Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

UN Works with Intelligence Contractors to Destabilize North Korea Dialogue

By William CRADDICK | Disobedient Media | March 15, 2019

Just a few days after NBC News and National Public Radio (NPR) launched propaganda attempts to undermine the peace process between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United Nations has waded into the fray with a new attempt to build a case for retaining sanctions that have proven to be a sticking point between the negotiation teams.

Much like previous reports, the United Nation’s Panel of Experts (PoE) on North Korea utilized misleadingly interpreted satellite footage provided by private firms who have contractual connections to the CIA and Pentagon. The panel’s findings will ultimately be used to support policies that are aimed at playing on North Korean fears and make them more likely to withdraw or engage in counterproductive behavior.

I. Continued Misleading Interpretation Of Satellite Footage

The PoE’s claimed that the DPRK has been using an “underwater pipeline” at an oil terminal in Nampo, North Korea to offload fuel it receives by sanctioned methods. Much like with previous attempts to “prove” North Korean behavior with satellite imagery that did not actually show evidence of claimed activity the UN’s contentions are similarly based on shaky grounds.

Image: UN Panel of Experts

A second photo run by NKNews.org from private defense contractor Planet Labs purports to also show the “underwater pipeline.” NK News claimed that the underwater pipeline had been used since 2018 solely based on the fact that ships moved in and out of the area, which is obviously designated for mooring.

Vessel docked in the area connected by an alleged “underwater pipeline.” Image: Planet Labs

There are a number of problems with both the photos provided by the Panel of Experts and the Planet Labs image published by NK News. These issues are outlined below.

  • None of the images shows where the “underwater pipeline” comes ashore. It is not visible under the water’s surface, even where the shoreline is shallow.
  • None of the cables connecting to the ship are pipelines. They are cabling used to moor the ship in place.
  • All of the buoys are in place to mark either mooring cables or the ship’s anchor which would have been dropped alongside it once it came to a stop. The UN PoE labeled the anchor buoy as an “offloading buoy” misleadingly in one of their images.
  • An “underwater pipeline” creates a huge risk for salt water contamination of gasoline being pumped through it. This is why all such transfers are done above the surface of the water.

Additional markings on the UN PoE’s images discuss the storage capacity and location of the oil terminal in Nampo but provide no evidence of an “underwater pipeline.” Even more damning, the image provided to NK News by Planet Labs shows a very clear shadow running down its center. This indicates that either two photographs were laid on top of each other and copied, or the original image was creased to hide some detail that would have otherwise been visible.

The use of an underwater pipeline is not the standard method by which ships refuel. Previous reports discussing sanctions evasion display photographs showing how ships will commonly lash together before exchanging gasoline above the water line. When ships to take on fuel from land, they will pull up along a dock. These kinds of details might be obvious to anyone with a degree of maritime knowledge but not a layman.

Image showing customary method by which ships dock to take on fuel.

II. Satellite Footage Of Nampo Docks Is Sourced From Intelligence Contractors

Much like with previous attempts to undermine the Korean peace process, the UN PoE has sourced their imagery from private contractors who primarily work with the CIA and Pentagon. The PoE’s satellite footage is attributed to DigitalGlobe. As Disobedient Media has previously reported, DigitalGlobe is an American vendor of satellite imagery founded by a scientist who worked on the US military’s Star Wars ICBM defense program under President Ronald Reagan. DigitalGlobe began its existence in Oakland, CA and was seeded with money from Silicon Valley sources and corporations in North America, Europe and Japan. Headquartered in Westminster CO, DigitalGlobe works extensively with defense and intelligence programs. In 2016, it was revealed that DigitalGlobe was working with CIA chipmaker NVIDIA and Amazon Web Services to create an AI-run satellite surveillance network known as Spacenet.

DigitalGlobe is a subsidiary of Maxar Technologies, a private conglomerate which boasts contracts with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Some subsidiaries of Maxar derive as much as 90% of their annual revenue from government contracts with the Department of Defense and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Planet Labs, whose imagery was cited in NK News reports of the UN PoE’s findings, is a private satellite imaging corporation based in San Francisco, CA that allows customers with the money to pay an opportunity to gain access to next generation surveillance capabilities. In February 2016, Federal technology news source Nextgov noted a statement from former CIA Information Operations Center director and senior cyber adviser Sue Gordon that Planet Labs, DigitalGlobe and Google subsidiary Skybox Imaging were all working with the NGA to provide location intelligence. Planet Labs’ own website also lists press releases detailing past contracts for subscription access to high resolution imagery with the NGA.

The pervasive involvement of companies providing satellite footage with the CIA in particular is deeply inappropriate. On March 13, 2019 Spanish paper El País reported that the CIA had been implicated in a shockingly violent attack on the North Korean embassy in Spain during the week before the Hanoi Summit. The attack was speculated to be an attempt to gain intelligence on former ambassador to Spain Kim Hyok Chol, who had been appointed by Kim Jong Un to spearhead negotiation efforts with their American counterparts. The involvement of such contractors in a UN panel responsible for overseeing sanctions put into place against North Korea suggests the very real possibility that the entire process is designed to undermine any hope of a denuclearization agreement.

III. The UN PoE Touts Sanctions At A Highly Inappropriate Time

The UN’s decision to continue to tout sanctions in the aftermath of the Hanoi Summit can only be interpreted as an attempt by internationalists and American neoconservatives to scuttle President Donald Trump’s attempts to seek denuclearization for the DPRK. Hugh Griffiths, a British national heading the Panel of Experts, was widely quoted by the media as being of the opinion that Chairman Kim Jong Un had only come to Hanoi to try and relieve the pressure of created by sanctions. It apparently did not bother the international and American press that Mr. Griffiths’ mandate does not include giving his opinion about unrelated peace talks.

Griffiths finds himself in agreement with a number of GOP neoconservative hardliners such as former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley who stress the importance of sanctions with the ostensible goal of cutting off revenue to the DPRK. Some such as John Bolton have openly called for an increase in sanctions in clear opposition to President Trump’s clearly stated desire to seek further dialogue. North Korea has explicitly mentioned the actions and comments of Bolton as endangering the health of negotiations while continuing to maintain that personal relations between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump were “still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful.”

While the stated objective of sanctions is to deprive North Korea of revenue that can be used to finance purchases related to its nuclear program, it is undeniable that they contribute majorly to economic hardship and starvation for the civilian population of the DPRK. In 2018, UNICEF noted that sanctions create severe issues with the delivery of humanitarian aid and put the lives of tens of thousands of children in danger alone. While North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons was certainly what landed them in the situation they currently find themselves in, it is the callous disregard of human welfare by the United Nations, internationalist and certain American interests which causes an increase in such needless suffering.

Considering that nations such as Japan have recently moved to suspend efforts to condemn and punish the DPRK for their rights abuses in light of progress made during the negotiation process, the UN’s move to shift the spotlight back onto sanctions is incredibly poorly-timed. The same can be said for US agencies such as the Department of State who have interfered with talks by openly welcoming the Panel of Expert’s report.

IV. Media And The UN Ignore Actual Evidence Of Sanctions Evasion

Despite all the efforts of international media, the UN and other factions to foment conflict between the DPRK and United States they been curiously unable to identify real evidence of parties who are trying to smuggle goods in and out of North Korea to dodge sanctions.

Footpaths being used to move goods to and from China along the border near Kusong-Dong, North Korea. Credit: DigitalGlobe, detail added by Disobedient Media

With a search of just a few minutes on Google Earth along the Chinese-North Korean border, Disobedient Media was able to identify pathways being used by smugglers to move goods in avoidance of sanctions near Kusong-Dong, North Korea. The ease with which this verifiable information could be found shows just how inept and uninterested monitoring bodies and international media organizations are in finding actual evidence of any potential sanctions violations. The failure of these institutions suggests that their efforts are made solely with propaganda in mind.

The current drive to highlight supposed bad faith behaviors by the DPRK has absolutely nothing to do with promoting peace or encouraging North Korea to abandon their nuclear arsenal which is as dangerous to them as it is any of their enemies. The increase with which such disingenuous reports have been promulgated since the Hanoi Summit shows the increasing desperation with which certain factions are seeking to maintain hostilities which create a benefit for some but which are ultimately dangerous to the entire world. It seems that there is no low to which such parties will not stoop in order to prevent peace from being realized.

Perhaps the United Nations should spend more time focusing on preventing their officials and peacekeepers from committing a plethora of sex crimes while on the job.

March 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Intelligence Contractors Make New Attempt To Provoke Tensions With North Korea

By William Craddick | Disobedient Media | March 8, 2019

It’s the second, but no less ludicrous, attempt in one week to sway the opinion of the public and President Donald Trump against the concept of denuclearization and peaceful dialogue with North Korea.

A March 8, 2019 report from National Public Radio (NPR) follows another by NBC News with sensational and misleading claims that satellite imagery released by private corporations with contractual ties to government defense and intelligence agencies show imminent preparations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to engage in missile testing or the launch of a satellite from their facilities in Sanumdong, North Korea. An examination of the photos provided shows absolutely no indication of such activity.

I. Satellite Footage Of Sanumdong Facility Shows No Sign Of Imminent Launch

Images provided to NPR by private contractor DigitalGlobe consist of two low resolution images, one of a building in the Sanumdong complex and the other of a train sitting along a rail line. In neither photo is there any discernible amount of unusual activity.

Credit: Image ©2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. Graphic: Alyson Hurt/NPR

The first image of a “production hall” bears a striking resemblance to a similar photo run by the Washington Post in July 2018 where unnamed intelligence officials claimed that North Korea was building one or possibly two liquid fueled ICBMs which appear to have never materialized or been used in any launch. The claims came one month after President Trump met with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore for a historic summit between the United States and the DPRK.

NPR claims that the imagery shows “vehicle activity” occurring around the facility. Yet close inspection shows that the “activity” consists of a few inert vehicles, which appear to be a white pickup and white dump truck or flatbed parked in a permanent position next to piles of metal. The scene does not appear to be different from any number of sleepy yards of businesses that can be examined by members of the public on Google Maps.

Credit: Image ©2019 DigitalGlobe, Inc. Graphic: Koko Nakajima/NPR

The second image, according to NPR, shows rail cars sitting “in a nearby rail yard, where two cranes are also erected.” The photo simply shows a train car sitting inert with empty flatbed cars and hopper cars that are either filled with coal or empty. A second rail line similarly holds a number of hoppers and flatbed cars. Hopper cars in particular are totally unsuitable for the transportation of military technology such as missiles.

The tracks in the lower left corner are covered in snow, meaning that the train sat for many months through the winter or was backed into its position. Considering that US and international sanctions have caused an extreme scarcity of fuel in the DPRK it is likely that the trains have not moved for quite some time, unless their diesel engines were converted to burn coal or wood.

In short, there is absolutely no indication that several low resolution photos of a facility in North Korea have any activity in them outside of a few rusting vehicles that have sat without moving for some time.

II. NPR’s Sources Of Satellite Imagery Are Contractors For The CIA And Pentagon

The report by NPR lists two sources of satellite imagery – DigitalGlobe, Inc. and Planet Labs, Inc. As Disobedient Media has previously reported, DigitalGlobe is an American vendor of satellite imagery founded by a scientist who worked on the US military’s Star Wars ICBM defense program under President Ronald Reagan. DigitalGlobe began its existence in Oakland, CA and was seeded with money from Silicon Valley sources and corporations in North America, Europe and Japan. Headquartered in Westminster CO, DigitalGlobe works extensively with defense and intelligence programs. In 2016, it was revealed that DigitalGlobe was working with CIA chipmaker NVIDIA and Amazon Web Services to create an AI-run satellite surveillance network known as Spacenet.

Planet Labs is a private satellite imaging corporation based in San Francisco, CA that allows customers with the money to pay for an opportunity to gain access to next generation surveillance capabilities. In February 2016, Federal technology news source Nextgov noted a statement from former CIA Information Operations Center director and senior cyber adviser Sue Gordon that Planet Labs, DigitalGlobe and Google subsidiary Skybox Imaging were all working with the Pentagon’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to provide location intelligence. Planet Labs’ own website also lists press releases detailing past contracts for subscription access to high resolution imagery with the NGA.

The pervasive involvement of intelligence agencies and defense contractors in attempts to undermine negotiations with North Korea does not create confidence in the already shaky claims made by NPR regarding alleged preparations by the DPRK to participate in a missile launch. These contentions are not supported in substance by any tangible facts. As claims and pressure continue to build on President Donald Trump to abandon the peace process, there are multiple factions of the United States government who are running a real risk of behaving in manners which could be interpreted as open sedition or refusal to carry out the stated goals and policies of the President.

March 10, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reporter Quits NBC Citing Network’s Support For Endless War

By Caitlin Johnstone | American Herald Tribune | January 3, 2019

A journalist with NBC has resigned from the network with a statement which highlights the immense resistance that ostensibly liberal mass media outlets have to antiwar narratives, skepticism of US military agendas, and any movement in the opposite direction of endless military expansionism.

“January 4 is my last day at NBC News and I’d like to say goodbye to my friends, hopefully not for good,” begins an email titled ‘My goodbye letter to NBC’ sent to various contacts by William M Arkin, an award-winning journalist who has been associated with the network for 30 years.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve left NBC, but this time the parting is more bittersweet, the world and the state of journalism in tandem crisis,” the email continues. “My expertise, though seeming to be all the more central to the challenges and dangers we face, also seems to be less valued at the moment. And I find myself completely out of synch with the network, being neither a day-to-day reporter nor interested in the Trump circus.”

The lengthy email covers details about Arkin’s relationship with NBC and its staff, his opinions about the mainstream media’s refusal to adequately scrutinize and criticize the US war machine’s spectacular failures in the Middle East, how he “argued endlessly with MSNBC about all things national security for years”, the fact that his position as a civilian military analyst was unusual and “peculiar” in a media environment where that role is normally dominated by “THE GENERALS and former government officials,” and how he was “one of the few to report that there weren’t any WMD in Iraq” and remembers “fondly presenting that conclusion to an incredulous NBC editorial board.”

“A scholar at heart, I also found myself an often lone voice that was anti-nuclear and even anti-military, anti-military for me meaning opinionated but also highly knowledgeable, somewhat akin to a movie critic, loving my subject but also not shy about making judgements regarding the flops and the losers,” he writes.

Arkin makes clear that NBC is in no way the sole mass media offender in its refusal to question or criticize the normalization of endless warfare, but that he feels increasingly “out of sync” and “out of step” with the network’s unhesitating advancement of military interventionist narratives. He writes about how Robert Windrem, NBC News’ chief investigative producer, convinced him to join a new investigative unit in the early days of the 2016 presidential race. Arkin writes the following about his experience with the unit:

“I thought that the mission was to break through the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness. It was also an interesting moment at NBC because everyone was looking over their shoulder at Vice and other upstarts creeping up on the mainstream. But then Trump got elected and Investigations got sucked into the tweeting vortex, increasingly lost in a directionless adrenaline rush, the national security and political version of leading the broadcast with every snow storm. And I would assert that in many ways NBC just began emulating the national security state itself — busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball is kept in play.

“I’d argue that under Trump, the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength. Now it is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism. I’d also argue, ever so gingerly, that NBC has become somewhat lost in its own verve, proxies of boring moderation and conventional wisdom, defender of the government against Trump, cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering, in love with procedure and protocol over all else (including results). I accept that there’s a lot to report here, but I’m more worried about how much we are missing. Hence my desire to take a step back and think why so little changes with regard to America’s wars.”

Arkin is no fan of Trump, calling him “an ignorant and incompetent impostor,” but describes his shock at NBC’s reflexive opposition to the president’s “bumbling intuitions” to get along with Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, and his questioning of the US military’s involvement in Africa.

“I’m alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn’t get out Syria? We shouldn’t go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don’t even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?”

“There’s a saying about consultants, that organizations hire them to hear exactly what they want to hear,” Arkin writes in the conclusion of his statement. “ I’m proud to say that NBC didn’t do that when it came to me. Similarly I can say that I’m proud that I’m not guilty of giving my employers what they wanted. Still, the things this and most organizations fear most — variability, disturbance, difference — those things that are also the primary drivers of creativity — are not really the things that I see valued in the reporting ranks.”

That’s about as charitably as it could possibly be said by a skeptical tongue. Another way to say it would be that plutocrat-controlled and government-enmeshed media networks hire reporters to protect the warmongering oligarchic status quo upon which media-controlling plutocrats have built their respective kingdoms, and foster an environment which elevates those who promote establishment-friendly narratives while marginalizing and pressuring anyone who doesn’t. It’s absolutely bizarre that it should be unusual for there to be a civilian analyst of the US war machine’s behaviors in the mainstream media who is skeptical of its failed policies and nonstop bloodshed, and it’s a crime that such voices are barely holding on to the fringes of the media stage. Such analysts should be extremely normal and commonplace, not rare and made to feel as though they don’t belong.

Click here to read William M Arkin’s full email, republished with permission.

January 3, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Pro-war ‘Trump circus’: Veteran reporter quits NBC with biting critique of corporate newsroom

RT | January 3, 2019

NBC News has given endless war and ‘destructive’ intelligence agencies a free pass, all while fixating on around-the-clock Trump hysteria, a veteran national security reporter wrote in a biting farewell message to his colleagues.

William M. Arkin had a number of pointed words to share with his fellow reporters before his last day of work at NBC on Friday – 2,228, to be exact. In his farewell memo – which reads more like a manifesto than a goodbye –the veteran muckraker accused NBC of peddling “ho-hum reporting” that “essentially condones” endless American military presence in the Middle East and North Africa. He also took the network to task for not reporting “the failures of the generals and national security leaders,” essentially becoming “a defender of the government against Trump” and a “cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering.”

Arkin expressed concern that NBC’s infatuation with the “Trump circus” has distracted journalists from pressing stories that need to be told.

“I’m more worried about how much we are missing. Hence my desire to take a step back and think why so little changes with regard to America’s wars,” he wrote.

He continued by questioning the media’s fanatical opposition to Trump’s desire to improve relations with Russia, denuclearize North Korea, and withdraw from Syria.

“I’m alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn’t get out Syria? We shouldn’t go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don’t even get me started with the FBI: What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?” he quipped.

If anyone is qualified to critique NBC’s military and national security reporting, it would be Arkin. The veteran journalist has worked for the network intermittently for the last 30 years, and co-authored a seminal Washington Post investigation revealing the dangerous rise of America’s security state.

Arkin has also been a vocal critic of America’s wars in the Middle East, and distinguished himself as one of the few mainstream journalists to question the fictitious WMD rolled out to justify war with Iraq.

Many on social media expressed their gratitude to Arkin for shining a light on the media’s complacency – and complicity – as America’s military and national security apparatus operate with near impunity both at home and abroad.

“Very useful to have all our well known suspicions confirmed from inside. there’s a reason revolutions make a priority to take over the tv stations,” one Twitter user noted.

Arkin finished his farewell roast by detailing some of his writing projects currently in the works, including an “extended essay about national security and why we never seem to end our now perpetual state of war.”

“There is lots of media critique out there, tons of analysis of leadership and the Presidency. But on the state of our national security? Not so much. Hopefully I will find myself thinking beyond the current fire and fury and actually suggest a viable alternative. Wish me luck.”

January 3, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

How NBC News Lied about RT to Whip Up Anti-Russian Hysteria

Dr. Paul Kindlon | Russia Insider | December 19, 2018

“Alleged Terrorist says Russian TV Channel influenced attack on Buckingham Palace.”

This was an actual headline -in big bold type- run by NBC recently.

The subtext of this headline – what the headline is really saying – is this:

“Man watches news report on government-controlled channel of our enemy, Russia, which convinces him to commit an act of terror!”

In other words, “Russia is guilty of instigating terror in London!” The article begins this way…

“An Uber driver who allegedly tried to attack police with a Samurai sword outside Buckingham Palace has told a court he became angry after seeing news put out by the Russian television network RT.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 27, from Luton, said he was looking at news produced by the controversial English-language channel on his phone on the day he decided to “confront” police outside Windsor Castle, 40 miles south of Luton.”

Actually – no – he did not say he was definitely watching RT. He said and I quote “I think it was RT”. But in many respects this fact is irrelevant. Many news outlets have been covering the tragic war in Yemen. NBC clearly implies that there was some nefarious propagandistic angle to RT’s coverage. But reporting on war is what news networks do. That is their job. Insinuating that a news network of a country is culpable for an act of terror by covering a news story IS propaganda however. Linking the terror act to Russia by implying a terrorist was provoked by RT News is misleading, deceptive and manipulative. It was the bombing of Yemen by the Saudis that triggered Chowdhury’s angry response. NBC wants you to “shoot the messenger” for delivering the bad news. So who’s being nefarious?
The globalists’ mainstream media are incorrigibly dishonest.

Chowdhury makes it clear that he was disturbed by the crimes he witnessed. Of civilians – many of whom are women and children – being killed by Saudi bombs with support from the UK and America. Does RT support the pro-Saudi foreign policy of America and UK ? Far from it. RT has been consistently critical of the Saudi campaign of bombing.

Study the language being used in that article – “controversial English-language channel”. What does that even mean? As more and more people come to distrust mainstream corporate media, aren’t CNN, the NY Times, the Washington Post, and even NBC considered “controversial”? Why single out RT in this manner? Well, there’s a reason…

“Controversial” is a word with a negative connotation. I am reminded of the time, while working as a journalist in Moscow, reading an AP wire report on the confrontation between President Yeltsin and his opponents in Parliament. The lead paragraph spoke of Yeltsin having to deal with “former Communists Alexander Rutskoi and Ruslan Khasbulatov” (the leaders of the revolt in 1993). To an uninformed reader, this portrays Yeltsin as a democratic reformer up against the bad guys. What the wire report failed to mention is that Yeltsin was also a Communist. In fact, Yeltsin was the head of the Communist Party in Sverdlovsk where he protected the powerful local mafia from prosecution.

A news organization should try to inform its audience, not willfully deceive. So why is NBC engaging in such poor journalistic activity?

What most people do not know is that corporate news networks are journalistic entities in name only. In reality they function as PR departments for what Ray McGovern calls“ the “Military- Industrial – Congressional -Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank Complex… profiteering on high tension with Russia.” This explains why NBC, CNN and others spin stories and twist facts about RT and Russia in order to misinform its unsuspecting audience.

Want to know the real truth? NBC and other corporate media entities think you are dumb. And they want to make you even dumber if they can. By lying.

December 22, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

‘It’s science fiction’: Professor doubts claims of ‘microwave attacks’ on US diplomats in Cuba

RT | September 14, 2018

There’s no conclusive evidence that US diplomats stationed in Cuba were injured by a futuristic weapon, Kenneth R. Foster, a professor of bioengineering, told RT, adding that theories involving microwaves were “science fiction.”

NBC published an explosive report earlier this week claiming that several anonymous US officials suspect that Russia was behind a series of unexplained “attacks” on US diplomatic personnel in Cuba and China, leaving the victims with injuries ranging from hearing loss to “problems with cognition.”

But Foster, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studied microwave phenomena while working at the Naval Medical Research Center in Bethesda, told RT that the evidence that these purported injuries were caused by some kind of microwave weapon – which the NBC article alleges – is “science fiction.”

“The kind of effect that has been talked about with the embassy is purely a fairy tale,” Foster said. He noted that while non-lethal microwave weapons exist, they require high-power transmissions and are only able to cause “thermal pain” in people. “I can’t conceive of a microwave weapon as it’s being thought about in this case. And it’s not clear that the symptoms are real.”

The professor also raised doubts about the severity of the reported injuries, pointing to “very inconclusive, very iffy” results of a research paper published by a group that had examined some of the alleged victims.

“The evidence doesn’t point in any one direction. And the effects are small and vary from one person to another. So I think it’s an overstatement to say that these persons were injured,” Foster said.

“The alternative explanation is that this may be a psychological effect … But the evidence that these people were harmed is very inconclusive at the present.”

The State Department also appeared uneasy about NBC’s anonymous-sourced report.

“I would caution you all to be very skeptical of those officials’ statements right now as you should be aware the investigation continues,” spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a State Department press briefing on Tuesday. “There is no known cause, no known individual or group believed to be responsible at this time. We have not assigned any blame and we continue to look into it.”

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

CIA Teams Up With Defense Industry To Undermine Korea Negotiations

By William Craddick | Disobedient Media | June 30, 2018

In a new development that will shock no one, factions within the CIA attempted for the second time in just over a month to undermine President Donald Trump’s peace overtures towards North Korea by leaking information calculated to decrease confidence in Kim Jong Un’s willingness to earnestly negotiate.

On June 29, 2018, NBC News released a report quoting anonymous CIA officials who claimed that North Korea was increasing nuclear production at “secret sites” without providing any actual evidence for such claims. The report’s credibility is further weakened by the fact that it also cited reports from a think tank which has strong connections to the defense industry and other private special interests.

In disseminating their report, the CIA used NBC reporter Ken Dilanian as an outlet for leaks. As Disobedient Media previously reported, Dilanian was outed by the Intercept in 2014 as a CIA asset. In the aftermath of the disclosure, Dilanian’s previous employers at the Tribune Washington and Los Angeles Times disavowed the disgraced journalist. In at least one instance, the CIA’s instructions to Dilanian appears to have led to significant changes in a story that was eventually published in the Los Angeles Times.

Since that time, Dilanian has persisted in pushing articles written by former CIA officials who continue to perpetuate the “Trump-Russia” collusion narrative without any regard to facts, such as Steven Hall’s Washington Post article titled: “I was in the CIA. We wouldn’t trust a country whose leader did what Trump did.”

In the absence of hard evidence from the CIA to back their claims about North Korea, Dilanian cited the opinion of Clinton administration official Joel Wit and reports from 38north.org. 38north is a project run by the Henry L. Stimson Center. The Stimson Center’s Board of Directors includes individuals associated with organizations such as Northrop Grumman, the Boeing Company, Warburg Pincus, the Carnegie Endowment, Mercy Corps, The Council on Foreign Relations, the Department of Defense, the CIA and US Department of the Treasury. Their Partners include the George C. Marshall Foundation, Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Research Center and the Jinnah Institute.

Satellite images circulated by 38north claiming to show improvements to North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center appear to have been obtained from Airbus Defense and Space SAS, a subsidiary of European multinational conglomerate Airbus Group SE. Airbus was the brainchild of Germany’s DaimlerChrysler Aerospace and British Aerospace. The association of a German connected transnational group in efforts to undermine Korean peace negotiations is interesting given the strong connections they held with the now scandalized South Korean government of Park Geun-hye.

The involvement of a think tank in a website that is centered around undermining US confidence in North Korea is hardly a surprise given their connections to the military-industrial complex and internationalist special interest groups. Both Northrop Grumman and Boeing have seen their stock’s value drop in the aftermath of Trump’s Singapore meeting with Kim Jong Un in what analysts saw as a temporary setback to defense stocks. Seeing such corporations use their ties to institutions such as the Stimson Center to collaborate with the CIA in an effort to scuttle commitments to North Korean denuclearization and a peace accord between the Koreas and United States represents a new low.

Despite the best efforts of the CIA, President Trump has stated that there is no current nuclear threat from North Korea, and that the Singapore Summit represented a positive interaction with the leader of the so-called “hermit kingdom.” Trump has repeatedly highlighted the opportunity for Chairman Kim to engage with the world and begin a new era of “security and prosperity” for North Korea. North Korea destroyed portions of their test site at Punggye-ri before a group of foreign journalist observers in the lead up to the US-North Korea summit on June 12.

July 2, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blaming the Victims of Israel’s Gaza Massacre

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | May 17, 2018

Israel massacred 60 Palestinians on Monday, including seven children, bringing to 101 the total number of Palestinians Israel has killed since Palestinians began the Great March on March 30. In that period, Israel has killed 11 Palestinian children, two journalists, one person on crutches and three persons with disabilities.

Monday’s casualties included 1,861 wounded, bringing total injuries inflicted by Israel to 6,938 people, including 3,615 with live fire. Israel is using bullets designed to expand inside the body, causing maximum, often permanent damage: “The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious, long-term physical disabilities,” says Médecins Sans Frontières (Ha’aretz, 4/22/18).

On the 70th anniversary of Israel’s so-called “declaration of independence,” the United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem—a city Israel claims as its own, despite what international law says on the matter—and Palestinians undertook unarmed protests in reaction to the move and as part of the Great Return March. Although to this point, the only Israeli casualty during the entire cycle of demonstrations has been one “lightly wounded” soldier, considerable space in coverage of the massacres is devoted to blaming Palestinians for their own slaughter.

NBC: Scores Dead in Gaza Fence Protest as US Moves Embassy to Jerusalem

NBC (5/14/18) mentions “what Palestinians refer to as their ‘right of return’”; actually, it’s what international law calls it, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Two of the first three paragraphs in an NBC report (5/14/18) provided Israel’s rationalizations for its killing spree. The second sentence in the article says that the Israeli military

accused Hamas of “leading a terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people,” adding that “firebombs and explosive devices” as well as rocks were being thrown towards the barrier.

A Washington Post article (5/14/18) devoted two of its first four sentences to telling readers that Palestinians are responsible for being murdered by Israel. Palestinian “organizers urged demonstrators to burst through the fence, telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them,” read one sentence. “At the barrier, young men threw stones and tried to launch kites carrying flames in hopes of burning crops on the other side,” stated the next one, as though stones and burning kites released by a besieged people is violence remotely equivalent to subjecting people to a military siege and mowing them down.

The New York Times (5/14/18) said that “a mass attempt by Palestinians to cross the border fence separating Israel from Gaza turned violent, as Israeli soldiers responded with rifle fire,” painting Israel’s rampage as a reaction to a Palestinian provocation. Like FAIR (2/21/18) has previously said of the word “retaliation,” “response” functions as a justification of Israeli butchery: To characterize Israeli violence as a “response” is to wrongly imply that Palestinian actions warranted Israel unleashing its firing squads.

A Yahoo headline (5/14/18) described “Violent Protests in Gaza Ahead of US Embassy Inauguration in Jerusalem,” a flatly incorrect description in that it attributes the violence to Palestinian demonstrators rather than to Israel. The BBC (5/15/18) did the same with a segment called “Gaza Braced for Further Violent Protests.”

Bloomberg: Hamas Vows to Keep Targeting Fence After Gaza Bloodshed

In Bloomberg‘s account (5/14/18), the fence seemed to be the real victim.

One Bloomberg article (5/14/18) by Saud Abu Ramadan and Amy Teibel had the same problem, referring to “a protest marred by violence,” while another one (5/14/18) attributed only to Ramadan is headlined “Hamas Targets Fence as Gaza Bloodshed Clouds Embassy Move,” as though the fence were Monday’s most tragic casualty. Ascribing this phantom violence to Palestinians provides Israel an alibi: Many readers will likely conclude that Israel’s lethal violence is reasonable if it is cast as a way of coping with “violent protests.”

The second paragraph of the Bloomberg article solely written by Ramadan says that

Gaza protesters, egged on by loudspeakers and transported in buses, streamed to the border, where some threw rocks, burned tires, and flew kites and balloons outfitted with firebombs into Israeli territory.

This author—like the rest in the “Palestinians were asking for it” chorus—failed to note that Israel’s fence runs deep into Palestinian territory and creates a 300-meter “buffer zone” between Palestinians and Israeli forces, which makes it highly unlikely that the kites and balloons of the colonized will have an effect on their drone-operating, rifle-wielding colonizers, let alone on people further afield in Israeli-held territory.

The New York Times editorial board (5/14/18) wrote as though Palestinians are barbarians against whom Israel has no choice but to unleash terror:

Led too long by men who were corrupt or violent or both, the Palestinians have failed and failed again to make their own best efforts toward peace. Even now, Gazans are undermining their own cause by resorting to violence, rather than keeping their protests strictly peaceful.

The board claimed that “Israel has every right to defend its borders, including the boundary with Gaza,” incorrectly suggesting that Palestinians were aggressors rather than on the receiving end of 100 years of settler-colonialism.

Moreover, like the Times and Bloomberg articles discussed above, the editorial attempts to legitimize Israel’s deadly violence by saying that it is defending a border that Palestinians are attempting to breach, but there is no border between Gaza and Israel. There is, as Maureen Murphy of Electronic Intifada (4/6/18) pointed out, “an armistice line between an occupying power and the population living under its military rule” that Palestinians are trying to cross in order to exercise their right to return to their land.

WaPo: Hamas Has Launched Another War. Israel Needs a Better Response

The Washington Post (5/15/18) condemned the “cruel, cynical tactic” of trying to exercise the internationally guaranteed right of return.

A Washington Post editorial (5/15/18) called the Palestinians hunted by Israel “nominal civilians.” Apart from being a logical impossibility (one either is or isn’t a civilian), the phrase illuminates how too much of media think about Palestinians:  They are inherently threatening, intrinsically killable, always suspect, never innocent, permanently guilty of existing.

A Business Insider piece (5/14/18) by columnist Daniella Greenbaum described “Palestinian protesters who ramped up their activities along the Gaza strip and, as a result, were targeted by the Israeli army with increasing intensity.” Greenbaum’s use of the phrase “as a result” implies that it was inevitable and perhaps just that Palestinians’ “ramped up activities” led to Israel mowing down a population it occupies, 70 percent of whom are refugees Israel refuses to allow to return to their homes.

Greenbaum then climbs into the intellectual and moral gutter, claiming that

absent from the commentary that children have unfortunately been among the injured and dead are questions about how they ended up at the border. On that question, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the extent to which Palestinians have glorified violence and martyrdom — and the extent to which the terrorist organization Hamas has organized the “protests.”

In her view, dozens of Palestinians died because they are primitive savages who take pleasure in sacrificing their own children, not because Israel maintains the right to gun down refugees in the name of maintaining an ethnostate.

In a rare instance of a resident of Gaza allowed to participate directly in the media conversation, Fadi Abu Shammalah wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (4/27/18) that offered an explanation of why Palestinians are putting their lives on the line to march. Life for the people of Gaza, including for his three young sons, has been “one tragedy after another: waves of mass displacement, life in squalid refugee camps, a captured economy, restricted access to fishing waters, a strangling siege and three wars in the past nine years. ” Recalling the concern for his safety expressed by his seven-year-old child, Shammalah concludes:

If Ali asks me why I’m returning to the Great Return March despite the danger, I will tell him this: I love my life. But more than that, I love you, Karam and Adam. If risking my life means you and your brothers will have a chance to thrive, to have a future with dignity, to live in peace with all your neighbors, in your free country, then this is a risk I must take.

Palestinians have a right to liberate themselves that extends to the right to the use of armed struggle, yet as Shammalah wrote, the Great Return March signifies a “nearly unanimous acceptance of peaceful methods to call for our rights and insist on our humanity.” Nevertheless, based on media coverage, readers could be forgiven for concluding that it was Palestinians, not Israel, who carried out what Doctors Without Borders called “unacceptable and inhuman” violence.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Former Spies Turn into TV ‘Experts’

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.02.2018

Once upon a time in the United States there was a general perception that organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were both apolitical and high-minded, existing only to calmly and professionally promote the safety and security of the nation. Directors of both organizations often retired quietly without fanfare to compose their memoirs, but apart from that, they did not meddle in politics and maintained low profiles. There was a widespread belief at CIA that former officers should rightly retire to a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains where they could breed Labrador retrievers or cultivate orchids.

But the relative respectability of America’s national security agencies largely vanished in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist incidents. It was learned that both the CIA and FBI had made fatal mistakes in their investigations of the al-Qaeda group, putting in question their effectiveness, and the leaders of both organizations began to focus on pleasing their political masters. The appearance of CIA Director George Tenet at the United Nations supporting lies promoted by Secretary of State Colin Powell was a low point, but there were many more to follow.

The 2016 election brought out the worst in the CIA’s leadership, with its Director John Brennan lining up behind Hillary Clinton together with former Acting Director Michael Morell and former Director Michael Hayden. Morell even claimed that Trump was a Russian agent. Indeed, there has been remarkably little speculation regarding the possible roles of some senior intelligence officials, most notably CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, both of whom were in office during the electoral campaign. In September 2016, the two men reportedly were involved in obtaining information on Page and it has also been suggested that Brennan sought and obtained raw intelligence from British, Polish, Dutch and Estonian intelligence services, which might have motivated FBI’s James Comey to investigate the Trump associates. Brennan and Clapper, drawing on intelligence resources and connections, might have helped the FBI build a fabricated case against Trump.

Currently the senior officials who were so hostile to Donald Trump have decided against going quietly into their generously rewarded retirements. Morell has long been a paid contributing “expert” for CBS news, Hayden has had the same role at CNN, and they are are now being joined by John Brennan at NBC. Brennan, an NBC “senior national security and intelligence analyst,” is an Obama-Clinton loyalist who can be relied upon to oppose policies and actions undertaken by the Trump Administration, admittedly not a bad thing, but he will be doing so from a strictly partisan perspective. And the danger is that his tag as former CIA Director will give him a certain credibility, which, depending on the issue, might not be deserved or warranted. To be sure CIA interests will be protected, but they will be secondary to commentary from a partisan and revenge seeking John Brennan who is out to burnish his own sorry reputation. He looks perpetually angry when he is on television because he is.

Brennan has behaved predictably in his new role. In his first appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday he said that the Steele dossier did “not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessment that was presented to President Obama…” which is a lie.  He denounced the release of the so-called “Nunes memo” by the House Intelligence Committee because it was “exceptionally partisan,” which is true, and because it exposes secrets, which it does not. Brennan is also a leader of the blame Russia movement. He has claimed without providing any evidence that Russia “brazenly interfered” in the 2016 election and he can be counted upon to be yet one more anti-Russian voice on the mainstream media.

Brennan, who was hated by much of the CIA’s rank-and-file during his tenure as director, does not have much of a reputation for truth-telling. He lied  about how the Agency under his leadership tried to spy on and disrupt the Senate’s investigation into CIA torture. He was also the driving force behind the Obama administration “kill list” of U.S. citizens selected for assassination. Concerns that Brennan will represent the Agency’s viewpoint on NBC News are largely irrelevant as the network should have instead considered his credibility and judgment before hiring him.

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trump suggests revoking NBC license after series of fake news

RT | October 11, 2017

US President Donald Trump has called an NBC report that he wanted a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal “pure fiction” and suggested that the network deserves to have its license pulled after a series of reports that were challenged as false.

The president said that NBC News “made up” the report which, citing three unnamed officials, said that Trump wanted to dramatically increase the stockpile of US nuclear weapons.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” he wrote on Twitter.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?” he added.

“It’s frankly disgusting, the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” Trump said Wednesday afternoon, after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington.

“The press should speak more honestly,” he added. “They make up the sources. There are no sources.”

Last week NBC reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supposedly called Trump a “moron” and threatened to resign, only to be talked out of it by Vice President Mike Pence. That story also cited three unnamed officials.

Tillerson told reporters he had “never considered leaving” his post and described the story as “petty nonsense.” The vice president likewise denied the claims in the NBC story.

“At no time did he and the secretary ever discuss the prospect of the secretary’s resignation from the administration. Any reporting to the contrary is categorically false,” said Jarrod Agen, Pence’s spokesman.

Trump has long complained about major US media outlets trying to undermine him during and after the election. He labeled a number of them, including the Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN, “fake news.”

“Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!” Trump tweeted last Thursday, the day after the Senate Intelligence Committee updated reporters about its months-long investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the US election.

Some news outlets will be left “with egg on their face” over their reporting on the Russia investigation, committee chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) told CNN when asked about Trump’s statement.

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

Media hyping North Korea threat to sell the public on another war

By Danielle Ryan | RT | August 14, 2017

It’s not every day that you’ll hear a news anchor be so upfront about the media’s worst proclivities — but last week, NBC anchor Brian Williams told a panel of guests that the media’s job was to “scare people to death” about North Korea.

Keep in mind that Williams is the same anchor who was widely ridiculed for waxing lyrical about the “beauty” of American missiles back in April when President Donald Trump bombed a Syrian air force base. Oh, and he’s also the guy who was suspended from his job for six months for making up a story about coming under fire in Iraq. Clearly, Williams has some issues with romanticizing war.

Anyway, what Williams said last week about the media’s role when it comes to tensions between the US and North Korea was remarkably revealing and forthright — even if he didn’t quite mean it that way.

Hyping the threat

Of course, escalating tensions between the US and North Korea are a clear cause for concern. The flippant way that American politicians have been talking about military action, which could have serious consequences for US allies in that region is heinous. The way Trump himself has ratcheted up tensions with threats of “fire and fury” the likes of which the world has never seen is irresponsible and is the kind of talk that sends the media into a frenzy.

Fox News recently did a segment on how sales of bunkers have gone up about 90 percent in the last two weeks. CBS Detroit reported on how “end of the world” preparation products, like gas masks and radiation antidote potassium iodide, are “flying off the shelves” in a local army supply store.

Media on the other side of the Atlantic are chiming in, too. The UK’s Sun newspaper published an actual World War 3 “survival guide” last week. It’s almost like they’re excited by the prospect of nuclear war.

Stories like these are the fruits of the media’s labor over the past few weeks. Their incessant hyping of the situation now has ordinary people stocking their shelves with doomsday supplies and installing nuclear bunkers on their properties.

Even a former State Department spokesman for the Obama administration has accused the media of “fanning the flames” when it comes to escalating tensions with North Korea.

Skewed coverage

Reading much of the coverage on the rising tensions with North Korea, it would appear that something major has changed recently — that North Korea has suddenly become an existential threat to the US in a way that it wasn’t before. It all seems so much more pressing and dangerous than it did last month.

But what actually happened? Aside from the fact that the leaders of both countries have been having a public shouting match, not a whole lot.

Yes, the US government’s Defense Intelligence Agency now believes North Korea has the capability to mount nuclear warheads on missiles, which could potentially be used to hit US targets. But North Korea has been claiming this capability since last March. So, that’s not new.

What is new is that the US intelligence community suddenly wants everybody to care about it. This shift should ring alarm bells, because it inevitably means that the US administration is beginning to construct a new narrative — a narrative it will need the media to fully support in the event that they decide to take military action against Pyongyang.

The narrative is that Kim Jong Un will, sooner or later, strike the US mainland, potentially with nuclear weapons — and that the US has no choice but to engage in ‘preventive’ war to stop him. The potential consequences — thousands dead in neighboring nations like South Korea and Japan — aren’t given nearly as much airtime or consideration. Who cares if they’re not Americans, right Lindsey Graham?

As ever, the media is more than willing to help the intelligence community construct their faulty narratives and sell the public on yet another useless military intervention based on evidence-free assertions that something bad will happen if the benevolent US military doesn’t jump in and stop it… by starting another war.

Capitalizing on ignorance

This narrative and the sensationalism with which it is spread relies primarily on the fact that the majority of Americans don’t know a whole lot about the history of their country’s relationship with North Korea.

If, for instance, the majority knew that the US had already mercilessly bombed North Korea for three years in the 1950s, they might be more willing to understand that country’s fears regarding US threats of “fire and fury” raining down on them.

Historian Bruce Cummings puts it simply: “We carpet-bombed the North for three years with next to no concern for civilian casualties.” The US effectively flattened the country, killed an estimated 3 million people (20% of the population), and “burned down every town”.

That is nothing short of pure evil — and yet today, Americans are left wondering why on earth North Koreans don’t like them? All the talk in the world about how oppressive the North Korean regime is, how all-encompassing North Korean propaganda is — will never erase that history.

A piece which appeared in The Intercept recently puts it well: “Millions of ordinary Americans may suffer from a toxic combination of ignorance and amnesia, but the victims of U.S. coups, invasions, and bombing campaigns across the globe tend not to.”

Balanced and nuanced coverage is far too much to hope for, though, when we already have one of the most watched news anchors in America proudly announcing that his job is to scare people to death.


Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance writer, journalist and media analyst. She has lived and traveled extensively in the US, Germany, Russia and Hungary. Her byline has appeared at RT, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, The BRICS Post, New Eastern Outlook, Global Independent Analytics and many others. She also works on copywriting and editing projects. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

How the Establishment Imposes ‘Truth’

By Gilbert Doctorow | Consortium News | June 12, 2107

For the last quarter century or more, Western foreign policy has claimed to be guided by promotion of “democratic values,” among which none shines brighter than freedom of speech and the related freedom of the press. European Union institutions have repeatedly been quick to denounce authoritarian regimes in the greater European area for arrests or murders of journalists and for the shutting down of media outlets that crossed some government red line.

In the past year, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey may have headed the list in Brussels for such offenses, especially since the crackdown that followed an attempted coup last summer. The E.U.’s supposed guardians of the free press also put Vladimir Putin’s Russia on the short list of countries where journalism is said to be severely constrained.

However, against this backdrop of European moral posturing, there are troubling examples of how the E.U. itself deals with journalists who challenge the dominant groupthinks. The E.U. finds its own excuses to stifle dissent albeit through bloodless bureaucratic maneuvering.

For instance, in April 2016, I wrote about how a documentary challenging the Western narrative of the circumstances surrounding the death of Kremlin critic Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 was blocked from being shown at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

The last-minute shutting down of the documentary, “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes,” was engineered by lawyers for William Browder, the influential chairman of the investment fund Hermitage Capital and an associate of Magnitsky.

Based in London, Browder has been an unrelenting crusader for imposing sanctions on Russian officials allegedly connected to Magnitsky’s death in prison. Browder successfully pushed for the U.S. Congress to approve the 2012 Magnitsky Act and has lobbied the European Parliament to pass a similarly punitive measure.

Then, in April 2016, Browder pulled off a stunning show of force by arranging the cancellation of “The Magnitsky Act” documentary just minutes before invitees entered the auditorium at the European Parliament building for the showing.

Browder blocked the documentary, directed by Andrei Nekrasov, because it carefully examined the facts of the case and raised doubts about Browder’s narrative that Magnitsky was an innocent victim of Russian repression. The E.U.’s powers-that-be, who had fully bought into Browder’s Magnitsky storyline, did nothing to resist Browder’s stifling of a dissenting view.

Which appears to be part of the West’s new approach toward information, that only establishment-approved narratives can be presented to the public; that contrarian analyses that try to tell the other side of a story are dismissed as “fake news” that should rightly be suppressed. (When the Magnitsky documentary got a single showing at the Newseum in Washington, a Washington Post editorial misrepresented its contents and dismissed it as “Russian agitprop,” which was easy to do because almost no one got to see what it said.)

Bureaucratic Runaround

I got my own taste of the E.U.’s bureaucratic resistance to dissent when I applied to the Media Accreditation Committee of the European Commission on March 2 seeking a press pass to act as the Brussels reporter of Consortiumnews.com.

This Committee issues accreditation for all the European Institutions, including the only one of interest to me, the European Parliament. The Committee is a law unto itself, a faceless bureaucratic entity that deals with applicants only via online applications and sends you back anonymous emails. The application process includes several steps that already raise red flags about the Commission’s understanding of what it means to be from the “press” or a “journalist” deserving accreditation in the Twenty-first Century.

First, under the Committee’s rules, a journalist must be a paid employee of the given media outlet. This condition generally cannot be satisfied by “stringers” or “freelancers,” who are paid for each assignment or an individual story, a payment arrangement that has existed throughout the history of journalism but has become more common today, used by mainstream media outlets as well as alternative media, which generally pay little or nothing. I satisfied that requirement with a Paypal credit note from Consortiumnews.

The Commission also must have the media outlet on its approved list. Regarding Consortiumnews, an Internet-based investigative news magazine dating back to 1995 and operating in the Washington D.C. area, the Commission apparently wasn’t sure what to do.

So, like bureaucratic institutions everywhere, the Committee played for time. It was only on June 6 that I received the review of my application. The finding was that 1) I needed to present more proof that my employer is paying me regularly, not just once, and 2) I needed to supply further articles showing that I am not merely published regularly, as was clear from my uploaded articles with the initial application, but that I am published precisely on the subject of activities at the European institutions.

I was assured that pending delivery of these proofs and completion of my request, I could ask for ad hoc accreditation “to the individual institutions for specific press events you would need to cover.”

In fact, I had withheld from my application my most recent published essay on a panel discussion in the E.U. Parliament devoted to censuring Russia’s alleged dissemination of “fake news.” That discussion was run by a Polish MEP and former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs from the determinedly anti-Russian party of the Kaczynskis. The title of my essay was “Europe is brain dead and on the drip.” I had felt that this particular piece would not further the cause of my press pass.

Still, the insincerity of the E.U. press accreditation committee’s response to my application is perfectly obvious. A journalist can write articles about the European Institutions when he or she has free run of the house via a press pass and can ascertain what is going on of interest. Without a press pass, you do not know what or whom is worth covering.

And in this connection, “specific press events” are among the least desirable things going on at the E.U. for purposes of a genuine practicing journalist. They are useful only for lazy journalists who will send along to their editor the press release and a few canned quotes obtained by showing up at a press briefing in time for the coffee and sandwiches.

In short, I will not be issued a press pass and the Committee will not bother to address the real reason for refusal: that Consortiumnews is not on the Committee’s short list of acceptable media. Not to mince words, this is how the E.U. bureaucracy manages skeptical media and stifles dissenting voices.

NBC’s New Star v. Putin

Meanwhile, the mainstream Western media continues to hammer home its propaganda narratives, especially regarding Russia. Another case study unfolded over the past week with NBC’s new star reporter Megyn Kelly interviewing Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 2 on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

This latest NBC crime against professional journalism becomes apparent when you compare the full version of the interview as it was broadcast on Russia’s RT network and the edited version that NBC aired for its American audience. The most shocking discrepancy involved a segment in which Kelly aggressively questioned Putin about what she said was Americans’ understanding of his government, namely one that murders journalists, suppresses political opposition, is rife with corruption, etc.

In the NBC version, Putin’s answer has been cut to one empty introductory statement that “Russia is on its way to becoming a democracy” bracketed by an equally empty closing sentence. In the full, uncut version, Putin responds to Kelly’s allegations point by point and then turns the question around, asking what right the U.S. and the West have to question Russia’s record when they have been actively doing much worse than what Kelly charged. He asked where is Occupy Wall Street today, why U.S. and European police use billy clubs and tear gas to break up demonstrations, when Russian police do nothing of the sort, and so on.

Simply put, NBC intentionally made Putin sound like an empty authoritarian, when he is in fact a very sophisticated debater, which he demonstrated earlier in the day at an open panel discussion involving Kelly who became the event’s laughingstock. Regarding the bowdlerized interview, NBC management bears the prime responsibility for distorting the material and misleading its viewers.

Interviews by serious news organizations can be “hard talk,” as the BBC program of the same name does weekly. The journalist in charge can directly and baldly challenge a political leader or other public personality and can dwell on an issue to arrive at exhaustive responses that then allow viewers to reach their own conclusions.

However, in the interview at hand and in the earlier panel discussion, Kelly repeated the same question about alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election even after she had received an exhaustive answer from Putin several times. Clearly she was reading from a script given to her by management and was not permitted to react to what took place in the interview exchange.

Given that Putin’s answers then were shredded in the NBC cutting room, we may explain the objectives of NBC’s executives as follows: to present themselves and their featured journalist to the American audience as being so respected by the Kremlin that the Russian president accorded an exclusive interview. Second, to show the American audience that they used the opportunity not to allow the Russian President to pitch his views to the U.S. home audience but instead to hit him with all the charges of wrongdoing that have been accumulating in the American political arena.

In other words, NBC got to show off Kelly’s supposed boldness and the network’s faux patriotism while sparing the American people from hearing Putin’s full answers.

A Harvard Dissent

Although this emerging paradigm of righteously suppressing challenges to mainstream narratives appears to be the wave of the future – with the modern censorship possibly enforced via Internet algorithms – some voices are protesting this assault on the Enlightenment’s trust in human reason to sort out false claims and advance factual truth.

At the May 25 commencement at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard President Drew Faust delivered an impassioned defense of free speech. She spoke about the institution and its obligations as generator and protector of “truth” and knowledge arrived at by free debate and challenge of ideas.

This is not to say that there was perfect clarity in her message. She left me and other attendees somewhat uncertain as to whose rights of free speech she was defending and against what sort of challenge. Given the political persuasion of students and faculty, namely the middle-of-the-road to progressive wings of the Democratic Party, one might think she had in mind such causes célèbres as the ongoing verbal attacks against Linda Sarsour, a Muslim (Palestinian) graduation speaker at CUNY.

Indeed, in her speech, Drew Faust pointed to the more vulnerable members of the student body, those from minorities, those from among first generation college students who might be intimidated by hurtful speech directed against them. But it is more likely that she drew up her speech having in mind the controversy on campus this spring over the rights of speakers disseminating hated ideas to appear on campus. That issue has come up repeatedly in the student newspaper The Crimson, and it may be said to date from the scandal at UC Berkeley over the cancellation of controversial far-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos.

However, I believe the main weight of her argument was directed elsewhere. Primarily, to the processes by which truth is determined. She was defending the appropriateness of sharp debate and airing of views that one may dislike intensely on campus:

“Universities must model a commitment to the notion that truth cannot simply be claimed, but must be established – established through reasoned argument, assessment, and even sometimes uncomfortable challenges that provide the foundation for truth.”

Though this idea rests at the heart of the Enlightenment, it has faded in recent years as various political and media forces prefer to simply dismiss contrary evidence and analysis by stigmatizing the messengers and – whenever possible – silencing the message. This approach is now common inside the major media which lumps together cases of fact-free conspiracy theories and consciously “fake news” with well-researched information and serious analyses that clash with conventional wisdom.

No Sharp Edges

From my experience as an organizer of public events over the past five years, I learned that the very word “debate” finds few defenders these days. Debate suggests conflict rather than consensus. The politically correct term for public discussions of even hot issues is “round tables.” No sharp corners allowed.

But Faust said: “Ensuring freedom of speech is not just about allowing speech. It is about actively creating a community where everyone can contribute and flourish, a community where argument is relisted, not feared. Freedom of speech is not just freedom from censorship; it is freedom to actively join the debate as a full participant. It is about creating a context in which genuine debate can happen.”

Besides the value of honest debate as a method for ascertaining truth, Faust also noted that suppression of diverse opinions can blind those doing the suppression to growing unrest among the broader public, an apparent reference to the surprising election of Donald Trump.

Faust continued: “Silencing ideas or basking in intellectual orthodoxy independent of facts and evidence impedes our access to new and better ideas, and it inhibits a full and considered rejection of bad ones. From at least the time of Galileo, we can see how repressing seemingly heretical ideas has blinded societies and nations to the enhanced knowledge and understanding on which progress depend.

“Far more recently, we can see here at Harvard how our inattentiveness to the power and appeal of conservative voices left much of our community astonished – blindsided by the outcome of last fall’s election. We must work to ensure that universities do not become bubbles isolated from the concerns and discourse of the society that surrounds them.”

Of course, the inconvenient truth is that Harvard University has long been a “bubble,” especially in the area of policy research that most interests me and may be vital in avoiding a nuclear catastrophe: Russian studies.

Over the past few years of growing confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, amid vilification of the Russian President and the Russian people and now encompassing the hysteria over “Russia-gate,” colleagues with long-standing and widely acknowledged expertise in Russian affairs including Ambassador Jack Matlock and Professor Stephen Cohen have been repeatedly denied any possibility of participating in “round tables” dedicated to relations with Russia that might be organized at Harvard’s Kennedy Center or the Davis Center.

These policy centers have become pulpits to stridently expound orthodoxy per the Washington consensus. Thus, the flaccid argumentation and complacency of U.S. foreign policy are aided and abetted by this premier university, which, along with Columbia, created the very discipline of Russian studies in 1949. So, by wallowing in this consensus-driven groupthink, Harvard contributes to dangerously biased policies that could lead to World War III. In that case, truth – or as Harvard might say, Veritas – would not be the only casualty.

No doubt there are other faculties at Harvard which also are desperately in need of renewal following President Drew Faust’s call for debate and free speech. Nonetheless, Dr. Faust’s celebration of open debate and free speech represented a welcome tonic to the close-mindedness of today’s Russia-bashing.

Her speech is all the more noteworthy as it marks one of the first steps by liberals and Democratic Party stalwarts to acknowledge that those whom Hillary Clinton condemned as “deplorables” must be heard and reasoned with if U.S. democracy is to become great again.


Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels.  His last book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.  His forthcoming book, Does the United States Have a Future?

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment