CIA

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Elon Musk, Proofpoint, and the Tentacles of the Surveillance State, with Alan MacLeod

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/06/2022 - 2:51am in

Tags 

CIA, Israel, pentagon

The MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby, and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

Elon Musk is not some crusading rebel railing against the establishment; he’s one of the key drivers of the U.S. surveillance state. That is the message that Alan MacLeod gave Lowkey in this latest episode of “The Watchdog.”

While commentators have been heartened and dismayed in equal measure at the prospect of the South African billionaire’s takeover of Twitter, they all appear to agree that Musk will make huge changes to the platform. Yet very few have acknowledged the basic fact that Musk’s fortune comes in no small part via his close connections to the national security state.

As MacLeod explained, SpaceX was able to get off the ground only with the help of In-Q-Tel, the venture capitalist wing of the CIA, as well as with huge financial backing from NASA. Today, the company competes with Lockheed Martin and Boeing for gigantic military rocket contracts, helping organizations like the Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office launch their spy satellites into orbit, thereby performing a crucial service to the global surveillance system.

Before joining MintPress News in 2019, Alan MacLeod was a scholar whose work focused on propaganda, media and power. He has published a number of peer-reviewed academic papers on the subject, as well as two books: “Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting,” and “Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent.” His latest article, “Elon Musk Is Not a Renegade Outsider – He’s a Massive Pentagon Contractor,” can be read at MintPress News.

Surveillance is big business. The pair also discussed Lowkey’s latest report that found that an Israeli company with close links to the country’s military and security services is now being trusted by media companies around the world to filter their emails and protect them from phishing scams and hacking. Proofpoint has 200 employees and is headquartered directly next door to the Israeli Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. Its vice president of cloud security products was previously a section commander for the IDF’s notorious Unit 8200 – an intelligence group infamous both for its connections to the Pegasus spying software and for its blackmailing of Palestinian activists.

Nevertheless, Proofpoint has managed to secure deals to filter the emails of a number of the world’s top media organizations, including The Washington Post and CNN, as well as many Middle East-focused universities, such as the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.

The post Elon Musk, Proofpoint, and the Tentacles of the Surveillance State, with Alan MacLeod appeared first on MintPress News.

Elon Musk Is Not a Renegade Outsider – He’s a Massive Pentagon Contractor

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/06/2022 - 12:30am in

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Elon Musk’s proposed takeover of Twitter has ruffled many feathers among professional commentators. “Musk is the wrong leader for Twitter’s vital mission,” read one Bloomberg headline. The network also insisted, “Nothing in the Tesla CEO’s track record suggests he will be a careful steward of an important media property.” “Elon Musk is the last person who should take over Twitter,” wrote Max Boot in The Washington Post, explaining that “[h]e seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” The irony of outlets owned by Michael Bloomberg and Jeff Bezos warning of the dangers of permitting a billionaire oligarch to control our media was barely commented upon.

Added to this, a host of celebrities publicly left the social media platform in protest against the proposed $44 billion purchase. This only seemed to confirm to many free speech-minded individuals that the South African billionaire was a renegade outsider on a mission to save the internet from authoritarian elite control (despite the fact that he is borrowing money from the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia in order to do so).

Musk has deliberately cultivated this image of himself: a real life Tony Stark figure who thinks for himself and is not part of the established order. But behind this carefully constructed façade, Musk is intimately connected to the U.S. national security state, serving as one of its most important business partners. Elon, in short, is no threat to the powerful, entrenched elite: he is one of them.

 

To Ukraine, with love

Musk, whose estimated $230 billion fortune is more than twice the gross domestic product of Ukraine, has garnered a great deal of positive publicity for donating thousands of Starlink terminals to the country, helping its people come back online after fighting downed the internet in much of the country. Starlink is an internet service allowing those with terminals to connect to one of over 2,400 small satellites in low Earth orbit. Many of these satellites were launched by Musk’s SpaceX technologies company.

However, it soon transpired that there is far more than meets the eye with Musk’s extraordinary “donation.” In fact, the U.S. government quietly paid SpaceX top dollar to send their inventory to the warzone. USAID – a government anti-insurgency agency that has regularly functioned as a regime-change organization – is known to have put up the cash to purchase and deliver at least 1,330 of the terminals.

Starlink is not a mass-market solution. Each terminal – which is, in effect, a tiny, portable satellite dish – has a markedly limited range, and is useful only in hyper-local situations. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, estimated that the 10,000 Starlink terminals were allowing around 150,000 people to stay online.

Such a small number of people using the devices raises eyebrows. Who is important enough to be given such a device? Surely only high-value individuals such as spies or military operatives. That the Starlinks are serving a military purpose is now beyond clear. Indeed, in a matter of weeks, Starlink has become a cornerstone of the Ukrainian military, allowing it to continue to target Russian forces via drones and other high-tech machinery dependent on an internet connection. One official told The Times of London that he “must” use Starlink to target enemy forces via thermal imaging.

“Starlink is what changed the war in Ukraine’s favor. Russia went out of its way to blow up all our comms. Now they can’t. Starlink works under Katyusha fire, under artillery fire. It even works in Mariupol,” one Ukrainian soldier told journalist David Patrikarakos.

The reference to Mariupol alludes to the infamous Nazi group, the Azov Battalion, who have also reportedly been using Musk’s technology. Even in a subterranean cavern beneath Mariupol’s steelworks, Azov fighters were able to access the internet and communicate with the outside world, even doing video interviews from underground. In 2015, Congress attempted to add a provision to U.S. military aid to Ukraine stipulating that no support could go to Azov owing to their political ideology. That amendment was later removed at the behest of the Pentagon.

Dave Tremper, Director of Electronic Warfare at the Pentagon, sang SpaceX’s praises. “How they did that [keeping Ukrainian forces online] was eye-watering to me,” he said, adding that in the future the U.S. military “needs to be able to have that agility.”

 

Rocketman

Such a statement is bound to get the attention of SpaceX chiefs, who have long profited from their lucrative relationship with the U.S. military. SpaceX relies largely on government contracts, there being almost no civilian demand for many of its products, especially its rocket launches.

Musk’s company has been awarded billions of dollars in contracts to launch spy satellites for espionage, drone warfare and other military uses. For example, in 2018, SpaceX was chosen to blast a $500 million Lockheed Martin GPS system into orbit. While Air Force spokesmen played up the civilian benefits of the launch, such as increased accuracy for GPS devices, it is clear that these devices play a key role in global surveillance and ongoing drone wars. SpaceX has also won contracts with the Air Force to deliver its command satellite into orbit, with the Space Development Agency to send tracking devices into space, and with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to launch its spy satellites. These satellites are used by all of the “big five” surveillance agencies, including the CIA and the NSA.

Thus, in today’s world, where so much intelligence gathering and target acquisition is done via satellite technology, SpaceX has become every bit as important to the U.S. war machine as more well-known companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Without Musk’s company, the U.S. would not be able to carry out such an invasive program of spying and drone warfare around the world. Indeed, China is growing increasingly wary of this power, and is being advised to develop anti-satellite technologies to counter SpaceX’s all-seeing eye. Yet Musk himself continues to benefit from a general perception that he is not part of the system.

From its origins in 2002, SpaceX has always been extremely close to the national security state, particularly the CIA. Perhaps the most crucial link is Mike Griffin, who, at the time, was the president and COO of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-funded venture capital firm that seeks to nurture and sponsor new companies that will work with the CIA and other security services, equipping them with cutting edge technology. The “Q” in its name is a reference to “Q” from the James Bond series – a creative inventor who supplies the spy with the latest in futuristic tech.


Michael Griffin, left, meets with Musk, right, in 2005 at NASA Headquarters in DC. Renee Bouchard | NASA

Griffin was with Musk virtually from day one, accompanying him to Russia in February 2002, where they attempted to purchase cut-price intercontinental ballistic missiles to start Musk’s business. Musk felt that he could substantially undercut opponents by using second-hand material and off-the-shelf components for launches. The attempt failed, but the trip cemented a lasting partnership between the pair, with Griffin going to war for Musk, consistently backing him as a potential “Henry Ford” of the rocket industry. Three years later, Griffin would become head of NASA and later would hold a senior post at the Department of Defense.

While at NASA, Griffin brought Musk in for meetings and secured SpaceX’s big break. In 2006, NASA awarded the company a $396 million rocket development contract – a remarkable “gamble” in Griffin’s words, especially as it had never launched a rocket before. As National Geographic put it, SpaceX, “never would have gotten to where it is today without NASA.” And Griffin was essential to this development. Still, by 2008, SpaceX was again in dire straits, with Musk unable to make payroll. The company was saved by an unexpected $1.6 billion NASA contract for commercial cargo services. Thus, from its earliest days, SpaceX was nurtured by government agencies that saw the company as a potentially important source of technology.

 

nuking Mars & Backing coups

Like Henry Ford, Musk went into the automobile business, purchasing Tesla Motors in 2004. And also like Henry Ford, he has shared some rather controversial opinions. In 2019, for instance, he suggested that vaporizing Mars’ ice caps via a series of nuclear explosions could warm the planet sufficiently to support human life. If this was done, it would arguably not even be his worst crime against space. During a 2018 publicity stunt, he blasted a Tesla into outer space using a SpaceX rocket. However, he did not sterilize the vehicle before doing so, meaning it was covered in earthly bacteria – microorganisms that will likely be fatal to any alien life they encounter. In essence, the car is a biological weapon that could end life on any planet it encounters.

Musk also attracted attention when he appeared to admit that he worked with the U.S. government to overthrow Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2019. Bolivia is home to the world’s largest easy-to-extract lithium reserves, an element crucial in the production of electric-vehicle batteries. Morales had refused to open the country up to foreign corporations eager to exploit Bolivia for profit. Instead, he proposed developing sovereign technology to keep both the jobs and profits inside the country. He was overthrown by a U.S.-backed far-right coup in November 2019. The new government quickly invited Musk for talks. When asked on Twitter point blank whether he was involved in Morales’ ouster, Musk responded, “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

The South African has a long history of trolling and making inflammatory statements, so this “confession” might not be as cast-iron as it seems. Nevertheless, any hope of Musk profiting from Bolivia was shot after Morales’ party returned to power in a resounding victory one year later.

 

world’s richest man, funded by taxpayers

In addition to the billions in government contracts Musk’s companies have secured, they also have received similar numbers in public subsidies and incentives. Chief among these is Tesla, which benefits greatly from complex international rules around electric vehicle production. In a push to reduce carbon emissions, governments around the world have introduced a system of credits for green vehicles, whereby a certain percentage of each manufacturer’s output must be zero-emission vehicles. Tesla only produces electric cars, so easily meets the mark.

However, the system also allows Tesla to sell their excess credits to manufacturers who cannot meet these quotas. In a competitive market where each manufacturer needs to hit certain targets, these credits are worth their weight in gold, and net Tesla billions in profit every year. For example, between 2019 and 2021 alone, Stellantis, which owns the Chrysler, Fiat, Citroen and Peugeot brands, forked out nearly $2.5 billion to acquire Tesla U.S. and European green credits.

This bizarre and self-defeating system goes some way to explaining why Tesla is worth more by market cap than Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Volvo put together, despite not being even a top-15 car manufacturer in terms of units sold.

Musk’s company also received significant government backing in its early stages, receiving a $465 million low-interest loan from the Department of Energy in 2010, at a time when Tesla was on the rocks and its future was in doubt.

Like many giant companies, Tesla is able to play states off against each other, each job-hungry location bidding against the others to give the corporation as much free cash and tax incentives as possible. In 2020, for example, Austin gave Tesla more than $60 million in tax breaks to build a truck plant there.

This, however, was small fry in comparison to some of the deals Musk has signed. The State of New York handed Musk over $750 million, including $350 million in cash, in exchange for building a solar plant outside of Buffalo – a plant that Musk was bound to build somewhere in the United States. Meanwhile, Nevada signed an agreement with Tesla to build its Gigafactory near Reno. The included incentives mean that the car manufacturer could rake in nearly $1.3 billion in tax relief and tax credits. Between 2015 and 2018, Musk himself paid less than $70,000 in federal income taxes.

Therefore, while the 50-year-old businessman presents himself as a maverick science genius – an act that has garnered him legions of fans around the world – a closer inspection of his career shows he earned his fortune in a much more orthodox manner. First by being born rich, then by striking it big as a dot-com billionaire, and finally, like so many others, by feeding from the enormous government trough.

Perhaps more seriously though, SpaceX’s close proximity to both the military and the national security state marks it out as a key cog in the machine of U.S. empire, allowing Washington to spy, bomb or coup whoever it wants.

It is for this reason that so much of the hysteria, both positive and negative, over Musk’s ongoing purchase of Twitter is misplaced. Elon Musk is neither going to save nor destroy Twitter because he is not a crusading rebel challenging the establishment: he is an integral part of it.

Feature photo | MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Elon Musk Is Not a Renegade Outsider – He’s a Massive Pentagon Contractor appeared first on MintPress News.

CIA Files Confirm Guantanamo Bay Torture Program’s MKULTRA Roots

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/04/2022 - 3:55am in

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — In March the CIA declassified a 2008 CIA Inspector General report on the agency’s treatment of 9/11 suspect Ammar al-Baluchi at overseas ‘black sites’ and Guantanamo Bay. The report was released as a result of legal submissions and its shocking contents offer an unprecedentedly candid snapshot of the brutal physical and psychological torment to which he and hundreds of others were subjected by the agency over many years, under its global torture program.

The nephew of purported 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Baluchi was arrested in Pakistan in April 2003. He was accused of serving as a “key lieutenant” within al-Qaeda and its chief “bagman,” having provided pivotal financial and logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers. U.S. officials declared his capture would offer crucial information on the plot, prevent future attacks by the terrorist group, and potentially even lead to the apprehension of Osama bin Laden. Despite years of incarceration, interrogation and torture, none of this proved to be true.

Quoting contemporary cables, the Inspector General’s report tracks Baluchi’s induction at the “Salt Pit,” a CIA black site in Afghanistan, in detail. New arrivals were physically examined, their beards and heads shaved, and then put through a “non-enhanced” psychological assessment to determine their “willingness to cooperate without enhanced techniques…displace their expectations and begin the conditioning of subjects.”

The cable’s nameless author stated that, depending on his “resistance level,” staff did not intend to employ enhanced techniques against Baluchi “unless directed by headquarters.”


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The distinction between enhanced and non-enhanced interrogation methods was evidently something of a misnomer. If initially uncooperative, Baluchi would be “immediately” placed in the “standing sleep deprivation position” for up to 12 hours; this agonizing technique was considered “non-enhanced” if applied for less than three days.

In response to the cable, CIA HQ at Langley signed off on a welter of enhanced techniques to be used on Baluchi, including “the facial attention grasp,” facial and abdominal slaps, numerous excruciating stress positions, “cramped confinement,” sleep deprivation lasting up to 180 hours, dousing with freezing water, starvation, “loud music or white noise” 24 hours a day, cessation of access to reading material, and “walling” – slamming his head against a flat surface.

Based on his initial psychological evaluation, it was ruled that none of these unspeakable horrors would inflict “permanent psychological or emotional harm” on Baluchi. This was the universal approach to using “enhanced techniques,” based on the assumption that their use in U.S. military SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training did not cause lasting harm. But, while in SERE training the subject is typically confined for only a couple of days, and knows it is training and they will soon be released, the black site prisoners had to endure months or years of brutalizing treatment, with little to no prospect of escape.

 

“Severe brain damage”

The Inspector General notes that CIA superiors offered little to no clarity on “how many times or for how long interrogators could perform a particular measure or combination of measures.” This may well account for why Salt Pit interrogators “applied some of the measures exuberantly.”

Their ‘exuberance’ was no doubt also influenced by Baluchi’s disobliging response to torture techniques. One CIA operative at the site recorded how the inmate’s “presentation” had “elicited the strongest reactions from interrogators.” His attitude was considered “dismissive, condescending, and arrogant,” typified by “obvious stonewalling, minimizing, and denying,” which served to “frustrate” his captors “and make a difficult task even harder.”

Still, some interrogators seemingly sympathized with Baluchi. One, with whom he spent a “significant amount of time,” described him as “one of the more intelligent or ‘bookish’ of the detainees.” Another regretted the monstrous methods to which they’d subjected Baluchi, stating “I wished I’d never been asked” to do so, and “wouldn’t do them again.”

Likewise, when Baluchi was submerged in a bath of “excessively cold” icy water, on at least one occasion an interrogator was “so uncomfortable with the technique he sat outside the dousing room” to avoid witnessing it first-hand. Another admitted to the Inspector General that this practice was “probably…outside the bounds of what we were supposed to be doing.” A similar strategy killed Salt Pit inmate Gul Rahman in November 2002.

By contrast, CIA torturers had no reservations whatsoever about using Baluchi as a “training prop.” Several new interrogators at the site, “who had only two weeks of classroom instruction,” needed “on-the-job practice for certification”: Baluchi represented “an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of techniques,” in particular “walling.”

After he was stripped naked, interrogators “lined up” one-by-one to slam Baluchi’s head into plywood – and, on occasion, concrete – walls over and over again, until they became “fatigued,” whereupon another would take their place, in sessions lasting up to two hours. A CIA operative interviewed by the Inspector General claimed this method was “meant more for ‘sensation’ than to hurt the detainee,” and “simply made a big noise.”

Ammar al-Baluchi testimoney

Unclassified documents in which al-Baluchi recounts the torture he endured

Baluchi’s account of the abuse is rather different. After undergoing an MRI scan in 2018 that found “abnormalities indicating moderate to severe brain damage…consistent with traumatic brain injury,” he described how each time his head struck the wall, “I would see sparks of lights in my eyes.” He further attested:

The intensity of the sparks was increasing as a result of repeated hitting. All of a sudden I felt a strong jolt of electricity in my head; then I couldn’t see anything and everything went dark and I passed out. I wasn’t just suspended to the ceiling, I was naked, starved, dehydrated, cold, hooded, verbally threatened, in pain from the beating and water-drowning, as my head was smashed against the wall dozens and dozens of times.”

Upon the Inspector General report’s release, Baluchi’s attorney Alka Pradhan likened his treatment to “human experimentation.” This categorization was even more apt than likely intended. A rarely acknowledged, sinister truth is that prisoners of the CIA throughout the War on Terror served as guinea pigs in an extension of a grand, macabre Agency experiment that began decades earlier, named MKULTRA.

In the process, these unwitting and unwilling test subjects provided living demonstrations of the efficacy of Langley’s long-patented secret torture and brainwashing techniques, while granting the CIA a wealth of fresh insight into how best to tear human minds apart and put them together again in shapes of its own choosing.

 

“No force or coercion”

MKULTRA itself represented a continuation of bloodcurdling human experimentation undertaken in Nazi concentration camps and by Japan’s infamous Unit 731 during World War II. Under its auspices, the CIA sought to develop “chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior,” and “increase the effectiveness of interrogation of hostile subjects.”

Sensory deprivation was a key tactic – and objective — of these efforts. Its efficacy as a psychological torture method was amply established by MKULTRA’s precursor, Project ARTICHOKE. In 1951, the CIA covertly sponsored an experiment in which 22 student volunteers at McGill University were placed in cubicles, wearing blackened goggles, earmuffs playing constant white noise, mittens, and cardboard tubes over their forearms.

It took just 48 hours for participants to experience intense hallucinations comparable to the effects of the psychedelic drug mescaline, and exhibit psychosis. One student suffered a complete, enduring mental breakdown. The academic who conducted the study later remarked that the results “scared the hell out of us.”

By contrast, the CIA was thrilled: Agency doctor Lawrence Hinkle, of Cornell University, said the technique was “the ideal way of ‘breaking down’ a prisoner…it seems to create precisely the state the interrogator desires: malleability and the desire to talk, with the added advantage that one can delude himself that he is using no force or coercion.”

Fast forward to 2002, and word that the CIA was torturing terror suspects began to proliferate among Western journalists and NGOs in Afghanistan, courtesy of Red Cross investigators who visited interrogation sites within and outside the country.

No mention of this surfaced in the mainstream media at the time, not least owing to the difficulty of corroborating the incendiary charge – although incontrovertible supporting evidence lurked in plain sight, plastered on newspaper front pages the world over.

Widely circulated photos of Guantanamo Bay’s first inductees, taken in January that year by an in-house U.S. Navy photographer, showed them to be gagged, outfitted with blackened goggles, ear defenders and thick gloves, in the precise manner of the McGill students.

Guantanamo

Detainees sit in a holding at Guantanamo’s Camp X-Ray. Photo | AP

These measures were applied to inmates whenever they were taken outside their cell for any reason – even dentist visits. The 2008 Inspector General report refers to Baluchi being blindfolded, hands and feet shackled, mouth covered “to prevent him from communicating,” and noise suppressors placed over his ears “to prevent him from hearing ambient sounds,” as “standard rendition procedure.”

The review also notes that on at least one occasion, Baluchi was forced to drink a nameless medicine – he subsequently “went crazy.” This highlights another fundamental synergy between MKULTRA and the CIA’s torture program: the widespread doping of targets with psychedelic drugs, without their consent.

Dozens of current and former CIA prisoners have testified that they were given pills, or injected with substances, without any clarity on what they contained. If an inmate refused, Guantanamo’s notorious “Immediate Reaction Force,” responsible for pacifying combative detainees, was summoned to administer the medication via brute coercion.

These drugs often had absolutely ravaging consequences for other recipients too. Excessive, unnecessary dosing of antimalarial drug mefloquine – five times the recommended amount — led to inmates swelling like balloons, with “swollen heads, swollen hands.” Known side effects include anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucinations and psychotic behavior, and its use by U.S. soldiers has been linked to suicides and murders.

Adnan Latif, who died in Guantamo Bay – purportedly by suicide — in 2012, told his lawyers that he was subject to injections in his sleep, and frequently plied with pills, which made him feel like “a zombie.” An autopsy found a bizarre, extremely dangerous cocktail of prescription drugs and morphine in his system.

A 2009 internal Pentagon review failed to conclusively determine whether mind-altering drugs were used to make prisoners more cooperative; yet a 2003 Justice Department memo, declassified the previous year, showed that a decades-old ban on the use of such substances in interrogations was shredded for the purposes of the CIA’s torture program.


.

In any event, given the wide-ranging physical and psychological torture to which inmates were subjected, it’s impossible to quantify what if any role mind-altering substances may have played in making detainees talk – but talk they nearly all did, eventually.

 

“I said anything”

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe of the torture program concluded that enhanced techniques did not produce a single shred of useful, unique intelligence that hadn’t already been gleaned from other sources and methods.

Instead, CIA prisoners almost universally told their interrogators what they thought the Agency wanted to hear, provided false confessions and admitted to impossible crimes, in order to curtail their suffering. The Inspector General report further underlines that the CIA itself was well aware of this, finding that Baluchi provided no worthwhile intelligence of any kind, and “fabricated the information he provided” while being tortured.

The Committee’s findings were widely portrayed in the media as a testament to the program’s failure, but such analysis overlooks the obvious question of whether the Agency deliberately sought false testimony in order to achieve preordained results. Were they trying to get information out of prisoners, or trying to get information into them to substantiate and justify what the Agency was saying and doing?

Following 9/11, the U.S. government was in urgent need of fast, actionable intelligence to justify long-planned imperial interventions in the Middle East, and draconian, civil liberty-busting surveillance measures at home. As such, it was necessary to identify – or even concoct — a global terror threat to fight, as rapidly as possible.

One of the core foundations of the Iraq War — the oft-cited claim that Baghdad had tutored al-Qaeda in the use of chemical and biological weapons – was based on the testimony of a suspected al-Qaeda operative whom the CIA knew to be “likely intentionally misleading” his interrogators in Egypt, a country well known for widespread use of torture.

Along the way, countless people were falsely fingered as al-Qaeda operatives by other detainees, as a result of CIA coercion. Accordingly, of the 800 men imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2002, most were released without charge, in many cases years after the CIA determined they were innocent. Permanent psychological scars from the experience are common.

Baluchi may himself be an example of a guiltless party incarcerated on baseless charges. He claims to have had no idea the individuals he was assisting were terrorists, and acting as a courier, frequently delivered support to Muslims overseas on behalf of wealthy benefactors in order to supplement his income. The Inspector General report could identify no reasonable grounds for his imprisonment, judging the CIA’s rationale to be “fuzzy and circular.”

Interrogators at first merely “assumed” he was withholding information about “imminent threats” to the U.S., based on what they felt he “could [emphasis added] have known,” and statements from other inmates – themselves obtained via torture.

As the brutality ratcheted up, Baluchi became “compliant” in order “to try to end the techniques,” and for fear he would be killed if he didn’t cooperate, offering “tidbits” to his interrogators, which then served as justification for his continued imprisonment and abuse. In his own words, “I said anything when being tortured.”

“He was afraid to tell a lie and was afraid to tell the truth, because he did not know how either would be received,” the report noted.

 

Psychic driving

One of the most infamous MKULTRA experiments was known as psychic driving, through which psychiatrist Donald Ewen Cameron gave patients incapacitating drug cocktails and electric shocks while they listened to hours of recorded audio messages, in order to render their mind a “blank slate” onto which new behaviors, thoughts, memories, and personalities could be implanted.

Just like the CIA’s torture program, received wisdom holds that this effort was a failure. While it did create “blank slates,” in that test subjects suffered wide-ranging memory loss, Cameron was unable to effectively “reprogram” them thereafter.

Guantanamo Art

Artwork made by Ammar Al Baluchi in his Guantanamo cell. Seth Wenig | AP

Still, he considered the “primary values” of psychic driving to be “penetration of defenses [and] elicitation of hitherto inaccessible material” – and, given the similarities between his techniques and what was practiced on CIA prisoners, it’s clear the Agency considers them worthwhile to this day.

By psychologically destroying inmates, Langley could transform them into whomever and whatever it wanted and needed them to be at any given time. And in distorting their minds, the Agency corrupted global perceptions.

What’s more, there’s every reason to think the strategies honed by the CIA over the course of the program endure today. Researcher Jeff Kaye, who has conducted pioneering work on U.S. torture and biological warfare, tells MintPress that Langely’s “torture enterprise” was also codified in the 2006 Army Field Manual (AFM) on interrogations, “which Democrats pushed as an alternative to the CIA’s own torture program.”

This was effectively MKULTRA “reduced to its essentials, relying on isolation, sensory deprivation, and sleep deprivation, along with so-called legal techniques like ‘fear up,’ ‘emotional ego down’ and ‘emotional futility’ to break down individuals by creating feelings of degradation, dependency and dread within them,” Kaye says.

Similarly, in the Army’s Manual, which 2016 Congressional legislation enshrined as the approved way to interrogate prisoners held by the CIA and military, the “futility” technique is used to engender “a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness in prisoners.” Kaye chillingly concludes:

The manual’s “Field Expedient Interrogation” method (found in the AFM’s Appendix M) includes the placing of earmuffs and blackout goggles or blindfolds on prisoners, in order to “prolong the shock of capture” and “foster a feeling of futility.” The poison of the MKULTRA program has spread to infect the entire U.S. military and CIA, which now “legally” can torture, while the political establishment withholds prosecution of anyone accused of torture.”

Feature photo | MintPress News

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPresss News contributor exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. His work has previously appeared in The Cradle, Declassified UK, and Grayzone. Follow him on Twitter @KitKlarenberg.

The post CIA Files Confirm Guantanamo Bay Torture Program’s MKULTRA Roots appeared first on MintPress News.

CIA Torture Queen Now A Beauty And Life Coach

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/04/2022 - 12:18am in

Tags 

poem, poetry, CIA

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/6abc4b525d9516968be73e26bce24d48/href

The news man tells me the CIA’s “Queen of Torture” now runs a life and beauty coaching business which helps midlife women “look good, feel good, and do good.”

“HI, I’M FREDA, A CERTIFIED BEAUTY AND LIFE COACH READY TO HELP YOU OWN YOUR BEAUTY FROM THE INSIDE OUT AND FEEL INVINCIBLE IN MIDLIFE,” her website reads in all caps.

And I can only sit here and wonder, twiddling my pockmarked heart in my hands, how one is meant to react to such information?

Does one fall to one’s knees and weep hot tears for her victims, whose screams still haunt soulless fluorescent echoing corridors and whose hurts will never heal?

Does one fall to one’s knees and weep hot tears for our children, whose inheritance is a culture made of wetiko virus and psyops and a world we are clearcutting to make billboards?

Does one fall to one’s knees and weep hot tears for the Indigenous, whose lives we bulldozed and paved over with asphalt just to build a ghostmind civilization where something like this could happen?

Does one shout “Allahu Akbar!” and throw one’s smartphone off the overpass?

Does one take off one’s clothes and shriek like an ape in a last-ditch attempt at restoring the primal clarity?

At bringing things back to before they went wrong, back before CIA torture queens became life and beauty coaches?

Back before CIA torture queens were able to shout from the Reuters rooftops, “I raised my hand loud and proud and you know, I don’t regret it at all”?

Back before Hollywood movies glorifying CIA torture and its queendom began warping our minds and turning our souls into oil?

Back before the sky was scraped by dark towers built on the foundation of an economy that’s held together by lies and cruise missiles?

Back before brainwashed mouth muppets said things like “We can’t be afraid of war with Russia just because Putin has nukes” or “Unregulated speech is bad and dangerous” or “If the CIA was propagandizing us we’d have heard about it in the news”?

Back before we found ourselves sitting here killing time waiting to find out whether humanity dies of climate collapse or nuclear armageddon and whether the inevitable Zelensky movie will star Ryan Reynolds or Channing Tatum?

Back before Silicon Valley Pentagon proxies funneled 21st-century Norman Rockwell paintings into each of our QR-coded skulls?

Back before our dreams had Downvote buttons and our nightmares had laugh tracks?

Before directionless lives and carefully scripted wars?

Before truth was a choked off whisper and bullshit had a Jumbotron?

Before hallucinogens were outlawed and hallucinations were mandatory?

I see you, Queen of Torture, and everything you’ve always been.

Do you think your Instagram ads and Botox siren songs fool me?

I see the eels behind your eyes and the skulls inside your smile; in your heart you are still torturing, and you love it.

Torture is your first love, your only love, your soulmate, your sex; torture is what you’re made of, torture is what you are.

You are inseparably one with the machine which tortures the poor, which tortures our ecosystem, which tortures children under blockades and starvation sanctions, which tortures our dreamworlds and our sacred seeds of disobedience.

We will beat the machine. We will win.

That primal clarity lives within us still, and you can only sedate a giant for so long.

The primal giant will rise, will crush the machine and the CIA black sites, will crack open Gitmo and devour Hollywood, will defecate on the Pentagon and wipe its ass with Langley, and will howl at the moon and banish the narrative matrix to wherever deleted files go.

And we will be free. And we will be vast. And we will look at each other with unpolluted eyes for the very first time.

And we will go out into the world, the real world, the original world, walking with our original feet and looking with our original eyes.

Our seeds now great forests.

Tortured no more.

____________________

____________________

____________________

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The Ouster Of Imran Khan: How Much Involvement Did the US Have in Pakistan’s Coup?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/04/2022 - 7:08am in

ISLAMABAD – Following weeks of high drama and controversy that have racked the nation, Imran Khan has been removed from office. The Pakistani prime minister suffered a vote of no confidence and a loss in the supreme court, ending his rule after less than four years. Coalition partners abandoned him, leaving his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the minority.

The cricket-star-turned-political-leader had been warning for some weeks that a foreign power – assumed to be the United States – was seeking to overthrow him because of his independent foreign policy, which saw Pakistan grow closer to Russia and China. Then, in a long public address on April 8, he directly named Washington as a prime instigator in the regime-change conspiracy, accusing the U.S. of bribing his political allies with tens of millions of dollars to desert his coalition. He described the practice as “open horse trading” and the “selling of lawmakers like goats and sheep.”

Khan singled out Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu as the mastermind of the operation. “It was an official meeting between Donald Lu and our ambassador, with notetakers,” he said, sharing a diplomatic cable from Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed, in which he claimed Lu had essentially threatened his country with a coup if it did not immediately change course. In contrast, if Khan were deposed, “all will be forgiven” and Pakistan could return to its status as a favored U.S. ally. Khan then invited several journalists, members of his cabinet, and security agents to view the document. However, the Islamabad High Court immediately blocked the public dissemination of the cable on the grounds that Khan would be breaking his secrecy oath.

The ousted prime minister has not quietly accepted his fate. On the contrary, he is organizing a series of street demonstrations that have drawn huge crowds. “I want all our people to come, as Pakistan was created as an independent, sovereign state, not as a puppet state of foreign powers,” he said of a rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar, his first appearance after, in his own words, “being removed through a foreign-instigated regime change.” Khan and his PTI Party are calling for an immediate electoral showdown, apparently confident in their ability to win. “Let the people decide, through fair and free elections, whom they want as their prime minister,” he demanded.

Imran Khan Coup

Supporters of Imran Khan rally to condemn his ouster in Karachi on April 10, 2022. Fareed Khan | AP

Many, both inside and outside Pakistan, appear convinced that the United States is behind his downfall. Investigative journalist Ben Norton told MintPress News:

This is an incredible, blatant act of meddling by the U.S. government. Of course, anyone who knows the basic history of the U.S. knows that it has organized coups and impeachments and color revolutions around the world for many decades, but this was pretty much done in broad daylight!”

The United States has categorically denied any involvement. “Let me just say very bluntly there is absolutely no truth to these allegations. Of course, we continue to follow these developments, and we respect and support Pakistan’s constitutional process and rule of law. But again, these allegations are absolutely not true,” State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter said at a press conference last week.

Others inside Pakistan reject the idea that this was a coup at all. Tooba Syed, an activist and a leader of the Awami Workers Party, said that this was the “first time in Pakistan that a prime minister has been constitutionally removed from his position… It has usually been done by military intervention. It is definitely a good step forward in terms of democracy in Pakistan.”

 

Beggars can’t be choosers

Despite the official denials, there is some evidence that the United States may have played a role in the proceedings. First Lu, the man at the center of the affair, has kept relatively silent. But when Indian newspaper The Hindustan Times directly asked him to confirm or deny the cable’s authenticity, giving him an opportunity to wash his hands of responsibility, Lu responded simply by saying, “We are following developments in Pakistan and we respect and support Pakistan’s constitutional process and the rule of law” – an answer that is far from a denial and could be interpreted as giving his blessing to proceedings.

Perhaps even more damning were remarks made by new Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Responding to allegations that opposition parties, including his Pakistan Muslim League (N), were acting on behalf of Washington in exchange for better diplomatic and economic ties, Sharif appeared to agree. “Beggars can’t be choosers, please understand,” he said. “We have to feed our nation […] we have to send our children to school; we can’t fight with someone, can’t raise slogans against others,” he added.

Donald Lu meeting Pakistan

US State Dept official Donald Lu, second from right, meets with Pakistan’s Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, left, on October 15, 2021

For its part, the U.S. government immediately endorsed Sharif. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated the new prime minister on his election, thereby firmly placing Washington on one side of this political battle.

Also of note has been the reaction of anti-Khan diplomats within Pakistan’s foreign services. Speaking on condition of anonymity to Dawn, an English-language newspaper founded by the Pakistan Muslim League, a host of diplomats harshly criticized Khan for having “skewered the principle of secure and confidential communications.” “The consequences of this ‘cablegate’ will go well beyond what is being discussed now, as it could hurt sensitive relationships and make open exchanges more difficult,” said one diplomat. Another foreign-service official lamented that, in the past, “we did not pull foreign policy controversies into domestic politics.” However, it seemed, those days were gone.

Yet none of them challenged the veracity of Khan’s cable. Therefore, the objection from oppositional figures inside the government appears to be that Khan was breaking protocol and publicizing secret information, rather than the information being false.

 

Why would the US want Khan gone?

Pakistan has, historically, had a close relationship with the United States, especially militarily. Between 2002 and 2018, the U.S. gave $33 billion worth of assistance to Pakistan, of which more than $14 billion was military aid. Its armed forces are stocked with the best American gear and its officers are trained in the United States.

Pakistan was also a key player in the U.S. occupation of neighboring Afghanistan, with successive administrations allowing the U.S. military to conduct operations from its territory. The result was a humanitarian disaster for the country; an estimated 83,000 Pakistanis lost their lives as a consequence of the War on Terror.

Khan, who had long opposed U.S. actions in the region, sharply reduced the nation’s involvement in the war. “There is no way we are going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not,” he told an interviewer from Axios last year. He also began to increase military purchases from and cooperation with China, a decision that angered many of his army’s top brass.

Khan’s administration was not the first to move toward Beijing, but he certainly continued to build ties with China. Chief among these connections is the new China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $62 billion infrastructure network that links the two countries and helps boost trade worldwide. Often described as a Chinese Marshall Plan, projects under construction include a 700-mile motorway between Karachi and Lahore as well as a vast network of roads and high-speed rail links that criss-cross the country and connect major Pakistani cities with the trading hub of Kashgar in the far west of China.

Pakistan plays a leading role in China’s Belt-and-Road Initiative, thanks to the Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea. The new port is already a major trading hub and is in the process of being vastly expanded. This process is set to make it one of the most important locations for world trade. Pakistan will soon be connected to western China via rail, creating a new Silk Road and a land route from East to West Asia, cutting delivery times and allowing Chinese ships to avoid the Straits of Malacca and the increasingly contested South China Sea.

A symbol of the improved relations between the two nations emerged earlier this year when Khan defied Western orders to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics and attended the opening ceremony. Khan has lauded China’s anti-poverty initiatives and been described as the country’s new “best friend” on the international stage.

The ousted prime minister also provoked Washington’s ire by pursuing cordial relations with Russia. Pakistan refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, let alone help the U.S. impose sanctions on Moscow. Indeed, by chance, Khan was in Moscow on February 24, negotiating an expansive economic deal whereby Pakistan agreed to purchase Russian gas and import 2 million tons of grain. The U.S. government directly communicated its displeasure with Khan over his decision to be the first Pakistani leader in over two decades to visit Moscow.

On a regional level, the Khan administration has also taken steps that have angered the world’s sole superpower. Khan has attempted to increase close bilateral collaboration to improve trade and transport links with Iran, describing their 517-mile border as a frontier of “peace and friendship” and expressing his happiness at the “positive momentum in brotherly relations between the two countries.” In 2019, he also tried to broker peace negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, an agreement that could have brought considerably more peace to the Middle East. The Trump administration vehemently opposed these negotiations, scuppering them weeks later by assassinating Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

Khan condemned the U.S. sanctions on Iran and called for their removal. “It is very unjust they are dealing with such a large [COVID] outbreak on one side, and on the other, they are facing international sanctions,” he said in 2020.

While he has supported Iran, he has also publically opposed many of the policies of key U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Israel. Khan successfully campaigned against Pakistani involvement in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, while he has consistently championed Palestinian rights and demanded the Muslim world do more to help them. “A day will come when Palestinians will get their own country, a just settlement, and they will be able to live as equal citizens,” he said last year, comparing their struggle to that of the worldwide campaign against Apartheid South Africa. Meanwhile, he has also publicly supported imprisoned publisher Julian Assange.

 

Far from a radical

These sorts of policy moves would, if he were a Western politician, mark Khan out as a radical anti-imperialist and likely politically far-left. Yet the PTI party has governed on a much more moderate agenda, centered around vague messages of anti-corruption and reform.

In 2018, Khan inherited an economy that was in shambles and quickly dropped many of his more ambitious economic and social goals. Indeed, the PTI soon entered into negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a multi-billion dollar bailout. As usual, the Fund demanded a wide range of aggressive austerity measures that meant deep cuts to social security and public services. As inflation grew, wage increases were halted and subsidies on utilities were reduced.

On top of all this, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Pakistan hard. A nationwide lockdown killed any chance of an economic recovery and caused widespread distress, particularly among the working classes. Incomes fell by 42% and unemployment rose by 34%, with the temporary shutdown permanently shuttering many businesses.

Many commentators have been left unimpressed with the former national cricket captain’s record as prime minister. Lahore-born historian and writer Tariq Ali is one of them. Commenting on Khan’s ouster, Ali asked:

Has the PTI government achieved anything? I would say no. It has faced tough economic problems. It’s gone to the IMF. All that is true. But it had no vision at all, just like the other political parties in the country. So it became like them. And all the promises of modernizing Pakistan, changing it forever, amounted to nothing.”

 

The power of the military

Also unimpressed with Khan and his politics has been the powerful Pakistani military. While he was perceived as being close to the Army in 2018, in recent weeks, it has become clear that the military has turned on Khan. During a rare press conference, Army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar categorically rejected Khan’s claims of a foreign-backed coup. “The words used are in front of you … as I said … the words used are clear. Is there any word such as conspiracy used in it? I think not,” he said. Iftikhar also criticized Khan’s trip to Russia as “very embarrassing.”

Thus, while the Pakistani public might have accepted the country’s shift towards China and Russia, the military certainly has not. Many of the top generals have close ties to the United States, having been trained and regularly traveling there for instruction. The thoroughly Westernized military establishment is far less keen to collaborate with their Chinese counterparts, and would much rather spend months in the U.S. than in China, where they do not speak the language or understand the culture. Furthermore, as Pakistani journalist Waqas Ahmed noted, the Pakistani military is almost totally equipped with U.S. weaponry and does not appreciate their new Chinese technology, which they perceive as inferior.

Consequently, it appears clear that the military played a decisive role in Khan’s ouster. As Ahmed said, “So if their [the anti-Khan opposition’s] claim was that all these parties joined the PTI on the wishes of the military, on whose wishes did they leave?”

US Pakistan miltiary

Brad Cooper, head of US Naval Central Command, meets with Amjad Niazi, the head of Pakistan’s Navy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 6, 2022. Photo | DVIDS

Few in Pakistan contest that the Army holds ultimate power. For much of its post-independence history, the country has been directly ruled as a military dictatorship. There have been multiple successful military coups, including in 1953-1954, 1958, 1977, and 1999. Indeed, none of Pakistan’s 29 prime ministers has ever finished a full term in office.

Some of these coups were carried out in coordination with Washington. A declassified CIA document from 1975 discussed the possibility of removing Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Similar to Khan, Bhutto publicly alleged that the CIA was behind his 1977 ouster, and acted because of his strong support of the country’s non-aligned position, his rejection of the Vietnam War, his pursuit of nuclear weapons, and his cordial relationship with China. Bhutto was executed two years later.

In more recent times, the military and intelligence services have worked closely with the U.S. government, helping them in their controversial spy campaign to track down Osama Bin Laden, and allowing the country to be used as a base to attack Afghanistan.

 

A dangerous near miss

The Pakistani military is thought to possess around 165 nuclear warheads. The country’s nuclear status came into sharp relief just as the campaign to oust Khan was heating up. While the world was concentrating on Ukraine, a potentially far more deadly incident occurred when India mistakenly fired a BrahMos cruise missile – the sort it uses to deliver its nuclear warheads – into Pakistan. In the course of routine maintenance, the rocket was accidentally launched. India did not immediately inform its neighbor of its mistake.

Faced with what seemed to be a nuclear attack, the Khan administration had no more than a few minutes to decide how to respond. One position was to launch Pakistan’s entire nuclear arsenal back at India – an action that could have spelled the end of organized human life worldwide. In the end, they decided to simply let themselves be hit. Fortunately, their bet that this was a terrible mistake proved correct, and the missile fell in a rural area of Punjab, killing no one.

“If our air force had not picked it up well inside India, there could have been an accidental reaction to this accidental launch. Do people realize the implications and consequences of that? That is very serious,” said Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who, last week, was deposed along with Khan. “I am not trying to be dramatic about it but it is a realistic assessment… I am shocked that the media and the world have failed to feel this tremor,” he added.

Despite official U.S. denials, circumstantial evidence suggests that Washington might have had at least a guiding hand in the removal of Imran Khan from power. From its immediate endorsement of new Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, whose off-the-cuff comments more-or-less admitted its involvement, it appears that the U.S. at very least gave its tacit blessing to the move to topple Khan. He, therefore, joins the long list of deposed prime ministers and underscores the reality that, in Pakistan, whoever the people elect, the U.S.-backed military is always in charge.

Feature photo | Supporters of Imran Khan attend a rally to protest his ouster in Peshawar, Pakistan, April 13, 2022. Muhammad Sajjad | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post The Ouster Of Imran Khan: How Much Involvement Did the US Have in Pakistan’s Coup? appeared first on MintPress News.

Fresh audio product: Ukraine, libraries, Cold War fiction

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/03/2022 - 7:16am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

March 24, 2022 Richard Seymour, author of this article, on the cultural politics of the war in Ukraine • Emily Drabinski on the war against libraries • Annie Levin on the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Cold War fiction [info on Current Affairs]

Tucker Carlson: The Elite Pedigree of a Brilliant Cosplaying “Populist”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/02/2022 - 7:05am in

NEW YORK – Tucker Carlson is the hottest media personality in America. Comfortably the most watched cable news show, Tucker Carlson Tonight is a ratings bonanza, with even former President Donald Trump said to be a keen viewer. Part of Carlson’s appeal is that he presents himself as a maverick outsider, someone who thinks outside the box and is not afraid to launch tirades against the powerful and criticize the government and its foreign policy. Certainly, he does surprise many people, covering subjects other cable news hosts do not touch. However, on closer inspection, this populist everyman persona is all a facade; Carlson himself has deep connections to the government and the national security state and works hard to obscure the real centers of power, channeling popular rage towards safer targets.

 

A blue-blooded chip off the block

Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson was born into a wealthy California family in 1969. He attended a number of private preparatory schools in California and New England, including the exclusive St. George’s School in Rhode Island, where today attendance costs between $46,000 and $67,000 per year. From there, he went on to study history at Trinity College, a private Connecticut liberal arts institution that charges similar fees.

Carlson is a blue-blood through and through. His great-uncle was Arkansas Senator William Fulbright, while his step-mother, Patricia Swanson, is the heiress to the Swanson Frozen Food company fortune. In his earlier years, before his character change, Carlson openly described himself as a trust-fund baby. “I’m extraordinarily loaded just from money I inherited from a number of trust funds,” he said in 2008.

His father, Richard “Dick” Carlson is an important journalist and high state official who was appointed by Ronald Reagan as director of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), the body that oversees government-funded media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio and TV Martí and Voice of America, of which Dick was also the director. (USIA has since been replaced by the U.S. Agency for Global Media). Together, these outlets are part of what The New York Times called a “worldwide propaganda network built by the CIA.” Their goal is to bombard enemy countries with regime-change propaganda. Until the 1970s, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was directly funded by the CIA.

In his position as director of USIA, Dick played a considerable part in the downfall of the Soviet Union. In a 1990 event alongside media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner, he noted that “international broadcasting played a very critical role, as was suggested by Mr. Murdoch, in the events that took place in the USSR and Eastern Europe in the past couple of years.”

Listening to his speech, it is clear he saw his primary role as being to bring about regime change. In fact, he was proud of it, stating:

International broadcasters were equally important in laying the groundwork for the democratic revolutions that we have seen. Isn’t it incredible how Western all those Eastern Europeans sound in talking about freedom, democracy, free enterprise, environmental concerns. And they didn’t get those ideas from their own media or from textbooks in their own countries; they got them mainly from international broadcasters like Voice of America, the BBC, Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe.”

In this same job, Dick was a key component in the ultimately successful attempt to bring down the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua through hybrid warfare. The U.S. bombarded the country with incessant propaganda, funding local media outlets that preached regime change, amplifying fake news and scare stories, and supplying enormous amounts of weapons and training to far-right death squads that labeled themselves “Contras” (short for counter-revolutionaries). U.S.-trained and -armed death squads would go on to carry out massacres across Central America throughout the 1980s, killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Dick would later be appointed by President George H.W. Bush as U.S. Ambassador to the Seychelles and serve on a number of neoconservative think tanks. Chief among these is the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), an organization widely accused of being little more than a front for the Israel lobby. Indeed, when asked point blank if that were the case, he refused to deny it, stating only that, “Israel is a country under siege. It’s a democracy in a part of the world where there are no democracies. And it is under constant irregular terrorist attack and threat.”

Also on the board of the FDD at that time were Jeanne Kirkpatrick, a high official at the center of the Iran-Contra Affair, (the operation where the U.S. sold weapons to Iran to fund Nicaraguan death squads), and R. James Woolsey, CIA director from 1993 to 1995. Dick would later team up with Woolsey again at the Institute for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence.

 

A couple of preppy freedom-fighters

From his position as head of USIA, Dick’s role in the U.S. dirty, hybrid war against Nicaragua can be reasonably surmised. But far fewer people know that a young Tucker himself also played a part in it. While still in college, Tucker and his roommate, friend and Daily Caller co-founder Neil Patel went to Nicaragua at least two times to, in Tucker’s own words, “get involved in the war and support the side that was right, which was not the Sandinista side.”

Hundreds of people have written about the Fox News star, but none have unearthed this connection. Carlson has rarely talked publicly about his time in Nicaragua, and never at any length. However, in a 2017 podcast interview with The Jamie Weinstein Show, he was asked about it directly. “I don’t think many people know that you were actually a freedom-fighter who traveled to Central America to fight with the Contras. Could you fill [our listeners] in on that story?” Weinstein asks. “No,” he replied, laughing, before coyly stating that his supposedly “liberal” father “let” him go because he and Patel “wanted to go see the war in Nicaragua.” “All kinds of hilarity ensued,” he added, laughing nervously before changing the subject.

Both Carlson and Patel would return in 1990 at the time of the presidential election, which pitted Sandinista Daniel Ortega against U.S.-backed, Contra-supporting candidate Violeta Chamorro. Thanks to years of U.S.-sponsored terror and a huge political war chest, Chamorro was able to win, becoming the sixth person in her family to hold the office. According to a 1990 edition of his college’s newsletter, The Trinity Tripod, Carlson and Patel attended “many [Chamorro] rallies.” Indeed, in the National Review podcast, Carlson said that he was literally “standing next to her when she won.”

The younger Carlson presents his time in Nicaragua as purely innocent. “We did not have a place to stay or any set plans. It was very spontaneous. We are both extremely political and we felt that getting to know the country and some of its citizens would give us a better perspective on the situation,” the Tripod quotes him as saying. Speaking to sources who were in Nicaragua at the time, MintPress understands that it was not uncommon for Americans of both socialist and conservative political dispositions to travel there as a kind of political gap year.

 
Thus, it is quite possible that these preppy conservatives were simply rich kids inspired by the attempts to unseat an anti-imperialist government. However, the fact that the son of a man in charge of a CIA front organization tasked with aiding the Contras and overthrowing the government went there on more than one occasion remains suspect. How was a random foreign college student able to be right at Chamorro’s side as she won, given the intense security precautions after years of bloody civil war? What sort of “support” did Carlson give the Contras, and how should we interpret the word “freedom-fighter?” MintPress asked Fox News and Patel for comment on these issues but has not yet received a response.

Even more questions are raised when one remembers that it was not long after his second trip to Nicaragua that he formally applied to become a member of the CIA. Little about this event is known, but it was reported that, after his apparent rejection, Dick suggested he take up journalism. “They’ll take anybody,” he said.

Today, the Sandinistas are back in power and the U.S. continues to support the Chamorro family, with CIA cutout organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy sending the Chamorro Foundation millions of dollars in an attempt to help Violeta’s daughter Cristina’s presidential bid.

 

A fan of Dan?

While Carlson has had multiple public spats with so-called neocons, he has also consistently defended the ones involved in operations against Nicaragua. When Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) grilled Elliott Abrams for his role in aiding Central American massacres, Carlson brushed it off, stating that the events were “over 30 years ago,” implying that they were irrelevant. In 1991, a U.S. court convicted Abrams of withholding information from Congress about his role in supplying weapons to the Contras.

Abrams’s partner in crime in this was Oliver North, who directly sold the Iranian government weapons, using the illegal proceeds to fund the Conta death squads, which carried out countless massacres against peasants, women, schoolchildren and other “soft targets.” North was also (initially) convicted of his central part in this so-called Iran-Contra Affair. Carlson, however, has only positive things to say about him. “He is a great man, Ollie North,” he said. North has also appeared as a guest on Tucker Carlson Tonight on multiple occasions.

In his 1991 college yearbook, Carlson listed himself as a member of the Jesse Helms Foundation. Helms is remembered as one of the last openly racist politicians, and is infamous for opposing the civil rights acts and voting rights for racial minorities, and for staging a 16-day Senate filibuster to block the approval of a federal holiday in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, Helms also worked closely with the CIA in Central America to prop up far-right dictatorships and overthrow the Sandinistas.


A bowtie-clad  Carlson pictured in his 1991 college yearbook with membership listed in the Jesse Helms Foundation and Dan White society

The North Carolina senator was crucial in pushing through the Helms-Burton Act – the blockade of Cuba that continues to this day. He also wrote the legislation that established Radio Martí, of which Tucker’s father, Dick, became head.

While there is and was such an organization as the Jesse Helms Foundation, it is likely that its inclusion in Carlson’s profile was meant as a joke, as it appears next to a claim that he was also part of the “Dan White Society.” Dan White was the man who killed Harvey Milk, California’s first openly-gay elected politician. In this light, then, it is likely that Carlson was merely signaling in a creative manner that he supported racism and homophobia.

 

Defending the CIA – firing back at Gary Webb

The CIA funded its dirty war against Nicaragua by helping the Contras to flood America’s Black urban centers with crack cocaine. That is the argument put forward by investigative journalist Gary Webb in his “dark alliance” series for The San Jose Mercury News and later in his book of the same name. The articles were widely republished and caused a storm of indignation across the country, with massive public anger being directed towards the agency.

Fortunately, the CIA could count on the loyalty of many friendly journalists, among them Tucker Carlson, who by 1996 was working for neocon publication The Weekly Standard. In an article titled “A Disgraceful Newspaper Exposé and Its Fans,” Carlson launched a wall-to-wall defense of the organization he had recently applied to join.

Framing it all as a ludicrous accusation, he claimed that there was “no evidence” for Webb’s claims, and presented the CIA as a noble institution under unfair scrutiny and constant attack from forces inside the U.S. that wanted to bring it down. Far from engaging in the drug trade, he claimed that there is “ample evidence” that CIA officials had “moved to remove drug traffickers” from the “Nicaraguan resistance” – an interesting choice of words to describe the Contras.

He also wrote off the Black journalists showing interest in Webb’s findings as conspiracy theorists, stating that “few major media outlets have validated the series by reporting on its charges in any detail,” as if to say that this proved its erroneousness. In his book, “Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News,” he would later describe the idea as “ridiculous.”

The CIA was very thankful to Carlson for helping muddy the waters and shooting the messenger. A declassified CIA document cites his Weekly Standard article, among others, as aiding them in “managing a nightmare.”

Webb was subject to a huge campaign to sully his name and hound him out of journalism. He faced intense scrutiny and criticism from the national security state. In 2004, he was found in his home in California with two bullets in his head. His death was officially ruled a suicide. Others believe the messenger was killed.

 

Spears, Libby, and “semiliterate primitive monkeys”

As the millennium approached, Carlson had begun to establish himself as a neoconservative writer, reportedly “begging” arch neocon and future Iraq War architect Bill Kristol to hire him at The Weekly Standard.

After The Weekly Standard, Carlson jumped to CNN, hosting the show Crossfire. Like Kristol, he supported the invasion of Iraq, even going there to mingle with private U.S. mercenaries. An image from 2004 shows Carlson posing with two armed employees of DynCorp International, holding a Kalshnikoff rifle himself. Carlson’s article presents them as a relatively laudable force conducting vital operations, rather than an occupying army carrying out war crimes.


Tucker, far right, holds an AK47 as he poses with two DynCorp employees in Iraq in 2004

Apart from this soldier cosplaying, Carlson was also involved in one of the most iconic and bizarre pieces of pro-war propaganda from the time. In a 2003 interview with Britney Spears, Carlson asks the pop superstar what she thought about Iraq and what followers should do. “Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens,” she replies. “​​Do you trust this president?” Carlson asks. “Yes, I do,” she responds. “Excellent!” he exclaims. The clip was replayed countless times and is featured in a number of documentaries about the war, coming to define an era of pro-war media reporting.

Another top neocon close to the Carlson family is the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby. Along with Kristol, Libby was a founding member of the Project for a New American Century, the controversial think tank that pushed for the United States to become a global empire and take out any and all governments that did not comply with its dictates. In 2007, Libby was famously sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in a CIA scandal, although he was later pardoned by Trump.

By the time of Libby’s arraignment before a federal judge, Carlson had his own show on MSNBC, where he defended Libby, stating “This is a guy who devoted his whole life to the vice president. He’s got little kids. He worked 18 hours every day for five years.” What Carlson did not note were his own connections to Libby. His father Dick had employed Libby as his lawyer for some time and was even on the Libby Legal Defense Fund. “I’m a good friend of Scooter Libby,” Dick said in a 2006 interview on C-Span; “I’ve been a friend of Scooter’s for years. Scooter Libby is, in my view, a person of great integrity and character,” he added. Libby and the elder Carlson also worked together to represent Monica Lewinski and help fund her legal fees. Furthermore, Neil Patel had worked for Libby for a number of years, rising to become his deputy chief policy advisor.

The future Fox News anchor claims that he quickly turned against the war. However, many of his earliest known anti-war statements do not present him in the best light. “It’s beyond our control. I mean if, somehow, the Iraqis decided to behave like human beings or something. It’s beyond that. We can’t – I don’t think we can control. I think that’s the whole lesson of Iraq is that it is very difficult to control other people’s countries,” he said in 2008, adding a few months later that, “Iraq is a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys – that’s why it wasn’t worth invading.”

Thus, his objection to the war was not that it was immoral, but that it was too much of a burden on the U.S. On Iraqis, he was explicit, stating in 2006: “They can just shut the fuck up and obey, is my view. And, you know, the second we leave, they’re going to be calling for us to return because they can’t govern themselves.”

 

The pot calls O’Reilly black

Throughout the 2000s, Carlson’s on-air persona was very different to the one he projects today. Sporting a bowtie and a suit, he reveled in his position among the upper-classes. “I’m an out-of-the-closet-elitist… I don’t run around pretending to be a man of the people; I’m absolutely not a man of the people, at all.” he said in a 2008 radio interview. Even after he joined Fox News as an analyst in 2009, he was still very frank about his role in the media. “I am 100% his bitch. Whatever Mr. Murdoch says, I do,” he said, referring to the conservative press baron who owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and a host of other outlets.

He also had little time for right-wingers and their faux populism, which he regarded as attempting to appeal to working-class people by offering them false consciousness. In a 2003 interview, he criticized Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, stating:

I think there’s a deep phoniness at the center of his schtick. It’s built on the perception that he is the character he plays; he is everyman. He’s not right-wing, he’s a populist fighting for you against the powers that be… And that’s great as a schtick. But I’m just saying that the moment it is revealed not to be true, it’s over!.. Because the whole thing is predicated on the fact that he is who he says he is. And nobody is that person. Especially not somebody who makes many millions a year.”

And yet, when Carlson replaced O’Reilly in his 8 p.m. slot on Fox News, he adopted virtually the same persona, as a fiery, unpredictable outsider standing up for working people and saying what so many are thinking. He has certainly taken a number of positions against the establishment consensus. He was the only mainstream pundit to cover the Syria-OPCW coverup in 2019 and has generally supported calls to free Australian publisher Julian Assange.

Moreover, his rhetoric about elites in Washington is sometimes eerily reminiscent of Senator Bernie Sanders. For instance, in 2019 he said:

Working-class people of all colors have a lot more in common, infinitely more in common with each other than they do with some overpaid MSNBC anchor. And if you were allowed to think about that for long enough, you might start to get unauthorized ideas about economics, and that would be disruptive to a very lucrative status quo.”

Talk like this has built his credibility in conservative circles and even among portions of the political left. Carlson regularly invites on leftist commentators who are rarely seen on the other networks. Journalist Glenn Greenwald even went so far as to say that he would “consider Tucker Carlson to be a socialist.”

Yet closer inspection of his position finds that Carlson largely identifies Democrats rather than Republicans as the real problem. “Democrats have become the party of the elite, professional class,” he tells viewers, with the phrases “elite” and “liberal elites” often used interchangeably. Even in the quote above, he identifies “overpaid MSNBC anchor[s]” as the problem, rather than the upper class more generally.

 

Tucker’s real purpose

Thus, the Fox News host also attempts to channel popular frustrations away from the real causes of economic grief and into a pointless and endless red vs. blue culture war. Carlson has attempted to get his viewers angry about how liberals are supposedly claiming that the number “8” and trees are racist, or trying to get you to eat bugs. As media critic Carlos Maza noted:

The goal of Tucker’s show isn’t to challenge the elite; it is to make sure that you never realize who they are. To get you so mad at atheists, feminists, immigrants, millennials, trans people, pot smokers, college students, vegans, the NFL, Brooklyn witches and Lena fucking Dunham, that you don’t get mad at the people who are actually in charge.”

Carlson is generally quite respectful of his interviewees, his affable personality and charm disarming many. Yet when a guest actually brought up systemic failures of capitalism and highlighted his network’s own part in it, Carlson shut it down. In 2019, Dutch historian Rutger Bregman was brought on to criticize the World Economic Forum at Davos, but it did not go as planned after Bregman went off-script, highlighting the phony nature of Carlson’s critique. “You are a millionaire funded by billionaires… And that’s the reason you’re not talking about these issues… You are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” he told Carlson. “You’re all like ‘I’m against the globalist elite, blah, blah blah.’ It’s not very convincing,” he added, to which Carlson replied, “Why don’t you go fuck yourself!” The interview was terminated and never broadcast.

Tucker Carlson

“The goal of Tucker’s show isn’t to challenge the elite; it is to make sure that you never realize who they are”

Throughout his career, he has also consistently opposed labor unions – historically, the principal method through which working-class people build consciousness and organize for better wages and conditions. Why is this? In a 2009 radio segment, when he was yet to don his O’Reilly-borrowed everyman persona, he laid it out. Referencing his own privileged upbringing, he explained, “One thing you learn when you grow up in a castle and look out across the moat every day at the hungry peasants in the village is you don’t want to stoke envy among the proletariat.”

“Tucker Carlson isn’t a populist,” Maza said; “he’s a safety valve; a way to make sure that when the peasants in the village get angry, they don’t take it out on the party giving tax cuts to him or [Rupert Murdoch], his multi-billionaire boss.” Maza noted that Carlson spent twice as long discussing how liberals think trees are racist as he did covering Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which were, at the time, the biggest giveaway from the poor to the super-wealthy in American history. That Carlson is still an elitist at heart and not some kind of radical, anti-neocon outsider can be gauged by the fact that last year he was spotted eating dinner together with President George W. Bush at a private residence in Florida.

Carlson has also stoked racial resentment on his show, platforming far-right guests and scaremongering about gypsies coming to America and suggesting they would defecate in public. He also claimed that immigrants make the country “poorer and dirtier” and repeated the “great replacement” conspiracy theory – an idea that the Democrats are intentionally inviting people of color to the U.S. in an attempt to replace the white race.

 

A brilliant disguise

While Carlson has generally opposed increasing tensions with Russia, this should not be mistaken as a principled, anti-war stance. Rather, Carlson wants the U.S.’ attention to be firmly on what he calls “the China threat.” In a segment entitled “America is being sold to China,” he frames the opioid crisis as a possibly deliberate Chinese attack on the U.S. He has also claimed that Biden has “accelerated America’s bend to communist China” and that Beijing is engaged in “wholesale theft” and “relentless espionage” against the United States, in what, for him, amounts to “the biggest story of the decade.”

In this position, Carlson is mirroring that of the Pentagon, which long ago began its so-called “Pivot to Asia.” For years, the U.S. military has been building up its forces for what the head of Strategic Command, Admiral Charles Richard, described as the “real possibility” of a nuclear war with China.

In December, Carlson attempted to fuse his crusade against woke liberals with an aggressive pro-confrontation message. He and media personality Jesse Kelly agreed that wokeness will lead to hundreds of thousands of Americans dying in battle, presumably because the military has become too sissified to win in a coming war against China, a power Carlson described as a “massive, real threat.” Kelly added:

We don’t need a military that’s women-friendly. We don’t need a military that’s gay-friendly, with all due respect to the Air Force. We need a military that is flat-out hostile. We need a military full of type-A men that want to sit on a throne of Chinese skulls. But we don’t have that now. We can’t even get women off of naval vessels. That should be step one. But most of them are already pregnant anyway.”

Carlson nodded along, even as Kelly hinted at genocide against Chinese people.

Ultimately, while Carlson – like others – has found a massive audience for his populist sentiment, careful scrutiny of his background and past statements prove that this is little more than an act. In the same manner as Bill O’Reilly, this elitist trust-fund kid has managed to make his audience believe that he is a radical outsider working on behalf of ordinary people like him, despite the fact that the billionaire-owned Fox News has given him a platform and a multimillion-dollar contract.

Despite his family’s wealth and close connections with state power, he has convinced millions that he is on their side. Yet Tucker Carlson is no threat to the establishment; in fact, he is one of their greatest assets.

Feature photo | Graphic by MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Tucker Carlson: The Elite Pedigree of a Brilliant Cosplaying “Populist” appeared first on MintPress News.

John Pilger: War in Europe and the Rise of Raw Propaganda

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/02/2022 - 4:16am in

Marshall McLuhan’s prophecy that “the successor to politics will be propaganda” has happened.  Raw propaganda is now the rule in Western democracies, especially the US and Britain.

On matters of war and peace, ministerial deceit is reported as news. Inconvenient facts are censored, demons are nurtured. The model is corporate spin, the currency of the age. In 1964, McLuhan famously declared, “The medium is the message.” The lie is the message now.

But is this new? It is more than a century since Edward Bernays, the father of spin, invented “public relations” as a cover for war propaganda. What is new is the virtual elimination of dissent in the mainstream.

The great editor David Bowman, author of The Captive Press, called this “a defenestration of all who refuse to follow a line and to swallow the unpalatable and are brave”. He was referring to independent journalists and whistleblowers, the honest mavericks to whom media organizations once gave space, often with pride. The space has been abolished.

The war hysteria that has rolled in like a tidal wave in recent weeks and months is the most striking example. Known by its jargon, “shaping the narrative,” much if not most of it is pure propaganda.

The Russians are coming. Russia is worse than bad. Putin is evil, “a Nazi like Hitler,” salivated the Labour MP, Chris Bryant. Ukraine is about to be invaded by Russia – tonight, this week, next week. The sources include an ex CIA propagandist who now speaks for the US State Department and offers no evidence of his claims about Russian actions because “it comes from the US Government.”

The no-evidence rule also applies in London. The British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, who spent £500,000 of public money flying to Australia in a private plane to warn the Canberra government that both Russia and China were about to pounce,  offered no evidence. Antipodean heads nodded; the “narrative” is unchallenged there. One rare exception, former prime minister Paul Keating, called Truss’s warmongering “demented”.

Truss has blithely confused the countries of the Baltic and the Black Sea. In Moscow, she told the Russian foreign minister that Britain would never accept Russian sovereignty over Rostov and Voronezh – until it was pointed out to her that these places were not part of Ukraine but in Russia. Read the Russian press about the buffoonery of this pretender to 10 Downing Street and cringe.

This entire farce, recently starring Boris Johnson in Moscow playing a clownish version of his hero, Churchill, might be enjoyed as satire were it not for its wilful abuse of facts and historical understanding and the real danger of war.

Vladimir Putin refers to the “genocide” in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. Following the coup in Ukraine in 2014 – orchestrated by Barack Obama’s “point person” in Kyiv, Victoria Nuland – the coup regime, infested with neo-Nazis, launched a campaign of terror against Russian-speaking Donbas, which accounts for a third of Ukraine’s population.

Overseen by CIA director John Brennan in Kyiv, “special security units” coordinated savage attacks on the people of Donbas, who opposed the coup. Video and eyewitness reports show bussed fascist thugs burning the trade union headquarters in the city of Odessa, killing 41 people trapped inside. The police are standing by. Obama congratulated the “duly elected” coup regime for its “remarkable restraint”.

In the US media, the Odessa atrocity was played down as “murky” and a “tragedy” in which “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) attacked “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”.

Professor Stephen Cohen, acclaimed as America’s leading authority on Russia, wrote, “The pogrom-like burning to death of ethnic Russians and others in Odessa reawakened memories of Nazi extermination squads in Ukraine during world war two. [Today] storm-like assaults on gays, Jews, elderly ethnic Russians, and other ‘impure’ citizens are widespread throughout Kyiv-ruled Ukraine, along with torchlight marches reminiscent of those that eventually inflamed Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s …

“The police and official legal authorities do virtually nothing to prevent these neo-fascist acts or to prosecute them. On the contrary, Kyiv has officially encouraged them by systematically rehabilitating and even memorializing Ukrainian collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms, renaming streets in their honor, building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them, and more.”

Today, neo-Nazi Ukraine is seldom mentioned. That the British are training the Ukrainian National Guard, which includes neo-Nazis, is not news. (See Matt Kennard’s Declassified report in Consortium 15 February). The return of violent, endorsed fascism to 21st-century Europe, to quote Harold Pinter, “never happened … even while it was happening”.

On 16 December, the United Nations tabled a resolution that called for “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism”. The only nations to vote against it were the United States and Ukraine.

Almost every Russian knows that it was across the plains of Ukraine’s “borderland” that Hitler’s divisions swept from the west in 1941, bolstered by Ukraine’s Nazi cultists and collaborators. The result was more than 20 million Russians dead.

Setting aside the maneuvers and cynicism of geopolitics, whomever the players, this historical memory is the driving force behind Russia’s respect-seeking, self-protective security proposals, which were published in Moscow in the week the UN voted 130-2 to outlaw Nazism. They are:

  • NATO guarantees that it will not deploy missiles in nations bordering Russia. (They are already in place from Slovenia to Romania, with Poland to follow)
  • NATO to stop military and naval exercises in nations and seas bordering Russia.
  • Ukraine will not become a member of NATO.
  • the West and Russia to sign a binding East-West security pact.
  • – the landmark treaty between the US and Russia covering intermediate-range nuclear weapons to be restored. (The US abandoned it in 2019)

These amount to a comprehensive draft of a peace plan for all of post-war Europe and ought to be welcomed in the West. But who understands their significance in Britain? What they are told is that Putin is a pariah and a threat to Christendom.

Russian-speaking Ukrainians, under economic blockade by Kyiv for seven years, are fighting for their survival. The “massing” army we seldom hear about are the thirteen Ukrainian army brigades laying siege to Donbas: an estimated 150,000 troops. If they attack, the provocation to Russia will almost certainly mean war.

In 2015, brokered by the Germans and French, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France met in Minsk and signed an interim peace deal. Ukraine agreed to offer autonomy to Donbas, now the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Minsk agreement has never been given a chance. In Britain, the line,  amplified by Boris Johnson, is that Ukraine is being “dictated to” by world leaders. For its part, Britain is arming Ukraine and training its army.

Since the first Cold War, NATO has effectively marched right up to Russia’s most sensitive border having demonstrated its bloody aggression in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and broken solemn promises to pull back.  Having dragged European “allies” into American wars that do not concern them, the great unspoken is that NATO itself is the real threat to European security.

In Britain, a state and media xenophobia is triggered at the very mention of “Russia.” Mark the knee-jerk hostility with which the BBC reports Russia. Why? Is it because the restoration of imperial mythology demands, above all, a permanent enemy? Certainly, we deserve better.

Feature photo | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with service members of the country’s armed forces at combat positions in the Donetsk region, Feb. 17, 2022. Photo | Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

John Pilger is an award-winning journalist. His articles appear worldwide in newspapers such as the Guardian, the Independent, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Mail & Guardian (South Africa), Aftonbladet (Sweden), Il Manifesto (Italy).

The post John Pilger: War in Europe and the Rise of Raw Propaganda appeared first on MintPress News.

How the US Uses the NED to Export Obedience, with Matt Kennard

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/02/2022 - 5:33am in



Today, Watchdog host Lowkey is joined by investigative journalist Matt Kennard to discuss how the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has infiltrated foreign media in an attempt to export obedience to the United States government and promote Washington’s interests around the world.

In the late twentieth century, the CIA developed an infamous reputation, both inside and outside the United States, as scandal after scandal hit the agency. COINTELPRO quietly infiltrated and subverted all manner of domestic democratic movements, including the student movement, the civil rights campaign, the hippie movement and the Black Panthers. The Church Committee, chaired by Sen. Frank Church (D-ID), revealed to the public that the CIA had also infiltrated hundreds of the largest and most important domestic media outlets in order to shape public discussion. Meanwhile, abroad, the CIA had funded death squads in Central America and organized the overthrow of several foreign leaders.

The National Endowment for Democracy was the Reagan administration’s solution to the storm of negative publicity. Established in 1983 as a semi-private company, the NED’s job was to be the group to which the U.S. government outsourced its dirtiest work. This was done almost completely openly. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” NED co-founder Allen Weinstein proudly told The Washington Post.

The NED quickly went to work undermining the governments of Eastern Europe in the name of democracy and freedom of speech. Yet, as Kennard told Lowkey, once the Communist-era regimes fell, it actually expanded its scope to act as a worldwide force for projecting U.S. government interests everywhere.

In recent years, the NED has been funneling money to protest leaders in Hong Kong, carrying out dozens of operations against the government of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, attempting to overthrow the Cuban government, and has even organized rock concerts inside Venezuela in an effort to destabilize the country.

But Kennard’s latest research shows that the NED is also conducting influence operations in the United Kingdom. The agency is quietly funding British journalistic outlets and press organizations to the tune of $3.5 million. As Kennard told Lowkey today:

From our research, it is quite clear that democracy and freedom are not the priorities of the NED because we could not find even one grant given in any of the six U.S.-backed Gulf dictatorships (Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait). Not one pro-democracy group in those countries received an NED grant that we could find. So it is effectively about projecting American power rather than freedom and democracy.

A former reporter for The Financial Times, Kennard is now chief investigator at Declassified UK, an investigative journalism outlet concentrating on British foreign policy, military and state power. He is deeply concerned about his findings, and the presupposition that U.S. actions inside Britain are benevolent, telling Lowkey:

If even a tiny percentage of this came out about Russia it would be a massive scandal – that journalists and press freedom groups were being funded by Russia. But because it is the United States, it is assumed that this is OK. It is assumed that we [the U.K.] are a vassal of the U.S. and our discourse can be distorted by the U.S. and it is not a problem. And for me and anyone who cares about the principles of press freedom and journalism, that is not something we should accept.

Lowkey and Kennard also chatted about how British journalists and being fed stories by U.S. intelligence, the shady backgrounds of senior Conservative politicians like Rory Stewart and Boris Johnson, and the treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Listen here to the podcast and remember to subscribe.

MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Also, be sure to check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic, political campaigner, and a MintPress video and podcast host. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique, and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network, and The Peace and Justice Project founded by Jeremy Corbyn.

The post How the US Uses the NED to Export Obedience, with Matt Kennard appeared first on MintPress News.

Graphika: The Deep State’s Beard for Controlling the Information Age

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/01/2022 - 6:14am in

Tags 

censorship, CIA

NEW YORK – Graphika is the toast of the town. The private social-media and tech-intelligence agency that tracks down bots and exposes foreign influence operations online is constantly quoted, referenced and profiled in the nation’s most important outlets. For example, in 2020, The New York Times published a fawning profile of the company’s head of investigations, Ben Nimmo. “He Combs the Web for Russian Bots. That Makes Him a Target,” ran its headline, the article presenting him as a crusader risking his life to keep our internet safe and free. Last year, business magazine Fast Company labeled Graphika as among the 10 most innovative companies in the world.

There is no doubt that Graphika leans into this cool and dynamic corporate image. From its beginnings in 2013, the company has expanded to employ dozens of people at its trendy Manhattan office. Describing themselves as “cartographers of the internet age,” the company puts out investigation after investigation about foreign influence operations online, especially concentrating on Russian, Chinese or Iranian attempts to manipulate social media. A layperson could certainly be blinded by its science and impressed by the complex and innovative graphs and charts. Yet when it comes to similar but far larger U.S. government programs, the intelligence and analysis agency is silent.

 

The magnets around Graphika’s compass

One reason for this could be that Graphika is directly funded and staffed by those same American organizations. The New York-based company is not particularly transparent about its sources of income; however, on its website, it lists the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)  and the Minerva Initiative – a research program under the Department of Defense – as its chief “partners” in funding. Government records show it also sought and received $3 million in grants from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force over the previous two fiscal years.

In addition to this, Graphika has partnered with a number of organizations, including the Atlantic Council, a NATO-offshoot think tank funded by the arms industry and the U.S. government. The Atlantic Council has been at the forefront of both vigorously wiping pages and accounts critical of the U.S. government and spreading lurid accusations about the power of Russia to influence foreign elections and media. Graphika and the Atlantic Council have joined forces on a number of different projects, including a 2019 joint report, on social media bots. The two organizations are also a part of the Election Integrity Partnership, a group that purports to protect the American political system from fake news. Another member of that group (and a listed partner of Graphika on its website) is the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), an organization perhaps most famous for its work in convincing Twitter to delete accounts for the crime of “undermining faith in the NATO alliance.” The SIO is led by Alex Stamos, who is on the board of NATO’s Collective Cybersecurity Center of Excellence. In addition, Graphika lists among its partners The Syria Campaign, an organization dedicated to drumming up support and funding for the controversial group the White Helmets.

 

And inside its compass

If this is the chief organization trusted to keep us safe from bad-faith state actors, there is already a significant problem. Perhaps most worryingly from an internet freedom angle, however, is the fact that Graphika is staffed in large part by former intelligence agents from the alphabet soup of three-letter agencies in Washington.

Chief among these is strategy executive Chris Bane. Prior to joining Graphika, Bane spent 24 years in the CIA and seven in the U.S. Army, where he became an infantry and chemical officer. Another former spook is the director of federal programs, JoAnn Perry, who served for three and a half years at the CIA as an intelligence analyst advising policymakers on Middle Eastern affairs. Meanwhile, Lauren Pencek, the company’s vice president of finance and operations, worked at the NSA, eventually rising to become the agency’s director of corporate strategy. Before her time at the NSA, she worked for four years at arms manufacturer Northrop Grumman.


Chris Bane worked for the CIA for over two decades before taking charge at Graphika

Pencek’s career history underlines the connections between the national security state, the weapons industry, and the emerging tech world. She is far from the only Graphika employee with a similar background. Director of investigations Tyler Williams, for example, spent nearly two years at BAE Systems and nearly seven at Booz Allen Hamilton before joining Graphika. At BAE Systems, he is said to have managed a portfolio of over $75 million for programs totaling more than $500 million. In another job at government contractor ANSER, Williams worked hand-in-hand with the Department of Homeland Security.

Eugene Imas, Graphika’s senior analyst and team lead, has also taken a very “spooky” career path. Studying Russian at Georgetown University (a school widely known as something akin to “CIA U”), Imas went on to work as a political and military analyst contractor for the Office of Secretary of Defense, where he provided intelligence for American war simulations against Russia. Meanwhile, Jennifer Mathieu spent more than 16 years in senior positions at defense contractor MITRE before switching to Graphika in August to become its chief technology/product officer.


Eugene Imas, Graphika’s senior analyst, worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense before becoming team lead at Graphika

Even Graphika’s staff with journalistic backgrounds have eyebrow-raising connections. Chris Hernon, who contributed to Graphika’s report on Russian influence operations, was a member of the U.K. government Institute for Statecraft’s Integrity Initiative, a secret group of hawkish journalists that the British intelligence establishment has used to plant false and coordinated stories into media around the world.

Connecting the worlds of the national security state, the defense industry, and social media is the aforementioned Ben Nimmo. In addition to his role at Graphika, Nimmo is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and was NATO’s press officer between 2011 and 2014. Last February, he was also appointed as intelligence chief for Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta. The coldest of cold warriors, Nimmo has accused everybody from Welsh pensioners to internationally-recognized Ukrainian pianists of being Russian bot accounts. Unfortunately, in his positions at the Atlantic Council and Meta, he is in a position to take action on his suspicions, allowing the botfinder general to act as prosecutor, judge and executioner.

Facebook Hires NATO Press Officer Ben Nimmo as Intelligence Chief

 

The English Connection

An inordinate number of Graphika employees have been educated at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London – a notorious, intelligence-linked institution that MintPress News has profiled in depth. The Department of War Studies is the training ground for a huge number of NATO spies and, worryingly, journalists now working in politically sensitive areas such as Russia or the Middle East – a connection that suggests collusion between the national security state and the fourth estate.

A 2009 study published by the CIA extolled the virtues of sending its agents to King’s College London for advanced training from academics with “extensive and well-rounded intelligence experience.” “Exposure to an academic environment, such as the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, can add several elements that may be harder to provide within the government system,” it concluded. In 2013, former CIA Director and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave a speech at the department, where he waxed lyrical about its importance to the agency and to the intelligence community more generally. “I deeply appreciate the work that you do to train and to educate our future national security leaders, many of whom are in this audience,” he said.

A School for Spooks: The London University Department Churning Out NATO Spies

Graphika’s director of analysis, Melanie Smith, is one of many company employees who studied at the same foreign university department. Smith graduated with a master’s degree in Geopolitics, Terror and Security, a course that King’s College London itself makes clear is largely for military officers or spies. Since 2015, she has also been employed by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank funded by the arms industry and by a myriad of Western governments (including the United States).

Chair of the Advisory Board and Chief Innovation Officer Camille François is also a War Studies alumnus. A former special adviser to the Office of the French Prime Minister, she has also worked closely with DARPA in the United States and was selected in 2014 to train in “cyber operations” at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany. Her studies at Columbia University were paid for by the State Department and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Years later, she re-entered academia to attend the Department of War Studies, where, in 2019, she produced a report on the so-called Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency.

After five years in the U.S. military, Joseph Carter completed a master’s at the Department of War Studies. He later worked for Palantir and joined Graphika in 2019, becoming the company’s director of intelligence production.


Joseph Carter spent nearly five years at Palantir, another firm with deep ties to the national security state, before joining Graphika

Certainly, the number of key Graphika individuals with deep connections to the national security state raises questions about the independence and neutrality of such an organization. Indeed, if there were any remaining doubts that the company functions as a front for the U.S. deep state, then its senior intelligence analyst Denitsa Nikolova removes them. Describing her job at Graphika on her professional LinkedIn profile, Nikolova writes (emphasis added):

Denitsa uses analytical methods and tools to study complex online networks in an effort to provide situational awareness to U.S. government clients. Denitsa specializes in surveying the online political environments of various countries in an effort to protect U.S. interests from coordinated and inauthentic online activity.

The description makes crystal clear that the organization exists to protect or promote not the public’s interests, but Washington’s. Prior to Graphika, Nikolova worked for the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels and with former King’s College London War Studies Professor Thomas Rid on his book about Russian disinformation campaigns. Another Russia hawk, Rid was crucial in mainstreaming the increasingly gauche theory that Russia “hacked” the 2016 election, even testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the “dark art” of Russian meddling and condemning WikiLeaks and alternative media journalists as unwitting agents of disinformation.

The Notorious London Spy School Churning Out Many of the World’s Top Journalists

 

The best defense… (is a good offense): the takedown of Corbyn

For all the talk of foreign interference in domestic politics, Graphika has weaponized its reporting in attempts to change public discourse around the world. In 2019, the anti-imperialist, pacifistic, NATO-skeptical Jeremy Corbyn was on the verge of becoming prime minister of the United Kingdom. Corbyn – who wanted to ditch nuclear weapons, radically raise taxes on the wealthy, pursue a path of dialogue with other nations, and establish a system of 21st-century socialism at home – represented a mortal threat to establishment interests.

With the help of the Integrity Initiative, there was a coordinated government-intelligence-media effort to destroy Corbyn, with claims that he was a secret Russian spy. The Atlantic Council described him as “the Kremlin’s Trojan horse.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that the U.S. was trying its “level best” to prevent a Corbyn victory. Meanwhile, a British Army general warned that if Corbyn’s Labour Party won the election, the military would stage a coup.

But Corbyn’s team had an ace up their sleeve. Just days before the election, it released 451 pages of documents of negotiations between Conservative government members and American corporations, showing that the Tories were in negotiations to sell off Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) to foreign interests. The revelation threatened to sink Boris Johnson.

Thankfully for Johnson, Graphika sprang into action, with Nimmo immediately announcing that the documents “closely resemble…a known Russian operation.” Within days, Graphika produced a long report insinuating that Corbyn was – wittingly or not – part of a Kremlin campaign.

At no point did anyone challenge the veracity of Corbyn’s documents. Nimmo and Graphika’s words, however, allowed the media to spin the story against Corbyn, so the national narrative shifted from “Tories selling off our precious NHS” to “Corbyn working with Russians to push propaganda,” thereby helping to torpedo the latter’s October Surprise and ensure years more of Conservative rule. In the cold light of 2022, the Johnson administration is indeed carrying out its plan to privatize the country’s healthcare system.

More recently, Graphika has also charged Iran with attempting to interfere in Scottish politics, especially on the question of independence, claiming the Islamic Republic was creating networks of inauthentic bots to push for a breakup of the United Kingdom. A further report alleged that a powerful Iranian influence operation was blaming the United States for its response to COVID-19 while praising China’s reaction, all the while pumping out pro-Iran and pro-Palestine propaganda.

 

Propaganda about propaganda

The Manhattan-based tech firm has been at the forefront of the establishment attack on alternative media, attempting to construct a non-existent link between left-wing sites, the Kremlin, and the Trump reelection campaign. In 2020, Nimmo and François wrote a report insinuating that a Russian government operation had infiltrated a host of well-known independent news sites, including MintPress, The GrayZone, InTheseTimes, and Common Dreams. The crux of the Graphika report claimed that a microblog called “Peace Data” was attempting to build an audience by “partner[ing]” with them and reposting their content. MintPress publishes under a Creative Commons license, meaning anyone can freely rehost content it produces, and there are a myriad of websites and microblogs that do just that. At the time, nobody at MintPress was even aware of Peace Data’s existence.

In its report, Graphika described MintPress as “a U.S.-based site with a focus on the Middle East that has​ described U.S. foreign policy as ‘an imperialist agenda that believes it’s possible for America to bomb its way out of every difficult situation.’” While there may be an element of truth to that description, from the context, it is clear that this is intended to scandalize the reader.

Graphika

Graphika founder John Kelly, right, watches as Richard Burr shakes hands with Renee DiResta at a Senate Intelligence hearing, Aug. 1, 2018. Photo | AP

Without evidence, Graphika claimed that Peace Data was a Kremlin-controlled operation, noting that a sure giveaway was its “anti-Western tone” that “accused Western countries, the E.U. or NATO of imperialism or interference in other states,” its stance against the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen, and sympathy for the plight of Palestinians or Kashmiris. The implication of this, as The GrayZone’s Ben Norton noted, was clear: “If journalists acknowledge U.S. imperialism exists, report critically on Western foreign policy, or show sympathy toward Yemen, Palestine, and Kashmir, they are aiding and abetting the Kremlin.”

The vast majority of Peace Data’s content was in Arabic, not English, and only 5% of its articles related to the 2020 U.S. elections at all, strongly indicating that this was not a Kremlin interference operation to get Trump elected. Furthermore, its reach was utterly minuscule, as even Graphika was forced to concede. A measure of this is the fact that its English-language Facebook page had only 198 Likes by the time it was closed down. If this was indeed an influence operation, it was incompetent and ineffectual, and certainly not worthy of so much attention from a hotshot New York intelligence firm. An individual could have reached a larger audience by talking loudly in a busy movie theater.

The attempts to link Peace Data to well known anti-war sites were also extremely weak. As Miles Kampf-Lassin, web editor at In These Times, noted on Twitter: “[T]he entirety of this attempt to ‘infiltrate and exploit’ In These Times by Russian trolls consists of a single email sent from a random address to our general submission email that was never responded to. Just so everyone is clear on what’s actually going on here.”

Despite the gaping holes in its methodology, the report caused a media storm. The New York Times published a series of long articles wherein it interviewed two of the only people to have written original content for Peace Data. Strangely, if this was truly a Russian influence operation, both men were Russia hawks affiliated with the right-wing of the Democratic Party. One had even worked for conservative Democratic Congressman Don Beyer.

The suspicions that this was actually an American guilt-by-association operation were increased after Peace Data released a response in laughably poor English – a statement that read far more like an American impersonating a Russian speaking English than a genuine Russian. There were no such glaring grammatical errors on Peace Data’s website, let alone in every sentence. Nevertheless, media around the world took the poor English to be a sure sign of a Russian influence operation, despite the fact that real Russian-backed outlets like Sputnik or RT do not make such errors.

 

A dissent-snuffing template?

The Graphika report is eerily similar to a 2016 investigation by a shadowy group calling itself ‘PropOrNot.” In the wake of the 2016 election shock, PropOrNot claimed to have used sophisticated “internet analytics tools” that had identified over 200 fake news websites that were “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda” – the implication being that they helped Trump win the election. Included on the list were WikiLeaks and Trump-supporting right-wing websites like The Drudge Report; anti-Trump websites that were also critical of Hillary Clinton, like MintPress News, Truthout and The Black Agenda Report; as well as libertarian vehicles like Antiwar.com and The Ron Paul Institute. In other words, any news source that was critical of the establishment.

A sure sign that you are reading Russian propaganda, PropOrNot claimed, was if the source criticizes Obama, Clinton, NATO, the “mainstream media,” or expresses reluctance to go to war with Russia. As PropOrNot explained, “Russian propaganda never suggests [conflict with Russia] would just result in a Cold War 2 and Russia’s eventual peaceful defeat, like the last time.”

Despite refusing to show any methodology or even reveal who they were, PropOrNot’s claims caused a months-long media meltdown, and swiftly led organizations like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to radically alter their algorithms to promote “authoritative sources” and demote “borderline content.” The result was immediate. Overnight, alternative media and anti-establishment voices lost their audience. MintPress lost nearly 90% of its Google search traffic; AlterNet experienced a 63% reduction; Democracy Now! 36% and Truthout 25%.

As writer Caitlin Johnstone noted, censorship by algorithm does far more damage than conventional censorship, as it is far less noticeable. Ultimately, the PropOrNot saga allowed the establishment to tighten its grip on the means of communication and effectively shut out dissenting voices.

It is now almost certain that PropOrNot was not a neutral, independent organization, but the creation of Michael D. Weiss, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. A scan of PropOrNot’s website showed that it was controlled by The Interpreter, a magazine where Weiss is editor-in-chief. Furthermore, one investigator found hundreds of examples of the Twitter accounts of PropOrNot and Weiss using the identical and very unusual turn of phrase, strongly suggesting they were one and the same. Today, Weiss is a senior fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, alongside Graphika’s director of analysis, Melanie Smith.

 

The power of faux-neutrality

Even a cursory look at Graphika’s funding sources, the background of its staff, and its output should be enough to raise alarm bells about its motives and purpose. Graphika is funded by the U.S. national security state, staffed by “former” agents, and produces content that greatly furthers the national security state’s agenda. “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck,” so they say.

These semi-state actors play a very important role in today’s online landscape. In the 1970s, Graphika employees would likely be working for the CIA, producing internal reports for the U.S. government. The trick in the 21st century is to farm out this work to “private” companies funded in large part by the government and staffed with former agents, all the while presenting their findings as neutral, reliable and factual.

If this were the CIA or the NSA controlling social media and deleting hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Iranian or Russian accounts or suppressing domestic alternative media, there would be far more public pushback. Yet this gossamer-thin veil of neutrality from “independent” organizations has allowed a situation where the foxes have taken charge of the henhouse of online communications, promising to keep us safe from ineffective Russian operations, all the while bombarding us with propaganda that is helping drive us to the precipice of war.

Feature photo | Graphika founder and CEO John Kelly testifies before the Senate with other leaders in the private intellegence community. Photo | AP | MPN

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams

The post Graphika: The Deep State’s Beard for Controlling the Information Age appeared first on MintPress News.

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