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Social media fact-checking, brought to you by the Deep State

By Daniel Espinosa | OffGuardian | September 7, 2020

Almost four years of mainstream media hype about “fake news” and “Russian meddling” propaganda has brought to the world exactly what they were intended to bring: an effective mechanism for internet and social media censorship.

In the center of this move toward global discourse control is an organization called the Poynter Institute, home to the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), a body created to coordinate, promote and train dozens of fact-checkers from around the world.

The IFCN and many non-profits working in the same field are funded by the big capitalist “philanthropists” of our era, like George Soros, Pierre Omidyar, Bill Gates, and even the Koch brothers… but also by the US Department of State and a shady “aid” – in reality, political meddling – organization, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), historically linked to the CIA and regime change operations.

Google and Facebook – itself tied to the warmongering Atlantic Council and its “Digital Forensic Research Lab” – are also associated with Poynter, by funding and partnerships to fight “fake news” (including the development of an “automated” fact-checking program for the upcoming 2020).

The marriage between Poynter’s IFCN, politically inclined billionaires, the State Department – and the whitewashed public face of the Deep State – suggest that the institute is probably working in what Nelson Poynter, its founder, worked on for a key part of his life: propaganda and censorship for the US government.

Although this information is not available in Nelson Poynter’s Wikipedia profile or in poynter.org’s history page, his work for a government propaganda agency is not exactly a secret. A remembrance of his wife, Henrietta, also at the institute’s website, quickly passes over the fact that Poynter did work for the Office of War Information (OWI) during WWII, but his specific role as a government censor and propagandist is never mentioned.

Nevertheless, Hollywood Goes to War, a book written in 1987 by Clayton R. Koppes and Gregory D. Black, is one of the many historical sources that tell the details of Poynter’s job.

Film censorship and the birth of the Voice of America

Nelson Poynter was recruited by the OWI with his wife Henrietta, who worked as assistant program chief under Elmer Davis, head of the agency. She came up with the name for the “Voice of America”, the famous psychological war operation of the US government.

The radio project was established in February 1942 and soon grew to be the most important US overt propaganda arm of the Cold War.

Unlike his wife’s job, Poynter’s regarded not radio – or his previous line of work, journalism – but movies. In 1942, the OWI’s Bureau of Motion Pictures (BMP) set up office in Hollywood, naming Poynter as its head. His mission was to act as liaison between the agency and the owners of Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, MGM and the other big studio names.

Elmer Davis, head of the OWI, regarded films as:

The easiest way to inject a propaganda idea into most people’s minds”, in part, because they “do not realize that they are being propagandized”.

Davis was a career journalist who worked for ten years for the New York Times before being recruited by the government. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s White House needed the film industry to incorporate specific themes in their movies, ideas that promoted the notion of WWII as being a “popular” war, fought to defend his Four Freedoms.

But at first, Poynter’s office in Hollywood had little veto power over what the industry could produce – for the entire Western world – limiting itself to suggest cosmetic changes here and there, or the toning down of reactionary and racist imagery and language, an inherent feature in the Hollywood of that era.

The heads of the studios were on fairly good terms with the US Army, historically close to the industry. Its owners were happy to portrait US wars abroad as heroic, in exchange for the lending of military equipment, installations and expert advice.

But in most cases, a disappointed Poynter complained, war ended up only as “a backdrop” for shallow romance, cheap comedies and other proven formulas. Poynter and his boss at the BMP, Lowell Mellett, also hired a former assistant of Harold Lasswell, a famous social researcher who said – back in the 30s – that democracy needed propaganda because people were not the best judges of their own interest.

Eventually, the team devised a way to exert more power over the unruly, reactionary and overly commercial Hollywood studios. They decided to ask the US Office of Censorship to weigh in and threaten them with banning “offending” films from export, seriously reducing their potential earnings.

According to Koppes and Black’s Hollywood Goes to War, it was a success, prompting MGM, Warner and the other big names to start turning in their scripts for review to Poynter. The BMP knew it was important to intervene right at that stage, before large amounts of money were spent in production.

Poynter was a diligent censor and propagandist, going as far as to suggest dialogues for the movie scripts he was reviewing, breaching “one of the industries taboos” and provoking the powerful tycoons, according to the authors mentioned above.

When the war ended, Poynter went back to journalism. He eventually took over the St. Petersburg Times (renamed Tampa Bay Times in 2012), owned by his father. He also founded the Congressional Quarterly with his wife Henrietta, who died in 1968. As we can read in the Poynter institute’s website:

When Henrietta died suddenly at the age of 66, Nelson mourned deeply. ‘Her passing marked the end of an era for Mr. Poynter,’ said David Shedden, former research librarian at The Poynter Institute. ‘He started looking to the future and thinking about his legacy. He focused on creating a school for journalists, which of course became the Modern Media Institute, and then the Poynter Institute’.”

Nevertheless, historian W.C. Bourne explains that many of the OWI’s top brass – as Elmer Davis and Nelson Poynter, former journalists – returned to the corporate media after the war, but “retained an abiding belief in the things for which OWI stood and the possibilities of accomplishment in the international information picture”.

Many of them also retained the Deep State contacts and a nationalistic “spirit of collaboration”.

A legacy of censorship

Nelson Poynter’s work for the government ended many decades ago, and it would be reasonable to suggest that his ties to the US government and its propaganda apparatus probably never involved the journalism institution he founded years after leaving the OWI.

But we have evidence pointing precisely in the opposite direction.

Firstly, the obvious – and open – ties between the institute and today’s version of the foreign meddling machine installed by the US during the Cold War (i.e. the NED). As informed on many occasions by independent journalists, one of the founders of the National Endowment for Democracy once admitted that:

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly twenty-five years ago by the CIA.”

Secondly, the intimate ties between the Poynter Institute and the US State Department, which selected it to conduct the “Edward Murrow Program for Journalists”.

It brings together “more than 100 emerging international journalists from around the world to examine journalistic practices in the United States”.

In other words, to be indoctrinated in Western corporate journalism and culture and start a relationship with a potential foreign opinion leader.

The State Department’s Murrow program is part of Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), an agency dedicated to “cultural diplomacy”, intimately tied to intelligence and foreign policy since way before the Cold War. The participants to be trained by Poynter are chosen by US embassies abroad.

A 2017 report of the historical success of the educational exchange agency stated that:

… 565 alumni of the ECA programs are current heads or former heads of state and government, and 31 alumni are heads of international organizations.”

Thirdly, the Poynter Institute, too, redacted an infamous blacklist of “fake news” sites, with the intention of marginalize and, in this case, deny many of them of any kind of advertisement money.

A blacklist to defund them all

For this operation, launched on April 30, 2019, Poynter ganged-up with the rest of the fact-checking “cartel”, so to speak.

The institute gathered the blacklists and analysis done in recent years by Snopes, Fact-check.org, Politifact (owned by the Tampa Bay Times and Poynter), OpenSources and the Fake News Codex, and used them to create the mother of all blacklists, naming 515 “unreliable” news websites.

It was retracted shortly after its publication, on May 2, after coming under criticism for “unreliability and poor methodology”. The irony! And this should be understood as an indictment on the whole bunch. As one critic from the George Washington University noted:

Beneath the veneer of its precision, the fact-checking enterprise relies heavily on opinion and interpretation… If a list summarizing fact-checking results and verified by fact checkers is ultimately retracted by those same fact checkers for not being rigorous, it underscores the question of why we should trust anything from the fact-checking community.”

To add insult to injury, Poynter’s dubious list of “unreliable websites” was intended to cause financial harm to those named in it, by guiding advertisers and ad-technology applications to deny them of ads.

After the retraction, Stephen Gutowski, a writer from one of the affected websites, Free Beacon, wrote:

What a disgusting exercise in bad faith from an organization that’s supposed to be about improving and promoting journalism. Instead, they’re creating tabloid-level listicles to smear reporters without offering even a single piece of evidence. Shame on you, @Poynter.”

Philip Klein, from The Washington Examiner – also listed – thought it was:

… worrisome to call for advertisers blacklisting news organizations, especially given the opacity of the process and arbitrariness of many of the judgements [sic].”

The “cartel”

Most of the non-profits behind Poynter’s blacklist share patrons, except for the controversial Snopes, that runs on less grant money than advertisement revenues.

The International Fact-checking Network and its more than a hundred “associated” – subordinated – smaller fact checkers around the globe, are also funded by the same “philanthropists”, like Bill Gates, whose foundation already finances tens of mainstream corporate news outlets with tens of millions of dollars, just like the Columbia Journalism Review recently uncovered.

Regarding Poynter and Gates, specifically:

… Poynter senior vice president Kelly McBride said Gates’s money was passed on to media fact-checking sites, including Africa Check, and noted that she is “absolutely confident” that no bias or blind spots emerged from the work, though she acknowledged that she has not reviewed it herself.”

In a blatant conflict of interests, those same fact-checkers often (try to) debunk information related to the Gates Foundation, just like a private PR agency.

Many lesser players in the global constellation of fact checkers are also funded directly by George Soros and his Open Society Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the US embassy and/or the NED.

When “fact-checking”, the members of this private-public consortium often limit themselves to copy/paste from their “parent” sources, like Poynter’s Politifact and Snopes.

As Emil Marmol and Lee Mager recently wrote for Project Censored, the “fake news” psychological operation was little more than a “Trojan horse for silencing alternative news and reestablishing corporate news dominance” :

The fake news hysteria created by those in government and echoed by the corporate news media is being harnessed and used as a pretext for the suppression of dissent and counterhegemonic viewpoints while re-establishing the corporate press’s preeminence as the sole purveyor and manufacturer of public opinion.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the degenerative process under the guise of “protecting us”, prompting democratic governments to take dangerous paths, like arresting citizens for promoting street marches on Facebook.

The internet opened up a world of information to the regular citizen, we must keep it open so more of us can take a look.

Daniel Espinosa lives in Arequipa, second largest city of Peru. He graduated in Communication Sciences in Lima and started researching propaganda and mainstream media. He writes for a Peruvian in-print weekly, Hildebrandt en sus trece, since 2018, and collaborates with many online media. His writings are a critique of the role of mass media in society. You can read his previous work through his MuckRack profile.

September 8, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, the Irony: Fake Watchers Make False Claim About Sputnik’s ‘Fake News’

Sputnik – April 19, 2019

PolitiFact, a non-profit fact-checking project, has apparently landed in hot water after it pounced upon an opportunity to debunk a “fake” photo related to the Notre-Dame de Paris blaze, which turned out to be real.

The object of their attention was a photo of the cathedral ablaze that was published by Sputnik France and features, among other things, two smiling men slipping under a police barricade.

PolitiFact claims, citing the head of National Center for Media Forensics at University Colorado Denver, that “the two front persons” were inserted into the photo, and that the allegedly altered image “has been used to support claims that the cathedral fire was a terrorist attack and fuelled anti-Muslim rhetoric”.

The picture was initially pulled from Sputnik France’s live web coverage of the Notre Dame fire and shared over social media. The controversy was sparked as the picture did not contain a company logo or a watermark at the time of its publication. Several users, including notorious bloggers such as Pamella Geller, claimed that the photo depicted ‘Muslims laughing as blaze destroys Notre Dame cathedral during Holy Week’.

Screenshot of Pamela Geller post on Facebook
© Photo: Pamela Geller/ Facebook
Screenshot of Pamela Geller post on Facebook

Meanwhile, some media outlets accused Sputnik of being the source of ‘hate speech’, prompting Sputnik France chief editor Natalia Novikova to lash out against the grievous allegations and the detractors’ unfair evaluation of the image.

When Sputnik France chief editor Natalia Novikova berated Aude Lorriaux for her comments about the image and Sputnik as a news agency, the latter deleted her tweet.

As Novikova pointed out, the picture in question was merely one of several photos snapped by a Sputnik correspondent covering the tragedy, and his attention wasn’t even focused on the “smiling men”:

“The picture was published without any comments about who these men were or what were they smiling about. They did not attract the attention of our correspondent neither during the photo shoot, nor when the photo was published”.

She also remarked that the news agency was quite surprised by the fact that some, apparently, see fit to “speculate about the religious beliefs of these two men based on their appearance only”.

“We’re saddened by the fact that some media used this photo for their questionable purposes, and that they spend time on sifting through a hundred of published photos to find an example of ‘Russian menace’”, she added.

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Islamophobia, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

Yes, the FBI is America’s secret police

By James Bovard – The Hill – 12/11/17

Politifact delivered a “pants on fire” slam to Fox News on Friday because one of its commentators asserted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation “has become America’s secret police.” The FBI has legions of new champions nowadays among liberals and Democrats who hope that its probes will end Donald Trump’s presidency. This is a stunning reversal that may have J. Edgar Hoover spinning in his grave.

In order to boost the credibility of the FBI’s investigations of the Trump team, much of the media is whitewashing the bureau’s entire history. But the FBI has been out of control almost since its birth.

A 1924 American Civil Liberties Union report warned that the FBI had become “a secret police system of a political character.” In the 1930s, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court feared that the FBI had bugged the conference room where justices privately wrangled over landmark cases, as Tim Weiner noted in his “Enemies: A History of the FBI.” In 1945, President Harry Truman noted that “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction.” And FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover compiled a list of 20,000 “potentially or actually dangerous” Americans who could be rounded up and locked away in one of the six detention camps the federal government secretly built in the 1950s.

From 1956 through 1971, the FBI’s COINTELPRO program conducted thousands of covert operations to incite street warfare between violent groups, to get people fired, to smear innocent people by portraying them as government informants, to sic the IRS on people, and to cripple or destroy left-wing, communist, white racist, antiwar, and black organizations (including Martin Luther King Jr.). These operations involved vast numbers of warrantless wiretaps and illicit break-ins and resulted in the murder of some black militants. A Senate Committee chaired by liberal Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) issued a damning report on FBI abuses of power that should be mandatory reading for anyone who believes the bureau deserves deference today.According to Politifact, the FBI is not a “secret police agency” because “the FBI is run by laws, not by whim.” But we learned five years ago that the FBI explicitly teaches its agents that “the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.” No FBI official was fired or punished when that factoid leaked out because this has been the Bureau’s tacit code for eons. Similarly, an FBI academy ethics course taught new agents that subjects of FBI investigations have “forfeited their right to the truth.” Are liberals so anxious to get Trump that they have swept under the rug the 2015 Washington Post bombshell about false FBI trial testimony that may have sentenced 32 innocent people to death?

Politifact absolved the bureau because “The FBI doesn’t torture or carry out extrajudicial executions.” Tell that to the Branch Davidians — 80 of whom died after the FBI assaulted their ramshackle home with tanks and pyrotechnic devices and collapsed much of the building on their heads even before fires burst out.

Politifact quotes a professor who asserts that “any use of unnecessary violence (by the FBI) would be met with the full force of the criminal law.” Is that why an internal FBI report claimed that every one of the 150 shootings by FBI agents between 1993 and 2011 was faultless?

FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi gunned down Vicki Weaver in 1992 as she stood in her Idaho cabin doorway holding her baby. After I accused the FBI of a coverup in a Wall Street Journal oped, FBI chief Louis Freeh denounced me for twisting the truth. But after a confidential Justice Department report leaked out revealing the FBI’s deceits and unconstitutional rules of engagement, the feds paid a $3 million wrongful death settlement to the Weaver family. When an Idaho County sought to prosecute the FBI sniper, the Justice Department invoked the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution to torpedo the case.

Politifact asserts that “just because the FBI sometimes operates in secret does not mean that it’s a ‘secret police.’” But the FBI’s secrecy is profoundly skewing American politics. More than a year after the 2016 election, Americans still have no idea the true extent of the FBI’s manipulation of the presidential campaign. Did the FBI wrongfully absolve Hillary Clinton on the email server issue? What role did the FBI have in financing or exploiting the Steele dossier? Will we ever learn the full truth?

The so-called fact checkers insists that any comparison of the FBI and KGB is “ridiculous” because the FBI is “subject to the rule of law and is democratically accountable.” But there is little or no accountability when few members of Congress have the courage to openly criticize or vigorously cross-examine FBI officials. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs admitted in 1971 that Congress was afraid of the FBI: “Our very fear of speaking out (against the FBI) … has watered the roots and hastened the growth of a vine of tyranny … which is ensnaring that Constitution and Bill of Rights which we are each sworn to uphold.” The FBI is currently scorning almost every congressional attempt at oversight. Thus far, members of Congress have responded with nothing except press releases and talk show bluster.

Politifact repeatedly scoffs at the notion that the FBI is “a secret police agency such as the old KGB.” And since the FBI is not as bad as the KGB, let’s mosey along and pretend no good citizen has a right to complain. A similar standard could exonerate any American president who was not as bad as Stalin.

In the 1960s, some conservatives adorned their cars with “Support Your Local Sheriff” bumper stickers. How long until we see Priuses with “Support Your Secretive All-Powerful Federal Agents” bumper stickers? But those who forget or deny past oppression help forge new shackles for the American people.

James Bovard is a USA Today columnist and the author of 10 books, including “Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty” (St. Martin’s Press, 1994).

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Facebook begins ‘fake news’ crackdown with ‘disputed’ story tag roll out

RT | March 5, 2017

Facebook has begun rolling out its much hyped ‘fake news’ crackdown initiative, launching its ‘disputed’ news tag on stories deemed false by fact checking organisations working with the social media giant.

The tool appears to have been unveiled without fanfare in the US, but some users have shared screenshots of it in action on Twitter.

Facebook has added a question to its help center page entitled “How is news marked as disputed on Facebook?.” The section notes, however, that this feature is not yet available to everyone. It is unclear how many people currently have access to the ‘fake news’ debunking feature.

Facebook introduced their solution to false stories last December amid outcries that so-called fake news influenced the outcome of the US presidential election. These unproven claims have been disputed by a Stanford University/NYU study.

As part of the plan, the tech giant partnered with fact checkers that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles. These include ABC News, FactCheck.org, the Associated Press, Snopes and Politifact.

Stories flagged by Facebook users as ‘fake news’ are passed on to these fact checkers for verification. If the fact-checkers agree that the story is misleading, it will appear in News Feeds with a “disputed” tag, along with a link to a corresponding article explaining why it might be false.

These posts then appear lower in the news feed and users will receive a warning before sharing the story.

Similar efforts are planned in Europe amid threats from the EU to clamp down on the spread of misinformation. Facebook recently revealed fact checking partnerships in Germany and France ahead of respective elections in each country.

Concerns have been raised, however, over the implications of such practices on freedom of speech.

Project Censored, a non-profit that aims to fight censorship through promoting media literacy, views Facebook’s fake news crackdown as “problematic.”

“What Facebook, and the Washington Post’s ill advised list of fake news sites, has attempted to do is make lists of news outlets that are “fake,” Nolan Higdon, faculty advisor at Project Censored told RT.

“However, this is problematic because some news sites have both journalists doing credible work and those disseminating propaganda. While some consumers may be swayed by the digestible notion of “these sites good, these sites bad” lists; it does not solve the problem of people consuming propaganda, “ he added.

The key is education, Higdon insisted, explaining the importance of teaching individuals to examine a media outlet critically.

“Simply creating an arbitrary list of whose websites can and cannot be viewed on Facebook or considered ‘news’ is normalizing censorship instead of informing individuals.”

READ MORE:

Fake news did not influence 2016 election, study finds

 Facebook’s ‘anti-fake news’ plan looks like effort to curb alternative media

March 5, 2017 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Fact-Checks The Fact-Checkers?: PolitiFact and Ted Cruz Both Get the Iran Deal Wrong

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep In America | September 18, 2015

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz and the Tampa Bay Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website PolitiFact were at each others’ throats last week over recent comments Cruz has made about the nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – reached this past July between Iran and six world powers.

The main reason for the spat is simple: Ted Cruz lies a lot.

In response to a particularly blustery claim made by the Texas Senator at a rally opposing the nuclear accord, which restricts Iran’s nuclear energy and uranium enrichment programs – reaffirming their purely peaceful nature – in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions, PolitiFact decided to investigate whether Cruz was telling the truth. (Spoiler: he wasn’t, and rarely does.)

At the rally, and afterward on Twitter, Cruz declared that the JCPOA “will facilitate and accelerate the nation of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.” Even for a demagogic blowhard like Cruz, this is a ridiculous thing to say. Beyond the fact that we’ve heard for over three decades that the advent of an Iranian nuke is just around the corner – only a few years, maybe two years, a year and half, 12 months, six weeks away! – and these estimates have never been based upon credible evidence, the enhanced monitoring and inspections implemented under the new deal effectively prevent any possible Iranian move toward weaponizing its program for at least a decade, probably far longer. And that’s if Iran does the thing it’s never ever done: decide to build a nuclear weapon at exactly the time when its program is under the most intensive scrutiny of any nation’s program in history. The claim is absurd on its face.

Needless to say, it wasn’t too difficult for PolitiFact to judge this statement false.

But PolitiFact’s own understanding of the parameters of the Iran deal itself was surprisingly rife with errors, something that absolutely shouldn’t happen in a fact-checking article. The details, relayed by the website’s editors Louis Jacobson and W. Gardner Selby, were rendered this way:

Specifically, the deal requires Iran to give up 97 percent of its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, the kind needed to make nuclear weapons, as well as most of the centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium. In addition, Iran agrees to only enrich uranium to a level unsuitable for weapons for 15 years, and to cease production of plutonium, the other element that can be used to build a bomb. Known nuclear sites would be monitored for 15 years to confirm compliance, and inspectors would have the ability to enter undeclared sites suspected of nuclear use, though with possible delays of up to 24 days.

PolitiFact gets a bunch wrong here.

“Highly enriched uranium”

First, the deal does not require “Iran to give up 97 percent of its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, the kind needed to make nuclear weapons.” Why not? Because Iran doesn’t have any highly enriched uranium to give up.

This is a common mistake made by commentators, politicians, journalists, and pundits who should all know better. The fact is Iran has never enriched uranium above 19.75 percent U-235, which is defined by the IAEA itself as “low enriched uranium.” This is quite uncontroversial – no one, from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the U.S. intelligence community to the Israeli Mossad to non-proliferation experts, have ever claimed that Iran has produced a stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU). Iran has only ever produced low enriched uranium (LEU) – to levels of under 5 percent and under 20% – useful only as reactor fuel or medical isotopes, respectively, not bombs (which require enrichment levels of over 90 percent).

Furthermore, the IAEA has confirmed that, “since 20 January 2014, Iran has not produced UF6 enriched above 5% U-235 and all of its stock of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 has been further processed through downblending or conversion.” Additionally, as the agency has long confirmed, “All of the enrichment related activities at Iran’s declared facilities are under Agency safeguards, and all of the nuclear material, installed cascades, and feed and withdrawal stations at those facilities are subject to Agency containment and surveillance.”

What the JCPOA actually does, in this regard, is limit Iranian enrichment of uranium to no more than 3.67 percent U-235 LEU and, as the Arms Control Association notes, eliminates roughly 97 percent of Iran’s current LEU stockpile, capping it at a mere 300kg for 15 years.

“Production of plutonium”

PolitiFact also erroneously claims that, under the deal, Iran must “cease production of plutonium,” which makes no sense considering Iran has never produced plutonium. As I noted earlier this month, “Before it can be stockpiled, plutonium must first be extracted and reprocessed from the spent uranium fuel of an operational nuclear reactor. Iran has never done this and doesn’t even have a reprocessing plant. Iran has literally never extracted plutonium from a reactor core, let alone stockpiled it…”

In short, Iran can’t “cease” doing something it’s not – and never has been – doing.

Inspections

PolitiFact’s explanation of inspection parameters under the JCPOA is also disingenuous. By claiming that Iran’s “[k]nown nuclear sites would be monitored for 15 years to confirm compliance,” PolitiFact is implying that Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is not already under safeguards and constant monitoring, which it is – and has been for years, if not decades. Iran’s nuclear facilities have long been subject to the most intrusive and consistent inspection regime in the world.

The deal only strengthens this regime, allowing constant and immediate access to all declared nuclear sites and also to non-nuclear sites like centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities, and uranium mines and mills, which, as nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis has pointed out, “are not safeguarded anywhere else in the world.” This enhanced and unique access will last, in many cases, as long as 20-25 years.

PolitiFact’s language also suggests inspections of nuclear sites will cease after a decade and a half. This is totally wrong. In fact, all of Iran’s declared nuclear sites will remain under IAEA safeguards and surveillance in perpetuity, as mandated by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Iran has been a party since its advent in 1968.

Even PolitiFact’s understanding of “possible delays of up to 24 days” is dubious, as this is the absolute maximum amount of time that access to a potentially suspect facility could be delayed through a process agreed to by all seven international parties (eight, if you include the European Union) to the JCPOA.

In truth, under the deal, the IAEA’s request to visit a suspect site “triggers a 24-day clock under which Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to come to an agreement on access. If not, the Joint Commission, created by the JCPOA, has seven days to make a determination on access, and if at least five of the eight members vote to allow the IAEA to investigate, Iran has three days to comply,” explains the Arms Control Association. At that point, the very first time this review protocol is tested to this extent, there’s a good chance the process of re-implementing sanctions on Iran would begin, rendering the tents of the JCPOA inoperable and signaling the imminent, if not immediate, collapse of the agreement altogether.

Who Fact-Checks the Fact-Checkers?

PolitiFact has rightly taken Ted Cruz to task for his false claims.

[In a petulant retort to being fact-checked, Cruz published even more lies in The National Review, declaring, among other things, that Iran cheated on a previous nuclear accord (it didn’t), that Iran is allowed “in certain circumstances” to “inspect itself, and report back on the ‘results’” (it’s not, not even close), and that the deal enables “Iran to finish their ongoing ICBM research and develop a missile that can carry a nuclear warhead across the Atlantic to America” (which is, simply, asinine).]

But in its own explanation of the Iran deal, PolitiFact repeats a number of baseless canards that have often been used by anti-diplomacy Iran hawks and deal-supporting liberal interventionists alike to mislead the public about the Iranian nuclear program and its capabilities.

For a “fact-checking journalism website aimed at bringing you the truth in politics,” PolitiFact should make sure to check itself before it, well, you know.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment