes, involving an assassination programme begun by president Barack Obama, are widely regarded as illegal under international law, breaching fundamental human rights. Up to 1,700 civilian adults and children have been killed in so-called “targeted killings”.

Amnesty International notes that British backing is “absolutely crucial to the US lethal drones programme, providing support for various US surveillance programmes, vital intelligence exchanges and in some cases direct involvement from UK personnel in identifying and tracking targets for US lethal operations, including drone strikes that may have been unlawful”.

Chagos Islands

Britain has violated international law in the case of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean since it expelled the inhabitants in the 1960s to make way for a US military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island.

Harold Wilson’s Labour government separated the islands from then British colony Mauritius in 1965 in breach of a UN resolution banning the breakup of colonies before independence. London then formed a new colonial entity, the British Indian Ocean Territory, which is now an Overseas Territory.

In 2015, a UN Tribunal ruled that the UK’s proposed “marine protected area” around the islands — shown by Wikileaks publications to be a ruse to keep the islanders from returning — was unlawful since it undermined the rights of Mauritius.

Then in February 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in an advisory opinion that Britain must end its administration of the Chagos islands “as rapidly as possible”. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in May 2019 welcoming the ICJ ruling and “demanding that the United Kingdom unconditionally withdraw its colonial administration from the area within six months”. The UK government has rejected the calls.

Defying the UN over the Falklands

The UN’s 24-country Special Committee on Decolonisation — its principal body addressing issues concerning decolonisation — has repeatedly called on the UK government to negotiate a resolution to the dispute over the status of the Falklands. In its latest call, in June 2019, the committee approved a draft resolution “reiterating that the only way to end the special and particular colonial situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is through a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom”.

The British government consistently rejects these demands. Last year, it stated:

“The Decolonisation Committee no longer has a relevant role to play with respect to British Overseas Territories. They all have a large measure of  self government, have chosen to retain their links with the UK, and therefore should have been delisted a long time ago.”

In 2016, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf issued a report finding that the Falkland Islands are located in Argentina’s territorial waters.

Israel and settlement goods

Although Britain regularly condemns Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as illegal, in line with international law, it permits trade in goods produced on those settlements. It also does not keep a record of imports that come from the settlements — which include wine, olive oil and dates — into the UK.

UN Security Council resolutions require all states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”. The UK is failing to do this.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza

Israel’s blockade of Gaza, imposed in 2007 following the territory’s takeover by Hamas, is widely regarded as illegal. Senior UN officials, a UN independent panel of experts, and Amnesty International all agree that the infliction of “collective punishment” on the population of Gaza contravenes international human rights and humanitarian law.

Gaza has about 1.8 million inhabitants who remain “locked in” and denied free access to the remainder of putative Palestine (the West Bank) and the outside world. It has poverty and unemployment rates that reached nearly 75% in 2019.

Through its naval blockade, the Israeli navy restricts Palestinians’ fishing rights, fires on local fishermen and has intercepted ships delivering humanitarian aid. Britain, and all states, have an obligation “to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law” in Gaza.

However, instead of doing so, the UK regularly collaborates with the navy enforcing the blockade. In August 2019, Britain’s Royal Navy took part in the largest international naval exercise ever held by Israel, off the country’s Mediterranean shore. In November 2016 and December 2017, British warships conducted military exercises with their Israeli allies.

Exports of surveillance equipment

Declassified revealed that the UK recently exported telecommunications interception equipment or software to 13 countries, including authoritarian regimes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Oman. Such technology can enable security forces to monitor the private activities of groups or individuals and crack down on political opponents.

The UAE has been involved in programmes monitoring domestic activists using spyware. In 2017 and 2018, British exporters were given four licences to export telecommunications interception equipment, components or software to the UAE.

UK arms export guidelines state that the government will “not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items might be used for internal repression”. Reports by Amnesty International document human rights abuses in the cases of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, suggesting that British approval of such exports to these countries is prima facie unlawful.

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been accused by the UN and others of violating international humanitarian law and committing war crimes in its war in Yemen, which began in March 2015. The UK has licensed nearly £5-billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime during this time. In addition, the RAF is helping to maintain Saudi warplanes at key operating bases and stores and issues bombs for use in Yemen.

Following legal action brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the UK Court of Appeal ruled in June 2019 that ministers had illegally signed off on arms exports without properly assessing the risk to civilians. The court ruled that the government must reconsider the export licences in accordance with the correct legal approach.

The ruling followed a report by a cross-party House of Lords committee, published earlier in 2019, which concluded that Britain is breaking international law by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and should suspend some export licences immediately.

Julian Assange’s arbitrary detention and torture

In the case of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange — currently held in Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London — the UK is defying repeated opinions of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention  (WGAD) and the UN special rapporteur on torture.

The latter, Nils Melzer, has called on the UK government to release Assange on the grounds that officials are contributing to his psychological torture and ill treatment. Melzer has also called for UK officials to be investigated for possible “criminal conduct” as government policy “severely undermines the credibility of [its] commitment to the prohibition of torture… as well as to the rule of law more generally”.

The WGAD — the supreme international body scrutinising this issue — has repeatedly demanded that the UK government end Assange’s “arbitrary detention”. Although the UN states that WGAD determinations are legally binding, its calls have been consistently rejected by the UK government.

Covert wars

Covert military operations to subvert foreign governments, such as Britain’s years-long operation in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime, are unlawful. As a House of Commons briefing notes, “forcible assistance to opposition forces is illegal”.

A precedent was set in the Nicaragua case in the 1980s, when US-backed covert forces (the “Contras”) sought to overthrow the Sandinista government. The International Court of Justice held that a third state may not forcibly help the opposition to overthrow a government since it breached the principles of non-intervention and prohibition on the use of force.

As Declassified has shown, the UK is currently engaged in seven covert wars, including in Syria, with minimal parliamentary oversight. Government policy is “not to comment” on the activities of its special forces “because of the security implications”. The public’s ability to scrutinise policy is also restricted since the UK’s Freedom of Information Act applies an “absolute exemption” to special forces. This is not the case for allied powers such as the US and Canada.

Torture and the refusal to hold an inquiry

In 2018 a report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee found that the UK had been complicit in cases of torture and other ill treatment of detainees in the so-called “war on terror”. The inquiry examined the participation of MI6 (the secret intelligence service), MI5 (the domestic security service) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) personnel in interrogating detainees held primarily by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay during 2001-10.

The report found that there were 232 cases where UK personnel supplied questions or intelligence to foreign intelligence agents after they knew or suspected that a detainee was being mistreated. It also found 198 cases where UK personnel received intelligence from foreign agents obtained from detainees whom they knew or suspected to have been mistreated.

In one case, MI6 “sought and obtained authorisation from the foreign secretary” (then Jack Straw, in Tony Blair’s government) for the costs of funding a plane which was involved in rendering a suspect.

After the report was published, the government announced it was refusing to hold a judge-led, independent inquiry into the UK’s role in rendition and torture as it had previously promised to do. In 2019, human rights group Reprieve, together with Conservative and Labour MPs, instigated a legal challenge to the government over this refusal–which the High Court has agreed to hear.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, has formally warned the UK that its refusal to launch a judicial inquiry into torture and rendition breaches international law, specifically the UN Convention Against Torture. He has written a private “intervention” letter to the UK foreign secretary stating that the government has “a legal obligation to investigate and to prosecute”.

Melzer accuses the government of engaging in a “conscious policy” of co-operating with torture since 9/11, saying it is “impossible” the practice was not approved or at least tolerated by top officials.

UK’s secret torture policy

The MOD was revealed in 2019 to be operating a secret policy allowing ministers to approve actions which could lead to the torture of detainees. The policy, contained in an internal MOD document dated November 2018, allows ministers to approve passing information to allies even if there is a risk of torture, if “the potential benefits justify accepting the risk and legal consequences”.

This policy also provides for ministers to approve lists of individuals about whom information may be shared despite a serious risk they could face mistreatment. One leading lawyer has said that domestic and international legislation on the prohibition of torture is clear and that the MOD policy supports breaking of the law by ministers.

Amnesty for crimes committed by soldiers

There is a long history of British soldiers committing crimes during wars. In 2019 the government outlined plans to grant immunity for offences by soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland that were committed more than 10 years before.

These plans have been condemned by the UN Committee Against Torture, which has called on the government to “refrain from enacting legislation that would grant amnesty or pardon where torture is concerned. It should also ensure that all victims of such torture and ill-treatment obtain redress”.

The committee has specifically urged the UK to “establish responsibility and ensure accountability for any torture and ill-treatment committed by UK personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, specifically by establishing a single, independent, public inquiry to investigate allegations of such conduct.”

The government’s proposals are also likely to breach UK obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, which obliges states to investigate breaches of the right to life or the prohibition on torture.

GCHQ’s mass surveillance

Files revealed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 show that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ had been secretly intercepting, processing and storing data concerning millions of people’s private communications, including people of no intelligence interest — in a programme named Tempora. Snowden also revealed that the British government was accessing personal communications and data collected by the US National Security Agency and other countries’ intelligence agencies.

All of this was taking place without public consent or awareness, with no basis in law and with no proper safeguards. Since these revelations, there has been a long-running legal battle over the UK’s unlawful use of these previously secret surveillance powers.

In September 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that UK laws enabling mass surveillance were unlawful, violating rights to privacy and freedom of expression. The court observed that the UK’s regime for authorising bulk interception was incapable of keeping “interference” to what is “necessary in a democratic society”.

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the body which considers complaints against the security services, also found that UK intelligence agencies had unlawfully spied on the communications of Amnesty International and the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

In 2014, revelations also confirmed that GCHQ had been granted authority to secretly eavesdrop on legally privileged lawyer-client communications, and that MI5 and MI6 adopted similar policies. The guidelines appeared to permit surveillance of journalists and others deemed to work in “sensitive professions” handling confidential information.

MI5 personal data

In 2019, MI5 was found to have for years unlawfully retained innocent British people’s online location data, calls, messages and web browsing history without proper protections, according to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office which upholds British privacy protections. MI5 had also failed to give senior judges accurate information about repeated breaches of its duty to delete bulk surveillance data, and was criticised for mishandling sensitive legally privileged material.

The commissioner concluded that the way MI5 was holding and handling people’s data was “undoubtedly unlawful”. Warrants for MI5’s bulk surveillance were issued by senior judges on the understanding that the agency’s legal data handling obligations were being met — when they were not.

“MI5 have been holding on to people’s data—ordinary people’s data, your data, my data — illegally for many years,” said Megan Goulding, a lawyer for rights organisation Liberty, which brought the case. “Not only that, they’ve been trying to keep their really serious errors secret — secret from the security services watchdog, who’s supposed to know about them, secret from the Home Office, secret from the prime minister and secret from the public.”

Intelligence agencies committing criminal offences

MI5 has been operating under a secret policy that allows its agents to commit serious crimes during counter-terrorism operations in the UK, according to lawyers for human rights organisations brin

ging a case to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The policy, referred to as the “third direction”, allows MI5 officers to permit the people they have recruited as agents to commit crimes in order to secure access to information that could be used to prevent other offences being committed. The crimes potentially include murder, kidnap and torture and have operated for decades. MI5 officers are, meanwhile, immune from prosecution.

A lawyer for the human rights organisations argues that the issues raised by the case are “not hypothetical”, submitting that “in the past, authorisation of agent participation in criminality appears to have led to grave breaches of fundamental rights”. He points to the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, an attack carried out by loyalist paramilitaries, including some agents working for the British state.

The ‘James Bond clause’

British intelligence officers can be authorised to commit crimes outside the UK. Section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act vacates UK criminal and civil law as long as a senior government minister has signed a written authorisation that committing a criminal act overseas is permissible. This is sometimes known as the “James Bond clause”.

British spies were reportedly given authority to break the law overseas on 13 occasions in 2014 under this clause. GCHQ was given five authorisations “removing liability for activities including those associated with certain types of intelligence gathering and interference with computers, mobile phones and other types of electronic equipment”. MI6, meanwhile, was given eight such authorisations in 2014.

Underage soldiers

Britain is the only country in Europe and Nato to allow direct enlistment into the army at the age of 16. One in four UK army recruits is now under the age of 18. According to the editors of the British Medical Journal, “there is no justification for this state policy, which is harmful to teen health and should be stopped”. Child recruits are more likely than adult recruits to end up in frontline combat, they add.

It was revealed in 2019 that the UK continued to send child soldiers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan despite pledging to end the practice. The UK says it does not send under-18s to warzones, as required by the UN Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, known as the “child soldiers treaty”.

The UK, however, deployed five 17-year-olds to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2007 and 2010: it claims to have done so mistakenly. Previous to this, a minister admitted that teenagers had also erroneously been sent into battle between 2003 and 2005, insisting it would not happen again.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the UK’s recruitment policy in 2008 and 2016, and recommended that the government “raise the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces to 18 years in order to promote the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard”. Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, the children’s commissioners for the four jurisdictions of the UK, along with children’s rights organisations, all support this call. DM

Mark Curtis is editor of Declassified UK and tweets at @markcurtis30

February 9, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Assad likens ‘suicide’ of White Helmets founder to EPSTEIN & other high-profile mystery deaths

RT | November 15, 2019

Syrian President Bashar Assad has scorned the official story of wealthy sex predator Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide, suggesting that people like him, or the late White Helmets founder, knew too much for the rich and powerful.

Epstein “was killed because he knew a lot of vital secrets connected with very important people in the British and American regimes, and possibly in other countries as well,” Assad told Russian channel Rossiya-24 in an interview Thursday.

Assad suggested that the convicted sex offender’s death was analogous to the unusual demise earlier this week of White Helmets founder James Le Mesurier, who allegedly jumped out of a window at his home in Turkey. Turkish police are treating Le Mesurier’s death as suicide.

“They turned into a burden once they had played out their roles. A dire need to do away with them surfaced after they had fulfilled their roles.”

Assad was referring not just to Epstein and Le Mesurier, but also to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden – originally trained by the CIA to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan – and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who spent time in American custody in the notorious Camp Bucca and Abu Ghraib prisons in Iraq. All these “had been killed chiefly because they knew major secrets,” the Syrian leader argued.

While Epstein’s death was officially declared a suicide, celebrity medical examiner Michael Baden threw a wrench into the machine when he declared that the deceased pedophile’s broken hyoid bones likely came from strangulation. Le Mesurier’s death, tentatively ruled a suicide, proved too suspicious for Assad, who believes it is the “work of the secret services.”

“Possibly, the founder of the White Helmets had been working on his memoirs and on the biography of his life, and this was unacceptable. This is an assumption, but a very serious one, since other options don’t sound convincing to me at the moment.”

Le Mesurier was tagged as a “former agent of MI6” by the Russian Foreign Ministry just three days before his death, with “connections to terrorist groups” in Kosovo. His White Helmets group, Assad said, “are naturally part of Al-Qaeda” and have been caught staging “gas attacks” such as the phony event in Douma, used by the US as rationale for a strike on Damascus.

Epstein’s own links with intelligence agencies have been subject to much speculation, especially after Alex Acosta, the former Florida prosecutor who sentenced Epstein to an open-door prison sentence of just 13 months despite allegations he’d trafficked and abused dozens of girls, said he was told to “leave it alone” because Epstein “belonged to intelligence.” Former Israeli military intel officer Ari Ben-Menashe has claimed Epstein worked with Israeli intelligence as well, introduced to the business through his “girlfriend” Ghislaine Maxwell’s father Robert – a known Mossad agent.

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 3 Comments

The Strange Death of White Helmets Founder Leaves Many Questions to Be Answered

By Paul Antonopoulos | November 13, 2019

James Le Mesurier, the founder of the Al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets, known as an “aid organization” in the West but known everywhere else for fabricating chemical weapon provocations in Syria, was found dead in Istanbul on Monday under dubious and confusing circumstances, and many question marks are being raised about his death. Journalist Ramazan Bursa claims that the suspicious death clearly demonstrates the White Helmet’s connection with intelligence organizations, particularly the British MI6.

The connection between the M16 and the White Helmets is often overlooked by the Western media, but on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry made a startling revelation. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova revealed that “The White Helmets co-founder, James Le Mesurier, is a former agent of Britain’s MI6, who has been spotted all around the world, including in the Balkans and the Middle East. His connections to terrorist groups were reported back during his mission in Kosovo.” A few days later he was found dead…

Of course, Karen Pierce, the UK Permanent Representative to the UN, denied the Russian allegation, claiming that they were “categorically untrue. He was a British soldier,” before describing the mercenary as a “true hero.” The claim he is a “true hero” is a curious choice of words considering he has a long history of working alongside terrorists, as Zakharova correctly highlighted.

He served in the NATO war against Serbia to defend the ethnic-Albanian terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 2000, who have now turned Kosovo into a heroin ‘smugglers paradise,’ and a hub for human trafficking, organ harvesting and arms trafficking in the attempt to create an anti-Russian “Greater Albania.” However, it was not in Kosovo where he achieved his fame, but rather his dubious work in Syria.

Not only did he establish and develop the White Helmets, but he secured significant funding from the UK, U.S., Turkish, German, Qatari, Dutch, Danish and Japanese governments, and helped raise money on Indiegogo. His deep connections to the British military and his expansive experience as a mercenary serving Gulf dictatorships made him the perfect figure to establish a “rescue group” aimed at legitimizing terrorists operating in Syria and to push for regime-change intervention.

Along with the White Helmet’s ties to terrorist organizations and faking chemical weapon incidents, the group also has a role in the execution of civilians and using children in their propaganda campaigns. Mesurier was without a doubt a man with deep connections and deep pockets, with every resource available to him from international intelligence agencies and significant experience in supporting terrorists in conflict zones.

The argument that the White Helmets are not a civil defense team, especially as they never operated in government-held areas despite claiming to be neutral in the war, can easily be made. Despite the constant colonial media claims that the White Helmets are a true civilian rescue organization without terrorist links, Syrian film producer Kareem Abeed was not allowed to attend the Academy Awards to support his movie about the White Helmets, “Last Men in Aleppo,” as his visa application was officially denied by the U.S. government as he was “found ineligible for a visa under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” The very fact that the U.S. found White Helmets members nominated for the Academy Awards to be a risk in the country shows that the White Helmets are just another classic example of Washington weaponizing terrorists to advance their own agendas, just as the KLA were used against Serbia or the mujahideen that morphed into Al-Qaeda were used against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

Although the White Helmets played a pivotal role in the propaganda campaign against Syria from 2013 onward, they now have nothing to defend or any purpose to serve as they only operate in areas that are undeniably controlled by Al-Qaeda affiliated groups and other radical elements, in a very, very small area of Syria. They can no longer portray themselves as an innocent organization that only helps civilians, as there is now endless evidence of their ties to terrorism, foreign intelligence agencies and doctoring of footage.

If we consider that the founder of the White Helmets and the deceased in Istanbul is a former British Intelligence officer, we can clearly see that it is a network of civil defense organizations, in which British Intelligence is involved, and supported by other intelligence agencies. The dubious death of a former British intelligence member living in Istanbul with his family is thought provoking and must raise serious questions.

It is also thought-provoking that this person is based in Istanbul. The death of Mesurier could have been reported as the death of a British citizen or the death of a former member of the British intelligence, however, Turkish media reported it as the death of the founder of the White Helmets. In other words, the Turkish media seems to have tacitly admitted that White Helmets are not an innocent non-governmental organization. Of course, after Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, there were some changes in the Damascus-Ankara relationship. The West’s approach to the Turkish invasion of northern Syria may have also played a role in changing the attitude towards the White Helmets.

A security source claimed that Mesurier had fallen from the balcony of his home office with his death being treated as a suspected suicide, with a third person – a diplomat – claiming the circumstances around his death were unclear, according to The Sun. This also comes as BBC journalist Mark Urban said in a series of now-deleted tweets that it would not “have been possible” to fall from Le Mesurier’s balcony, with him also Tweeting that “there’s a good deal of suspicion it may be murder by a state actor, but others suggest he may have taken his own life.”

Essentially, no one knows just yet whether it was murder, suicide or an accident. This has not stopped the British media from alluding that there may be a connection between the “Russian smear campaign” made on Friday and his death on Monday. However, when we look at the way the incident took place, there is every suggestion that this incident was murder, given that there were cuts on his face, fractures on his feet and that he was found dead on the street, according to Turkish media. The probability of murder becomes stronger.

The question then shifts to who might have done? It is too early to say who did it, and anything forth said can only be considered speculation, but the West does have a rich history of making their assets disappear when they are no longer needed.

The White Helmets no longer have a purpose to serve in Syria with the inevitable victory of government forces over the Western-backed terrorists. Rather, the danger the White Helmets pose is a full-scale revelation on how deep their ties with Western and Gulf intelligence agencies and terrorist organizations go. Although revelations are slowly beginning to emerge, Mesurier no doubt had a wealth of knowledge on many dirty secrets related to Syria and the imperialist war against it.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Tale of a ‘Deep State Target’

Daniel Lazare reviews George Papadopoulos’s book about his misadventures with a nest of intelligence agents.

By Daniel Lazare – Consortium News – April 4, 2019

Now that Russian collusion is dead and buried thanks to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the big question is how and why such charges arose. George Papadopoulos’s “Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump” doesn’t tell the whole story.  But this account by one of the crusade’s first victims pulls the covers off a few important aspects.

It describes a lengthy entrapment scheme that began when Papadopoulos told co-workers that presidential candidate Donald Trump was about to appoint him to his foreign-policy advisory team.

The time was March 2016, the place the London Centre of International Law Practice, where Papadopoulos was working as an energy consultant, a job that mainly involves meeting with diplomats and going out for a dinner and drinks. Regarding the LCILP, he recalls it as a “strange operation” where there’s “no actual law practice going on that I can see” and which he later suspects is an intelligence front.

The reaction to his announcement was not good. “You should not be working with Trump,” one of Papadopoulos’s bosses tells him. “He’s a threat to society. He’s a racist. He’s anti-Muslim.”

But the tone changes when another LCILP director insists that he join him for a three-day conference at Link Campus University, a privately owned educational center in Rome. There he is introduced to a well-dressed Maltese academic in his mid-fifties named Joseph Mifsud.

“He asks about my background,” Papadopoulos writes. “He asks if I have Russian contacts. I shake my head. ‘I heard you have connections,’ I say. ‘And that you might be able to help me with the campaign.’”

“Oh yes, absolutely,” Mifsud replies.  “Let’s talk tonight. Let’s go to dinner.”

Into the Rabbit Hole

With that, the author enters into a rabbit hole filled with twists and turns in which he found himself in the middle of a deep-state intelligence war over Trump’s alleged Kremlin ties and by the end of which he had served a 12-day sentence in a medium-security federal prison.

In late April, Mifsud takes him to breakfast at a London hotel and informs him that he had just returned from Russia where officials say they have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. “Emails of Clinton,” Mifsud says. “They have thousands of emails.” Papadopoulos writes it off as idle chitchat by a dubious diplomatic networker whom he has come to see as all talk and no action.

A friend from the Australian embassy introduces him to a top Aussie diplomat named Alexander Downer, who tells him over gin-and-tonics that his foreign-policy ideas are all wet.

A British foreign-ministry official takes him out for still more drinks and grills him about Russia.

Stefan Halper, an old CIA hand turned Cambridge academic, contacts him out of the blue and pesters him about Russia as well.

A mysterious Belorussian-American name Sergei Millian offers him a secret $30,000-a-month PR job but only if he continues working for Trump.

An Israeli-American businessman named Charles Tawil buys him lunch at a steakhouse in Skokie, Ill. Later, in Greece, they go clubbing together in Mykonos, and then Tawil flies Papadopoulos to Israel where he presents him with $10,000 in cash – money that a wary Papadopoulos leaves with a lawyer in Thessaloniki.

While flying back to the U.S. in July 2017, Papadopoulos runs into a squad of FBI agents as he is changing planes. “And then, finally, it dawns on me as they are going through my bags,” he writes.  “Charles Tawil and the money. They are looking for $10,000 in undeclared cash! That fucking guy was setting me up.”

“I’ve barely slept in two days,” he goes on after appearing before a judge. “I’m wearing the same shirt that I left Athens in. I smell like garbage. I look like garbage. I’m disoriented – because while I’ve just finally heard the charges, I still don’t really understand any of it.” To his horror, he learns that he is facing 25 years in prison on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI.

What was going on? Although Papadopoulos doesn’t go into the pre-history, we know from other sources that, by late 2015, intelligence agencies were buzzing over reports that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin were reaching out to one another behind the scenes.

Three Mood-Setting Events 

Spooks are paranoid by profession, but three recent events had put them particularly on edge.  One was the Euromaidan uprising in Kiev in early 2014, which, by driving out an allegedly pro-Russian president, sparked a parallel revolt among Russian speakers in the east.  Another was in Syria where U.S. backing of Islamist rebels had prompted Russia to intervene in support of President Bashar al-Assad.  The third was on the U.S. campaign trail where Trump was thoroughly shocking foreign-policy “experts” by sounding off against regime change and making friendly noises toward Putin.

“But I think that I would probably get along with him very well,” Trump said of the Russian president in October 2015. When CNN host John Dickerson asked about Russian air assaults, he replied: “And as far as him attacking ISIS, I’m all for it. If he wants to be bombing the hell out of ISIS, which he’s starting to do, if he wants to be bombing ISIS, let him bomb them, John.  Let him bomb them. I think we [can] probably work together much more so than right now.”

Intelligence agencies might have conceded that the U.S. was wrong to encourage far-right elements in Kiev and that it was equally mistaken in giving backhanded support to Al Qaeda and ISIS in the Middle East. They might have granted that Trump, for all his reality-TV bluster, had a point. But western intelligence agencies don’t do self-criticism. What they did was blame Putin for messing up their plans for a clean coup in Kiev and an equally neat ouster of Assad and then blamed Trump for arguing in his behalf. From there, it was a very short step to concluding that Trump was not only siding with Putin, but conspiring with him.

Individual intelligence assets went into action to prove this  theory correct and, if need be, to invent a conspiracy where none existed. Joseph Mifsud was apparently among them. “Deep State Target” devotes a fair amount of space to his background. Although Mueller’s indictment says Mifsud had “substantial connections to Russian government officials,” a wealth of data indicates the opposite.

‘Only One Master’

Stephan Roh, a Swiss-German lawyer who employed Mifsud as a consultant, writes in a self-published book that he has “only one master: the Western Political, Diplomatic, and Intelligence World, his only home, of which he is still deeply dependent.” Mifsud has been photographed with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and veteran diplomat Claire Smith, a top British intelligence official. Indeed, Mifsud taught a course with Smith for Italian military and law-enforcement personnel at the same Link Campus where he’d met Papadopolous.

Mifsuds’s ties with western intelligence are thus multifarious and deep.  The same goes for the other people with whom ran Papadopoulos had contact.

Alexander Downer, the Aussie diplomat with whom he had drinks, turns out to be a director of a London private intelligence firm known as Hakluyt & Co., which counts among its close associates Halper, the Cambridge academic who was ex-CIA, and Sir Richard Dearlove, ex-director of MI6, the British equivalent of the CIA. These two — Dearlove and Halper — ran an intelligence seminar at Cambridge and are also partners in a private venture calling itself “The Cambridge Security Initiative.”  (See “Spooks Spooking Themselves,” Consortium News, May 31, 2018.)

Millian, the man who offered Papadopoulos $30,000 a month, turns out to be a source for the notorious Steele Dossier, compiled by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Steele, in turn, sought counsel at one point from fellow Cambridge man Dearlove on how to spread his findings. According to one of Willian’s buddies, Millian works for the FBI as well.

All of which is enough to get anyone’s conspiratorial juices flowing.

As for Charles Tawil, he arouses Papadopoulos’s fears of an intelligence link once he arrives in Mykonos by boasting of his friendship with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and then-South African President Jacob Zuma, and declaring of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, “it wasn’t our fault he got caught.” In Israel, he brags about helping to wiretap Syrian strong man Hafez al-Assad, father of the current president.  “We could have killed him at any time,” he says. Finally, Papadopoulos reveals a private diplomatic cable citing Tawil as a U.S. intelligence asset back in 2006.

Five intelligence assets were thus hounding Papadopoulos at every turn while a sixth was compiling the dossier that would send Russia-gate into overdrive. It added up to the greatest propaganda campaign since the furor over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and, like those nonexistent WMDs, turns out to have been manufactured out of thin air.

Full-Court Press

“Deep State Target” is vague about many details and Papadopoulos doesn’t have all the answers about Russia-gate. No one at this point does. But his book leaves little doubt that he was the victim of a full-court press by intelligence assets in and around the FBI, CIA, and MI6.

Like everyone, Mifsud knew about Clinton’s emails – the ones she stored on her private server, not those that Wikileaks would later release – and fed Papadopoulos tidbits about a supposed Russia connection in the hope, no doubt, that he would pass them along to the Trump campaign. When he didn’t, Downer nonetheless reported back to Canberra that Papadopoulos had told him something along those lines. (Papadopoulos does not remember saying any such thing.) Once Canberra told Washington, the FBI investigation, dubbed Crossfire Hurricane, was on.

Halper tried to get him to admit to working with Russia: “It’s great that Russia is helping you and the campaign, right, George? George, you and your campaign are involved in hacking and working with Russia, right? It seems like you are a middleman for Trump and Russia, right? I know you know about the emails.”

Millian sends him an email shortly before the election telling him to “[p]lease be very cautious these last few days. Even to the point of not leaving your food and drinks out of eye sight.”

“Obviously a Greek Orthodox guy like you has close ties to Russia,” Charles Tawil, observes, leaving it to Papadopoulos to fill in the blanks.

Diehard Russia-truthers will point out that, even though the charge that Papadopoulos obstructed justice by misleading the FBI was dropped, Papadopoulos is still a convicted liar who pled guilty to misleading the FBI about the exact timing of his meetings with Mifsud. But he says that he was frightened and nervous and didn’t have his lawyer present and that he didn’t even remember what he had said until he read it in the indictment.

He also says he now regrets taking his then-lawyers’ advice to cop a plea: “There was never any pre-trial discovery. We never saw – or at least I hadn’t seen – the transcript of my interview, so all we had was the prosecutor’s word regarding what I had said. And we caved.” But he was an amateur running out of money while doing battle with a prosecutor with a $25-million budget. He had little choice.  Russia-gate was unstoppable – until the collusion theory finally collapsed.

Daniel Lazare is the author of “The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy” (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics. He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nation to Le Monde diplomatique and blogs about the Constitution and related matters at Daniellazare.com.

April 5, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Douma “Chemical Attack”: Still Waiting for an Apology

By James O’Neill | OffGuardian | March 13, 2019

On 7th of April 2018 an alleged chemical attack took place in the city of Douma in the Syrian Arab Republic. Dramatic footage of the “victims” was widely broadcast throughout the western mainstream media. Particularly prominent were images of children foaming at the mouth and being hosed down.

The footage for these dramatic depictions was almost entirely sourced from a group known as the White Helmets. They are invariably depicted in the western media as a form of civil defence organisation. They are in fact an arm of Britain’s MI6, trained by the British and financed by the UK and the United States.

The alleged “chemical attack” was used by the US, UK and French governments to make a missile attack upon Syrian targets. The approximately 100 missiles fired destroyed buildings and caused civilian casualties. Many of the missiles failed to reach their target, being either deflected or shot down by Syrian air defences.

Speaking to a press conference on the Sunday following the attacks, the then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made a series of unqualified assertions. He gave his government’s “strong support” for the military action, and urged Russia to exercise its authority to ensure that the chemical weapons were destroyed.

He further called on Russia to use its influence to ensure the “most recent chemical weapons attack is thoroughly investigated.” He blamed the Assad government for the incident and described the military action by the US, UK and France, “targeted, proportionate and responsible.”

He even attempted to link the Douma incident with the Skripal events in Salisbury, England, using both as a stick with which to beat the Russians over the head. Both the timing of and the linking of the two incidents were not a coincidence. They were clearly part of a campaign to discredit Russia, whose intervention in the Syrian war proved a decisive turning point, to the chagrin of the “regime changers” in Washington and London.

As is now almost invariably the case there is a marked distinction between the political rhetoric and the actual situation, both in terms of the relevant international law, and the facts on the ground. That has become glaringly obvious in the Skripal case, as has been well documented elsewhere, by for example, www.theblogmire.com 3 March 2019.

Dealing briefly with the legal situation in the Syrian bombing, there is no such thing as a “targeted, proportionate and responsible” bombing of a sovereign state unless two pre-conditions are met. It must either be in self-defence, if the countries taking the action have themselves been attacked, and that was manifestly not the case; and secondly, in the alternative, it must be an action authorised by the United Nations Security Council. That didn’t happen either.

As in so many of Australia’s military forays around the world, the legal basis for the Syria involvement is notably absent, although in this particular case their role was limited to being cheerleaders on the sidelines. Australia’s participation in the so-called coalition of forces fighting in Syria and allied to the United States, a serial offender against international law, has no legal foundation whatsoever. The Australian government has had legal advice on the matter, and has had such advice since 2014. If it was confident of its legal position, why then does it continue to refuse to release that advice?

The facts on the ground do not support the Turnbull position either. Turnbull criticized Russia for using its Security Council veto to block motions to investigate chemical weapons crimes. In fact, both Russia and Syria asked the Organisation for the Prevention of Criminal Weapons (OPCW) to investigate the Douma incident.

The OPCW fact-finding mission began their investigation on 21 April 2018, two weeks after the alleged attack. Jihadist groups blocked their initial investigation and they were only able to enter the relevant areas with protection provided by the Syrian army and the Russian military police.

An interim report was published on 6 July 2018 in which it concluded, “no organophosphate (sarin) nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or the plasma samples taken from the alleged casualties.” The use of sarin had been one of the principal accusations against the Syrian government. This interim conclusion received minimal media attention.

The OPCW Final Report of the investigation was released on 1st of March 2019 although one will hunt in vain for an accurate account of that report in the western mainstream media. The reason for the media silence is not difficult to discern. The 0PCW Report effectively destroys the arguments advanced by US President Trump, UK Prime Minister May and Turnbull.

The OPCW’s investigation was hampered in significant ways. The White Helmets and their jihadist allies had either cremated or buried all the deceased “victims” of the alleged chemical attack. Those burial locations were not disclosed to the investigators. No autopsy material was therefore available.

The evidence of the medical staff in attendance at the Douma hospitals at the time began receiving “victims” prior to the timing of the alleged chemical attack. None had symptoms of chemical or nerve agent attack.

The OPCW investigation team carried out a number of analyses from areas said to have been affected by the chemical attack. Again, they found no traces of any banned chemical substances.

They were shown two yellow cylinders claimed to have been responsible for the casualties. Even that “evidence” was compromised as the two cylinders had been moved by the jihadists and were located in two places and in such a manner that they had no probative value.

The OPCW team was unable to say how the cylinders might have been used to release any toxins. Given that no toxic traces could be found anywhere, the likely inference is that the two cylinders were simply stage props.

This inference is reinforced by the fact that the OPCW team did find a further yellow canister similar to the two mentioned above. That canister however, was found in a jihadist workshop that also contained a variety of chemicals and equipment associated with bomb production. Insofar as this finding received any media coverage, it was to suggest that the Syrian government had planted the material. The OPCW made no such suggestion.

What the OPCW team did find were traces of chlorine. Chlorine however, is a common household substance and for that reason it is not on the list of banned chemical weapons. Chlorine would not in any case be likely to cause death, much less the significant casualty figures claimed.

The evidence of the medical professionals interviewed by the OPCW team was that the victims they treated at the hospital were suffering from the effects of dust and smoke inhalation. None had life threatening injuries and none died in hospital.

There was accordingly no basis in fact for the missile attack by the US, UK and France (quite apart from its illegality) and therefore no justification for Turnbull’s unequivocal assertions of Syrian culpability and Russian complicity in a chemical weapons attack upon the civilian population.

Notwithstanding the OPCW’s demolition of the claims made by the US and others, including Turnbull’s ill-advised unequivocal support, the US and mainstream media still refer to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons as a reason to justify their continued occupation of Syrian territory.

That occupation itself is a violation of international law. The “debate” within US ruling circles about whether Trump’s original professed desire to leave Syria (since resiled from) should be carried out or not has a surreal tone to it. It never seems to occur to them that they are neither welcome nor legally entitled to be there at all.

Perhaps the final word should go to a senior BBC TV producer, Riam Dilati. On 13 February 2019 he tweeted: “after almost 6 months of investigations I can prove without a doubt that the Douma hospital scene was staged.”

If our own media and politicians could show a similar degree of honesty and integrity, they would be offering Syria and Russia the long overdue apologies to which they are entitled.

That may however, be a long wait.

James O’Neill is a barrister at law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au.

March 13, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fentanyl poisoned the Skripals – back to basics

johnplatinumgoss | March 5, 2019

You have to start at the beginning. In the beginning there was no military-grade nerve-agent even though Russia was being blamed for having planted it. In the beginning there was only fentanyl. Then on the second day God created the secret services and the world did not know good from evil.

Twelve months ago I had the Skripal saga’s chin tied up and was able to lay its body out stone-cold in its coffin. On 7 March 2018 I wrote on Craig Murray’s blog:

“I think . . . that is unlikely that these poor people will recover. If our spooks were involved in any way, and they are handling the investigation, then the Russian ex-spy and his daughter are hardly going to be given a chance to testify as to who did it. What really stinks is that from day one Russia was blamed by our media. That is the same media that have stopped Russian athletes from competing in sporting events with a catalogue of lies and misinformation.Just for your information, because most people do not see facts our media does not want them to see, Russia was 19th in WADA’s own list of doping offences for 2013. Other than China its athletes were tested more than any other country. The USA athletes were tested just over 7,000 times while Russian athletes were tested 12,500 times. Russia has a population of 143m while the USA has a population of 327m. This means per capita Russian athletes were tested four times more often than US athletes.

I think we know what happens next with the slagging off of Russia whoever is culpable.”

The “Blame Russia” meme has been hammered to death. Having invented the Novichok scenario there is no turning back for its inventors. You might have thought after the Christopher Steele “dodgy dossier” our former MI6 officers would have learnt something. Look at the featured image at the top of this blog-piece. Pablo Miller retweeted this in January 2017 mocking President Trump over the fake “golden showers” revelation that Miller himself probably had a hand in writing. It was a costly report that would later be shown to be, what the secret services specialise in – disinformation.

Sadly our “intelligence” services limp on from one blunder to another. It could well be that Sergey Skripal with his contacts in Russia, if he still had any, fed Steele and Miller at Orbis Business Intelligence this nonsense. Unfortunately these blunders may be the reason that we will never hear from the Skripals again.

Ten days after the Skripals ingested fentanyl Stephen Davies wrote the following letter to the Times over that newspaper’s alarmist headline, a headline which was panicking people of Salisbury into thinking they may have been poisoned by a nerve-agent and thus adding unnecessary burdens on an already overworked NHS.

“Sir, Further to your report (“Poison Exposure Leaves Almost 40 Needing Treatment”, Mar 14), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department with concerns that they may have been exposed. None had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved. STEPHEN DAVIES, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust”

Every medic at the hospital, every medic in Wiltshire, every medic in the country who could access the notes knew full well what it was. It was fentanyl. Try interviewing anybody at the hospital and they will not be allowed to speak to you unless it is a designated spokesperson.

On 5 March 2018 the Clinical Services Journal put out the story Response Unit Called As Salisbury Hospital Declares “Major Incident”. It said:

“Emergency personnel arrived to the scene, wearing full-body hazardous materials protective and an incident response unit was on site.

It followed an incident hours earlier in which a man and a woman were exposed to Fentanyl in the city centre. The opoid is 10,000 times stronger than heroin.”

This remained the medical diagnosis till long after the Skripals had gained consciousness. In fact it was not until 26 April that some person or persons unknown made the journal change the second quoted paragraph to:

“It followed an incident hours earlier in which a man and a woman were exposed to a substance in the city centre.”

Wisely, for those who do not believe a word of the government narrative, there was an addendum showing editing history.

“Note: This story was updated on 26 April 2018 to remove suggestion (which was widely speculated and reported at the time of writing) that the substance found was fentanyl.”

Ask a few questions. Why can our media not talk to the Skripals? Where are they imprisoned? Why can they not be visited by relatives? Why is parliament so quiet on the subject? If a military-grade nerve agent was used in Salisbury don’t you think the city would have gone into lockdown? I should hope it would.

If the Skripals are not dead those keeping them imprisoned do not do so in my name. So I urge everyone who cares for their fellow human-beings to go back to the beginning. You will discover that the novichok evil came after the beginning.

March 6, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Integrity Initiative: The Sinister Chain of Events Leading Up to Salisbury

By Kit Klarenberg – Sputnik – March 4, 2019

In several reports to date, I’ve documented how the Integrity Initiative – the shadowy UK government-funded military intelligence front – and its assorted operatives and media assets systematically shaped news reporting on, and Whitehall’s response to, the apparent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on 4 March 2018.

Now, on the anniversary of that fateful and ever-mystifying day, I’ll attempt to track some of the activities of the Initiative’s parent, the Institute for Statecraft, and other key figures and organizations directly and indirectly connected to the body in the years immediately prior.

Troublingly, the information collected here inevitably represents but a negligible fragment of a much wider clandestine picture. The full extent of the British state’s sinister and long-running secret machinations leading up to the Salisbury incident certainly isn’t ascertainable at this time, and may well never be.

‘Peculiar Struggle’

In July 2014, Institute for Statecraft ‘senior research fellow’ Victor Madeira wrote an article for the organization’s website, Russian Subversion — Haven’t we been here before?. In it, he suggested that far from a “new type of warfare”, the West’s tussle with Russia in the wake of the Maidan coup was “actually only the latest chapter in a 100-year-old playbook the Bolsheviks called active measures”, albeit “modernised to exploit the speed and reach of 21st-century mass/social media”.

After attempting to link various tactics employed by the Soviet Union to the modern day, Madeira somewhat chillingly concludes the piece with a quote from Ronald Lindsay, UK ambassador to Germany, who in February 1927 urged Whitehall to realise they were engaged in a “new kind of war” with the then-burgeoning Soviet Union.

“Anti-subversive measures could not be gradual; they had to be part of a package of ‘economic boycott, breach of diplomatic relations’ as well as ‘propaganda and counter-propaganda, pressure on neutrals.’ He argued a diplomatic breach with Moscow would at least turn ‘the present peculiar struggle into an armed conflict of the old-fashioned sort’ that Great Britain and the West could win,” Madeira records.

A document authored by the academic — who 2010 — 2014 tutored and lectured at Cambridge under former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove — in January 2015 (Russian Federation Sanctions ) makes clear he, and presumably his Institute employers, support Lindsay’s strategy and objectives.

The file sets out a number of “potential levers” for achieving a number of “main aims”, including “peace with Ukraine”, the “return” of Crimea, “behaviour change” and/or “regime change” — for, much to Madeira’s evident chagrin, the wave of sanctions imposed upon Russian individuals and businesses the previous March weren’t having a sufficiently deleterious impact on the Kremlin, or the Russian people.

Victor Madeira’s Ruminations on the Russian People

“[Russia] is not a ‘normal’ country in most senses of the word. Crucially, Russians see life and the world very differently from us… Russians are not nearly as driven by economic and financial considerations… For most Russians, daily life has long been a struggle (not least for survival). Not having Western goods and services will not necessarily be much of an issue in the medium to long-term,” he wrote.

Moreover — and perhaps worst of all in Madeira’s mind — President Vladimir Putin — someone who “survived abysmal post-WW2 conditions” and “[believes] nothing the West can do is worse than what [he’s] already endured in life” — remains popular among the Russian public due to “the chaos” of the 1990s, and for having “restored stability, prosperity and pride”.

“Fear of renewed uncertainty and chaos… keeps Russians in check”, he writes — as a result, “driving a wedge between Russians and [their] government is key.”

The bullet-pointed “levers” that make up the bulk of the document span areas including ‘diplomacy’, ‘finance’, ‘security’, ‘technology’, ‘industry’, ‘military’, and even ‘culture’, and include; suspending or expelling Russia from “G8, WTO… and similar organisations”; “[expanding] existing sanctions regimes to anyone helping [Russia] break them”; “[arresting] every known RF agent — not least ‘agents of influence'”; “banning RF delegates” from a variety of international fora, “[advocating the] view RF [is] untrustworthy of hosting [international sporting events]; “[banning] Russian companies from launching IPOs in [the] West”‘; asset freezes and “visa bans” for the “top 100 RF government officials and [their] immediate families”; “[sanctioning] RF media”; and much, much more.

‘Potential Levers’ for Regime Change in Russia Outlined by Victor Madeira

Certain “levers” — such as suspending visits by the Bolshoi and Kirov Ballets to Western countries — are baffling, while others — for instance “repatriating” the children of Russian government studying abroad, or “[increasing] scrutiny” of Russian religious organizations in Western countries — appear wanton and excessive, if not outright barbarous.

However, one of Madeira’s suggestions, about which he was apparently so enthusiastic he mentions it thrice, “simultaneously [expelling] every RF intelligence officer and air/defence/naval attache from as many countries as possible (global ‘Operation Foot’)” — is especially striking.

Operation Foot saw 105 Soviet officials deported from the UK in September 1971 at the behest of then-Prime Minister Edward Heath, the largest expulsion of foreign state personnel by any government in history. Eerily, several mainstream media outlets would reference the historic mass defenestration when Whitehall successfully corralled 26 countries into expelling over 150 Russian diplomatic in response to the Salisbury incident, 27 March 2018.

‘Something Dreadful’

On 12 October 2016, Institute for Statecraft chief Chris Donnelly met with retired senior UK military official General Richard Barrons, Joint Forces Command chief 2013 — 2016. Their discussion was incendiary.

“We have led comfortable lives since the end of the Cold War. Wars have been away matches on our terms, with resources we have chosen to apply. Our institutions are now failing to deliver or being bypassed. Our world system is being challenged, by Russia, China… the power of initiative and decision is ebbing away from the West. [The] US can no longer protect us,” the document’s introduction states.

As 50 percent of the UK’s energy, and 40 percent of the UK’s food, is “from abroad”, the country “has vital interests in having the ability to engage globally, but that engagement will no longer be on our terms alone”. However, while in recent wars “the opposition had no peer capabilities and could pose no military threat” to the UK, the conflicts “have not required the full mobilisation of the military or any motivation of civilian society” and “given us the impression we can afford war at two percent GDP”, despite the UK needing “£7 billion just to our current force up to effectiveness”.

Moreover, “mixed success” in these conflicts is also said to have “left a bad aftertaste” with “no appetite for intervention” among the British public and politicians, and UK armed forces “cannot themselves speak out and say ‘we are broken’… as that would breach the rules of democratic control”.

Record of Richard Barrons’ Meeting with Chris Donnelly

Barrons goes on to despair that the subordination of the military to civil servants and ministers in the Ministry of Defence means “the military do not do policy” — a state of affairs he believes must be radically changed, with the armed forces removed from government control and transformed into “an independent body outside politics”.

“Government is living in denial… We need discussion and debate as to how Russia can be managed and deterred. We need to deal with Russia by doing things that are serious… If no catastrophe happens to wake people up and demand a response, then we need to find a way to get the core of government to realise the problem and take [the military] out of the political space. We will need to impose changes over the heads of vested interests… [we] must either generate the debate or wait for something dreadful to happen to shock us into action. We must generate an independent debate outside government… there is not a moment to be lost,” Barrons concludes.

Serious Matters

Barrons’ fears of a loss of US military protection were no doubt widespread within the British establishment — for some time, US Presidential candidate Donald Trump had been questioning the necessity of NATO, advocating a protectionist and insular ‘America first’ agenda in respect of world affairs.

Likewise, Trump’s repeated suggestion of improved relations between Washington and Moscow should he become President were unquestionably unwelcome in many quarters — not least, of course, the offices of the Institute for Statecraft. It’s perhaps unsurprising then the organisation played a pivotal role in kickstarting ‘RussiaGate’.

The month after Donnelly’s meeting with Barrons, and mere weeks after Trump’s shock election victory, Andrew Wood — UK ambassador to Russia 1995 — 2000, and a member of the Institute’s ‘expert team’ — was a delegate at the eighth annual Halifax International Security Forum in Canada. Senator John McCain was also in attendance, and the pair would speak privately on the event’s sidelines about allegations of Trump’s collusion with the Russian state, in particular, the claims of former MI6 operative Christopher Steele, and his ‘Trump-Russia’ dossier.

Andrew Wood’s Institute for Statecraft Staff Profile

How and why McCain and Wood met, and precisely what they discussed, isn’t remotely clear — Wood has offered several wildly divergent accounts of the event since, variously suggesting the meeting was entirely chance and initiated by McCain due to the issue “being very much in the news”, that he approached McCain due to his personal concerns after being shown the dossier by Steele, and that he was actively “instructed” by Steele to relay the dossier’s contents to the Senator, without having actually seen a copy in full.

In any event, as a result of their conversation, the Senator dispatched his aide David Kramer, former assistant secretary of state in the Bush administration, to meet with Steele in London and discuss the dossier’s contents, and arrange for a copy to be sent to Washington. On 9 December, McCain met then-FBI Director James Comey and provided him with the dossier, which Comey then circulated across all US intelligence agencies. It would reach the desk of outgoing President Barack Obama and several senior members of Congress in the first week of January 2017.

This development would be reported 10 January by CNN — the article stated the dossier suggested Russian operatives possessed “compromising personal and financial information” about Trump, but the outlet refrained from publishing specific details of the dossier as they hadn’t been “independently corroborated”.

CNN breaking cover — the dossier had been an “open secret” among US journalists for some time by that point — would provide BuzzFeed News with the ‘public interest’ defense it required to justify publishing the dossier, which it did 11 January, despite acknowledging its contents were “unverified, and potentially unverifiable”, and contained “clear” factual errors.

In the days afterward, the publication was severely criticised by many other media outlets — Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan called the dossier “scurrilous allegations dressed up as an intelligence report meant to damage Donald Trump” — and the ethics of publishing unsubstantiated information offered by entirely anonymous sources was hotly debated.

However, these misgivings were quickly silenced, thanks in no small part to a number of esteemed ‘experts’ who vouched for Steele’s credibility in the media — the earliest, most enthusiastic and prominent being none other than Wood himself. He would describe Steele as “very professional and thorough in what he does”, and “a very competent, professional operator” who wouldn’t “make things up”, among other effusive plaudits.

It would take months for Wood to reveal he wasn’t merely ‘familiar’ with Steele, but the pair were in fact long-time friends — and moreover he was an “associate” of Steele’s firm (what form this relationship takes, and whether Wood receives any remuneration from Orbis Intelligence, remains uncertain). Conversely, his association with the Institute for Statecraft has never been acknowledged by the mainstream media, and would never have been known if it wasn’t for the leak of the organization’s internal files in November 2018.

The leak also revealed that in March 2017, the Integrity Initiative submitted a bid for Ministry of Defense funding — among its key performance indicators achieving a “tougher stance in government policy towards Russia”, the publication of “more information in the media on the threat of Russian active measures”, the growth of its cluster network “across Europe” and “greater awareness in all areas of society of the threat posed by Russian active measures to UK’s democratic institutions”.

Integrity Initiative Bids for MoD Funding, March 2017

Russ to Judgement

BuzzFeed would again be used as a conduit for virulently anti-Russian propaganda in June, when it published a series of articles — From Russia With Blood – documenting 14 ‘suspicious deaths’ in Britain it claimed were potential or likely assassinations carried out by Russian “security services or mafia groups”, which UK authorities somehow failed to properly investigate.

The investigation caused something of a sensation, landing BuzzFeed in the running for a variety of prestigious journalism awards, including the Pulitzer and Orwell prizes — Investigations Editor Heidi Blake, who led the series, said her team’s work had cemented the outlet as a “major force in global news”.

However, examination of the seven articles offers much reason for scepticism. First and foremost, suggestions of possible Russian involvement in the deaths hinge almost entirely on the accusations of anonymous intelligence sources, without supporting documentation of any kind. In fact, the pieces often contain information directly contradicting the notion a featured individual was even murdered, let alone by Russians.

For instance, the third installment, The Man Who Knew Too Much, delved into the case of Dr. Matthew Puncher, a UK radiation scientist who’d been conducting work at a Russian nuclear facility, and was found stabbed to death in his kitchen in February 2016.

BuzzFeed notes Puncher’s wife Kathryn told investigators her husband tried to hang himself with a computer cable the the week prior, and Detective Constable Rachel Carter, who inspected the scene, told the inquest “there was no sign of a struggle, none of the furniture had been knocked over, and all the blood belonged to Puncher”, and she was “satisfied” he’d committed suicide as “all the information told us he was very depressed and no-one in his family seemed particularly surprised he had taken his own life”.

However, BuzzFeed had other ideas, stating “four American intelligence officials… believe he was assassinated”. Alternatively, a former senior Scotland Yard counter-terror officer unconnected to the case was quoted as suggesting — also anonymously — the Russian state could have given Puncher drugs to “create depression” and precipitate his suicide.

The fourth installment — The Secrets Of The Spy In The Bag — deals with Gareth Williams, the GCHQ codebreaker seconded to MI6 who died in a Pimlico flat owned by the spying agency in August 2010 and is similarly dubious in the extreme.

Williams’ demise is unambiguously mysterious — his decomposing naked body was found in a padlocked sports bag in the bath, although no fingerprints or traces of his DNA were found on the rim of the bathtub, bag, bag’s zip, or padlock, and an inquest ruled his death to be “unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated”.

Ironically, much of the article’s content raises serious questions about the role of Williams’ employer’s in his death. For instance, BuzzFeed notes he’d been dead for around 10 days by the time his body was found, but astoundingly neither GCHQ nor MI6 had alerted authorities to his absence from work. It would take his sister informing GCHQ Williams was missing at 11:30 am GMT on 23 August for the agency to contact police — albeit five hours later.

The outlet also records how in the ensuing investigation police were prevented from interviewing Williams’ colleagues at MI6, or reviewing relevant documents, and instead forced to rely upon officers from national counter-terrorism force SO15, which took no formal statements from witnesses, and passed on only anonymised briefing notes to their Metropolitan force counterparts.

Conversely, BuzzFeed fails to mention coroner Dr. Fiona Wilcox ruling involvement of SIS staff in Williams’ death was a legitimate line of inquiry for police — instead again relying on the unsubstantiated claims of the anonymous quartet of US intelligence officials that Williams had been tracing international money-laundering routes used by organised crime groups to blame his probable murder on the Kremlin, and/or Russian gangsters.

The eponymous investigation — focusing on the suicide of Scot Young, an associate of oligarch Boris Berezovsky — is perhaps the series’ most puzzling, for more reasons than one. Young — a corrupt tycoon with clear criminal connections — lost all his money on a failed property endeavor, spent time in prison for contempt of court, and suffered a lengthy and costly divorce battle.

Such a litany of crippling personal calamities — and doctors’ appraisal of him as “paranoid, with a manic flavour” with a “complex delusional belief system” — would surely make Young at least a potential candidate for suicide watch, and indeed police concluded he’d taken his own life by throwing himself from his apartment window.

Three of his associates, Paul Castle, Robbie Curtis, and Johnny Elichaoff likewise “experienced dramatic financial [collapses]” in which they lost all their potentially ill-gotten gains, and subsequently took their own lives — Castle and Curtis both jumped in front of oncoming trains, while Elichaoff leaped off the roof of a London shopping centre.

Yet again though, the word of anonymous US intelligence officials is sufficient to perk BuzzFeed’s suspicions about all their deaths, the unnamed operatives saying Russia could have “engineered” their suicides “through manipulation and intimidation tactics”.

The article’s discussion of Berezovsky’s death is likewise suspect and contradictory, quoting Richard Walton, Scotland Yard’s former counter-terror commander, as saying his department investigated the exiled Russian’s death “very thoroughly” and “hadn’t been able to find any evidence of murder”. Fascinatingly though, in seeking to construct a case for Berezovsky being unlawfully killed, BuzzFeed notes business partner, Georgian oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili, died from an apparent heart attack in 2008. American spy agencies are said to have intelligence suggesting he was murdered, and while predictably none is presented in the article, Patarkatsishvili was provably subject to at least one assassination plot prior to his death — and it certainly wasn’t Russian in origin.In 2007, covert recordings revealed three Georgian national security service officials had plotted to kill ‘Georgia’s Richest Man’ at the behest of then-President Mikheil Saakashvili. In one recording they debate the best means of execution, an official suggesting they use a poisonous substance which will “kill a person two hours after touching it”. “You smear [it] on the door handle,” they say — the precise method by which Sergei and Yulia were contaminated with novichok, according to UK authorities.

Whatever the meaning of that parallel, BuzzFeed’s series is highly significant, for it was fundamental to cementing the notion of frequent Kremlin-directed murders on British soil in the public consciousness in the year prior to Salisbury. Almost inevitably too, it was widely invoked in the immediate wake of the apparent poisoning as evidence, if not proof, of Russian state involvement.

A Tweet by BuzzFeed Investigations Editor Heidi Blake on Skripal, Documented by Integrity Initiative

Among those seeking to connect From Russia With Blood with the attack on the Skripals was none other than BuzzFeed’s Heidi Blake herself. Her Twitter postings on the subject would be documented by the Integrity Initiative in regular roundups of social media activity relating to the incident — and reference to the series was made in an Initiative briefing document (likely circulated to journalists), Russian Lies and the Skripal Case, which called the “evidence” presented by her team’s investigation “compelling”.

So it was on 13 March 2018, nine days after the Salisbury incident, then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced British police and MI5 would reinvestigate the numerous ‘suspicious deaths’ detailed by BuzzFeed — a development the outlet reported rather triumphally. However, a mere four months later, Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed police had determined there was “no basis on which to re-open any of the investigations”. Fittingly, in December an inquest concluded Alexander Perepilichnyy, one of the ‘BuzzFeed 14′, had died of entirely natural causes.

Whatever the truth of the matter, a month prior the Initiative invited Blake to head an hour-long ‘Investigative Masterclass’ at an event the organization convened at London’s Frontline Club — Tackling Tools of Malign Influence.

‘A Good Shepherd’

Also in June 2017, BBC Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban somewhat miraculously began conducting a series of interviews with Sergei Skripal in the latter’s Salisbury home.

“I was intending to write a book about East-West espionage… My intention was to focus the story on a handful of people, using their stories, and the moment these narratives intersected at Vienna airport, during the swap of 2010, as the key to its structure. Skripal was to be one of the central half-dozen or so stories… I was doing this in my own time — there was no contract. The only sense in which this was a ‘book’ in June 2017 was in my own imagination,” Urban claims.

Over the course of their discussions, Skripal would disclose much about his time in the intelligence services, spell as a double-agent for MI6, incarceration in Russia after discovery, and life in Britain post-exile — although his enduring patriotism Urban found particularly notable.

“[Skripal] is… an unashamed Russian nationalist, enthusiastically adopting the Kremlin line in many matters, even while sitting in his MI6-purchased house,” Urban records, “he was adamant, for example, Putin had not surreptitiously introduced Russian troops into east Ukraine, as much of the Western press reported. If regular units had gone in, he insisted, they would have been sitting in Kiev very soon.”

“The problem with the Ukrainians is they are incapable of leadership. They need Russia for that. The Ukrainians are simply sheep who need a good shepherd,” Skripal explained.

Such sentiments may explain why Skripal seemingly remained in regular contact with the Russian embassy after his arrival in the UK. Speaking to the Independent 7 March 2018, former Kremlin official Valery Morozov, an associate of Skripal likewise exiled to the UK, claimed Skripal had meetings with Russian military intelligence officers “every month”.

Strikingly, he also rejected the notion the apparent nerve agent attack had anything to do with the Kremlin.

“Putin can’t be behind this. I know how the Kremlin works, I worked there. Who is Skripal? He is nothing for Putin. Putin doesn’t think about him. There is nobody in Kremlin talking about former intelligence officer [sic] who is nobody. There is no reason for this. It is more dangerous for them for such things to happen,” Morozov cautioned.

Urban would bizarrely fail to reveal having bagged the unprecedentedly fortuitous scoop until three months after the Salisbury incident — an extremely curious delay, perhaps partially explained by his lucrative book deal with publisher Pan Macmillan being announced mere days later.

The resultant work, The Skripal Files, was published in October — rather than a history of “East-West espionage”, the project had evolved into an extensive telling of the government’s official narrative on the Salisbury incident, buttressed by discussions of alleged Kremlin assassinations in the UK, and Skripal’s life and career.

However, while widely marketed as the “definitive account” of the affair, the name Pablo Miller doesn’t appear once in the text — an amazing oversight given Miller was Skripal’s MI6 recruiter and handler, and neighbour in Salisbury, rendered all the more perplexing by Miller and Urban once having served in the same tank regiment.

Miller’s connections to the Salisbury incident are unclear, and by design — immediately afterwards he deleted his LinkedIn account, which revealed him to be a Senior Analyst at Christopher Steele’s Orbis Intelligence, and on 7 March Whitehall issued a D-notice blocking mention of him in the mainstream media. Miller also has unclear connections to Integrity Initiative, his name appearing on a list of invitees to an event hosted by the organization, alongside representatives of the BBC, Porton Down, the FCO, the MOD and the US Embassy.

Adding to the intrigue, Initiative operative Dan Kaszeta — a “counterfeit” chemical weapons ‘expert’ who was the very first source to suggest Sergei and Yulia may have been struck by novichok, a mere four days after the Salisbury incident — noted he’d met Urban “several times over the past few years” in a glowing review of The Skripal Files (since removed from the web) he wrote for the organization in December 2018.

In what may just be an intensely spooky coincidence, as 2017 drew to a close British-American TV project Strike Back: Retribution – a spy-drama based on a novel of the same name by ex-SAS soldier Chris Ryan — began airing on Sky One in the UK. The series followed the activities of Section 20, a fictional branch of British Defence Intelligence, which conducts secretive high-risk missions throughout the globe.

‘Strike Back: Retribution’ Episode Summaries

In episode four, broadcast 21 November, it’s revealed character Ilya Zaryn — who Section 20 rescued from the clutches of a terrorist group — is, in fact, Karim Markov, a Russian scientist who murdered a number of his colleagues with novichok, and is assisting the terrorists in their nefarious schemes.In the next episode, Section 20 locate Zaryn/Markov in a laboratory in Turov, Belarus, where he’s found producing more novichok — but while they manage to destroy the facility and the nerve agent, the dastardly Russian escapes.

In the next, Section 20 track Markov to a lab in Pripyat, Ukraine — but in attempting to contain the nerve agent, Section 20 operative Natalie Reynolds is contaminated. The unit forces Markov to create an antidote, but is killed before he can concoct one — Reynolds’ fellow agent Thomas McAllister manages to improvise and save her, however.

The series would air early the next year in the US on Cinemax — the second episode featuring novichok was transmitted 2 March, two days prior to the Salisbury incident, the third 9 March, five days after.

Expecting the Unexpected

Mainstream hostility towards the Kremlin had been intense ever since 2014, but ‘RussiaGate’ pushed this antipathy into overdrive. Critical, aggressive and paranoid media reports and statements by politicians had become an essentially daily staple by the start of 2018.

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UK Chief of General Staff Gen. Nick Carter (File)

Nonetheless, on 22 January General Nicholas Carter, UK Chief of General Staff, offered perhaps the most hawkish speech on Russia since the demise of the Soviet Union. Speaking at a Royal United Services Institute event, Carter described the country as the “most complex and capable state-based threat to our country since the end of the Cold War”, and warned hostilities could start “sooner than we expect”, particularly as he — ironically — claimed the Kremlin had “[convinced] ordinary Russians the West is a threat… We have been made to appear as the enemy”.

“If Russia sees itself in decline, and more able now to go to war than in the future, does this encourage them to think of war? Perhaps compare the situation today to 1912 when the Russian Imperial Cabinet assessed that it would be better to fight now, because by 1925 Russia would be too weak in comparison to a modernised Germany; and Japan, of course, drew similar conclusions in 1941. Russia worries, I think, that the West will achieve a technological offset in the next decade,” he cautioned.

Carter said the conflict — which he naturally envisaged being initiated by Russia — would “start with something we don’t expect”.

Not long after the speech, Operation Toxic Dagger was launched — a vast three week effort in which 40 Commando Royal Marines, Public Health England, the Atomic Weapons Establishment and Porton Down’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory collaborated to prepare Britain’s armed forces for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear operations by creating “realistic exercise scenarios based on the latest threat information”.

The endeavour included “company-level attacks and scenarios concerning CBRN vignettes, concluding with a full-scale exercise involving government and industry scientists and more than 300 military personnel”, with a “chemical decontamination area set up not merely to treat ‘polluted’ commandos, but also wounded prisoners”.

It was convened on Salisbury Plain — several of the Royal Marines taking part would be seconded to Operation Morlop, a multi-agency ‘clean-up’ effort launched in Salisbury in the wake of the poisoning of the Skripals, less than a fortnight after Operation Toxic Dagger was completed.

March 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK spy chiefs up in arms over Trump making public Russiagate surveillance requests – report

RT | November 22, 2018

A recent report alleges that British MI6 operatives fear that releasing the ‘Russiagate’ wiretap warrant on Donald Trump surrogate Carter Page in full will jeopardize intel-gathering and set a dangerous precedent for the future.

British spies have “genuine concerns” that the publication of the unredacted version of the FBI’s request to surveil Page will expose valuable sources, the Telegraph reported on Wednesday, citing interviews with a “dozen” UK and US officials.

The FBI suspected that Donald Trump’s foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, was being recruited by Moscow amid the 2016 US presidential campaign. The agency filed a request to wiretap him under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The request was approved by the court, and later renewed three times, even after Page quit Trump’s team.

Upon assuming the presidency, Trump pressured the Department of Justice to make the FISA request public. The released document was heavily redacted, with entire pages blacked out. It revealed that the FBI’s reasoning to spy on Gates was partially based on the notorious ‘Steele Dossier’, an unverified anti-Trump memo compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and sponsored by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Convinced that the FBI “misled” the court, President Trump ordered in September to declassify 21 redacted pages of the wiretap request, then allowed the DOJ to delay the procedure.

In opposition to Trump, people within spy agencies in both Washington and London agree that the complete document should never be released, the Telegraph reported.

“It boils down to the exposure of people”, an unnamed US intelligence official told the paper. “We don’t want to reveal sources and methods.”

His colleague was quoted by the outlet as saying that Britain worries about setting a “precedent” which will discourage people from sharing information in the future.

The paper doesn’t specify whether MI6 had taken concrete steps to prevent the Carter Page FISA application from being released. Trump and his allies suggested that the fact that the document referred to the Steele Dossier indicated that the Trump campaign was surveilled with political motives in minds. Page himself, who denied ties with Moscow, told RT last month that “various political actors” in Washington had “put in a lot of false information” about him.

Some people close to Trump suspect that once the document is released in full, it will not only portray the US secret services in a bad light, but will hurt London as well. Speaking to the Telegraph, an unnamed former top adviser to Trump stated: “You know the Brits are up to their neck.”

“I think that stuff is going to implicate MI5 and MI6 in a bunch of activities they don’t want to be implicated in,” he was quoted as saying.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment