The NY Times national security reporter held news of a massive voter manipulation campaign while pumping up the political operatives behind it as ace Russian disinformation detectives.
By Dan Cohen
In September 2017, New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane attended an off-the-record event in Washington, DC held by American Engagement Technologies, a data firm run by Obama administration veteran Mikey Dickerson. Shane was not there simply as an observer – he was invited to speak on his supposed subject of expertise: “Soviet and Russian disinformation.”
It was at that meeting where Shane learned of “Project Birmingham,” an online disinformation campaign waged against voters in the 2017 Alabama senate race between Republican Roy Moore and its eventual winner, Democrat Doug Jones.
The plot involved voter suppression tactics, including what its architects called an “elaborate false flag operation” that aimed to convince voters that the Kremlin was supporting Moore through thousands of fake Russian bots. The campaign also involved a phony Facebook page that encouraged Alabamians to vote for an obscure write-in Republican candidate, arranged interviews for him in major newspapers and even sought to arrange SuperPAC funding for his campaign.
But as Shane learned, this deception wasn’t the work of the Kremlin or financed by Russian oligarchs. It was a mass manipulation carried out by a private cyber intelligence firm run by Democratic operatives called New Knowledge. And it was run in conjunction with AET – the firm that had invited him to its secret meeting.
The US has 95% of the world’s foreign military bases, with personnel in more than 160 countries. But the Pentagon is leaving hundreds of outposts out of its official reports.
The Integrity Initiative has mobilized an international disinformation campaign across Europe. Now, with government and right-wing foundation money, this massive “political smear unit” is infiltrating the US.
By Max Blumenthal and Mark Ames
A bombshell domestic spy scandal has been unfolding in Britain, after hacked internal communications exposed a covert UK state military-intelligence psychological warfare operation targeting its own citizens and political figures in allied NATO countries under the cover of fighting “Russian disinformation.”
The leaked documents revealed a secret network of spies, prominent journalists and think-tanks colluding under the umbrella of a group called “Integrity Initiative” to shape domestic opinion—and to smear political opponents of the right-wing Tory government, including the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.
Until now, this Integrity Initiative domestic spy scandal has been ignored in the American media, perhaps because it has mostly involved British names. But it is clear that the influence operation has already been activated in the US. Hacked documents reveal that the Integrity Initiative is cultivating powerful allies inside the State Department, top DC think tanks, the FBI and the DHS, where it has gained access to Katharine Gorka and her husband, the fascist-linked cable news pundit Sebastian Gorka.
The Integrity Initiative has spelled out plans to expand its network across the US, meddling in American politics and recruiting “a new generation of Russia watchers” behind the false guise of a non-partisan charity. Moreover, the group has hired one of the most notorious American “perception management” specialists, John Rendon, to train its clusters of pundits and cultivate relationships with the media.
Back in the UK, Member of Parliament Chris Williamson has clamored for an investigation into the Integrity Initiative’s abuse of public money.
The Integrity Initiative story is just growing and growing. Many are rightly outraged that this Tory government could fund a political smear unit.
Questions need to be answered. Share this video on Facebook to make that happen. https://t.co/MGepaIEfGw
— Chris Williamson MP #GTTO (@DerbyChrisW) December 14, 2018
In a recent editorial, Williamson drew a direct parallel between the group’s collaboration with journalists and surreptitious payments the CIA made to reporters during the Cold War.
Hailed by Congress and the media as defenders of democracy, high-tech Russiagate hustlers Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox have been exposed for waging “an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation” to swing the 2017 Alabama senate race.
By Dan Cohen
On December 17, two reports detailing ongoing Russian interference operations commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee were made public. They generated a week’s worth of headlines and sent members of Congress and cable news pundits into a Cold War frenzy. According to the report, everything from the Green Party’s Jill Stein to Instagram to Pokemon Go to the African American population had been used and confused by the deceptive Facebook pages of a private Russian troll farm called the Internet Research Agency.
Nevermind that 56% of the troll farm’s pages appeared after the election, that 25% of them were seen by no one, or that their miniscule online presence paled in comparison to the millions of dollars spent on social media by the two major presidential campaigns and their supporters to sway voters. This was an act of war that demanded immediate government action.
According to Sen. Mark Warner, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the reports were “a wake up call” and a “bombshell” that was certain to bring “long-overdue guardrails when it comes to social media”. His Republican counterpart on the committee, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, hailed the research papers as “proof positive that one of the most important things we can do is increase information sharing between the social media companies who can identify disinformation campaigns and the third-party experts who can analyze them.”
Incredible. These bombshell reports demonstrate just how far Russia went to exploit the fault lines of our society and divide Americans, in an attempt to undermine and manipulate our democracy. Here's what we’ve learned:https://t.co/GTfDX4roLP
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) December 17, 2018
But the authors of one of the reports soon suffered a major blow to their credibility when it was revealed that they had engaged in what they called a “Russian style” online disinformation operation aimed to swing a hotly contested special senate election. The embarrassing revelation has already resulted in one of the authors having his Facebook page suspended.
The well-funded deception was carried out by New Knowledge, a private cyber intelligence firm founded by two self-styled disinformation experts who are veterans of the Obama administration: Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox.
Former US President Barack Obama admitted that the neoliberal capitalist policies he and his predecessors supported fostered the rise of the far-right and grossly exacerbated inequality.
By Ben Norton
Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat is one of numerous corporate media figures to have defended Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s murderous US-backed capitalist dictator
By Ben Norton
Back in his Ivy League college days, right-wing New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote an op-ed defending the US-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose military junta murdered and disappeared thousands of dissidents and tortured tens of thousands more.
Intellectual historian Timothy Barker dug through columns that Douthat penned for Harvard University’s right-wing student newspaper The Harvard Salient between 1998 and 2002.
Barker found a slew of articles in which Douthat echoed explicitly racist talking points that are popular among the so-called alt-right today, including the idea that white Europeans are “vanishing” and being replaced through immigration by supposed “barbarians” like Turks, Africans, and Arabs.
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.
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.
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.