Since mid-August 2014 major news organizations have conveyed videos allegedly found online by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Unsurprisingly the same media have failed to closely interrogate what the private company actually is and whether the material it promotes should be accepted as genuine.
The Search for International Terrorist Entities Intelligence Group (SITE) was co-founded by Rita Katz in 2001.
In 2003 Katz authored a book, Terrorist Hunter: The Extraordinary Story of a Woman Who Went Undercover to Infiltrate the Radical Islamic Groups Operating in America, which she published using the pseudonym, “Anonymous.”
In the book Katz explains how she took on the trappings of a Muslim woman to infiltrate the meetings of radical Muslim terrorists. The plot is unlikely, especially when one considers that such secret fundamentalist gatherings are almost always segregated along gender lines and no woman, however elaborate her costume, would be granted entry without her identity being firmly established.
SITE Intelligence Group consists of Katz and two “senior advisers,” one of whom is Bruce Hoffman, the Corporate Chair in Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency at the RAND Corporation and former director of the RAND’s Washington DC office.
The SITE Intelligence Group “constantly monitors the Internet and traditional media for material and propaganda released by jihadist groups and their supporters,” the company’s website announces.
“Once obtained, SITE immediately translates the material and provides the intelligence along with a contextual analysis explaining the source of the material and its importance to our subscribers.”
In 2003 and 2004, SITE received financial support from the US government. Also in the early 2000s SITE was on contract providing consulting services to the FBI.
It would appear that SITE has abandoned its non-profit status and now relies on corporate and individual subscriptions for revenue. In 2005 the private mercenary contractor Blackwater hailed SITE as “an invaluable resource.”
The majority of “jihadist groups” operate one or more media outlets that produce and publish “the group’s multimedia, and in some cases, communiqués and magazines,” SITE explains on its website.
“These media units involve production teams and correspondents who report directly from the battlefield, and craft propaganda to indoctrinate and recruit new fighters into the group’s ranks.” SITE provides no direct links to the jihadist groups’ websites or multimedia productions from its own platform.
Katz describes SITE as geared toward international Islamic jihad. “[W]e at SITE for over a decade monitor, search, and study the jihadists online,” she explains.
We have been studying and monitoring the jihadists online, which also as they get more sophisticated, we follow their techniques and study them. And based on that, we could predict where they will be uploading their video.
After all, we have to remember that much of this propaganda is being posted online. Their releases are released online [sic]. So they have to be able to use certain locations to upload their releases before they are published.
Though routinely overlooked in the flurry of front-page coverage corporate media have allotted the three beheading videos–the most recent of which featured Scottish aid worker David Cawthorne Haines–it is common knowledge that SITE uncannily secures terrorist statements and videos well before the US’s wide array of lavishly-funded intelligence services.
For example, as the Washington Post reported in 2007,
[a] small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7 … It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release. Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company’s Web site. By mid-afternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.
The video later proved to be fraudulent.
With the above in mind, one may ask, If parties within a US presidential administration or the State Department sought to bypass the potential scrutiny of a wide-ranging intelligence community concerning such matters, while simultaneously providing itself with the means to effectively propagandize the American public toward a broader end, what better way than to contract the services of an entity such as SITE?
If there is some merit in the above appraisal, the arrangement is now being pushed to an extreme by the Obama administration to pave the road toward a long-sought goal: war with Syria’s Bashar Al Assad regime. Indeed, services such as SITE’s are a potent and valuable means for moving public opinion, as they have done in recent weeks concerning military action against the Islamic State. Along these lines, a decade ago both John Kerry and George W. Bush credited the latter’s re-election to a surreptitious appearance by Osama bin Laden via video tape several days before the vote.
Playing a role similar to SITE, IntelCenter acts as an intermediary between Al-Qaeda’s supposed media arm, As-Sahab, and major media. In other words, “they acquire the tapes and pass them on to the press, and have occasionally even predicted when tapes would be released beforehand,” Paul Joseph Watson reports.
“IntelCenter is run by Ben Venzke, who used to be the director of intelligence at a company called IDEFENSE, which is a Verisign company. IDEFENSE is a web security company that monitors intelligence from the Middle East conflicts and focuses on cyber threats among other things. It is also heavily populated with long serving ex-military intelligence officials.
As noted, news outlets seldom see fit to closely analyze SITE or Katz concerning their research and function as conduits for terrorist propaganda. A LexisNexis search for SITE Intelligence in the article content of US newspapers and major world publications over the past two years produces 317 items—an admittedly low figure given the prominence of SITE’s recent disclosures. Yet a similar search for “Steven Sotloff” alone yields over 1,000 newspaper stories and 600 broadcast transcripts, suggesting the sensationalistic usage and effect of SITE’s data and how neither SITE nor Katz are called upon to explain their specific methods and findings.
Indeed, a similar search for “SITE Intelligence” and “Rita Katz” yields only 26 entries over a two year period. Of these, 14 appear in the Washington Post, a publication with well-established links to US intelligence. Four New York Times articles feature the combined entities.
In a CNN on the heels of the Sotloff beheading, Katz explains how again SITE curiously surpassed the combined capacities of the entire US intelligence community in securing the Sotloff footage.
“The video shows the beheading of Steven Sotloff,” Katz cautiously begins after being queried on the document’s authenticity.
The location from where the video was obtained from is the location where ISIS usually uploads their original videos to [sic]. The video shows a clear message from ISIS that follows the same message that it had before. And in fact within a short time after our release, ISIS’ account on social media indicated that within a short time they would be releasing the video, only we actually had that video beforehand and were able to beat them with the release. (emphasis added)
This unusual statement alongside SITE’s remarkable abilities, should put news outlets on guard concerning the reliability of SITE statements.
Undoubtedly this is a great deal to ask from a news media that all too frequently participate in orienting public opinion toward war, a feat it has once again accomplished with the aid of SITE.
The interests and alliances of the transnational entities owning such media make them poised to profit from the very geopolitical designs drawn up by SITE’s corporate and government clients–the most important of which may be those seeking to broaden Middle Eastern conflict. No doubt, the wide-scale acceptance of such propaganda is also the result of the vastly diminished critical capacities of the broader public, now several decades in the making.
 “Services,” SITE Intelligence Group, , accessed September 15, 2014,
 Berni McCoy, “So, a ‘Charitable Organization’ Released the bin Laden Video,” Democratic Underground, September 10, 2007, http://journals.democraticunderground.com/berni_
 “SITE Institute,” Sourcewatch.org, Center for Media and Democracy, n.d.
 “Media Groups,” SITE Intelligence Group, n.d., accessed September 15, 2014.
 Karl Penhaul, Pamela Brown, Alisyn Camerota, Don Lemon, Paul Cruickshank, “Joan Rivers on Life Support; Chilling Words From ISIS Terrorist; How to Fight Radical Recruitment” (transcript), CNN, September 2, 2014.
 Joby Warrick, “Leak Severed a Link to Al Qaeda Secrets,” Washington Post, October 9, 2007.
 Paul Joseph Watson, “Another Dubious Osama Tape Appears When the Neo-Cons Need It Most,” Prisonplanet.com, July 16, 2007.
 Ibid. See also, Kurt Nimmo, “Sotloff Video Found by Group Responsible For Releasing Fake Osama Bin Laden Video,” Infowars.com, September 3, 2014.
Bureau of Investigative Journalism | September 15, 2014
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is asking a European court to rule on whether UK legislation properly protects journalists’ sources and communications from government scrutiny and mass surveillance.
The Bureau’s application was filed with the European Court of Human Rights on Friday. If the court rules in favour of the application it will force the UK government to review regulation around the mass collection of communications data.
The action follows concerns about the implications to journalists of some of the revelations that have come out of material leaked by Edward Snowden.
These have made it clear that by using mass surveillance techniques, government agencies can not only collect, store and scrutinise the content of electronic communications but also analyse masses of metadata – the details about where digital communications such as emails originate and the subject area of those communications.
Gavin Millar QC, who is working on the case with the Bureau, believes UK authorities are routinely carrying out such data collection and analysis and says this enables a sophisticated picture to be developed of a journalist’s or organisation’s network of contacts, sources and lines of enquiry as well as materials, subjects and persons of interest to them.
Click here for a summary of the case.
Why data harvesting is a human rights issue – find out why we’re doing this.
Gavin Millar QC: A breach of international law.
The Economist’s Bello column this week has a column entitled “Memory is not history“, which argues that “there are dangers [in South America’s] intellectual fashion for “historical memory”.” It goes on to accuse “the left” of “rewriting history” – in fact, of imposing “memory” over an accurate “history”.
I would argue that the piece contains several important distortions, aside from trying to lump together a region from Colombia down to the Southern Cone.
The historical truth silenced by “memory” is that the cold war in Latin America was fought by two equally authoritarian sides.
But it was not. To take the example of Argentina, yes, there were Montoneros and there were incidences of left-wing violence before the 1976 coup. But to suggest that the small leftist group, which was largely destroyed before the military took power, was in any way equivalent to the forces of the State is very far off the mark.
The Economist points out that some human rights groups in Argentina tend to use the figure of 30,000 disappeared and it contrasts this with the nearly 9,000 victims recorded by the CONADEP commission. It is inaccurate and unfair to use the CONADEP list to undermine estimates of the disappeared, and I explained why in detail years ago. See also here for more on the numbers.
None of this mitigates the inexcusable barbarity of Pinochet or of the Argentine junta.
The problem is that it does. You can’t equate State terrorists with their victims, suggest that calculations of the disappeared are deliberately inflated, and then claim that you’re not weakening the accounts of the dictatorships’ crimes.
Memorials are a shorthand, yes. You can’t include the whole complexities of a country’s experiences on a plaque. Memory, in its wider sense, tends to include the testimonies of victims and relatives and it encompasses a whole range of commemorative acts, both formal and informal. Pulling out the memory/history dichotomy and reiterating the dos demonios theory (“each side was as bad as the other”) is a means of obscuring human rights abuses and seeking to paper over the crimes of the past.
While the United States, United Kingdom and NATO are pushing for war with Russia, it behooves people and their governments around the world to take a clear stand for peace and against violence and war, no matter where it comes from. We are at a dangerous point in our history of the human family and it would be the greatest of tragedies for ourselves and our children if we simply allowed the war profiteers to take us into a third world war, resulting in the death of untold millions of people.
NATO’s decision at its summit in Wales (September 4-5) to create a new 4,000 strong rapid reaction force for initial deployment in the Baltics is a dangerous path for us all to be forced down, and could well lead to a third world war if not stopped. What is needed now are cool heads and people of wisdom and not more guns, more weapons, more war.
NATO is the leadership which has been causing the ongoing wars from the present conflict in the Ukraine, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and others.
NATO’s latest move commits its 28 member states to spend two percent of their gross domestic product on the military, and to establish a series of three to five bases in Eastern Europe where equipment and supplies will be pre-positioned to help speed deployments, among other measures.
This decision by the United States/NATO to create a high readiness force with the alleged purpose of countering an alleged Russian threat reminds me of the war propaganda of lies, half-truths, insinuations and rumors to which we were all subjected in order to try to soften us all up for the Iraq war and subsequent horrific wars of terror which were carried out by NATO allied forces.
According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) observation team, NATO’s reports, including its satellite photos which show Russian combat forces engaged in military operations inside sovereign territory of Ukraine, were based on false evidence.
While NATO is busy announcing a counter-invasion to the non-existent Russian invasion of Ukraine, people in Ukraine are calling out for peace and negotiations, for political leadership which will bring them peace, not weapons and war.
This spearhead military force will be provided by allies in rotation and will involve also air, sea and special forces. We are also informed by a NATO spokesperson that this force will be trained to deal with unconventional actions, from the funding of separatist groups to the use of social media, intimidation and black propaganda.
No doubt the current Western media’s demonization of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian people, by trying to inculcate fear and hatred of them, is part of the black propaganda campaign.
NATO’s latest proposals of 4,000 soldiers, and a separate force of 10,000 strong British-led joint expeditionary force also proposed, is a highly aggressive and totally irresponsible move by the United States, United Kingdom and NATO. It is breaches the 1997 agreement with Moscow under which NATO pledged not to base substantial numbers of soldiers in Eastern Europe on a permanent basis.
NATO should have been disbanded when the Warsaw Pact disintegrated but it was not and is now controlled by the United States for its own agenda. When speaking of NATO, one of President Bill Clinton’s officials said “America is NATO”. Today NATO, instead of being abolished, is re-inventing itself in re-arming and militarizing European states and justifying its new role by creating enemy images – be they Russians, IS (the Islamic State), and so on.
In an interdependent, interconnected world, struggling to build fraternity, economic cooperation and human security, there is no place for the Cold War policies of killing and threats to kill and policies of exceptionalism and superiority. The world has changed. People do not want to be divided and they want to see an end to violence, militarism and war.
The old consciousness is dysfunctional and a new consciousness based on an ethic of non-killing and respect and cooperation is spreading. It is time for NATO to recognize that its violent policies are counterproductive. The Ukraine crisis, groups such as the Islamic State, etc., will not be solved with guns, but with justice and through dialogue.
Above all, the world needs hope. It needs inspirational political leadership and this could be given if President Barack Obama and President Putin sat down together to solve the Ukraine conflict through dialogue and negotiation and in a non-violent way.
We live in dangerous times, but all things are possible, all things are changing … and peace is possible.
It takes a professional trauma, I suspect, for a journalist to awaken from the slumber that is their role as news entertainer. Then, like Neo in the Matrix finally seeing the binary code that is the basis of what he assumes to be reality, the reasons for the media’s dismal performance become unavoidably clear.
Andrew MacGregor Marshall has grounds to be disillusioned. Despite a long and successful career, including a stretch covering Iraq as bureau chief, he was abandoned by the Reuters news agency in 2011 when he took possession of classified documents about the Thai monarchy. Reuters showed what a news organisation does when one of its reporters provokes the fury of a US ally: it quickly loses its backbone and sides with the power elites against its own reporter.
Only a few journalists find themselves coming up against their news organisation in such dramatic fashion. And of those, an even smaller number decide to act on principle and resign. An even tinier number choose to speak out, based on their own experiences, about the failures of journalism. Doing so is likely to be a form of career suicide. So bravo to Marshall for this interview with RT that offers many great insights into the role of journalists.
I came to believe that what we’d done in Iraq had been fairly useless, because we covered the day-to-day bloodshed and killing, but we failed to give the proper context that would allow readers to understand what was going on. It was almost like bloodthirsty entertainment. It makes headlines, but I don’t think mainstream media coverage of these conflicts really produces understanding. In fact I say it does the opposite, it prevents understanding. There is a focus on blood and gore and there is no attempt to really explain what the geopolitical forces behind it are. …
Nobody ever told me that I should lie, and if they ever had I would refuse. I think most of my colleagues in the mainstream media are similar.
But what was interesting is that it’s more insidious than that. There is a certain discourse that becomes normalized, in which certain views are acceptable and others not. And if you make obvious statements, you know, like about the role of banks or global superpowers, and about the disaster that’s befallen the world in many areas in recent years, you are often marginalized as some sort of loony figure. And there is a “cult of moderation,” of being “neutral”’ in the media. Being neutral is normally held to be that if there is a crazy right-winger or left-winger, you are somewhere in the middle. But obviously, truth is not always in the middle. …
I think it is through this process that the mainstream media basically becomes a tool of misinforming people, rather than informing people. It’s not so much deliberate lies, although some clearly do engage in deliberate lies, but it’s just the sense that there are some things that are safe to say that we become conditioned that they are safe to say, and there are other things that we probably know them to be true, but if we say them we are mocked or delegitimised. …
We have seen Guantanamo, Abu-Ghraib and Bagram, and many other US detention centers. We have seen torture, and sexual torture became normalized. But when I was trying to report any story like this for Reuters, my editors would demand enormous evidence. I had to jump over innumerable hurdles to prove that my staff had been tortured. And I knew these men very well and I knew they were telling me the truth.
But if we wanted to report on atrocities by a militant group in Baqubah or Fallujah, we would just write “that it had been reported,” and there would be no attempt to ask us to prove what happened, because it was just assumed that this is what the militants do – they do bad things, and the Westerners do good things. …
I think that there is tendency for the Western media to claim that it is neutral and unbiased, when in fact it’s clearly propagating a one-sided, quiet nationalistic and selfish view of its own interventions in these countries. If I’d ever been told by any of my bosses to lie, I would have quit. And I ended up quitting, because I was told to lie about Thailand. But it’s done more subtly. If you want to accuse the US military of an atrocity, you have to make sure that every last element of your story is absolutely accurate, because if you make one mistake, you will be vilified and your career will be over. And we have seen that happen to some people in recent years. But if you want to say that some group of militants in Yemen or Afghanistan or Iraq have committed an atrocity, your story might be completely wrong, but nobody will vilify you and nobody will ever really check it out….
I think it is our responsibility to dig deeper and talk about causes. Why are these conflicts happening? So rather than focus on the froth and the atrocities, and the horror on the top, which are important, we have to also try and provide the framework that allows people to understand why this is happening.
To be clear:
Are we clear?
The New York Times has one of its typically racist articles making fun of Iranians for their “conspiracy theories” — this time about who created ISIS.
The irony is that this is the same NY Times that helped promote the US lie about “WMDs in Iraq”
Meanwhile I am reminded of NeoCon Michael Ledeen’s rant about how “creative destruction” is our middle name.
Things are getting pretty “creative”, huh Michael? “Faster please” indeed.
The Iranians and the Iraqis and most of the rest of the world think that the Saudis (as US allies) created ISIS and for good reason.
And lets remember a point:
During the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the FBI had an informant named Emad Salem among the bombers, who offered to substitute a harmless substance for the bomb material but this was rejected by his FBI handlers.
Was this an “Iranian conspiracy theory too? No, it was reported even by the NY Times.
So what makes you just assume that the US and her allies aren’t behind ISIS?
Why would the NY Daily News or any publication believe an anonymous Saudi source concerning any subject?
ISIS has become the scare du jour of world politics. While ISIS is a profoundly disturbing phenomenon for which the world should develop some sort of response, the problem is that the Islamist movement has become a useful foil for many varied political interests from Israel to the U.S. Islamophobes among the Euro-nationalist far-right and the U.S. Tea Party have latched onto ISIS as their political gravy train. Bibi Netanyahu, ever alert to memes he can exploit to promote Israel’s interests, made the memorable, and profoundly mendacious statement: “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.” Senator Bill Nelson, who has a huge elderly Jewish constituency and is allied closely with the Israel Lobby, said this today:
“Any group that sets them [sic] up as a religious caliphate and says that they will not stop until the black flag of ISIS is flying over the White House — I take that pretty seriously,” he said.
No ISIS leader has ever made such a statement. But Nelson appears to be watching FoxNews, because it claimed ISIS said so. The fact that a major national political leader would air such nonsense is disturbing. There is enough to hate about ISIS without making things up out of whole cloth.
Then we have the tried and true Wall Street Journal, always good for a bit of Islamophobic hysteria. This is the headline for Ryan Crocker’s op-ed: Islamic State Is Getting Stronger, and It’s Targeting America. The neo-cons are on the warpath demanding that we “eviscerate” ISIS, that we engage in some sort of a counter-jihad. Which is just what both the world and America need, yet another war against Islam in the Mideast.
Similarly, Israeli media have reported that a freed French journalist held hostage by ISIS identified the Belgian museum attacker as an adherent of ISIS. While the journalist, who worked for the right-wing French daily Le Point, did say Mehdi Nemmouche tortured and abused him and others while he was held in custody, he never made any statement about the alleged terrorist’s affiliations. So when Nemmouche left Syria was he affiliated with ISIS? Why did he leave? Had he broken with ISIS? Had ISIS broken with him? And if so, why?
The implication of this Israeli reporting was that the attack which killed two Israeli intelligence agents may’ve been the work of ISIS. In fact, no one knows whether Nemmouche was acting on his own or on behalf of another Islamist group. Any speculation to the contrary is just that.
Open Democracy has published an incisive piece raising uncomfortable similarities between ISIS and Israel’s religion-derived claims of authority and sovereignty.
All this leads to the next logical question: what threat does ISIS really pose to U.S. national interests? If it doesn’t pose such a threat, then what should our response to it be? Does it threaten other interests or values that are important to us? And what will be the outcome of any form of intervention we choose to take? … Full article
A Dead Statesman
I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?
– Rudyard Kipling, “Epitaphs of the War”
How can a just peace be achieved between the Israelis and the Palestinians? The answer is simply to appoint as peace envoy a war criminal who — like former French President Nicolas Sarkozy — also happens to be an Israeli sayan. Before qualifying as a fully fledged war criminal, Blair started out as a lawyer whose cosy, potentially corrupt, and now war criminal connection with Israel began in earnest in 1994 when he first met Michael Levy — an encounter that was calculated rather than fortuitous — at a dinner party hosted by Israeli diplomat Gideon Meir who, like Blair was friendly with Eldred Tabachnik, a senior barrister and Queens Council at 11 King’s Bench Walk, the chambers founded by Derry Irvine where Blair had been a junior tenant on its foundation in 1981. Tabachnik was also a former president (1994-2000) of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Following their initial meeting Blair and Levy became friends, tennis partners, and political cohorts with Levy running the Labour Leader’s Office Fund to finance Blair’s 1997 general election campaign which received substantial contributions from notables such as Alex Bernstein (Granada Group Chairman 1979-1996) and Robert Gavron (publishing). Generally referred to as “Lord Cashpoint” in media and political circles, Levy was the Labour Party’s leading fundraiser with over £100m raised between 1994 to 2007. After becoming Prime Minister, Blair ennobled Bernstein and Gavron and made Levy a life peer whom the Jerusalem Post — owned by the subsequently convicted felon Canadian newspaper publisher Conrad Black — described as “undoubtedly the notional leader of British Jewry.”
In 1998 Blair appointed Levy as his personal envoy to the Middle East and it is perhaps no coincidence that as a consequence of being financed and in effect controlled by Israeli interests, Blair — like the semi-illiterate President Bush in the U.S. — was inveigled into launching an illegal war against Iraq despite widespread opposition to such a conflict. The need for war was then “sold” to the British and American people on the basis of doctored intelligence reports backed by Blair’s now infamous claim to Parliament that Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order to use them. Everyone now knows that the 45-minute claim was a blatant lie because Iraq had nothing even remotely resembling a weapon of mass destruction. So once again an AIPAC-controlled U.S.-led alliance was conned by Israel to wage war on Israel’s behalf against an “enemy” Arab neighbour. Other Israeli targets for Western alliance death and destruction included Iran and Syria.
“Lord Cashpoint” Levy, who praised Blair for his “solid and committed support of the State of Israel,” maintained close ties with Israel’s political leaders and kept a home in Herzliya, a city in the central coast of Israel. Daniel Levy, his son, was active in Israeli politics, and at one time served as an assistant to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and to Knesset member Yossi Beilin. Daniel — amongst other positions — is a senior research fellow of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation and director of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. It is the calculated placement of such dedicated, eager beaver people in strategic positions that exert influence over Western decision-making on the Middle East that favour Israel’s political purpose.
In March 2006 it was revealed that Tony Blair’s Labour Party had raised £14 million in loans from private individuals of whom some were later nominated for peerages. Levy was later arrested but released on bail pending Scotland Yard’s investigation into what came to be known as the “cash for honours” controversy. In July 2007 — one month after the Jewish Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith had stepped down at the same time as Blair — the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Levy would neither be prosecuted in connection with the affair nor face any other charges.
When Tony Blair and his disgraced Zionist “Lord Cashpoint” controller voluntarily decided to step down in June 2007, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the past decade, assumed the office of Prime Minister following the approval of Queen Elizabeth II. Having been for a long time Blair’s bitter competitor for residence at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Brown was not to be outdone and was himself bankrolled and influenced by Ronald Cohen who as the Labour Party’s fourth largest supporter was also ennobled. The Egyptian-born Lord Cohen was in 2002 an inaugural inductee into the Private Equity Hall of Fame, at the British Venture Capital Association and Real Deals’ Private Equity Awards. So long as money — corporate, Jewish or otherwise — is permitted by the majority of the people to influence and control the governance of a nation, then there can be no democracy because the people become conditioned subjects rather than citizens.
In June 2007 Blair was appointed Middle East envoy working on behalf of the U.S., Russia, the UN and the EU quartet with his sterling peace efforts resulting in Israel’s 2008 Operation Cast Lead. Being an Israeli stooge, however, has its rewards and in May 2009 Blair received the $1 million Dan David prize at a Tel Aviv university ceremony. Blair’s office stated that 90 percent of the money from the prize — which is named after Dan David, the Jewish-born Romanian international businessman who made his millions by setting up Photo-Me booths in shopping malls around the world — would be donated to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation that promotes religious understanding by bringing together young people (excluding young Palestinian “beasts”) of different faiths.
This was followed up in September 2010 with the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal and $100,000 (£65,000) prize being awarded by former President Bill Clinton to Blair. The Center is an independent, non-profit organisation that promotes understanding of the U.S. constitution and its relevance. The $100,000 was to be donated to Blair’s charitable foundations. Officials acknowledged that Blair, who had just been forced to cancel promotional events for a new autobiography amid protests by critics of his role in the U.S.-led Iraq war, was a contentious choice. The Center’s Jewish (surprise, surprise) president David Eisner, said that “There is always an element of controversy when you pick people at the forefront of change. They are usually very controversial figures. We understand … how differently Tony Blair appears to be viewed by many people in the UK as compared with many people in the US.” That is probably because the British people had not forgotten how he deliberately involved Britain in a war on the strength of a barefaced Blair lie.
Following the September 2014 much criticised GQ glossy magazine’s “Philanthropist of the Year” award” to Blair, the Charity Commission has just announced that it will meet representatives of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) over concerns brought to its attention by former senior employee turned whistleblower, Martin Bright. Bright, who as editor of the TBFF website for the charity analysed religious conflict, has complained about Blair’s interference and effectively accused him of abusing his role as patron to use the charity as a think tank for his private office which allegedly spent large sums of money on a sizeable communications team whose priority appeared to be the protection Mr Blair’s image, rather than the promotion of the charity. Bright further maintained that “the Faith Foundation is an independent charity with Tony Blair as its patron. He is not supposed to have any executive role … But it was clear from the outset that … his [Mr Blair’s] reputation was to be protected at all costs.”
Though other Labour Party leaders have since endeavoured to jettison the pernicious legacy of the illegal Iraq war, Blair has steadfastly continued to maintain that he made the right decision . . . “If we hadn’t removed Saddam from power just think, for example, what would be happening if these Arab revolutions were continuing now and Saddam, who’s probably 20 times as bad as Assad in Syria, was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq? Think of the consequences of leaving that regime in power.” Anyone thinking about it — taking into account how Iraq’s entire infrastructure has since been destroyed, its communities divided, and its people devastated with millions killed — would have to honestly conclude Iraq and its people were much better off under Saddam Hussein who as a war criminal was strictly an amateur compared to leaders like Blair, Bush Jr., and Barack Obama.
Apart from all the blood on his hands, Blair has also been busy stuffing his pockets with filthy lucre to the extent that his approximate earnings of £150,000 as Prime Minister are now dwarfed by varied estimates of tens of millions. Finally, Israeli stooge and war criminal Blair is to be given a knighthood — one of the Catholic church’s top awards — for “services to peace” by a gutless and hypocritical Pope who failed to condemn the recent butchery in Gaza while presiding over a Church that has always condemned the use of contraception so as to protect the the sanctity of human life.
William Hanna can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick Gladstone, writing in The New York Times, July 30th 2014:
‘Cluster bombs, internationally banned weapons that can maim and destroy indiscriminately, not only have been frequently used for the past two years by government forces in the Syrian civil war . .
. . . According to an assessment by Human Rights Watch, a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition, Syrian government forces used the weapons in at least 224 locations, in 10 of Syria’s 14 governorates, from July 2012 to this March, with new indications that their “use is ongoing.” The assessment is incomplete and based partly on remnants recorded by video, Human Rights Watch said, suggesting the actual use may be even more widespread.
Syria’s government has denied the use of cluster munitions in the conflict, which is now in its fourth year. But Ms. Blakemore said that the insurgents fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad did not have the capacity to deploy such weapons.’
So then, rebels in Syria simply aren’t able to use cluster bombs. No siree! It’s all the work of the Assad regime.
Rick Gladstone, writing in The New York Times, September 1st 2014:
‘The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the extremist militant group now almost universally vilified for atrocities that include boastful beheadings, summary mass executions and enslavement in the areas it aspires to control, also has attacked enemies with cluster bombs, the banned weapons that kill and maim indiscriminately, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
Stephen Goose, the arms division director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that “credible evidence” had emerged that ISIS forces used ground-fired cluster munitions on July 12 and Aug. 14 during fighting with Kurdish militia members in Aleppo Province near the northern Syrian border with Turkey.
“The use of cluster munitions by nonstate actors such as the Islamic State shows the urgent need for Syria and all nations that have not yet done so to join the ban on cluster munitions and destroy their stockpiles,” Human Rights Watch said in the statement’.
No wait! The rebels do have the capacity to deploy cluster bombs after all, and they are deploying them! And they were even when we said they weren’t! Or at least ISIS are!
And how convenient that this new ‘credible evidence’ has come to light just as the U.S. et al are embarking on a long term, overt war in Iraq – and very probably Syria before too long – to be justified by the ISIS ‘threat’.
Dilanian’s Dizzying Defense & Dissemination of Disinformation: My Own Discussion with the ‘CIA’s Mop-Up Man’
On Wednesday afternoon, The Intercept‘s Ken Silverstein dropped a bombshell:
A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.
That reporter is Ken Dilanian, who has since joined Associated Press as an intelligence reporter.
A swath of emails from the first half of 2012, released to The Intercept in response to a FOIA request, show that Dilanian maintained a particularly obsequious relationship with the media relations team over at the Central Intelligence Agency, the clandestine U.S. government service he was hired to cover for the paper.
Dilanian, dubbed “the CIA’s Mop-Up Man” by The Intercept, went beyond the usual role of mainstream media stenographer of government talking points. According to Silverstein – and overwhelmingly corroborated by the content of the published documents – Dilanian “enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times.”
“I’m working on a story about congressional oversight of drone strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys,” Dilanian wrote in one email to a CIA press officer, explaining that what he intended to report would be “reassuring to the public” about CIA drone strikes. In another, after a series of back-and-forth emails about a pending story on CIA operations in Yemen, he sent a full draft of an unpublished report along with the subject line, “does this look better?” In another, he directly asks the flack: “You wouldn’t put out disinformation on this, would you?”
Another example of Dilanian’s shameful sycophancy is found in an email he sent to his contact at the CIA Office of Public Affairs on April 11, 2012. In the message, Dilanian passes along a 10-day-old dispatch from the Yemen Times, reporting on a U.S. drone strike in Azzan, a town in the country’s eastern Shabwa province. Five people were killed in the strike, one of whom was immediately identified as 60-year-old civilian, Mohamed Saleh al Suna. Six children were also injured by shrapnel from the bombing while playing soccer.
Even though Reuters had already reported on the attack on March 30, 2012 – the day it occurred – Dilanian attempted to get confirmation on the strike and reported casualties from his buddies at the CIA. “This one sounds like you guys,” he wrote, adding, “Do you agree that a civilian was killed?”
Far from acting as a venerable “Fourth Estate” check on the excesses state power, Dilanian clearly revels in his access to the upper echelons of the security and surveillance establishment, eager to laundering their lies and whitewash their war crimes.
While Dilanian’s “closely collaborative” and “deferential relationship” with the CIA, as Silverstein puts it, is shameful, unprofessional, and does a great disservice to what should be the adversarial, critical, and challenging role the press should the government, it certainly comes as no surprise.
At least to me.
A month before the first of Dilanian’s emails released to The Intercept was written, I engaged in a brief online correspondence with him.
On February 23, 2012, Ken Dilanian wrote a refreshingly solid piece on the U.S. government’s view of the Iranian nuclear program, noting that there was still no evidence Iran is actually building a nuclear bomb nor actively pursuing the means to do so.
Nevertheless, the article contained a slight error regarding Dilanian’s description of Iran’s declared and safeguarded enrichment site at Fordow, which he wrote was a “clandestine underground facility” that had been “discovered” by “Western intelligence agencies.”
Since the piece was otherwise generally good, I thought Dilanian would be receptive to a minor bit of fact-checking and decided to get in touch, using my nice voice.
What happened next was bizarre. The defensive posture immediately on display by Dilanian – someone with an important role at a large American newspaper – was revealing, and illuminating. No amount of reasoned explanation or fact-based rationale would do – he deflected, doubled-down, fumed, fulminated, and then, as the short-lived conversation continued, became increasingly insulting and juvenile.
He effectively admitted to being a sounding board for anonymous government spooks and berated anyone who doesn’t have Pentagon and CIA officials on speed-dial as being ignorant and agenda-driven, citing a “conspiracy” I never suggested existed.
The best part, perhaps, was when he wrote, “[T]here are checks and balances, including Congressional oversight, journalistic scrutiny and whistleblowers from within – all of which insures, I would argue, that US officials do not often get away with elaborate lies…”
My guess is that there are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who might beg to differ with his particularly sunny assessment if they weren’t already dead.
At another point, Dilanian insisted to me that “U.S. government officials are not in the habit of elaborate disinformation campaigns,” and then later, after I challenged the official narrative on something, writes, “but it’s so easy for you to sit in Brooklyn, having no contact whatsoever with anyone senior from the government’s national security apparatus, and having no real idea of how that apparatus works, and us[ing] phrases like ‘a narrative emerges.'”
With the new revelations published by The Intercept, we now know, even more than before and beyond a shadow of doubt, who’s actually responsible for foisting particular narratives upon the unwitting public.
But, hey, if only I sent fawning emails from Washington D.C. to my pals across the Potomac in Langley, maybe I’d have some clue as to what really going on. Thanks Ken, for setting me straight.
Below is our email exchange in full (the only editing made have been the standardization of the spelling of “Fordow” and the removal of Dilanian’s mobile phone number):
From: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 1:55 AM
To: Dilanian, Ken
Subject: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment
I’m writing to thank you for the important piece, “U.S. does not believe Iran is trying to build nuclear bomb,” in the L.A. Times today. It contains a lot of vital information that is not reported on nearly often enough in the mainstream press. Those who follow this issue closely, like myself, have been writing about this information for a long time, so reading it in the L.A. Times is a huge boost to getting the truth out.
I do question, however, your decision to include the following sentence: “In 2009, Western intelligence agencies discovered a clandestine underground facility called Fordow, near the city of Qom…”
In fact, the Fordow plant was not really “discovered” by “Western intelligence agencies”; rather, it was announced by Iran to the IAEA on September 21, 2009. Barack Obama’s sensationalist press conference, alongside Nicholas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh, during which supposedly “revealed” the existence of the Fordow facility to the world, occurred on September 25, 2009, four days after Iran itself told the IAEA about the plant, which was subsequently described as “a hole in a mountain” and “nothing to be worried about” by then-IAEA Secretary General Mohammed ElBaradei.
In advance of Obama’s supposed revelation, IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire told reporters, “I can confirm that on 21 September, Iran informed the IAEA in a letter that a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country.”
Obama even acknowledged this fact in his speech, noting, “Earlier this week, the Iranian government presented a letter to the IAEA that made reference to a new enrichment facility…”, though he deliberately omitted the inconvenient fact that Iran is only legally obligated to inform the IAEA of new facilities within 180 days of the introduction of nuclear material thereby making his own accusation of Iran’s alleged intransigence deliberately deceiving.
Unfortunately, your report also fails to acknowledge the essential fact that IAEA spokesman Gill Tudor has confirmed: “All nuclear material in the [Fordow] facility remains under the agency’s containment and surveillance.”
In such an otherwise excellent report, it is frustrating to see the “secret Fordow facility” meme still repeated.
Considering your attention to the Iranian nuclear issue and constant dis- and misinformation, speculation and propaganda regarding Iran’s capabilities and intentions, I think you might be interested in this piece of mine from December 2010, which has subsequently been updated over 51 times with new predictions since its original publication: The Phantom Menace: Fantasies, Falsehoods, and Fear-Mongering about Iran’s Nuclear Program
From: Dilanian, Ken
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 9:35 AM
To: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment
Mr. Shirazi, thanks for your comment. I believe you are flat wrong about Fordow. Iran declared it only after Iran discovered that Western intelligence agencies knew about it. I did get the date wrong – the U.S. actually discovered it years before, and announced it only after Iran’s preemptive letter. See:
National Security Correspondent
Los Angeles Times
O:(202) 824 8328
From: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 10:12 AM
To: Dilanian, Ken
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment
Thanks for replying so quickly, Ken.
That Iran was merely reacting to a Western discovery and hoping to pre-empt its publicity is precisely the narrative that has been wholeheartedly accepted by the press without any hint of scrutiny or shred of evidence. First off, how would Iran find out that Obama was going to hold a press conference announcing the “discovery” of the site with enough time to decide to “preemptively” draft a letter to the IAEA? – a declaration, it should be pointed out, that took place well before the 180 days before nuclear material was introduced to the site as mandated by Iran’s ratified Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. Actually, Iran announced the site about a year and a half before it technically and legally had to. I suppose, though, it is possible that Iranian agents had access to Rahm Emanuel’s google calendar.
It’s silly to rehash what has been addressed already, but I think IPS journalist Gareth Porter’s recent article on this very subject in instructive (forgive me for quoting at length):
The Clinton and Hague statements [that Fordo was "covert" and "clandestine" before revealed to the world by the West] recalled a briefing for reporters during the Pittsburgh G20 summit meeting Sep. 25, 2009, at which a “senior administration official” asserted that Iran had informed the IAEA about the Fordow site in a Sep. 21 letter only after it had “learned that the secrecy of the facility was compromised”.
That administration claim was quickly accepted by major media outlets without any investigation of the facts. That story line is so deeply entrenched in media consciousness that even before Clinton’s remarks, Reuters and Associated Press had published reports from their Vienna correspondents that repeated the official Obama administration line that Iran had revealed the Fordow site only after Western intelligence had discovered it.
But the administration never offered the slightest evidence to support that assertion, and there is one major reason for doubting it: the United States did not inform the IAEA about any nuclear facility at Fordow until three days after Iran’s Sep. 21, 2009 formal letter notifying the IAEA of the Fordow enrichment facility, because it couldn’t be certain that it was a nuclear site.
Mohammed ElBaradei, then director general of the IAEA, reveals in his 2011 memoir that Robert Einhorn, the State Department’s special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control, informed him Sep. 24 about U.S. intelligence on the Fordow site – three days after the Iranian letter had been received.
An irritated ElBaradei demanded to know why he had not been told before the Iranian letter.
Einhorn responded that the United States “had not been sure of the nature of the facility”, ElBaradei wrote.
The administration’s claim that Iran announced the site because it believed U.S. intelligence had “identified it” was also belied by a set of questions and answers issued by the Obama administration on the same day as the press briefing. The answer it provided to the question, “Why did the Iranians decide to reveal this facility at this time,” was “We do not know.”
Greg Thielmann, who was a top official in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research until 2003 and was on the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the 2009 episode, told IPS the evidence for the claim that Iran believed the site had been discovered was “all circumstantial”.
Analysts were suspicious of the Iranian letter to the IAEA, Thielmann said, because, “it had the appearance of something put together hurriedly.”
But there is an alternative explanation: the decision to reveal the existence of a second prospective enrichment site – this one built into the side of a mountain – appears to have reflected the need to strengthen Iran’s hand in a meeting with the “P5 + 1″ group of state led by the United States that was only 10 days away.
The Iranian announcement that it would participate in the meeting on Sep. 14, 2009 came on the same day that the head of Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, warned against an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The idea that Iran was planning to enrich uranium secretly at Fordow assumes that the Iranians were not aware that U.S. intelligence had been carrying out aerial surveillance of the site for years. That is hardly credible in light of the fact that the Mujahideen-E-Khalq (MEK), the armed opposition group with links to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence, had drawn attention to the Fordow site in a December 2005 press conference – well before it had been selected for a second enrichment plant.
Anyway, whether you roll your eyes or not about this minor point of contention, my opinion, or Porter’s conclusions, I do thank you again for your LAT piece and look forward to reading more from you in the future.
From: Dilanian, Ken
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 10:32 AM
To: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment
Nima, the problem with intelligence reporting is there is often no way to independently confirm what your sources are telling you. You just have to rely on triangulating the information, on your years of experience dealing with certain people, and on the fact that—while you may find this hard to believe—U.S. government officials are not in the habit of elaborate disinformation campaigns. Not to say it never happens, of course, but it’s just not typically the way it works. I am confident in the New York Times reporting on this, which was based on multiple sources from within the U.S. intelligence community. What seems to be the case is that the US, France and Britain thought they knew what was there, but were not 100% certain until Iran admitted it, which may be why they didn’t send a letter to the IAEA. Just like the CIA wasn’t certain bin Laden was in Abbottabad until they ID’d his body. It is, of course, easy to say there isn’t a “shred of evidence” to support what anonymous US intelligence sources are claiming. That is true for just about any story about secret intelligence. But there are checks and balances, including Congressional oversight, journalistic scrutiny and whistleblowers from within – all of which insures, I would argue, that US officials do not often get away with elaborate lies of the kind you are suggesting they perpetrating here. Ken
From: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 2:49 PM
To: Dilanian, Ken
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment
I don’t think it’s particularly elaborate or dastardly for U.S. officials to establish a particular narrative regarding alleged Iranian intransigence and malfeasance. This one is actually quite simple – Iran legally places a new facility under full IAEA Safeguards in line with its obligations and, as a result, undercuts a big, fancy announcement by the president. So, in response, a narrative emerges that Iran did this deliberately because they had been “found out.” And the press repeats that story until it becomes established, unquestioned fact.
Pretty simple, really.
Anyway, no need to bicker about this. I’m glad to hear you have such confidence in the honesty of our government officials and think that they “do not often get away with elaborate lies.”
From: Dilanian, Ken
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 2:58 PM
To: Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America
Subject: Re: Your Iran Piece: A Thank You and a Comment
but it’s so easy for you to sit in Brooklyn, having no contact whatsoever with anyone senior from the government’s national security apparatus, and having no real idea of how that apparatus works, and uses phrases like “a narrative emerges.”; what you are saying there is that multiple people from multiple government agencies conspired in a big lie. you can’t make the accusation and then hide behind euphemisms. and what I’m saying is, we live in a democracy, it doesn’t (usually) work like that. not that people are so righteous, but that it’s impossible to orchestrate a conspiracy like that. there are 16 intel agencies, and a lot of other people with access to this sort of information, including liberal democrats and conservative republicans. even if obama and his advisers wanted to lie about something like this, some malcontent somewhere would talk.
I chose not to carry the conversation further. After all, I had plenty of more sitting to do in Brooklyn, far far away from all those truth-tellers in the CIA press office.
The EU has admitted that Vladimir Putin’s words about “taking Kiev in two weeks” had been “made public out of context,” said a spokeswoman for the European Commission President in a written response to The Wall Street Journal.
José Manuel Barroso’s spokesperson Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen said on Thursday the EU is going to address the issue “through diplomatic channels, not in the press.”
“I can only add that the president of the Commission informed his colleagues in the European Council in a restricted session of the conversations he had with President Putin. Unfortunately part of his intervention was made public out of context,” Ahrenkilde-Hansen wrote to the WSJ.
Last week Barroso gave a briefing on his phone conversation with President Vladimir Putin, describing the conversation as “very frank.” During the talk, the EU functionary alleged the Russian president had said that if necessary military occupation of the Ukrainian capital would take just a matter of weeks.
Italia’s La Repubblica was among the very first to overblow the scandal, saying that José Manuel Barroso had told European leaders who attended Saturday’s EU summit in Brussels that replying to Barroso’s accusations about regular Russian troop operating in Ukraine, President Putin had said that “If I wanted to, I could take Kiev in two weeks.”
An EU official has confirmed to the WSJ that Putin’s note about Russian forces being able to take Kiev within two weeks did take place during last week’s telephone call, but the context of the comment was not clear.
The unexpected divulgement by the top EU official immediately sparked a political scandal involving Russia’s high ranking officials and diplomats, who accused Barroso of both intentionally wrenching Russian leader’s remarks out of context as well as breaching diplomatic protocol.
According to Russia’s permanent representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, Putin’s words were “clearly taken out of context.”
On Tuesday, September 2, Moscow threatened to reveal the full recording of the controversial phone call “to remove all misunderstandings” if European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso doesn’t object in the next two days, Chizhov said.
Russia’s presidential aide Yury Ushakov lashed at the EU Commission president’s behavior, stressing it is “incorrect and goes beyond the bounds of diplomatic practices.”
“If that was really done, it is not worthy of a serious political figure,” Ushakov added.
As the EU official acknowledged on Thursday, September 4, President Putin possibly made the comment to strengthen Russia’s position of not and never being involved militarily in Ukrainian crisis.