Skripal – wave 2

The first ploy was to tell the public (and possibly Britain’s allies) a lie. Porton Down had indentified the substance used as coming from Russia.

That was exposed as a lie.

What has happened since is exactly what we would expect from Britain’s intelligence services. They have leaked a series of claims to the press.

The leaks (better understood as planted information) concern this persistent claim about a Russian training manual mentioning smearing nerve agents on doors and the claim about a message being sent from Syria to Moscow about “the package has been delivered” and “two agents have made their egress”. (With reference to the latter Craig Murray suggests this is probably just a sexed up translation of “left”).

That is – they are scraping through their records to find anything, no matter what, which can be used to prop up the government line. This – information management – is a primary function of the intelligence services. This is what they do.

No doubt there was some kind of an intercept (by all accounts of an unencrypted communication) from Syria. No doubt there is some document which can somehow be described as a “training manual” and there are some grounds which permit it to be said that it dates from post-Soviet times (which is what they are claiming). But all this is just the usual titbits  – without the details including the source of the alleged ‘training manual’ no one can independently come to any conclusion at all.

All this doesn’t stop the eager press from playing its part. For example, today’s Daily Telegraph has the headline: “Russia hacked Yulia Skripal’s emails for five years and tested Novichok on door handles, bombshell intelligence dossier reveals”. There is nothing “bombshell” about this. As we say above this is routine and the intelligence services are just doing their bit to prop up a government story. – As for the story about Russian intelligence carrying out surveillance into Julia Skripal’s emails – we would expect them to be doing exactly that. If a British spy defected to Moscow and his daughter continued to work in London MI6 would not be hacking her emails? Come on. What is going on here is little titbits of ‘information’ are being released as part of a studied news management campaign to prop up a failing story.

MI6 is doing what we would expect from them. Telling lies (or at least planting massaged information) to prop up whatever the government wants them to prop up.

But it is lamentable to see the “free press” quite so eagerly doing their bidding. We can note the Telegraph breathlessly says “it has been revealed” and “it has emerged”. The “journalist” will get some kind of a payback for further dressing up MI6’s planted stories. But it has zero to do with journalism.

 

 

 

 

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Mock outrage

The Daily Telegraph today briefly had a headline about Theresa May’s “outrage” about the “suspected” chemical attack in Syria.

The headline was altered quite quickly to lose the word “outrage”. Notice however that the url for the story still refers to May being “deeply disturbed”. The article includes the sentence:

“The Government has stressed the importance of the attack being investigated to determine who is culpable.”

It looks like the government and their stooges in the media are realising that claiming to be “outraged” before an attack of some kind has moved from the claim stage to the “no other explanation is plausible stage” (a new concept which, it seems, means – we have decided that they – usually Russia – did it, but, no, we can’t prove it) is dubious. How can you be outraged about a claim, about a suspected attack? You can’t be. The normal sequence is – you wait until it is confirmed and, when it is, then you feel outraged. That they seem willing to produce the outrage on the basis of “suspected”, “alleged” or even “very likely” shows us that the outrage is synthetic. They aren’t really outraged at all. In fact they couldn’t care less about whether brown-skinned people in Syria are being gassed. It’s just a convenient lever in a game of narratives. (Syria = bad regime = human rights abuser === same with Russia => contrast with us = noble, law-abiding, civilised, humane => therefore anything we do – such as illegally invade Syria is fine). A game, which, amusingly, is being played more and more solely for their own benefit. – That is – who but themselves believes their narratives any more?

We can see the same narrative on Skripal. If it is only “very likely” that Russia did it – how can you feel such horror?

That this article had its headline fixed shows that the government narrative writers (aka. “journalists”) are aware of this flaw in their narratives and are working to fix it. They are, basically, working on the choreography of these denunciations and continuously improving it.

Fake news

The story on the Skripal poisoning is being stage-manged by the intelligence services and No. 10 for political effect.

As usual the UK media does what is required of them and amplifies and broadcasts the preferred narrative.

One characteristic of the current rash of anti-Russia stories is how we move so quickly from probability to fact. For example; that Russia “hacked” the US election – was presented by US intelligence as a matter of probability, not as a fact. But soon in the media and political circles it is taken as absolute fact. The same with the Skripal poisoning. This was described as being “very likely” a state sanctioned hit. But now – a couple of weeks later – the discourse treats it as proven fact. This jump from probability to fact is strange; how do rational people justify this to themselves?

But sometimes they brashly base the story on what is admitted to be no more than a “claim”. This is a nice piece of fake news in the Telegraph about alleged Russian state Twitter activity. Here the author admits that the article is based on a “claim”.

The potentially fake accounts, which experts say could be linked to the bot factory in St Petersburg, retweeted a poll by a British user which ended with more than 15,700 votes.

“potentially fake” and “could be”. A decent journalist would not even bother with the story. (Based on ‘expert’ ‘research’ by the Atlantic Council – which is a NATO linked organisation).

In either case standards of journalism do not exist for the Western media. Either they make it up altogether or they print conjecture and claims that should not even have made it past the initial filtering stages. The aim is to smear and destroy Russia; they are hard at work – oblivious it seems to the fact that they are doing exactly what they accuse Russian state media of doing.

Propaganda in the Economist

There is an article in this week’s Economist magazine about Russian military power.

The opening paragraph contains a phrase along the lines of “since Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine in 2014”. No such invasion has taken place. Whoever wrote this (the article is not attributed) is insane or evil. – This is really the only question worth asking about most Western journalists these days.

This is an oft-used propaganda technique. If they repeat some fiction often enough eventually they will (so the reasoning goes presumably) convince their readers – and themselves – of its truth. It is an exercise in self-hypnosis and mass mesmerisation. As to the claim – the key point here is we are in the realms of narrative journalism. This is how 99% of the Western media work. It is not about facts and reportage but about building a tale. The tale is sometimes established with reference to a few supporting facts. But when, as in this case, there are no supporting facts – they simply repeat it over and over so it becomes true. “Russia invaded Eastern Ukraine in 2014”. This is not a statement in the realm of facts – which could be contested and/or proved. Such a statement would be – “Russia has supported the rebels in Eastern Ukraine with military advice and hardware”. Little or no evidence exists for this in the public domain – but it’s entirely possible. But the Economist is not trying to assert that fact. That (possible?) fact alone would not suffice. After all; the Western countries are supplying the regime in Kiev with military advice and hardware. So just to say that Russia is too would make it look like what it is – a civil war with major powers each backing their side. Hence we have to get to the “Russia invaded” narrative. The key point here – and this is the identical propagandist line which comes out of Kiev – is to recast the rebellion in the East of Ukraine as being the result of “Russian aggression”. This in turn masks the reality of Western actions in Ukraine – supporting a coup and signing a political agreement with an unelected government for example. The fact is that the President who was disposed, Yanukovych, was a member of the Party of Regions.  The Party of Regions was strong in Eastern Ukraine. When the elected President was chased from office by a Western backed mob it is those who supported the Party of Regions who lost out. While it is true that in the West of Ukraine there is strong desire on the part of people to belong to the EU and NATO in the East the situation is entirely reversed. Gallup polling in April 2014 showed figures of 19% and 13% respectively for EU and NATO membership. [1] Thus the people in the East of Ukraine were disenfranchised by Maidan. The purpose of the “Russia invaded” narrative is to deny this reality. A civil war, triggered by a Western backed coup, has to be repackaged as an external invasion in order to deny the awkward fact that millions of Ukrainians who live in the East were in fact disenfranchised rather than liberated by Maidan. Ironic of course that the bastions of ‘democracy’ are in fact on the side of crushing democracy.

But all this lying is entirely par of the course. There is, however,  something a little surprising in the Economist article. The article weighs up in worried tones how Russia is stronger than NATO “on its borders”. The source appears to be a Western think-tank. This shows the psychopathic thinking which these people (the Western military machine and their hangers-on in various think tanks and the media) engage in. Why should Russia not be “stronger than NATO” on its own territory? To whom would this be an offence but to people contemplating an invasion of Russia? Of course; articles like this are planted in order to drum up support for more military spending – and to legitimize this when it happens. But the underlying reality is psychopathic. It is only a psychopath who has to be stronger than his foe (anyone who is not his absolutely obedient slave) on all counts and in all theatres. Contrast with Russia’s military posture – of trying to maintain a credible defence and to maintain the balance of nuclear deterrence. The West demands – like the imperialists that they are – that Russia lie on the floor in the posture of a submissive dog licking its master’s boots. Anything else is construed as aggression. This is the basis for their delusions about “Russian aggression”. It is the same, exactly the same, as how a psychopath genuinely sees his beaten wife’s slight resistance to the next blow as a sign of terrible and unforgivable aggression against him.

Insane or lying? Perhaps they are all just psychopaths.

Notes 1. http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/06/Ukraine-slide-deck.pdf 

The daily feed of Western propaganda

Just a few tasters from 5 minutes of exposure to the “free press”.

1. The BBC News reports on some student demonstrations which are apparently taking place in Iran. They acknowledge (the first time they use it) that their video clip material is culled from “social media”. They interview two people – both of whom are apparently pro-Western commentators. They report on the “mullahs who have ruled Iran since the 1979 revolution” – with no mention of the fact that the political leadership in Iran is elected. Yes – they have elections. True – Iran has a complex constitution which includes a powerful body to which only clerics can be appointed. However to gloss over this and present it as a regime (the word is used by one of the “experts”) “ruled by mullahs” is simply a falsehood. Notice how a combination of a biased viewpoint from an “expert” who is interviewed for the programme and the script of the news anchor can be used to build up the (fake) narrative.

They report on Donald Trump’s Tweet that “The world is watching” – and they cite the response of the Iranian leadership –  that the US claims are “opportunistic and deceitful”. But we are left with the words of one of their “experts” ringing in our ears – about a “violent clampdown”. Of course all this is precisely “opportunistic and deceitful”. What would happen if student protests turned violent in the UK? Exactly the same as may be happening in Iran – there would be a forceful police response and arrests. Yet the whole slant of the BBC report is in terms of worthy protesters and a “violent clampdown” by the authorities.

It is worth remembering that if the protests are indeed in part about the poor state of the economy as the BBC reports that one reason for this is US sanctions on Iran in connection with its missile programme.

This is all sounding like a well-rehearsed regime change op. Sanctions and other external pressures lead to internal fissures. Anyone who demonstrates against the “regime” is then presented as a freedom-fighter/peace loving dentist or whatever. Police actions against them are described as a “violent crackdown”. The “regime” is portrayed as a dictatorship. And, before we know where we are, there will be an overwhelming case to launch a humanitarian intervention to defend freedom.

The BBC plays its part.

2. In the Financial Times today there is a report on a military action in Syria. This discusses a Syrian army initiative supported by Russian aviation against Al-Qaeda linked terrorists. Figures about civilian casualties are provided by the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” – a one man show run from the UK by a supporter of the Syrian opposition. (This organisation is the main “independent” source for almost the entire Western media). This “source” reports on civilian deaths allegedly caused by Russian aviation. Much of the report in the FT plays on this theme. – It may be happening but the source has no credibility being openly aligned with one side in the conflict.

The report (by someone called Erika Solomon) contains this falsehood:

The province is meant to be one four “de-escalation zones” set up by Russia and regional powers Turkey and Iran where clashes were supposed to be halted. But Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s armed forces, called this week for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to be “eliminated” as a top priority for military operations in Syria in 2018.

As the report acknowledges Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda (or simply a re-branding). And that is the point. The de-escalation zones set up by Russian, Iran and Turkey precisely envisaged a ceasefire between government forces and “rational rebels” and precisely excluded Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. What Russia is doing  therefore is precisely in line with this agreement. Yet Ms Solomon manages to present it as if Russia was acting against this agreement – “province is meant to be” … “But, Valery Gerasimov… “. It’s a lie.

Again – spot the pattern – a mix of narrative gloss and quotes from “independent (not at all) experts/sources” are used to construct the propaganda.

The Financial Times plays its part.

3. Isn’t RT awful? They publish nothing but positive stories about Russia. They stir up dissent by amplifying problems in Western countries. They openly support dissenters in the West and build them up out of all proportion. Indeed it has been scientifically proven that they are trying to undermine the trust of Western populations in their own governments. How awful.

But – look here – what is US State funded “Radio Free Europe” doing with its Russia coverageWhich is also available in Russian. Oh. Exactly the same.

4. Here is one from Channel 4 about Russian “alleged” interference in the UK’s Brexit referendum. Amusingly it is called a fact-check. It is characteristic of a certain kind of Western propaganda. Two facts do indeed emerge from a careful reading of the article. 1) There is a some evidence for very small-scale Russian activity on social media – activity which may have been sponsored by the Kremlin. Examples include social media posts mostly made after the referendum took place and re-tweeting of existing posts about Brexit on Twitter. 2) The “journalist” writing the article is desperate to tell a story about Russian interference and is hardly put off by the thinness of the evidence.

The author of the article uses narrative glosses to link and move the story along, exaggerating as he goes, before the final dramatic finale – a denial from a UKIP funder that he accepted donations from Russia – which, naturally, we are supposed to believe, is proof that he did. (Who knows – maybe he did – but why not wait for the Election Commission investigation to tell us?)

This piece is characteristic of Western media propaganda because it uses some material which is factually true. A US Senate report has indeed come to certain conclusions etc. But the actual narrative is not the conclusion that any sober-minded investigator could draw from the facts.  Rather a tale is told and the few facts are used judiciously in order to prop up the narrative.

 

What surprises this writer continually is how apparently educated people will talk about “Russian propaganda” and how terrible it is without noticing that their side is doing exactly the same. And in a way worse because it is everywhere and insidious. Whereas RT makes no bones about being funded by the Russian government.

 

 

 

 

Guardian propaganda on Gaza

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s western-backed Palestine Authority, which is controlled by Fatah, fought a war with Hamas over Gaza in 2007, which led to Hamas taking over.

The above is from this article. There is no mention of in the article that Hamas won the election in Gaza. [1] A standard piece of sheer make-belief from the system press. And they go on about RT….

 

Notes

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_legislative_election,_2006

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/jun/02/gaza-israel-flotilla-hamas  – in this Guardian opinion piece the writer acknowledges that Hamas did indeed win a “fair election”.

Propaganda by stealth

Propaganda doesn’t have to be full-on. It can be quite subtle. Here’s an example from the Guardian – that amplifier for the State Department:

It appears in a story about a British IT Security consultant being arrested by the FBI on charges related to creating hacking tools:

It [the WannaCry malware] moved particularly quickly through corporate networks thanks to its reuse of security exploit, called EternalBlue, first discovered by the NSA before being stolen and leaked by an allegedly Russian-linked hacking group called The Shadow Brokers.

A reader who was not all that tech-savvy reading the above might think that ‘EternalBlue’ was something which just exists in reality and which was (as the text says) ‘discovered’ by NSA (National Security Agency – US Intelligence). In fact: EternalBlue was one of numerous pieces of malware developed by the NSA in order to conduct espionage campaigns against third-party targets. (These targets included commercial companies as well as governments). EternalBlue was indeed ‘stolen’ (in as much as one set of criminals can steal from another) and then made publicly available.

A subtle difference? Not really: discovering an exploit is one matter. Producing a piece of malware which uses the exploit to intrude into systems is something else altogether. The NSA did the latter; not the former, as the Guardian would have you believe.

It was this malware which was obtained and then made publicly available by the ShadowBrokers. Edward Snowden, and others, believed that Russia was behind the ShadowBrokers. (The idea was that Russia, by showing that it has access to US intelligence hacking tools, was demonstrating that it could prove that the US was behind hacking attempts on third-parties). At any event – which is worse: building a tool to break into buildings or stealing that tool?

The Guardian is trying to spin this as Russia as the bad guy and the NSA as the good guys. But it’s propaganda. A little lie – swap ‘created by’ for ‘discovered by’ – and they hope that you won’t notice…