Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Skripal Case: Luke Harding’s latest work of fiction

By Kit | OffGuardian | September 6, 2018

Luke Harding likes writing books about things that he wasn’t really involved in and doesn’t really understand. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, that covers pretty much everything. His book about Snowden, for example, was beautifully taken down by Julian Assange – a person who was actually there.

He’s priming the traumatised public for another of his works, this time about Sergei Skripal. This one will probably be out by Christmas, unless he can find someone else’s work to plagiarise, in which case he might get it done sooner.

It will have a snide and not especially clever title, perhaps a sort of pun – something like the “A Poison by Any Other Name: How Russian assassins contaminated the heart of rural England”. It will relate, in jarring sub-sub-le Carre prose, a story of Russian malfeasance and evil beyond imagining, whilst depicting the whole cast as bumbling caricatures, always held up for ridicule by the author and his smug readership.

There’s an extract in The Guardian today. It’s not listed as one, but trust me, it will be in the book. It’s title, as predicted above, is sort of a pun (and will probably be a chapter heading):

Planes, trains and fake names: the trail left by Skripal suspects

You see? Like that film? I don’t really get it either but until someone else comes up with something clever he can copy, Luke is left to his own rather meagre devices.

It starts off surprisingly strong, waiting three whole sentences before lurching violently into totally unsupported conjecture:

The two men were dressed inconspicuously in jeans, fleece jackets and trainers as they boarded the flight from Moscow to Gatwick. Their names, according to their Russian passports, were Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. Both were around 40 years old. Neither looked suspicious.

This is, as far as we know so far, true.

The plane trundled down the icy runway. In Moscow the temperatures had fallen below -10C, not unusual for early March. In Britain it had been snowing.

… and so is this. In fact, in googling “Moscow weather March 2018” Harding has displayed an uncharacteristically thorough approach to research that was rarely (if ever) evidenced in his previous works.

They had also packed a bottle of what appeared to be the Nina Ricci perfume Premier Jour. The box it came in was prettily decorated with flowers, it listed ingredients including alcohol and it bore the words “Made in France”.

This is where truth ends and guesses take over: there is no evidence, at all, that these two men had anything to do with the “perfume bottle” allegedly found by Charlie Rowley on June 27th and allegedly containing a powerful nerve agent. There is (as far as we know) no fingerprint or DNA evidence on the bottle, nobody saw them with the bottle, and there’s no released CCTV footage of them holding or carrying the bottle. Saying “it’s in their backpack” is meaningless without any evidence to back it up.

According to the Metropolitan police, the bottle in fact contained novichok, a lethal nerve agent developed in the late Soviet Union. The bottle had been specially made to be leakproof and had a customised applicator.

Note he doesn’t feel the need to examine, question or even verify the words of the Metropolitan Police [Seemingly, in the UK, bottles are designed to leak]. This is a recurring theme in Harding’s works – there are people who tell the truth (US) and people who lie (RUSSIANS). Evidence is a complication you can live without.

Moscow’s notorious poisons factory run by the KGB made similar devices throughout the cold war.

Did they? Because he doesn’t show any evidence this is true. One thing you can be sure of, if there had ever been even a whisper about a “modified perfume bottle” in any Soviet archive or from any “whistleblower currently living in the United States”, it would be on the front page in big black letters.

Petrov and Boshirov were aliases, detectives believe. Both men are suspected to be career officers with the GRU, Russia’s powerful and highly secretive military intelligence service.

Note use of the word “believe”, it makes regular appearances alongside it’s buddies: “suspect” and “probably”.

And yes, they “believe” they are aliases because IF they were assassins then obviously they used aliases. There’s no evidence taken from their (currently totally theoretical) visa applications that point to forgery, nobody at the time questioned their passports. As of today, we have been given no reason to think they were aliases, except reasoning backwards from assumed guilt… which isn’t how deduction works.

In fact, there’s more than enough reason to assume they aren’t aliases – Firstly, they passed the visa check, secondly their passports were never questioned, thirdly they’ve used them before (see below), and finally… just WHY would a Russian spy-come-assassin use a fake Russian name and a fake Russian passport? That’s ridiculous.

The officers’ assignment was covert. They were coming to Britain not as tourists but as assassins.

[citation needed]

Their target was Sergei Skripal, a former GRU officer who spied for British intelligence, got caught and was freed in a spy exchange in 2010. They were heading for his home in provincial Salisbury.

Luke doesn’t feel the need to dig down into the nitty gritty here – motive is a trifle, to be added in the footnotes or made up on the spur of the moment when asked at a book signing. I’m a bit more fussy than that – I feel the need to ask “Why did they release him in 2010 and then try to kill him in 2018?” If they had wanted to kill him, why not just do it when he was in prison in Russia between 2006 and 2010? If they wanted to kill him… why do it just weeks before the World Cup? What could they possibly have to gain?

Luke doesn’t know, and neither do I.

Their Aeroflot flight SU2588 touched down at 3pm on Friday 2 March. They were recorded on CCTV going through passport control, Boshirov with dark hair and a goatee beard, Petrov unshaven and wearing a blue gingham shirt. Both were carrying satchels slung casually over the shoulder.

This is all true, and completely unnecessary. It’s what we in the industry call “filler” or “padding”. Totally meaningless and useless words that do nothing but take up space. Without it, a lot of Luke’s books would only be about 700 words long.

According to police, the pair had visited the UK before.

Way to bury the lead there, Luke.

This is actually quite important isn’t it? I mean, when did they visit the UK before? Did they visit Salisbury then too? Did they have any contact with Sergei Skripal? Were they travelling under the same names? Were these visits linked with other intelligence work? Were they just holidays? What kind of assassins would use the SAME FAKE IDS ON TWO DIFFERENT OCCASIONS?

These are all very important questions, but Luke doesn’t ask them. Because Luke is a modern journalist, and they don’t interrogate the claims of the state, just report them. To Guardian reporters a question mark is just that funny squiggle next to the shift key.

From Gatwick they caught the train to London Victoria station and then the tube to east London, where they checked in to the City Stay hotel in Bow. It was a low-profile choice of accommodation. The red-brick Victorian building is next to a branch of Barclays bank, a busy train line and a wall daubed with graffiti. Across the road is a car pound and a Texaco garage.

This just more filler. Totally meaningless packaging material. The prose equivalent of All-Bran.

On hostile territory, Boshirov and Petrov operated in the manner of classic intelligence operatives.

In this instance “the manner of classic intelligence operatives” means, flying direct to London from Moscow, using Russian names and Russian passports (which you’ve used before), checking into a hotel with a CCTV camera on the front door, going straight to the hometown of an ex-double agent, leaving a Russian poison his front door even though he’s already gone out, dumping your unused poison in a charity bin on the high street, going back to your hotel, smearing poison around that too even though you already dumped it, and then flying directly back to Moscow without even waiting to see if the plan worked and the target is dead.

This, in Luke’s head, is ace intelligence work.

On the day of the hit, according to detectives, the pair made a similar journey, taking the 8.05am train from Waterloo to Salisbury and arriving at 11.48am.

Yes, they arrived at 11.48, making it absolutely pointless to put poison on the Skripal’s door, as they had already gone out.

The perfume bottle was probably concealed in a light grey backpack carried by Petrov.

It was “probably concealed” in that backpack because, as I said above, there’s no evidence either of those men ever knew the perfume bottle existed. You never see it in their possession.

Oh, and the backpack would have to contain TWO bottles of perfume – because the police aren’t sure the bottle Rowley found 3 months later was the same bottle, and Rowley reported it was unopened and wrapped in cellophane. Perhaps Luke should have read the details of the case instead of trolling IMDB looking for movie titles with “plane” in them or googling “insouciant” to see if he was using it right.

From Salisbury station the two men set off on foot. It was a short walk of about a mile to Skripal’s semi-detached home in Christie Miller Road.

… which doesn’t matter, because the Skripals weren’t there. They left at 9.15 and there is no evidence they ever returned.

At Skripal’s house the Russians smeared or sprayed novichok on to the front door handle, police say.

… which doesn’t matter, because the Skripals weren’t there. They left at 9.15 and there is no evidence they ever returned.

It doesn’t matter if Borishov and Petrov re-tiled the bathroom with novichok grouting or hid novichok in the battery compartment of Sergei’s TV remote or replaced all his lightbulbs with novichok bombs that explode when you use the clapper…. according to everything we’ve been told so far Sergei and Julia were literally never in that house again.

Luke seems to write a lot about this case, considering he is barely acquainted with the most basic facts of it.

The moment went unobserved

True. There is not a single piece of footage, photograph or eyewitness placing these men within a hundred feet of the Skripals, or their house. The “moment went unobserved” is an incredibly dishonest way of phrasing this, “the moment is entirely theoretical” is rather fairer. Or, if you want to be honest “it’s possible none of this happened”.

At some point on their walk back they must have tossed away the bottle, which at this point was too dangerous to try to smuggle back through customs.

It’s all falling into place perfectly isn’t it?

At some point the two men, who we never see holding or carrying the bottle, must have thrown it away because three months later someone else found it.

They took it through customs once but couldn’t a second time, because reasons.

Also one of them was smiling a sort of “I just poisoned somebody” smile:

At 1.05pm the men were recorded in Fisherton Street on their way back to the station. They appeared more relaxed, Petrov grinning even.

Those evil bastards.

By the time Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found collapsed on a park bench in the centre of Salisbury later that afternoon, the poisoners were gone.

No Luke: By the time Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found collapsed on a park bench in the centre of Salisbury later that afternoon, the ALLEGED poisoners were gone.

Alleged is an important word for example, there is a marked difference between being an ALLEGED plagiarist, and being a plagiarist.

The visitors were captured on CCTV one more time, at Heathrow airport. It was 7.28pm and both men were going through security, Petrov first, wheeling a small black case. In his right hand was a shiny red object, his Russian passport. Police believe the passport was genuine, his name not. In other words, that it was a sophisticated espionage operation carried out by a state or state entities.

You see? Nobody thought the passport was fake, which means it was a really good fake. So the Russian state must have been in on it. This is known as an unfalsifiable hypothesis. If the passport did look fake, that would be evidence that the men were spies… and therefore the Russian state was in on it.

Harding has created a narrative where there is literally no development that could ever challenge his conclusions.

Seemingly, the GRU plan – executed two weeks before Russia’s presidential election – had worked perfectly.

This is an example of the cum hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy – two things happen at the same time, therefore they happen for the same reason. It’s a maneuver we at OffG refer to as “the Harding”, where you state two separate assertions or facts one after the other in such a way as to imply a relationship, without ever making a solid statement. I’ll give you an example:

Luke Harding was born in 1968, mere weeks before the brutal assassination of Robert Kennedy.

Harding is suggesting some sort of connection between the election and the poisoning. He can’t STATE it, because then he has to explain his reasoning – and there isn’t any. Putin, and Russia as a whole, had nothing to gain from poisoning an ex-spy they had released nearly a decade earlier, especially on the eve of a Presidential election and mere weeks before the World Cup. There’s no argument to be made, so he doesn’t attempt to make one, he just makes a snide and baseless insinuation.

In his defense, Luke might genuinely believe it, cum hoc ergo propter hoc is a favorite amongst paranoid personalities, of which Luke is definitely a prime example.

Vladimir Putin, the man whom a public inquiry found in 2016 had “probably” signed off on the operation to kill Litvinenko. The UK security services say a “body of evidence” points to the GRU.

“Probably” is also a big word. For example, there’s a marked difference between “probably being a plagiarist” and “being a plagiarist”.

It seems clear that Moscow continues to view Britain as a playground for undercover operations and is relatively insouciant about the consequences, diplomatic and political. The Skripal attack may have misfired. But the message, mingling contempt and arrogance, is there for all to see: we can smite our enemies whenever and wherever we want, and there is nothing you can do about it.

This is the second time Luke has used the word “insouciant” in two days, which means that word of the day calendar was probably a sound investment, but he forgot to flip it over this morning.

Other than that, this final paragraph is nothing but paranoia.

The Russians were TRYING to make it obvious, to send a message. But were also lazy and arrogant. And yet also left no solid evidence because they are experts at espionage. They had no motive except being mean, and couldn’t even be bothered to make sure they did it right. They want us all to know they did it, but will never admit it.

The actual truth of the situation can be summed up in a few bullet points. Currently:

  • There is no evidence these men were using forged documents.
  • There is no evidence these men were travelling under aliases or assumed names.
  • There is no evidence these men ever had any contact with Sergei Skripal’s house.
  • There is no evidence these men ever had any contact with Sergei Skripal or his daughter.
  • There is no evidence these men were Russian intelligence assets or had any military training.
  • There is no evidence these men ever possessed or had any contact with the perfume bottle found by Charlie Rowley on June 27th.
  • They have visited the UK before, not on intelligence business (as far as we know).
  • Their movements don’t align with the timeline of Skripal’s illness.

The entire narrative is created around half a dozen screen caps of two (allegedly) Russian men, not behaving in any way illegally or even suspiciously. All the rest is fiction, created by a hack to service an agenda. This isn’t one of those “You couldn’t make it up” stories, it’s not that incredible. It’s just insulting and stupid.

You could make it up, and he did.

September 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

First they came for the home-schooled….

By Kit | OffGuardian | September 4, 2018

There is a war being waged. Not the one in Syria or Yemen. Not the Nazis shelling the Donbass or the warlords selling slaves in Libya. Not America’s drones executing an entire garden party in Pakistan because somebody on that street might have googled “bomb components” and “American Airlines” on the same day 10 years ago. Not even between the ridiculous buffoon Trump, and the equally absurd “resistance”.

A different kind of war.

Perhaps “struggle” would be a better word.

The struggle is eternal in every direction – it has always been, it will always be. It goes to each horizon and both poles and everywhere in between. In every mind and body. A global conflict with a million fronts in a thousand theatres.

People versus power: A struggle between the population and the power to control it, personified through institutions and governments.

People don’t want to be controlled, they naturally resist it.

Institutions know only control, they crave it.

Power is addictive like that, and institutions are true addicts. Give them a little power and they’ll want a little more. Give them a lot, and they want it all. Power tends to corrupt, as the saying goes, but the inverse is also true: the corrupt tend towards power. They are more likely to want it, more likely to be willing to do anything to get it, and more likely to abuse it once they have it.

That’s the point of democracy of course, to keep the soil tilled. To turn over the manure and hope something green can grow. To fight against corruption by giving it no time to ferment. To stop the rot setting in. It doesn’t really work, but it works better than anything else.

Somehow The Guardian has found its way to the vanguard of this war. It’s picked its side in the great conflict, and it wasn’t ours. Every day, in every way, The Guardian shows its support for them over us. Every campaign, every agenda, is about empowering the state and destroying the individual. They want to hand the government the power to control what we eat, what we say, who we say it to, where we go, how we get there. Even what we think.

It is a struggle for control of life on Earth, not on the grand scale, but the specific. Every small decision, every tiny moment, every thought and word and action will need government approval. Global hegemony won’t come via Imperial wars of conquest, but a conglomeration of tiny restrictions of individual freedom. If they don’t want to ban things, they want to regulate them. If they can’t regulate them, they want to tax them. Which is to say, ban it… for poor people.

Ban sugar, because it’s bad for you. Ban meat, because of global warming. Ban sport because it’s violent. Ban air travel because of carbon emissions. Ban alcohol because it exploits addicts. Ban free speech because it’s offensive. Ban alternate medicine because it might not work.

Ban freedom because it’s dangerous.

Don’t like that, don’t watch this, don’t read those.

Don’t do X, don’t say Y, don’t think Z.

In every issue, on every issue, The Guardian is the spokesperson of the authoritarian heart of the state – pleading for more power in the name of the safety of the masses or the grand virtue of the collective.

Today’s topic: this editorial under the headline:

The Guardian view on home-schooling in England: a register is needed

The editorial is anonymous – why The Guardian does this, I do not know. It could be that they are trying to put across a collective identity, it could be that some thoughts are so shameful and absurd that even Guardian journalists won’t cop to them, or it could be they receive written memos from GCHQ or government press offices and simply copy and paste them into their website. It could be some odd combination of all three.

Whatever the explanation, there’s no name on it… so we don’t know who wrote it. We just know they have an agenda and aren’t ashamed to stretch logic to breaking point in order to service it. The agenda is simple – regulate homeschooling into oblivion, ban it if we have to, regulate it if we can. Homeschooling is a problem in desperate need of a solution:

Children educated by their parents must not be hidden from the authorities.

… shrieks the sub-head. Without ever providing any evidence that a) Home-schooled children ARE hidden from authorities or b) That, if true, this is a bad thing.

It’s all notionally about Jordan Burling, a young man who allegedly lived a terribly sad life of abuse and neglect, and then died at the age of 18. He was also home-schooled.

Let’s be clear about this: Child abuse and neglect happen, they are an unfortunate fact of life for a tiny minority of children. There is no reason to imply a connection with home-schooling and force a causation where only correlation exists.

All of Jack the Ripper’s victims wore shoes. Ergo we need to regulate shoes in order to protect people from serial killers.

The author (whoever they were) is, however, intent on ignoring a basic fact of life – that a factor can be present without being causative – in order to pursue their chosen agenda:

… there is no reason for the government to wait before acting on behalf of other home-schooled children, of whom there are thought to be around 50,000 in the UK – a number that has increased sharply in recent years.

There is nothing to suggest home-schooled children are at risk. In fact, there is no evidence that being home-schooled leads to an increased risk of abuse or neglect. How do I know this? Because the article says so, in the next sentence:

There is no evidence that being home-schooled leads to an increased risk of abuse or neglect.

Literally, the very next sentence. Look…

So, as it turns out, not only IS there a reason to “wait before acting on behalf of other home-schooled children”, the article actually provides it to us. A more spectacular own goal you will not see this side of England’s next World Cup campaign.

The author, to their “credit” (for want of a better word), doesn’t seem to be totally unself-aware, feeling the need to claw back some of their “credibility” (for want of a better word), by adding some more facts to their “article” (for want of a better word):

The government believes most home educators do a good job. But reviews following the death from scurvy of eight-year-old Dylan Seabridge in Wales in 2011, and of Khyra Ishaq, who was starved to death aged seven in Birmingham in 2008, highlighted home-schooling as a factor. Concerns around safeguarding, and what happens when children disappear from the view of professionals who might otherwise support them, are one reason why the government is seeking to tighten and clarify the rules surrounding home education.

That’s it. The weight of the case against home-schooling is three deaths over 10 years. The prosecution rests.

Let’s now put a counter case:

IF home-schooling is the recipient of one The Guardians favorite “crackdowns”, what will the results be?

In the best scenario: nothing. Because…

There is no evidence that being home-schooled leads to an increased risk of abuse or neglect.

But let’s make a wild leap of speculation, and assume that the Tory government which sends men and women dying of cancer back to work, and refuses benefits to thousands of sick and disabled people, may not act either ethically or competently. Maybe, just maybe, they will simply create a bureaucratic nightmare of a system that sees more children taken away from their families, possibly thousands more, on spurious and absurd grounds. These children will then be thrown into the system of foster homes and adoption…a system which definitely DOES lead to an “increased risk of abuse or neglect”.

The Guardian view” is that the state should be more active in protecting children. But our state sells weapons to Saudi Arabia to drop on school buses, and wants to take away free school meals from underprivileged children. Our state doesn’t a give a toss about children – foreign or domestic – and demonstrates this to us every single day.

It doesn’t take much imagination to progress further down this road to hell – paved, as always, with “good intentions”: We already know the government spies on us, they pass laws making it legal, so it’s all fine. But handing the government the power to control home-schooling, coupled with monitoring internet and phone communication, could easily lead to a massive political bias in the way the new home school laws are enforced: Leftwingers, trades unionists, “conspiracy theorists”, all being refused the right to home-school their children based on their tweets, their voting history or their Amazon wishlist.

It’s really not that hard to imagine.

Ask yourself: Why is The Guardian – allegedly a liberal paper in favour of being nice, recycling, tweedy cardigans with leather elbow patches, slippers, refugees and the Antiques Roadshow – in favour of handing the uncaring, even malign state, more power and authority?

The only logical answer is they want to create a more authoritarian state. A cross between Stalinist Russia and Mr Roger’s Neighborhood, where everyone has been successfully Mrs Lovejoyed into obeying Big Brother because he really does know best. A jolly, comforting oligarchy with twinkly grandfather eyes and half-moon spectacles. A nice, friendly dystopia with burning incense and herbal tea and drifty floral print dresses. Where everyone gets a turn and everyone is special and everyone does what they’re told… or else.

A new kind of “progressive” statism. Where our caring authoritarian masters aren’t controlling or dictatorial because they want to be, but because they need to be, for our sake. A kindly overlord child-proofing the world for the betterment of their naive charges.

Homeschooling is increasing, on both sides of the Atlantic, this is unsurprising given the above facts, the decline in the quality of education, the drop in schools funding and a generally unacademic attitude of control, censorship and indoctrination that has taken hold of a lot of Western institutions in recent years.

That same attitude will push, harder and harder, to clamp down on homeschooling – if not to outright ban it, then set a “home school” syllabus. The syllabus will be either impossible to implement, meaning parents can’t homeschool, or so incredibly controlled that it eradicates the benefits of homeschooling in the first place.

The campaign has already started state-side, where certain law-makers leapt upon the convenient Perris case to try push anti-home school legislation through the state, with the assistance of the media of course. Fortunately, it was defeated.

As I said, it is a war with multiple fronts. A war to take ownership of the individual and control of the sovereignty of the self, and it is won by the people when we talk to each other and rely on ourselves. That’s why they want to get a hold on home-schoolers, and why they’ll continue to push at social media to ferret out dissent.

You can see the pattern with vaccination – how, in America, political debate on vaccination was dismissed as a products “Russian bots” trying to “sow division”. Once the law to ban homeschools is put forward, anybody criticising it on Facebook will be a Russian bot.

First they came for the homeschooled, and I did not speak out… because they banned my Twitter.

September 4, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Matthew d’Ancona and his fake news

Steel City Scriblings | July 30, 2018

Matthew d’Ancona, in yesterday’s Guardian, is concerned about the threat to democracy from fake news. He wants to see ‘social media giants’ …

… legally redefined in a new, third category that radically enhances their accountability for the content they host, without imperilling free political discourse. Striking the right balance in this jurisprudential task will not be easy. But who expected it to be?

He also wants …

… a new system of “credible annotation of standards, so that people can see, at a glance, the level of verification of a site” – essentially, kitemarking of the sort that is standard in almost every other sector of consumption.

I am less sure that the government should “initiate a working group of experts” to oversee this process. If there is one thing worse than what the committee describes as the “wild west” of today’s digital prairies, it is anything that even resembles a Ministry of Truth, or an Oftruth regulator. Better that independent charitable bodies perform this grading task – gaining the public’s trust incrementally, as the admirable Full Fact and other fact-checking organisations have done in recent years.

Matthew d’Ancona being on the liberal wing of British Conservatism, that last paragraph is to be expected. He sees the dangers, earnest democrat that he is, of state censorship but believes, credulous liberal that he is, these can be averted by a few judicious mechanisms of the classic ‘checks and balances’ sort. I’m not going to argue with him on that. With bigger fish to fry, I’ll confine myself to pointing out that his ‘admirable’ Full Fact is led by Mayborn Group CEO and Tory Party donor Michael Samuel, while so many of those ‘other fact-checking organisations’ have on closer inspection proved to be at best self righteous – and self appointed – custodians of truth; at worst risibly tainted.1

d’Ancona’s complacency is neither the inevitable nor exclusive product of a costly education and privileged lifestyle, but is nurtured and at every turn reinforced by both. How do you think the man would respond to the question put to one similarly placed, the BBC’s Andrew Marr, in a 1996 interview with Noam Chomsky?

The media are selling privileged audiences. These are big businesses, big corporations selling privileged audiences to other corporations. Now what picture of the world would a rational person expect to come out of such a structure?

Marr had no answer and I don’t suppose d’Ancona has either. Neither man is a liar; both are the successful products of an ideological matrix upheld, confirmed and reaffirmed in those myriads of conversations and everyday acts which define – if we don’t ask about the nature of power – ‘common sense’ and what is ‘moderate’. It’s through such conversations and acts that normality is most thoroughly demarked, lines most durably drawn between ‘moderate’ and ‘extreme’. But those conversations and acts do not take place in a vacuum. They arise within particular social relations of class division, their heavy ideological lifting done in the education, entertainment2 and news industries.

Specifically here, many read a superficially broad spectrum of media views on small to middling matters – Mail at one end, Guardian at the other – as proof of an ‘open’ society whose forms of democracy they take at face value. Others call that spectrum a slit-window view on the world, a painfully limited vista constrained not by Truth – though that can’t be entirely bypassed: it has in normal times to be accommodated – nor yet by blunt censorship. Liberal media do indulge in crude onslaughts of the kind directed at Corbyn, Assad and Putin. They do not, however, make a habit of telling outright lies. To do so entails risks only undertaken when the alternatives pose an unusually stubborn impediment to ruling class3 interests. In the main, liberal media lie by omission. (When did you last read a Guardian or Independent piece on how those who took the decision to invade Iraq and demolish Libya have profited from their reconstruction? When did such media last run a piece on the extent of Syria’s privatisation? Come to that, when will we get a fearless Guardian investigation of the implications, as ad revenues fall, of growing donor dependence on American liberals well to the right of Britain’s?) And they spin with scant regard for consequence, as with the demonisation of Assad and Putin by daily repetition of unproven allegations to the point where inflammatory claim4 can no longer be distinguished – ‘no smoke without fire’  – from proven fact.

Chomsky, with his gift for framing subtle truths and complex observations in simple but never simplistic terms, raises the issue of that ideological matrix more than once in his BBC interview with Andrew Marr. When Marr asks with incredulity if Chomsky supposes he and his colleagues profess beliefs not sincerely held but calculated to advance their careers, Chomsky responds:

No, I am sure you believe everything you say. What I am saying is that if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sat in that chair interviewing me.

Neatly put. Similarly, the owlish Mr d’Ancona wouldn’t be sat where he is but for his touching faith that the core aim of his various media employers is to pursue truth, as opposed to selling privileged audiences to other big corporations. To be a useful idiot you have to be, well, useful.

* * *

  1. See for instance this Spiked piece, which asks “Who exactly will judge which news is ‘real’ and what’s ‘fake’, and decide whether the world’s citizens are ‘properly informed’? While ensuring ‘those in positions of power are held accountable’ is a laudable aim, the question remains: accountable to whom? The people in a democratic system? Or our self-appointed ‘fact-checkers’ in a software package. And perhaps most pointedly – who will the fact-checkers be accountable to?”
  2. While education and news media are routinely and rightly decried by capitalism’s critics, I’m coming firmly to the view that the cumulative effect of decades of soft propaganda from TV and cinema is every bit as vital to its ideological underpinnings. That near infinite accumulation of subtexts, seldom intended as propaganda – rather, as Giving The Public What it Wants – is all the more effective for that ‘innocence of intent’ in its nurturing of deeply orientalist assumptions of Western and especially American beneficence. And of Arab and Slavic villainy for villainy’s sake.
  3. My concise definition of a ruling class is its monopoly ownership of some essential of wealth creation. Under capitalism this is the big money and production infrastructure without which wealth cannot be produced. Of course there is far more to say, but all else derives from this one central reality.
  4. Of all the charges to be laid at the doors of BBC, Guardian and Independent, none is graver than that their coverage of Russia, Syria and Ukraine – and mix, on Yemen, of near silence with unsubstantiated claims of Iranian backed Houthis – has the effect, regardless of intent, of promoting the high tech and highly lucrative delivery of death to the near defenceless peoples of the global south.

July 31, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

“Democratic Institutions?” – 10 Lessons from history that will destroy your trust in the CIA

Did everyone urging us to trust the CIA forget this happened? Or do they just want us to?
By Kit | OffGuardian | July 20, 2018

In the hysterical wake of the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki, President Donald Trump was roundly criticised in the media for taking the side of a “hostile state” over his own intelligence agencies. The Guardian referred to Mueller as a “heroic marine” who Trump disbelieved in favour of a “Russian dictator”.

In the past, when Trump has criticised the FBI, CIA or NSA he has been accused of “undermining faith in our institutions”. He’s been blamed for a collapse of trust in the government. But was this trust ever earned?

At every corner, we are urged to simply believe what we are told. Whether it is about believing Porton Down and MI6 about “novichok”, or believing the White Helmets about Sarin, or believing the FBI about “collusion”, we are presented with no facts, just assertions from authority. Those who question those assertions are deemed “bots” at best or “traitors” at worst.

Well here, fellow traitors, are the Top Ten reasons to question anything and everything the CIA – or any intelligence agency – has ever told you.

10. OPERATION PAPERCLIP – we’ll start with an oldie but a goody. In 1945, as the allies were advancing on Berlin from both sides, American Army Intelligence (this was before the CIA were founded) were “capturing” (read: recruiting) over 1,600 Nazi scientists and engineers. Most famous of them was Werhner von Braun… sorry, SS Sturmbannführer von Braun.

Whilst Allied soldiers died in the name of defeating fascism, the CIA’s predecessors were actively recruiting Nazis to come and build bombs for them.

9. OPERATION NORTHWOODS – The original, and important, precedent for accusations that the CIA et al. might engage in false-flag attacks. Operation Northwoods was a joint CIA/Pentagon proposal designed around the idea of escalating a war with Cuba by stoking public anger:

The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or other U.S. government operatives to commit acts of terrorism against American civilians and military targets, blaming it on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba.

The idea was vetoed by President Kennedy. Fifty years later, the CIA and Pentagon still very much exist, but there’s no longer a Kennedy there to veto their more psychopathic ideas. Funny how that worked out.

8. ALLENDE COUP – In 1970 Salvador Allende was elected to the Chilean Presidency. A Physician and dedicated socialist, Allende was the first socialist president elected in South America. The Nixon-lead government of the United States immediately implemented “economic warfare” (as they do, to this day, against Cuba, Venezuela and others). The economic warfare did not work, and in 1973 Allende’s socialist party increased their parliamentary majority.

In response, the US “assisted” (read: instructed) the Chilean military in carrying out a coup. Allende allegedly shot himself, and Augusto Pinochet was placed in power as the first dictator in Chile’s history. Pinochet was a fascist who executed Chilean “subversives” by the thousand… and was the darling of Western leaders.

7. MOSADDEGH COUP – I could just copy-and-paste the above paragraph and the change the names for this entry. In 1953, the Prime Minister of Iran – Mohammad Mosaddegh, a democratic socialist – wanted to audit the income of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company with an eye to limiting foreign control of Iran’s oil. Within a few months, a joint US/UK operation – Operation Ajax – had removed Mosaddegh’s elected government and turned over full control of the state to the Shah. He was a brutal absolute monarch, but the question of Western control of Iran’s enormous oil reserves wasn’t raised again under his leadership.

6. OPERATION MOCKINGBIRD – A CIA operation that you could deduce existed, even if were not proven…. and it is proven. Mockingbird was the CIA project to coerce, train, control or plant CIA-friendly journalists in major news networks all across the country and in every medium. It’s existence is no longer disputed, thanks to FOIA releases of internal memos.

Mockingbird was allegedly shut down in 1976 – just after its existence was leaked – then CIA director George HW Bush claiming:

… effective immediately, CIA will not enter into any paid or contractual relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.”

If you’re willing to stake anything on the word of a Bush, well, good luck with that. It’s a decision that flies in the face of historical evidence.

Remember this one when you hear about the need to trust the CIA from some pundit on CNN or MSNBC.

5. MASS SURVEILLANCE – It’s not really talked about much these days – what with the vast majority of the media and huge sections of the supposedly “anti-establishment” progressive left marching in-step with the Deep State – but the NSA spied on the whole world. The whole world. We know this to be true because an employee of the Deep State – Edward Snowden – leaked the information.

When challenged on this issue, representatives of the NSA and CIA lied. They lied to the public, and they lied to congress. When they were proven to have lied, they carefully qualified their lies.

A qualified lie is still a lie.

There is no indication they have stopped this illegal surveillance, but they may have passed laws to make it legal.

4. NAYIRAH – A classic of “atrocity propaganda”, Nayirah should be required reading material for anybody looking top hop on a pro-war bandwagon. Nayirah – who originally gave only her first name – was a fifteen year old girl who testified in front of the United States Congress. She claimed to be a volunteer from at a Kuwaiti hospital, and to be an eye-witness to Iraqi soldiers throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and leaving them to die:

I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital with twelve other women who wanted to help as well. I was the youngest volunteer. The other women were from twenty to thirty years old. While I was there I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the children to die on the cold floor. It was horrifying.

It was later revealed, not only that her full name was Nayirah al-Sabah and she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador, but that she had never volunteered at a hospital and had seen no babies, soldiers or incubators. The whole thing was a fiction. A fiction paid for by the “Citizens of Free Kuwait”, an NGO (and obvious CIA front) set up to lobby the US to intervene in the Iraq-Kuwait war.

By the time this fiction was revealed it was too late, and the US had launched Operation Desert Storm…. which was, of course, the entire point of the exercise.

Remember this, when you hear about Assad gassing children or bombing kittens.

3. COINTELPRO – The FBI’s long running (and sometimes illegal) COunter INTELligence PROgram, COINTELPRO was a series of domestic projects carried out by the FBI (with cooperation from other agencies), over decades, with the aim of “surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations”.

These political organizations included anti-Vietnam protestors, civil rights groups (including both MLK and Malcolm X), socialists, Communist Party USA, environmental groups and feminist organizations.

The brief for these “disruptions” came straight from J. Edgar Hoover who wanted the FBI to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise Neutralize” people he perceived to be enemies of the state. The capital N in “neutralise” is no accident, as the FBI was implicated in the deaths of several Black Panther leaders, including Fred Hampton.

COINTELPRO didn’t just involve undermining left-wing groups, but also creating right-wing groups:

The FBI also financed, armed, and controlled an extreme right-wing group of former Minutemen, transforming it into a group called the Secret Army Organization that targeted groups, activists, and leaders involved in the Anti-War Movement, using both intimidation and violent acts.

Whether this was done to actually push a right-wing agenda, create a fake threat to step up police powers, or just sow division and chaos, is unclear. But it definitely happened.

Much like MKUltra (below), COINTELPRO was “officially shut down”, not long after the public found out it existed. However, the accidental outing of undercover policeman at a rally in Oakland, and recent relaxation of the laws limiting the FBI’s powers, means that COINTELPRO – or a modern successor – is very likely still a thing.

The aim of COINTELPRO was to “Neutralize” anti-establishment political figures – the vast majority of targets were left wingers – through “smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media”. Remember that when you see Rand Paul called a “traitor” on twitter, or read about “Russian collusion”, or see Jeremy Corbyn branded an anti-Semite.

Remember that it is proven that the Deep State – our trusted intelligence agencies – pay people to plant false stories and discredit political opponents.

2. PROJECT MKULTRA – It might sound like something from a 70s sci-fi TV series, but it is unfortunately real. MKUltra was a series of (illegal) experiments carried out by the CIA from 1953 until it was *cough* “officially halted” in 1973 (just after its existence was leaked). The experiments were wide-ranging, achieved varied levels of success, but pretty uniformly brutal and unethical. They included, but were not limited too:

– Giving LSD to unsuspecting soldiers to see what happened.
– Mass hypnosis and mass suggestion
– Torture studies
– Studies on the effect of verbal and/or sexual abuse

We’ll never know the full range of studies, or how they were carried out, because in 1973 Richard Helms, then director of the CIA, ordered all MKUltra files destroyed. Only a fraction of them survive, thanks to FOIA requests, but it’s reasonable to assume they destroyed the worst parts and kept the more quote-unquote innocent files.

The CIA were not unique in this regard either, MKUltra was their baby – but there were parallel projects in other quarters of the deep state. Army Intelligence had Edgewood Arsenal, whilst the Department of Defense had Project 112. All these projects were “officially halted” in the early 70s… just around the time the public found out they existed.

The CIA (et al.) have strongly denied that these experiments and projects have ever been continued in any way, shape or form…but if you’d asked them in 1969, they would have denied they had ever taken place at all.

1. THE IRAQ WAR – This might not be the most callous, the most dangerous, the most recent, the most secret or the most insidious of the items on this list, nevertheless it is – must be – number one… because it is the most brazen.

The war was started in the name of “weapons of mass destruction” that everyone – everyone – knew never existed. They all knew the truth, but they lied.

The President lied, the vice-president lied, the secretary of defence lied, the secretary of state lied. The Prime Minister lied, the defence minister lied, the foreign minister lied. They lied to the press, the people and the UN.

The CIA, the NSA, the FBI – then headed by the “heroic marine” Robert Mueller – they lied too. The press repeated these lies, without question (see: Operation Mockingbird). They weren’t “misinformed”, they weren’t “mistaken”. They lied, they lied repeatedly – and provably – and they did it in order to start a war, make money, take control, spread influence.

One million Iraqis died.

Our ruling class is peopled with psychopaths and war criminals, who have so little regard for the people they lie to they recycle the same childishly simple falsehoods to further their evil agenda again and again and again. They tried the same in Libya… it worked again. They tried again in Syria… luckily, it didn’t work there.

Our “democratic institutions” lie to start wars. There’s no reason to think they aren’t doing – or wouldn’t do – the same thing about Iran, North Korea… or Russia.

That’s our list, and there’s really only one lesson you can take away from it:

These people, agencies and institutions deserve no trust, have earned no trust and have abused every micron of trust ever placed in them. To suggest we have a duty to believe them – or that they have ever done anything to serve the public good – is to live in a dream world.

This list is not a full catalogue of Deep State crimes, it would be 1,000s of entries long if it were, but these ten are important. They’re important because they are admitted, proven and beyond debate. They are important because they show the many facets of dishonesty, hypocrisy and abuses of power that Intelligence agencies engage in, and they are important because they form the best riposte to the disingenuous clamour for “trust” in our “democratic institutions”.

Never trust the CIA, they have proved they don’t deserve it.

July 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Wheel Out the Skripal Story Again

By Craig Murray | July 4, 2018

Just as the World Cup had forced the British media to grudgingly acknowledge the obvious truth that Russia is an extremely interesting country inhabited, like everywhere else, by mostly pleasant and attractive people, we have a screaming reprise of the “Salisbury incident” dominating the British media. Two people have been taken ill in Amesbury from an unknown substance, which might yet be a contaminated recreational drug, but could conceivably be from contact with the substance allegedly used on the Skripals, presumably some of which was somewhere indoors all this time as we were told it could be washed away and neutralised by water.

Amesbury is not Salisbury – it is 10 miles away. Interestingly enough Porton Down is between Amesbury and Salisbury. Just three miles away from Muggleton Road, Amesbury. The news reports are not mentioning that much.

“I am all out of ideas Inspector. What can possibly be the source of these mysterious poisonings?”

Neither Porton Down nor the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has any idea where the substance to which the Skripals were allegedly exposed was made. Boris Johnson’s great “coup” of obtaining a majority vote at the OPCW to expand its powers to place blame for chemical attacks, has proven rather otiose as the OPCW has no evidence on which to base any blame for Salisbury. In fact, four months on, May and Johnson’s shrill blaming of Russia remains entirely, 100% evidence free.

I do however wish to congratulate the neo-con warmongers of the Guardian newspaper for verbal dexterity. They have come up with a new formulation to replace the hackneyed “Of a type developed by Russia”, to point the finger for a substance that could have been made by dozens of state or non state parties. The Guardian today came up with “Russian-created novichok”. This cleverly employs a word that can encompass “developed” while also appearing to say “made”. It also again makes out that novichok is a specific substance rather than a very broad class of substances. The Guardian’s Steven Morris, by this brilliant attempt deliberately to mislead his readers, runs away with this week’s award for lying neo-con media whore of the week. His achievement is particularly good as the rest of his report is largely a simple copy and paste from the Press Association.

I most certainly hope that the couple in Salisbury hospital recover from whatever is afflicting them. The media is, by making this the lead story on all broadcast news after last night’s football, inviting us to make the connection to the Skripals. In which case I assume the couple were perfectly well for five hours after contact, able to be very active and even to eat and drink heavily, before being mysteriously instantly disabled at the same time despite different ages, sexes, weights, and metabolisms and random uncontrolled dosages.

Replicating that would be quite a feat.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

George Monbiot: selling the 1% agenda in a Green box

George Monbiot NOT shilling for corporate interests
By Catte | OffGuardian | June 8, 2018

The neoliberals of today specialise in using concepts of concern and inclusiveness as a cover for their frankly fascist agenda. Censorship is being repackaged as “anti-hate”. The destruction of the core idea of “innocent until proven guilty” is being repackaged as protecting (mostly female) victims from their persecutors. Reasonable doubt is being repackaged as “denialism.” Minority opinion is being repackaged as treachery or subversion. Facts that contradict a current state-sponsored agenda are repackaged as “fake news.”

Conformity is being encouraged, presented as a cosy and reassuring “consensus blanket”, under which we can all snuggle together, safe from confusion, doubt or the horrendous experience of having our cherished beliefs called into question. Most journos operating in the mainstream have already opted to crawl in and curl up for the long snooze into intellectual and ethical oblivion, while others, the kapos, are actively herding the remaining doubters inside.

George Monbiot is one of the latter. The last few years have outed this one time supposed anti-establishment figure as nothing more than a fully establishment goon, posturing in the sad tatters of his “dissident Green” cosplay. His performance during the Syria crisis made this too obvious. His sub-intelligent smears on those independent journalists daring to question the narrative made his real allegiances, and limitations, more than clear. His preparedness to brazenly lie and his refusal to debate the people he smeared in an open forum cemented this view.

Monbiot is revealed as the guy the establishment uses to try and lure the Left-Greens out in support of the latest agenda roll-out by the likes of Soros, Gates and the Atlantic Council. He’s booked for the same gigs as Avaaz. His brief, as ever, is to sell fascism – but this time in a Green box.

Today George is busy selling us on veganism.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Veganism is fine. It’s a human choice and it has a place. This is not an attack on veganism, or vegans.

But we need to separate what a thing is from what it’s being used for. Everything, even the best things, can be exploited. And we can’t let loyalty to the thing itself stop us from seeing when its being used for less than good ends.

Veganism is being promoted right now by the usual suspects. There has been a rash of articles in the Guardian and elsewhere about the supposed health and environmental benefits of giving up meat and dairy. Even if we happen to be vegan, we’d be insane not to wonder why. Especially when Monbiot is getting involved.

George is a poster child for the New Wave Vegan. Strange, perhaps, given he’s only a “97% vegan” himself. But let’s just ignore the 3% carnivore, since it’s only road kill. The more important point, anyway, is that George wants us all to think he’s a vegan. Because a salesman has to be seen to use the product he’s promoting. His latest article breaks no new ground on this really. He’s said most of it before, as have others. But still, given the mounting evidence for the political mobilisation of veganism, it’s a good idea to look at what he says.

He starts by offering a binary choice – between the current wasteful and insane industrial farming system and a somewhat poorly defined alternative in which everyone eats a plant-based diet, which he implies without really saying, will put an end to this insanity. He tells us not only will this choice fix the problem of worldwide food shortage (because plant-husbandry produces far more calories per hectare than animal husbandry), but it will also remove the problem of all that unused animal waste currently pouring into rivers and creating massive pollution.

George’s ideal future will also be gratifying for the processed food industry. Because vegans need ready meals!

Unless you can cook well – and many people have neither the skills nor the space – a plant-based diet can be either boring or expensive. We need better and cheaper vegan ready meals and quick and easy meat substitutes

And fake meat grown in a lab!

The big shift will come with the mass production of cultured meat.

George recognises the latter will be a tough sell, but he’s up for giving it a try. An objection to this might be that “artificial meat is disgusting”, says George, but:

If you feel this way, I invite you to look at how your sausages, burgers and chicken nuggets are currently raised, slaughtered and processed. Having worked on an intensive pig farm, I’m more aware than most of what disgusting looks like.

Mmmm… Lab-grown pseudo-meat, pink-dyed and not quite as disgusting as something even worse! Lovely Roundup-saturated veggies [silage] processed into some approximation of the kind of protein humans can digest, and piped into microwavable sachets.

Who knew utopia would end up looking quite so much like – now? Who knew the new way would be just like the old way but with more “progressive” slogans?

George uses twisty self-contradictory arguments to claim one minute that eliminating livestock farming would “be a chance to break our complete dependence on artificial nitrogen”, while in his very next para admitting the exact opposite will in fact be the case.

the transition to plant protein is unlikely to eliminate the global system’s need for artificial fertiliser

Though he throws us a bone in the shape of

the pioneering work of vegan organic growers, using only plant-based composts and importing as little fertility as possible from elsewhere

This is blatant bait and switch. Green or green-sounding proclamations being swapped out for their very opposites with a deftness he hopes will fool us. We may, in some misty future time, not need to rely entirely on synthetic chemicals – but yes, OK, for now we will still be sucking up carcinogens with our lovely all veg diet.

Of course we could just use the animal manure to fertilise our veggies, which would entirely eliminate the need for chemical fertilisers… But let’s not think about that too much. Let’s instead soften that focus and just picture fields full of lovely cruelty-free plants waving in the even lovelier breeze…

In case you haven’t noticed, George’s entire article is hand-waving nonsense predicated on a lie, or a system of lies, and his trademark nifty footwork.

His claim that we need to produce more food is used as a blanket rationale for everything he advocates, but it’s a lie. We don’t need to produce more food. We currently produce more than enough food to feed the world. What we need and don’t have is equitable distribution. And that is because of the stranglehold of the minority interests George is carefully eliding.

His initial binary choice is a lie. We don’t need to choose between intensive animal farming and intensive cereal/veg farming. We have the option of non-intensive farming methods that treat the land, the animals and the crops with respect, and use age-old, sustainable methods to produce chemical-free and healthy food.

His dishonesty is nowhere more apparent than when he tries to elide this simple truth. Look at how he acknowledges the illogicality of unused animal waste

Today, the link between livestock and crops has mostly been broken: crops are grown with industrial chemicals while animal slurry stacks up, unused, in stinking lagoons, wipes out rivers and creates dead zones at sea.

but dodges away from the obvious solution – use the “slurry” to fertilise the land in place of synthetic chemicals – with a weak excuse:

When it is applied to the land, it threatens to accelerate antibiotic resistance.

Notice how he avoids mentioning the fact non-intensively reared animals don’t need to be pumped full of antibiotics in the first place. He even links to the source for sustainable husbandry I cite above, but does so only to dismiss it (without data) as “worse” than anything else on offer, by using, once again, the fake claim about the need to produce more food per hectare:

More damaging still is free-range meat: the environmental impacts of converting grass into flesh, the paper remarks, “are immense under any production method practised today”. This is because so much land is required to produce every grass-fed steak or chop

And adding that it’s also bad for the environment

Those who claim that “regenerative” or “holistic” ranching mimics nature deceive themselves. It relies on fencing, while in nature wild herbivores roam freely, often across vast distances. It excludes or eradicates predators, which are crucial to the healthy functioning of all living systems. It tends to eliminate tree seedlings, ensuring that the complex mosaics of woody vegetation found in many natural systems – essential to support a wide range of wildlife – are absent

You thought Monsanto, GM, monocultures and the ripping up of hedgerows was the problem? Nah. It’s fences. And herbivores eating the grass they’re designed to eat. And implicit in this nonsense of course is the greater nonsense that massive veggie monocultures drowned in pesticides and herbicides, are just teaming with wild life, tree seedlings and predators.

Just as he used frank lies to promote the Soros-backed White Helmets as unsung “heroes”, here, in the fake guise of promoting a healthy, organic, back-to-nature solution to the world’s problems, George is promoting the current power system of Big Ag and Big Food monopoly. Just as Avaaz sells us imperial regime change as grass roots activism, George is selling us industrial farming and denatured food as a return to Eden.

Don’t buy what he’s selling. Don’t surrender your sense of the real to this snake oil salesman. Go vegan if you want – that’s a fine personal choice. But not at the expense of the small producers who are already struggling to survive without the subsidies the big guys get. Don’t vote for some future “meat tax” that will drive them out of business, and penalise the poor, just as Big Ag wants. Don’t buy into this soft focus dreamland where our entire livestock herd disappears bloodlessly and completely from our landscape without being killed or culled, and is somehow better for it. Don’t be whispered into campaigning for a new and self-imposed serfdom, in which 7 billion compliant vegans munch their potage or their shrink-wrapped lab-grown Soylent Green, while the 1% quietly eat grass-fed steak and snigger with duping delight.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Holding Hope Hospital Accountable: How the Western Public Was Led to Aid Islamist Terrorists in Syria

By Steven Sahiounie | OffGuardian | June 6, 2018

On April 29 of this year, the Guardian published a ‘feel good’ story about a Syrian refugee chef in London, who is cooking to support Hope Hospital in Aleppo. The claims in the article bear scrutiny.  For example, there’s the claim that “… Hope Hospital […] has saved tens of thousands of lives in Aleppo.” Another claim is that “It is the only pediatric hospital in the Aleppo region, serving more than 250,000 people.”

From these details, the readers will come away with the impression that Hope Hospital is a worthwhile charity, which is located in Aleppo, Syria and which is the only children’s hospital in the area. However, those claims are not supported by facts.

Hope Hospital is not located in the city of Aleppo. The mainstream media covered the battles of East Aleppo for months in 2016, culminating in the December 2016 evacuation of all armed fighters and their families from East Aleppo, and the evacuation of most besieged civilians to West Aleppo, as a result of the Syrian Arab Army’s taking control of East Aleppo after it had been occupied by armed fighters for years.

Aleppo is the most populous city in Syria: during the Syrian conflict, one section was overrun by armed fighters, who occupied the area and subjugated the citizens under Radical Islam. These various armed groups were Jaysh Islam, Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, Jabhat Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham, Jibhat ansar al-din, Army of Mujahadeen, Sham Legion and Levant Front.

These armed militias were sponsored by USA, NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. All of these groups had the same goal: to defeat the Syrian government and establish an Islamic State in Syria. These groups were numerous and bore different names; however, they were all basically the same type of armed fighters which would be commonly termed terrorists. These groups did not only target Syrian government personnel, but often their target was the unarmed civilian population in Western Aleppo: their neighbors.

The Syrian government made a decision to fight the armed groups in order to liberate the civilians and to restore peace and order to the city. It was a very long and difficult military campaign, which cost the lives of hundreds of unarmed Syrian civilians and armed military personnel, as well as armed fighters. The battle culminated in December 2016, and since then peace and order of the city have been restored; however, it will take years to rebuild all the homes and buildings which were destroyed in the process of liberating the area.

The vast majority of those who had been held captive in East Aleppo by the armed groups poured out in streams of humanity during the last days of December 2016. Only a very small number of the total involved chose of their own free-will to leave Aleppo and take the offered option of going to areas under the occupation of armed groups, as opposed to remaining in the areas administered by the Syrian government. In the terms of a brokered deal, the armed fighters and their families, and others who adhered to their ideology, left in a convoy of 10 buses to their chosen destination of Idlib. Idlib is the largest area in Syria under armed opposition control. It sits on the Turkish border and receives aid and protection from Turkey as well as from a host of international charities.

Hope Hospital is located in the Syrian city of Jarabulus, which is now under the military occupation of Turkey. If you pull out a map of Aleppo and the region, you will see that Jarablous is 60 miles from Aleppo. Hope Hospital does not serve any patients in Aleppo. The article appeals for the charity of Guardian readers, who associate that location, i.e. Aleppo, with suffering civilians who deserve help, especially medical assistance.

In reality, when you dig through the news articles, and look at the map, you see that Jarabulus is the location of Hope Hospital, and Aleppo is a misleading name used to grab the attention and purse strings of the uninformed Western reader. Jarabulus belongs to the Aleppo province. In the 2004 census, the city had a population of 11,570. However, the Guardian article claims Hope Hospital will serve 170,000 patients. The location and numbers concerning Hope Hospital do not correspond. Why are the charities and news articles misleading the public that Hope Hospital is in Aleppo, when it is located in Jarabulus? Why are they inflating the numbers, and using misinformation and subterfuge in appealing to the public for charitable contributions?

Jarabulus is the destination of the terrorists and their families who were in the evacuation deal in many areas in Syria. For example, the Jaysh al-Islam group with their wives, families and supporters left Douma and went to Jarabulus. They could have chosen Idlib; however, the armed groups numbering in the hundreds of thousands who already live in Idlib hate Jaysh al- Islam and have been vocal about it, so the latter had to opt for Jarabulus or face death at the hands of their ‘brothers-in-arms’.

The western charity market in Europe and North America would not be so inclined to send their hard-earned donations to a hospital which caters to the armed fighters, their wives and children, and supporters. Some might not mind: thinking that to save the life of a wife or child of a terrorist is worth a donation. A life is a life, in humanitarian terms. However, there is another school of thought, which says that by helping armed fighters you are playing the global role of their ‘enabler’. You are sending these groups a clear message: that no matter how brutal and savage you may be, in the end we will come to your rescue, and save your wives and children; you can count on us. There is also the accusation of child abuse: aren’t armed fighters and their wives responsible for the health and safety of their children? Some people would call it child abuse to subject children to a life of violence and destruction, especially as such a life was not thrust upon the parents but reflects their own choice driven by a political ideology.

In reality, the city of Aleppo is now populated by about 1,602,264. Prior to the conflict, Aleppo had 112 hospitals, of which 14 were state hospitals providing health care free of charge. Some the hospitals were destroyed during the conflict. Aleppo still had more than 20 hospitals which were operating during the conflict, even though the Western media and charities were telling unwitting donors that the ‘last Doctor in Aleppo’ was gone, and the ‘last Hospital in Aleppo was destroyed’. Aleppo University Hospital was never closed during the conflict. The children living in Aleppo, the city and countryside, are being well served between a network of state hospitals and state clinics, which are smaller and scattered in rural areas, and still offer free health care, especially for all the existing children’s vaccinations and routine pediatric visits.

Hope Hospital was equipped and supplied in part by “The People’s Convoy”, set up in December 2016 to transport hospital equipment and supplies from Chelsea & Westminster Hospital to Turkey; a journey covering over 2,600 miles by land, through Europe. These supplies were not sent to Syria legally, or efficiently. This was an illegal international smuggling operation, crossing borders without any passport controls or any visas. The legal route would be to load the equipment on a ship in England and off-load it in the Port of Latakia legally, as a humanitarian shipment, and then truck the shipping container to Jarabulus.

Turkey is one of the main supporters of the armed fighters in Syria. They have acted as the hosting country for international terrorists, flying them in to Turkish airports and passing through Turkey unhindered. In fact, Turkish merchants have made money off the terrorists on their way to Syria. The Turkish government officially transported weapons and supplies for use by the terrorists in Syria. The Obama administration used the Port of Iskanderun, Turkey to offload weapons and supplies stolen from the Libyan government to be given to the terrorists in Syria.

The funding behind “The People’s Convoy” was the charity “CanDo”, which was founded by Dr. Rola Hallam, who now serves as its CEO.

Robert Stuart, formerly a newspaper reporter, has been forensically investigating the apparent fabrication of the BBC Panorama documentary “Saving Syria’s Children”. A recurring character throughout Saving Syria’s Children” is Dr. Rola Hallam, a British doctor representing the charity Hand in Hand for Syria. She immediately jumped out to Robert due to the manner of her introduction — taking time out during the apparent mass casualty scenario to conduct a calm and coherent to-camera interview.”

Stuart presents evidence this footage was staged. Experts have examined the footage and declared the portrayed burn victims are actors and not victims. Dr Hallam’s claims were edited and her words changed between different versions of the video.

The Guradian and BBC ‘feel good’ stories don’t feel so good after all. They feel like they were designed to ‘pimp’ for the support of Hope Hospital. The people of Syria have suffered 7 years of an international proxy-war against them. There will continue to be the need for charitable and humanitarian donations.  However, there are some charities which have remained connected exclusively to areas occupied by the defeated armed fighters, and in refugee camps which are not on Syrian soil. Those charities have taken sides in the war and will only help those who are committed to the Radical Islamic ideology of the various armed groups. The charities are free to choose to support their cause; however, uninformed Western donors may not share that ideology.

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , | Leave a comment

The Guardian/Sky News Team Up to Promote Fake News About Fake News

TruePublica | April 27, 2018

This story should make all our readers pretty angry. It’s about how the government picked on two Twitter accounts to help prove the story that automated Putin-bots are wrecking the Skripal/Novichok/Douma gas attack story, about how the Guardian newspaper is helping with this narrative and how Sky News then attack British citizens as Assad apologists and Russian sympathisers for questioning this narrative. They are all linked and it’s all rather pathetic to witness. It goes like this:

On the 19th of April, The Guardian (International Edition) published an article making the assertion that two Twitter accounts were Russian propaganda operations or as they like to put it ‘trolls and bots’ to unleash disinformation on to social media in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning.

The article is written by a rather unsuspecting and maybe, let’s be charitable here, naive Heather Stewart, who went along with the government operative who fed this nonsense to her in the first place. Either that or she and The Guardian is deliberately distributing stories that are fake.

Stewart says “according to fresh Whitehall analysis – Government sources said experts had uncovered an increase of up to 4,000% in the spread of propaganda from Russia-based accounts since the attack,– many of which were identifiable as automated bots. But civil servants identified a sharp increase in the flow of fake news after the Salisbury poisoning, which continued in the run-up to the airstrikes on Syria.

One bot, @Ian56789, was sending 100 posts a day during a 12-day period from 7 April, and reached 23 million users, before the account was suspended. It focused on claims that the chemical weapons attack on Douma had been falsified, using the hashtag #falseflag. Another, @Partisangirl, reached 61 million users with 2,300 posts over the same 12-day period.”

The article went on to promote how “Theresa May highlighted the cyber-threat from Russia in her Mansion House speech earlier this year, telling the Kremlin: “I have a very simple message for Russia. We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed.”

But there’s a problem with this.

The owners of both these Twitter accounts quickly stepped forward and on video too, remonstrating in no uncertain terms that they were, indeed are, in fact, real humans – and weren’t even Russian. They have defended themselves to prove they are definitely not software programs.

The Guardian should have taken this story down – its fake news, but they haven’t.

Ian of @Ian56789 even went on national TV, Sky News to be precise and he was quite definitely miffed about being called an automated Russian bot. How miffed – “Government lies are very transparent and very easy to see and anyone who applies a smattering of critical thinking can see that the government story completely collapses,” says Ian.

Ian’s bio reads: “Advocate of Common Sense & Bill of Rights. Stock Mkt trader. Politics Analyst. Disseminating info. Calling out disinfo in the media. Stay curious!”

Sky News didn’t do their homework when it came to interviewing Ian. Ian took centre stage, went into peak livid mode and lambasted the government citing a Sky News report that confirmed Assad was no nutter and wouldn’t have brought this upon himself just at the point of winning the war. 7 minutes and 37 seconds later, Ian had reeled out more facts and figures about the Syrian war than anyone at Sky News.

The Sky News presenter then went on the attack and got Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkell to snarl the accusation that @Ian56789 was being anti-British. What is interesting here is that SkyNews then confirmed it was the British government who had pinpointed Ian’s account as a fake ‘Putin-bot’.

Ian went ashen, was beside himself and was in no way going to let some spotty nosed so-called expert representing the lying spies from the establishment get one over on him. Bunkell consistently interrupted our Ian and then brought up a tweet from 2012 – that is one tweet from the 157,000 tweets our Ian has spurted out since 2011.

Ian, clearly suffering from a bit of high blood pressure by now has turned red and is still consistently being attacked and interrupted by both SkyNews presenters.

Ian is rediculously forced to confirm he is not Russian or connected to Russian spies and proudly states “I am an ordinary British citizen” Our Ian has been sharpening the knives and pulls out sabre number one – “my research is based on credible journalists – now, there aren’t any of them on Sky News.” @Ian56789 is locked and loaded, out comes sabre number two – “the only people, journalists that is, that knows whats going on and reporting honestly are Peter Hitchins and Tucker Carlson in the US.”

Sky News presenters now on the back-foot interrupt our Ian again and then try to put the seed of doubt in his story by asking if there was any possibility that Russian propagandists had seeped into his tweet fan base, that frankly, to everyone’s surprise, Ian included, has now suddenly risen to 37,500. Ian whips out his sabre once again, wipes the mainstream media blood still dripping off its deadly edges and goes for one final fatal blow – “What does it mean by being pro-British – does it mean being interested in the 60 million British people or the interests of the clique in the UK government, the cabinet – who are doing things for their own personal benefit and the benefit of their cronies. Theresa May’s husband runs a large hedge fund who has profited heavily from bombing Syria – I speak on behalf on 59.9 million people – I do  not speak for the UK government who do not work for the British people“.

@Ian56789 – THREE, Sky News presenters NIL.

Sky News ends the interview whilst our Ian continues to complain about Theresa May – before he’s turned off and they switch to the all-important news that a foreigner called – Arsène Wenger has retired from a game called football somewhere in the capital.

What is evident here is that the government have clearly, mistakenly, tried to create a cover story for their disastrous Skripal story as the pretext for bombing Syria. Yet again, they had not done their homework.

The Guardian article was published on the 19th, was called out as 100 percent wrong the following day and 8 days later is still being promoted. It’s fake news.

Then, national television attempts to discredit a member of the general public – who is not a trained professional, who is put up as bait to be discredited in the eyes of the general public, family and friends.

Well done Ian. Not afraid to stand up for himself and his beliefs as a British citizen, not afraid that his own government and the mainstream media would attack him live on air in front of millions – and not afraid to air his critical views.

There aren’t enough people like Ian.

These are the false claims of The Guardian Newspaper, the false claims of the government and false claims of Sky News – shame on them. The only one thing that one can say in Sky News’ defence is that they aired it at all. But then again, it was live, they weren’t expecting Ian, because they too, had not done their homework.

Watch fearless Ian56789 take a stand. It might not be pretty but it is real.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Douma: Part 2 – ‘It Just Doesn’t Ring True’

Media Lens | April 26, 2018

Jonathan Freedland’s ‘committed denialists and conspiracists’, and Paul Mason’s victims of Putin’s ‘global strategy’ clutching at ‘false flag theories’, presumably include Lord West, former First Sea Lord and Chief of Defence Intelligence. In an interview with the BBC, West commented:

President Assad is in the process of winning this civil war. And he was about to take over and occupy Douma, all that area. He’d had a long, long, hard slog, slowly capturing that whole area of the city. And then, just before he goes in and takes it all over, apparently he decides to have a chemical attack. It just doesn’t ring true.

It seems extraordinary, because clearly he would know that there’s likely to be a response from the allies – what benefit is there for his military? Most of the rebel fighters, this disparate group of Islamists, had withdrawn; there were a few women and children left around. What benefit was there militarily in doing what he did? I find that extraordinary. Whereas we know that, in the past, some of the Islamic groups have used chemicals [see here], and of course there would be huge benefit in them labelling an attack as coming from Assad, because they would guess, quite rightly, that there’d be a response from the US, as there was last time, and possibly from the UK and France…

We do know that the reports that came from there were from the White Helmets – who, let’s face it, are not neutrals [see here]; you know, they’re very much on the side of the disparate groups who are fighting Assad – and also the World Health Organisation doctors who are there. And again, those doctors are embedded in amongst the groups – doing fantastic work, I know – but they’re not neutral. And I am just a little bit concerned, because as we now move to the next phase of this war, if I were advising some of the Islamist groups – many of whom are worse than Daish – I would say: “Look, we’ve got to wait until there’s another attack by Assad’s forces – particularly if they have a helicopter overhead, or something like that, and they’re dropping barrel bombs – and we must set off some chlorine because we’ll get the next attack from the allies….” And it is the only way they’ve got, actually, of stopping the inevitable victory of Assad.

Another senior military figure, Major General Jonathan Shaw, former commander of British forces in Iraq (his responsibilities have included chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear policy), was shut down by a Sky News journalist 30 seconds after he started saying the wrong thing:

The debate that seems to be missing from this… was what possible motive might have triggered Syria to launch a chemical attack at this time in this place? You know, the Syrians are winning… Don’t take my word for it. Take the American military’s word. General Vergel [sic – Votel], the head of Centcom – he said to Congress the other day, “Assad has won this war, and we need to face that”.

Then you’ve got last week the statement by Trump – or tweet by Trump – that America has finished with ISIL and we were going to pull out soon, very soon.

And then suddenly you get this…

At which point Shaw’s sound was cut and the interview terminated. Peter Hitchens asked:

Can anyone tell me what was so urgent on Sky News, which made it necessary to cut this distinguished general off in mid-sentence?

Sky News gave their version of events here, claiming they had to take an ad break.

Also taking a more cautious view than Tisdall, Freedland, Rawnsley, Lucas, Mendoza, Monbiot, Mason and the Guardian editors (see Part 1), is James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, the US Secretary of Defence, who said:

I believe there was a chemical attack and we are looking for the actual evidence.

Only ‘looking’ for actual evidence?

As each day goes by — as you know, it is a non-persistent gas — so it becomes more and more difficult to confirm it.

The evidence clearly, then, had not yet been found and the claims had not yet been confirmed.

Peter Ford, former British ambassador to Syria, voiced scepticism:

The Americans have failed to produce any evidence beyond what they call newspaper reports and social media, whereas Western journalists who have been in Douma [see below] and produced testimony from witnesses – from medics with names so they can be checked – to the effect that the Syrian version is correct.

Before Trump’s latest attack, Scott Ritter, former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, made the point that mattered:

The bottom line, however, is that the United States is threatening to go to war in Syria over allegations of chemical weapons usage for which no factual evidence has been provided. This act is occurring even as the possibility remains that verifiable forensic investigations would, at a minimum, confirm the presence of chemical weapons…

Even a BBC journalist managed some short-lived scepticism. Riam Dalati tweeted:

Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption.

Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative.

‘#Douma #ChemicalAttack #EasternGhouta’

The tweet was quickly deleted.

Craig Murray wrote:

For the FCO, I lived and worked in several actual dictatorships. The open bias of their media presenters and the tone of their propaganda operations was – always – less hysterical than the current output of the BBC. The facade is not crumbling, it’s tumbling.

Robert Fisk – Hypoxia, Not Gas

Veteran Middle East journalist Robert Fisk visited Douma and reported his findings in the Independent. He spoke to a senior doctor who works in the clinic where victims of the alleged chemical attack had been brought for treatment. Dr Rahaibani told Fisk what had happened that night:

I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.’

Not gas poisoning? Why was this not immediately headline news in the ‘mainstream’ press and on BBC News? In fact, almost throughout the ‘MSM’, it was quietly buried. The glaring exception was an article in The Times with the pejorative headline:

Critics leap on reporter Robert Fisk’s failure to find signs of gas attack

The piece suggested that there were big question marks over Fisk’s record:

Fisk is no stranger to controversy.

A list of Fisk’s ‘controversies’ followed. There was no mention that, among many accolades, the Arabic-speaking Fisk has won Amnesty International press awards three times, the Foreign Reporter of the Year award seven times and the Journalist of the Year award twice.

In an article published by openDemocracy, Philip Hammond, professor of media and communications at London South Bank University, observed that:

In seeking to close down such dissident thought, Times journalists are acting, not as neutral defenders of truth, but as partisan advocates for a particular understanding of the war.

A Guardian article by diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour and world affairs editor Julian Borger commented of Douma:

A group of reporters, many favoured by Moscow, were taken to the site on Monday. They either reported that no weapon attack had occurred or that the victims had been misled by the White Helmets civilian defence force into mistaking a choking effect caused by dust clouds for a chemical attack.’

Not only was Fisk not mentioned by name, he was lumped in with reporters ‘favoured by Moscow’. Jonathan Cook’s observation said it all:

They managed the difficult task of denigrating his account while ignoring the fact that he was ever there.

In The Intercept, columnist Mehdi Hasan wrote an impassioned open letter addressed to ‘those of you on the anti-war far left who have a soft spot for the dictator in Damascus: Have you lost your minds? Or have you no shame?’ The piece began:

Dear Bashar al-Assad Apologists,

Sorry to interrupt: I know you’re very busy right now trying to convince yourselves, and the rest of us, that your hero couldn’t possibly have used chemical weapons to kill up to 70 people in rebel-held Douma on April 7. Maybe Robert Fisk’s mysterious doctor has it right — and maybe the hundreds of survivors and eyewitnesses to the attack are all “crisis actors.”

So, Fisk’s evidence with its ‘mysterious doctor’ was clearly worthless, something shameless ‘apologists’ were using to try and convince themselves of an absurdity. Hasan named no other names, but readers could guess from the many smear pieces in The Times, Huffington Post, on the BBC, and spread by the likes of Oliver Kamm, George Monbiot and Alan Mendoza.

Hasan portrayed Assad as a satanic figure while the US and its allies – countries that have sent 15,000 high-tech anti-tank missiles, as well as billions of dollars of other weapons and training to fighters in Syria – are mere ‘meddlers’. The jihadists are ‘rebels’ (a generally noble term), not fanatical invaders from Libya and Iraq. Hasan referenced biased sources including Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch, Martin Chulov of the Guardian, and the White Helmets.

The Intercept’s co-editor, Glenn Greenwald, defended the piece:

There is a meaningful debate to be had on Syria and, as I’ve said before, most media outlets (including us) have been quite one-sided about it. That said, Mehdi’s article, well-documented though it was, didn’t name anyone who guilty of loving Assad so I’m not sure who is offended

We replied:

Mehdi’s article, well-documented though it was, didn’t name anyone. That’s the problem. Hasan’s article arrives in the context of a cross-spectrum, name-and-shame smear campaign making similar points

We linked to three high-profile examples from the BBC, The Times and Huffington Post.

Political analyst Ian Sinclair declared Hasan’s article a ‘Necessary and important piece’.

It certainly wasn’t ‘necessary’ to damn Assad yet again – the world’s corporate media have been packed with news and comment pieces doing exactly that for years. As for the need to expose left ‘apologists’ – as we have seen, corporate media are currently mounting a fierce campaign targeting leftist university academics, apparently with the intention of getting them fired.

The question of importance is less clear-cut. The piece will, of course, have no effect whatsoever on Assad, whom Western ‘apologists’ on ‘the anti-war far left’ would be powerless to influence even if they came round to Hasan’s view. On the other hand, as a purported ‘leftist’, Hasan’s piece is important as ammunition for foreign policy warmongers, neocons and others. Thus, Jonathan Freedland tweeted:

Strong piece from @mehdirhasan

George Monbiot:

To all those who have been trying to persuade me that the Assad government is simply maintaining order, please read this excellent article by @mehdirhasan #Syria’

Oliver Kamm of The Times:

Is this atrocity denial really necessary?” Well said by Mehdi on the extraordinary, scandalous spectacle of people purporting to be anti-imperialists while denying the crimes of Assad.

Hasan, of course, knew his article would receive this kind of favourable attention, and he has form in reaching out to this audience. In 2010, whilst senior political editor at the New Statesman, he wrote a letter offering his services to Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre:

I have always admired the paper’s passion, rigour, boldness and, of course, news values. I believe the Mail has a vitally important role to play in the national debate, and I admire your relentless focus on the need for integrity and morality in public life, and your outspoken defence of faith, and Christian culture, in the face of attacks from militant atheists and secularists. I also believe… that I could be a fresh and passionate, not to mention polemical and contrarian, voice on the comment and feature pages of your award-winning newspaper.

For the record, I am not a Labour tribalist and am often ultra-critical of the left – especially on social and moral issues, where my fellow leftists and liberals have lost touch with their own traditions and with the great British public… I could therefore write pieces for the Mail critical of Labour and the left, from “inside” Labour and the left (as the senior political editor at the New Statesman).

Because, as we all know, being ‘ultra-critical’ of the left ‘from “inside” Labour and the left’ – for example, asking ‘the anti-war far left who have a soft spot for the dictator in Damascus: Have you lost your minds? Or have you no shame?’ – carries enormous weight.

In his piece for The Intercept, Hasan commented:

And, look, we can argue over whether or not to support… regime change in Damascus (I don’t).

And yet, in 2013, he wrote:

I want Assad gone and I believe him to be a brutal and corrupt dictator.

Hasan’s angry mockery of doubters on Douma is ironic indeed, given his own record on Libya. At a crucial time in March 2011, with NATO jets bombing Gaddafi’s troops, Hasan commented:

The innocent people of Benghazi deserve protection from Gaddafi’s murderous wrath.

The reality, as we saw in Part 1, is that the claim was ‘not supported by the available evidence’.

Fisk’s account, irrationally scorned by Hasan, was backed by on-the-ground testimony from reporter Pearson Sharp from One America News Network:

Not one of the people that I spoke to in that neighbourhood said that they had seen anything, or heard anything, about a chemical attack on that day… they didn’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary.

As far as we could tell, there was nothing on the flagship BBC News at Six and Ten about any of this testimony from doctors and residents claiming that there was no evidence of a chemical attack in Douma on April 7.

It is shocking that the BBC ignored evidence supplied from Syria by Fisk – one of Britain’s finest journalists – when it has cited hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times evidence supplied by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is run by a clothes shop owner in Coventry who supports regime change in Syria.

On BBC News at Ten on April 15, presenter Mishal Husain, Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen and political editor Laura Kuenssberg discussed the missile strikes on Syria and the political fallout here at home. There was no mention that the strikes had taken place just as OPCW inspectors had arrived in Damascus. Nor was there any discussion of expert opinion from international lawyers contradicting the government’s assertion that the attacks were legal. A group of international law experts warned:

We are practitioners and professors of international law. Under international law, military strikes by the United States of America and its allies against the Syrian Arab Republic, unless conducted in self-defense or with United Nations Security Council approval, are illegal and constitute acts of aggression.

Meanwhile, the BBC joined the McCarthyite witch-hunt against anyone challenging the official narrative. In a piece titled, ‘Syria war: The online activists pushing conspiracy theories’, an anonymous BBC journalist commented:

Despite the uncertainty about what happened in Douma, a cluster of influential social media activists is certain that it knows what occurred.

Of course, the irony is that an incomparably bigger and better funded ‘cluster of influential’ state-corporate media has been vociferously claiming certainty about what is happening in Syria; not least 100% conviction of Assad’s guilt for a string of chemical weapon attacks.

We have no idea who was responsible for the event in Douma – we don’t know even if there was a chemical weapons attack. Our point is not that credible, sceptical voices are right, but that they should be heard.

On April 12, novelist Malcolm Pryce sent us this poignant tweet:

I remember in the run-up to the Iraq War a friend I had known all my life suddenly said to me, “We must do something about this monster in Iraq.” I said, “When did you first think that?” He answered honestly, “A month ago”.’

This is the power of the corporate media to shape the public mind it is supposed to serve.

But to achieve this effect, it must present a black and white view of the world – ‘we’ are ‘good’, ‘they’ are ‘bad’; ‘we’ are ‘certain’, ‘they’ are morally bewildered ‘apologists’. When reality threatens to get in the way, when there is no choice, an increasingly extreme ‘mainstream’ will resort to deception in plain sight.

Read Part One here.

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Never Let Anyone Call You Crazy For Doubting Establishment War Narratives

By Caitlyn Johnstone | April 25, 2018

There has still been no retraction or correction of The Guardian‘s demonstrably false and completely indefensible claim that two normal antiwar Twitter accounts were controlled not by real people but by bot programs based in Russia.

This is the sort of environment that has been created by the ongoing Russia panic that is plaguing the western world: one wherein mainstream news outlets can openly lie about dissenting voices and antiwar activists, refuse to retract or apologize for those lies, and suffer no consequences.

And yet they still have the gall to paint anyone who expresses doubt about the narratives they advance about Russia and Syria as crazy, kooky conspiracy theorists. Google the words “conspiracy” and “Syria” right now and you’ll come up with countless editorials with headlines like “Syria war: The online activists pushing conspiracy theories,” “Disinformation and Conspiracy Trolling in the Wake of the Syrian Chemical Attack,” and “SYRIA GAS ATTACK CONSPIRACY THEORIES FUELED BY TUCKER CARLSON AND FAR-RIGHT FRINGE.”

They’re using the highly stigmatized label “conspiracy theories” to paint healthy, normal skepticism of a notoriously untrustworthy power establishment as mentally unsound paranoia.

The other day I wrote an article about the shocking number of blatant attack editorials the mass media machine has been churning out on anyone who questions the establishment Syria narrative, and that output has not slowed down since. Warmongering empire loyalists like senior Huffington Post editor Chris York have been hard at work making sure the output of McCarthyite smear pieces remains on rapid fire, accusing anyone advocating skepticism of the same establishment which lied us into Iraq and Libya of being a tinfoil hat-wearing nut job.

This fits an established pattern which we have discussed previously, wherein proponents of US-led military intervention accuse those who question their narratives of being mentally unsound. There is a word for the tactic of convincing someone that they are crazy in order to manipulate and control them, and that word is gaslighting. It is a textbook abuse tactic, and it isn’t okay.

It isn’t okay for these war whore pundits to bully and deceive us so that we will feel unsure of the basis for our skepticism and consent to the longstanding western agenda of regime change in Syria. It isn’t okay for them to try to make people unsure of their mental health in order to pave the way toward public consent for broader bombing campaigns and no-fly zones in a sovereign nation under assault by western-backed jihadists. Never let anyone bully you into thinking that you are the strange, weird outlier for suspecting that a western empire who has sponsored actual, literal terrorist factions in Syria might lie about Iraq’s next-door neighbor like they lied about Iraq.

Doubting the official narrative being advanced by mainstream media is the sanest thing in the world. The US-centralized power establishment has an extensive and well-documented history of using liespropaganda and false flags to manufacture public support for preexisting war agendas, so it is perfectly sane to express concern about the legitimacy of the stories we’re being told about Douma, the Skripal case, Russian hacking allegations etc. We’ve already got The Guardian lying unapologetically straight to our face right now about Russian bots while not one single mainstream editorial opposed the British, French and American bombing of Syria earlier this month, so it’s obviously very sane to think the mainstream media may be advancing the interests of this war like they do every other.

Intense, rigorous skepticism is the only sane response to these narratives we’re being pummeled with day in and day out, and they’re trying to make us believe that the exact opposite is true.

Ian Shilling, one of the two Twitter account owners falsely labeled a Russian bot by The Guardian, appeared on Sky News a few days ago to defend himself and debunk the claims made about him. It was a truly brilliant appearance, and despite the open hostility showed him by the two Murdoch muppets hosting the show he was able not just to defend himself but to use the space to attack the warmongering neoconservative agendas being advanced by the UK government. As a representative of the many many regular flesh-and-blood humans on Twitter who are routinely dismissed as “Russian bots” simply for questioning establishment narratives, Ian knocked it out of the park and then some. He not only proved his humanity, he proved his sanity.

With the benefit of hindsight and not having been the one in the crosshairs, however, there was one part I thought could be handled a little differently. At one point in the interview, Shilling was articulating exactly why it would make no sense for Assad to have used chemical weapons in Douma as he is accused of having done, and one of the Sky News hosts demanded to know “Well if not, who then?”

Shilling provided the entirely reasonable speculation that it would have been the terrorists occupying the area who had every incentive to stage such an attack, but in my opinion it isn’t necessary to even go that far. The burden of proof is on the party making the claim; it isn’t up to us to flesh out a positive narrative about what happened using the limited information and resources afforded to bloggers and tweeters, it’s up to the massive western power establishment to provide the kind of proof of their accusations that is required in a post-Iraq invasion world. This plainly has not happened.

You see this sneaky attempt to shift the burden of proof among empire loyalists all the time when debating such topics. A couple of months ago I wrote about how in a debate with Real News‘ Aaron Maté, John Feffer of Lobelog used the tactic of arguing that his belief in the still-unproven Russian hacking accusations arises from the absence of a better “counter-narrative” about what happened, the implication being that we should take the US intelligence community at their word unless presented with a more compelling case for what happened from somewhere else. We also saw it in the BBC’s recent interview of Lord West, whose skepticism of the establishment Douma narrative was met with protestations that he didn’t have any solid proof of anything else having happened than what we’ve been told by the western war machine.

Don’t let them shift the burden of proof like that. We can point out, in the case of Douma for example, that the area was crawling with known terrorists who had every incentive to stage such an attack and gain the benefit of the western empire’s air force bombing their sworn enemy over a crossed “red line”, but we should also point out that it isn’t our job to come up with a positive counter-narrative about what happened. The burden of proof is on the accuser, so it’s their job to present us with a very solid collection of evidence that the alleged chemical attack could only have been perpetrated by the Assad government. Until then, our position that these people lied to us about Libya and Iraq and have a longstanding agenda of regime change in Syria is sufficient to declare decisive victory in any debate.

Don’t let them shift the burden of proof, and don’t let them gaslight you. You have truth on your side, and their side has a whole, whole lot of work to do before they have enough substantial evidence to even debate you rationally. They use these deceitful tactics because they are losing the debate, and because war is very profitable and advantageous for a few very powerful individuals. That’s all that’s happening here.

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Douma: Part 1 – Deception In Plain Sight

Media Lens | April 25, 2018

UK corporate media are under a curious kind of military occupation. Almost all print and broadcast media now employ a number of reporters and commentators who are relentless and determined warmongers. Despite the long, unarguable history of US-UK lying on war, and the catastrophic results, these journalists instantly confirm the veracity of atrocity claims made against Official Enemies, while having little or nothing to say about the proven crimes of the US, UK, Israel and their allies. They shriek with a level of moral outrage from which their own government is forever spared. They laud even the most obviously biased, tinpot sources blaming the ‘Enemy’, while dismissing out of hand the best scientific researchers, investigative journalists and academic sceptics who disagree.

Anyone who challenges this strange bias is branded a ‘denier’, ‘pro-Saddam’, ‘pro-Gaddafi, ‘pro-Assad’. Above all, one robotically repeated word is generated again and again: ‘Apologist… Apologist… Apologist’.

Claims of a chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria on April 7, offered yet another textbook example of this reflexive warmongering. Remarkably, the alleged attack came just days after US president Donald Trump had declared of Syria:

I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.

The ‘mainstream’ responded as one, with instant certainty, exactly as they had in response to atrocity and other casus belli claims in Houla, Ghouta, Khan Sheikhoun and many other cases in Iraq (1990), Iraq (1998), Iraq (2002-2003), Libya and Kosovo.

Once again, the Guardian editors were sure: there was no question of a repetition of the fake justifications for war to secure non-existent Iraqi WMDs, or to prevent a fictional Libyan massacre in Benghazi. Instead, this was ‘a chemical gas attack, orchestrated by Bashar al-Assad, that left dead children foaming at the mouth’.

Simon Tisdall, the Guardian’s assistant editor, had clearly decided that enough was enough:

It’s time for Britain and its allies to take concerted, sustained military action to curb Bashar al-Assad’s ability to murder Syria’s citizens at will.

This sounded like more than another cruise missile strike. But presumably Tisdall meant something cautious and restrained to avoid the terrifying risk of nuclear confrontation with Russia:

It means destroying Assad’s combat planes, bombers, helicopters and ground facilities from the air. It means challenging Assad’s and Russia’s control of Syrian airspace. It means taking out Iranian military bases and batteries in Syria if they are used to prosecute the war.

But surely after Iraq – when UN weapons inspectors under Hans Blix were prevented from completing the work that would have shown that Saddam Hussein possessed no WMD – ‘we’ should wait for the intergovernmental Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inspectors to investigate. After all, as journalist Peter Oborne noted of Trump’s air raids:

When the bombing started the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was actually in Damascus and preparing to travel to the area where the alleged chemical attacks took place.

Oborne added:

Had we wanted independent verification on this occasion in Syria surely we ourselves would have demanded the OPCW send a mission to Douma. Yet we conspicuously omitted to ask for it.

Tisdall was having none of it:

Calls to wait for yet another UN investigation amount to irresponsible obfuscation. Only the Syrian regime and its Russian backers have the assets and the motivation to launch such merciless attacks on civilian targets. Or did all those writhing children imagine the gas?

The idea that only Assad and the Russians had ‘the motivation’ to launch a gas attack simply defied all common sense. And, as we will see, it was not certain that children had been filmed ‘writhing’ under gas attack. Tisdall’s pro-war position was supported by just 22% of British people.

Equally gung-ho, the oligarch-owned Evening Standard, edited by veteran newspaperman and politically impartial former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, headlined this plea on the front page:

HIT SYRIA WITHOUT A VOTE, MAY URGED

Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, formerly the paper’s comment editor, also poured scorn on the need for further evidence:

Besides, how much evidence do we need?… To all but the most committed denialists and conspiracists, Assad’s guilt is clear.

Freedland could argue that the case for blaming Assad was clear, if he liked, but he absolutely could not argue that disagreeing was a sign of denialist delusion.

Time and again, we encounter these jaw-dropping efforts to browbeat the reader with fake certainty and selective moral outrage. In his piece, Freedland linked to the widely broadcast social media video footage from a hospital in Douma, which showed that Assad was guilty of ‘inflicting a death so painful the footage is unbearable to watch’. But when we actually click Freedland’s link and watch the video, we do not see anyone dying, let alone in agony, and the video is not, in fact, unbearable to watch. Like Tisdall’s claim on motivation, Freedland was simply declaring that black is white.

But many people are so intimidated by this cocktail of certainty and indignation – by the fear that they will be shamed as ‘denialists’ and ‘apologists’ – that they doubt the evidence of their own eyes. In ‘mainstream’ journalism, expressions of moral outrage are offered as evidence of a fiery conviction burning within. In reality, the shrieks are mostly hot air.

In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley also deceived in plain sight by blaming the Syrian catastrophe on Western inaction:

Syria has paid a terrible price for the west’s disastrous policy of doing nothing.

However terrible media reporting on the 2003 Iraq war, commentators did at least recognise that the US and Britain were involved. We wrote to Rawnsley, asking how he could possibly not know about the CIA’s billion dollar per annum campaign to train and arm fighters, or about the 15,000 high-tech, US anti-tank missiles sent to Syrian ‘rebels’ via Saudi Arabia.

Rawnsley ignored us, as ever.

Just three days after the alleged attack, the Guardian’s George Monbiot was asked about Douma:

Don’t you smell a set up here though? Craig Murray doesn’t think Assad did it.

Monbiot replied:

Then he’s a fool.

Craig Murray responded rather more graciously:

I continue to attract attacks from the “respectable” corporate and state media. I shared a platform with Monbiot once, and liked him. They plainly find the spirit of intellectual inquiry to be a personal affront.

Monbiot tweeted back:

I’m sorry Craig but, while you have done excellent work on some issues, your efforts to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes, despite the weight of evidence, are foolish in the extreme.

The idea that Murray’s effort has been ‘to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes’ is again so completely false, so obviously not what Murray has been doing. But it fits perfectly with the corporate media theme of Cold War-style browbeating: anyone challenging the case for US-UK policy on Syria is an ‘apologist’ for ‘the enemy’.

If Britain was facing imminent invasion across the channel from some malignant superpower, or was on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the term ‘apologist’ might have some merit as an emotive term attacking free speech – understandable in the circumstances. But Syria is not at war with Britain; it offers no threat whatsoever. If challenging evidence of Assad’s responsibility is ‘apologism’, then why can we not describe people accepting that evidence as ‘Trump apologists’, or ‘May apologists’, or ‘Jaysh al-Islam apologists’? The term really means little more than, ‘I disagree with you’ – a much more reasonable formulation.

As Jonathan Cook has previously commented:

Monbiot has repeatedly denied that he wants a military attack on Syria. But if he then weakly accepts whatever narratives are crafted by those who do – and refuses to subject them to any meaningful scrutiny – he is decisively helping to promote such an attack.

Why Are These Academics Allowed?

The cynical, apologetic absurdity of questioning the official narrative has been a theme across the corporate media. In a Sky News discussion, Piers Robinson of Sheffield University urged caution in blaming the Syrian government in the absence of verifiable evidence. In a remarkable response, Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society, screeched at him:

Who do you think did it? Was it your mother who did it?

Again, exact truth reversal – given the lack of credible, verified evidence, it was absurd to declare Robinson’s scepticism absurd.
Mendoza later linked to an article attacking Robinson, and asked:

Why are UK universities allowing such “academics” – and I use the term advisedly because they are not adhering to any recognised standard when promoting material with no credible sourcing, and often with no citation at all – to work in their institutions?

In 2011, Mendoza wrote in The Times of Nato’s ‘intervention’ in Libya:

The action in Libya is a sign that the world has overcome the false lessons [sic] of Iraq or of “realism” in foreign policy.

The UN had ‘endorsed military action to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding’.

In fact, the unfolding ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ was fake news; Mendoza’s mother needed no alibi. A September 9, 2016 report on the war from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons commented:

Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence….

The Times launched a shameful, front-page attack on Robinson and other academics who are not willing to accept US-UK government claims on trust. The Times cited Professor Scott Lucas of Birmingham University:

Clearly we can all disagree about the war in Syria, but to deny an event like a chemical attack even occurred, by claiming they were “staged”, is to fall into an Orwellian world.

In similar vein, in a second Guardian comment piece on Douma, Jonathan Freedland lamented: ‘we are now in an era when the argument is no longer over our response to events, but the very existence of those events’. Echoing Soviet propaganda under Stalin, Freedland warned that this was indicative of an intellectual and moral sickness:

These are symptoms of a post-truth disease that’s come to be known as “tribal epistemology”, in which the truth or falsity of a statement depends on whether the person making it is deemed one of us or one of them.

And this was, once again, truth reversal – given recent history in Iraq and Libya, it was Lucas and Freedland who were falling into an Orwellian fantasy world. Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens made the obvious point:

Given the folly of the British government over Iraq and Libya, and its undoubted misleading of the public over Iraq, it is perfectly reasonable to suspect it of doing the same thing again. Some of us also do not forget the blatant lying over Suez, and indeed the Gulf of Tonkin.

Hitchens clearly shares our concern at media performance, particularly that of the Guardian, commenting:

Has Invasion of the Bodysnatchers been re-enacted at Guardian HQ? Whatever the dear old thing’s faults it was never a Pentagon patsy until recently. Rumours of relaunch as The Warmonger’s Gazette, free toy soldier with every issue.

Hitchens questioned Guardian certainty on Douma:

But if facts are sacred, how can the Guardian be so sure, given that it is relying on a report from one correspondent 70 miles away, and another one 900 miles away.. and some anonymous quotes from people whose stories it has no way of checking?

He added:

The behaviour of The Guardian is very strange & illustrates just what a deep, poorly-understood change in our politics took place during the Blair years. We now have the curious spectacle of the liberal warmonger, banging his or her jingo fist on the table, demanding airstrikes.

Indeed, in discussing the prospects for ‘intervention’ in the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff, former political editor of the Observer, described the 2013 vote that prevented Britain from bombing Syria in August 2013 as ‘that shameful night in 2013’. Shameful? After previous ‘interventions’ had completely wrecked Iraq and Libya on false pretexts, and after the US regime had been told the evidence was no ‘slam dunk’ by military advisers?

In the New Statesman, Paul Mason offered a typically nonsensical argument, linking to the anti-Assad website, Bellingcat:

Despite the availability of public sources showing it is likely that a regime Mi-8 helicopter dropped a gas container onto a specific building, there are well-meaning people prepared to share the opinion that this was a “false flag”, staged by jihadis, to pull the West into the war. The fact that so many people are prepared to clutch at false flag theories is, for Western democracies, a sign of how effective Vladimir Putin’s global strategy has been.

Thus, echoing Freedland’s reference to ‘denialists and conspiracists’, sceptics can only be idiot victims of Putin’s propaganda. US media analyst Adam Johnson of FAIR accurately described Mason’s piece as a ‘mess’, adding:

I love this thing where nominal leftists run the propaganda ball for bombing a country 99 yards then stop at the one yard and insist they don’t support scoring goals, that they in fact oppose war.

Surprisingly, the Bellingcat website, which publishes the findings of ‘citizen journalist’ investigations, appears to be taken seriously by some very high-profile progressives.

In the Independent, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas also mentioned the Syrian army ‘Mi-8’ helicopters. Why? Because she had read the same Bellingcat blog as Mason, to which she linked:

From the evidence we’ve seen so far it appears that the latest chemical attack was likely by Mi-8 helicopters, probably from the forces of Syria’s murderous President Assad.

On Democracy Now!, journalist Glenn Greenwald said of Douma:

I think that it’s—the evidence is quite overwhelming that the perpetrators of this chemical weapons attack, as well as previous ones, is the Assad government…

This was an astonishing comment. After receiving fierce challenges (not from us), Greenwald partially retracted, tweeting:

It’s live TV. Something [sic – sometimes] you say things less than ideally. I think the most likely perpetrator of this attack is Syrian Govt.

We wrote to Greenwald asking what had persuaded him of Assad’s ‘likely’ responsibility for Douma. (Twitter, April 10, direct message)

The first piece of evidence he sent us (April 12) was the Bellingcat blog mentioning Syrian government helicopters cited by Mason and Lucas. Greenwald also sent us a report from Reuters, as well as a piece from 2017, obviously prior to the alleged Douma event.

This was thin evidence indeed for the claim made. In our discussion with him, Greenwald then completely retracted his claim (Twitter, April 12, direct message) that there was evidence of Syrian government involvement in the alleged attack. Yes, it’s true that people ‘say things less than ideally’ on TV, but to move from ‘quite overwhelming’ to ‘likely’, to declaring mistaken the claim that there is evidence of Assad involvement, was bizarre.

Political analyst Ben Norton noted on Twitter:

Reminder that Bellingcat is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is funded by the US government and is a notorious vehicle for US soft power.

Norton added:

It acts like an unofficial NATO propagandist, obsessively focusing on Western enemies.

And:

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins is a fellow at the Atlantic Council, which is funded by NATO, US, Saudi, UAE, etc.

And:

According to Meedan, which helps fund Bellingcat — along with the US government-funded NED — Bellingcat also works with the group Syrian Archive, which is funded by the German government, to jointly produce pro-opposition “research”.

And:

The board of the directors for Meedan, which funds Bellingcat, includes Muna AbuSulayman—who led the Saudi oligarch’s Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation—and Wael Fakharany—who was the regional director of Google in Egypt & North Africa (US gov. contractor Google also funds Bellingcat)

And:

Bellingcat—which gets money from the US gov-funded NED and fixates obsessively on Western enemies—claims to be nonpartisan and impartial, committed to exposing all sides, but a website search shows it hasn’t published anything on Yemen since February 2017.

Although Bellingcat is widely referenced by corporate journalists, we are unaware of any ‘mainstream’ outlet that has seriously investigated the significance of these issues for the organisation’s credibility as a source of impartial information. As we will see in Part 2, corporate journalism is very much more interested in challenging the credibility of journalists and academics holding power to account.

April 25, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

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