Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Purpose Of The White Helmets Is To Covertly Destabilize Syria

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Why do Western pundits still defend the White Helmets? After jihadist leaders have repeatedly praised the White Helmets as allies, several White Helmets members have been caught assisting in al-Qaeda atrocities and sympathizing with jihadists, the Dutch government has stopped funding the White Helmets amid concerns that the money is going to terrorist groups, and the White Helmets have been shown to inflate their rescue numbers while only selectively saving war victims, shouldn't the group have universally lost mainstream support by now?

The fact that governments and media outlets still typically treat the White Helmets as allies shows how important they are for the U.S.-NATO effort to destabilize Syria.
“The White Helmets are the flagship of the Western-manufactured ‘human rights’ industry working to destabilize Syria and to criminalize the Syrian government and its allies,” recently wrote the investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley. As Beeley further explained in her op-ed about how the White Helmets operate:
The human rights industry that has been created to manage the Syrian narratives manipulates events to amplify those that serve the NATO-member-state agenda in Syria, effectively the furtherment of US Coalition resource-plundering and the reduction of Syria to a rudderless state and a terrorist vacuum, where sectarian lawlessness and conflict will thrive.

Simultaneously, the crimes and massacres committed by the Western-sponsored armed gangs and terrorist groups in Syria will be normalized and 
“disappeared” by this highly partisan network of public opinion influencers.

The White Helmets epitomize this doctrine. As their role has developed since their British intelligence-led incubation in Turkey, they have become pivotal to the US Coalition military adventurism in Syria. They are essential to legitimize ongoing proxy and direct intervention in Syria by the regime-change global 
In other words, without the White Helmets, the U.S./NATO effort to destroy Syria for profit would be revealed for the Iraq-level imperialist crime that it is. After Americans saw the body bags of Iraq War soldiers and photos of blood-covered Iraqi children who’d been attacked by American forces, direct military invasions became less appealing to the public. This is why in recent years, the orchestrators of Western-led regime change missions have instead taken the approach of supporting anti-government militia groups while creating “humanitarian” fronts that aid the destabilization efforts.
So while U.S.-backed terrorist groups have been tearing Syria apart for the last eight years, the corporate media has been able to absurdly blame Assad and Putin for the conflict while using unsupported “gas attack” charges to call for overthrowing Assad. And the White Helmets have worked as a central part of this operation.
For example, in January 2016, the White Helmets were photographed marching through the Syrian town of Madaya with banners which called for the “burning and destruction” of the towns of Kafarya and Foua. This open expression of support for the jihadist campaign against Assad’s government was no isolated incident. As the journalist Brandon Turbeville wrote earlier this year about
just how close the White Helmets are integrated with Syria’s terrorist factions:
In 2017, I had a chance to travel to Syria to see the situation for myself. After the liberation of Aleppo, I was able to enter East Aleppo and travel to the Sakhour White Helmets center where I personally saw evidence that the White Helmets
complex was exactly the same as the Nusra Front complex. Both buildings were located in the same compound. Indeed, I saw Western-purchased medical supplies and plenty of munitions left over from the “unarmed” White Helmets. The [al-Qaeda] flag, which is clearly visible in the clip above, was still hanging on the wall of the Sakhour center when I arrived.
If this isn’t damning enough, in 2015 the correspondent John Cantlie referred to the White Helmets as the “Islamic State fire brigade.” And in addition to the many other times where White Helmets members have been caught assisting groups like al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and ISIS, last year the leader of al-Qaeda in Syria Abu Jaber praised the White Helmets as the “hidden soldiers of the revolution.”
From this, we can conclude that the White Helmets are acting as assistants to the U.S./Israeli backed network of jihadists in Syria. And their media-manufactured reputation as a “neutral” humanitarian group has allowed them to shape public opinion in favor of this terrorist network’s interests.

This is shown in the deliberately inaccurate reports about Syria that the White Helmets have repeatedly given to the Western media, which have served to justify war escalations. In September 2016, when a Syrian Red Crescent truck convoy was attacked, the Obama administration and most of the media immediately blamed it on Russian or Syrian aircraft. Their source for this claim was White Helmets leader Ammar Al-Selmo-whose story was filled with inconsistencies.
For another notable example of the blatant lies that have come from the White Helmets, this April the organization misrepresented the nature of an incident in Douma. According to a report from the famed journalist Robert Fisk, when a dust storm happened in Douma, one of the White Helmets caused panic by shouting “Gas!” in a triage center. There’s no evidence that the incident involved gas, and witnesses to the event have since testified in the Hague that it was not a chemical attack. Yet this wild misperception was repeated by the White Helmets’ leaders, and was then reported to the world so that several NATO countries could justify attacking Syria.
It’s no surprise that interviewed war victims have described the White Helmets as “camera posers, thieves, and raiders.” The purpose of the organization is to destabilize Syria for the benefit of the Western plutocracy, and its public image can only be maintained through a vast propaganda campaign.
And despite the widespread exposure of all of these facts, the White Helmets are continuing their propaganda effort. According to a new report from the Russian Defense Ministry, several dozen White Helmets have arrived in Aleppo to film a staged chemical weapons attack. If there isn’t a massive effort from the alternative media to expose this hoax, the United States will soon try to use it to further escalate with Syria and Russia.
It feels exhausting to pore over these endless deceptions and manipulations from the people in power. But as John Adams said, “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Painting and Poetry.”

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Another Economic Crash Is Imminent, And It Will Be Worse Than The Last One

The relative stability of the global economy is hanging by a thread. When the governments of the world failed to break up the big banks and dismantle corporate capitalism after the 2008 crash, the global financial system became even more consolidated and dangerous than it was before. In the last decade, a new housing bubble has appeared, the stock market has become more overvalued than it was before the Great Depression, and the six biggest
banks own more than half the assets of the 100 largest banks.
“All the signs are already there,” Peter Schiff recently said. “Look at what’s happening out there. The stock market is falling, 40 percent of the S&P is already in a bear market. Look at homebuilders, the housing stocks, the financials, the retailers — all these are the same things that were happening in 2007 leading to that crisis…It’s impossible, because in fact we kept it going so long that collapse is going to be that much bigger, and sooner we face that reality the better. But no politician wants to face that reality, they want to pretend everything is great.”
As Schiff and many other experts are predicting, a new economic crisis is coming. And this time, as they also expect, it will be even more destructive than the last one was.
And while the countdown to this catastrophe happens, most Americans are already alarmingly close to having their livelihoods fall out from underneath them. A federal survey this year showed that 40% of Americans aren’t currently able to come up with $400 for an emergency, and 6 in 10 Americans now have less than $1000 in savings. One third of Americans aren’t able to afford food, shelter, or health care, which has no doubt contributed to the record household debt that’s appeared in recent years. What will the people in these categories do when the crash comes?
For most of us, a slide into deeper poverty will be unavoidable. Homelessness, hunger, and unemployment will increase across the United States, and this will no doubt also be true worldwide. Suicides, heart attacks, and homicides will naturally go up because of this explosion in poverty, effectively making for a global massacre at the hands of the politicians and bankers who caused this crisis.
However the crash effects me, I’m not going to let it make me retreat into inaction. When the corporate state inevitably uses the crisis to try to pass another Wall Street bailout, cut social programs, and further destroy our civil liberties, I’ll do everything I can to organize towards stopping these things from happening. And I urge others to do the same.
The resources are here for us to pull off this mass mobilization effort; groups like the Freedom Socialist Party and the Democratic Socialists of America have already been growing recently, and joining them is one way to contribute to this fight. As we build the movement in this way, we also need to create protests, participate in blockades, and go on strike. People around the world have already been doing these things at an unusually high rate in the last year, and we need to sustain this trend as time goes on.
Because if people around the world can pull together to defy the power of the plutocrats, this next crash won’t just lead to yet another corporate power grab. It could ultimately be what ends the rule of the super-rich.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

If Mueller Doesn’t Find Proof Of Collusion, “Russiagate” Will Be Discredited For Good

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In all likelihood, Robert Mueller will not present any evidence of Trump/Russia collusion when he soon puts out his Russia investigation report. And that’s when Russiagate-and the cold war propaganda narrative that it perpetuates-will lose all of its credibility.

If there were proof of collusion, it no doubt would have come out by now. The United States has vast and sprawling intelligence agencies that can pick up virtually every digital communication, and the communications showing collusion would have been leaked long ago if they existed.
This is what makes Russiagate a conspiracy theory, and a highly implausible conspiracy theory at that; if Trump were working for Putin, he wouldn’t have armedanti-Russian forces in Ukraine, put sanctions on Russia, escalated the U.S.’ proxy war against Russia in Syria, approved a Japanese ballistic missile defense sale that Putin strongly opposed, expanded NATO, or recently sabotaged U.S.-Russia peace hopes by terminating a crucial Cold War nuclear treaty.
I don’t support Trump. It’s clear to me that his administration has advanced the
same neoliberal, pro-war policies that Bush and Obama carried out. But it’s just as clear that the Russia collusion charge is baseless. In addition to the reasons for this I just mentioned, last week Politico put out a report which revealed views about the Mueller investigation from defense attorneys and from “more than 15 former government officials with investigation experience spanning Watergate to the 2016 election case.” As Politico’s article assessed about what they learned from these experts:
The public, they say, shouldn’t expect a comprehensive and presidency-wrecking account of Kremlin meddling and alleged obstruction of justice by Trump — not to mention an explanation of the myriad subplots that have bedeviled lawmakers, journalists and amateur Mueller sleuths.
This means that when Mueller puts out this report, which he’s likely to do after the midterms, the war propaganda machine will find itself in a corner. Without a way to prove the Trump/Russia story that they’ve been pushing for two years, the proponents of the larger “Russia is our enemy” narrative will no longer have leverage.
As the Western plutocracy advances its current imperialism-motivated aggressionsagainst Russia, it needs to manufacture consent for these measures. And the claim that Trump is “Putin’s puppet” has served as an excellent way to get this consent. By associating Russia with Trump, the anti-Trump factions of the ruling class have been able to convince many progressive-minded people that Russia is a threat, and that we therefore need to “stand up” to Russia through economic warfare and military buildup.
The flaw in this propaganda campaign, though, is that it’s been invested in Mueller finding proof of collusion. If that doesn’t happen, the justification for starting a new cold war with Russia will be discredited, like how the rationale for the Iraq War was refuted when the WMD story was proven to be a hoax.
This is why when Mueller’s report comes out, and this central claim behind the Russia story is discredited, we shouldn’t stop talking about it. We should keep bringing it up whenever neoconservative politicians and pundits make a claim about Russia, because it will be a powerful arguing tool. If we can leverage this towards switching around the narrative about Russia, a peaceful future will become much more possible.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Sinister Alliance That’s Working To Censor The Internet And Spread Government Propaganda

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Something very wrong is happening with how information is controlled in our society. The ruling oligarchy used to be comfortable with merely monopolizing the world’s media sources while sometimes censoring voices of dissent. This kept up the balance that’s needed for convincing people that they live in a free and open society, when discourse is in fact tightly policed by the centers of power. But in recent years, the elites have decided to abandon this illusion of freedom so that they can more aggressively clamp down against dissent.

And who exactly do I mean by the “elites?” There are a lot of specific individuals and institutions that I can point to, because they’ve pretty explicitly presented themselves as the orchestrators of an establishment campaign to throttle free discourse.
The most notable of these figures is Bill Kristol. The neoconservative thought leader has been getting a lot of good publicity lately, with his dislike for Trump having recently made him into an ally for many mainstream liberals. And he’s used this to give legitimacy to his efforts to censor the Internet, which are incidentally presented as efforts to “defend democracy” by fighting “fake news.”
But when we look at exactly what Kristol and his colleagues have been doing, we can see that it’s just the opposite. Kristol is the editor-at-large for The Weekly Standard, the publication that Facebook last year made into its official “fact checker” for content that the Standard judges to be inaccurate. Given the Standard’s strong right-wing bias, the problems with this arrangement were immediately clear. And when Facebook censored a Think Progress article last month at the Standard’s request, it was widely admitted that Facebook’s anti-“fake news” program is being used to push an ideological agenda.
And while media reports about that incident tried to defend Facebook’s overall use of “fake news” fact checkers, we have every reason to be uncomfortable with these and the other recent attempts to police online information. Since 2016, when Facebook started relying on known propaganda sources like Snopes and PolitiFactto tell which content it should suppress, the viewership of all the major alternative media sites has dropped massively.
Though to be fair, this and Facebook’s many other recent authoritarian censorship actions are just one part of how governments and corporations have been attacking the free press. YouTube has been systematically demonetizing independent news channels; Google has been manipulating its search algorithms
to stop alternative media sites from showing up in the results; Twitter has been attacking alt media journalists like Jimmy Dore by shadow banning them and by deliberately unsubscribing people who follow their tweets.
These attacks on unapproved speech have been supported by the passage of 2016’s Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, which created a State Department-run agency that has the goal of “proactively advancing fact-based narratives.” This year, the EU created its own program to “crack down” on “disinformation.” Then there have also been the German government’s actions this year to remove massive amounts of legitimate social media content, the Israeli government’s colluding with Facebook to delete Palestinian accounts, and the other cases of expanding censorship by states around the world.
All of this should disturb anyone who cares about protecting democratic rights. Aside from the inherent wrongness of regulating the marketplace of ideas, the
definitions of what’s true and untrue are increasingly being decided by the people in power.
And the structure of this censorship regime is laid out for everyone to see. For example, Kristol and The Weekly Standard are closely tied to the Atlantic Council, a powerful neoconservative think tank whose board includes ex-CIA and
Homeland Security officials. The Atlantic Council is also funded by large corporations and banks, gulf monarchies, Western governments, and NATO.
Facebook is directly tied to the Atlantic Council, with the council having set up a four-person advisory board in May to decide which content Facebook should censor. Facebook and the other social media companies are also censoring content on behalf of the CIA; Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube are known to be tied to the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies.
The consequences of this massive collusion between corporation and state were shown this August, when the Atlantic Council had Facebook shut down 32 pages for “inauthentic” content. This move was authoritarian and clearly illegitimate, and it caused Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi to conclude that a “bizarre alliance of Internet news distributors and quasi-government censors” had formed.
Since then, the censorship has massively escalated. Later in August, Facebook
temporarily shut down the pages of Telesur and Venezuela analysis, two prominent left-wing news sources. And this month, Facebook deleted over 800 pages for “political spam” when these pages included legitimate and important outlets like The Anti-Media and Police the Police. When Alex Jones was removed from multiple platforms in August, we were told that no one else would be targeted. But it’s set an undeniable precedent for purging disfavored journalists
and outlets.
And what do these censors want to put in place of the alt media? The “reliable sources” that these entities promote have shown us that we’re moving towards a totalitarian paradigm, where state propaganda is pushed onto the population while dissenting ideas are suppressed.
If this sounds hyperbolic, just look at the sources that the perpetrators of the censorship have already promoted. The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, despite its scientific veneer, has been recently spreading unproven and inflammatory claims about Russia. Since Facebook started a program this year to promote “trusted sources” in its timeline algorithms, the benefactors have includedoutlets like The New York Times-the same paper that recently printed false Iraq WMD claims to create support for a war that’s killed over half a million people. And Bellingcat, which is tied to the Atlantic Council through Bellingcat’s
founder Eliot Higgins, has been repeatedly shown to fabricate claims in order to advance pro-war narratives.
Bellingcat is maybe the worst of these. As Catte Black assessed last month in an article about Bellingcat’s dubious recent claim that the Skripal poisoning suspects are GRU agents:
Whether or not Higgins himself knows it, his outfit is almost certainly a front run by various intel agencies for the purpose of disseminating low-grade, and often fake or corrupted, data that the agencies and associated governments do not want to be associated with directly. The stuff they put out is generally so bad it clearly isn’t intended to last very long under scrutiny. It’s function is apparently to provide a compliant and unquestioning media with disposable headlines that serve to create realities in the minds of equally compliant readers and consumers of “news” for long enough to push through short-term foreign policy objectives, generally involving ramping up hostilities with designated “enemy nations.”
In short, the “fact-based” worldview that people like Kristol and Higgins want to protect is the ideology of the ruling class. It always says that there’s an enemy, and uses this to justify endless war. It uses the false logic of austerity and the anti-democratic worldview of neoliberalism to justify a global corporate oligarchy. And it marginalizes the opponents of this system as terrorists and foreign propagandists.
As Orwell said, “All rulers in all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their followers.” When our rulers ask us to hand over total control of the narrative, we should automatically reject them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Cruel Lie That Julian Assange Can “Leave The Embassy Whenever He Wants”

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If Julian Assange leaves the Ecuardorian Embassy, he’ll be arrested, tortured, and maybe executed. A UN panel has found that Assange is being effectively detained in the embassy through the threat of formal imprisonment. And the Trump administration-ironically with the support of the same Democrats who warn about Trump’s attacks on the free press-is prepared to seek charges against Assange so that they can arrest him right after he’s ejected from the embassy.

He isn’t staying in the embassy out of “pride,” as some have accused him of doing, but out of physical self-preservation; if the UK extradites him to the U.S, he’ll very likely be tortured in prison, like he was tortured during his experience with solitary confinement in 2010. The U.S. will no doubt try to prevent him from having a fair trial, and it’s possible that he’ll be executed if or when he’s convicted.
In the meantime, he’s effectively being tortured every day. Assange’s isolation in the embassy has qualified as solitary confinement, a punishment that human rights officials have repeatedly classified as torture. And after over six years of not stepping outside, Assange’s physical and mental health have become seriously damaged. In January, three doctors assessed that Assange “badly needs care.” As the doctors wrote in their column, he’s also “unable to avail himself of his right to access medical institutions due to the threat of imminent arrest should he step outside the embassy, even for a medical emergency.”
Shortly after that medical assessment was made, the journalist Suzie Dawson observed about Assange’s health that:
After more than half a decade without fresh air to breathe, he coughs and clears his throat constantly. He struggles to maintain cognitive flow — breaking and reforming his thoughts, soldiering on in a concerted effort to express his ideas. It is obvious to any viewer that his vision has been affected. Our eyes need regular exposure to both short and long distances, as well as natural light changes, to maintain their health. With only four close walls to look at, Assange faces partial blindness, as well as a host of other negative effects from his unjust confinement.
And what crimes has he committed that have put him in this situation? As far as the evidence tells us, no crimes at all. His sexual misconduct charges have been dropped and disproven, WikiLeaks has only engaged in the completely legal journalistic activity of publishing leaks, and there is still no evidence that he’s worked with the Russian government. The people in power only hate him because he’s holding them accountable.
So why do Assange’s detractors frequently assert that Assange can “leave whenever he wants?” They seem to use this argument because it appears to make sense on the surface, and because it shifts all of the blame for Assange’s suffering onto Assange himself.
And if we all admitted that Assange is a victim, we would all have to admit that our leaders are not in the right. Obama supporters would have to admit that their leader forced Assange into torture only because Assange practiced journalism. Trump supporters would have to admit that their leader is now trying to persecute Assange in the same way. And everyone would have to see that the West’s ruling institutions, despite their claims of being morally superior, are carrying out the slow-motion murder of a political dissident in front of the world’s eyes.

Monday, October 15, 2018

If The West Doesn’t Stop Its Aggressions Against Russia, This New Cold War Could Last For Decades

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By revamping its unprovoked economic, information, and military warfare against Russia in recent years, the United States has signed onto another cold war that will quite possibly last for decades. And the destruction of human life and civil liberties that this cold war causes will no doubt be even bigger than the consequences from the last one.

The long-term goals of the Washington power players behind this dangerous geopolitical balancing act were hinted at last month, when Bill Maher asked the Atlantic Council’s Evelyn Farkas: “how should America deal with Russia post-Trump?” After praising America’s brutal economic sanctions against the Russian population and endorsing America’s support for neo-Nazi anti-Russian militias in Ukraine, Farkas said that “we need to do more of the firm stuff.”
Here was Farkas, a member of a major foreign policy influence group, saying that America will need to continue its belligerence towards Russia into the mid-2020’s and apparently well beyond then. This diagnosis didn’t consider Putin’s potential for non-aggression in the future, nor did it acknowledge that Putin has actually presented no kind of threat to the U.S. in recent years. Farkas seemed to want the cold war tensions to continue for a long time in any case.
And a look at the words and actions of the rest of the U.S. military/intelligence establishment shows us that these tensions with Russia are indeed intended to last for decades, so long as they don’t spill over into a third world war before then. This month, the Pentagon released a report titled “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States.” Its message was that America needs to prepare for a long-term struggle against Russia, China, or both; it said that in order to be able to “fight tonight” against a “peer adversary,” we must “retool” for a “great power competition.”
As the World Socialist Website has assessed about this report, the U.S. and its allies are now clearly preparing for “total war.” This is also shown by the recent expansionof the U.S.’ annual military budget to an unprecedented $717 billion, by the U.S.’ ongoing war escalations with Russian allies like Iran and Syria, by NATO’s aggressive troop advancements onto Russia’s borders, and by the general atmosphere of nationalistic fear and Cold War revivalism that the American media has created.
The goal of the foreign policy elites isn’t to start a nuclear war with Russia, but to force Russia into submission through strong-arm tactics. This is made apparent by the language from Russia hawks about “peace through strength” and “containing Russia.” These are euphemisms for the ultimate goal of the West’s re-creation of the Cold War, which is to force Russia into submission so that the U.S./NATO empire won’t have to compete with another capitalist superpower.
The same is true for the U.S.’ escalations with China and other countries; it isn’t about defense, it’s about securing the interests of the Western plutocracy. And whether or not anyone actually wants all-out world war, the threat of a catastrophic conflict will always be present for as long as the U.S. keeps up its aggressions.
Is this what the American people want? Another generations-long string of nuclear tensions that will no doubt create more McCarthyite attacks on free speech, this time with AI censorship technology and a universal surveillance state being involved? We need to loudly resist all attempts to continue this attack against peace, security, and freedom.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Guardian’s Alarming Recent Record Of Propaganda, Misinformation, And Slander

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As often happens to progressive-minded people who’ve reached a more radical point in their political evolutions, I’ve become disillusioned with many organizations, leaders and media sources that I used to rely on. One of these dubious sources is The Guardian.

At first, it seemed to me like The Guardian is a good alternative to the American mainstream media outlets. It’s often featured quality articles about subjects like climate change, and its columnist George Monbiot is the one who first taught me what the term “neoliberal” means. But this good material is what gives a feel of reliability to the misleading claims that The Guardian very often puts out.
And Monbiot himself has been one of The Guardian’s main sources of these claims. In a 2014 essay, the journalist Jonathan Cook called Monbiot “the left’s McCarthy,” and wrote that Monbiot “is not a guardian of our moral consciences, as he likes to think, but a guardian of the outer limits of a corporate-sanctioned consensus.” Cook provided good reasons for these characterizations; when the scholars Ed Herman and David Peterson argued that recent conflicts in Rwanda and the Balkans have been falsely characterized as “genocides” to benefit Western narratives, Monbiot wrote a 2011 column in The Guardian denouncing these scholars as genocide deniers.
This was an accusation that lacked nuance, since Herman and Peterson did not deny the deaths that had happened in the conflicts. And the extreme nature of Monbiot’s intellectual attack on Herman and Peterson hinted at how Monbiot would approach similar issues in the future.
I’m referring to Monbiot’s coverage of Syria in the last eight years. In 2011, Monbiot used two expat businessmen and one British man as his personal consultants over whether the West should impose sanctions on Syria-while the opinions of the Syrian people were completely ignored. This journalistic practice was biased to say the least, and it indicated that Monbiot would stay within official Western narratives in his reporting on Syria.
Monbiot has since consistently pushed narratives about Assad’s government that help advance the U.S./NATO empire’s goals for Syrian intervention. In 2014, Monbiot wrote a column in The Guardian which characterized an al-Qaeda fighter’s act of terrorism as an “act of extraordinary courage” because the fighter had targeted an Assad-controlled prison. In November 2016, Monbiot tweeted that Assad and Putin had been carrying out a “destruction in Aleppo” when there had been no massacre in Aleppo, and when the rebel fighters were allowed to leave with their families and their weapons. And whenever Monbiot’s fellow journalists have questioned Assad’s role in Syrian chemical incidents, Monbiot has attacked them in the same aggressive and closed-minded way he attacked Herman and Peterson.
But I’m not basing my overall judgement of The Guardian off of the behavior of just one of their columnists, nor off of the fact that I don’t always agree with what The Guardian publishes. The paper has not just featured material that’s biased towards Western pro-imperialist narratives, but has repeatedly featured material that uses dishonest framing or even outright misinformation in order to argue for those narratives.
One example of this is an article from last December by The Guardian’s Olivia Solon, titled “How Syria's White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine.” As others have pointed out, the piece seems to be carefully crafted so as to influence readers’ beliefs without giving any real evidence for its claims. It starts with unsupported characterizations of White Helmets skeptics as Russian propagandists, only cites “positive international recognition” of the White Helmets as evidence for the White Helmets’ legitimacy, and uses several supposedly authoritative but actually unreliable sources to paint a vague picture of “agitation propaganda” in relation to the White Helmets.
The telling part of this article is that it deliberately doesn’t include the arguments of the people it accuses of being Russian agents. It doesn’t mention the fact that the White Helmets are shown to have recruited jihadist sympathizers in multiple instances, or that the witnesses to Syrian disasters have said that the White Helmets ignore most of the war victims while only saving people when it’s convenient for them to film it, or that terrorist leaders have openly praised the White Helmets as allies in the fight to overthrow Assad.
This omission of the larger picture shows the manipulative nature of the piece; someone who hasn’t heard about these problems with the White Helmets will very likely be swayed by this slickly presented assertion that the White Helmets are the victims of a smear campaign.
There have been many other instances of The Guardian engaging in similar kinds of disingenuous propaganda. So much that in 2015, a series of people around the world started an independent site named that’s been mainly dedicated to exposing the false claims that the paper’s editors allow for.
Off-Guardian has been able to point out quite a lot of lapses in the paper’s journalistic integrity. For instance, The Guardian recently made a video wherein Owen Jones toured around London to point at properties that are owned by Russians. The message of the video is undeniably xenophobic and racist, because it denounces the properties as “dirty” purely because they’re owned by people from Russia.
As Off-Guardian has also foundThe Guardian’s recent coverage of Nicaragua has been deeply misleading. In a column from last month, the paper claimed that President Ortega had “expelled a UN human rights mission after it published a report denouncing government repression” when Ortega had done no such thing, and when he’d even invited the UN team. The article also claimed that the anti-Ortega Sandinista Renovation Movement has been “outlawed,” when it’s simply failed to gain enough votes to qualify for the legal status as a political party. These and The Guardian’s other misrepresentations of the events in Nicaragua have served to create public support for Western-led regime change in Nicaragua, not to report on the truth about the issue.
Out of these and still many other cases of dishonest reporting by The Guardian, there have been some which rise to the level of journalistic malpractice.
According to the journalist Craig Murray, The Guardian told “deliberate lies” about WikiLeaks in its piece from last month titled “Revealed: Russia’s secret plan to help Assange escape from UK.” Whereas the article claimed that Russia wanted to transport Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy and Assange planned to live in Russia, Murray’s inside information about the affair tells us that The Guardian was outright fabricating its claims. Here are some of the statements from Murray’s resulting blog post:
I was closely involved with Julian and with Fidel Narvaez of the Ecuadorean Embassy at the end of last year in discussing possible future destinations for Julian. It is not only the case that Russia did not figure in those plans, it is a fact that Julian directly ruled out the possibility of going to Russia as undesirable. Fidel Narvaez told the Guardian that there was no truth in their story, but the Guardian has instead chosen to run with “four anonymous sources” – about which sources it tells you no more than that.
Murray continues:
It is very serious indeed when a newspaper like the Guardian prints a tissue of deliberate lies in order to spread fake news on behalf of the security services. I cannot find words eloquent enough to express the depth of my contempt for Harding and Katherine Viner, who have betrayed completely the values of journalism. The aim of the piece is evidently to add a further layer to the fake news of Wikileaks’ (non-existent) relationship to Russia as part of the “Hillary didn’t really lose” narrative. I am, frankly, rather shocked.
Though after what we’ve also seen The Guardian do this year, this shouldn’t shock us at all. On April 19th, The Guardian published an article by Heather Stewart which included the following paragraph:
One account, @Ian56789, was sending 100 posts a day during a 12-day period from 7 April, and reached 23 million users, before the account was suspended. It focused on claims that the chemical weapons attack on Douma had been falsified, using the hashtag #falseflag. Another account, @Partisangirl, reached 61 million users with 2,300 posts over the same 12-day period.
Stewart mentioned these accounts because she claimed that they were automated accounts run by the Russian government. This claim, sourced from a supposedly reliable report by the UK government, was completely false. The day after Stewart’s piece was published, the man behind the Ian56 persona did an interview on Sky News to prove his humanity. Maram Susli, the woman behind the Partisan Girl account, has also been long known to be a real person. The Guardian has still not edited this part of the article, nor has it apologized to these people who it’s so blatantly slandered.
When The Guardian has recently carried out these many journalistic offenses, and when it has yet to walk back on them, the factual reporting that it does should not make us see it as a reliable source. Its mix of truth and falsehoods essentially puts it on the same journalistic level as Alex Jones’ InfoWars, which also reports some facts but is nonetheless distrusted because of the dangerous disinformation that it frequently puts out. It may be time to start treating these two outlets with the same amount of caution.