The Russian Interference Report, Without Laughing 283

Now the madding crowd has moved on, I take a mature look at the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee on Russia. It is so flawed it is tempting simply to mock it. But in fact, it is extremely dangerous.

It calls expressly and repeatedly for the security services to be actively involved in “policing the democratic space” and castigates the security services for their unwillingness to interfere in democratic process. It calls for tough government action against social media companies who refuse to censor and remove from the internet material it believes to be inspired by foreign states. It specifically accepts the Integrity Initiative’s Christopher Donnelly and Ben Nimmo as examples of good identifiers of the material which should be banned – even though Nimmo is the man who stated that use of the phrase “Cui bono” is indicative of a Russian troll, and who accused scores of ordinary Scottish Independence supporters of being Russian trolls.

In order for you to assess the threat of a report which specifically calls on the social media companies to ban those individuals the British government identifies as Russian trolls, and which calls on the security services to act against those people, remember Ian.

Ian was identified by the British government as a Russian troll, on the word of Nimmo and Donnelly – exactly the “experts” on which this report relies. This report proposes Ian, and people like him, be banned from social media and subject to security service surveillance.

Listen to Ian:

In short the report is a real threat to democracy. Its evidence base is appalling, and that is what I shall look at first.

The ISC took evidence from just five “experts” outside the intelligence services. They were Anne Applebaum, Bill Browder, Christopher Donnelly, Edward Lucas and Christopher Steele. I do not quite know how to get over to you the full significance of this. It would be impossible to assemble a group of five witnesses with any pretence whatsoever to respectability (and some of them have an extremely tenuous link to respectability) that would be more far out, right wing and Russophobic. They are the extreme fringe of anti-Russian thinking. They are nowhere near the consensus among the academic, diplomatic and other genuinely expert communities on Russia.

There is simply no attempt at balance whatsoever. The best I can try to get over the extent of this would be to compare it to a hypothetical parliamentary inquiry into Old Firm rivalry where the only witnesses are Scott Brown, Neil Lennon, John Hartson, the Green Brigade, and a Cardinal. There is not any attempt from the ISC to interview any witness who is even remotely balanced or can give the view from the other side. Some might feel that a report entitled simply “Russia” which called zero actual Russians as witnesses is somewhat flawed.

To go through those witnesses.

Anne Applebaum is the most respectable of them. I should state that I know both Anne (whom I know as Ania) and her husband, Radek Sikorski MEP, slightly from my time as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Poland (1994-8). Anne is a right wing journalist who has worked at both the Spectator and the American Enterprise Institute, a Randian think tank. She identifies as Polish and shares the understandable visceral distrust of Russia felt by the Polish right. Her husband Radek Sikorski is a long term friend of Boris Johnson, member of the Bullingdon Club, also worked at the American Enterprise Institute and is a former Defence Minister of Poland. Radek’s persona as a politician is very much based around his hawkish stance on Russia. Both Anne and Radek have consistently argued for the aggressive eastward expansion of NATO and forward stationing of US troops and missiles towards Russia.

Bill Browder is a billionaire who made his money out of the Russian people from the fallout of Russia’s chaotic privatisation process. He achieved fame by portraying his highly corrupt accountant, Sergei Magnitskiy, as a human rights campaigner murdered by the Russian authorities. Browder’s account of events was found to be fundamentally false by the European Court of Human Rights, in a judgement which received zero truthful reporting in Western media. Here is an extract from the judgement of the ECHR:

The applicants argued that Mr Magnitskiy’s arrest had not been based on a reasonable suspicion of a
crime and that the authorities had lacked impartiality as they had actually wanted to force him to
retract his allegations of corruption by State officials. The Government argued that there had been
ample evidence of tax evasion and that Mr Magnitskiy had been a flight risk.
The Court reiterated the general principles on arbitrary detention, which could arise if the
authorities had complied with the letter of the law but had acted with bad faith or deception. It
found no such elements in this case: the enquiry into alleged tax evasion which had led to
Mr Magnitskiy’s arrest had begun long before he had complained of fraud by officials. The decision
to arrest him had only been made after investigators had learned that he had previously applied for
a UK visa, had booked tickets to Kyiv, and had not been residing at his registered address.
Furthermore, the evidence against him, including witness testimony, had been enough to satisfy an
objective observer that he might have committed the offence in question. The list of reasons given
by the domestic court to justify his subsequent detention had been specific and sufficiently detailed.
The Court thus rejected the applicants’ complaint about Mr Magnitskiy’s arrest and subsequent
detention as being manifestly ill-founded.

The ECJ found that Magnitskiy indeed died as a result of the shortcomings of Russia’s brutal prison regime – very similar to that of the United States in this regard – but that he was properly in prison on viable criminal charges. The western media may ignore the fact that Browder’s activism is motivated entirely by a desire to hold on to his own vast ill-gotten wealth, and that the highest of courts has found his campaigning is based on a false narrative, but it is deeply, deeply shocking that the members of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who must know the truth, still give Browder credibility. There is no sense in which Browder is a respectable witness.

Christopher Donnelly was forced to step down as a person with significant control of fake charity “The Institute for Statecraft” after the Scottish Charity Regulator found that:

“There was no clear explanation as to why the salaries being paid to charity trustees were considered reasonable and necessary, and we had concern about the charity trustees’ decision-making process around these payments. We do not consider that this private benefit was incidental to the organisation’s activities that advanced its purposes”.

In other words, making money for its trustees, principally Christopher Donnelly, was a purpose of the Institute for Statecraft, not an incidental benefit. This is what the Charity Regulator also found about this fake charity:

The Charity Regulator also found that the Integrity Initiative, run by the Institute for Statecraft, was sending out party political tweets. All of this activity was of course carried out with taxpayers money, the Integrity Initiative being funded by the FCO, the MOD, and the security services.

The Integrity Initiative is a covert propaganda organisation designed to do precisely what the ISC report accuses Russia of doing – covertly influencing politics in both the UK and numerous other countries by state sponsored propaganda disguised as independent journalism or social media posts. Christopher Donnelly heads the Integrity Initiative. Its basic method of operation is secretly to pay mainstream media journalists around the world to pump out disguised British government propaganda, and to run hidden social media campaigns doing the same thing.

All of the “expert witnesses” before the committee feature in the leaked Integrity Initiative documents as part of Integrity Initiative activites. They are all engaged in doing precisely what they here accuse the Russians of doing. The best exposition, to the highest academic standards, of the fascinating leaked documents of the Integrity Initiative operation is by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and the Media. You can very happily spend an hour looking through their report.

So the UK UK was asking its own paid propagandists what they thought of the Russian propagandists. Every one of the witnesses makes their living from postulating the Russian threat. They therefore said the Russian threat is very big indeed.

Edward Lucas is a hilarious professional Russophobe. He is the go-to anti-Russia expert of the BBC, and can be guaranteed to say something stimulating, such as this:

Lucas actually uses #newcoldwar in his twitter profile, and is jolly keen on the idea.

Christopher Steele is a charlatan and con-man. He is by no means unique in trading on the glamour and reputation of MI6 to build up a consultancy business after an undistinguished career as a middle ranking MI6 officer.

When Steele produced, for a large sum of money, his famous “Pee dossier” on Donald Trump’s “collusion” with Russia, it was obvious to anyone with any professional background in intelligence analysis that it simply could not be genuine. It claimed to have a level of access into Russian security circles which is greater than the penetration ever secured by MI6 or the CIA. I immediately pointed out its deficiencies, but these were ignored by an establishment media desperate to explain away the Trump insurgency into their political space.

Since then the dossier has simply fallen apart. Steele has been successfully sued by people named in the dossier. The lawyer Michael Cohen has shown that he was definitively not in Prague on the date Steele claimed he was meeting Russian hackers there, and indeed has never been to Prague. Most telling of all, it turns out that most of the content of the dossier was simply a compilation of the gossip of the Russian emigre community in Washington by Igor Danchenko, formerly a junior staff member at the Brookings Institute, a liberal foreign policy thinktank.

The silence of the media on the unravelling of the Steele Dossier has been so remarkable it has drawn comment in unexpected quarters:

Having seen the quality of the input, it is unsurprising that the report is a case of “rubbish in, rubbish out”. So let us now, with rubber gloves and a peg on the nose, pick through the rubbish.

To start at para 1, the tone is immediately set of paranoid antagonism to Russia. There is no attempt at balance whatsoever; anti-Russian statement is built on anti-Russian statement until we are supposed to be carried away by the stream of rhetoric to accept each succeeding proposition as it is piled up. Like this one:

The murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 demonstrated that Russia under President Putin had moved from potential partner to established threat.

Did it really? Accepting for the sake of argument that the official British explanation of Litvinenko’s death is true and it was a murder by the Russian state, does that show that Russia is an “established threat”? It would certainly be an appalling abuse of human rights and show Russia is a threat to Russian dissidents, but would it really show Russia is an “established threat” to you and me? Plenty of other countries murder their opponents abroad, notably the USA, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Uzbekistan, countries the UK government is proud to call allies. The UK kills opponents abroad continually, in drone strikes, including deliberately by drone killing its own citizens and even killing young British children. I can condemn all such murders equally. But why should we be carried away by the anti-Russian rhetoric into finding it uniquely reprehensible, only when Russia does it?

I could go through every single para of the report, but life is too short. I will however pick out places where the logic is far less convincing than the rhetoric is impressive. From Para 3:

its lack of strong independent public bodies and the fusion of government and business allow it to leverage all its intelligence, military and economic power at the same time to pose an all-encompassing security threat.

Really? Is Russia really that unified? In fact, this is a startling over-simplification. The extreme oligarchic structure which resulted from the wholesale looting of assets in the western-inspired and western-overseen chaos of Russian privatisation has resulted in a state which is indeed not a healthy democracy. But neither is it a monolith with no dissent and no conflicting interests, and Putin has continually to balance the desires and goals of different oligarchs and factions. Not many Russians would recognise the portrayal here of a super efficient and coherent state and business machine.

Besides, even if it were true, Russia would still only have one fifth of the population of the European Union and an economy the size of Spain. The attempt to pump up Russia as a massive threatening superpower is simply nonsense. What Russia does have is the ability to take decisive politico-military action, on a small scale in limited theatres, such as Crimea or Syria. It does so with success because it has a leader who is better at the game of international realpolitik that his western contemporaries. That is not a value judgement: I personally believe Putin is right in Syria and wrong in Crimea. But to blame Russia for the decrepit state of current western diplomacy is a stretch.

By para 4 the report is surfing along on a surreal wave of nonsense:

The security threat posed by Russia is difficult for the West to manage as, in our view and that of many others, it appears fundamentally nihilistic.

Really? Nihilistic? Now the report has already stated that Russia is a remarkably monolithic and unified state apparatus, controlled presumably by President Putin. I can think of many adjectives to describe Putin, some of them not very pleasant – calculating, machiavellian and devious would be amongst them. But he is the absolute opposite of nihilist. He has a clearly defined view of Russia’s interests – and that view identifies Russian interests far too closely with himself and other oligarchs – and sets out diligently and consistently to advance those interests.

So you can define clear Russian policy goals in the international sphere. These include the consolidation of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union and, where possible, the re-integration of contiguous Russian majority speaking territory into Russia, as seen in Georgia and Ukraine. They include the reduction of democratic space for political dissent at home. They include the countering of American influence abroad, particularly in the Middle East and Central Asia. These are serious, hard-headed policies. The very last word I would use to describe them is nihilistic. The Russian oligarch class are as unquestioningly materialist as any class in any society, ever. They are not nihilists.

I can only imagine that the committee picked up on the word “nihilist” from one of the crazed flights of fancy of Edward Lucas.

Para 4 then blunders on into still stranger territory:

It is also seemingly fed by paranoia, believing that Western institutions such as NATO and the EU have a far more aggressive posture towards it than they do in reality.

What could give them that idea?

But what is really strange is the lack of self awareness; a report built entirely upon paranoia about the Russian threat accuses Russia of paranoia about the western threat.

The next few paragraphs make repeated reference to the “Salisbury attacks” and simply take for granted the narrative that Russia was responsible for these. This I am not prepared to do. Clearly some kind of spy subterfuge took place in Salisbury involving both the UK and Russia, but there are too many obvious lies in the official UK government account. I still have seen no answers to my ten outstanding questions, while the attribution of the poison gets ever shakier, with new revelations from that cesspool of corruption, the bureaucracy of the OPCW.

Paras 13 to 20, on cyber warfare, again show that complete lack of self-awareness. They attribute a number of cyber hacks to Russia and the GRU, as though we did not know from Wikileaks Vault 7 leaks that the CIA specifically has a programme, “Umbrage” for leaving behind fake evidence of a Russian hack. But more tellingly, they quote GCHQ as their source of information.

Now it is a simple truth that hacking Russian communications, including military, political, security, research and commercial communications, has been a core part of GCHQ tasking from its establishment. Assuming at least some of the attributions to Russia on cyber warfare are correct, the synthetic outrage at Russia doing what we have been doing to Russia on a far, far larger scale for decades, is laughable. Even more so when paras 20 to 24 talk of the need for the MOD and GCHQ to expand their offensive cyber warfare as though this were a retaliatory measure.

From para 27 onwards the committee is talking about broadcast and new media disinformation campaigns. Here it stops pretending it knows any secret intelligence and states its information is open source, as at footnote 24 where the sources are frothing mad Edward Lucas and fake charity purveyor Christopher Donnelly, telling us how terrible Russian troll campaigns are.

Yet again, there is a total lack of self awareness. The committee fails to note that Donnelly himself has been spending millions of UK taxpayers’ money (at least that which did not go into his own pocket) running absolutely, precisely the same kind of covert campaign of hidden influence propaganda that they are accusing Russia of running. They accuse Russia Today of bias as though the BBC did not have its own state propaganda bias. Yet again, the lack of self-awareness is stunning.

Now we start to reach the stage where all this sanctimonious hypocrisy become really dangerous. Before you read this next few paras of the report, I would remind you that the repression of every bad regime everywhere has always been, in the eyes of the repressive security service, defensive. It is always to protect the truth, to prevent the spread of the lies and disaffection of evil foreign influence. That was the justification of the Cheka, the Gestapo, the Stasi and every South American dictator. They were all protecting the people from foreign lies. Now read this from the committee, and consider what it really means:

33. Whilst we understand the nervousness around any suggestion that the intelligence
and security Agencies might be involved in democratic processes – certainly a fear that is
writ large in other countries – that cannot apply when it comes to the protection of those
processes. And without seeking in any way to imply that DCMS is not capable, or that the
Electoral Commission is not a staunch defender of democracy, it is a question of scale and
access. DCMS is a small Whitehall policy department and the Electoral Commission is an
arm’s length body; neither is in the central position required to tackle a major hostile state
threat to our democracy. Protecting our democratic discourse and processes from hostile
foreign interference is a central responsibility of Government, and should be a ministerial
34. In our opinion, the operational role must sit primarily with MI5, in line with its
statutory responsibility for “the protection of national security and, in particular, its
protection against threats from espionage, terrorism and sabotage, from the activities of
agents of foreign powers and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine
parliamentary democracy … ”.38 The policy role should sit with the Office for Security and
Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) – primarily due to its ten years of experience in countering the
terrorist threat and its position working closely with MI5 within the central Government
machinery. This would also have the advantage that the relationship built with social media
companies to encourage them to co-operate in dealing with terrorist use of social media
could be brought to bear against the hostile state threat; indeed, it is not clear to us why the
Government is not already doing this.
35. With that said, we note that – as with so many other issues currently – it is the social
media companies which hold the key and yet are failing to play their part. The Government must
now seek to establish a protocol with the social media companies to ensure that they take
covert hostile state use of their platforms seriously, and have clear timescales within which
they commit to removing such material. Government should ‘name and shame’ those which fail to
act. Such a protocol could, usefully, be expanded to encompass the other areas in which action
is required from the social media companies, since this issue is not unique to Hostile State
Activity. This matter is, in our view, urgent and we expect the Government to report on progress
in this area as soon as possible.

The government endorsed Donnelly/Nimmo operation identified Ian above as a Russian agent. I have no doubt they would count this article as Russian disinformation. They would set MI5 on Ian and I, and ensure our posts would be banned from social media. Only such a corrupt mainstream media as we have in the UK would fail entirely to note – and they have failed entirely to note – the extreme and illiberal aspects of this report.

There is a real danger identified by the report. But it is not Russia, it is the McCarthyite witch-hunt the report seeks to promote, ironically based upon an entire sea of disinformation.

By paragraph 42 the committee has left reality entirely behind in favour of a tour of Clintonland.

42. It was only when Russia completed a ‘hack and leak’ operation against the
Democratic National Committee in the US – with the stolen emails being made public a
month after the EU referendum – that it appears that the Government belatedly realised the
level of threat which Russia could pose in this area, given that the risk thresholds in the
Kremlin had clearly shifted, describing the US ‘hack and leak’ as a “game changer”,46 and
admitting that “prior to what we saw in the States, [Russian interference] wasn’t generally
understood as a big threat to [electoral] processes”.

Contrary to the committee’s bland assertion, it is now well established that there never was any Russian hack of the DNC. Mueller failed entirely, after spending US $32million, to establish either a hack or Russian “collusion” with the Trump campaign. The only “evidence” there ever was for the Russian hack was an affirmation by the DNC’s security consultants, Crowdstrike, and this summer we learnt that Crowdstrike had never had any evidence of a Russian hack either. While those of us close to Wikileaks have been explaining for years it was a leak, not a hack. We were ignored by the media as it did not fit with the official disinformation campaign.

The committee query why the UK security services were not alerted by the DNC hack to take additional measures against Russia. The answer to that is very simple. The UK and US security services share all intelligence, so the UK security services were well aware from the US intelligence information that there was in fact no Russian hack. Unlike their US counterparts, they were not led by Clinton appointed loyalists prepared to perpetuate and act upon the lie to try to serve their political masters. On the other hand, the UK security services evidently did not feel it necessary to dampen the ardour of the committee on this point when it was about to propose a large increase in their powers and their budgets.

I had already blogged on paragraph 41 of the report and its accusation of Russian interference in the election campaign, founded entirely on a published article on Medium by witch-finder general, the Livingston unionist Ben Nimmo. That article states, among other things, that many Independence supporters on social media also support Russia on Ukraine, and therefore must be agents of Russian influence – as opposed to Scots who happen to support Russia over Ukraine. It notes that a number of people who support Scottish Independence appear not to have English as their first language, and some have trouble with definite and indefinite articles; therefore, Nimmo concludes they must be Russian trolls. As though we have no migrants who support Scottish Independence – and ignoring the fact Polish, Lithuanian, indeed the majority of languages in the world, also do not use definite and indefinite articles.

Let us remind ourselves of Ben Nimmo’s brilliant identification of top Russian trolls, nine out of ten of which turned out to be ordinary Scottish Independence supporters who simply tweeted things Nimmo does not like, while the tenth is a news aggregation bot which actually has the word “bot” in its name. That the committee takes this stuff seriously is a fact so eloquent in itself, I need hardly say more.

When we arrive at section 49 we finally reach material with which I can wholeheartedly agree. The UK, and the City of London in particular, was absolutely wrong to have welcomed in with open arms the Russian billionaires whose fortunes had been looted from the Russian people in the chaotic privatisation process, where assets were seized often by brute force, sometimes by bribery. There is no decent society in which the Deripaskas, the Usmanovs, the Lebvedevs, the Abramovics, should be accorded respect. Dirty money corrupts financial and political institutions. The committee is absolutely correct about that.

But have these people been living under a rock? UK politics and society have been a stinking morass of corruption for generations. Saudi money has worked in exactly the same way as Russian, and has had a bigger political influence, leading to a quite disgusting blind eye being turned to appalling human rights violations and military aggression against civilians. The same is true of all the Gulf states. London has been awash for over 40 years with Nigerian plutocrats, every single one of whose wealth has been corruptly looted. When I worked at the British High Commission in Lagos, the snobs’ estate agent Knight Frank and Rutley had an office there, staffed by expatriates, which did nothing but sell Surrey mansions and Docklands penthouses to crooks.

Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Angola, Sierra Leone, there is not a blood diamond or corruptly acquired oil barrel whose proceeds do not wash up in London. Four of the world’s top ten tax evasion bases are British colonies. The committee was right to describe the City of London as a “laundromat” for looted money, but wrong to ascribe that mainly to Russia. That is without considering the disgusting activities of our own UK and US billionaires, who control our media and ultimately our politics.

I can join in the committee’s condemnation of Russian oligarchs influence in British society, and especially their influence as donors on the Tory party. But remember Mandelson/Deripaska. The corruption has no ideological basis except selfishness. The financial interests of British, American, Russian, Saudi, French, Malaysian or any other billionaires are entirely intertwined, as is their political influence. It is the billionaires against the people. The nationality of the particular billionaire is irrelevant. I strongly recommend this report by Transparency International on the massive involvement of “respectable” British institutions in facilitating obviously corrupt transactions.

Does anybody seriously believe the influence of Russian billionaires is somehow more pernicious in the UK than the Saudis or any of the others I have mentioned? Of course nobody believes that; this report only achieves its aim by a blinkered focus on a singular anti-Russian racism. I am not going to expound on any more of the report, because there is a limit to how much racism I am prepared to wade through.

But before closing, I want to consider how enthusiasm for the new Cold War has swept up pretty well the entire political and media class. There are of course those who were enthusiasts for the last Cold War, the military and security services, the arms industry and bottom feeders like Christopher Steele and Christopher Donnelly, who make a surprisingly fat living from peddling the disinformation the state wishes to hear.

But the “Russia is the enemy” narrative has been taken up not just by the traditional right, but by those who would probably self-describe as liberal or social democrat, by supporters of Blair and Hillary.

Most of the explanation for this lies in the success of Blair and Clinton in diverting the “left” into the neo-con foreign policy agenda, through the doctrine of “liberal intervention”, which was the excuse for much Victorian imperialism. The notion is that if you only bomb and maim people in developing countries enough, they will develop democratic forms of government.

This thesis is at best unproven. But once you persuade people to accept one form of war, they seem to become enthusiasts for more of it, particularly those who work in media. It remains the most important single fact in British politics that, despite the fact almost everybody now acknowledges that it was a disaster, nobody ever lost their job for supporting the Iraq war. Quite a few lost their job for opposing it, Greg Dyke, Carne Ross, Elizabeth Wilmshurst and Piers Morgan being among the examples. It is a simple matter of fact that the Iraq War’s biggest cheerleaders dominate the London political and media landscape, whereas there is no critic of the Iraq War in an important position of power.

But apart from the argument that we must oppose Russia because it is not a democracy (but not oppose Saudi Arabia because… well, because), something else is in play. The cosy liberal worldview has been shattered by a populist surge, as represented by Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Both events are cataclysmic to the liberal mind and need to be explained.

For some reason, many mainstream liberals, especially the well-heeled ones who control the media and are columnists therein, are unable to acknowledge the truth. The truth is that our apparently comfortable modern society left a large number of people behind, who suffered loss of status from the ever-growing wealth gap and believed their opinions were not valued by an urban establishment they despised. These people revolted and had a right to revolt. That their discontent was seized upon and diverted by charlatans to unworthy political causes did not nullify the just causes of discontent. Loss of wages, job security and social status has bedeviled the disenfranchised at the same time that the plutocrats have been piling up personal wealth.

The upsurge of populism is a direct consequence of the vicious inequality of late stage capitalism, seasoned with racist attitudes to migrants which were themselves triggered by large waves of immigration the “liberal left” in fact caused with their obsessive pursuit of foreign invasion and destruction. That analysis, that the capitalist system they so wholeheartedly espouse and the wars for “freedom” they so ardently promote are the cause of the political setbacks they have encountered – is unpalatable to the media and political classes.

They therefore look for another cause for the raw political wounds of Trump and Brexit. Incredibly, they attempt to blame Putin for both. The notion that Russia, rather than deep disaffection of the less privileged classes, “caused” Trump, Brexit and even support for Scottish Independence is completely risible, yet uncritical acceptance of that analysis is fundamental to this report. It fits the mindset of the entire political and media establishment which is why it has been lauded, when it should be condemned as a real threat to the very political freedoms which it claims differentiate us from Russia.


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283 thoughts on “The Russian Interference Report, Without Laughing

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  • Michael+Droy

    It is quite ludicrous.
    On Mr Applebaum, you might have pointed out that he was Defence Minister then Foreign minister under rival parties which clearly implies approval from the real power baron – the US.
    Wikipedia: In 1986, he travelled in Afghanistan, as he stated in his book, “to write about the war the mujahideen were waging against the Soviet Union”. While a war correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph, he brought out the first report and photographs of the US Stinger missiles, whose use was a turning point in the war.[9][10] In 1987, he made a hundred-day journey, under Soviet bombardment, to the ancient city of Herat. He won the 1st prize singles in category the category Spot News of World Press Photo Awards in 1988 for a photograph of a family killed and mummified in their home as a result of communist bombing raid.[11]
    His adventures were presented in the documentary “Polish Mujahideen: Radosław Sikorski”, produced by Discovery Channel. Sikorski described his perilous journey to Herat in his first book Dust of the Saints: A Journey to Herat in Time of War.

    Could he possibly have CIA connections??

    And Steele was the MI6 man whose private presentation to the chairman of the “Public” inquiry on the Litvinenko poisoning convinced the inquiry to categorically put the blame on Russia despite no public evidence. (Other references are subject to a D notice).

  • Edward Mackinnon

    Excellent article. A pity about the Old Firm analogy. Why should Celtic players and the pro-Palestinian Green Brigade be tarred with the same brush as the war-mongers you expose?

    • craig Post author

      It is simply an analogy for bias. I don’t know the names of any Rangers figures (except John Greig and Sandy Jardine).

    • Penguin

      The pro-Palestine, pro child abuse and anti-Scottish independence green brigade? Any other country every one of them would be in prison or dead.
      Have an adult explain what an analogy is, or just piss off to oirland and see how they treat your sort there.

    • iain

      To send a signal to the likes of Penguin, Justin Fayre and Socrates McSporran? It’s not the first time that particular analogy has been chosen.

  • Paul

    The map of US bases you show seems to refer to the situation just after the end of WW2 (just look at the country names, the Philippines as a US colony, and the alleged 30 bases in China!).

    Why is that relevant now?

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Alan Duncan’s lie to Parliament about the ‘independence’ of the Institute for Statecraft should have led to him being named by the Speaker.

    It is not possible for it to be independent when funded by a Conservative Government.

    It is not possible for it to be independent if it seeks to interfere in the UK political process, because an independent actor has no role in determining who the British Electorate elect into Government.

    I am absolutely amazed that Jeremy Corbyn did not call for Alan Duncan to be named by the Speaker for knowingly making false statement to Parliament.

    I think we all know that the truth is an alien concept to 90% of politicians of all colours.

    The problem arises if it is also an alien concept to the Speaker….

  • Patsy Millar

    There’s a lot to absorb here and will need to reread, but thank you for highlighting this report as I doubt if it will get much scrutiny from the MSM. I hope you are keeping well. I’m always afraid that you don’t pay enough attention to your own welfare especially after health scares and the stress you must be under over the ‘contempt’ case but once again many thanks.

  • Ilya G Poimandres

    I just disagree with your belief that this misinformation is somehow written out of ignorance, and not malice.

    The war on Russia has been running since 1914, and the British political class has been the instigator of it since inception.

    That they produce yet more ‘evidence’ for the need to confront Russia, after the history of the last century, is only evidence that they still want to conquer that 1/8th of the planetary landmass.

    The game that is being played with Russia, after the break up of the USSR is a smart one – very similar to what was done to Germany. Put Russians into other nations, and call anyone who has concern for their country folk a Hitler, for letting them choose to secede from neo-Nazi, actively anti Russian governments, like the Ukraine. It’s funny that the UN Charter’s waffle about self determination does not apply to Crimea!

    As much as I enjoy your analysis on everything, I believe your naive take that the British political and media class have believed their own lies with respect to Russia, wrongfoots your take on Putin and his actions. They don’t believe their own lies, they are just not intelligent enough to make good ones these days. But then it is hard to make lies in our almost perfect information world. Even in 1924 the Times couldn’t do a good job with their letter.

    Putin works not for the oligarchs, but for Russia. The US written constitution may give him a lot of power, but wealth is so concentrated in Russia, that power can be taken away with only a bullet, if he doesn’t work with everyone. And he does work with all the parties. When Medvedev was president, he didn’t stop him letting NATO burn Syria, did he? That’s not very tyrannical, or at least not very smart, were he a tyrant. In interviews, he knows almost all of the numbers to a vast diversity of questions with respect to Russia.. He’s a capable leader who got dealt a beer hand when handed the presidency, and managed to turn the game around against the odds.

    So of course he is hated by the same establishment that pushed Germany and Russia into WWI, by those that forced Communism on it, those that then invaded it during the civil war, those that forced the USSR to pay with grain for industrial imports until it was banned in 1934, those that put an Iron Curtain through Europe after Bretton Woods (I side with Suvorov about Stalin’s role in WWII – certainly a stain on Russia through that crazed ideology), that looted it, then sanctioned it when it demanded the looters be jailed.

    Name me where Putin is devious please. The unmarked members of the Russian military during the Crimean independence process? Yeah, I grant that one, but generally Putin is straight up. The Munich speech in 2007 does not show a leader who deals in intrigue, just a blunt lecturer.

    • craig Post author

      I strongly suspect he was implicated in the false flag “Chechnyan” bombings in Moscow that were essential to his rise to power.

      • N_

        Blair told Putin two years later, after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US, that he knew Putin would “feel the pain” of the US and its allies in the face of such terrorism because Russia itself had recently faced terrorism of a similar kind in the form of those Moscow apartment block bombings…hint hint…what a total giveaway…

      • Ilya G Poimandres

        It is suspicious for sure, but it’s Putin’s words vs Berezovky’s, and I certainly have less faith in the words of one of the Russian crooks that was hiding out in London.. but Putin did manage to fool the lot of the oligarchs to get to the top, so he certainly must be capable of very advanced intrigue. Anecdotally though – it was Putin that brought the oligarchs into line through his reign, not the other way round, so whatever the mischief, it would have been more likely by those that were out of line. Was it done for his benefit? Maybe. Honestly, I don’t know enough about it, will enjoy a little digging, thanks! 🙂

          • Ilya G Poimandres

            I’m two and a bit years out of reading the Guardian as the trustworthy news source, and was a teenager in a foreign London when the bombings happened.. have much to catch up on, and your blog is, as always, invaluable, thank you! 🙂 (it’s only sad that I can’t convince any of my left leaning Guardian reading friends in London to care for it.. there is a section of the public that just does not accept news unless it is handed down from ‘up on high’.. the irony of the wish for freedom of political speech and a concurrent submission to authority!)

      • Tatyana

        You are not alone, Mr. Murray. This version was widely discussed among people, that was a completely predictable opinion.

        But if you mean the explosions in Moscow, and Volgodonsk, and in Dagestan, and the attacks in the Stavropol region – the whole series of events – then you should learn about the “Caucasus” Training Center with instructors from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. As well as study the personality of Khattab, and his aspirations to create an Islamic state, primarily in Chechnya, and then throughout the Caucasus.
        Investigations were done and there are published results here in Russia.

        I think that in Britain people still continue to rely on the gossip of immigrants and the books of ex-Russian oligarchs as a source of knowlege about those events.

      • Carnyx

        “I strongly suspect he was implicated in the false flag “Chechnyan” bombings in Moscow that were essential to his rise to power.”

        The only thing Putin could gain from the Moscow apartment bombings was support for a ground invasion of Chechnya and it’s not clear he needed that so badly. The Second Chechen war had already started with the Jihadi invasion of Dagestan on 7th August 1999, Putin was appointed PM by Yeltsin on 9th Aug on the same day Yeltsin stated he wanted Putin to be his successor, the Russian military had started bombing inside Chechnya in August in response to the Jihadis, they publicly admitted this in 26th Aug. The apartment bombings started on 4th Sept. Russia announced a ground invasion on 1st Oct. On 31st Dec Yeltsin resigned handing over the acting Presidency to Putin.

        I doubt Putin needed the apartment bombings to justify a ground invasion, Chechnya’s defacto independence was clearly a problem, it was having a civil war between it’s own factions, various Chechen groups were raiding nearby republics to conduct kidnappings for money, they had even kidnapped Russian General Shpigun the official Russian envoy to Chechnya in April. The interior minister at the time Sergei Stepashin had publicly called for an invasion in response to the kidnapping in April, he also states that the decision to invade was taken in March,that Putin did not devise the policy, Stepashin later became a candidate for the liberal Yobloko party.

        Seems to me the chronology doesn’t support the theory Putin was behind the apartment bombings, he was already PM, he was already publicly announced successor, the war had already started, the plans already devised. The only thing he could gain was a bit more support for the invasion, and that hardly justifies such drastic action.

    • N_

      When Vladimir Putin came to Britain he wanted to go to Rothschild HQ at New Court in the City of London to get on his knees, ask for a biscuit, and move his hindquarters as if he was wagging his tail, but the advice was that security considerations precluded his being granted such an audience.

      The big question of the moment as the US presidential election approaches is will US and British-based interests try to do a Ukraine on Belarus?

      Propagandists at the British state broadcaster are having a whale of a time: “Belarus elections: Shocked by violence, people lose their fear

      • David

        my friends in Belarus really aren’t that enthused by their leader, so I expect he got 103% of the vote last weekend.
        Mrs “Colorevolutionskaya” (pseudonym) got the usual very low % of the vote.

        so your question which started “ will “, is a bit dated, as the Color fix attempt is evidently already in, as our media is screaming about the wrongness of By. I notice that counter-color-rev tech is also running, so we’ll have to see if it’s overall a fizzle or a Portland, or the multi-year continuing Color attacks on UA, until they eventually got half-a-rev.

        The “Russian Interference Report” from the Parliamentary ISC condemns UK to the ‘Albanian’ style Sigurimi sub-thread of history, sad to see such ‘mut’ being inflicted on the whole UK nation.

        • N_

          The EU don’t seem to be trying to get stuck into Belarus as much as they were in the Ukraine.

          we’ll have to see if it’s overall a fizzle or a Portland, or the multi-year continuing Color attacks on UA, until they eventually got half-a-rev.

          Belarus will probably either be a fizzle or a Kiev. At least two martyrs so far – one in Minsk, one in Gomel; crowds getting smaller but the weekend is approaching.

          • CasualObserver

            Not part of the former Pale of Settlement, so correspondingly less folk to prod and poke EU pollies.

            As far as the Belarus bloke goes, his brass neck at claiming a highly improbable 82% of the vote will eventually betoken a primetime appearance in the back of an armoured personnel carrier with his Mrs 🙂

          • Gerald

            Belarus has no political opposition party, the leader already having done a runner, so no focal point as a ‘replacement’. Any attempts by the US/UK to interfere more than they already are will at worst lead to a power vacuum which I feel would be filled in short order by the Military and the KGB (yes, they kept the name) Lukashenko will survive but will have to stop playing footsie between Russia and the West which is what has brought this unfortunate series of events about, that and his ego. Belarusians do not wish to become a failed state dictated to by the Americans and their own home grown oligarch supported nazis as the western Ukraines have. There is no nationalist movement in Belarus to speak of so nothing to be used as a tool by interventionists or opportunist revolutionaries. It’s appalling behaviour by Lukashenko but right now there’s no real alternative and after Ukraine I don’t think we’re to keen to acquire another lame duck we have to use tax payers money to keep afloat. The Americans don’t seriously want to move in because if they did so would Russia and that would only lead to further embarrassment for them. Putin has few red lines but US forces/missiles in Belarus is one of them.

    • Tom Welsh

      “They don’t believe their own lies, they are just not intelligent enough to make good ones these days”.

      Taking your thesis a step further, Ilya, I suggest that good lies are unnecessary when 99.99% of the British public believes the bad ones.

      It is proper that perceptive and well-informed commentators such as Mr Murray should expose official lies. But we should not hope for too much from such exposure.

      As Lincoln observed, you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. Even if the second condition is not met, the first one is sufficient if “some” amounts to 99.99%.

      I suspect that a huge majority of British citizens believe the official stories about MH17, the Skripal affair, the “poison gas attacks” in Syria, the DNC leaks, Julian Assange and even Covid-19. Deciding that the authorities are not honest or trustworthy is a big step to take. It means you are on your own and have to seek out information and try to discern truth. It means that the government is not your servant or even your friend, but your enemy. It’s frightening.

      Most people would be inclined to believe the official stories even if they have a sneaking suspicion that they are not true. They prefer to be inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in, as LBJ put it.

      • Ilya G Poimandres

        I find this demand for freedom of political speech, as constantly bleated out in the West, strange. Granted it should exist, but most are either not interested to discuss politics, or do not spend enough time/brain power to really analyze what they talk about. When I discuss the stuff I read from this blog, or WSWS, or Unz, or any other non MSM source, the only common response is ‘why do you spend your energy researching this stuff? It doesn’t matter, you can’t change anything!’.. well yes, but then why even request freedom of political speech?! Live your life, and let them run us into the ground, as we are all powerless!

        I would at least hope that the psychopaths in charge, who lie to their herd, and force war on them, would wish to perfect their lies – for at least some narcissistic drive. Or maybe they are crooks that have been at it for so long, they are bored of not being noticed or caught. Personally I just think they are not very smart – but they don’t have to be, as you say. In our Netflix era, most people don’t engage in the world of ideas or events. People gossip about other people, and are happy to stay at that level. For everything else, they are happy to be spoon-fed. But maybe this is the way it has always been! :p

        • Cascadian

          “Or maybe they are crooks that have been at it for so long, they are bored of not being noticed or caught. Personally I just think they are not very smart – but they don’t have to be, as you say.”.

          While not seeking to pick a fight, Ilya, I think it is now you who is being naive. From my own experience in various work settings I have worked with and for some personality types who really do believe that we can’t see through their lies – their belief is reinforced by the fact that most people will just steer around their intrigues and not confront them.

      • Squeeth

        If you think that “the people” have been misled, get out and tell them different. I suspect that indifference might be a better term. It’s been like this since Liarbour’s terminal crisis of legitimacy began in the mid-70s.

    • Bayard

      “The war on Russia has been running since 1914,”
      Oh, long before that. Think about the “Great Game”.

      • np

        “Russia’s diplomacy, as you know, is one long and manifold lie” – George Curzon, Viceroy of India (1903).

        “The lying is unprecedented even in the annals of Russian diplomacy, “ Lord George Hamilton, secretary of state for India (1901).

      • Bramble

        Even before that. The roots of the Crimean War lay in the 18th century, but hostility to the “Russian Bear” seems to have been endemic for centuries. Maybe just as a rival Empire, and of course no one is allowed to rival the English.

    • conjunction

      Further information on this and other false flag atrocities is given in Catherine Belton’s book, ‘Putin’s People.’

  • Antonym

    Why is Russia targeted instead of real bogey P R China?

    * much more money made by global oligarchs from China than from Russia
    * Some oligarchs resent Putin for kicking them out
    * old deep state habits die slow; Russia!@#! kept their budgets sky high for decades
    * Russian military technology was better than Chinese (soon to be reversed).

    • Rhys Jaggar

      US is now targeting China, it will only be a matter of time before the fellaters in Westminster do the same.

    • Antonym

      Forgot: * Russia can reach oligarch hideouts in the Caribbean, Florida, New Zealand etc., China not yet.

    • CasualObserver

      ”Why is Russia targeted instead of real bogey P R China?”

      Its where the squillion inch plasma TV’s and Smartphone things come from. Imagine consequences if the supply of these ‘Everyday Necessities’ were to fail :O Surely riots in the streets would ensue. 😀

  • N_

    The referendum in Crimea was genuine. The overwhelmingly large majority of the population wanted Crimea to be part of Russia.

    The idea that a large part of the Crimean population saw the reversal of the 1954 rearrangement under Khrushshev as a horrendous sundering of the territory of the Ukrainian nation into two parts, as if it were Germany or something, and that “Crimean Ukrainians” now live under the iron Russian heel where they are banned from wearing the blue and yellow socks that they all love so much, and so on, is rubbish. It’s similar to believing that the population of Berwick want the city to be part of Scotland.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    The reason for all actions of the UK Government the past 12 months is quite simple: Mike Pompeo ordered them to do these things and made threats of a nature I do not have access to to ensure that they did what they were told.

    Covid19 nonsense it is clear that initially the government followed true science and then was quite clearly nobbled.

    This whole Russophobia nonsense is a combination of oligarch donations to the Tory Party, US State Dept policy spread across NATO and the glaring truth that Western Corporations have utterly failed to loot Russia to their satisfaction.

    We are now getting Sinophobia being ratcheted up. We have the execreble Monckton of Brenchley clearly taking Washington Orders to use the term ‘Chinese Virus’ in all his posts on climate blogs, we have the removal of Huawei from 5G technology programmes (when everyone knows that the CIA/NSA axis has been spying on all of us for two decades) and repulsive Americans glorying in Chinese floods saying that US farmers should make the Chinese beg for food at 3 times the price (why on earth did the world not do that to the USA when they had their floods two years ago?)

    This country needs to decide very quickly what it stands for and then expel without favour all those who stand for the opposite. Kick out the money launderers, the CIA stooges, all US Corporartions and citizens who do not make a global declaration vilifying imperialistic US murdering over 75 years, all the dirty Middle East money.

    There is no need to condone being the money laundering capital of the world and the yapdog for the biggest murderer on the globe.

    There is an alternative future and it does not involve deferring to Mike Pompeo.

    • Stevie Boy

      “This country needs to decide very quickly what it stands for … “, I agree with the sentiment but let’s not forget we have an electorate that after 10 years of ‘Stinking Tory Corruption’ then decided to vote them in for a further five years. I really despair and fail to see how the electorate can be educated sufficiently, but there again what real choice do we have as voters ? Maybe open rebellion is the only choice since our current democracy only supports the corrupt establishment.

    • Piotr Berman

      If you throw a stick again and again and your dog brings it back to you each time, it does not imply that the latter operates under a threat of any kind, at least more severe than refraining from praising it. And if Pompeo throws frisbee instead of a stick, it does not make UK establishment less eager to please.

    • J Galt

      “Covid19 nonsense it is clear that initially the government followed true science and then was quite clearly nobbled.”

      As opposed to Nicola who appeared to know what the game was more or less right from the start.

  • Matthew Franklin

    Constructive criticism: I don’t think ‘Infowars’ is a good source to use. Glenn Greenwald of ‘The Intercept’ was the primary journalist to have access to wikileaks. What do you make of this? It seems like a journalist for the Intercept is refuting what Wikileaks say their leaks show, instead claiming the CIA documents merely evidence re-appropriation. Is this naive? Could it be true?

    “It would be possible to leave such fingerprints if the CIA were reusing unique source code written by other actors to intentionally implicate them in CIA hacks, but the published CIA documents don’t say this. Instead, they indicate the UMBRAGE group is doing something much less nefarious.”

    Thank you for your great insight and analysis.

  • nevermind

    In one of your best articles today, it must have taken you days to write, you rightly point to ‘The committee was right to describe the City of London as a “laundromat” for looted money, but wrong to ascribe that mainly to Russia. That is without considering the disgusting activities of our own UK and US billionaires, who control our media and ultimately our politics. ‘ These billionaires do not mind how the smiling man from Italy sitting next to him in Davos has made his money, his interest lie in the same City of London Corp. provided offshore services as the man from the Camorra.

    offshoring is antisocial as it diverts money past the controls of the exchequer. When MP’s and high earners are able to declare themselves a PLC, for the sole purpose of avoiding taxes in this country, then they are not serving the public, but are devastating our economy by parking their stale money rather than invest it in a project that would create jobs and feed people.

    The City of London would not have survived without the drugs money they were laundering for the mafia and its equivalent S. American drug cartels, a conundrum, as it is also supporting the immense anti drugs expenditure and ongoing police actions against traffickers who do not hold a Home Office license to produce drugs.
    Further I would like to promote Roberto Saviano’s latest book ‘Piranhas’ dealing with the connections and strings that all come together in London, the most corrupt City on earth as he calls it, for decades steeped in laundering illegal drug monies, mainly from cocaine, the drug of choice for the City that never sleeps.

    Craig has hit a few soft parts with this latest truth today, one of his best, imho,, and one that will be read widely. I hope that some journalists who still hold on to a professional integral ambition to serve the public, will take up the cudgel and reports on this article in the wider press, but I don’t hold my breath.

  • James II

    A supremely well-researched exposition Mr M: a veritable “latter-day telegram”. I think your already excellent “drafting skills” are becoming even more finely-honed & better burnished! I particularly appreciate your ability to unravel and titrate the lexical nuances, and thereby decipher the author and the mischief. I am reminded of the late Hugh Mortimer in this gift. A tour de force of an article, Craig and many congratulations!

    It has really uplifted my day to see that you are “firing on all cylinders”. I raise my [metaphorical now, but maybe not later!] glass to you.
    Although that must have been a bit of a slog, it was well worth and is greatly appreciated.
    73 de J.

    • Smedley Butler

      I would like to add my praise.

      Passing over the detailed deconstruction of the “lack of self awareness” hypocritical “report”, I think it is your final paragraphs of analysis that are the most poignant. It is, IMHO, indeed this wealth gap and great lack of opportunity which have driven the “populism” which the powers that be cannot acknowledge and must search high and low to explain to *themselves*. Indeed ‘populism’ is the wrong term. Its a *uck you to the power establishment.

      And after the scuttling of Sanders and Corbyn by various tactics I see little change coming. More FY coming.

  • Statistician

    In the interests of transparency may we have Like/Dislike buttons (requiring CAPTCHA verification?) for each article or does CM fear hubba and his crew at the open plan MI6 offices will still have a field day concocting Dislikes? IMHO this article would easily surpass a 100k Likes.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Wow! A tour de force. My only quibble would be the final para..
    “THEY therefore look for another cause for the raw political wounds of Trump and Brexit.” My emphasis added. “It fits the mindset of the ENTIRE political and media establishment which is why it has been lauded …” Again, my emphasis.
    Are Johnson and Cummings not part of the “political establishment”? Important because Johnson and Cummings are entirely content that with regard to potential external interference in the Brexit campaign, MI5 and GCHQ did an Admiral Nelson and “saw no ships”.
    It would of course be accurate to state that the mouthpiece who introduced this report, Stewart Hosie, IS part of the “political establishment”.
    One to watch me thinks.

  • Goose

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    – H.L. Mencken

  • Den lille abe

    Well, well, well, that Britain is a corrupt, infectious swamp of low lives is hardly new news 🙂 They have been scum at least for 250 years.
    Yes Briton citizenry I point at you! You are a bunch of woolly headed, low IG bottom feeders with as much cognizance as my pet sand worm.
    You voted the number 2 moron in the world into office, the US of course again taking first prize, and now you are complaining!
    Turkeys voting for Thanksgiving!
    Blimey, you are stupid! And then you seal it all by voting out of the EU and electing a fucking new Tory austerity government! You are almost as stupid as Americans, and that is no praise!
    I can’t fucking wait till you morons leave the EU, the whining and blubbering will be YouTube worthy, I will need popcorn in truckloads.

    • Stevie Boy

      Personally, I think it’s unfair to totally blame the citizens/electorate of the UK for the position we are in. We live in, and probably always have lived in, a feudal system where the well off and powerful call the shots. Whether it is Royalty, Mill Owners, Landed Gentry, Press Barons, Social Media Billionaires or Oligarchs, the man in the street is not regarded as an equal and is treated as just being there to provide cheap labour and pay taxes. A cursory glance at history shows that the English peasant classes were treated no differently or any better than the Black Slaves, although that seems to be an ignored inconvenient truth.
      Even having a vote has been manipulated so that you can only really chose from different colours of the same establishment. And education is manipulated to further the myth that money and power make you a better and more intelligent member of the human race.
      Maybe this is how evolution works, the survival of the biggest C*nts, if so we are truly doomed. Financial and environmental catastrophe beckons.

      • Goose

        The desire among UK elites, is to keep the masses ignorant lest they object and demand better, is a truly pernicious situation. The billionaire owned media shuns in-depth analysis of alternative democratic systems, ideas and ideologies, seeing them as dangerous threat to their wealth and a status quo that has serve them so well.

        Our politics being the prime example. How many Brits could argue the merits of various electoral systems : FPTP vs various forms of PR? Or the merits of having a written constitution. Other European nations’ citizens are generally far more clued up about what’s wrong with UK, certainly more so then the native population. And sadly, that’s by design.

    • Tom74

      True but if the country is that corrupt then we shouldn’t assume the elections are above board either. Setting up the public for blame for government policies, through opinion polls and elections, is another tactic of the British establishment – two bites of the same cherry.

      • Coldish

        Tom 74: up till now I see no reason to suppose that the counting of votes at British elections is anything other than scrupulously honest.and accurate. It is handled by local, not central, government officials. Returning officers, who are in charge at the sharp end of parliamentary elections, carry out their work responsibly and seriously. So we can be confident that the published results are as accurate as possible.
        Of course the electoral system in England is not fit for purpose. Essentially it is unrepresentative of the range of public opinion and can produce ‘landslide’ majorities in terms of seats from much less than 50% of the votes. It urgently needs reform. I vote regularly, but I find it hard to understand why so many other people bother, when their individual vote is unlikely to have any effect on the result – other than in marginal or ‘swing’ constituencies. Cummings and Johnson cleverly and successfully used this feature to concentrate their campaigning in the 2019 general election on marginal Labour-held seats in regions which had a high % vote for Brexit. Thanks largely to that minority of swing voters we are now stuck with a government which is outstanding in its levels of dishonesty, corruption and incompetence.

    • Squeeth

      Only an American could write such vapid bumflufferies; create a democracy before you lecture others.

  • Goose

    A condensed version of this piece would have once graced the Guardian. It’s a sad commentary on the state of the whole UK media scene that people have to come to blogs like this to discover basic relevant information. The suggested clampdown on social media emerging from this shambolic report is chilling, downright Orwellian.

    The ISC ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for releasing such a sloppy, one-sided flawed report; one informed by the testimony of highly subjective paid, professional Russophobes – people with known Cold War revivalism mentalities and obvious financial incentives for keeping Russia enemy No.1.

    • nevermind

      I don’t think that Craig would ever write for this rag tag broad shite, Goose. I will now block all linked Guardian articles that arrive in my inbox and or FB page. If they do not see fit to allow criticism of their very low grade journalism, they don’t deserve to be linked by us or social media.

      • Goose

        I don’t post there no longer myself, and I deleted my account. Their moderation is in a word ‘oppressive’ – it’s highly subjective and totally arbitrary.

        Make even the mildest criticism of those the columnists and editorial positions support and it’s 50/50 whether that post is deleted. It’s certainly become much, much worse over recent years as they pushed this evidence-free ‘Russian bot’ narrative to its limits. Whether the likes of those Craig lists in his piece above are feeding them nonsense about how ordinary Brits are ‘subversive’ Russian trolls, I don’t know? The guardian certainly seems gullible enough to believe such crap tho.

        • Tom74

          I gave up posting at the Guardian before the election.It isn’t just that comments are deleted but that other comments are allowed to stand but trolled out of existence. I felt all I was doing was adding fuel to the fire of their agenda. I don’t post on any of the mainstream media for the same reason.

    • N_

      Social media are a major problem for public mental health, probably a bigger problem than illegal drug use even.

      When has anybody ever been successful in using CIA/NSA tools such as Facebook and Twitter to undermine powerful interests? It’s a complete and utter trap.

      Most people don’t make proper comparisons, analogies, or similes where social media are concerned, but they are there to be made.

      Think of social media as Coca-Cola asking you to set up a “left wing” stall at their annual fête, on their land, flanked by their security guards, and with everything that happens at your stall both watched by company cameras and under a constant stream of company propaganda. The company will supply the bunting. For “free”!

      You can also think of social media in terms of enclosures of common land.

      Or you can think of it in terms of working for a kibbutz – basically a profit-making commercial firm allows you to use its tools to work for it for free, and as “payment” it allows you to enjoy the “camaraderie” of using the tools together with other idiots doing the same thing.

      Meanwhile Trump says he wants to change water law so that people don’t have to flush the toilet 10 or 15 times rather than once (what??) and because he likes to have “perfect” hair. (I always wondered why he wore make-up for his Twitter profile photo. One fascinating thing is that if you show this to a Trump supporter they often can’t see it and accuse you of spreading “fake news”.) And if that’s not enough, he’s saying about the Democrats that “they don’t want to have any form of animals”.

      Trump cannot cope with the pressure of this election campaign. Either that or he is a superb actor, a class above most Oscar winners, which surely he is not. He won’t last until 3 November.

      This is relevant to social media because it’s likely that the use of Twitter will play some kind of a role in his departure. He is the guy who last year fired off 122 tweets about a single hurricane. Next time it may be about flushing the toilet, or about his hair, or about Democrats wanting to abolish apples once they’ve finished abolishing cows and so on.

      Incidentally, Trump appears not to know the meaning of the word “headwind”. What the f*** did they teach him at military academy? He says “(W)e’re coming back and coming back strong and my biggest headwind is Biden because everyone knows that if Biden gets in, this market’s going to crash.”

      He also seems to think that something can come top of a list yet still be below another item: “This will be the greatest fraud in history. This will be the most fraudulent — this will be almost as fraudulent as Obama spying on my campaign, but not quite. This will be the greatest fraud in history.”

      He is totally losing it.

      • CasualObserver

        The Yanks went all in on the economy flush toilet thing, the result is frequent blockages due to insufficient pulse effect. So he may have a point about the toilet flushes, the hair comment was likely added for the amusement of his base, and those of his detractors with an insufficiency of humour, think the BBC. 🙂

      • Baalbek

        Agree 100% with your assessment of social media. Convincing billons of people to give up their intellectual sovereignty and forfeit control over their lives in exchange for a dumbed down facsimile of living that is mediated by electronic screens controlled by an oligarchical cabal and the ‘security services’ is the greatest bait and switch operation in the history of the world.

        Platforms and gadgets that were sold to people as useful tools to complement our lives have instead made smartphone and social media users slaves to a vast psyop machine that infests, corrupts and monetizes every aspect of human life. As a bonus users get a nonstop stream of propaganda beamed into their brains 24/7.

        The internet died when Facebook became popular and the iPhone was launched. Before that the internet really was a tool people accessed on a desktop or laptop computer, cell phones were still primarily phones, a handful of Silicone Valley sociopaths didn’t yet control every aspect of it and spook agencies hadn’t yet begun to censor, bury and ‘shape’ Information that challenged the status quo.

        In short, the internet as it exists today is a vast mechanism of social control that enslaves people’s minds and robs them of their humanity. How people live, think and interact has changed immensely since 2007. Unfortunately most of them are too hypnotized by their shiny gadgets to take notice and younger people, so-called ‘digital natives’, have never even had a chance to experience a life that allows them to tune out the noise, reflect quietly on their thoughts and learn how to think independently.

        Even language has been corrupted. Terms like “Friend” have nothing to do with friendship anymore and the English language has been emasculated and replaced by buzzwords and Orwellian military and management speak (eg, “reaching out”, “social distancing”, “moving forward”) and idiotic ‘woke’ redundancies like “self-identity.”

        The internet going offline is the best thing that could happen to humanity. Maybe then the spell would be broken and people might realize how deeply impoverishing living fake lives on screens actually is.

        • Dom

          If only under 35s had voted last December there would not be a single Tory MP left in the land. It is over 65s who need to tune out from establishment propaganda and learn to think independently.

  • J Arther Nast

    You say that Radek Sikorski’s persona as a politician is very much based around his hawkish stance on Russia. Well maybe, but in 2015 he resigned as foreign minister after being secretly taped in a restaurant.
    He said the Warsaw alliance with the US was worthless and complete bullshit we gave the Americans a blow job, got nothing. There is no doubt that the policy persued by the prime minister and the defense minister is wrong. In the event of a conflict with the Germans or the Russians Poland will mistakenly think that everything is super because of the close relationship with the Americans. We are ssuckers total suckers. The problem is that we have shallow pride and low self esteem.
    Radek sounds patriotic to me, not like the Empire loyalists who wr0te this report.

  • Jeremn

    Anne’s husband, Sikorski, along with Carl Bildt, was responsible for the EU’s Eastern Partnership programme, an attempt to pull former Soviet states into the EU’s orbit and away from Russia. This was backed up by NATO’s reaching out to Georgia and Ukraine, something which would have closed the Black Sea to Russia in the same way that the Baltic is closed (adding Montenegro to NATO incidentally means that the entire northern Mediterranean and Adriatic coast is in NATO hands). All this is about pushing Russia back in the geopolitical space. So too was the way the Russian-speaking or ethnic Russian minority was treated in the Baltic states and, more recently, in Ukraine. That was a cultural pushback alongside all this geopolitical pushback.

    • John A

      Carl Bildt is a proven CIA informer who leaked confidential Swedish data to his handlers. A traitor to the country of which he was prime minister for a time.

  • Ben McDonnell

    On Bill Browder, I am lucky enough to have got hold of “The Magnitsky Act Behind The Scenes”, in my opinion containing as much information as you would want to know about Browder and his motives. Because Andrei Nekrasov, the director, originally worked for him and trusted him, the closeness he got to him is stunning. Uncharacteristically for me I paid for it, a very reasonable price, from Piraya Film.

  • Tom74

    And somewhat connected, probably, has anyone noticed that Scottish independence seems to be being featured in the Tory media organs a lot at the moment, without any obvious trigger? I guess the intelligence agencies must be picking up on something.

    • Stevie Boy

      Dangle the carrot to attract and distract the gullible to support the Tories. A good rule of thumb is: “if their lips move then they’re lying”.
      Scotland will never achieve independence from the likes of the mainstream parties or the current SNP.

      • Goose

        It’ll be a dirty, hard won fight if they ever do.

        They’ll need to show as much cunning as their opponents, operate more like an intel agency than a political party.

        Corbyn’s experience shows they’ll need to leak false stories to expose sabotage, surveillance and discredit the press etc. The reason the UK establishment win is because the good guys play by the rules.

        • Goose

          … Craig certainly believes UK state agencies will be heavily involved, to be fair, that is their role – to protect the UK.

          The “Wilson doctrine”, devised by the former prime minister Harold Wilson, gives politicians protection against snooping unless the prime minister approves it under exceptional circumstances. It was extended to the devolved administrations in Investigatory Powers Act 2016. After this : Sturgeon presses Cameron on claims GCHQ can spy on MSPs :

          Are Private text messages between senior SNP figures being intercepted? In any inde campaign the SNP could test then use it to their advantage by sending between a select group a plausible, (false) set of scandalous stories, on the assumption they’ll be intercepted and leaked to the UK press. Revealing this would destroy both the UK press’ credibility and a huge scandal around any such interception.

      • RichardF

        Stevie Boy, I’d suggest a slight edit which I think more accurately describes the current SNP:

        Scotland will never achieve independence from the likes of the mainstream parties WHICH INCLUDES the current SNP.

  • Goose

    That McCarthyite Sky News clip is like something from an episode of Brass Eye… all that’s missing is the great man himself, Chris Morris.

  • Xavi

    Thanks for dissecting that trash. It is indeed an indictment of our political and media class, from whom there has not issued one word of dissent.

    Brillo’s contempt for the Steele Dossier btw is doubtless informed by his having an apartment in Trump Tower and likely being an ardent Trump supporter. Brillo self identifies as being to the right of Margaret Thatcher but we are a country where he is now being lined up to be chairman of the public service broadcaster! We are being very gently boiled by rapacious elites..

  • nevermind

    we have had a weeks worth of overhead non stop flying. They are flying high altitude bombing attack loops to take out airports and anti aircraft positions.

    the noise is incessant morning and afternoon, are they planning to have a go at ‘saving Lebanon’ from Hezbollah? and getting at Iran at the same time?

    i know it would get Bibi and Boris out of their shitstick plight.

    • Muffel

      I agree with this: we have had this for weeks as well: Typhoon Eurofighters, F22 Raptors, KC135s, A330s (both air tankers, including dePfeffel’s painted one!), V22 Ospreys and C130 Hercules all doing loop da loops for hours – check out FlightRadar or PlaneFinder any evening and you will see what I mean. This is not normal so I suspect, somethings’ up although I haven’t a clue what.

      Brilliant article by the way Craig: more power to your elbow: I agree with every word.

    • Jo

      France sending naval ships..planes now to east Med…..the story of being to control Turkey maybe only part of the truth….I do feel that Lebanon will be used by whatever means to
      resist control Syria and Iranian influence and consolidation.

  • 6033624

    It’s interesting to not that they say, “Such a protocol could, usefully, be expanded to encompass the other areas in which action is required from the social media companies, since this issue is not unique to Hostile State Activity.” when we now see so much of media reports decrying racism, homophobia etc online. Either our media has very suddenly grown a conscience or we are being softened up for a more rigid form of censorship.

    Ultimately this entire enterprise seems to have at its core giving us a scapegoat for all that ails us. In much the same way as witches were blamed for poor crops and then burned at the stake. We can cry ‘Russian Interference’ at almost anything to divert from the fault of the government who are actually to blame. In much that same way that Clinton diverted attention from the fact she had fraudulently stolen the Democratic nomination from Sanders by claiming it was a Russian hack. The news picked this up and conveniently ignored her illegal activity. The only one to remember was Trump, and well, he’s Trump, isn’t he.

  • VinylFlunkie

    Fantastic … having skim read I am looking forward to a nice night in digesting fully. Any decent journalists out there in the MSM willing to take this critical view, one that is entirely correct…course not. I might up my subscription. Great work, thank you.

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