Counter-Disinformation is the Latest Buzzword for Information Control: Attacks on Independent Journalists and Outlets
Attacks on Independent Journalists and Outlets
[Image: a “The Onion” style parody of the graphic of the smear piece by The Guardian on Aaron Maté.]
Publication date: 2022-08-27
Update 2022-08-28: The author wishes to thank commenter “Jane W” for highlighting a “huge blooper” early in the article. The wishy washy unclear assertion has been replaced by accurate statistics, with references. A new source is added, of The Grayzone discussing threats to their publishing.
Update 2022-08-30: A just published Caitlin Johnstone article which addresses the core of this piece has been added to sources, under “General” below the four cases. An additional source detailing a coordinated, “secret”, huge network of “information operatives” based on a study by the Stanford Internet Observatory has also been added to sources.
Update 2022-09-04: The latest Chris Hedges report has been added to sources. Chris discusses with Patrick Lawrence the perversion of media in covering the Ukraine conflict and trace the roots to Vietnam and “embedding” in the “first” Iraq war of 1990. Eva Bartlett receives mention as an independent reporter.
Information and War, and Information War
There are several wars going on, as usual. To understand what's happening in Ukraine Douglas Macgregor recently published an insightful summary “Reinforcing Failure in Ukraine”. USA military personnel are still occupying the north east of Syria, a region rich in oil and agricultural land, and a base at Al Tanf. They are completely unwelcome. Their presence is illegal, both in Syria, and internationally. Caitlin Johnstone recently clarified beautifully the USA's response to having missiles fired at them in “US Invades Syria, Kills People, Claims Self-Defense”.
USA wars are profitable for a very limited, but powerful, section of the USA populace, namely weapons manufacturers, military contractors, the fossil fuel industry and the politicians which they all
bribe influence with "campaign finance". In 2020 the USA Congressional Budget Office declares that 43.9% of the federal discretionary budget was spent on the military, or 714 of 1628 billion. When compared in absolute terms with other nations the USA spends more than all of the following 9 nations combined: China, Russia, India, UK, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea. Ergo the USA spends more than the other 9 of the 10 highest spending nations on their military. The USA’s population, area and economy are exceeded by the sum of these other nine. Thus, the excessive spending must require quite some justification.
There are a series of cultural elements, from military parades at American Football games, nationalism, hollywood and others. There is another pernicious element which has been known about for over 45 years. It too, like the USA “defense” budget is ever increasing; government influence over allowed narratives, or Information Control.
A Taxonomy of Information Control
Before examining recent cases which highlight the egregious actions of "counter disinformation", let’s perform a quick taxonomy of the USA and UK's executive government branches’ connection with information control, or psy-ops.
For the USA, the institutional players are the State Department and executive intelligence agencies, primarily lead by the CIA with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security also "serving". The CIA also uses cut outs, like USAID and NED (National Endowment for Democracy). For the UK, the names change but a similar structure is in place. The institutional actors are the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and MI-6, with MI-5. The FCO spawns many a project to influence media narratives in foreign countries. The meta program seems to be the “Counter Disinformation and Media Development Unit”. Just as the CIA, FBI and DHS influence both foreign and domestic news, so to does the FCO, MI-6 and MI-5 or sub-branches thereof like the "Integrity Initiative" or the "77th Brigade". The names keep changing to keep us hamsters running around in their wheel.
New players in the "information space", particularly the big social media companies, have been courted by the USA government. Google and Amazon have large contracts with the USA executive, and Facebook/Meta and Twitter have been threatened with regulation by the legislative branch if they don't play ball. This is the only "new" component. The infiltration of media by the CIA was documented by Carl Bernstein in “The CIA And The Media” 45 years ago. The UK has information control on the books via D-Notices and the Official Secrets Act.
Another structure, NATO, is involved in this narrative control. The USA and UK governments and NATO fund cut outs like Bellingcat as ways to launder false or misleading information, of perform character assassinations. Groups like this are assisted by "think tanks" like the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), as we shall see below.
Case 1: Aaron Maté
The UK's "The Guardian" published a pure hit piece on Aaron Maté “Network of Syria conspiracy theorists identified”. The headline used the term "Russian Network", but Russian was a stretch too far, so that needed to be removed. The justification for the accusation was a “report” issued by the ISD. The "report" amounts to some pretty info-graphics, a series of evidence free assertions and some social media posts scraped off the Internet.
When challenged by Maté, The Guardian could not identify one piece of Maté's writing which was not supported by evidence. Maté concludes that the title was correct, there is a "Network of Disinformation", it just happens that The Guardian is a part of it, and not he.
[Image: screen shot of the graphic which lead’s Maté conclusion on “the network”.]
The background for all of this is that Mr. Maté has doggedly been reporting on a major scandal that no major news organisation anywhere in the English media space will touch with a barge pole, that of the doctoring of the OPCW's report on the alleged chemical attack(s) in Douma, Syria in 2018. The reason that no one will touch the story is that it leads to a serious unraveling of much of the narrative on the Syrian Dirty War, and that would just not be the done thing.
Case 2: Eva Bartlett
Eva K. Bartlett is an independent Canadian journalist who spent some time in Gaza trying to obtain a first hand understanding and accounts of what was happening there. She met, in Gaza, Vanessa Beeley who we meet in Case 3. Later, Bartlett began to report on the Syrian Dirty War, on the ground.
Bartlett has recently been reporting from Donbas, Ukraine, the territories controlled by the "separatists". Her recent articles cover the attack on the prisoner of war camp/prison in which members of the Azov battalion were being held, and the showering of Donetsk City and its surrounds with many thousands of small anti-personnel mines. Those she interviews assert that both attacks were by Ukraine, and Eva provides background research to place the attacks in context.
For this she has received a near identical attack as that delivered on Maté. The publication is Danish via the domain tjekdet.dk. "Tjek Det" would be translated as "Check" or "Verify" "It". The domain registration record contains:
Registration period: 1 year
Name: Foreningen TJEKDET - National portal for bekæmpelse af fake news
Attention: [name redacted by the author]
Address: c/o ENIGMA
Address: Øster Allé 3
City: København Ø
The name servers for tjekdet.dk are from one.com. This is registered by "One.com Group AB", a Swedish company, with the German registrar "CSL Computer Service Langenbach GmbH d/b/a joker.com". The Danish site claiming to be "fact checking" or "countering disinformation" is registered by ENIGMA, and its name servers from one.com are registered to "joker.com". This does not seem to engender any confidence.
The article begins with its headline and an image of an RT studio to set the frame.
[Image: a screen grab of the article from tjekdet.dk]
Under this graphic some introductory sentences lead the authors to focus on Eva, with an image from a TikTok video. Eva is described as a "self declared independent journalist". It continues saying that Eva attacks western media. [Translation] "She is an example of western journalists who supports the Russian narrative about the war in Ukraine." They continue, describing that Eva states in the linked video that Ukraine is “full of Nazis” and that Ukraine is committing war crimes against its own people.
[Image: another screen grab from the article, just below the introduction. The reference to the ISD can be seen at the bottom of the image.]
Immediately following this is the next section, "Part of a Network", in which an ISD study similar to that used to attack Maté is linked to and employed. Further on, the article mentions her questioning of the purposes of "The White Helmets" in Syria.
This author makes no assertion that TjekDet.dk is funded by the Danish government, nor that it is a military intelligence operation. The assertion is that their article is indistinguishable from the attack piece on Aaron Maté by The Guardian.
The article links to the "About Me" page at Bartlett's website. Not a single article she has written, or any text from any of them is cited. This is yet another commonality with the Guardian's hit piece on Aaron Maté.
One could not publish this in an academic journal because one has failed to quote the work. They have not even cited it!
This hit piece, for that is what it is, is a poor ad hominem attack based on guilt by association. Their earlier statements that Eva believes that there is a problem with Nazis in Ukraine and that the Ukrainian armed forces have committed war crimes against the people of Donbas are both true: she does believe this and rightly so, there is ample evidence for both.
Early in the civil war many western newspapers and journals documented the neo-Nazi battalions and organisations in the Ukraine. Similarly, the dropping of "Petal" anti-personnel mines in civilian areas is a war crime, as is the shelling of water purification plants, power infrastructure, hospitals, and homes which has been going on for 8 years. Asserting that Russia has been doing this as an eight year long false flag operation requires some serious evidence and would contradict local testimony.
In contrast to “Tjek Det”, this article provides links to all key documents; the attack pieces, their sources, source materials of the accused, and their responses. This author trusts the intelligence of the readership.
Case 3: Vanessa Beeley
The BBC funded the production of an audio series which examined the Syrian (Dirty) war. To be included in this was Vanessa Beeley, a British independent journalist whose father was the UK's ambassador to Syria for many years. During the conflict she has, and continues to, report from Syria rather than Beirut, Tel Aviv or further afield.
[Image: a single frame of Beeley being interviewed by Iran’s Press TV. The full video is included in sources below. She is in her apartment in Damascus.]
The audio series, "Mayday", contained an episode which was a hit piece on Beeley. She, a friend of Eva's, had also reported extensively on the association between the "White Helmets" and various Islamic Jihad fundamentalist proxy forces. It was this narrative which needed to be buried. The hit piece on her was a method of attempting to achieve this end. Curiously, the audio series producer, Chloe Hadjimatheou, has some connections, though tenous, with UK intelligence. What Mr. Klarenberg does in this article is link all three of the above cases via their reporting on Syria.
Case 4: The Grayzone
In several recent pieces for The Grayzone, Kit Klarenberg has, via leaked emails, exposed collaboration between a British journalist and intelligence operatives to attack various other journalists. A later piece by Kit documents an effort to undermine the credibility of The Grayzone itself by British intelligence. See video sources for a discussion between Blumenthal, Maté and Klanberg.
The Bigger Picture
The four cases cited are attacks on independent journalists or an independent outlet which are publishing non-approved narratives. The quality of their work is never examined because they actually do good journalism. There are many, many more cases, like Alina Lipp or the defunding of MintPress News or Consortium News by PayPal impounding donations and refusing to process more.
Caitlin Johnstone summaries the greater picture:
Remember, they wouldn't be working so frantically to restrict online speech if it didn't pose a genuine threat to the empire.
Replace "free speech" with "independent journalism". This limitation of speech is to serve an agenda of propaganda, as she succinctly outlines.
Before the explosion of the Internet, controlling media was not too difficult. It would have been only a few hundred people, the editors and owners, in the UK. A larger number in the USA, but since the continued consolidation of media ownership, even that number would have dropped.
The Internet and independent publication, creates a much larger space requiring control. So, now we see this rather tawdry tactic of smearing. The mission is the same. News, or information, is too important to be left in the hands of the masses. They need to be driven towards approved content and narratives. Alan Macleod has recently documented the mass hiring of intelligence personnel by social media giants.
Just to top the whole thing off, ZuckerFace just attempted to blame the FBI for his company's suppressing of the Hunter Biden laptop revelations. How stupid do they think we are? I don't believe the agents who visited would be capable of manipulating Facebook's algorithms. Ergo, Facebook did it at the behest of the FBI. Thus, this is government censorship by proxy.
The process of information control, and its latest buzzword "counter disinformation" is so continuous and consistent that it all becomes rather blazé. However, these independent journalists’ and outlets' livelihoods depend upon their reputation and available funding mechanisms. Without independent journalists and outlets our "western" media just becomes the equivalent of Soviet Pravda. Again, to quote Caitlin Johnstone, who has such a lovely turn of phrase:
Until a few years ago, "Russian propaganda" meant media created by the Russian government to facilitate the information interests of the Kremlin. Now it just means any media that criticizes the foreign policy of the foreign policy of the most powerful empire that has ever existed.
Oh, and Julian Assange is still locked up for committing no crime. Meanwhile the people who committed the war crimes which Wikileaks' and many other collaborating major news agencies' publications revealed, walk free.
Aaron Maté challenges Guardian reporter on US govt-funded Syria smears, Aaron Maté, The Grayzone, 2022-07-19
NATO-backed network of Syria dirty war propagandists identified, Aaron Maté, The Grayzone, 2022-08-01
Who killed the POWs at Yelenovka? All signs on the ground point to a Ukrainian attack, Eva K. Bartlett, her newsletter “In Gaza and Beyond”, 2022-08-22
The West is silent as Ukraine targets civilians in Donetsk using banned ‘Petal’ mines, Eva K. Bartlett, her newsletter “In Gaza and Beyond”, 2022-08-22
In Just Under Three Weeks, Ukrainian-Fired Prohibited “Petal” Mines Maim At Least 44 Civilians, Kill 2, in Donetsk Region, Eva K. Bartlett, her newsletter “In Gaza and Beyond”, 2022-08-22
Netværk af vestlige journalister når ud til millioner med pro-russisk fortælling om krigen i Ukraine, Kalle Thue Gregersen and Andreas Søndergaard Petersen, Tjekdet, 2022-08-22
White Helmets: BBC goes after independent journalist Vanessa Beeley – Press TV, Vanessa Beeley, her website/newsletter (The Wall Will Fall), 2020-10-17
Conversations with the BBC – Mayday Rescue/White Helmets cover-up, Vanessa Beeley, her website/newsletter (The Wall Will Fall), 2020-11-28
Questions about BBC producer’s ties to UK intelligence follow ‘Mayday’ White Helmets whitewash, Kit Klarenberg, The Grayzone, 2021-04-07
Leaked emails expose Paul Mason’s collusion with senior British intelligence agent, Kit Klarenberg, The Grayzone, 2022-06-14
Intelligence operative confirms British gov’t is targeting The Grayzone, Kit Klarenberg, The Grayzone, 2022-08-25
White Helmets: BBC goes after independent journalist Vanessa Beeley, Vanessa is interviewed on Iran’s PressTV, Beeley’s youtube channel, uploaded 2020-10-17
Grayzone challenges Guardian reporter on US state-funded Syria smears, Pushback with Aaron Maté, The Grayzone youtube channel, uploaded 2022-07-19
British gov't operative confirms plot to ban The Grayzone, Max Blumenthal, Aaron Maté and Kit Klarenberg discuss threats, The Grayzone, 2022-08-27
Free Speech Doesn't Matter If Propagandists Determine What People Say, Caitlin Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone, her website, 2022-08-29
Massive secret network was pushing the western narrative, Nury Vittachi, Pearls and Irritations, 2022-08-29
Note: The above shows the other side of the coin. Suppressing independent “western media” on the one hand, and injecting “disinformation” about foreign governments into social media on the other. This brings us back to “fact checkers”. Do not “outsource” your fact checking. Keep it between your ears, family and friends.
The Chris Hedges Report: Ukraine and the crisis of media censorship, Chris Hedges interviews Patrick Lawrence, The Chris Hedges Report pubished by The Real News Network, 2022-09-02
“Look at the faces, Listen to the bells, Its hard to believe we need a place called hell.”
“Words are weapons, sharpen the knives, makes you wonder how the other half die.”
“The Devil Inside, the devil inside, every single one of us, the devil inside.” …
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