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Index on Disgrace

By Craig Murray | April 22, 2018

The second half of my life has been a continual process of disillusionment with the institutions I used to respect. I suppose it started with the FCO, where I went from being Britain’s youngest ambassador to being sacked for opposing the use of intelligence from torture, at the same time having an insider view of the knowing lies about Iraqi WMD being used as a pretext for invasion and resource grab.

I still had some residual respect for the BBC, which respect disappeared during the Scottish independence referendum where BBC propaganda and disregard for the truth were truly shameless. My love of the universities was severely tested during my period as Rector of Dundee University, when I saw how far the corporate model had turned them from academic communities developing people and pursuing knowledge, to relentless churners out of unconsidered graduates and financially profitable research, with nearly all sense of community gone. My respect for charities vanished when I discovered Save the Children was paying its chief executive £370,000 and had become a haven for New Labour politicos on huge salaries, which was why it was so involved in pushing a pro-war narrative in Syria. When Justin Forsyth and Brendan Cox – both massively salaried employees who came into Save the Children from the revolving door of Gordon Brown’s office – were outed over sexual predation, that seemed a natural result of “charities” being headed by rich party hacks rather than by simple people trying to do good. As for respect for parliament, well the massive troughing expenses scandal and all those protected paedophiles…

It has become difficult to hang on to respect for any institution, and that is unsettling.

Which brings me to last week’s annual awards from Index on Censorship. The winners of the awards – from Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Honduras and Egypt – all seem worthy enough, and there is even some departure from the neo-con narrative in recognising a human rights problem in Egypt.

But the Chairman of Index on Censorship is, incredibly, Rupert Murdoch lead hack David Aaronovitch, and he presided over the awards, in the very week in which the newspaper for which he writes produced this appalling attack on freedom of expression:

Inside there was a further two page attack on named academics who have the temerity to ask for evidence of government claims over Syria, including distinguished Professors Tim Hayward, Paul McKeigue and Piers Robinson. The Times also attacked named journalists and bloggers and, to top it off, finished with a column alleging collusion between Scottish nationalists and the Russian state.

That the Chairman of “Index on Censorship” is associated with this kind of attack on freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of research is sadly unsurprising. The guest list of the Index ceremony had a distinct right wing tinge including A C Grayling and Sara Khan, as well as a good smattering of the BBC, which was also represented on the judging panel. The irony of the state broadcaster being part of a panel on freedom of expression is plainly lost.

I realised something was very wrong with Index on Censorship when I contacted them over a decade ago, when Jack Straw attempted to ban the publication of my book Murder in Samarkand, after it had passed successfully through the exhaustive FCO clearance process over a time-consuming year. I tried to interest them again when my second book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo was dropped by my publisher following libel threats from mercenary commander Tim Spicer of Aegis/Executive Outcomes/Sandline. On both occasions I was told that then Chief Executive of Index, John Kampfner, did not regard these attempted book bannings as incidents of censorship. Presumably because they weren’t somewhere like Cuba or Zimbabwe…

The truly appalling Times attack on academics was part of a coordinated and government-led campaign to delegitimise anybody doubting the official narrative on Salisbury and Syria. The BBC weighed in with this horrible effort:

The government then issued a ridiculous press release branding decent people as “Russian bots” just for opposing British policy in Syria. In a piece of McCarthyism so macabre I cannot believe this is really happening, an apparently pleasant and normal man called Ian was grilled live on Murdoch’s Sky News, having been named by his own government as a Russian bot.

The Guardian uncritically published the government’s accusations in full, and astonishingly seemed proud that it had made no attempt to investigate their veracity but had merely published what the government wished them to publish:

The Guardian naturally was just as reliable as the BBC in driving home the message that anybody who doubted the government’s word on Syria was a flat-earth denier of the truth:

Mr Freedland is of course a perfect representation of an interesting fact. Those who are most active in telling us that we must attack Syria, and that anybody who questions the government’s pretexts is insane or evil, are precisely the same individuals who supported the war in Iraq and attacked those who doubted the existence of Iraqi WMD. Indeed these people – Jonathan Freedland, David Aaronovitch, Oliver Kamm, Alan Mendoza, Andrew Rawnsley, John Rentoul, Nick Cohen – are the leaders of the tiny, insignificant number of people who still believe that the invasion of Iraq was both justified and beneficial in its result.

Yet these people of proven terrible judgement, they and others of their media class, are the arbiters who are allowed to dictate the terms of what is and what is not an acceptable public utterance on the situation in Syria.

When Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the opposition, one of two things had to happen. Either the Overton window had to shift to allow for the reflection of views held by the leader of the official opposition and his myriad supporters, or the leader of the opposition had to be castigated and humiliated as an unreasonable lunatic. Corbyn’s rational scepticism on British involvement in the conflict in Syria is a key moment in this process. Despite the fact Corbyn’s scepticism is supported by a wide swathe of diplomatic and military opinion within the UK, it has to be portrayed as fringe, extreme and irrational.

We thus have the extraordinary spectacle of a coordinated government and media onslaught on anybody who doubts their entirely fact free narratives. Those who were demonstrably completely wrong over Iraq are held up as infallible, and given full control of all state and corporate media platforms, where they deride those who were right over Iraq as crackpots and Russian bots.

Meanwhile public trust in the state and corporate media hits new lows, which is the happy part of this story.

Support Craig Murray’s continued writing.

April 22, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya and the silence of the humanitarian hawks

By Neil Clark  | RT | December 1, 2017

The reports that black Africans are being sold at slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya for as little as $400 is a terrible indictment of the so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’ carried out by NATO to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In March 2011 virtue-signaling Western ‘liberal’ hipsters teamed up with hardcore neocon warmongers to demand action to ‘save’ the Libyan people from the ‘despotic’ leader who had ruled the country since the late 1960s. “Something has to be done!” they cried in unison.

Something was done. Libya was transformed by NATO from the country with the highest Human Development Index in the whole of Africa in 2009 into a lawless hell-hole, with rival governments, warlords and terror groups fighting for control of the country.

Under Gaddafi, Libyans enjoyed free health care and education. Literacy rates went up from around 25 percent to almost 90 percent. A UN Human Rights Council report on Libya from January 2011, in which member states praised welfare provision, can be read here.

It was clear that while there were still areas of concern the country was continuing to make progress on a number of fronts.

In the Daily Telegraph – hardly a paper which could be accused of being an ideological supporter of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – Libya was hailed as one of the top six exotic cruise ship destinations in June 2010.

Cruise ships don’t have Libya on their itineraries today. It’s far too dangerous.

The only surprising thing about the return of slave markets (and it’s worth pointing out that before the CNN report, the UN agency, IOM also reported on their existence in Libya earlier this year) is that anyone should be surprised by it. Human rights and social progress usually go back hundreds of years whenever a NATO ‘humanitarian’ intervention takes place. And that’s not accidental. The ‘interventions,’ which purposely involve heavy bombing of the country’s infrastructure and the subsequent dismantling of the state apparatus are designed to reverse decades of social progress. The ‘failure to plan’ is actually the most important part of the plan, as my fellow OpEdger Dan Glazebrook details in his book Divide and Destroy – The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis.

Libya was targeted, like Yugoslavia and Iraq before it, not because of genuine concerns that ‘another Srebrenica’ was about to take place, (note the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee report of September 2016 held that ‘the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence’) but because it was a resource-rich country with an independently-minded government which operated a predominantly state-owned socialistic economy in a strategically important part of the world.

Neither Libya, Iraq or Yugoslavia did the bidding of the West’s endless war lobby, which is why they were earmarked for destruction. The chaos which routinely follows a NATO regime change op is a ghastly experience for the locals, who see their living standards plummet and their risk of violent death in a terrorist attack greatly increase, but great for rapacious Western corporations who then move in to the ‘liberated’ country en masse, taking advantage of the lack of a strong central authority.

Of course, this is never mentioned in NATO-friendly media. The role of the Western elites in turning previously functioning welfare states into failed states is missing from most mainstream reports on the countries post ‘liberation.’

In his recent piece for FAIR, journalist Ben Norton noted how reports “overwhelmingly spoke of slavery in Libya as an apolitical and timeless human rights issue, not as a political problem rooted in very recent history.”

The dominant narrative is that slave markets have re-emerged in Libya ‘as if by magic,’just like Mr. Benn’s shopkeeper. The country’s ’instability’ is mentioned, but not the cause of that instability, namely the violent overthrow of the country’s government in 2011 and the Western backing of extremist, and in some cases blatantly racist, death squads. Everyone is blamed for the mess except the powerful, protected people and lobbyists who are ultimately responsible.

The French government played a leading role in the destruction of Libya in 2011, yet today the French president, the ‘progressive’ Emmanuel Macron blames ‘Africans’ for the country’s slavery problem. “Who are the traffickers? Ask yourselves – being the African youth – that question. You are unbelievable. Who are the traffickers? They are Africans, my friends. They are Africans.”

Macron, like other Western leaders, wants us to see the slavery issue in close-up, and not in long-shot. Because if we do, NATO comes into the picture.

There is similar whitewashing over Iraq and the rise of ISIS. Again, we are supposed to regard the group’s emergence as “just one of those things.” But ISIS was not a force when the secular Baathist Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq; it only grew following his ousting and the chaos which followed the occupiers’ dismantling of the entire state apparatus.

Six-and-a-half years on, it’s revealing to look back at the things the cheerleaders for the ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya were saying in early 2011 and what actually happened as a result of NATO’s 26,500 sorties.

“The price of inaction is too high” was the title of one piece by David Aaronovitch in The Times, dated March 18, 2011. “If we don’t bomb Gadaffi’s tanks, Europe is likely to face a wave of refugees and a new generation of jihadis,” was the synopsis.

Guess what? The West’s military alliance did bomb Gaddafi’s tanks (and a lot more besides) and we got “a wave of refugees” of Biblical proportions and “a new generation of jihadis,” including the Manchester Arena bomber, Salman Abedi.

But there’s been no mea culpa from Aaronovitch, nor from his Times colleague Oliver Kamm – who attacked me after I had penned an article in the Daily Express calling for NATO to halt its action.

In the Telegraph, Matthew d’Ancona wrote a piece entitled ‘Libya is Cameron’s chance to exorcise the ghost of Iraq.’

In fact, the experience of Iraq should have led all genuine humanitarians to oppose the NATO assault. In many ways, as John Wight argues here,

Libya was an even worse crime than the invasion of Iraq because it came afterward. There was really no excuse for anyone seeing how the ‘regime change’ operation of 2003 had turned out, supporting a similar venture in North Africa.

Unsurprisingly the politicians and pundits who couldn’t stop talking about Libya in 2011 and the West’s ‘responsibility to protect’ civilians seem less keen to talk about the country today.

Libya and its problems have vanished from the comment pages. It’s the same after every Western ‘intervention’: saturation coverage before and during the ‘liberation,’ bellicose calls from the totally unaccountable neocon/liberal punditocracy for military action to ‘save the people’ from the latest ‘New Hitler,’ and then silence afterwards as the country hurtles back in time to the Dark Ages.

The ‘liberators’ of Libya have moved on to other more important things in 2017, with Russophobia the current obsession. Anything, in fact, to distract us from the disastrous consequences of their actions.

Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

Read more:

Macron urges military action in Libya to fight human trafficking

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Times, RT and an obsessed neocon stalker

By Neil Clark | RT | October 23, 2016

The Times used to be regarded as Britain’s newspaper of record. But in recent years, the historic title, once renowned for its sober and balanced coverage, has morphed into a crude neo-con propaganda organ.

It’s shilling endlessly for US-led wars and ‘interventions’ and attacking – often in the most obnoxious way possible – those who dare to question the War Party narrative. Needless to say, RT – which urges its viewers to ‘Question More’ (a very dangerous thing in an age of Imperial Truth Enforcement) – has been in the Times’ line of fire.

In fact, over one weekend at the end of July and the beginning of August – a time when most normal people turn their mind to things like ice cream, sun loungers and beaches – the Murdoch-owned newspaper ran at least six articles on RT (and attack pieces on Russia’s Sputnik news agency too, making it a total of seven Russian-media-focused hit-pieces in just two and a half days).

These pieces are not just about criticizing RT, which of course everyone has the right to do. They also seem to be about trying to exert pressure on regulatory bodies to go after RT and take action against a channel that doesn’t toe the neo-con editorial line.

One of the articles was an opinion piece claiming that RT was a “fake news channel” which had “no place on our screens”.

The author, one ‘Oliver Kamm,’ has been in the forefront of The Times campaign, and, based on the tone and the general take, might have been the author of otherwise ‘author-less’ introduction editorial to the aforementioned 7-piece Times slam.

Earlier, in October 2014, Kamm wrote a hit piece on the launch of RT UK in which he urged UK media regulator Ofcom to take action against what he called “a den of deceivers”.

Kamm‘s anti-RT diatribe was cited by the BBC and subsequently even made it to a prominent placement on Wikipedia’s page about RT UK.

This week, he was at it again. One day after the news broke that NatWest was to close RT UK’s bank accounts, Kamm declared in a furious Times column that denying RT a bank account was “the least of the problems we should be making for it”.

“It’s past time that Britain’s civil society, broadcasting regulator and elected government ceased pussyfooting around with RT,” he thundered. Once again, Kamm’s piece made it to a prominent placement on RT UK’s Wikipedia page.

But who is this ‘Oliver Kamm’, the man who sets himself up as a media censor and an arbiter of journalistic standards? Based on my personal experience, he seems to be more an obsessive and extremely creepy cyber-stalker, rather than a journalist.

Kamm’s Internet behavior (which involves the relentless hounding of principled anti-war activists) is truly shocking, but no less scandalous is the way that powerful and influential members of the UK’s neo-con establishment, have promoted and protected him.

Having been digitally stalked and defamed by Kamm for over ten years, after I critically reviewed his pro Iraq-war book for the Daily Telegraph in 2005, I decided earlier this month to publish a detailed 6,000 word expose of Kamm’s very disturbing and very vicious stalking campaigns – prior to launching a crowd-funded legal action against him and his employers.

Rather than reining Kamm in after detailed evidence of his stalking was presented to them, The Times instead clearly decided to make the ex-banker and hedge-fund manager, who had no background in journalism before he was appointed a leader writer on the paper in 2008, the man to spearhead their attacks on RT.

By doing so, the credibility of the paper has been tarnished still further. Kamm tweets obsessively about RT – denigrating it as a ‘fake’ station that hardly anyone watches.

But if it were true that hardly anyone watches RT, the obvious question is: why does the Times’ leader writer devote so much time and energy to attacking it? The answer is clear: Kamm targets RT not because it’s unpopular, of course, but because too many are watching.

A European Parliament briefing paper from last November admitted that RT had “garnered a huge global audience.”

“It is estimated to have 2.5 million viewers in the UK (year-on-year, a rise of 60%) and 3 million in US urban areas, while in South Africa it is by far the largest European news channel.”

The paper also conceded that: “Russian-language media broadcast from Western countries do not enjoy the same popularity in Russia as RT does in the West.”

In 2014, we were told that the BBC World’s Service feared losing ‘the information war’, because of the expansion of RT.

Meanwhile, the journalist Glenn Greenwald has noted Kamm’s prominence in the anti-RT campaign and highlighted the double standards involved:

“The most vocal among the anti-RT crowd – on the ground that it spreads lies and propaganda — such as Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm — were also the most aggressive peddlers of the pro-U.K.-government conspiracy theories and lies that led to the Iraq War. That people like this, with their histories of pro-government propaganda, are the ones demanding punishment of RT for “bias” tells you all you need to know about what is really at play here,” Greenwald wrote.

The good news for those who want to see a media landscape where a wide range of views are heard (and not just neo-con and ’liberal interventionist’ ones officially approved by The Times ), is that the attacks seem to have been counter-productive. Establishment gatekeepers who think they have the right to tell us what channels to watch and which to boycott are finding that their influence is on the wane.

RT’s popularity, despite the relentless neo-con campaign against it – or perhaps partly because of it – continues to grow.

Read more:

RT HAS TV AUDIENCE OF 70 MILLION WEEKLY VIEWERS IN 38 COUNTRIES – IPSOS

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

“You are mistaken” if you believe the media about Iran’s nuclear program

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | October 17, 2012

Sometimes in reviewing some of the older material in my files, I run across little things that just make me laugh out loud when I’m reminded of the events. Tonight, this caused a substantial chuckle:

Remember when NeoCon Oliver Kamm wrote an article (behind paywall) in Rupert Murdoch’s Times (of London) in which he dramatically “exposed” a document that supposedly proved that Iran had conducted tests with atomic bomb detonators (known as neutron triggers)? Naturally, it quotes David Albright too, claiming that this is “strong evidence” of continued Iranian nuclear weapons work. The Times even published an image of the document itself, quite helpfully. It is always great when a news outlet publishes the primary material which forms the basis of their reporting rather than simply passing off hearsay and rumor, often from anonymous sources, as fact. Congratulations, The Times and Oliver Kamm. You deserve a Medal of Journalism for that…

Except…

It turned out that there are all sorts of suspicious things about that document. The collective intelligence of the web kicked in and nitpicked the document and noticed some interesting things, namely, that there were no security markings of any sort on the document as would be expected, and furthermore, it wasn’t even typed with Farsi fonts but was instead typed using Arabic fonts. Hmmm… that’s kinda weird, huh? Gareth Porter did a great job pointing out the… inconsistencies?… with this document.

Oh but it is OK because Oliver Kamm wrote back to the commentator, George Maschke, who initially brought these points to light in the comments section of the article, and Oliver Kamm explained these inconsistencies. The following is the very first sentence of what Oliver Kamm, journalist, wrote in reply to Maschke:

George Maschke, the whole of your comment is undermined by your mistake in assuming that the document that you read online was the document in its original form…

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you perhaps the funniest and also most insightful description of journalism at the begining of 21st Century. It should be written in gold and posted on every corner of the world.

You see, if you expect that a document published by the likes of Oliver Kamm and the Times of London to actually be what they claim it is, then you are mistaken. It is your mistake to think that the press will not try to pass off a fake, edited and altered document as the original. You are mistaken to think that these people believe in any sort of honesty or accuracy, or that the Times would not allow an agenda-driven ideologue with a track record of lying to present himself as a journalist.

You are mistaken to think that Oliver Kamm would mention that the Israelis tried to pass off this document to the IAEA in 2009 as evidence of a continued nuclear weapons program in Iran, that the IAEA Director Elbaradei dismissed the document as a a suspected bit of fraud intended to undermine the 2007 US National Intelligene Estimate that judged Iran had no nuclear weapons program, and then the Israelis turned around and fed it to Kamm who dutifully published it in The Times, after he edited and altered it without telling his readers. If you think Oliver Kamm would mention any of these facts in his article, it was your mistake.

In fact, let me explain something to you: there are more laws imposing a duty of honesty and accuracy on used car salesmen than there are on “journalists”. In other words, you can rely on what a used car salesman says, more than you can rely on what you read in The Times or any other media outlet. They can lie directly in your face, and there’s nothing to stop them. They can make up complete crap — like that Iraq had mobile biological weapons labs and aluminum tubes intended to make nuclear weapons, that Ahmadinejad is secretly Jewish, that Iran requires Jews to wear yellow stars, that Iran’s soccer players wore green wristbands as indicators of their political support for the riotors in the aftermath of the 2009 Presidential elections in Iran, or that Iran secretly funded the presidential campaign of Turkey’s Prime Minister — and there’s NOTHING to stop them (yes, the Turkish PM won a libel suit against the Telegraph and Con Coughlin for that false claim about Iranian campaign funding — but that hardly stopped the Telegraph and Con Coughlin from continuing to write nonsense about Iran.)

This is the state of the media and these are the “journalists” you are stuck with to try to figure out what’s going on in the world.  And if you think anything they write can be taken at face value, you are mistaken.

And here’s something else to consider. That alleged neutron trigger work supposedly happened… at Parchin. Yes, the same Parchin that Albright is jumping up and down about, that was already inspected — twice — by the IAEA which found nothing but which is still mentioned as evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons work.

October 17, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Comments Off on “You are mistaken” if you believe the media about Iran’s nuclear program