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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Disinformation daze

Has the disinformation ever been this obvious?

Gettin' Oren-ry. Here we have former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren claiming that Obama has "abandoned" Israel. Most of the article is behind a paywall, but that's not a problem, since there is no pressing reason to read beyond the first paragraph.

The Wall Street Journal, which published this nonsense, doesn't tell you that this very same Michael Oren has said some very revealing things in the recent past. For example, he told the Aspen Institute that Israel wants ISIS to win in Syria. Maybe that's why Obama has supposedly "abandoned" Israel: He doesn't want to down in history as the man who brought ISIS to power.

Holy Flaming Obama! Here we have The Hill claiming that Obama holds to a vehemently "anti-police" ideology. The evidence? The author quotes some incredibly tepid (and inarguable) words which the President uttered after the 2009 incident involving Harvard Professor Henry Gates. Also, Obama has allegedly stoked "racial flames" in Ferguson and Baltimore -- although, oddly enough, the author of this piece cannot quote one sentence of this allegedly inflammatory material.

I happen to live in Baltimore. I am pretty damned sure that not one black person in this town has said: "You know, I was going to sit quietly inside my home like a good negro -- but after Obama stoked the flames, I've decided to go out and burn down a few stores."

Snow job. A few days ago, the front page of Murdoch's Sunday Times featured an alleged news story which claimed that the Ed Snowden documents betrayed British spies to the Russians and the Chinese. Smears of this sort plug into the right-wing disinformation theme that Snowden did what he did because he was a filthy Putin spy all along.

Greenwald offers an impassioned rebuttal here. Basically, the Sunday Times piece relies on leaked information from unnamed British spooks. None of these claims are corroborated, some are provably wrong, and all are unlikely.

Snowden took no files with him when he left Hong Kong. (He had turned everything over to several journalists, including Greenwald.) The Sunday Times also falsely states that Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, "was seized at Heathrow in 2013 in possession of 58,000 “highly classified” intelligence documents after visiting Snowden in Moscow." This whopper was later deleted from the online version of the article.

As Greenwald notes:
This is the very opposite of journalism. Ponder how dumb someone has to be at this point to read an anonymous government accusation, made with zero evidence, and accept it as true.
I would note that nothing in the available Snowden documents (which mostly seem to be Powerpoint presentations) indicates that he attained any lists of covert agents. Nor is it likely that any such list would have been available to him. Snowden worked for Booz-Hamilton, an NSA contractor. The NSA is not the CIA. The CIA runs spies and places people under cover in foreign countries. The NSA is all about signals intelligence -- eavesdropping on your phone calls and internet usage. Thus, the Sunday Times article is unlikely on its face.

However, Snowden makes for an easy scapegoat. As part of its ongoing war on whistleblowers, the administration can blame Snowden for any damaging information which the Chinese and the Russians gained through other means.

Greenwald notes an interesting historical parallel: After Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, the Nixonites had friendly media sources float the story that Ellsberg was some sort of commie spy.

My mind flashed on another parallel -- Ireland. During the height of the Troubles in the 1970s, the British army used similar leaks (and even a few fake documents, which were shown to reporters on a "read but don't copy" basis) to convince American journalists that the Soviet Union was behind the IRA. This claim was a complete lie, yet it became widely believed all across the political spectrum. The purpose of the fib was to stop American Catholics from donating to the IRA.

That DIA report. This humble blog is hardly the only online watering hole to discuss the DIA report which revealed the role of "the west" (loosely defined) in the creation of ISIS. The truth has found a large audience. Thus, it became necessary to have a pseudo-journalist named Jacob Siegel cobble together a piece which consigns the DIA revelations to the category of -- you guessed it! -- "conspiracy theory."

Siegel's tactics are smarmy. He notes that the despicable Pamela Geller (for reasons of her own) has latched onto this document; therefore, anyone else who thinks that the DIA report is important must be in bed with Pam. You know what that argument is like? It's like saying that David Duke was once spotted eating the chili at Wendy's -- thus, if you've ever eaten the chili at Wendy's, you probably also like to march around in public while wearing a swastika. That's just logical, right?

Here's another example of smarm:
The intelligence report about Syria is just that — a report, It’s not a policy directive and there’s no proof that any action was taken based on its analysis. Nevertheless, people across the political spectrum are taking it as if it were a presidential order.
Nobody ever claimed that it was a policy directive. The point of any report is to describe what actually happened, and it is fair to presume that the DIA has pretty good resources when it comes to finding out the truth. It is also fair to presume the intelligence community is more likely to speak candidly in a secret document than in a public statement. The game Siegel is playing here comes under the heading of "Baffle 'em with bullshit."

Brad Hoff demolishes Siegel here.
As to the content of the DIA document itself, Siegal’s main point (after citing Cole) is that the DIA is actually pointing the finger exclusively at America’s allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and that “the West” (and US) is somehow wholly separate from its own coalition. Joe Biden’s revealing comments at Harvard University are referenced, but his prior statements regarding support for the Syrian opposition are ignored: “We are working hand and glove with the Turks, with the Jordanians, with the Saudis, and with all the people in the region attempting to identify the people who deserve the help…” (and this is consistent with statements of other US officials).

The idea that US intelligence and military officials were far removed from the situation as allies armed the likes of Nusra, ISIS, and Ahrar Al-Sham, even while those officials all occupied the same “operations command center” (in Jordan and in Turkey), is absurd on its face. American government officials themselves told the New York Times of a joint Saudi/CIA program to arm the rebels beginning in 2012.
In truth, we did not need that DIA report to figure out the truth about ISIS. This humble blog was talking about that inconvenient truth well before the report became public. You can learn all you really need to know from studying the words of Michael Oren, as noted above. (I like Oren: His blabbiness is useful.) We also have the hard evidence in the video embedded below, which I strongly urge you to watch in full.

Since strained rationalization is my favorite form of humor, I would love to see Siegel try to consign this piece by Dan Sanchez to the "conspiracy theory" bin...
The Pentagon and the CIA, as well as Britain and France, have been training Syrian rebels in neighboring Jordan since at least October 2012, as reported by The Guardian.

As early as April 2012, the State Department under Hillary Clinton began supplying communications equipment to rebels, according to The Wall Street Journal.
I'm sure that Siegel would say that this equipment went only to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), a.k.a. the moderates. As we have seen in many previous posts, the FSA is largely a convenient fiction; Nusra and ISIS provide the real muscle in the Syrian civil war.
It is likely that, without this crucial early logistical aid from the US, the fractious and power-hungry opposition would have fallen apart, the bloody and ruinous civil war would have ended much earlier, and tens of thousands of violent deaths would have been prevented.

More to the point, the war would have ended before Syrian al-Qaeda (aka the Nusra Front) and ISIS could conquer much of Syria, and before ISIS could use its Syrian foothold to stage its conquest of the northwestern half of Iraq. By prolonging the war, the US gave the extremists the time, the space, and the chaos they needed to expand astonishingly.

The chief role of the Saudis and Qataris has been to bankroll the weapons shipments. Both Gulf States are dependent on American arms deliveries worth tens of billions of dollars every year.
What Sanchez is saying, Mr. Siegel, comes down to three simple words: Money is fungible.
Turkey and the Gulf States are client regimes, greatly dependent on American support. If Washington really wanted them to stop arming the rebels, a slight tug of the purse strings would quickly do the trick. With major policy questions like this, if Turkey and the Gulf States are doing something big, it is because it is okay with Washington. Even more likely, it is because it is exactly what Washington wants, and the US is simply using its proxies to do its dirty work.
But it hasn't just been a matter of proxies...
Since at least June 2012, the CIA has been in Turkey actively steering their delivery, as reported by The New York Times.

Yet by October 2012, heat-seeking, shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles were being smuggled into Syria, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. And apparently, by early 2013, they didn’t even need to be smuggled.
These missiles can take down passenger jets.
We know who delivered them to the rebels and who paid for them. But where did these anti-aircraft missiles come from? According to the 2012 Journal report, mostly from Libya...
Even former CIA spokesperson Michael Morell semi-admits that the Syrian rebels got weapons from Libyan stores, although he expects us to buy into bullshit stories involving proxies. Here's the thing: The very same missiles made their way from the so-called Free Syrian Army to ISIS. Proof, one again, that the whole raison d'etre of the FSA is to provide a plausibly deniable mechanism by which American aid can reach the jihadis.

Friendly fire. You will note the unifying factor in all of these examples: If a disinformation story is to have an impact, it can't appear solely in a place like Fox News. The Fox newsfolk speak to people who never leave that intellectual ghetto. Fox has become a meme-trap; it is no longer a way for memes to escape into the wild.

In order for disinformation to work, it has to appear in places where liberals, moderates and conservatives might see and believe it. Venues like the NYT, Buzzfeed, Slate and The Guardian are very useful to the disinformers.

Not everything printed in those venues is a lie (although the NYT has gotten so bad lately that I'm not sure how different it would look if Roger Ailes ran the joint). Heavy-handed "top down" disinformation doesn't work nearly as well as the clever insinuation of misleading stories amid normal reportage.

When a military parody site runs the headline "Pentagon to Bypass Iraqi Army and Supply ISIS Directly" (, I think a lot of people are questioning the official story.
Obama has "abandoned" Israel

That alone would may be vote for 0 again but then again I hate both of them.
Snowden, Greenwald, Assange, Pierre Omidyar, Peter Thiel et. al appear to be right-wing libertarian psyop limited hangouts, guarded by left gatekeepers, and trojaned P.E.T.'s written by Standford Alumni in Silicon Valley while conducting a redux of operation mockingbird. Just a cursory examination of their backgrounds and connections is telling. BAH, an NPR sponsor, subsidiary of Carlyle is not unlike the CSIS and does a lot of work for the CIA that spun off in-q-tel, palantir, and prism. Vanity Fair ran a piece years back sketching out SAIC that gets the bulk of NSA contracts. I'm unaware if those two entities have a publication like their rivals, including the DIA's Atlantic Council.
At least the first part of your statement is nonsense, S9. This is the sort of garbage we often hear from paranoids who envy the more accomplished.
@Shadow Nine,

Snowden, Greenwald, and Thiel are all far right, economically. They are actually so extremely right wing on the economic scale, promoting the whole 'government is evil' crap, that you can only be farther right wing than any of them on the social and cultural spectrum. The social spectrum is where right wingers tend to diverge and become disparate.

My question is, how are leftists guarding these folks? Why do you say that they are guarded by leftists?

- Josh -
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ah, commenters who are strangers to this site have shown up to implement the now-familiar "divide and conquer" tactic. Cute. Of course, we've heard this crap before; for a while now, the kinds of things said here have functioned as the standard propaganda line trotted out to make liberals suspicious of Greenwald and Snowden.

Pathetic. Just LOOK at what we've learned about the NSA from Greenwald and Snowden.

Seriously: You guys are pathetic. I do hope they are paying you well.

What we have learned about the NSA was already known, though without names and the degree of specificity. Snowden was not the first NSA leaker or whistleblower, just the most popularized. William Binney tried for years to draw attention to corruption but was ignored.

It's stupid of you to accuse the Shadow Nine fella of being a paranoid and then outing yourself as paranoid by assuming that Shadow Nine and myself are being paid or are on anyone's special interest payroll. Shadow Nine isn't and neither am I, so drop your paranoid bullshit or take it to Alex Jones' Prison Planet, if you dare.

Lastly, what we have learned from Chelsey Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, William Binney, Sibel Edmonds, Jeremy Scahill, Seymour Hersh and many others has changed nothing. NOTHING has changed. Not a damn thing. Their leaks, their spills, their whistleblowing has amounted to no change in public consciousness. It's business as usual.

If you think Hillary Clinton is going to change that, bugger off.

Josh, YOU bugger off.

First, you don't know the first thing about me. You obviously think that my record on Clinton is different from what it actually has been.

Second, you are just plain lying your fucking ass off when you say that Snowden revealed nothing new. I wrote a number of NSA posts before Snowden, and I was pretty hip to what was going on. We learned a LOT from that treasure trove. What's more, I'm quite sure that guys like Binney and Tice would agree with my previous sentence 100%.

It's clear that you as Shadow Nine, whoever he is, were working together. I dislike being tag teamed. Find another blog, spooky.
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