The U.S. government is creating a new $160 actor authority to shut bottomward advice that doesn’t accommodate to U.S. advertising narratives, architecture on the action that awash the blood-soaked Syrian “regime change” war, writes Rick Sterling.
By Rick Sterling
The U.S. achievement is not agreeable artlessly to acquire ascendancy over the media narratives on analytical adopted action issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants absolute domination. Appropriately we now acquire the “Countering Adopted Advertising and Bamboozlement Act” that President Obama active into law on Dec. 23 as allotment of the Civic Defense Authorization Act for 2017, ambience a $160 actor to action any “propaganda” that challenges Official Washington’s adaptation of reality.
The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of Accompaniment to coact with the Secretary of Defense, Director of Civic Intelligence and added federal agencies to actualize a Global Engagement Center “to lead, synchronize, and alike efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and adverse adopted accompaniment and non-state advertising and bamboozlement efforts aimed at abrasive United States civic aegis interests.” The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 canicule and to allotment ability amidst agencies and to “coordinate with affiliated nations.”
The legislation was accomplished in March 2016, as the demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia was already underway and was allowable amidst the allegations of “Russian hacking” about the U.S. presidential acclamation and the boilerplate media’s furor over allegedly “fake news.” Defeated Democratic presidential appointee Hillary Clinton accurate able abutment for the bill: “It’s acute that leaders in both the clandestine breadth and the accessible breadth footfall up to assure our democracy, and innocent lives.”
The new law is arresting for a cardinal of reasons, not the atomic because it merges a new McCarthyism about declared broadcasting of Russian “propaganda” on the Internet with a new Orwellianism by creating a affectionate of Ministry of Truth – or Global Engagement Center – to assure the American bodies from “foreign advertising and disinformation.”
As allotment of the accomplishment to ascertain and defeat these exceptionable narratives, the law authorizes the Center to: “Facilitate the use of a advanced ambit of technologies and techniques by administering ability amidst Federal departments and agencies, gluttonous ability from alien sources, and implementing best practices.” (This breadth is an credible advertence to proposals that Google, Facebook and added technology companies acquisition means to block or cast assertive Internet sites as purveyors of “Russian propaganda” or “fake news.”)
Justifying this new bureaucracy, the bill’s sponsors argued that the absolute agencies for “strategic communications” and “public diplomacy” were not enough, that the advice blackmail appropriate “a whole-of-government admission leveraging all elements of civic power.”
The law additionally is abounding with irony aback the U.S. government and accompanying agencies are amidst the world’s better purveyors of advertising and bamboozlement – or what you ability alarm evidence-free claims, such as the contempo accusations of Russia hacking into Democratic emails to “influence” the U.S. election.
Despite these accusations — leaked by the Obama administering and accepted as accurate by the boilerplate U.S. account media — there is little or no accessible affirmation to abutment the charges. There is additionally a adverse assay by adept U.S. intelligence professionals as able-bodied as statements by Wikileaks architect Julian Assange and an associate, aloft British Ambassador Craig Murray, that the Russians were not the antecedent of the leaks. Yet, the boilerplate U.S. media has about abandoned this counter-evidence, actualization acquisitive to coact with the new “Global Engagement Center” even before it is acutely formed.
Of course, there is a continued history of U.S. bamboozlement and propaganda. Aloft CIA agents Philip Agee and John Stockwell accurate how it was done decades ago, secretly burying “black propaganda” and covertly allotment media outlets to admission contest about the world, with abundant of the affected account alarming aback into the American media.
In added contempo decades, the U.S. government has adopted an Internet-era adaptation of that blueprint with an accent on accepting the Accompaniment Department or the U.S.-funded Civic Endowment for Capitalism supply, alternation and pay “activists” and “citizen journalists” to actualize and administer advertising and apocryphal belief via “social media” and via contacts with the boilerplate media. The U.S. government’s action additionally seeks to attenuate and discredit journalists who claiming this orthodoxy. The new legislation escalates this advice war by casting addition $160 actor into the pot.
Propaganda and Bamboozlement on Syria
Syria is a acceptable case abstraction in the avant-garde appliance of advice warfare. In her account Hard Choices, aloft Secretary of Accompaniment Hillary Clinton wrote that the U.S. provided “support for (Syrian) noncombatant action groups, including satellite-linked computers, telephones, cameras, and training for added than a thousand activists, acceptance and absolute journalists.”
Indeed, a huge bulk of money has gone to “activists” and “civil society” groups in Syria and added countries that acquire been targeted for “regime change.” A lot of the money additionally goes to ancestor organizations that are based in the United States and Europe, so these efforts do not alone abutment on-the-ground efforts to attenuate the targeted countries, but conceivably alike added importantly, the money influences and manipulates accessible assessment in the West.
In North America, assembly from the Syrian “Local Coordination Committees” (LCC) were common guests on accepted media programs such as “DemocracyNow.” The bulletin was clear: there is a “revolution” in Syria adjoin a “brutal regime” embodied in Bashar al-Assad. It was not mentioned that the “Local Coordination Committees” acquire been primarily adjourned by the West, accurately the Office for Syrian Action Support, which was founded by the U.S. Accompaniment Department and the U.K. Adopted and Commonwealth Office.
More recently, account and assay about Syria has been conveyed through the clarify of the White Helmets, additionally accepted as Syrian Civil Defense. In the Western account media, the White Helmets are declared as neutral, non-partisan, noncombatant volunteers courageously accustomed out accomplishment assignment in the war zone. In fact, the accumulation is none of the above. It was accomplished by the U.S. and U.K. application a British advancing architect and Brooklyn-based business company.
While they may acquire performed some 18-carat accomplishment operations, the White Helmets are primarily a media alignment with a political goal: to advance NATO action in Syria. (The abetment of accessible assessment application the White Helmets and answer by the New York Times and Avaaz address for a “No Fly Zone” in Syria is accurate here.)
The White Helmets hoax continues to be broadly believed and receives careless advance admitting it has added been apparent at addition media outlets as the conception of a “shady PR firm.” During analytical times in the action in Aleppo, White Helmet individuals acquire been acclimated as the antecedent for important account belief admitting a clue almanac of deception.
Recent Propaganda: Blatant Lies?
As the armed groups in east Aleppo afresh absent arena and again collapsed, Western governments and affiliated media went into a aberration of accusations adjoin Syria and Russia based on letters from sources affiliated with the armed opposition. CNN host Wolf Blitzer declared Aleppo as “falling” in a “slaughter of these women and children” while CNN host Jake Tapper referred to “genocide by addition name.”
The Daily Beast arise the claims of the Aleppo Siege Media Center beneath the appellation “Doomsday is captivated in Aleppo” and amidst accusations that the Syrian army was active civilians, afire them animate and “20 women committed suicide in adjustment not to be raped.” These amazing claims were broadly advertisement afterwards verification. However, this “news” on CNN and throughout Western media came from awful biased sources and abounding of the claims – defective annihilation aing absolute acceptance – could be accurately declared as advertising and disinformation.
Ironically, some of the allegedly “Russian propaganda” sites, such as RT, acquire provided contiguous on-the-ground advertisement from the war zones with absolute advice that contradicts the Western anecdotal and appropriately has accustomed about no absorption in the U.S. account media. For instance, some of these non-Western outlets acquire apparent videos of accepted celebrations over the “liberation of Aleppo.”
There has been added acceptance of these realities from accord activists, such as Jan Oberg of Transnational Foundation for Accord and Future Analysis who arise a photo commodity of his beholder observations in Aleppo including the beatitude of civilians from east Aleppo all-encompassing the government-controlled areas of west Aleppo, assuredly freed from areas that had been controlled by Al Qaeda’s Syrian associate and its jihadist allies in Ahrar al-Sham.
Dr. Nabil Antaki, a medical doctor from Aleppo, declared the liberation of Aleppo in an account blue-blooded “Aleppo is Celebrating, Free from Terrorists, the Western Media Misinformed.” The aboriginal Christmas celebrations in Aleppo in four years are apparent here, abounding with boot bandage associates in Santa Claus outfits. Announcer Vanessa Beeley has arise testimonies of civilians from east Aleppo. The beatitude of civilians at their liberation is clear.
Whether or not you ambition to acquire these depictions of the absoluteness in Aleppo, at a minimum, they reflect addition ancillary of the adventure that you acquire been denied while actuality agilely force-fed the adaptation advantaged by the U.S. Accompaniment Department. The ambition of the new Global Engagement Center to adverse “foreign propaganda” is to ensure that you never get to apprehend this addition anecdotal to the Western advertising line.
Even abundant earlier, adverse to the Western belief of insubordinate “liberated zones,” there was able affirmation that the armed groups were never accepted in Aleppo. American announcer James Foley declared the bearings in 2012 like this:
“Aleppo, a burghal of about 3 actor people, was already the banking affection of Syria. As it continues to deteriorate, abounding civilians actuality are accident backbone with the added agitated and bugged action — one that is bedfast by infighting and a abridgement of structure, and acutely infiltrated by both adopted fighters and agitator groups. The rebels in Aleppo are predominantly from the countryside, added alienating them from the burghal army that already lived actuality peacefully, in about bread-and-er abundance and with little arrest from the absolute government of President Bashar al-Assad.”
On Nov. 22, 2012, Foley was kidnapped in northwestern Syria and captivated by Islamic Accompaniment terrorists afore his beheading in August 2014.
The Overall Anecdotal on Syria
Analysis of the Syrian action boils bottomward to two advancing narratives. One anecdotal is that the action is a action for abandon and capitalism adjoin a barbarous regime, a storyline answer in the West and the Gulf states, which acquire been fueling the action from the start. This anecdotal is additionally advantaged by some self-styled “anti-imperialists” who appetite a “Syrian revolution.”
The added anecdotal is that the action is about a war of assailment adjoin a absolute state, with the aggressors including NATO countries, Gulf monarchies, Israel and Jordan. Ascendancy of the Western media by these able interests is so absolute that one about never gets admission to this additional narrative, which is about banned from not alone the boilerplate but additionally abundant of the advanced and accelerating media.
For example, admirers and admirers of the about accelerating TV and radio affairs “DemocracyNow” acquire rarely if anytime heard the additional anecdotal declared in any detail. Instead, the affairs frequently broadcasts the statements of Hillary Clinton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Ability and others associated with the U.S. position. Rarely do you apprehend the angle of the Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations, the Syrian Adopted Minister or analysts central Syria and about the apple who acquire accounting about and chase contest there closely.
“DemocracyNow” additionally has done again interviews with proponents of the “Syrian revolution” while blank analysts who alarm the action a war of assailment sponsored by the West and the Gulf monarchies. This blackout of the additional anecdotal continues admitting the actuality that abounding arresting all-embracing abstracts see it as such. For example, the aloft Adopted Minister of Nicaragua and aloft President of the UN General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto, has said, “What the U.S. government is accomplishing in Syria is alike to a war of aggression, which, according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, is the affliction accessible abomination a Accompaniment can accomplish adjoin addition State.”
In abounding areas of politics, “DemocracyNow” is accomplished and challenges boilerplate media. However in this area, advantage of the Syrian conflict, the advertisement is biased, biased and echoes the account and assay of boilerplate Western accumulated media, assuming the admeasurement of ascendancy over adopted action account that already exists in the United States and Europe.
Suppressing and Censoring Challenges
Despite the boundless censorship of addition analyses on Syria and added adopted hotspots that already exists in the West, the U.S. government’s new “Global Engagement Center” will seek to ensure that the censorship is alike added complete with its ambition to “counter adopted accompaniment and non-state advertising and disinformation.” We can apprehend alike added advancing and better-financed assaults on the few choir adventuresome to claiming the West’s “group thinks” – apply campaigns that are already absolutely extensive.
In an commodity blue-blooded “Controlling the Anecdotal on Syria”, Louis Allday describes the criticisms and attacks on journalists Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal for abnormality from the “approved” Western anecdotal on Syria. Some of the blowing and corruption has arise from absolutely those people, such as Robin Yassin-Kassab, who acquire been common guests in advanced Western media.
Reporters who acquire alternate from Syria with accounts that claiming the advertising capacity that acquire permeated the Western media additionally acquire arise beneath attack. For instance, Canadian announcer Eva Bartlett afresh alternate to North America afterwards actuality in Syria and Aleppo, carrying a actual altered angel and analytical of the West’s biased media coverage. Bartlett appeared at a United Nations columnist appointment and again did abundant interviews beyond the country during a speaking tour. During the advance of her talks and presentation, Bartlett criticized the White Helmets and questioned whether it was accurate that Al Quds Hospital in opposition-held East Aleppo was attacked and destroyed as claimed.
Bartlett’s account of this advice bogus her a ambition of Snopes, which has been a mostly advantageous website advertisement burghal legends and apocryphal rumors but has arise beneath criticism itself for some centralized challenges and has been inconsistent in its investigations. In one address advantaged “White Helmet Hearsay,” Snopes’ biographer Bethania Palmer says claims the White Helmets are “linked to terrorists” is “unproven,” but she overlooks abundant videos, photos, and added letters assuming White Helmet associates adulatory a Nusra/Al Qaeda action victory, acrimonious up the bodies of civilians accomplished by a Nusra executioner, and accepting a affiliate who alternatively appears as a rebel/terrorist fighter with a weapon and afterwards cutting a White Helmet uniform. The “fact check” almost scrapes the apparent of accessible evidence.
The aforementioned biographer did addition bank “investigation” blue-blooded “victim blaming” apropos Bartlett’s appraisal of White Helmet videos and what happened at the Al Quds Hospital in Aleppo. Bartlett suggests that some White Helmet videos may be bogus and may affection the aforementioned adolescent at altered times, i.e., photographs that arise to appearance the aforementioned babe actuality rescued by White Helmet workers at altered places and times. While it is ambiguous whether this is the aforementioned girl, the affinity is clear.
The Snopes biographer goes on to criticize Bartlett for her comments about the arise bombing of Al Quds Hospital in east Aleppo in April 2016. A account at the website of Doctors Afterwards Borders says the architecture was “destroyed and bargain to rubble,” but this was acutely apocryphal aback photos appearance the architecture with cryptic damage. Five months later, the September 2016 address by Doctors Afterwards Borders says the top two floors of the architecture were destroyed and the arena attic Emergency Room damaged yet they re-opened in two weeks.
The abounding inconsistencies and contradictions in the statements of Doctors Afterwards Borders resulted in an accessible letter to them. In their aftermost report, Doctors Afterwards Borders (known by its French initials, MSF) acknowledges that “MSF agents did not anon attestant the advance and has not visited Al Quds Hospital aback 2014.”
Bartlett referenced accessory images taken afore and afterwards the arise advance on the hospital. The images do not appearance astringent accident and it is cryptic whether or not there is any accident to the roof, the base for Bartlett’s statement. In the accomplished week, absolute journalists acquire visited the arena of Al Quds Hospital and address that that the top floors of the architecture are still there and accident is unclear.
The Snopes’ assay criticizing Bartlett was apparent and abandoned the broader issues of accurateness and candor in the Western media’s delineation of the Syrian conflict. Instead the commodity appeared to be an accomplishment to discredit the beholder observations and assay of a announcer who dared claiming the boilerplate narrative.
U.S. advertising and bamboozlement on Syria has been acutely able in ambiguous abundant of the American population. Thus, best Americans are blind how abounding billions of aborigine dollars acquire been spent on yet addition “regime change” project. The advertising attack – accepting abstruse from the acknowledged demonizations of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and added targeted leaders – has been so adept apropos Syria that abounding advanced and accelerating account outlets were pulled in. It has been larboard to RT and some Internet outlets to claiming the U.S. government and the boilerplate media.
But the U.S. government’s a absolute ascendancy of the bulletin doesn’t arise to be enough. Apparently alike a few choir of bone are a few choir too many.
The achievement of HR5181, “Countering Adopted Advertising and Disinformation,” suggests that the cardinal admiral seek to amplify aishment of account and analyses that run adverse to the official narrative. Backed by a new beverage of $160 million, the plan is to added squelch agnostic choir with operation for “countering” and “refuting” what the U.S. government deems to be advertising and disinformation.
As allotment of the $160 actor package, funds can be acclimated to appoint or accolade “civil association groups, media agreeable providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally adjourned analysis and development centers, clandestine companies, or bookish institutions.”
Among the tasks that these clandestine entities can be assassin to accomplish is to analyze and investigate both book and online sources of account that are accounted to be distributing “disinformation, misinformation, and advertising directed at the United States and its allies and partners.”
In added words, we are about to see an accretion of the advice war.
Rick Sterling is an absolute analytic journalist. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Breadth and can be accomplished at [email protected]
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