By Graham Vanbergen December 2016: In America, the story surrounding President elect Donald Trump and Russian propaganda is reaching fever pitch. Before it got there six months ago, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger and Ted Lieu, proposed H.R. 5181 which sought a “whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions” to counter “foreign disinformation and manipulation,” which they believe threaten the world’s “security and stability”. They quietly proposed and got through the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016”. To all intents and purposes as ZeroHedge puts it; this is the “U.S. version of its very own de facto Ministry of Truth and marks a further curtailment of press freedom and another avenue to stultify avenues of accurate information.”
In the same report – “the Senate will pass (and president will sign) Bill “H.R. 6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017”, which was passed by the House at the end of November with an overwhelming majority and which seeks to crack down on websites suspected of conducting Russian propaganda and calling for the US government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation,” another, perhaps even more dangerous and limiting to civil rights and freedom of speech bill passed on December 8.”
In essence, the U.S. lawmakers are looking to close down any website that is perceived by them to counter government narrative on any matter whatsoever whilst producing propaganda and fake news stories on an industrial scale.
Evidence of this emerged when the Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm called Bell Pottinger over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda programme in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed a few months back. Here, ‘black ops’ propaganda was being produced by way of news reports and short clip videos that were “falsely attributed” and reported to be “a pretty standard part of the industry toolkit”.
Bell Pottinger produced specialised products such as; news items which were made to look as if they had been “created by Arabic TV”. Bell Pottinger would send teams out to film low-definition video of al Qaeda bombings and then edit it like a piece of news footage. It would be voiced in Arabic and distributed to TV stations across the region. These reports were then seen or leaked all over the world.
When it comes to government sponsored propaganda you’ll see something much more sinister the harder you dig. For instance, “The US Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations found as far back as 1975 that the CIA submitted stories to the American press.” Welcome to Operation Mockingbird. From Global Research:
“It had a major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies. The usual methodology was placing reports developed from intelligence provided by the CIA to witting or unwitting reporters. Those reports would then be repeated or cited by the preceding reporters which in turn would then be cited throughout the media wire services.“
Think the UK is any better? No, they’ve been at it for years. From SpinWatch UK:
A succession of scandals in the US has revealed widespread government funding of PR agencies to produce ‘fake news’. Actors take the place of journalists and the ‘news’ is broadcast as if it were genuine. The same practice has been adopted in Iraq, where newspapers have been paid to insert copy. These stories have raised the usual eyebrows in the UK about the pitiful quality of US democracy. Things are better here, we imply. We have a Prime Minister who claimed in 2004 that ‘the values that drive our actions abroad are the same values of progress and justice that drive us at home.’ Yet in 2002 as a response to 9/11 the government launched a little known television propaganda service, which seems to mimic the US governments deceptive approach to fake news.
In essence, SpinWatch claims that a British satellite news station, free to anyone, called BSN, provided by World Television which also makes corporate videos and fake news releases for corporations such as GlaxoSmithKline, BP and Nestlé that Wikispooks describes as “A semi covert propaganda operation funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office”.
World Television also produced Towards Freedom Television on behalf of the UK Government. News reporters are allowed to report information directly without citation from this station and insert them into news reports knowing they are generated by the UK government. In addition, Propaganda was distributed in Iraq by US Army psychological operations teams from a specially adapted aircraft, called Commando Solo, in 2003/4. You can see how the US and UK governments are working a harmonious propaganda machine here.
Ironically, the head of MI6, Alex Younger, has said he is deeply concerned by the threat posed by rival countries attempting to undermine democracy through propaganda and cyberattacks as reported by Buzzfeed News. Here, he says, countries take advantage of the internet to “further their aims deniably” through “means as varied as cyberattacks, propaganda, or subversion of democratic process”. “Although he did not name Russia directly, the comments come following accusations that the Kremlin has attempted to influence elections in the US and Europe using underhand tactics ranging from undeclared direct funding, to hacking emails, to spreading fake news” the report stated – without providing a shred of evidence.
As a result, Younger strongly defended the controversial Investigatory Powers Act, dubbed the “Snoopers Charter” by praising its “checks and balances”, which involve ministers and the judiciary, and insisting he was pleased by the “quality of debate” around the act. Again, the words of a propagandist – the “Snoopers Charter” has much more to do with manipulating the general population than fighting terrorism. As we reported just last week – Human rights groups in Britain campaigning against mass surveillance and the new Investigatory Powers Bill have said “There is no other democracy in the world, possibly no other country in the world, doing this.”
And before you know it, just like in the U.S. we start to hear of the same rhetoric when it comes to curtailing free speech across Europe including and especially in the UK. What we are seeing is the emergence of a new cold-war era propaganda battle, this time for the minds of their own citizens.
From the EuroParliment newsroom: MEPs sound alarm on anti-EU propaganda from Russia – “Propaganda pressure on the EU from Russia and Islamist terrorist groups is growing, MEPs warn in a resolution voted on Wednesday. It seeks to distort the truth, incite fear, provoke doubt and divide the EU. To counteract anti-EU campaigns, MEPs suggest reinforcing the EU’s tiny “strategic communication” task force and investing more in awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism and information literacy.” Again, no proof is provided – if they had it, they would flaunt it.
The reports goes on to say that hostile propaganda against the EU and its member states seeks to distort the truth, provoke doubt, divide the EU and its North American partners, paralyse the decision-making process, discredit the EU institutions and incite fear and uncertainty among EU citizens. MEPs warn that the Kremlin has stepped up its propaganda against EU. They note that ”the Russian government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks, multilingual TV stations (e.g. Russia Today), pseudo-news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik), social media and internet trolls, to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood”. Not that any of those things were generated by an unelected EU Commission, despised by a growing formation of EU citizens, who are now arriving at the ballot box in ever increasing numbers to be rid of them.
The EU resolution to involve NATO in cyber-warfare tactics to counterbalance Russia’s propaganda and up its budget for its own propaganda model was approved by 304 votes to 179, with 208 abstentions.
In Britain – the authorities simply ordered Russia Today’s banking facilities to be shut down. The likelihood of Nat West Bank (owned by RBS, itself a self confessed state-owned criminal enterprise) making such a decision on its own is really quite implausible, indeed, laughable.
Think you have free speech in the UK any more – think again. The introduction of new freedom of speech laws have been criticised by the media, lawyers, police officers and security experts, who have warned that innocent people will fall foul of the law for merely holding unpopular, traditional or challenging views. It won’t be long before websites like TruePublica will be branded as Russian backed propaganda as they have just done in the US. READ THIS for a worrying résumé of what’s coming.
Still not sure about state sponsored propaganda and fake news? Then read these three, just one of many reports:
But then I’ve been saying for long time now – if you, as a member of the public don’t do anything at all about the “Snoopers Charter” and these new “Extremism Disruption Orders” or (EDOs) it will restrict the activities of people like you, who the Government thinks are engaged in ‘extreme activities’ simply for reading articles they don’t agree with– even if the article or you have not broken the law. Do something before you can’t – like visiting defendfreespeech for instance!
This article first appeared on December 16th at TruePublica.org.uk