Inside the Temple of Covert Propaganda: The Integrity Initiative and the UK’s Scandalous Information War

The Grayzone entered the carefully concealed offices of a covert, British government-backed propaganda mill that is at the center of an international scandal the mainstream media refuses to touch.

By Mohamed Elmaazi and Max Blumenthal

Recent hacked documents have revealed an international network of politicians, journalists, academics, researchers and military officers, all engaged in highly deceptive covert propaganda campaigns funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), NATO, Facebook and hardline national security institutions. 

This “network of networks”, as one document refers to them, centers around an ironically named outfit called the Integrity Initiative. And it is all overseen by a previously unknown England-based think tank registered in Scotland, the Institute for Statecraft, which has operated under a veil of secrecy.

The whole operation appears to be run by, and in conjunction with, members of British military intelligence.

According to David Miller, professor of political sociology in the school of policy studies at the University of Bristol and the director of the Organization for Propaganda Studies, the Integrity Initiative “appears to be a military directed push.”

“The most senior government people are professional propagandists and spooks,” Miller explained. “The ‘charity’ lead on this [Chris Donnelly] was also appointed as a colonel in military intelligence at the beginning of the project — a truly amazing fact that suggests this is a military intelligence cut out.”

A minister for the UK FCO has officially confirmed that it has been funding the Integrity Network.

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Every Single Member of US Congress Approved Crushing Sanctions on Nicaragua

After defeating a violent US-backed coup attempt, Nicaragua’s elected government faces the NICA Act. The bill aims to force the Sandinistas from power by ratcheting up economic despair.

By Ben Norton

Every single member in both chambers of the US Congress approved legislation that will impose sanctions and financial restrictions on Nicaragua in an explicit effort to weaken its government.

Known as the NICA Act, the bill is now on its way to the desk of President Donald Trump, who will almost certainly sign it into law. Its passage was spearheaded by neoconservative lawmakers centered around the Miami lobby of right-wing Latin American exiles dedicated to eradicating any iteration of socialism in the Western hemisphere.

The United States has spent decades trying to topple Nicaragua’s government, now led by the left-wing Sandinista movement. In April, US-backed opposition figures launched an unsuccessful and exceedingly violent coup attempt in the Central American country — one of the last bastions of leftist politics in an increasingly right-leaning Latin America.

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NATO-Backed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Poses with Pro-Nazi Soldier

Ukraine President Poroshenko promoted a photo of himself posing next to a soldier wearing a Nazi SS totenkopf patch.

By Ben Norton

Petro Poroshenko, the staunchly pro-NATO president of Western ally Ukraine, posed for a photo op with a soldier wearing a Nazi symbol.

On December 6, the Ukrainian billionaire oligarch leader posted a photo on multiple social media accounts that shows him standing with armed troops. One of these Ukrainian soldiers is wearing a patch with a skull-and-bones design called the totenkopf. This is a symbol closely associated with Nazi Germany, and specifically the Third Reich’s genocidal paramilitary the Schutzstaffel  (SS).

This photo op came while Poroshenko is imposing martial law and requesting a NATO military buildup in the Black Sea.

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“Pistachio Wars”: How the Resnicks’ Snack Food Fortune is Fueling the Assault on Iran

A highly original documentary project reveals how a couple of Beverly Hills billionaires “are willing to risk war in Iran and the Middle East — all in order to boost and protect their lucrative pistachio business.”

By Max Blumenthal

Three years ago, journalist Yasha Levine and filmmaker Rowan Wernham first arrived at the vast pistachio plantation of Stewart and Lynda Resnick in California’s parched Central Valley. There, they saw firsthand how a billionaire power couple had successfully manipulated the state’s political system to privatize its water supply for their own financial benefit.

Today, the Wonderful Company farm owned by the Resnicks soaks up more water than the entire city of Los Angeles. Their business was based on “a heist of epic proportions,” according to Levine, that “will put family farms out of business, and push life in the biggest river estuary on the west coast of America towards mass extinction.”

The story eventually took Levine and Wernham far beyond the parched Central Valley, and into the heart of America’s Israel lobby. It turned out that the Resnicks had been pumping their money into some of the most militantly pro-Israel think tanks in Washington, including the American Jewish Committee and the Washington Institute on Near East Policy (WINEP). Both of these outfits have lobbied heavily for sanctions on Iran and against the Iran nuclear deal. One WINEP executive, Pat Clawson, has even called on the US to stage a false flag attack that could trigger a war with Iran.

Levine and Wernham recognized that the Resnicks’ support for the Israel lobby was all about protecting their monopoly from a nation traditionally recognized as the producer of the world’s best pistachios. The billionaire nut barons were not only threatening the environment and livelihoods of their local competitors, they were bankrolling forces determined to take America to war against a rising Middle Eastern power. This is why the title of Levine and Wernham’s work in progress, “Pistachio Wars,” is so apt.

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At elite gala with ex-Bush official, Obama implores Wall Street to thank him for making them so much money

“Just say thank you, please,” former President Obama told a room full of bankers, and boasted of making the US the world’s largest oil producer at an opulent gala with James Baker.

By Ben Norton

Barack Obama urged bankers to thank him for helping make them so much money during his tenure as president. He also boasted of turning the US into the world’s largest oil producer, while surrounded by wealthy Republicans in tuxedos.

Obama made these appeals for elite adulation at a lavish gala hosted by former Secretary of State James Baker. His comments came just a few hours after he met with former Republican President George H. W. Bush at his home in Texas.

If there was any single event that captured Obama’s centrist, neoliberal capitalist politics, it was the former Democratic president’s oligarch lovefest in Houston on November 27.

At this sumptuous black-tie gala, Obama talked the 1,100 elite guests into raising a staggering $5.4 million, in just one night (at an average donation of nearly $5,000), for Rice University’s centrist, pro-corporate Baker Institute for Public Policy, the honorary chair of which is James Baker.

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The Guardian Pushes More Lies on Nicaragua, Covering Up For Putschist Priests

The Guardian continues its relentless campaign of demonization against Nicaragua’s elected government with a falsehood-filled cover-up for the Catholic church leaders under fire for leading a violent coup.

By Nan McCurdy, Nora McCurdy and Kevin Zeese

 

A note from Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance: The Guardian has been on a campaign of lies about Nicaragua. They have taken sides and are not honest reporters but advocates for the coup. Even though the falsity of their reporting has been repeatedly pointed out, they continue on their disgraceful campaign of reporting false stories on Nicaragua.

The article below focused on the church being a sanctuary for protesters and makes outlandish claims about incarceration of protesters. In fact, church leaders were part of the violent failed coup.  A clandestine recording, described in the article below, of a Catholic bishop shows him claiming credit for the failed coup. The  leaked audio recording of a meeting Silvio Báez, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, is of a meeting held for the purpose of destabilizing the government of Nicaragua. The recordings show that Church leaders helped create the violent roadblocks, are plotting more violence and want Daniel Ortega executed. Báez, who has been unmasked as a principal conspirator in the violent coup attempt against the President Daniel Ortega’s government.

The Catholic Church has been denounced by Nicaraguans for their open complicity in the wave of violence that caused hundreds of deaths in Nicaragua. Members of the church have been denounced for their collaboration with the tortures and murders committed by the armed opposition “the Church was the center of torture,” says Madelein García, teleSUR correspondent in Nicaragua. In a video it is reported that Catholic Priest, Guillermo Barrios, helped torture Sandinista supporter, Sander Bonilla, in Leon.

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Blowback: How US-Funded Fascists in Ukraine Mentor US White Supremacists

Not only are white supremacists from across the West flocking to Ukraine to learn from the combat experience of their fascist brothers-in-arms, they are doing so openly, under the nose of a shrugging law enforcement — chronicling their experiences on social media before they bring their lessons back home.

By Max Blumenthal

This article originally appeared at Mint Press

Last month, an unsealed FBI indictment of four American white supremacists from the Rise Above Movement (RAM) declared that the defendants had trained with Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi militia officially incorporated into the country’s national guard. The training took place after the white supremacist gang participated in violent riots in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California and Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

The indictment stated that the Azov Battalion “is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations.”

After a wave of racist violence across America that culminated in the massacre of twelve Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the revelation that violent white supremacists have been traveling abroad for training and ideological indoctrination with a well-armed neo-Nazi militia should cause extreme alarm.

Not only are white supremacists from across the West flocking to Ukraine to learn from the combat experience of their fascist brothers-in-arms, they are doing so openly — chronicling their experiences on social media before they bring their lessons back home. But U.S. law enforcement has done nothing so far to restrict the flow of right-wing American extremists to Azov’s bases.

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Violent Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Speaks at US Govt Org, Helps Kiev Police ‘Purge’ Roma

An activist from violent Ukrainian neo-Nazi gang C14 spoke at the US government’s America House Kyiv, and worked with Kiev police to “purge” Roma citizens.

By Ben Norton

A prominent activist from the violent Ukrainian neo-Nazi gang C14 spoke at an event at a US government organization in Ukraine‘s capital Kiev.

This young fascist leader has also boasted of working with Kiev police to “purge” Roma citizens from a train station, according to a Ukrainian human rights organization.

The Grayzone Project has previously reported on how the US government has armed the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which is embedded in Ukraine’s National Guard, and which has met with US military advisers.

C14 is even more notorious than Azov. This Nazi gang has carried out a slew of violent attacks on ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities in Ukraine. C14, whose name is a direct reference to the white supremacist “14 words” slogan, has specifically targeted Roma communities in a series of pogroms — and has enjoyed the help of local cops.

C14 has also received funding from the Ukrainian government, in the form of a Ministry of Youth and Sport grant for “national-patriotic education projects.”

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ShamiWitness: How Bellingcat and Neocons Collaborated with the Most Influential ISIS Propagandist on Twitter

How some of the best known Syria regime-change hustlers and “experts” helped transform the @ShamiWitness account from a cretinous troll into a credible “ISIS expert.”

By Mark Ames

Who remembers @ShamiWitness? At the peak of ISIS’s power, @ShamiWitness stood out as the genocidal militia group’s “most influential Twitter account” according to a Channel 4 exposé and a Kings College report. The @ShamiWitness account was followed by some two-thirds of foreign jihadis. But it went further than propogandizing Islamic State’s massacres and rapes: @Shamiwitness also actively recruited foreign jihadis and helped lead them through the ratlines in Turkey, into the ISIS killing fields in Syria and Iraq, as a George Washington University reportrevealed this year.

But I want to talk about the western “experts” in Washington and London who cozied up to @ShamiWitness — especially since all of them are still around, many of them bigger and more influential in our political discourse than ever. They’re the ones who built up @ShamiWitness’s social media capital, making his account so popular, and so effective, in recruiting ISIS murderers. Some of the best known Syria regime-change hustlers and “experts”—Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat and the Saudi-funded Atlantic Council; Charles Lister of the Saudi-funded Middle East Institute, former CNN “Syria expert” and Atlantic Council fellow Michael Weiss, all major figures promoting today’s RussiaGate hysteria—together helped transform the @ShamiWitness account from a cretinous troll into a credible “ISIS expert”. They validated and lent credibility to ShamiWitness as someone with deep, local insider knowledge, boosting ShamiWitness’s social capital their countless retweets, #FF’s, #Pt’s, and their numerous public interactions.

As it turned out, @ShamiWitness was a fake “Syria expert”. The millennial yuppie who ran the ShamiWitness account was as much an insider expert on ISIS as the western Syria hacks who boosted him. It wasn’t the “experts” like Bellingcat who unmasked ShamiWitness — quite the opposite, Bellingcat’s team played a major role in building him up as a credible expert. Rather, it was a Channel 4 report exposing ShamiWitness as a fake — but a very dark and dangerous fake, with very real world consequences. @ShamiWitness was run by a 24-year-old Indian marketing executive named Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who tweeted out ISIS and Syria “expertise” from his bachelor pad in Bangalore, India.

And just like that, the London and Washington Syria regime-change neocons who’d been boosting @ShamiWitness suddenly looked like fools — as well as ISIS accessories. Contrary to what they had all assumed, @ShamiWitness wasn’t the expert Syria insider he pretended to be. He spoke no Arabic; he was nowhere near Syria.

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Members of Netanyahu’s Likud Blame Victims of Pittsburgh Pogrom and Echo the Killer’s Rhetoric

As Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett sets out to Pittsburgh, prominent members of the governing Likud Party have blamed the Jewish victims of the neo-Nazi massacre “for causing anti-Semitism.”

By Max Blumenthal

Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett has embarked on a visit to Pittsburgh “to be with our sisters and brothers in their darkest hour,” he said, after an avowed anti-Semite massacred eleven Jewish worshippers at the city’s Tree of Life Synagogue.

Robert Bowers, the right-wing terrorist, targeted the progressive congregation on the basis of its partnership with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, or HIAS, a Jewish non-profit that helps refugees from conflict-torn regions obtain asylum in the US.

“HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people,” Bowers stated in a social media manifesto explaining his motives.

As Bennett departs for Pittsburgh, some members of Israel’s governing Likud Party have issued talking points and statements blaming the victims of the anti-Jewish mass murderer for inspiring the attack. One especially prominent Likud member has even echoed Bowers’ hate manifesto.

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