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intel
Sep 05, 2022
In Health
FILM SYNOPSIS An in depth look into the Covid 19 narrative, who’s controlling it and how it’s being used to inject an untested, new technology into almost every person on the planet. The film explores how the narrative is being used to strip us of our human rights while weaving in the impact of mandates in a deeply powerful story of one man's tragic loss. Hear the truth from doctors and scientists not afraid to stand up against Big Pharma and the elite class who profit from mandates. #Propaganda #Corruption #Government #Pharma "This is the most powerful documentary of the Covid era." Sherri Strong - Children's Health Defence Canada WATCH NOW Uninformed Consent Website
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intel
Aug 16, 2022
In Warfare
by Dr Piers Robinson | Organisation for Propaganda Studies Originally published by Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media Authors Note: This chapter was originally published in December 2021 following three positive peer reviews in the Edward Elgar Research Handbook on Political Communication, Edited by Gary Rawnsley, Yiben Ma and Kruakae Pothong. Upon publication the chapter was immediately attacked over social media by Professor Scott Lucas and Elliot Higgins (Bellingcat); Brian Whitaker (former Guardian journalist) wrote a critical blog piece; and a threat of legal action was indicated to the publisher by Oliver Kamm of the London Times who claimed the chapter was ‘unscholarly, defamatory and antisemitic’. The publisher withdrew the chapter from the handbook citing only possible legal/reputational risks. Beyond the two legal concerns noted in the email at the end of the chapter below, the publisher did not identify to the author any errors in the chapter. The final email from the author to the publisher can be read at Appendix One. A pdf is available at Researchgate. Published 2 February 2022 Abstract Although the existence of propaganda in liberal democratic states is frequently denied it continues to play a central role especially with respect to war and conflict. Propaganda, understood as a non-consensual approach to influencing beliefs and behaviour, involves a variety of manipulative techniques including deception through lying, omission and distortion as well as incentivization and coercion. Also, it is generated across multiple sites including government, media, academia, think tanks, NGOs and popular culture. A preliminary analysis of the 2011-present Syrian War and UK propaganda indicates how a range of non-governmental and civil society actors, purportedly independent but many with links to Western governments, have been involved in promoting Western government narratives regarding the war and underpinned a misleading impression that Western governments are bystanders to the conflict. As such, the role of the UK in fostering ‘regime-change’ in Syria has remained obfuscated with serious consequences for democratic control over foreign policy. Keywords Propaganda, Strategic Communications, deception, Syria, War, Media Overview In general academics, politicians and publics do not have a very strong grasp of the role of propaganda within democracies. Indeed, across elite groups in society, which include politicians, journalists who work for the corporate media and major public service outlets and academics, the idea that propaganda is central to democratic societies is usually met with laughter or anger. The idea that the public mind is being manipulated by powerful actors is sometimes treated as absurd or simplistic. At the same time, those people who are a part of the elite political centre ground perceive themselves as free from the influences of propaganda, uniquely positioned to understand what is true and what is false in the world around them. Propaganda might be something that the extreme right or the extreme left partake in, or it might be a problem with respect to foreign interference (witness the claims regarding alleged Russian meddling in Western politics), but it is not a problem vis-à-vis ‘mainstream’ media and political discourse. This chapter takes issue with this belief so far as it applies to war and conflict and argues that war propaganda is central to contemporary democracies and, in fact, so central that democratic credentials of those states is in doubt. The chapter starts by defining what is meant by the term propaganda, describing its historical roots and helping explain the current lack of awareness of propaganda. The chapter then explores the case of the 2011-2019 Syrian war in order to highlight some of the key features of propaganda activities in contemporary democracies (focusing on the United Kingdom). This exploratory case study, based upon on-going research,[i] indicates the multiple sites at which propaganda can be seen to be generated and, more broadly, helps us to understand how and why publics have been misled as to the reality of Western government involvement in the Syrian war. In conclusion, it is argued that it is untenable to see the Syrian War propaganda as an aberration or unique case and that, instead, it is indicative of a malaise in contemporary democracies. Until these propaganda activities are properly addressed, genuinely democratic politics involving honest and consensual debate will remain out of reach. What is Propaganda? Over time the term propaganda has come to be understood to mean highly manipulative and deceptive persuasive communication that occurs mainly in authoritarian political systems or, in a democracy during the exceptional conditions of war. The academic study of propaganda reflects this understanding with a large volume of literature exploring propaganda during wartime (especially World Wars One and Two, and now increasingly the Cold War era) or exploring propaganda in non-democratic states. As argued elsewhere (Bakir, Herring, Miller and Robinson 2019) this perception is incorrect. In fact, propaganda has been an integral feature of democratic political systems since the early 20th century. Propaganda, or non-consensual organized persuasive communication (Bakir et al 2019), involves organized attempts to promote particular agendas through a complex array of communicative techniques which are principally manipulative in nature and involve various forms of deception as well as incentivization and coercion. For example, deception can occur through straightforward lying but also, and more commonly, through omission, distortion of facts and misdirection (Bakir et al 2019). As such, the promotion of one-sided interpretations of an issue can be profoundly deceptive via omissions and distortions. At the same time when sources present themselves as independent and neutral, whilst actually being funded and supported by particular political actors, this is also a form of propaganda through deception. Propaganda can also include incentivization and coercion. An example of the former is the promise of tax cuts during election campaigns. An example of the latter is the dropping of surrender leaflets in battle zones whereby the threat of lethal force is part of persuading combatants to surrender (Bakir et al, 2019). The latter two propaganda tactics also highlight the fact that propaganda is about more than just messaging via linguistic and visual communication but can also involve action in the ‘real’ world and so-called ‘propaganda of the deed’. The common thread throughout all of these persuasive communication techniques is that they involve a non-consensual process of persuasion: people are persuaded to believe something or to act in a particular way either through deception or because they have been incentivized or coerced. In short, their beliefs or actions are not freely chosen. Propaganda, then, is primarily manipulative in nature and, in general terms, incompatible with democratic requirements pertaining to free debate and citizen autonomy. Citizens who have been deceived, incentivized or coerced cannot be accurately described as having formed their opinions freely. A reason why contemporary elites and publics have insufficient awareness of quite how undemocratic their supposedly democratic political systems actually are is that propaganda has been obfuscated by a euphemism industry which has sought to relabel propaganda as public relations (PR) or strategic communication, to name two of many examples. Indeed, the 20th century propagandist Edward Bernays recollected that ‘propaganda got to be a bad word because of the Germans … using it [during the First World War]. So what I did was to … find some other words. So we found the words Counsel on Public Relations’ (Bernays cited in Miller and Dinan, 2008: 5). Philip Taylor noted how a euphemism industry has prevailed across Western democracies whereby terms such as public relations, strategic communication and perception management have come to be used to label activities that would have historically been referred to as propaganda (Taylor 2002). He states that this rebranding exercise has been used to conceal the fact that democracies use propaganda. With respect to ‘business propaganda’, otherwise known as advertising, Carey (1997) notes that its success ‘in persuading us, for so long, that we are free from propaganda is one of the most significant achievements of the twentieth century’. In short, although ubiquitous to modern democracies, awareness of propaganda has been largely erased from our collective consciousness. Running hand-in-hand with this lack of awareness is a relatively weak understanding of the number and range of institutions in modern democracies that can and do become involved in propaganda activities. Often, when people think of propaganda, they think of governments and states as its primary source. However, as detailed recently (Miller and Robinson 2019; Robinson 2018; 2019), many institutions can become involved in either the production or relaying of propaganda. For example, Herman and Chomsky (1988) have famously described how mass media function largely as propaganda tools for powerful political and business interests whilst universities, for a similar set of reasons, can also become a part of propaganda activities (Herring and Robinson, 2003). Both journalists and academics work within large organisations with commercial imperatives and shared interests with other powerful actors (e.g. government and big business) and this inevitably creates a broad structural-level constraint on their activities. Both are also frequently reliant upon ‘official sources’ for information and, when putting forward arguments that challenge power, can be subjected to unfair criticism or ‘flak’. Think tanks (Parmar, 2004; Scott-Smith, 2014) and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) can also be involved in propaganda, pushing manipulated and deceptive information into the public sphere in order to promote particular agendas. Finally, across popular culture, propaganda and ideological imperatives have been identified, which include associations between the intelligence services and media industries (Schou 2016: Secker and Alford, 2019). None of this is to say that all of these institutions are inherently propagandistic. Only that they can and do become caught up in propaganda activities and in ways which are incompatible with normal and justified expectations regarding their roles in a democratic society: we reasonably expect mass media to relay truthful and accurate news, that our universities are places for independent and rigorous research and teaching free from the influences of power, that think tanks and NGOs when promoting an issue do so in a way that avoids manipulative communication (such as deception, incentivization or coercion). Examples of propaganda across some of these ‘sites of production’ will be highlighted in the subsequent section that explores propaganda and the case of the 2011-19 war in Syria. As is in all wars (Taylor, 1992), the Syrian conflict has been accompanied by sharply differing perspectives and extensive propaganda. The focus of this exploratory case study is to identify some of the key mechanisms through which Western public perceptions of the war have been shaped. However, before doing so it is necessary to briefly describe the war and the predominant ways in which it has been presented to Western audiences. Background to the War and Western Political and Media Narratives Civil disturbances and violence started in Syria in 2011 and occurred against the backdrop of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. By 2012, violence had escalated and a leaked US Department of Defense report stated that the conflict was taking a ‘clear sectarian direction’, that ‘the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AGI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria’ and that multiple external actors were involved: ‘The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime’.[ii] One important element of the war, at least from the perspective of understanding the position of Western governments, is the US-Saudi covert operation known as Timber Sycamore. The operation was described by the New York Times as a ‘$1 Billion Secret C.I.A war in Syria’ (Mazzetti, Goldman and Schmidt, 2017) and involved an agreement between the CIA and Saudi Arabia aimed at supporting groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian government (see also Berger 2016 and Porter 2017). Recent work published by investigative journalist Maxime Chaix (2019) claims that Operation Timber Sycamore can actually be traced as far back as October 2011 when the CIA was operating via the UK’s MI6 intelligence service in order to avoid having to seek Congressional approval. Today, after eight years of war, it appears that the Syrian government is close to regaining control of most of its territory although the future dynamics of the conflict remain uncertain. In broad terms, Western politicians and mainstream/corporate media have largely presented the war as a simple struggle between pro-democratic rebels and a ruthless regime. This representation of the war has emphasized allegations of war crimes against the Syrian government (alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and torture) and downplayed both the sectarian nature of opposition groups and the extensive involvement of external actors other than Russia and Iran. Other perspectives have remained marginalized across Western media. For example, Syrian, Russian and Iranian claims that the Syrian government has been engaged in a legitimate fight against domestic and foreign-backed ‘terrorists’ have been well within the ‘sphere of deviance’ (Hallin 1986), rarely articulated in Western mainstream media and political debate. A recent study (Frohlich, 2018), based upon an extensive analysis of media reporting, government ‘public relations’ and NGO communications across a series of conflicts including Syria, confirmed that Western media reporting tended to reinforce government positions (Frohlich and Jungblot, 2018: 103). One chapter in this study noted the absence of Russian media and Russian perspectives from European parliamentary debates responding to the alleged use of a biological weapon in Syria, 2013 (Berganza, Herrero-Jimnez and Carratala, 2018). Another recent study, on war correspondents, noted how coverage of the death of journalist Marie Colvin by CNN ‘focused heavily on the apparently ahistorical evil of the Assad regime, glossing over any tough questions about the international politics that may have contributed to the war in Syria (Palmer, 2018: p. 152). Palmer also notes the political bias in Colvin’s own reporting:- ‘Colvin herself was also aligned with western political sentiments in this report … Rather than serving as an objective eyewitness, then, in death Colvin was linked to a very distinctive political perspective’ (Palmer 2018: 154 & 157).[iii] That Western media have aligned themselves with those of Western governments should come as no surprise. Academic works have repeatedly and consistently evidenced the close proximity between media and government positions especially during war (e.g. Paletz and Bennett, 1994; Hallin, 1986; Robinson et al 2010) as well as the prevalence of war propaganda (Taylor, 2002) in which conflicts are cast in simplistic and dichotomous terms, good vs. evil. It would be very surprising if future studies of western media coverage of the Syrian war would find any evidence that significantly diverges from the two studies described above. But what has contributed to the dominant ‘narrative’ regarding Syria? What follows is a preliminary outline of what we understand to be important elements of how the information environment has been shaped with respect to the war in Syria and the focus here is on elements associated with the UK. UK-linked ‘StratComm’ Operations A feature of UK policy toward the war in Syria is that, whilst the UK government has, along with the United States, supported the removal of the Assad government from power, much of this has been via covert means. As with the US-Saudi covert operation Timber Sycamore mentioned above, the UK has not ‘intervened’ in the way that it ‘intervened’ in Iraq 2003, but has instead provided a range of support activities to opposition groups some of which have played key parts with respect to influencing the ‘information environment’.[iv] These include provision of ‘PR’ support to opposition groups, creation of the so-called ‘White Helmets’ first responder NGO and the utilization of a former UK military officer as part of both gathering evidence of alleged chemical weapon attacks and relaying allegations of chemical weapon attacks. Specifically, in 2015 former Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Tilley established InCoStrat in Turkey, having been awarded funding from the UK government for media support for ‘moderate armed opposition’. Activities included producing ‘videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts branded with the logos of fighting groups, and effectively run a press office for opposition fighters’ (Cobain, Ross, Evans and Mahmood, 2016). According to Cobain et al (2016), these activities occurred in close co-operation with the UK FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office). The White Helmets NGO has become (in)famous for those closely following the war in Syria; some argue they are a genuinely independent humanitarian organization established in order to protect and save civilians (Di Giovanni 2018) whilst others argue that they are closely aligned with militant opposition groups and serve a key role in terms of generating propaganda that is favourable to the Western official narrative (Beeley 2015). The White Helmets were established by a former British military officer, James Le Mesurier, and the brand name first appeared in August 2014 (McKeigue, Mason, Robinson and Miller, 2019a). Since then, the UK government has been a major source of funding to the White Helmets, funneling resources via the Syria Resilience Programme of the Conflict Security and Stability Fund (CSSF) through to Mayday Rescue which was the NGO established by James le Mesurier to provide support to the White Helmets. The US government has provided support via USAID awarding of contracts to an NGO called Chemonics. As such, Chemonics and Mayday Rescue train and support the White Helmets on behalf of the US and UK governments.[v] Importantly, a UK government summary document published online highlights the dual role of the White Helmets as both a means ‘of supporting and lending credibility to opposition structures within Syria’ and to ‘provide an invaluable reporting and advocacy role’ which ‘has provided confidence to statements by UK and other international leaders made in condemnation of Russian actions [in Syria]’.[vi] Because the White Helmets operate only in opposition areas, they present only a partial picture of the war and one that, inevitably, presents events from a perspective conducive to the Western narrative. Finally, former British military officer Hamish de Bretton-Gordon established a company called SecureBio in 2011 and was subsequently involved in the establishment of a CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) taskforce based in Aleppo 2013/2014 (McKeigue, Mason, Miller and Robinson, 2018a). As well as having been involved in covert activity relating to the collecting of evidence regarding chemical weapon attacks for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and UN, de Bretton-Gordon has also been a prominent source for journalists with respect to alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria. Although presented as an independent expert by journalists, and despite his involvement in gathering samples for the OPCW/UN, there is evidence linking de Bretton-Gordon with UK intelligence services (McKeigue et al, 2018a, 2019b). The UK government-related activities indicate the existence of a well-organized influence operation, aimed at providing support to opposition groups, feeding back positive images of heroic rescuers saving the victims of Syrian and Russian military operations, and reinforcing a frequently made allegation that the Syrian government has been systematically using chemical and biological weapons against civilians. It would also appear that this ‘influence operation’ is propagandistic in nature: it clearly represents an attempt to promote one perspective regarding the war, as opposed to an attempt to engage or present competing perspectives whilst the actors involved are clearly not fully independent of key belligerents (United Kingdom, US and Syrian opposition groups). Many of these activities are at arms-length from the UK government with former British military officers as well as private companies and charitable organisations being the deliverers. But the funding and political links are reasonably clear to see. Indeed, some of these operations can be traced to Kevin Statford-Wright, a Lt-Colonel until 2012, who described himself as being involved in an MOD StratCom programme (2012-2015) that was “the UK’s largest of its kind since the Cold War”. Specifically, tendor documents issued by the FCO for opposition media ops, eventually awarded to Paul Tilley’s InCoStrat, were created by Stratford-Wright (McKeigue, Miller, Mason and Robinson, 2019b). ‘Independent’ Social Media Researchers Another important factor in shaping the information space has been the role of apparently independent social media actors. In fact, from very early on in the conflict there were attempts to utilize so-called citizen journalists as a way of promoting anti Syrian government/pro Western narrative messages. For example, in 2012 US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton authorized the ‘training for more than a thousand (Syrian) activists, students, and independent journalists’ in order to promote her regime-change policy preference (Clinton, 2014: 464). In the UK context the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has become a major source of casualty information on the war for UK media (Meyer, Sanger and Michaels 2017). Remarkably, in one study, SOHR were found to have almost three times the number of citations compared with established NGOs such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (Meyer, Sanger and Michaels 2017: 158-159). Another social media actor is the Bellingcat open-source intelligence website led by its relatively well-known founder, Eliot Higgins. Over the course of the Syrian War Higgins and Bellingcat have established a reputation for their investigation of alleged chemical[vii] weapon attacks in Syria and are drawn upon by mainstream media journalists and, indeed, at times celebrated by Western mainstream media organizations (e.g. New York Times, 2019). Others have criticized these social media actors, arguing in particular that Bellingcat promote narratives broadly consistent with Western foreign policy objectives as well as engage in the ‘trolling’ of academics and experts who challenge their analyses.[viii] The degree to which these two social media actors are fully independent and neutral is clearly open to question. For example, UK journalist Peter Hitchens established that SOHR had been in receipt of an FCO grant worth 200K to provide ‘communications equipment and cameras’ (Hitchens 2018) whilst others have noted that SOHR is in fact run by one person once described in a Reuters interview as a ‘prominent Syrian activist’ and who was aligned against the existing Syrian government (Reuters 2011). With respect to Bellingcat, founder Eliot Higgins has held a position at the NATO aligned think tank the Atlantic Council as a non-resident fellow at their ‘DFR lab’ whilst Bellingcat is in receipt of grants from organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy which has been described as ‘a largely state-sponsored arm of the United States government’ (Hitchens, 2019a). ‘Controlling the Narrative’ through Smear Campaigns US investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson (2017) has recently described in detail how smear campaigns have become a key tactic in contemporary politics through which political ideas and debate are stifled via nefarious attempts to destroy the reputation of individuals who hold particular views and say particular things (see also Samoilenko, Icks, Keohane, Shiraev, 2019). A recent high profile example, and one for which there are prima facie grounds for believing there has been an organized smear campaign, concerns the allegations of anti-semitism in the UK Labour Party (Philo, Berry, Schlosberg and Miller, 2019). With respect to Syria, academic Louis Allday described in 2016 the experience of people who raised questions in public with respect to the war in Syria (Allday 2016). He writes: In the current environment, to express even a mildly dissenting opinion, point out basic but unwelcome facts such as the presence of significant public support for the government in Syria, or highlight the frequently brutal acts of rebel groups, has seen many people ridiculed and attacked on social media. These attacks are rarely, if ever, reasoned critiques of opposing views; instead they frequently descend into personal, often hysterical, insults and baseless, vitriolic allegations. To what extent such activities might be co-ordinated and part of organized smear campaigns is unclear. However, the recent case of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media and the attacks on it does provide a prima facie case that smear campaigns have indeed been part of a more organized attempt to manage dissent. This working group was established in January 2018 and consisted of around 20 academics interested in the study of propaganda and the War in Syria. A particular focus of concern for some of its members was with respect to alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria and the role of the aforementioned White Helmets. Almost as soon as the working group had been established and before it had produced any substantive material, the former Guardian journalist Brian Whitaker (2018a,b&c) had written and blogged a series of articles attacking various members of the working group as ‘conspiracy theorists’ or ‘Assadists’. In April 2018 the alleged chemical weapon attack occurred in Douma, Syria, and within seven days the US, France and UK were carrying out airstrikes on Syria in response. As these airstrikes were underway the Times of London (Keate et al., 2018; Keate, 2018; Kennedy, 2018; The Times, 2018) published a total of four articles attacking the working group and which included a front page article and an op-ed which, to all intent and purpose, called for the firing of the academics. The front-page story lead with the ‘conspiracy theorists’ allegation suggesting the academics were denying war crimes in Syria by questioning alleged chemical weapon attacks. Soon after the Times articles, senior editor of the UK Huffington Post (2018a-d, 2019a-b) published a series of articles attacking various members of the working group reiterating allegations of war crimes denial and conspiracism. Other activities of interest including the setting up of Wikipedia pages for the most high-profile members of the working group which were then tendentiously edited. Two UK-based academics have also been involved in repeatedly smearing members of the working group.[ix] Despite their work on alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria having been attacked as ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘war crimes denial’, in 2019 documents were leaked from the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) (Wikileaks 2019) which indicated OPCW senior management had suppressed information during the investigation which indicated the alleged attack had not occurred. In October 2019 The Courage Foundation (2019) convened a panel at which an OPCW scientist briefed a panel of eminent individuals and which included the first Director General of the OPCW, Jose Bustani and Professor Richard Falk.[x] The panel made a public statement with respect to errors and irregularities during the OPCW investigation all of which suggested that, contrary to the official OPCW position, an attack was unlikely to have occurred. Prominent UK journalist Peter Hitchens ran articles on these revelations in the UK newspaper Mail on Sunday (2019) whilst La Repubblica (2019) also covered the story. Hitchens was subsequently smeared as an ‘Assadist’ and attacked by Bellingcat/Eliot Higgins and his Wikipedia page was subjected to tendentious editing; La Repubblica were attacked over social media by Bellingcat (Eliot Higgins). As already noted, the extent to which these attacks reflect the existence of a co-ordinated campaign aimed at stifling academic and journalistic inquiry is unclear at this point. At the same time, the remarkable intensity and scale of attacks against relatively unknown academics, and focusing on an issue that some OPCW officials themselves have felt compelled to speak out on, is indicative of some level of co-ordination aimed at inhibiting what by any standard would be considered reasonable discussion and debate. In fact in 2019, Times columnist Oliver Kamm admitted in public that he had initiated the Times attack on the UK academics and later stated that the late James Le Mesurier (founder of the White Helmets) had asked The Times to keep up the pressure on the academics (McKeigue, Mason, Robinson and Miller, 2019a). A senior academic and journalist Brian Whitaker have both claimed over social media to have sources and inside knowledge of, for example, the OPCW. It is also relevant that these events occur against the backdrop of a large-scale UK government funded propaganda operation known as the Integrity Initiative (McKeigue, Miller, Mason and Robinson, 2018b). This operation sought to establish clusters which included journalists and academics and with the aim of countering foreign ‘disinformation’ and shoring up official narratives on Russia and UK foreign policy in general. Leaked documents confirmed that two of the journalists, Deborah Haynes and Dominic Kennedy, involved in the Times attacks on the academics were listed as cluster members (McKeigue, Miller, Mason and Robinson, 2018b).[xi] In sum, further research is needed in order to establish the extent to which these smears are a part of an organized campaign aimed at discrediting and indeed having fired the academics in question. However, the observable output of these actors and both their public and private statements indicate at least some level of direction and co-ordination. Discussion and Conclusions Further research is necessary and is indeed underway into the propaganda operations associated with the 2011-present war in Syria. This chapter, however, presents at least a preliminary sketch of some of the more important aspects of ‘information operations’ thus far identified and documented and allow for an initial assessment. First and foremost, it is clear that much of Western ‘regime-change policy’ with respect to Syria has been conducted through covert means. The previously mentioned Operation Timber Sycamore was a massive covert operation in alliance with Saudi Arabia and aimed at arming and supporting sectarian groups in Syria and most other Western military operations (i.e. special forces) have been ‘under the radar’. It appears that ‘information operations’ have been conducted in a way that is compatible with the covert nature of Western involvement in the war. A brief comparison with the 2003 Iraq invasion is instructive here. That war was initiated under the full glaze of media and public attention whilst the US and UK governments conducted extensive propaganda campaigns aimed at mobilizing public support for the invasion (see for example Kull and Ramsey, Mearsheimer 2010, Herring and Robinson, 2014). Much of this was conducted using state institutions such as the intelligence services who, now notoriously, became involved in the promotion of inaccurate and false information regarding Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In the case of Syria, evidence indicates that promotion of Western government narratives has involved what, at first glance, appear to be civil society actors that are independent of the state such as the ‘White Helmets’, Bellingcat, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At the same time, substantial activities aimed at influencing the ‘information environment’ (‘PR’ support to opposition groups, ‘lending credibility to opposition structures’ via the White Helmets, and activities related to relaying information regarding alleged chemical weapon attacks) have been carried out by former UK military officers and often utilizing companies and charities receiving UK government funding. The handful of academics and journalists raising questions regarding the war in Syria have been subjected to remarkably fierce smear campaigns which appear to utilize mainstream media journalists and academics. In short, just as Western attempts to overthrow the Syrian government have been largely covert so have ‘information operations’ according to the evidence analysed thus far. The Iraq invasion was presented and sold to the public via official briefings and intelligence dossiers. The evidence presented in this chapter indicates that the Syrian war has been presented to western publics via purportedly independent actors to varying degrees promoting partial and ‘pro-Western government’ views of the war and underpinning a misleading impression that the UK and US governments are neutral bystanders to the conflict. More work is needed on Syria and, moreover, further work is warranted in order to assess the extent to which similar mechanisms of propaganda are being more widely deployed across political spheres, including domestic politics and other non-military related issues. Of particular concern for further academic inquiry is the extent to which state-led propaganda activities are now ‘out-sourced’ to purportedly neutral civil society actors and buttressed by organized smear campaigns. Overall it appears that these propaganda activities have been remarkably successful. Public understanding of the war has likely remained confused at best. Commenting on MSNBC news in 2018, Professor Jeffery Sachs stated: We know they sent in the CIA to overthrow Assad, the CIA and Saudi Arabia together in covert operations … This is the permanent state, this is the CIA this is the Pentagon wanting to keep Iran and Russia out of Syria … and so we have made a proxy war in Syria, it has killed 500, 000 people, displaced 10 million … This happened because of us … we started a war to overthrow a regime, it was covert, it was Timber Sycamore … a major war effort shrouded in secrecy never debated by Congress, never explained to the American people … and this created chaos … contrary to international law, contrary to the UN charter.[xii] And yet it is not apparent that almost any mainstream Western media or any politicians actually understand this or ever say anything about it. In fact, the drive by Western governments to overthrow the Syrian government can reasonably be interpreted as simply the latest in a series of ‘regime change wars’ which were initiated following 9/11 and which have involved extensive propaganda operations (Robinson 2017). Indeed, these propaganda campaigns are becoming increasingly well documented. For example, documents published by the UK Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War showed US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair secretly discussing military action against multiple countries including Iraq, Syria and Iran as well as the need for a ‘propaganda’ campaign (Robinson, 2017). The 2003 invasion of Iraq is now widely accepted as an instance where propaganda and deception were used to promote the invasion of Iraq (e.g. Herring and Robinson 2014, Mearsheimer, 2010) whilst the Washington Post has recently published stories based upon the vast quantity of documents recently leaked that highlight official deception with respect to the 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. What does this all mean with respect to propaganda and contemporary Western democracies? Certainly, in the realm of foreign policy it is difficult to convincingly sustain the idea that there exists meaningful democratic control over foreign policy at least in the UK and the US. Political systems sufficiently free from propaganda would not have done such a manifestly poor job with respect to enabling accurate discussion over recent major wars (Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria). The extent to which an array of state and superficially non-state actors now appear to be engaged in promoting belligerent foreign policy agendas is clearer today than at any point since 2001. This state of affairs is both problematic and dangerous: democracies require accurate information, openness and freedom of debate if they are to function properly; governments that are unrestrained by basic democratic checks and balances and who have a demonstrated track record of belligerence are likely to continue to make war. The 2020 crisis regarding the US and Iran, following the US assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and which threatened a major regional and global escalation, is only the most recent reminder of this problem. Without doubt, there needs to be greater academic, journalistic, political and public attention to the problem of war propaganda in contemporary liberal democracies. Bibliography Allday, Louis. (2016), ‘Controlling the Narrative on Syria’, MR online, Available at https://mronline.org/2016/12/13/allday131216-html Attkisson, Sharyl. (2017), The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, New York: Harper. Bakir, Vian., Eric Herring, David Miller and Piers Robinson. (2019), ‘Organised Persuasive Communication: A New Conceptual Framework for Research on Promotional Culture, Public Relations and Propaganda’ Critical Sociology, 45(3): 311-328. Beeley, Vanessa. (2015), ‘Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception Parts 1 and II’, 21st Century Wire. Available at http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/10/23/syrias-white-helmets-war-by-way-of-deception-part-1/. Download date 26 June 2017. Berganza, R., B, Herrero-Jimenez and A. Carratala (2018), ‘The Dynamics of Parliamentary Debates on War and Conflict: Assessing the Impact and Role of the Media on the Political Agenda’ in Romy Fröhlich (ed), Media in War and Armed Conflict: The Dynamics of Conflict News and Dissemination, Routledge: Abingdon, pp. 111-135. Berger, Martin (2016) ‘Operation Timber Sycamore and Washington’s Secret War on Syria’, MintPress News, https://www.mintpressnews.com/operation-timber-sycamore-washingtons-secret-war-syria/222692/. Carey, Alex (1997), Taking the Risk out of Democracy. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Chaix, Maxime (2019), La Guerre de L’Ombre en Syrie: CIA, Petrodollars et Djihad (Erik Bonnier). Clinton, Hilary. (2014), Hard Choices, New York: Simon and Schuster. Cobain, Ian., Alice Ross, Ross Evans and Mona Mahmood. (2016) ‘How Britain Funds the ‘Propaganda War’ Against Isis in Syria’, The Guardian, 3 May 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/03/how-britain-funds-the-propaganda-war-against-isis-in-syria. Download date 12 August 2020. The Courage Foundation (2019) ‘Panel Criticizes “Unacceptable Practices” in the OPCW’s investigation of the Alleged Chemical Attack in Douma, Syria on April 7th 2018’, Available on line at https://couragefound.org/2019/10/opcw-panel-statement/. Download date 21 December 2019. Fröhlich, Romy (ed) (2018), Media in War and Armed Conflict: The Dynamics of Conflict News and Dissemination, Routledge: Abingdon. Fröhlich, Romy and M. Jungblott (2018), ‘The Dynamics of Strategic Communication Over Time: Patterns of Persuasive Communication and Its Relevance for the Construction of Discourse on War and Conflict’ in Romy Fröhlich (ed) Media in War and Armed Conflict: The Dynamics of Conflict News and Dissemination, Abingdon: Routledge, pp: 76-110. Di Giovanni, Janine. (2018), ‘Why Assad and Russia Target the White Helmets’, New York Review of Books, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/10/16/why-assad-and-russia-target-the-white-helmets/. Download date 31 December 2019. Hallin, Daniel (1986), The Uncensored War: the media and Vietnam, Berkeley: University of California Press. Herman, Edward and Noam Chomsky (1988), Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York, NY: Pantheon. Herring, Eric and Piers Robinson (2014), ‘Report X Marks the Spot: The British Government’s Deceptive Dossier on Iraq and WMD’ Political Science Quarterly 129(4), 551-583. Herring, Eric and Piers Robinson (2003). ‘Too Polemical or Too Critical: Chomsky on the study of the news media and US foreign policy’ Review of International Studies, 29(4): 553-568. Hitchens, P. (2018), ‘What moral standing do we have after this outrage and are we about to join another idiotic war like feeble minions?’, Mail on Sunday, Available online at https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/05/what-moral-standing-do-we-have-after-this-outrage-and-are-we-about-to-join-another-idiotic-war-like-.html. Download date 31 December 2019. Hitchens, P. (2019a), ‘Bellingcat or Guard Dog for the Establishment’, Mail on Sunday. Available online https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2019/11/my-response-to-the-bellingcat-attempt-to-spin-away-the-devastating-implications-of-the-opcw-douma-leak-i-have.html, download date 19 December 2019. Hitchens, Peter (2019b) ‘Fresh Evidence that UN Watchdog Suppressed Report Casting Doubt on Assad Gas Attack’, Mail on Sunday, 15 December. Hitchens, Peter (2019c), ‘Sexed Up to Make War ‒ An Astonishing Leak from the Poison Gas Watchdog the OPCW’, Mail on Sunday, 24 November. Keate, Georgie (2018), ‘Professors “Shut Down Debate” over Assad’s Chemical Attacks’, The Times, 14 April. Keate, Georgie, Dominic Kennedy, Krystina Shveda, and Deborah Haynes. (2018) ‘Apologists for Assad working in universities; top academics claim chemical attacks were fake Universities host regime apologists’, The Times, 14 April. Kennedy, Dominic (2018), ‘To Edinburgh with Love: Moscow’s Scottish Links’, The Times, 14 April. Kull, Steven., Clay Ramsay and E, Clay and E. Lewis. (2003-04) ‘Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraq War’, Political Science Quarterly, 118(4), 569-598. Maurizi, Stefania (2019) ‘Whistleblower denuncia che l-OPAC, I’Organizzione per la proibizione delle armi chimiche, ha manipolato le indagini sull’attacco chimicio a Douma, in Siria’, La Repubblica, 23 October. Mazzetti, Mark., Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt, Michael, S. (2017), ‘Behind the Sudden Death of a $1 Billion Secret C.I.A War in Syria’, New York Times, August 2, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/world/middleeast/cia-syria-rebel-arm-train-trump.html. Download date 12 August 2020. McKeigue, Paul, Jake Mason, David Miller, and Piers Robinson (2019a)‚ ‘Briefing Note: James le Mesurier; a reconstruction of his business activities and covert role’, Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, available at http://syriapropagandamedia.org/james-le-mesurier-a-reconstruction-of-his-business-activities-and-covert-role, accessed 31 December 2019. McKeigue, Paul, David Miller, Jake Mason, and Piers Robinson (2019b), ‘How the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident was nobbled’, Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, available at http://syriapropagandamedia.org/briefing-notes-3__trashed/how-the-opcws-investigation-of-the-douma-incident-was-nobbled, accessed 31 December 2019. McKeigue, Paul, Jake Mason, Piers Robinson and David Miller (2018a), ‘Briefing Note: the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018, and other alleged chlorine attacks in Syria since 2014’, Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, available at http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/briefing-note-the-alleged-chemical-attack-in-douma-on-7-april-2018-and-other-alleged-chlorine-attacks-in-syria-since-2014, accessed 24 June 2019. McKeigue, Paul, Jake Mason, David Miller, and Piers Robinson (2018b), ‘Briefing Note on the Integrity Initiative’, Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM), available at http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/briefing-note-on-the-integrity-initiative, accessed 22 December 2019. Meyer, C., E. Sanger and E. Michaels (2017), ‘How do non-governmental organizations influence media coverage of conflict? The case of the Syrian conflict, 2011–2014’, Media, War and Conflict, 11(1), 149-171. Miller, David., and Dinan, William (2008), A Century of Spin, London: Pluto Press. Miller, D. and P. Robinson (2019), ‘Propaganda, Politics and Deception’ in Tony Declan (ed) Sage Handbook of Deception,Sage: Thousand Oaks. New York Times (2019) ‘These Reporters Rely Upon Public Data Rather than Secrets’, December 1 2019. Parmar, Inderjeet. (2004), Think Tanks and Power in Foreign Policy, London: Palgrave Macmillan. ‘Whistleblower denuncia che l-OPAC, I’Organizzione per la proibizione delle armi chimiche, ha manipolato le indagini sull’attacco chimicio a Douma, in Siria’ by Stefania Maurizi, La Reppublica, 23 October 2019. Palmer, Lindsay. (2018), Becoming the Story: War Correspondents since 9/11, Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Philo, G., M. Berry, J. Schlosberg, A. Lerman and D. Miller. (2019) Bad News for Labour: antisemitism, the party and public belief, London: Pluto Press. Porter, Gareth (2017), ‘How America Armed Terrorists in Syria’, American Conservative. Reuters, (2011) ‘Coventry-an unlikely home to prominent Syria activist’. Available at https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-syria-idUKTRE7B71XG20111208. Download date 19 December 2019. Robinson, P. (2019a) ‘Expanding the Field of Political Communication: making the case for a fresh perspective through “propaganda studies”’ in Frontiers in Communication, https://doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2019.00026. Robinson, P. (2019b), ‘War and Media Since 9/11’, European Journal of Communication, 34(5), 557-563. Robinson, P. (2018a), ‘Does the Propaganda Model Actually theorise Propaganda?’ in Joan Pedro-Caranana, Daniel Broudy and Jeffery Klaehn (eds) The Propaganda Model Today: filtering Perception and Awareness, London: Westminster University Press. Robinson, P. (2017), ‘Learning from the Chilcot Report: Propaganda, deception and the ‘war on terror’, International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, 11(1-2): 47-73. Robinson, P., P. Goddard, K. Parry, C. Murray and P. Taylor. (2010), Pockets of Resistance: British News Media, War and Theory in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, Manchester: University of Manchester Press. Fröhlich, Romy. (ed.) (2018), Media in War and Armed Conflict: The Dynamics of Conflict News and Dissemination, Abingdon: Routledge. Roulin, S., and G. Scott-Smith (2014), Transnational Anti-communism and the Cold War: agents, activities, and networks(Springer). Samoilenko, S,A., M. Icks, J. Keohane and E. Shiraev (eds) (2019), Routledge Handbook of Character Assassination and Reputation Management, London and New York: Routledge. Schou, Nicholas. (2016) Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood, New York: Skyhorse Publishing. Secker, T. and M. Alford (2018) ‘New Evidence for the Surprisingly Significant Propaganda Role of the Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Defense in the Screen Entertainment Industry’ Critical Sociology, available online first. Taylor, P. M. (2002), ‘Perception management and the “war” against terrorism’, Journal of Information Warfare, 1(3), 16-29. Taylor, P. M. (1992) ‘Propaganda from Thucydides to Thatcher’, Address to the annual conference of the Social History Society of Great Britain. Times of London (2018a) ‘Apologists for Assad working in universities; top academics claim chemical attacks were fake Universities host regime apologists’ by Georgie Keate, Dominic Kennedy, Kristivina Shveda and Deborah Haynes’, 14 April 2018. Times of London (2018b) ‘Professors ‘shut down debate’ over Assad’s chemical attacks by Georgie Keate, 14 April 2018. Times of London (2018c) ‘To Edinburgh with Love: Moscow’s Scottish Links’ by Dominic Kennedy, 14 April 2018. Times of London (2018d) ‘Assad’s Useful Idiots; Academics at British universities are spreading malevolent conspiracy theories in defence of the Syrian regime. They are propping up an egregious despot’, 14 April 2018. Whitaker, B. (2018a), ‘The Syrian Conflict’s anti-propaganda propagandists’ al-bab blog, 24 February 2018. Whitaker, B. (2018b), ‘Russia-friendly “Syria propaganda” group names more supporters”’, 6 March 2018. Whitaker, B. (2018c), ‘”Propaganda” professors switch focus from Syria to Britain and Russia’, al-bab blog, 18 March 2018. Whitaker, B. (2018d) ‘9/11 truther joins Syria “propaganda research” group’, al-bab blog, 19 March 2018. Wikileaks (2019) ‘OPCW Douma’, Available at https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/, Download date 21 December 2019. York, C. (2018a), ‘Whitewashing War Crimes’: How UK Academics Promote Pro-Assad Conspiracy Theories About Syria’, Huffington Post, 18 April 2018. York, C. (2018b), ‘Pro-Assad Academics Blame Criticism on Conspiracy’ Huffington Post, 24 April 2018. York, C. (2018c), ‘UK Academics to Debate if Reporters are Breaking Terrorism Laws’, Huffington Post, 29 April 2018. York, C. (2018d), ‘Professor Piers Robinson Teaches Journalism at a Top UK University. He’s Also a 9/11 Truther’ Huffington Post, 3 December 2018. York, C. (2019a), ‘Professor Piers Robinson Leaves Sheffield Uni Post After Accusations of Promoting Conspiracy’, Huffington Post, 17 April 2019. York, C. (2019b), ‘This is Why James le Mesurier’s White Helmets are Targets of a Russian Disinformation Campaign’Huffington Post, 14 November 2019. See Appendices
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intel
Aug 16, 2022
In Academia
Written by Dr. Piers Robinson | Organisation for Propaganda Studies Originally published in Propaganda in Focus On October 1st 2021, the University of Bristol decided to buckle in the face of a near 3 year-long militant Zionist campaign and fire Professor David Miller. I have worked with David for many years now, co-published work on the theory of propaganda, researched and written about the UK FCO propaganda operation (ongoing) that has sought to overthrow the Syrian government, and developed the fledging Organisation for Propaganda Studies. David was, is, and will continue to be, a major intellectual force with respect to our understanding of propaganda, and his integrity, particularly in relation to the Israel-Palestine issue, is now cemented in history. He became a voice for the Palestinians, highlighting the ways in which propaganda has worked in order to simultaneously suppress public understanding of the nefarious actions of the Israeli government against them and erase awareness of their plight. Inevitably and predictably he became an essential target for the militant Zionist lobby and the implementation of a remarkably sustained and aggressive campaign designed to falsely smear him as ‘anti-Semitic’ and have him fired. I also have a relationship with the University of Bristol. I studied for my MSc in International Relations back in 1996-97 (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC]) and continued in 1997 to undertake a PhD (also ESRC funded) under the supervision of Professor Eric Herring. I left at the end of the 2nd year of the PhD to take up my first full-time academic post at the University of Liverpool, School of Politics and Communication Studies. My PhD was awarded in 2000 from the University of Bristol. Smear campaigns and character assassination are a core feature of contemporary propaganda and our ‘democratic’ landscape. There is even an academic Handbook on the tactic, titled The Routledge Handbook of Character Assassination and Reputation Management, whilst US investigative journalist Sharyl Atkinson has provided a powerful account detailing how legitimate political views are stifled through nefarious attempts to destroy reputations. I have witnessed this tactic first hand through my experience researching propaganda and the war on Syria. For the ‘thought crime’ of questioning and researching UK government-linked ‘influence operations’ in that war, in particular the controversy over the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) and the alleged chemical weapon attack in Douma 2018, myself and other colleagues (including David), have been subjected to aggressive and continuous smearing some of which is documented here. Even when OPCW whistleblower scientists emerged and corroborated what we had been saying, those attacking us have simply continued with accusations of our being ‘conspiracy theorists’, ‘war crime deniers’ and agents of ‘disinformation’. That smear campaign also now incorporates OPCW whistleblowers with attempts to blacken their reputations. What we see today is not completely new and David’s experience is not an isolated one. In an earlier era, scientists such as Professor Steven Jones were smeared and pushed from their positions when raising perfectly objective, evidence-based and rational questions regarding 9/11. Chemist and laboratory director Kevin Ryan was fired for blowing the whistle on his own company which had obfuscated evidence related to the building collapses that occurred on 9/11. To this day, and as Dr David Hughes has recently detailed in an academic journal, mainstream academia continues to self-censor and avoid substantial analysis of 9/11. Today, with Covid-19, we now appear to be seeing an unprecedented level of attacks on academics who have raised what are, again, perfectly objective, evidence-based and rational questions regarding the efficacy of lockdowns and the drive toward coerced/mandated injections. High profile and leading academics such as Sunetra Gupta (University of Oxford) and even Professor Robert Malone, inventor of mRNA technology used in the current Covid-19 injection, have had to battle concerted drives to discredit them, with, for example, Gupta being accused of being a ‘conspiracy theorist’. Professor Sucharit Bhakdi, an early critic of lockdown, has been accused of anti-Semitismin what appears to be a wildly ill-founded and crude attempt to discredit his expertise. The assault on professional autonomy appears to be accelerating rapidly with Professor Robert Malone declaring in October 2021 that ‘[p]hysicians who speak out are being actively hunted via medical boards and the press. They are trying to delegitimize and pick us off one by one … This is happening globally’. Something is indeed ‘rotten in the state of Denmark’. Who is David Miller? In David’s case we have seen how powerful actors, in this case the militant Zionist lobby and the Israeli government, have worked to organize and influence in order to build sufficient pressure on the University of Bristol so that they would take the extreme step of firing him. The campaign has been huge and drawn upon both mainstream media and celebrity influencers, as well as student bodies, in order to relentlessly misrepresent his work as anti-Semitic when, in truth, David’s views and work are based on a clear commitment against racism and discrimination. It is worth noting that an independent report from a QC, commissioned by the University of Bristol, concluded that Professor Miller’s comments did not constitute unlawful speech and had also explicitly determined his remarks were not anti-Semitic. And, in all of this controversy, the progressive destruction of the Palestinian people and the illegal actions of the state of Israel government continue unabated. Of course, it is this wider issue that those attacking David most want us all to forget. By allowing itself to play along with a nefarious campaign to smear and cancel David, the University of Bristol has become an important element in what are widely acknowledged to be crimes and atrocities. In doing so the University has clearly placed itself on the wrong side of history. Smear campaigns and character assassination, then, are nothing new; but they are now intensified to the point that academics such as David are being fired, and high-profile scientists even from the medical sciences are targeted. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression cannot flourish in this environment and nor can academia, especially when rational debate is being supplanted with propaganda and politicized science. Our ability to evaluate, debate, and speak truth to power are being fundamentally undermined and, along with that, so is any pretence that we live in a functioning democracy. That the University of Bristol has become an active participant in these nefarious processes should be a source of shame for all those who work there. For sure, the memories of my time there are forever tarnished and I will never again think fondly of my postgraduate days at Bristol nor speak in positive terms about the institution. David’s experience is part of a wider process across democracies whereby power has sought to wrestle control of both professional classes and publics. We will now see, in the coming years, who will prevail. Trust in institutions, whether government, mainstream media or academia, is likely to decline and rapidly so. And we are now living in an era when there are unprecedented opportunities for the development of new institutions in which freedom of expression and speaking truth to power are cherished, promoted and protected. The vibrant independent media scene and increasingly discredited mainstream media are good examples of these dynamics although, as Glenn Greenwald explains here, there is a concerted drive by political power and corporate media to regain control; I doubt they will ever succeed. Those promoting academic censorship might think that they have secured a major victory in their campaign to silence critical debate on Israel, but they will not have the last word and, certainly, they will not have succeeded in silencing Professor Miller nor putting a stop to his essential work. Empirical truths always have a way of cutting through cultures of fabrication and censorship. Despite the personal loss, and unlike the University of Bristol, Professor Miller will emerge stronger and more influential than ever. About the Author Dr Piers Robinson is a co-director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies, convenor of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda, associated researcher with the Working Group on Propaganda and the 9/11 Global ‘War on Terror’, member of Panda and BerlinGroup21. He researches and writes on propaganda, conflict and media and was Chair/Professor in Politics, Society ad Political Journalism, University of Sheffield, 2016-2019, Senior Lecturer in International Politics (University of Manchester 2010-2016) and Lecturer in Political Communication (University of Liverpool, 1999-2005). Further Reading Dangerous Precedent Set as NYU Professor of 'Propaganda Studies' Gets Cancelled Professor Mark Miller - "We’re living in a moment when academic freedom and free speech are at grave risk.”
Democracy Lost: Propaganda, Character Assassination and the Campaign Against Professor David Miller content media
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intel
Jul 29, 2022
In Politics
Source At the 13.26 min mark. #UKColumnNews
UK Government Propaganda Network content media
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intel
Jul 27, 2022
In Warfare
Source There is so much to analyse in this photograph. #Orwellian
Boris Johnson presents a Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award to the President of Ukraine content media
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intel
Jul 25, 2022
In General
Video Part 1: My Trip Down South [England] Part 2: The effects of "Diversity" Part 3: Isolation, Indoctrination & Intimidation Watch here
The "3 I's" of Propaganda by Laura Towler content media
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intel
Jul 25, 2022
In Warfare
Online censorship is becoming increasingly normalized as growing restrictions, deplatforming and its other manifestations have become so pervasive that many have simply come to accept it. by WHITNEY WEBB JUL 20, 2022 Online censorship is becoming increasingly normalized as growing restrictions, deplatforming and its other manifestations have become so pervasive that many have simply come to accept it. This “new normal” for free speech is as insidious as it has been gradual, as we are increasingly being trained to accept unconstitutional limitations on what we can express on the websites that dominate online socialization. Like so much of our lives, social interaction has moved online at a rapid pace in the last decade, meaning that restrictions imposed upon online speech have a disproportionate effect on speech in general. The argument that is often deployed to dismiss concerns regarding online censorship is the claim that the dominant social media companies are private, not public, entities. However, in reality, the Big Tech firms that dominate our online lives, particularly Google and Facebook, were either created with some involvement of the U.S. national security state or have become major U.S. government and/or military contractors over the past two decades.(i,ii,iii,iv,v) When it comes to censoring and deplatforming individuals for claims that run counter to U.S. government narratives, it should be clear that Google-owned YouTube, and other tech platforms owned by contractors to the U.S. military and intelligence communities, have a major conflict of interest in their stifling of speech. The line between “private” Silicon Valley and the public sector has become increasingly blurred and it is now a matter of record that these companies have illegally passed information onto intelligence services, like the National Security Agency (NSA), for blatantly unconstitutional surveillance programs aimed at American civilians.(vi) All indications point to the military-industrial complex having expanded into the military-technology-industrial complex. These days, one need only look at important government commissions — such as the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), headed by former Google/Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt — to see how this de facto public-private partnership between Silicon Valley and the national security state functions, and its outsized role in setting important tech-related policies for both the private and public sectors. For example, that commission, largely comprised of representatives of the military, intelligence community and the scions of Big Tech, has helped set policy on “countering disinformation” online. More specifically, it has recommended weaponizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the express purpose of identifying online accounts to deplatform and speech to censor, framing this recommendation as essential to U.S. national security as it relates to “information warfare.”(vii,viii) There are already several companies competing to market an AI-powered censorship engine to the national security state as well as the private sector. One of these companies is Primer AI, a “machine intelligence” company that “builds software machines that read and write in English, Russian, and Chinese to automatically unearth trends and patterns across large volumes of data.” The company publicly states that their work “supports the mission of the intelligence community and broader DOD by automating reading and research tasks to enhance the speed and quality of decision-making.” Their current roster of clients includes the U.S. military, U.S. intelligence, major American companies like Walmart and private “philanthropic” organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.(ix) Primer’s founder, Sean Gourley, who previously created AI programs for the military to track insurgents in post-invasion Iraq, asserted in an April 2020 blog post that “computational warfare and disinformation campaigns will, in 2020, become a more serious threat than physical war, and we will have to rethink the weapons we deploy to fight them.”(x) In that same post, Gourley argued for the creation of a “Manhattan Project for truth” that would create a publicly available Wikipedia-style database built off of “knowledge bases [that] already exist inside many countries’ intelligence agencies for national security purposes.” Gourley wrote that “this effort would be ultimately about building and enhancing our collective intelligence and establishing a baseline for what’s true or not.” He concludes his blog post by stating that “in 2020, we will begin to weaponize truth.” Since that year, Primer has been under contract with the U.S. military to “develop the first-ever machine learning platform to automatically identify and assess suspected disinformation.”(xi) That the term “suspected disinformation” was used is no accident, as many instances of online censorship involve merely assertions, as opposed to confirmations, that censored speech is part of a nation state-connected or “bad actor”-connected organized disinformation campaign. While those campaigns do exist, legitimate and constitutionally protected speech that deviates from the “official” or government-sanctioned narrative are frequently censored under these metrics, often with little to no ability to meaningfully appeal the censor’s decision. In other cases, posts “suspected” of being disinformation or that are flagged as such (sometimes erroneously) by social media algorithms, are removed or hidden from public view without the poster’s knowledge. In addition, “suspected disinformation” can be used to justify the censorship of speech that is inconvenient for particular governments, corporations and groups, as there is no need to have evidence or present a coherent case that said content is disinformation — one must only cast suspicion upon it in order to have it censored. Further complicating this issue is the fact that some claims initially labeled “disinformation” later become accepted fact or recognized as legitimate speech. This has happened on more than one occasion during the COVID-19 crisis, where content creators had their accounts deleted or their content censored just for broaching issues like the lab-leak hypothesis as well as questions over mask and vaccine efficacy, among many other issues.(xii, xiii) A year or two later, much of this supposed “disinformation” was subsequently admitted to include legitimate avenues of journalistic inquiry and the initial, blanket censorship on these topics was done at the behest of public and private actors alike due to their inconvenience to what had once been the prevailing narrative.(xiv, xv) Primer is only one of several companies seeking to create a world where “truth” is defined by the U.S. national security state, with that rigid definition then being enforced by Big Tech companies with no room for debate. Brian Raymond, a former official for the CIA and the National Security Council who now serves as Primer’s vice president, openly wrote about this in November 2020 for Foreign Policy. In that article, he stated: “Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google are increasingly working with U.S. defense agencies to educate future software engineers, cybersecurity experts, and scientists. Eventually, once public-private trust is fully restored, the U.S. government and Silicon Valley can forge a united front in order to effectively take on fake news.” (xvi) Particularly troubling is the fact that Raymond’s chief example of “fake news” at the time was the New York Post’s reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop emails, which — well over a year after the fact — has now been confirmed as authentic.(xvii) Having the government, and more specifically the national security state, which has conducted a litany of confirmed disinformation and propaganda campaigns over the years, define truth and reality is hardly consistent with its professed goal of protecting “democracy.”(xviii) Instead, it protects the interests of the national security state itself, whose own interests are tightly interwoven with those of the country’s increasingly entrenched (and enriched) oligarchy. Not only do we have the national security state in a de facto public-private partnership with Big Tech to censor online information — Now, with the recent launch of the Biden administration’s war on domestic terror, we have the same national security state framing “suspected disinformation” and “conspiracy theories” as national security threats. The policy documents that outline this new war note that a major “pillar” of the government’s entire strategy is to eliminate online material that they claim promotes “domestic terrorist” ideologies, including those that “connect and intersect with conspiracy theories and other forms of disinformation and misinformation.” The proliferation of “dangerous” information “on Internet-based communications platforms such as social media, file-upload sites and end-to-end encrypted platforms”, it argues, “[…] can combine and amplify threats to public safety.” The “front lines” of this war are “overwhelmingly private-sector online platforms.” The problem with this framing is that the Biden administration’s definition of “domestic terrorist” used in these same documents is incredibly broad. For example, it labels opposition to corporate globalization, capitalism and government overreach as “terrorist” ideologies. This means that online content discussing “anti-government” and/or “anti-authority” ideas, which may simply be criticisms of government policy or the national power structure, could soon be treated in the same way as online Al Qaeda or ISIS propaganda. In addition, intelligence agencies in both the U.K. and U.S. have moved to treat critical reporting of COVID-19 vaccines and mandates as “extremist” propaganda, despite the fact that a significant percentage of Americans have chosen not to get the vaccine and/or oppose vaccine mandates. In what appears to be the apparent fulfilment of Primer AI executives’ pleas, the Biden administration also underscores the need to “increase digital literacy” among the American public, while censoring “harmful content” disseminated by “domestic terrorists” as well as by “hostile foreign powers seeking to undermine American democracy.” The latter is a clear reference to the claim that critical reporting of U.S. government policy, particularly its military and intelligence activities abroad, was the product of “Russian disinformation,” a now-discredited claim that was used to heavily censor independent media. Regarding “increasing digital literacy,” the policy documents make it clear that this refers to a new “digital literacy” education curriculum that is currently being developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S.’ domestically-focused intelligence agency, for a domestic audience. This “digital literacy” initiative would have previously violated U.S. law, until the Obama administration worked with Congress to repeal the Smith-Mundt Act, which lifted the World War II-era ban on the U.S. government directing propaganda at domestic audiences. The Biden administration’s war on domestic terror policy also makes it clear that the censorship, as described above, is part of a “broader priority” of the administration, which it defines as follows: “[…] enhancing faith in government and addressing the extreme polarization, fueled by a crisis of disinformation and misinformation often channeled through social media platforms, which can tear Americans apart and lead some to violence.” In other words, fostering trust in government while simultaneously censoring “polarizing” voices who distrust or criticize the government is a key policy goal behind the Biden administration’s new domestic-terror strategy. In addition, this statement implies that Americans not agreeing with each other is problematic and frames that disagreement as a driver of violence, as opposed to a normal occurrence in a supposed democracy that has constitutional protections for freedom of speech. From this framing, it is implied that such violence can only be stopped if all Americans trust the government and agree with its narratives and “truths.” Framing deviations from these narratives as national security threats, as is done in this policy document, invites the labeling of non-conforming speech as “violence” or as “inciting violence” through the fomentation of disagreement. As a result, those who post non-conforming speech online may soon find themselves being labeled as “terrorists” by the state. If we are to accept the “new normal” of online censorship, these efforts to prohibit debate and legitimate criticisms of government policy in the name of “national security” will continue unimpeded. In short order, the First Amendment will be redefined so that it only protects government-sanctioned speech, not the freedom of speech, as was intended. While such measures are often framed as necessary to “protect” democracy, the elimination and imminent criminalization of legitimate speech is the true threat to democracy, one that should deeply disturb all Americans. If the national security state controls and enforces the only permissible narratives and the only permitted version of the “truth,” they will then also control human perception, and — as a consequence — human behavior. Such control has long been a goal of some within the U.S.’ military and intelligence communities, but it is anathema to the values and desires of the vast majority of Americans. If there is no meaningful pushback against the increasing fusion of the national security state and Big Tech, Americans are guaranteed to lose much more than just the freedom of speech, as controlling speech is just the first step towards controlling all behavior. Americans would do well to remember the warning of Benjamin Franklin as the U.S. government moves to criminalize free speech under the guise of protecting national security; “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ENDNOTES: i Webb, Whitney. “The Military Origins of Facebook.” Unlimited Hangout, 12 Apr. 2021, unlimitedhangout.com/2021/04/investigative-reports/the-military-origins-of-facebook/. ii Ahmed, Nafeez. “How the CIA Made Google.” Medium, INSURGE intelligence, 22 Jan. 2015, medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-the-cia-made-google-e836451a959e. iii Feiner, Lauren. “Google’s Cloud Division Lands Deal with the Department of Defense.” CNBC, 20 May 2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/05/20/googles-cloud-division-lands-deal-with-the-department-of-defense.html. iv Novet, Jordan. “Microsoft Wins U.S. Army Contract for Augmented Reality Headsets, Worth up to $21.9 Billion over 10 Years.” CNBC, 31 Mar. 2021, www.cnbc.com/2021/03/31/microsoft-wins-contract-to-make-modified-hololens-for-us-army.html. v Shane, Scott, and Daisuke Wakabayashi. ““The Business of War”: Google Employees Protest Work for the Pentagon.” The New York Times, 4 Apr. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/technology/google-letter-ceo-pentagon-project.html. vi “Commissioners.” NSCAI, www.nscai.gov/commissioners/. vii Interim Report and Third Quarter Recommendations. 2020. viii PrimerAI Homepage.” PrimerAI, primer.ai/. ix “To Fight Disinformation, We Need to Weaponise the Truth.” PrimerAI, 20 Apr. 2020, primer.ai/blog/to-fight-disinformation-we-need-to-weaponise-the-truth/. x AI, Primer. “SOCOM and US Air Force Enlist Primer to Combat Disinformation.” www.prnewswire.com, 1 Oct. 2020, www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/socom-and-us-air-force-enlist-primer-to-combat-disinformation-301143716.html/. xi Forget Counterterrorism, the United States Needs a Counter-Disinformation Strategy.” PrimerAI, 16 Nov. 2020, primer.ai/blog/forget-counterterrorism-the-united-states-needs-a-counter-disinformation/. xii Golding, Bruce. “Washington Post Joins New York Times in Finally Admitting Emails from Hunter Biden Laptop Are Real.” New York Post, 30 Mar. 2022, nypost.com/2022/03/30/washington-post-admits-hunter-biden-laptop-is-real/. xiii Greenwald, Glenn. “The CIA’s Murderous Practices, Disinformation Campaigns, and Interference in Other Countries Still Shape the World Order and U.S. Politics.” The Intercept, 21 May 2020, theintercept.com/2020/05/21/the-cias-murderous-practices-disinformation-campaigns-and-interference-in-other-countries-still-shapes-the-world-order-and-u-s-politics/. xiv Ferreira, Roberto Garcia. “The Cia and Jacobo Arbenz: History of a Disinformation Campaign .” Journal of Third World Studies, vol. 25, no. 2, 2008, pp. 59–81, www.jstor.org/stable/45194479, 10.2307/45194479.f. xv National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, June 2021. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/National-Strategy-for-Countering-Domestic-Terrorism.pdf. xvi Webb, Whitney. “US - UK Intel Agencies Declare Cyber War on Independent Media.” Unlimitedhangout.com, 11 Nov. 2020, unlimitedhangout.com/2020/11/reports/us-uk-intel-agencies-declare-cyber-war-on-independent-media/. xvii Webb, Whitney. “Lifting of US Propaganda Ban Gives New Meaning to Old Song.” MintPress News, 12 Feb. 2018, www.mintpressnews.com/planting-stories-in-the-press-lifting-of-us-propaganda-ban-gives-new-meaning-to-old-song/237493/. xviii National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, June 2021. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/National-Strategy-for-Countering-Domestic-Terrorism.pdf/. Source: Published in Bitcoin Magazine
THE WAR ON DISSENT content media
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Jul 25, 2022
Sudden Invented Adult Death Syndrome Cartoon [SADS] content media
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Jul 25, 2022
In Health
Iain Davis accurately predicts the outcome of the BBC's hatchet job: Source Listen to the full analysis here. At 8.40 mins.
UK Column News | BBC Propaganda: Unvaccinated with Prof. Hannah Fry content media
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Jul 14, 2022
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At 23:07 mins - Western Propaganda Flows Around Ukraine Source: https://www.ukcolumn.org/video/uk-column-news-11th-july-2022
BBC and UK Intelligence Propaganda in Ukraine content media
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Jun 25, 2022
In Politics
Exercising Discernment and Reclaiming Your Mind in an Era of “Global Hyper-Propaganda” By Merinda Teller, MPH, PhD Weston A. Price Foundation As historians acknowledge, propaganda—and other systematic efforts to influence public opinion—are nothing new. The Roman empire, for example, was famously skilled in the use of opinion-molding techniques, finding many ways to juxtapose its portrayal of Rome as the repre­sentative of “peace, good government, and the rule of law” against a caricature of other societ­ies as “barbaric, lawless and dangerous”—with the implication being that “such people could not but benefit from Roman rule.”1 Classical Romans and Greeks considered the arts of grammar, dialectic and rhetoric the three pillars of critical thought and “free thinking minds”—with the idea being that a person “must master the language of a subject in order to think, and. . . be able to think in order to persuade.”2 To strengthen the third pillar and make their arguments more riveting and persuasive, Greek rhetoricians analyzed successful speeches by “lawyers, demagogues, and politicians”—identifying tactics such as the use of “sonorous and solemn language, carefully gauged humour, artful congeniality, appropriate mixtures of logical and illogical argument, and flattery.”3 It is no coincidence that the Merriam-Webster dictionary lists “spellbinder” as a synonym of rhetorician. Two years into the planet-wide coup d’état4 ushered in by a putative coronavirus, we have entered a new era of “global hyper-propagan­da,”5 facilitated by smartphones and other invasive tools of individual monitoring and con­trol.6 In fact, New York University propaganda expert Mark Crispin Miller suggests that we have been witnessing, since 2020, a carefully planned “propaganda masterpiece”—a “global propaganda spectacle of unprecedented scale and sophistication” so effective that it “prevents people from even looking for the truth.”5 With a large swath of the population con­tinuing to accept tyrannical policies and self-destructive Covid injections, it is evident that “constant, unremitting, one-sided” messaging and the skillful engineering of fear—success­ful propaganda’s hallmarks—have been all too effective. Miller says, “This particular instance of fear-mongering is the most persuasive, the most compelling, the most devastating kind of fear-mongering that’s ever. . . been used in the history of propaganda—and that’s really saying something.” Journalist Caitlin Johnstone, a critic and analyst of “the way power structures use mass-scale narrative manipulation to advance their agendas,” argues that it’s essential to recognize that the powerful “lie to us about everything” and to “snap out of the trance,” though she ad­mits that doing so takes time and effort and re­quires “a deep, sustained curiosity about what’s really going on underneath all the muddled mental chatter.”7 The remainder of this article discusses how propaganda has evolved and thrived in modern times; understanding how it plays out at both the “mass” and individual levels is an important step toward thinking more clearly about the events of 2020 and beyond—and taking stock of what we are up against. Twentieth-Century Pioneers and Critics As sophisticated as the Greek and Roman techniques of persuasion may have been in their day, there is little doubt that twentieth-century communication technologies introduced new and even more powerful opportunities to engi­neer consent and shape “the organized habits and opinions of the masses.”8 A legendary fig­ure in this regard was “Father of Spin” Edward Bernays (1891–1995)—one of the century’s “foremost salesmen of ideas”9—whose post-WWI books helped propel propaganda to new heights. As the twice-over nephew of Sigmund Freud (and the great-uncle of Netflix co-founder Marc Bernays Randolph), Bernays was acutely aware of the influence that could accrue from tapping into the public’s unconscious, famously stating, “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” In 1927, communication theorist Harold Lasswell published an influential book Pro­paganda Technique in the World War.10 An interesting historical footnote for our times is the name given to Lasswell’s mass persua­sion model—the “hypodermic needle theory” or “hypodermic-syringe model.” The model (sometimes also referred to as the “magic bullet theory”) was anchored in Lasswell’s conviction that human behavior could be manipulated “in a controlled and conditioned way” by “injecting” the public with “direct, immediate and power­ful” mass media messages (giving new meaning to the phrase “getting under someone’s skin”).11 Nowadays, communication theorists debate whether the “hypodermic effect” is obsolete, with some asserting that modern-day audiences are too “literate” to take media messages at face value.12 Others argue, however, that as informa­tion and communication technologies—and especially social media—have made audiences “actively passive” (“very active in responding to a false message but passive in making choices on whether the message [is] true or false”), the model not only “still holds significance” but is, in fact, resurgent.11,13 Along with its enthusiastic proponents, pro­paganda has always had detractors. World War II historians noted, for example, the influence of Bernays’ ideas on the infamous Joseph Goeb­bels, who had a highly successful twelve-year reign (1933–1945) as the Third Reich’s minister of propaganda. After the war, it did not take long for social critics to draw attention to the parallels between Nazi Germany’s “propaganda industry” and America’s “culture industry.”12 In his 1957 muckraking book The Hidden Persuaders, author Vance Packard wrote that some of his propaganda-creating informants “were so frank and detailed about their. . . operations that. . . I at times wondered if they had become insensitive to some of the anti-humanistic implications of what they were do­ing.”14 More than half a century later, a writer reflecting on Bernays’ legacy suggested that the “brazen” techniques of manipulation launched by Bernays lacked a moral compass and tended to encourage “a patronizing and ultimately cynical view of human nature and human pos­sibilities, one as likely to destroy lives as to build them up.”9 Tools and Agents of Propaganda An extensive entry in the Encyclopedia Bri­tannica notes that propaganda’s agents generally go by socially acceptable names: public rela­tions professional (the term coined by Bernays), researcher, analytic specialist, information specialist, media specialist, opinion manager, lobbyist, psychopolitical analyst and so on.3 Back in the 1950s, Packard had a less sooth­ing expression for these individuals: “depth manipulators.” “[I]n their operations beneath the surface of conscious life,” Packard worried, these manipulators were “starting to acquire a power of persuasion that is becoming a matter of justifiable public scrutiny and concern.”14 According to the encyclopedia, these profes­sional hackers of the subconscious rely on a wide variety of signs and symbols to communicate their messages. Signs may include sounds (for example, words or music), gestures, postures, structures (for example, monuments), items of clothing (such as uniforms) or visual signs. The swastika or hammer and sickle represent two examples of historically potent symbols. Media—whether print, electronic or audio­visual—are the primary channels that modern propagandists use to communicate the signs and symbols they select to manipulate the minds of their target audiences (whom they call “reactors”). Among the various types of media, Encyclopedia Britannica emphasizes that the Internet and television are particularly effective tools of persuasion—especially for large-scale propaganda efforts—providing a “mutually reinforcing” capability to “convey a great many types of signs simultaneously.” With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and software, smart­phones and other “smart” devices can also tailor propaganda down to the individual level. Controlled Opposition Persuasive public speakers—“front men,” “Trojan horses” or “dummy leaders”—also make effective propagandists, particularly if they are individuals who the target audience is “likely to listen to or appreciate”3 or are “someone everyone can admire.”15 These agents of “controlled opposition”—a form of counter­intelligence propaganda—“pretend to oppose the establishment while covertly serving it,”16 working to “undermine and garble the message of truth and freedom.”15 Capturing the public’s imagination—often through adept use of the “sonorous language,” careful humor and “artful congeniality” so admired by ancient Greece’s spellbinders—con­trolled opposition figures skillfully intersperse propaganda with bits of truth, but “only aspects of the truth that the establishment tolerates,” whereas “truths that the establishment wants the masses to ignore or remain ignorant of are omitted or spoken of as half-truths.”17 As one website puts it, “Controlled opposition gives us amazing nuggets of information, get[s] us [to] follow them like heroes, then ultimately spin[s] us off into la la land.”18 Related to the phenomenon of controlled opposition are the terms “limited hangout”—the “deliberate revelation of some information in order to prevent the discovery of other, more important information” [italics in original]19— and “modified limited hangout” (the mixing of “partial admissions with misinformation”).20 According to the Wikispooks website, “By presenting some true and useful information, a source may gain credibility, which can be put to use later, if a credible source is desired to dis­seminate disinformation” [italics in original].20 As Catherine Austin Fitts (former investment banker and founder of the Solari Report21) explains it: “A ‘limited hangout’ is a partial confession, a mea culpa, if you will, that leaves the es­sence of a crime or covert reality hidden. Because it includes some small part of the truth, the limited hangout is irresistibly attractive to dissidents and political critics whose thirst for such truth makes them jump at the dangled scraps. Once the sys­tem’s watchdogs are busy chewing on the limited hangout, the guilty players can go about their illegal business for a new round of unaccountable, semi-secret mayhem.”22 Johnstone believes it is not possible to ascertain whether someone is controlled opposition or not—and says not to bother trying. Instead of attempting to figure out whether someone is a “hero” or “controlled op­position,” she suggests staying focused on dissecting the narratives being pushed by those in power.16 However, others assert that an influencer’s history, language and behavior—as well as red flags like improbable overnight popularity—can provide tell tale clues. Brain Waves and Entrainment The modern media and technologies that are now so ubiquitous— movies, “smart” TVs, smartphones, social media, search engines and more—facilitate another powerful programming strategy (one that encyclopedias diplomatically leave unmentioned), which can be imple­mented at both the individual and crowd levels: subliminal brain-wave entrainment. Neurofeedback experts explain brain-wave entrainment as “a method to stimulate the brain into entering a specific state by using a pulsing sound, light, or electromagnetic field.”23 When the brain hears a repetitive pattern—whether “a repetitive pattern of words. . . a repetitive cadence of rhythm, or. . . a repetitive acoustic sound” emitted via loudspeaker— “the brain will follow that sound” and “will fall into rhythm with that sound.”24 This “frequency following response” is a natural tendency of the human brain.24 Entrainment builds on modern scientists’ (and politicians’) fascina­tion with the brain—an interest that burgeoned in the late nineteenth century when European scientists began exploring ways to measure the brain’s electrical activity. In 1924, German psychiatrist Hans Berger identified what he called “Berger’s waves”—the brain waves now known as alpha waves—after recording the first human electroencephalogram (EEG).25 Contemporary neuroscientists describe alpha brain waves as “a bridge from the external world to the internal world, and vice versa,” with the hallmark of the alpha brain state being relaxation and “passive attention.”26 Nazi scientists were reportedly “obsessed” with mind control27 and paid close attention to Berger’s brain discoveries. Though they forced Berger into retirement in 1938 and banned him from conducting any further EEG work (Berger committed apparent suicide in 1941),25 there is little doubt that unsettling forms of brain research (much of it later carried out in con­centration camps) remained a top Nazi priority. As explained by scientist Adam Trombly in a 2011 interview with Catherine Austin Fitts, the Nazis were not only aware of the “frequency following response” but “very intentionally acoustically designed” large stadiums “to aug­ment and enhance alpha entrainment”: “[W]hat the German scientist community had discovered was, if you played alpha waves to patients who were having prob­lems with their nervous system or psycho­sis or whatever, or even if they were just anxious, if you played alpha waves to these people they would become calm. Their brains would fall into a rhythm with the alpha waves. . . . They would feel relaxed, and open and therefore more suggestible.”24 In other words, in the alpha brain-wave state of pleasant relaxation that entrainment induces, people become less discriminating—“because that discriminating faculty has kind of been relaxed away”—and thus are more susceptible to subliminal programming. Practitioners of neurofeedback warn that brain-wave entrainment, in some instances, can produce “unwanted side-effects,” including “increased anxiety, convulsions, overwhelming subconscious images, nausea, headaches, dizzi­ness or increased heartbeat,” or “feeling a little unusual.”23 They also warn that the developing brains of those under twenty-six years of age are “more sensitive.” Cell Phones and Other Entrainment Tools The Nazis’ entrainment efforts, as per Trombly, were “very, very primitive compared to what we’re seeing today”—and particularly in the United States, which is as obsessed as Nazi Germany once was with what military personnel refer to as “mind war.”28 Consider a patent approved by the U.S. Pat­ent Office in 1992, titled “Silent Subliminal Pre­sentation System.”29 The system was designed to encode subliminal (meaning “below the thresh­old of audibility to the conscious mind”) audio frequencies with “desired intelligence.” As para­phrased in 2020 by writer Jeremy James—who defines subliminal entrainment as a “long-term and strategic” technique “where sets of affirma­tions build on one another over time to produce deeply held convictions which are impervious to reason”—this patented system would “enable a person’s mind to be hacked and a message of any kind implanted—all without his knowledge.”29 Other related U.S. patents include a 1990 patent for “an apparatus and method for remotely scan­ning people’s brain waves” and a 1998 patent for the use of directed microwave radiation “to produce certain effects” in humans.28 The mass rollout of cell phones and smart­phones introduced further opportunities to in­fluence human moods, thoughts and even bodily functions—in effect operating as psychotronic weapons.28 (Psychotronics—Mind+Device—is “the science of mind-body-environment rela­tionships. . . concerned with the interactions of matter, energy, and consciousness.”)30 The pro­cess of brain entrainment, activist Peter Kirby wrote in 2018, “is fundamental to psychotronic weaponry.”28 Providing a “limited hangout” on this topic, Scientific American published an article back in 2008 titled “Mind Control by Cell Phone.”31 At the time, Nokias were the world’s most popular cell phones and the iPhone had barely been introduced. Explaining that electromagnetic signals from cell phones could alter brainwaves and behavior, the article cited research showing that when cell phones were transmitting, “The power of a characteristic brain-wave pattern called alpha waves. . . was boosted signifi­cantly”—in talk mode, cell phones seemed to be “particularly well-tuned to frequencies that affect brainwave activity.” Scientific American also noted researchers’ professed astonishment that “the effects of the disrupted brain-wave patterns continued long after the phone was switched off.” One of the quoted researchers disingenuously asked, “One wonders if with dif­ferent doses, durations, or other devices, would there be greater effects?” Brain-Machine Interfaces In the twenty-first century, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), established in 1958 by President Eisenhower, has become, with its almost four billion dol­lar annual budget, “the world’s most powerful scientific military agency.”27 DARPA is driving the research agenda for the field known as brain-computer interface (BCI) or brain-machine interface (BMI)—turning efforts to connect the human brain directly with the outside en­vironment into “one of the fastest expanding fields of scientific inquiry.”32 DARPA fund­ing—distributed among defense contractors, universities, university-corporate consortia and startups—is behind “[a]lmost every advance or major technology in the [BCI] field,” with more of the agency’s funding reportedly going to “invasive” interfaces such as brain implants than to “non-invasive” ones.33 It is worth noting that DARPA, which works closely with both the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Ser­vices, played a lead role in the development of the mRNA technology that made its debut with Covid vaccines.34 It has also worked to develop hydrogel nanotechnology and nanotech biosensors that can be embedded under the skin. As subdermal technologies and implantable microchips exit the realm of science fiction,35 there is good reason to worry about the “possibility of misuse of in-body nanotechnology by totalitarian govern­ments,”34 including for mind manipulation, surveillance and financial control purposes. An account in Forbes about BCI “breakthroughs” matter-of-factly reported in 2019 that BCI and mind control were moving “one step closer to becoming reality,” spearheaded by “high profile and powerful corpora­tions” such as Facebook and Elon Musk’s Neuralink, as well as startups like Kernel and BrainCo.36 In a surprisingly honest assessment of these technologies’ dark transhumanist agenda, the Forbes writer noted that BCIs will “allow for the causation to flow. . . from the outside world into our brains,” something “that’s currently better left to a Philip K. Dick or William Gibson novel”: “[T]he intent and direction is clear: hook people up directly to the in­ternet and to smart technology, and not just to permit them to control things remotely, but to influence or even control how they behave. [. . .] And at the same time, the possibility of being ‘connected to AI’ would mean that our actions will flow less from our own judgments and thoughts on what’s in our best interests, and more from what data and algorithms have decided is best for us.”36 Keeping Our Wits About Us In a prescient 2017 blog post about controlled opposition and the “vaccine frame-up,” health freedom advocate and naturopath Rosanne Lindsay described how the two “sides” of the “vaccine debate” often put forth the same message, albeit worded slightly differently: “The frame of The Establishment (CDC) says, ‘Vaccines are safe and effective.’ The controlled opposition says, ‘We are not opposed to vaccines. We just want safe vaccines.’”15 From Lindsay’s perspective, these “value judgments” intentionally exclude any consideration of morality. A less artful—but more moral and evidence-based37—assessment would inevitably lead to a different conclusion, namely, that “‘safe vaccine’ is an oxymoron and a contradiction.”15 One year into the disastrous, genocidal rollout of Covid-19 injec­tions—experimental products with suspiciously secret ingredients and clinical trial data that regulators and manufacturers are trying hard to keep hidden from the public38—Lindsay’s remarks about the “vaccine frame-up” seem even more relevant. As she noted five years ago, the statement “I am not ‘anti-vaccine’” (uttered by some of the celebrity physicians who spoke at the January 23, 2022 “Defeat the Mandates” rally in Washington, DC) smacks of being a “controlled, simulated message”—a “double-negative meant to confuse” rather than a clear statement of principle. At our current historical juncture, as Catherine Austin Fitts explains, much is at stake—with “a smart grid, biometrics, vac­cine passports, digital ID wallets, and digital currency promising to turn into a full-blown social credit system that ends human liberty in the Western world, if we allow it.”39 These mechanisms constitute, in Fitts’ words, an “in­dividualized high-tech trap that is closing in around each one of us.”6 Unfortunately, it is difficult for many people to grasp the reality and power of the propaganda and mind-control technologies that are helping make the global coup go, or to accept the fact that “these technologies are being purposefully used against [each of] us on a routine, daily basis.”28 Fortunately, as activist Peter Kirby puts it, it is still possible for “a relatively small percentage of intelligent and well-informed individuals [to] push the envelope”—and the size of that group is most definitely growing. Michael Lesher of Off-Guardian also re­minds us that while “the essence of humanity is under assault,” the “enemies of humanity have a weak point”—“they do not understand the power contained in each soul that refuses to be duped.”40 SIDEBARS Totalitarianism and Cults: Two Sides of the Same Coin? In October 2020, half a year into the so-called “pandemic,” playwright and satirist CJ Hopkins published a brilliant essay titled “The Covidian Cult,” highlighting “mass conformity to a psychotic official narrative” as a hallmark of totalitarianism.41 Hopkins’ website, appropriately enough, is called “Consent Factory, Inc.” Tracing the parallels between cult leaders and totalitarian leaders, Hopkins pointed out that both use the same techniques—techniques focused on disorienting and controlling the listener’s mind. Somewhat counterintuitively, the fact that the official narrative is frequently “internally inconsistent” and “illogical” strengthens (rather than weakens) leaders’ power, forcing “adherents to attempt to reconcile [the narrative’s] inconsistency and irrationality, and in many cases utter absurdity, in order to remain in good standing with the cult.” The result, says Hopkins, is a sort of mental short-circuiting; eventually, people “give up even trying to think rationally, and just mindlessly parrot whatever nonsensical gibberish the cult leader fills their heads with.” One of the disturbing features of the Covid-initiated push for global totalitarianism, according to Hopkins, is that “instead of the cult existing as an island within the dominant culture, the cult has become the dominant culture,” with those who refuse to join becoming “isolated islands within it” [italics in original]. Fortunately, with truckers now forcing government leaders into hiding, satirists having a field day with beyond-absurd headlines42 and more and more people spotting the holes in the narrative, those “isolated islands” seem to be multiplying. Timeless Rules of Propaganda A couple of years after the appearance of Edward Bernays’ book Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923), Science magazine published a few paragraphs about “propaganda based on psychology,”43 noting that successful propaganda makes use of “simple psychological principles” and “definite rules, well known to the propagandists.” Summarizing those “rules,” the anonymous Science author writing in 1925 advised the following [Note: bulleted format added]: “If you have an idea to put over, keep presenting it incessantly. Keep talking or printing persistently. Avoid argument generally. Don’t admit that there is another side to the question and avoid arousing any associated ideas except those which are favorable. Reserve argument for the small class of people who depend on logical processes, or as a means of attracting attention of those with whom you are not arguing. Connect your idea in every possible way with the known desires of your audience. Remember that desires are more often the basis of the acceptance of ideas than logic. Make your statements clear enough to be understood by your audience. Use direct statement only when you are sure that a basis for acceptance has already been established; otherwise use indirect statement and implications. Use direct statement in such a way that your audience will take it in, but not think too much about it.” Ominously, Science concluded: “For lasting results, aim your propaganda at children and mix it with your teaching.” Five Critical Thinking Recommendations On February 20, 2022, board-certified internal medicine physician Dr. Annie Bukacek shared some thoughts about the “Defeat the Mandates” rally that took place in Washington, DC, on January 23.44 Summarizing Dr. Bukacek’s pre­sentation in Health Impact News, Brian Shilhavy noted Bukacek’s five recommendations for mitigating fear-mongering and using critical thinking, “especially for those authority figures who appear to be on ‘our side.’” In Shilhavy’s words, the five recommendations are as follows: “Be vigilant for an upcoming new and invisible enemy used to scare people into submission. If the corona vari­ants lose the fear factor, they’re going to come up with something else. Be sceptical of any authority figure using the CDC exaggerated death numbers from COVID, that we know are based on improper death certificates and flawed PCR COVID testing. Watch out for anyone promoting an upcoming ‘safe and effective vaccine’ for something even by the exagger­ated CDC numbers has close to a 99 percent survival rate overall, and statistically 100% percent survival rate for the younger generation. Any authority figure who claims to understand the COVID debacle, but ignores the central role of government in this mess, at those individuals you need to take a closer look. Be of good cheer. A COVID positive test does not mean severe illness or death. Scrutinize any authority figure who talks of a positive COVID test as a reason to fear death.”45 Netflix Role in Elite Propaganda The family tree of serial entrepreneur and former Netflix CEO Marc Bernays Randolph includes both Sigmund Freud and Edward Bernays. According to Randolph’s flattering bio on Wikipedia, Randolph had, early on, a “fascination with using computer software to track customers’ buying behavior” and used this interest to fold market research into the Netflix user interface. One of Randolph’s current roles is board member (and investor) of Looker Data Sciences, a “business intelligence” platform owned by Google since 2019. Reed Hastings, Netflix’s other co-founder, is the great-grandson of investment banker and scientist Alfred Lee Loomis, who played a significant role in the development of both radar and the atomic bomb and pioneered EEG techniques for the study of brain waves. Loomis’ son Henry Loomis (Hastings’ grand-uncle), also a physicist, joined his father in researching radar and brain waves and provided Navy radar training at Pearl Harbor during World War II. After the war, Henry worked at the Department of Defense, directed the Office of Intelligence and Research at the United States Information Agency, directed and expanded the Voice of America and served as president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In recent years, Netflix’s role as a tool of elite propaganda has become more blatant, with the company signing multi-year deals with the Obamas in 2018 and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2020 to produce films and series. REFERENCES Faulkner N. The official truth: propaganda in the Roman Empire. BBC, Feb. 27, 2011. https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/romanpropaganda_ar­ticle_01.shtml https://www.hamptonroadsclassical.org/trivium Smith BL. “Propaganda.” Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/propaganda Catherine Austin Fitts interview – Global financial coup d’état & technocratic slavery that follows. The Last American Vagabond, Dec. 8, 2021. Mark Crispin Miller: “2020 – a propaganda master­piece” (video included). Extremely American, Aug. 3, 2021. Fitts CA. Control is one person at a time. The Solari Report, Jan. 14, 2022. Johnstone C. They don’t just lie to us about wars. They lie to us about everything. Activist Post, Feb. 13, 2022. Borders M. How the centralized media lost its power over the people. Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Nov. 12, 2018. Gunderman R. The manipulation of the American mind: Edward Bernays and the birth of public relations. The Conversation, Jul. 9, 2015. Lasswell HD. Propaganda Technique in the World War. New York: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co, A.A. Knopf; 1927. Nwabueze C, Okonkwo E. Rethinking the bullet theory in the digital age. Interna­tional Journal of Media, Journalism and Mass Communications. 2018;4(2):1-10. Thompson K. The hypodermic syringe model of audience effects. ReviseSociology, Sept. 4, 2019. What is the hypodermic needle theory? The hypodermic needle theory in a nutshell. FourWeekMBA, n.d. https://fourweekmba.com/hypodermic-needle-theory/ Packard V. The Hidden Persuaders. London: Longmans, Green & Co, 1957. Lindsay R. Controlled opposition in the truth movement. Nature of Healing, May 9, 2017. Johnstone C. How to tell if someone is controlled opposition. CaitlinJohnstone.com, Feb. 11, 2019. Miller MC. What is “controlled opposition”? Read this, then look around. News From Underground, Dec. 2, 2020. WaySide. Controlled opposition. Truth In Plain Sight.com, Mar. 3, 2012. Corbett J. The CIA, the NY Times, and the art of the limited hangout. The Corbett Report, Feb. 2, 2020. https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Limited_hangout https://home.solari.com/ Fitts CA. Will the real economic hit men please stand up? The Solari Report, 2005. https://brainworksneurotherapy.com/what-brainwave-entrainment Fitts CA. Entrainment Technology with Adam Trombly. The Solari Report, August 18, 2011. https://home.solari.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/Solari_Report-Adam_Trom­bly_on_Entrainment-2011-08-18.pdf Sack H. Hans Berger and the electroencephalogram. SciHi Blog, May 21, 2017. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/brain-waves Flores DS. The secret program of U.S. mind control weapons: is it developing in Latin America? Int Phys Med Rehab J. 2018;3(2):145-146. Kirby PA. Your cell phone is a psychotronic weapon of mass mind control. Activist Post, Jan. 22, 2018. James J. Mind Control, Entrainment, and US Patent 5159703. Sept. 11, 2020. http://www.zephaniah.eu/index_htm_files/Mind%20Control%20Entrainment%20and%20US%20Patent%205159703.pdf https://www.psychotronics.org/ Fields RD. Mind control by cell phone. Scientific American, May 7, 2008. Mridha MF, Das SC, Kabir MM, et al. Brain-computer interface: advancement and challenges. Sensors (Basel). 2021;21(17);5746. How DARPA drives brain machine interface research. From the Interface, Nov. 22, 2020. https://www.from-the-interface.com/DARPA-funding-BCI-research/ Nelson K. Tiny but toxic: Nanoparticles in vaccines. Wise Traditions. Summer 2021;22(2):77-88. Fitts CA. The injection fraud—It’s not a vaccine. The Solari Report, May 27, 2020. Chandler S. Brain-computer interfaces and mind control move one step closer to becoming reality. Forbes, Sept. 24, 2019. Children’s Health Defense. Read the fine print, part two—nearly 400 adverse reac­tions listed in vaccine package inserts. Aug. 14, 2020. Shilhavy B. Did recent court rulings force the FDA to delay approving Pfizer’s COVID shots for infants? Health Impact News, Feb. 12, 2022. Fitts CA. Control & freedom happen one person at a time with Catherine & Ulrike Granögger. The Solari Report, Feb. 11, 2022. Lesher M. Truth or Covid? (or, “why we know everything they’re telling us is a lie”). Off-Guardian, Jan. 28, 2022. Hopkins CJ. The Covidian cult. Consent Factory, Oct. 13, 2020. This Week in the New Normal #19. Off-Guardian, Jan. 16, 2022. No authors listed. Propaganda based on psychology. Science. 1925;62(1594):xiv. Dr. Annie Bukacek comments on the “Defeat the Mandates” rally. Liberty Fellowship, Kalispell, Montana, Feb. 20, 2022. https://www.bitchute.com/video/mmGhJzGducdT/ Shilhavy B. Montana doctor exposes the “alt doctors” profiting from COVID by promoting fear. Health Impact News, Feb. 25, 2022. This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2022 Original Source
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May 20, 2022
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May 17, 2022
In Warfare
“Everything is a weapon. Even this video.” Source
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May 17, 2022
In General
Links to the Articles Secret British Black Propaganda Campaign Exposed 17th May 2022
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May 16, 2022
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May 16, 2022
In What is Propaganda?
By OffGuardian "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum — even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate..." - Chomsky This remains true despite the increasingly obvious fact that Chomsky himself is part of that function. What he's describing is the "fake binary". The imposition of the idea that Viewpoint A is the official approved narrative and that Viewpoint B is therefore its antithesis. Points C through Z can therefore be ignored. The fact hidden in plain sight being that both Viewpoint A and Viewpoint B actually reinforce the overarching narrative being sold and both lead to the same place. It's an incredibly effective management tool. A fake binary allows you to not just manipulate the conformist Normies who automatically obey, but also those who consider themselves to be 'anti-establishment', contrarians or 'rebels'. How are fake binaries created? They are often initially introduced by the following methods... 💢 Using the legacy media to widely publicize Viewpoint B while appearing to deny, refute or ridicule it. 💢"Leaking" allegedly confidential documents that "expose" Viewpoint B as the "hidden truth". This is usually done through the legacy media, though it's more effective if you can seed it through the indy media sector. 💢 Creating entities that are tagged as "anti-establishment" but given a mass following, and feeding them Viewpoint B material. Once Viewpoint B becomes a dominant "anti-establishment" view you can afford to sit back and allow the oppositional instinct in human nature to do your work for you, and reinforce the fake binary you created without the slightest awareness this is what is happening. It becomes widely understood that the only solution to the obvious and real evils of Viewpoint A is Viewpoint B. The fact Viewpoint B actually concedes all the same falsehoods contained in Viewpoint A remains unnoticed and anyone pointing this out tends to be attacked by both sides. Fake binaries are a godsend to the opinion-managers. We'll be talking more about this in the near future... Source Read more from OffGuardian
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May 15, 2022
In Politics
#HyperRealism Source
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May 04, 2022
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In Warfare
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Apr 28, 2022
In What is Propaganda?
Go to https://go.propaganda-exposed.com/
Documentary Mini-series Starts May 4th at 9 PM Eastern content media
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