The Power of Lies 333

The comments on Peter Oborne’s excellent article on Julian Assange in the Guardian last week are a damning indictment of the media’s ability to instil near universal acceptance of “facts” which are easily proven lies.

The Guardian chose as its “Guardian pick” to head the section a comment full of these entirely untrue assertions.

If you look through all the comments, they repeat again and again that Wikileaks published unredacted documents, including names of US agents, which put lives at risk. The entire basis of most of the comments is simply untrue – and none of the readers seems to have any information to contradict them.

Julian Assange has never said that governments should have no secrets. That would be a ridiculous position and clearly some information held by government is rightly confidential. He has said that governments should be very much more open to the public, and that most government secrecy is unjustified.

Nor has Wikileaks ever dumped data unread and unedited on to the internet. The commenter is correct to say that Wikileaks has shared editing responsibilities with organisations including the Guardian and the New York Times. This is precisely because the material needs to be edited to avoid revealing inappropriate material, and to make journalistic decisions on what to write stories about.

The notion that Assange was “lazy” because he did not read all the material and do all the editing himself is self-evidently ridiculous. The US diplomatic cables and Iraq and Afghan war logs alone constituted over 600,000 documents. It was simply impossible for Assange to read it all personally. He was the editor of Wikileaks. This is tantamount to criticising Katherine Viner for not writing every single article in the Guardian personally.

The extradition hearing of Julian Assange heard numerous highly professional and respected journalists testify to the rigorous nature of Wikileaks’ editing process to remove names. Here is one extract from my reporting of the trial:

John Goetz was the first witness this morning. Senior Investigations Editor at NDR since 2011, he was at Der Spiegel from 2007-11. He had published a series of articles on German involvement in the Afghan War, including one on a bombing raid on Kunduz which massacred civilians, for which he had won Germany’s highest journalism award. In June 2010 he went to London to meet with Wikileaks and the Guardian to work on the Afghan War Logs.

In a series of meetings in “the bunker” at the Guardian with the NYT and the other major media partners, the partnership was formed whereby all would pool effort in researching the Afghan War Logs but each party would choose and publish his own stories. This cooperative venture between five major news organisations – normally rivals – was unique at the time.

Goetz had been struck by what seemed to him Julian Assange’s obsession with the security of the material. He insisted everything was encrypted and strict protocols were in place for handling the material. This had been new territory for the journalists. The New York Times was tasked with liaison with the White House, the Department of Defence and State Department on questions of handling the material.

Asked by Mark Summers to characterise the Afghan War Logs, Goetz said that they were fascinating first-hand material giving low level reports on actual operations. This was eye witness material which sometimes lacked the larger view. There was abundant first-hand evidence of war crimes. He had worked with Nick Davies of the Guardian on the Task Force 373 story.

Julian Assange had been most concerned to find the names in the papers. He spent a lot of time working out technical ways to identify names in the tens of thousands of documents. Mark Summers asked f he had been looking for the names for the purpose of redaction, and Goetz confirmed it was for redaction. He had interviewed Assange on the harm minimisation programme of the operation.

On behalf of the group Eric Schmitt of the NYT had been speaking to the White House and he had sent an email identifying 15,000 documents the White House did not want published to prevent harm to individuals or to American interests. It was agreed not to publish these documents and they were not published. Summers asked Goetz if he was aware of any names that slipped through, and he replied not.

Goetz was not so involved for family reasons when the consortium went through the same process with the Iraq war logs. But he knew that when a large number of these were released in the USA under a FOIA request, it was seen that Wikileaks had redacted those they released more heavily than the Department of Defense did. Goetz recalled an email from David Leigh of the Guardian stating that publication of some stories was delayed because of the amount of time Wikileaks were devoting to the redaction process to get rid of the “bad stuff”.

Further very detailed evidence on this point was given by Professor John Sloboda, by Nicky Hager and by Professor Christian Grothoff.

Yet there is no public awareness that this careful editing and redaction process took at all. That is plain from those comments under the Guardian article. This is because people are simply regurgitating the propaganda that the media has given them. My blog was effectively the only source for detailed reporting of the Assange hearings, which were almost ignored by the mainstream media.

This was deliberate choice – the information was freely available to the mainstream media. This is what the Reuters News Agency, to which they all subscribe, produced on Dr Goetz’s evidence, for example:

WikiLeaks’ Assange was careful to protect informants, court hears
By Reuters Staff

LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) – WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange was careful to ensure that the names of informants in hundreds of thousands of leaked secret U.S. government documents were never published, his London extradition hearing was told on Wednesday.

Australian-born Assange, 49, is fighting against being sent to the United States, where he is charged with conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law over the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011.

A lawyer for the United States told the court last week that it was requesting Assange’s extradition over the publication of informants’ names, and not for handling leaked documents.

John Goetz, an investigative reporter who worked for Germany’s Spiegel magazine on the first publication of the documents, said the U.S. State Department had been involved in a conference call suggesting redactions, and WikiLeaks had agreed to hold back about 15,000 documents for publication.

“There was sensitivity and it was one of the things that was talked about all the time,” Goetz told the court. Assange was concerned that the media should take measures “so no one would be harmed”, he said.

Goetz said WikiLeaks was later frustrated when a password that allowed access to the full, unredacted material was published in a book by Guardian reporters in February 2011.

Assange made international headlines in 2010 when WikiLeaks published a U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.

I can find no evidence that any mainstream media used this report from Reuters, or indeed any of Reuters’ daily news feed that covered the major points for the defence. The BBC managed to report prominently the false claim that has entered public consciousness:

But could not find space for any of the witnesses who contradicted this claim.

It is of course a very delicate subject for the Guardian, whose journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding were in fact responsible for the dumping of unredacted material on the net. The court heard evidence of this from numerous witnesses, of whom Professor Christian Grothoff gave the most detail:

Summers then asked Professor Grothoff whether David Leigh released the password. Grothoff replied that yes, Luke Harding and David Leigh had revealed the encryption key in their book on Wikileaks published February 2011. They had used it as a chapter heading, and the text explicitly set out what it was. The copies of the encrypted file on some mirrors were useless until David Leigh posted that key.
Summers So once David Leigh released the encryption key, was it in Wikileaks’ power to take down the mirrors?
Grothoff No.
Summers Could they change the encryption key on those copies?
Grothoff No.
Summers Was there anything they could do?
Grothoff Nothing but distract and delay.

Grothoff continued to explain that on 25 August 2011 the magazine Der Freitag had published the story explaining what had happened. It did not itself give out the password or location of the cache, but it made plain to people that it could be done, particularly to those who had already identified either the key or a copy of the file. The next link in the chain of events was that published a blog article which identified the location of a copy of the encrypted file. With the key being in David Leigh’s book, the material was now effectively out. This resulted within hours in the creation of torrents and then publication of the full archive, unencrypted and unredacted, on

Summers asked whether Cryptome was a minor website. Grothoff replied not at all, it was a long established platform for leaked or confidential material and was especially used by journalists.

It is telling that in the Guardian itself, scores of commenters on Peter Oborne’s article reference the release of unredacted files, but nobody seems to know that it was the Guardian that was actually responsible, or rather, massively irresponsible. The gulf between public perception and the truth is deeply troubling.

In a related matter, the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal has published an article with that attribution, about the “russiagate” hoax around the 2016 election, which is stunning:

“The Russia-Trump narrative that Clinton sanctioned did enormous harm to the country. It disgraced the FBI, humiliated the press, and sent the country on a three year investigation to nowhere. Putin never came close to doing as much disinformation damage.”

The problem is the Wall Street Journal has one thing wrong. The press is not humiliated – like Boris Johnson it is entirely brazen and has no capacity for humiliation. The press has not been found out, because most of the country still believes the lies they were told and have not seen corrected.

Hillary’s 2016 campaign manager has stated “Russiagate” was a lie knowingly planted by Hillary. Mueller could find no firm evidence of Russian hacking, and the CEO of Crowdstrike, the Clinton appointed firm who made the original claim, testified to congress there was “no hard evidence”. The FBI nor Mueller ever even inspected the DNC servers. The Christopher Steele “peegate” dossier has fallen apart and is now a thing of ridicule. Roger Stone was jailed for false evidence to the FBI – which consisted of him inventing a Wikileaks-Trump link for purposes of self-aggrandisement. The Manafort/Assange story was the most egregious press fabrication since the Zinoviev letter.

But the media who pushed all these false narratives have never backed away from them.

My favourite example ever of almost entirely unreported news was the dismissal by New York federal judge John Koeltl of the Democratic National Committee’s lawsuit against Trump and the state of Russia over the 2016 elections. Judge Koeltl rules that nothing whatsoever had been produced which met the bar of evidence.

There is plainly a crisis in western neo-liberal societies. The wealth gap between rich and poor has become so extreme as to be insupportable, and even in the wealthiest countries in the world, people in employment are struggling to achieve decent accommodation, heating and food. The billionaire controlled state and media systems contrived to neuter both Corbyn and Sanders, who sought to restore some social justice.

In consequence, inevitable public discontent has been channelled into populist courses – Brexit, Trump, Johnson – which themselves alarm the establishment, though less than Sanders and Corbyn did. There is a space for comforting fiction to explain the social shock. Therefore the populist wave is explained, not as a result of popular discontent at the extreme economic imbalance of modern neo-liberalism, but by the Deus Ex Machina of hacking or Cambridge Analytica, all of which is then itself sourced back to the designated devil Putin.

Modern society is not really much more rational than the Middle Ages. Myth is still extremely potent; only the means of myth dissemination are more sophisticated.


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333 thoughts on “The Power of Lies

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  • no-one important

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case very few people seem to be highlighting the inhumane treatment of Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison. All the posturing of successive governments – democratic, lawful, caring, blah blah, British values etc. are as nothing when we witness the actions of a bullying, sadistic, cynical and amoral State.

    The gentleman is quite clearly being punished severely in the eager anticipation of his early demise and this shames the British State utterly. Where is Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in all this? Where are the vocal human rights lawyers who are so ready to jump on any bandwagon that happens to be careering along? Silence from just about all corners – with the exception of a few noble voices such as Craig Murray.

    I did write to my MP about this and the reply I received would have curdled milk at fifty paces, such was its rottenness and self-justifying nonsense. But, to paraphrase George Carlin, when you see how stupid the average MP is – and then realise that fifty percent of them are stupider than that …

    • Olly Perry

      Assange has become this century’s ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ – punished almost beyond endurance, almost without any voice or any championing in the mainstream media, left to rot in high security, almost forgotten and yet he is still ‘effing’ innocent – he has not been proven guilty by any court in this land. He is quite clearly in no fit physical, mental or emotional state to be extradited and go through some type of show trial in the US, rent apart from his family. He will die if he’s extradited, simple as that. Shame on the British State! It has shown the British Establishment for what it is, cruel and callous, playing politics with an innocent man’s life, lackey to the US’ global dominance. Her Maj’s opposition is led by one of the main figures in the hounding of Assange – Starmer was Chief Public Prosecutor after all so no hope there. He needs to be released immediately so that he can get a semblance of his life back. It will probably take many years to work through the torment he has been through already if indeed he ever does. Shame on the British State and the lying corrupt self-serving government and MPs who ignore this man’s suffering. Shame on them all.

      • Bayard

        “Assange has become this century’s ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ “

        I think Dreyfus is a closer fit, especially the hope by the authorities that he would die and that would be an end of it.

  • Dr Gerard Hobley

    The thing about government secrecy is that it’s endemic and almost entirely about people with power protecting themselves from scrutiny and therefore criticism. Take simple things like the relationship between shooting-estate owners, Natural England, SNH, government, police and people who campaign to reduce or stop bird-of-prey (raptor) persecution. Off the top of my head I can think of numerous cases where campaigners have been excluded from the dealings of governance and land management by a fortress of secrecy. But don’t ask me, there is extensive documentation on this single issue from on their comprehensive website. For example, take the scheme to reintroduce White tailed sea eagles to the Isle of Wight. Either one or two of the reintroduced birds ended up poisoned on a shooting estate in Hampshire, a highly illegal and dangerous act. A police investigation was launched, but this was picked up on by a local MP, who made numerous posts on Twitter. There was probably some conversation between the MP and local PCC and the police withdrew the investigation. FOI requests about the nature of interference into a police investigation from a local MP have been ignored. It’s a perfect example that fits fully with the whole point of the FOI act and is definitely justified as it is in the public interest, both the parties being publicly elected representatives.

    If you take a good look at the website there is a comprehensive list of such incidents and the failure of regulatory bodies to enforce the law.

    Conclusion, FOI should be x1000 more powerful.

    • Giyane

      Dr Gérard Hobley

      In 2006 I did some electrical testing for Islameah Jameah after it had been investigated by the police for hosting jihadist training, which was of course untrue.
      I found vermin infestation which causes damage to cables, electrical arcing and fire and I put that on my report.

      So the school found a local Tory MP to write that although Health & Safety was important, there was too much emphasis on unnecessary regulation, an opinion which led imho to the Grenfell fire. The Pugin designed Neo-Gothic Building in West Sussex is still empty because nobody was prepared to address the Safety concerns I had raised.

      In Julian Assange’s case he highlighted some of the recklessness of the US invasion of Iraq and to this day the US and UK governments are fighting the accusation of recklessness, while simultaneously sponsoring And fomenting war in Ukraine.

      The gravy-training mentality of today’s politicians and MSM always prefers financial reward by supporting the recklessness of the powerful, over the damage their recklessness invariably causes.

      Lying by religion, the Pope blessing Nazism for example, is always shocking. There is no gravy-train for priests and imams, is there? They have no excuse for selling their souls, while journalists and politicians definitely do have an excuse, money and influence.

      The hard truth is that during this period in which the US has thrown out Imran Khan there has been a continual queue for petrol outside US megastore Costco. Nobody gives a fig for principles any more. But they do care about 0.05 p on a litre of petrol even if it takes an hour or two in the queue.

    • Bayard

      “Yes, Minister” hit the nail on the head with Sir Humphrey saying, “The Official Secrets Act is not designed to protect secrets, but to protect officials,”

  • geoff chambers

    The Guardian’s “Comment is Free” policy, instigated c.2005 in its on-line version, was an interesting experiment in press/reader dialogue, which was abruptly terminated when they changed the format and severely limited the number of articles on which comments were permitted.

    In the beginning moderation was conducted in response to reader complaints by unpaid interns, which led to heavy censorship when self appointed gatekeepers gamed the system. I was active on their threads on climate change, one of the subjects, along with Palestine, which attracted organised censorship of opposing views. Censorship gradually increased until the only way of escaping “moderation” on the wide-ranging criteria allowed was to simply quote information ignored by Guardian journalists. This ended when they deemed additional information counted as “off topic,” and there was a mass banning of critics.

    If any commenter had raised any of the points from your reports of the trial, they would probably have been dealt with in that way. The current format, with the Guardian choosing what comments you see, is distressing to see in a once serious paper. To misquote CP Scott, in the new Graun format “Comment is free, but facts are scary.”

    • Fred Dagg

      The “free-speech” CiF moment in the Guardian was part of a wider move by the legacy print media to adapt to the economic hit that they were starting to take from the early days of Web2.0/social media, both in terms of raw circulation figures and the leaching of advertising revenues.

      The wider move was the attempt to valorise the new phenomenon of “citizen journalism”, whereby basically anyone and their pet wolverine with an Internet connection could now publish, in real-time, local events that the MSM could never (for both logistical and financial reasons) cover. The narrower BTL-commenting move was an attempt to valorise the readership’s intellect/interest via “clicks”.

      The latter was the first arena in which the true danger of free speech was realised by those in power. In the case of the Guardian, a shady little bunch of scrotes originally called CiFWatch (, then UK Media Watch, then BBC Watch and now CAMERA UK ( were already highly active by 2006 ( in defending the “honour” of Israel. Mentioning their activities was enough to get a comment removed – continuing to mention it enough to get an account deleted. Another nice touch (short of account deletion) with respect to articles on Israel was that hostile comments would be “disappeared” without the usual attribution (“This comment has been removed…”), thus giving the impression after comments had closed that the Guardian’s readership were completely in agreement with their ‘line’. This ‘Soviet Encyclopedia’ trick (an ironic affectation in light of their rabid anti-Russia mentality) now extends to all corners of the rag.

      By 2010, mass account deletions for “wrong speech/thought” were occurring even in the technology section (I only saw one reference to this in a comment below a Jack Schofield article – even he didn’t realise it had happened), and from around the time of Julian Assange’s visit to the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 it became increasingly difficult for contrary politico-ideological posts to survive BTL: significantly, for both political and psychological reasons, Chomsky’s famous definition of free speech (“Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”) became ‘un-postable’ around 2017. The immediate pre- and post-EU Referendum period saw the last major account deletion event, with many well-known figures disappearing forever.

      10 years after CiF abandoned any pretence of free speech, Silicon Valley realised what they had allowed via free speech on their platforms (the election of Donald Trump) and determined that they would never allow it to happen again. Proof of this was provided by the leak of an internal Google video to Breitbart in September 2018 (, followed by another leak in December 2018 ( which detailed how censorship would be legitimised and finessed in terms of “safety”. Finally, the psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein (,, and has been studying search engine algorithm manipulation for many years and has revealed the alarming way in which it has affected US election results.

      • Bramble

        I think the BTL comments were only ever allowed in order to reinforce the official media narrative. As in pre-internet days, when interest groups seeded crowds or letters to the editor etc with those present only to repeat and reinforce the desired propaganda line, so BTL comments exist to ensure that they are full of Establishment supporting posters, there to create the impression that “this is what everyone thinks”. And, sadly, far too many people are prepared to believe that “what everybody thinks” must be true, and anyway don’t want to be labelled a “Kremlin troll” or some other monstering label designed to shut down discussion. Supposed dissent-supporting media like the Guardian might have begun as safety valves relieving pressure and thwarting more direct expressions of discontent, but as time has passed they have become ever more openly censorious in their practices as they have shepherded their flocks ever more to the Right.

        • Fred Dagg

          “I think the BTL comments were only ever allowed in order to reinforce the official media narrative.”

          They are now, but initially they were introduced for clicks/revenue. However, as the Guardian discovered that the (then) readership had major problems with its ‘line’ on various subjects such as Israel, the balance “spondulix vs. ideological threat to the neo-con narrative” swung heavily against the former and the censors moved in to weed out the troublemakers.

          One of the amusing ironies of the rag today is that, since Boris Johnson’s elevation to PM, the Guardian has been fulminating non-stop about his corruption and incompetence without realising that they (and their liberal ilk) were directly responsible for that elevation in the first place. By doing everything possible to delay/prevent the implementation of the 2016 EU Referendum result, they ensured that the prevaricating May would be dumped and replaced by Johnson, and that in October 2019 he would benefit from a massive Labour-Conservative swing in northern England to “Get Brexit Done”!

    • Stuart Graham

      Couldn’t agree more. Well said. And just to add that Craig pointed out that it was the security services go to guy, Luke Harding, along with David Leigh who actually released the access code to the world.
      Not a scintilla of contrition from the Guardian.
      Fancy that!

    • DunGroanin

      I joined cif after the Brexit vote – used to lurk before that , mostly in the crossword site.

      Ironically I joined to defend ms Hyde because the editors put one of her comic articles on the front page and no one understood satire.
      Of course I later realised that Marina had a Jackal personality to go with her slinky posh Murdoch trained hoodlum position at the Graun.
      It was already compromised and all the little personal favs with their followers were already leading us down a further path of neoliberal Blairite certitudes. With added green agenda. To keep the two party pendulum in play and the Overton Window panning towards fascism.

      Then came the miracle of Corbyn.
      And like the Augean flood through the stables came the stench and foul rivers of angst and gnashing and wailing and BILE.

      Well it took me by surprise , I argued that JC wasn’t a racist , he was JC, For fucks sake ! I had previously been arguing that the whole Brexit vote and results arriving through the night seemed very strange compared to all the polls and exit votes. From which I was getting some gentle pushback because it seemed like sour grapes to allow me and others to do that.
      But between JC’s miracle, the failed chicken coups, the surprise spring by election to oust him ( which also failed ) the many hundreds of thousands who joined the Labour Party to defend him and the Youth awakening- the sneering , Rottweiler true faces of the fake socialists of the Guardian snarled at its readership.
      The moderation teams changed. They worked from a different building all of a sudden. Communications with them were curtailed. Once an email by one of them to me confirming there was no reason for my post to have been deleted and had been restored, around midnight , by the morning had somehow disappeared from my inbox! As had my restored post. The specific mod did not respond to me again. I was referred to contact the director responsible, but told there was no one in that role at that moment. Of course the tools as disclosed by Snowden were being deployed to a non military use being partially integrated at the Groans cif with the 77th and IoS , ii, Cabinet Office rabid response unit (originally out of Millbank, under Mandy and attack dog Campbell).

      The scales dropped from my eyes having been a Groaniad worshipper for 30 years and having to reassess the history and politics it sold ; its fluff personality journalism which subtly sold out socialism that it never believed in – was shocking. Discovering alternative voices such as this site and its great mentor were the silver lining to that gaslighting nightmare. I didn’t appeal my barring as no one would respond and my plans to make it a court case seemed ott. The Guardians failure on every front had become overwhelming, their failure to support the Leveson conclusions, having been instrumental in bringing it about, was fully apparent then. As was their betrayal of Assange. And probably Snowden.

      So I DunGroanin and started understanding and fighting back where I can.

      • JohnA

        Marina Hyde, daughter of some titled multibarrel name, specialises in condescendlingly pulling the wings of butterflies.

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          That may be so John, but her crack that any future biopic about Nowzad charity boss Pen Farthing’s life – which probably won’t feature him being evacuated from Kabul, alone apart from the crew, on a 230-seat airliner shortly after the Taliban had entered the city – should be called ‘The Animals Give Farthing Wood’ was absolutely top-drawer, even if the Remoaner hordes on Twitter essentially ignored it whilst being left in paroxysms by her referring to Boris as ‘Shagatha Christie’ in the same article. She’s also one of Fleet Street’s better sports writers. Anyway, apparently she had to change her name so that it would fit in a Sun by-line.

          Enjoy the weekend, people.

      • MrShigemitsu

        Dear Dungroanin,

        I fear your memory is playing tricks on you; the ‘miracle’ of JC occurred on 12 Sept 2015, predating the Brexit vote by more than 9 months.

        But as Nathan Coley’s awesome and admonishing 6m-high illuminated text-based artwork at the National Galleries of Scotland reminds us:

        “There Will Be No Miracles Here”!

        Best, Mr S.

  • Ultraviolet

    How do you know that no posters contradicted the official line? On issues from Syria to Labour antisemitism to Salisbury, I have repeatedly had purely factual comments that question the official narrative just disappear without trace.

    One effect of that is that I do not bother posting much now, and I have noticed that the same is true of most of those who refuse to just swallow the official line.

    • Tom Welsh

      I don’t think I have ever opened The Grauniad (or read it since it went online). Back in the 1960s we occasionally used to quote some of its more absurd statements, chortling with helpless laughter.

      In recent years I have occasionally held a copy of The Times in my hands, as Waitrose gave them away if you bought enough groceries. I enjoyed the crosswords, Sudoku, and chess column; and found it mildly amusing to scan the pages seeing what ridiculous nonsense they were printing. But the Waitrose offer has ended, and I am certainly not going to pay for that tripe.

      I would as soon eat Marmite as read or watch any of the MSM. (And the last time I was forced to eat a Marmite sandwich, in 1958 I think it was, I threw up violently).

      • Ultraviolet

        I still visit the Beeb and the Graun, but after decades when I was a staunch defender of both, I now don’t much care if either of them live or die. For me, they are a starting point as to what is going on, but I automatically assume that some key facts will be the exact opposite of what they say, and others will have been omitted entirely. That is where I turn to my alternative sources, to find out what I am not being told.

        And I am with you on the Marmite!

    • conjunction

      I agree. I read Oborne’s piece and quite a few of the comments. I noticed like Craig a number of posts trotting out the usual line but I also saw one or two contradicting this line and although I can’t remember now exactly what they said they pointed out Assange was careful in this respect. Perhaps these posts were removed.

    • conjunction

      In fact looking at the comments on Oborne’s piece now there are three comments in the first couple of dozen which deny that Assange put anyone at risk.

  • geoff chambers

    Luke Harding, one of the Guardian journalists you mention as being responsible for outing the unredacted material, has been behaving very oddly lately. He was in the Yavirov military base in Ukraine in March the night it was attacked by Russian cruise missiles. He sent in a short report to the Guardian, including a photo he took of an explosion, and an eyewitness account by someone else, then the same day tweeted that he was coming home for a well earned rest. There were conflicting stories about what happened that night, with rumours of hundreds of deaths, including of British subjects, but Luke had nothing to say about what he experienced, at least in public. Perhaps he has a higher duty than that of a journalist.

    He was back in Ukraine later, in a video report showing off his knowledge of Ukrainian. He had a report of Russian atrocities from someone he described as a friend of a friend who’d heard it from a neighbour. He was better in Salisbury.

    • Tom Welsh

      “He was in the Yavirov military base in Ukraine in March the night it was attacked by Russian cruise missiles”.

      Or maybe, somewhat more likely, he was in a luxury hotel in L’vov or Kiev. Who would know the difference?

      If he had been in the base, he would no longer be alive.

      Incidentally, the Russians were making many different points with such attacks. One was that anyone who plans or helps to attack Russia will be fair game for destruction without warning. Presumably that applies to Warsaw, Berlin, Brussels, London, and Washington.

    • Sam

      Luke Harding lies about literally everything, including being “kicked out” of Russia. He literally just let his visa expire and refused to apply for a new one. If you want a laugh, read his ridiculous reports about the KGB (FSB) sneaking into his apartment to open his window a few inches and other similar “adventures”.

        • Goose

          He also claimed he watched as his words were deleted as he typed up his Snowden book, explaining, “the paragraph began to self-delete” – perfectly possible for an attacker using a web shell and the necessary privilege escalation. But why would they attack their own?
          Rule 101 when handling sensitive documents would be a fully air-gapped device with no internet connection (neither lan ethernet or Wi-Fi). The Snowden leaks revealed the NSA and presumably GCHQ et al are paranoid to the point of going to the trouble of preventing all EMI/RFI/EMC leakage via copper mesh in the walls and isolated power generation to shield interior devices.

          • Olly Perry

            The deletions thing can also happen sometimes as a result of the actual word programme being used – it’s a glitch I think or maybe some automatic thing and he pressed the wrong key. Makes it more dramatic and James Bond-y though to say he ‘watched as the words were deleted’ cue James Bond theme music…

          • Oliver Williams

            A very simple explanation for what happened is that the delete key got stuck.
            If your keyboard is a bit sticky, keys can stick down and it looks like multiple key strokes.
            A coffee spill obviously organised by the security services is the real culrit.

          • Bayard

            “A very simple explanation for what happened is that the delete key got stuck.”


    • mark cutts

      My view of Harding and his merry band is that if they say they were in XY and Z country they weren’t there.

      The reporting of the Russia Ukraine war seems to consist of: everything the Ukranian government tells us is true and everything the Russians say is a lie.

      Of course if we were allowed to watch RT we might be able to see if Putin is mad or not.

      The accusation is that we are not allowed to watch RT because it allows Putin to control the narrative.

      The British and other governments are controlling the narrative because we don’t know what Russia’s alleged propoganda is.

      Of course the West doesn’t do propaganda does it?.

      • Jimmeh

        > The reporting of the Russia Ukraine war seems to consist of: everything the Ukranian government tells us is true and everything the Russians say is a lie.

        Most MSM reporting is re-hashed press-releases, whatever the subject. Ukraine reporting is Ukrainian government communiques, and occasionally the output of the dreadful Lavrov. Most on-the-ground reporting used to be “This is what the war is like from the roof of a big hotel in Lviv”, but I think they’ve finally picked up that we realise that’s fake, and that it amounts to al-fresco studio editorialising, so they’ve started sending reporters to towns nearer the frontline.

        FWIW, this is an information war; everything anyone tells you is a lie. Of course, people are being killed, and tanks and houses are being blown up; but in the end, the war will be won or lost on the field of information.

      • Rosemary MacKenzie

        Mark, Can’t you get into RT’s website? Don’t know where you live. I live in Canada and can access RT, Sputnik, TASS etc no problem.
        I don’t do TV and the Canadian media are totally untrustworthy. Haven’t bothered with the BBC for years and recently cancelled my subscription to Guardian. There are lots of other much more objective sources of information.

  • M Le Docteur Ralph

    The comment section on the Guardian has long since been taken over by the 77th Brigade and the Integrity Initiative or their Five Eyes equivalent (Each of US, CAN, UK, AUS & NZ doing legally in the other countries what their domestic agencies are prohibited from doing or politically cannot be seen to have done, but all coordinated perhaps from Langley).

    Most articles in the Guardian are not open for comments, when articles are open the comments section is open for an amazingly short period of time and all comments like the sheep in Animal Farm bleat the same message.

    As for Wikipedia Philip Cross and his ilk are still the go to editors.

    In the collective “West” it is the fig leaf of law that rules. The Manafort/Assange story was undoubtedly posted as the basis for a FISA warrant application and the key thing to remember about FISA warrants is the two hop rule – to listen to all your conversations I just need a warrant for someone who calls someone who calls you. I get a warrant on your Mum’s bridge partner, she calls your Mum, your Mum calls you and I get to listen to all your conversations.

    • Jimmy Byrne

      The “Tintenfische” account featured as a “Guardian Pick” is remarkably prolific and enduring, appearing in different forums and a Twitter account, and featured in the Guardian “Comment Is Free” section daily since at least 2013 when I first joined the smartphone revolution.

      It still features prominently despite comments now only being open for a short window after online publication of articles – never misses an opportunity.

      And has always been a relentlessly mendacious reluctant liberal who is guaranteed to regretfully praise government actions or centrist opposition as the least bad route to be taken.

      Engaging with it resulted in the usual misdirection or misrepresentation of what I had posted, or tangential arguments, and of course a determined repeating of untruths despite objective first hand evidence being linked to.

      I ever them justifying coalition torture of Iraqis by saying “Yes we were bad” but there was no other option

      Of course these publishers continue to saw off their own readership and will inevitably collapse.

      Almost nobody under 40 reads a national newspaper or accesses the BBC expecting to learn about news anymore – they only pay attention to their output when they want to laugh at them

      • Laguerre

        I don’t quite see why you complain so much about “Tintenfische”. I’ve read his comments on and off for years, and I’m certain it’s a real person. centrist, not very radical, but not a rightwinger. If he’s on every thread, it’s because he’s retired and has nothing else to do, or nothing else he can do (physically). That situation is very common for the elderly these days. The increasing control over the comment threads ruins one of the few activities they can still do.
        Myself I got banned from commenting on the Guardian for making polite anti-Israel comments, and I never thought it was worth setting up a new identity.

      • Jimmeh

        > Of course these publishers continue to saw off their own readership and will inevitably collapse.

        My suspicion is that The Graun is actually concentrating on expanding their US and Australian readership; K. Viner used to edit Aus content, and worked in the US. There’s more and more articles about Australian politics, written for Australians (e.g. mentioning politicians and places that nobody in the UK has heard of).

        • Jams O'Donnell

          Discussion of the Guardian and BBC should be labelled as ‘Trash Talking’ and given a health warning. These ‘organisations’ are fully fledged establishment propaganda sites – much more so than obvious ones like the Daily Mail, which are merely comics.

    • DunGroanin

      Indeed it’s not 5 Eyes it’s 5+1 Eyes. Or 5+I Eyes , or as I refer to it the 5+1 Eyed Gollum.

      The various Snowden docs make it clear that there are times when it is just a 1+1, Eyes because the other 4 eyes might be upset over being themselves targeted by these two, of which only one I is able to see it ALL.

      The World Government Forum may be at their last grand shindig – because the I Eye is seemingly set to achieve the martyrdom it has been seeking for the last 50 years – the MaxResistance Meets MaxPressure head on – any doubts what the outcome will be?

  • Tom Welsh

    If mr Assange “put lives at risk”, surely we would have heard by now – in rich detail – of the people who died as a result. Yet nothing. Silence. Crickets.

    At the risk of blasphemy, I cannot help thinking of the people who cried, “Give us rather Barabbas”. They preferred to acquit a robber and murderer rather than Jesus, who had gently gone his way preaching love and forgiveness.

    Kant was right when he wrote that, “Out of the crooked timber of humanity was never any straight thing made”.

  • MrShigemitsu

    Between the employees and interns at the social media departments of all the usual Tufton St so-called “think-tanks”, political parties, government ministries, lobby groups, II and 77th brigades, and corporations, I doubt very much whether there is more than a handful of genuine commentators below any politically or economically meaningful story at the Graun any more.

    Commenters with anything interesting to say have been absent for years.

    It’s starting to feel like that around here too, by the way… lots more persistently pro-establishment comments, no doubt from the sources I mention above, and fewer dissenters.

    • Tom Welsh

      “It’s starting to feel like that around here too, by the way… lots more persistently pro-establishment comments, no doubt from the sources I mention above, and fewer dissenters”.

      I have seen a few similar remarks on Andrei Martyanov’s blog recently, and The Saker’s. My reply is the same: the professional trolls naturally gravitate (or are directed) to the most successful and enlightening blogs. The clearer and fresher the spring, the more urgently they feel the need to muddy and foul it.

    • Lapsed Agnostic

      For what it’s worth, I would say that there are very few, if any, paid trolls / influencers on these comments threads, Mr S. Why do I say that? Well a few months ago, our excellent host’s Twitter feed suffered one of its periodic influxes of replies from recently-opened accounts such as this one (most of the rest seem to have subsequently been deleted):

      As no doubt befits the people that created them, they weren’t exactly what you might term sophisticated. If you remember, at the time, the security services were trying to create the impression that Putin was about to invade Ukraine (which he handily obliged them by doing exactly that), whereas our host was saying that he wouldn’t. When Russia did invade, our host condemned the invasion, and the troll replies mysteriously stopped – their creators probably having moved on to post Big Brother “I-am-the-cat” gifs on Galloway’s feed.

      Of course, I’m sure that 77th etc regularly monitor these comments threads – and are particularly on the look-out for any Skripal-based material – but in terms of them trying to influence opinion, the sad truth is that, as well as largely being incorrigibly set in our ways, down here we’re just not that important. Anyway, that notwithstanding, I, for one, welcome the fact that, unlike plenty of other online fora, at least we’re not an echo chamber.

      • Bayard

        “For what it’s worth, I would say that there are very few, if any, paid trolls / influencers on these comments threads, Mr S.”

        Perhaps it’s a case of “You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          Thanks for your reply Bayard. Credit where it’s due: that epigram was by Humbert Wolfe, in case anyone doesn’t know. Having been a pot-boiling science oik, rather than a person of letters, I first came across it in Mr Morrissey’s autobiography apropos one of his many spats with the NME, I think. There’s a reasonable amount of truth in it – case in point: JK Rowling’s colourful ‘national treasure’ yoon chum, Brian Spanner*.

          * Though he’s toned it down a lot in recent years – probably due to getting wind of some aggrieved cybernats trying to pinpoint exactly where he lived after he foolishly posted a screenshot of the ID for his local wi-fi network whilst describing how he’d made his unsuspecting next-door neighbour’s unsecured wireless printer print out ‘weird shit’ (i.e. filth, most likely) – some of the shit he used to come out with would have made a drunken hun-supporting submariner on his first night of six-month shore leave in pre-AIDS Hamburg blush.

  • Sam

    “Modern society is not really much more rational than the Middle Ages.”

    After a perfectly excellent article, you had to go and slander the Middle Ages with unsubstantiated reports of its “irrationality.” Sigh…

    First of all, it was the Middle Ages which produced all of the highest-esteemed universities such as Cambridge and Oxford. The Middle Ages also saw lengthy debates on the ethics of slavery (Valladolid, et al) and morality that most definitely relied on logic. The Middle Ages were when nearly all mathematical principles were codified and enormous cathedrals using advanced engineering were built, and the mechanical clock was invented as well as navigational instruments like the astrolabe.

    In modern parlance, the Middle Ages practiced sustainable agriculture (crop rotation, etc) as well as sustainable forms of “green” energy (windmills). Even sexuality and childbirth were discussed and analyzed in a more rational manner than, say, the Victorians. And it was Middle Ages rationality which cut through the BS on issues such as Prester John and the Donation of Constantine.

    Please stick to what you’re good at – Scottish independence, Assange, Western Africa, maritime law, and the abuses of Empire. Please leave the Middle Ages to people who actually know what they’re talking about.

    • Tom Welsh

      Very true, and far too often overlooked or not understood. Pity that history is no longer taught in any recognisable form…

      I feel the same about the Victorian era, and treasure some of Tony Blair’s populist remarks about how backward the Victorians were. Apart from engineering the water and sewerage works which underpinned a huge improvement in public health (not the vastly overrated inoculations and antibiotics) – and on which we rely today, as apparently any major improvements are now unaffordable – the Victorian era saw the greatest flowering of science, engineering, and medicine in history. Notably, Charles Babbage was at Cambridge 40 years before James Clerk Maxwell; had they got together with Michael Faraday, it’s conceivable they might have come up with a “cyberpunk” electric computer a century before Turing and others actually did.

      Contempt for the people of the past seems to me akin to contempt for foreigners alive today – which we excoriate as “racism”. Perhaps we need a concept of “timeism”, although considering how little attitudes to racism help to prevent our glorious readers from their various genocides, it might not make much difference.

      • glenn_nl

        TW: “… vastly overrated inoculations and antibiotics…”

        Tom, with all due respect you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, when it comes to vaccines and antibiotics.

        Take a read of something like this, clue yourself up a bit, before continuing to make yourself sound foolish:

        “Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide”

        [ Mod: Off topic. Kindly pursue any arguments about the merits or demerits of vaccination in the discussion forum.

        Follow-ups posted here in the comments section will be deleted. ]

      • Bayard

        “Notably, Charles Babbage was at Cambridge 40 years before James Clerk Maxwell; had they got together with Michael Faraday, it’s conceivable they might have come up with a “cyberpunk” electric computer a century before Turing and others actually did.”

        It’s perfectly possible to build a computer using only mid-C19th technology. I’ve seen one that works. The technology that Tommy Flowers used to build the first electronic computer wasn’t exactly cutting edge, either. It could have been done decades before.

      • MrShigemitsu

        Whenever people diss the Victorian era, I tend to refer them instead to the C18th; a time when the tiny wealthy minority really did own literally everything in sight and the rest of us were lucky if we had a shirt on our backs let alone a pair of shoes.

        This current monstrosity of a UKIP government and its billionaire supporters would like to see us go back to those days; they believe it’s the natural order of things.

        In contrast to today’s backwards turn, at least the Victorian era’s trajectory was one of reform and improvement, painfully incremental though it was.

        Nowadays, we are marching steadfastly on a road to nowhere.

  • fonso

    We live in an age where the received wisdom of liberal-centrist elites is more respectable than the actual truth. Perhaps we always did.

  • tPaine

    The Guardian has long since ceased to be useful for anything but cleaning paint brushes. I see it also subscribes to the US scam that Russia is creating global famine by blockading Ukrainian ports, knowing I’m sure that the IMO has confirmed the ports are unsafe due to Ukrainian mining etc., and that Ukraine (not Russia) has declared them MARSEC III (i.e. closed). As to its recent history of anti-socialist smearing, little needs to be added. But its treatment of Assange has throughout been shocking. How much of this is due to ownership and editorial changes is a matter of speculation.

    • Jimmeh

      > How much of this is due to ownership and editorial changes is a matter of speculation.

      Ownership changes? Isn’t it still owned by the Scott Foundation?

      The smell became a lot worse when Viner took over editorship, after Rusbridger stepped down. Rusbridger quit VERY soon after the incident with the laptop and the angle-grinders, in the Graun basement. Supposedly Viner was elected by the staff; I suppose that most be mostly true. But I reckon Rusbridger could say a lot about that period that he hasn’t said yet.

      • MrShigemitsu

        It’s now owned by the Scott Trust *Ltd*. A subtle sounding, but in practice, significant difference.

        Go and check the composition of the board of directors, their backgrounds, and occupations. [ Wikispooks ]

        I haven’t bothered for years because I have given up on the Graun, but last time I looked it was almost entirely composed of corporate city finance people, with only one, possibly two journalists. One of whose members up until quite recently served on the govt’s D-notice committee.

        It has become very clear in whose interest the paper now acts.

        I say paper; it’s more a hybrid screen-salad of intelligence services propaganda, ephemeral lifestyle trash, wokery, handwringing, adverts, and unending solicitations for cash.

        Useful to see if there’s been an earthquake somewhere, or to see if one team of footballers has defeated another, but anyone who expects any actual journalism will be sorely disappointed.

        • Jimmeh

          > anyone who expects any actual journalism will be sorely disappointed

          All the lifestyle crap, advertorial for holidays, restaurants, tech gadgets and so on suits me fine; I don’t read any of that, so I can now read everything interesting in Guardian Online in about 10 minutes flat.

          Larry Elliot’s good, when he chooses an interesting subject. A few others are OK – Sonya Sodha is OK.

          It’s true – the good reporters were squeezed out. So why do I bother to read it? It has reasonably fresh daily headlines, and it’s not as awful as all the others. If I want in-depth analysis, I go somewhere else, like Declassified.

  • Jiusito

    I suspect that much of this supposed comment from the public is in fact deliberate obfuscation by people paid to do it. Yesterday on the Jeremy Vine Show George Monbiot gave a typically detailed account of the argument of his new book. The public “debate” that followed was totally unedifying, because so many callers entirely misrepresented what he had said that it was just a parade of outrageous straw men. I suspect that this is now a tried-and-tested tactic.

  • Stuart Graham

    The Guardian likes to style itself as a ‘left of centre’ newspaper. Ever since the Snowden revelations it has been in bed with our security services and Luke Harding is their conduit of choice. It is pro Establishment through and through. It is alleged to use offshore banking to seriously reduce the amount of tax it pays.

    It was very anti-Corbyn after the surprise result in 2017. A tiny proportion of the thousands and thousands of words printed were positive. The overwhelming majority were excoriating and mis-informed. A handful were neutral and a much smaller number were pro Corbyn.

    Many of the smearers now bewail the iniquities of the Johnson cabal.

    • Ultraviolet

      I am getting sickened beyond measure by the number of times any criticism of the dismal Starmer is met by “Well, you’re supporting the Tories then.”

      My usual response to that is along the lines that the poster’s right to use that argument died in 2019. I got it in the neck like that again today for suggesting that if Sunak could introduce the windfall tax as he has – on the face of it a larger tax than Labour was proposing, although I am sure there is some smoke and mirrors going on there – it demonstrates how woefully inadequate and timid Starmer’s demands have been. Any narrative other than that this is a victory for Starmer is not to be tolerated.

      • Jimmeh

        Starmer is a Blairite; the Graun has been pushing Blair since forever.

        Starmer’s response to BoJo’s response to the Sue Gray report was REALLY thin gruel. I expected him to at least try to draw blood. That might be deliberate strategy, though; as a party with no policies and no ideology, their best chance to beat the Tories is to keep BoJo in place.

      • MrShigemitsu

        With respect, UV, what do you expect the interns running their multi-avatar dashboards in the Social Media departments at Progress, the Labour Party, the Tony Blair Foundation (or whatever it’s called) and all the other centrist Lobby groups and so-called think-tanks (not forgetting their right-wing and corporate equivalents) actually do all day?

        Clue: they’re probably not staring out of the windows!

        On issues like that, I suspect that, BTL, genuine, individual, human beings, with their own freely-held opinions, are very much in the minority.

  • Goose

    Assange is a victim to the Trump derangement syndrome that still bedevils liberals. Some Hillary supporters literally went insane over the fact that man became President, they simply couldn’t process it. Embarrassment, rage, fury … and that was just the liberal media pundits, some of whom were literally crying on-air.

    Then the clutching a straws began and the Podesta emails and Wikileaks/Assange took on new significance, getting swept up in the whole “Russia stole the election’ comfort food being pushed by the furious liberal media. Better to blame some malevolent outside actor, credited with almost supernatural powers of persuasion – with Putin playing the role of ‘evil genius’ – than accept your fellow countrymen and women elected an ignorant bozo like Trump.

    Gawd knows who’ll they’ll blame if he gets in again in 2024. Maybe it’s China’s turn next? Prepare for how Xi Jinping stole the election?

  • Gregory Nunn

    A very keen and perceptive analysis of media manipulation the world over.
    The media chooses what to present and what to withhold and makes no bones about it.
    They steer the “sheeple” and the results are exactly as you say, the likes of Boris, Trump, Clintons, etc, etc.
    Confront any senior editor in any such organisation and the typical reply will go something like “Why should we report on anything in a positive way in which we disagree with?”
    They have no concern for facts or truth presented honestly.
    Neither do the sheeple.

  • Goose

    To think that comment is a ‘guardian pick’ is particularly egregious. An insight into the type of moderators employed and the ‘moderation policies’ going on there under that loyal servant of the status quo, Kath Viner.

    Some of its longstanding columnists clearly have a form of ‘Boris derangement syndrome’ – though don’t call it ‘BDS’ unless you want your comment deleted in seconds for BDS’s association with the state that cannot be mentioned. That previous doyen of the left. Polly Toynbee, was arguing in her recent column that Johnson should be replaced by ‘normal’ Tories’ like Jeremy Hunt or Tom Tugendhat – two creatures more of the Deep State are hard to think of.

    The fact ‘liberals’ have become the new authoritarians and besties of the neocons, is a theme Glenn Greenwald frequently highlights; as a result many liberals claim he’s defected to the right, but it’s his liberal critics who’ve moved to the reactionary /censorial right. Glenn’s views have remained consistent over the years. Liberals are now the biggest supporters of unaccountable online political censorship and of the idea ‘those in power’ should get to mark their own homework, free of pesky things like transparency or any form explanation justifying their overreach.

    Feigning perceived offence for political advantage is another ominous development, and along with that has come a belief that minor infractions should carry disproportionate punishments – a one line tweet can literally be career ending. It’s pure reactionaryism, and it risks undermining free speech and with it western society, more so than any foreign foe could ever hope to achieve.

    • Lapsed Agnostic

      It’s interesting that Toynbee is arguing that Boris should be replaced by someone like Tom Tugendhat, Goose, since he’s never held even the lowliest ministerial position and is notable only for chairing the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and nearly breaking down in tears during a speech in the Commons. From reading, it seems that his geopolitical outlook can be summed up thus: Interfere in the Middle East as much as humanly possible – largely on behalf of Saudi Arabia – except in the Israeli-Palestinian situation because that “doesn’t matter”. I’d imagine his approach to domestic politics is probably something like this: “Haven’t thought too much about that, to be honest. Can we bring back National Service? Can we do that?”

      I was astonished recently to see him as fourth-favourite(!) to be the next PM on Betfair, considering that most people on there these days tend to know what they’re doing. However, I subsequently read this on his Wiki page: ‘Tugendhat was a participant at the 30 May–2 June 2019 Bilderberg Meeting in Montreux, Switzerland.’ Now the biting makes sense. Anyway, if we absolutely must go down a North Korean-style ‘military-first’ avenue as a country, can it not be fronted by a (lieutenant) colonel who at least *looks* vaguely amicable like Tobias Ellwood?

      • zoot

        hmm, tobias just happens to be a lieutenant colonel in the army’s online psyop unit, 77th brigade.
        fancy that!

        • Goose

          Tobias Ellwood has called for a no-fly zone over Ukraine and accused hawkish Defence Sec, Ben Wallace of being ‘defeatist’ in thus far ruling one out. Were he to become leader, gawd knows what sort of crazy situation he’d bring about.

          Have you ever tried to comment at the Independent online?

          There seems to be a whole team of overzealous MoD brownshirt-esque ‘narrative’ vigilantes patrolling comments, pouncing on anything that vaguely resembles a dissenting opinion from that the govt is pushing on Ukraine.
          It’s really quite oppressive, and they quickly resort to vicious ad hominems; one even boasted they have access to citizens’ personal information(?) Maybe the MoD has spent too long in the ME helping KSA and they are adopting their culture and practices around dissent?

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            When it comes to Ukraine, Goose, I’d imagine that Lt Col. Tugendtwat would be as bad, if not worse, than Lt Col. Ellwood, and according to the folks on Betfair, is over six times more likely to become the next PM. Anyway, reading my comment again, I’ve just realised that I’ve been a bit unfair to North Korea because, while they do have a ‘military-first’ policy, so far they seem to have restricted their overseas militarism merely to VX-ing one or two wayward scions of their ruling family.

            Sorry to hear about your travails on the Indie site. Even if their comment sections weren’t being moderated to ****, I personally would still have no desire to produce potentially monetizable content for our legacy media brands – especially not for free. I wouldn’t worry too much about someone claiming to be able to get personal information about you, as I’d guess that people who do have access to swathes of UK citizens’ personal data don’t boast about it, except when trying to flog it on the dark web.

          • Bruce_H

            What you say about the Independent forums is quite true, any “other” opinion means you are a Russian troll and the “arguments” are either out of date snippets from the official version or simple insults, or very often simple “flagging” which results in the post being deleted… sometimes a thread contains several deleted comments one after the other which makes following the gist rather challenging. It’s a pity as these are about the only forums open to all. The Guardian doesn’t seem to have forums anymore.

          • MrShigemitsu


            It’s clear that the owner of the Independent is desperate to prove to the establishment that he is on the side of the “angels” re: Ukraine, given his background – and is bending over backwards editorially in that regard.

            Besides which, if you think the Guardian is unreadable, well…

      • Alyson

        Indeed Tom is one to watch, mostly because of his parents’ achievements and connections. His mother is impressive, his pedigree is impeccable, and his education enviable. But he is young, and strong, powerful influencers are difficult to evaluate from too close contact

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          Thanks for your reply Alyson. With a retired High Court judge for a father, an uncle in the House of Lords, an impressive mother (you say*) and a father-in-law who is the boss of the OSCE – whose work in eastern Ukraine has been discussed on recent comments threads – TT undoubtedly has the family connections. But who was the last Tory leader to get the top job based on pedigree and connections? Alec Douglas-Home? If de nos jours these things were all down to connections, Rory Stewart would probably be the current PM. He’s someone else who’s often more concerned with events in Afghanistan and the Middle East than what’s going on back in Blighty but, compared to TT, I’d say he is/was a well-rounded politician.

          * I know very little about her, but I’m sure her French paysan-style cooking is absolutely to die for.

    • Ultraviolet

      On the subject of BDS, I found this article rather interesting:

      I thought doing something like that was grounds for expulsion for anti-semitism.

      As for your variant of BDS, I am as anti-Tory as they come, but I am getting fed up with the reflexive attack on anything just because it comes from that side. Rachel McLean made an uncontroversial comment that in the long term, the Government was seeking to create higher paid jobs, and to enable people to work additional hours if they want to. I fundamentally disagree with the Tories’ approach to the economy, and doubt they will actually achieve that, but as a stated goal, that does not sound outrageous to me.

      To take another example in an area I know about: legal aid. The Tories are proposing a substantial overhaul of the means test that will mean millions more people qualify for legal aid. It is an unequivocally good thing. So I struggle to see these people as uniquely and irredeemably evil. Weak, yes. Misguided, by my standards undoubtedly. But by no means all of them are soulless evil Zombies, apart from Priti Patel.

      • Bayard

        Along with fundamental Dualism (if you are not with us you’re against us), the other great effort-saving device is the idea that both sides are monolithic, either entirely good or entirely evil.

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      “The fact ‘liberals’ have become the new authoritarians and besties of the neocons, “

      The overton window has been narrowed to only include different ways of supporting neo-liberalism. One end of this range has been labeled ‘liberal’ and the other ‘conservative’. This is nothing to do with what those words used to mean.

  • Carl

    The Guardian is now a trusted and much valued prop of the British establishment. The rightwing press could have killed its reputation stone dead if they had highlighted the fake Manafort-Assange story. Starmer’s reputation too if they chose to highlight his puppeting by Epstein’s buddy Mandelson or his abandonment of all his leadership pledges.

    Instead the Tories and their media have allowed the Guardian to retain its credibility and exploded in outrage when Johnson dared mention Starmer’s protection of Jimmy Savile.

    The country is sewn up tight again.

    • Ultraviolet

      Bearing in mind Starmer’s bitter protests that he had no role in deciding not to prosecute Savile, it was quite surprising to see him a couple of weeks ago boasting that “l prosecuted Chris Huhne”. He might want to get his story straight as to what his role was in relation to such decisions.

      I’m also rather tired of him getting away with his ever changing story about the event in Durham. 6 people, then 15, then 20. Rayner was not there, then she was. It was pre-arranged, no, we just took a break and ordered in a takeaway. The only other thing on the itinerary was to go back to the hotel, no, sorry, we continued working afterwards. He’s no more truthful than Johnson – in fact, I think he is worse, because Johnson just has no concept of truth and lies, whereas Starmer knows full well he is lying.

      • Carl

        Agree completely. It would be hilarious if he ends up the one who is disappeared by partygate after all his sanctimonious high horsing.

        • andyoldlabour

          Carl, irrespective of which party they belong to, I hope they all get done for their hypocritical behaviour, doing what they wanted to do whilst handing out £10K fines to members of the public doing exactly the same.

      • Giyane


        That makes sense, if Starmer used Chis Huhne, a mild left winger, as target practice for mild left winger Corbyn. Then claiming he targets mild left wingers who are immensely popular with voters in order to take the Labour Party to victory, while turning it into a kamikaze suicide mission.

        Are these saboteurs given military shoulder stripes for sabotaging honest politicians, like the two gold stripes on Sturgeon’s shoulder pads for downing Murray and Salmond?

        • Greg Park

          Never knew Chris Huhn was a fellow traveller of Corbyn. Obviously he was under very deep cover when contributing to the Orange Book and serving as a minister in the austerity regime of Cameron and Osborne.

          • Giyane

            Greg Park

            Sorry, I had forgotten his hitch hike with Cameron. Under the vastly improved Boris code he could have stayed in office.

  • SleepingDog

    Give the USAmerican authorities’ routine shrugging off of war crimes, I wonder sometimes at further motivations for trying to terrorise whistleblowers and journalists. I have just read the chapter on the US naval inadvertent bombardment of Honolulu during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in Simon Webb’s Secret Casualties of World War Two: Uncovering the Civilian Deaths from Friendly Fire. Aside from this central focus, the book also mentions a few military friendly-fire incidents to put the records in their perspective. I can imagine at least three motives more pressing than revelations of war crimes for the USAmerican military-political-industrial establishment. One is the potentially high rate of friendly fire casualties inflicted by US Military on US Military: this may have a deterrent effect on recruitment. Another would be the frequency of friendly fire casualties inflicted on US allies: this may weaken such alliances (not so long ago NATO seemed struggling). And thirdly, the performance problems of commercial military hardware (and software): this would negatively impact arms companies’ stock prices and potentially open up litigation avenues for damaged military personnel to sue. Maybe being held responsible for war crimes is also a worry, I just cannot tell.

    • Bayard

      My father told me that, during WWII, it was a joke that, when a British plane flew over, the Germans would take cover, when a German plane flew over, the British would take cover and when a US plane flew over, everyone would take cover.

      • SleepingDog

        Indeed, my grandfather told me that Canadians would sometimes fire back in frustration at USAmerican planes that frequently bombed them.

      • JohnA

        Many years ago I hitched a ride with a lorry driver and we got talking. He said he had been in the Korean War and at one point a US plane started firing at them, even though it seemed obvious they were british forces. What did you do then, I asked, he replied, we shot the plane down.

      • SleepingDog

        @andyoldlabour, I had heard about Nijmegen, not the other one. Webb says the USAF used France as target practice for five months before moving on to the more heavily-defended Germany. Much larger scale than what Germans were accused of at Guernica. There’s lots of horrific Allied bombing there: Caen, Saint-Nazaire (submarine pens only thing unscathed, apparently), Villers-Bocage and surrounding villages, Paris outskirts, Royan (USAmerican historian Howard Zinn took part in its napalm-bombing) and so on.
        Some people think the USAF bombed neutral Switzerland so frequently that at least some of it must have been on purpose.

        Daniel Ellsberg in Confessions of a Doomsday Planner conveys just how callous USAmerican war planners were about mass-murdering many millions of people round the globe to maintain US hegemony, including their allies, neutrals, and people in nations that were not their current enemies in a conflict but their weapons of mass destruction targeted by default (so China would be nuked in a war against the Soviet Union, even if it had not offended in any way, just because the USA deathbringers could not be bothered to come up with separate firing plans).

        Does anyone think that the first run of nuclear armageddon is going to go to plan, anyway? Does anyone think they will be safe from NATO ‘spillage’ by scuttling under its aegis?

        Of course, some of these callous attitudes may have emerged during the leaks of the diplomatic cables.

      • Bramble

        The only bombs dropped on Oslo in WW2 were British. They succeeded in killing or injuring over 80 civilians. I suppose now they would claim that Putin had personally hijacked all four planes and flew them himself four a-hand, deliberately targeting civilians. And be believed by the ever credulous and oh-so-patriotic English.

  • Nick

    “none of the readers seems to have any information to contradict them.”

    Craig, I’m sure that several readers of those comments posted references to facts contradicting them. That they do not appear on the website simply means that Guardian “moderators” deleted those replies.

    • Goose

      Or it could be that they’ve simply given up posting there altogether?

      By the looks of things, the only people commenting there now are the Blairite ‘Starmer Stans’ & Lib Dem remainer centrists. And that’s probably exactly how they wanted it.

      Also worth noting is the fact that before they decided to make their print circulation figures private in late 2021, the last available ABC numbers showed 53,902 newsstand sales per day, this compares to 248,775 per day ten years earlier under then editor-in-chief Rusbridger. Clearly someone at The Scott Trust Limited is happy with Viner’s direction, even if their former readers aren’t.

      • Laguerre

        People read online these days, rather than buy paper at the newsstand. You need to quote the online subscription figures, which are probably the reverse of the paper decline.

        • Goose


          Even when combined they’re still far lower.

          From the report quote:

          ‘In July [2021], the last available, The Guardian sold an average of 105,134 copies each day – comprising 53,902 newsstand sales and 51,232 subscriptions. This compares to 248,775 per day ten years earlier’

          And can see no reason to assume the online version had less readers back in 2011, when the print version was doing far better. Using any metrics the guardian’s story is one of decline under Viner.

      • Greg Park

        The Guardian’s deterioration has been dramatic since it became the propaganda wing of the MoD about a decade ago. (See article linked to by Mist001 below for full details). It is impossible to imagine today the Guardian commissioning a long article exposing the sinister and highly influential British American Project as it did back in 2004.

        Today any mention of this CIA-funded Neo-Con network – which effectively controls UK politics and media – would be smeared by the Guardian and its remaining readers as Kremlin or Beijing disinformation.

  • amanfromMars

    The attendant risks and abiding dangers that surround to smother and expose lies are not something which can ever be avoided without an admission of guilt and earnest realisation that fundamental change is required for the chance to deserve redemption and absolution

    amanfromMars 1 Thu 26 May 05:42 [2205260542] …. has a ponder on

    On the COIN* Flip Side are the Views not Distorted Virtual Realities. Que Sera, Sera v2.0

    If you imagine that it is systems which driver/run and present everything for anybody, and in that context I do mean everything, it is not secret information hidden and traded behind myriad levels of obscuring encryption that one and they, the systems, need to fear and/or be really concerned about, for such only delivers advanced sensitive disruptive knowledge to increasingly smaller pools of relatively anonymous reagents trapped in silent chaotic worlds afraid of emergent free secrets and of ancient captivated secrets escaping/leaking, it is both the arrival and rapidly expanding number of targeted and random appearances of novel and noble enlightening tales which are not maliciously formed disinformation for fake news peddlers to trail and champion which be responsible and accountable for greater than was ever before thought possible change.

    And whenever that intelligence leak becomes increasingly more widely known as a certified absolute truth in the general public populations of a globalised universal audience, will the withholding of secrets be recognised as the action of a practically catastrophically vulnerable to the sharing of truth enemy with a desperate continual need to spin tissues of lies fabricating an impossible defence against an already long ago well established and stable almightily overwhelming existential threat/treat.

    Such does not end at all well for them. Many, and all most worthy of the fate, are destined to no longer prosper nor survive the just ravages of sweet flash and/or fast cash crashing ruin. What will be, will be. It is entirely natural.

    COIN* ….. COunter INtelligence

  • El Dee

    If the press were made up of journalists with integrity then Assange’s case would be a constant embarrassment to the UK Govt. To the extent that it is entirely possible they may have released him already and refused to extradite or hear the US appeal. The press are weak and they are weak because they are fearful, their fear makes them weaker and so the downward cycle of chilling effect occurs. No mainstream press is reporting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Lies by omission are still lies and this is the stock-in-trade of the BBC. They rightly report on the prosecution case of Assange but ‘forget’ to report the defence. They would defend themselves by saying they can’t report every day, people aren’t interested and facts already in the public domain. But neither they nor we are so stupid..

    • Bob (not OG)

      “The press are weak and they are weak because they are fearful”

      No, the press are a strong weapon of the corporate state. Why are people surprised at the bilge spouted on the Guardian’s comment section? The Guardian used and then betrayed, Assange. They, like the BBC (and in fact all the ‘mainstream’ papers and TV), are an utter disgrace.
      This is because they are owned and run by Zionists.
      Zionists, headed by the apartheid Israeli regime, control much if not most of what we see in the media.
      Many will remember the days of South Africa’s apartheid. It was widely reported – and condemned – in the media. Celebrities campaigned against it. The public got behind a boycott and the regime was ended.
      Compare that to now – the late Desmond Tutu said Israel’s apartheid was even worse than South Africa’s, yet there’s no suggestion of a boycott seen anywhere, now.
      The BBC are the biggest liars on the planet. They install jounalists in foreign countries (Ukraine, Iran etc.) and then interview them as supposed experts when something kicks off in that country. Any outfit that has specialist ‘disinformation’ reporters is not to be trusted one iota.
      For years, I believed in the establishment – Britain, the BBC, the newspapers, the establishment, progress. But it’s all an illusion built on murder and enslavement.

      • Squeeth

        Nothing is run by zionists, the “zionists” are an arm of the state like the head-chopping, heaaart-eatiung rapers and slavers in Iraq and Syria, the Ukronazis in Ukraine, Gladio everywhere. The price that Caesar pays for the services of “zionists” is a free hand in occupied Palestine, with results for the rightful owners of Palestine that are evident.

    • DunGroanin

      The MSM narrative control is daily easier for the man in the street to see.
      As the fake beliefs crumble in front of our eyes. The latest one – it’s a surprise to me that most posters here and many bloggers – are somehow missing telling us about developments in Pakistan after the US coup there that removed one of their boys, or who they thought was theirs.
      The guardian has not mentioned it once since April 18th.
      It’s mostly been coverage of the heatwaves across that part of the world, common before monsoon.
      Even the true story of the heatwaves, hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis risking their health, are rallying to restore their elected leader and demanding fresh elections, now.

      The Guardian has apparently no interest in that story having signed off with ‘what happened to our favourite Pashtun Prince, he was such a nice boy’ crocodile tears on 15th April.
      A civil war that will be blamed on China and Russia no doubt and a powder keg that could stop India and Pakistan beginning to work together for their peoples and letting the quad splitters in.

  • Squeeth

    Do you think that the btl “comments” are genuine? I think that they’re as bent as the rest of the MI6-CIA Grauniad.

    • Laguerre

      To my reading, most look genuine, but heavily moderated. Lots of people have been banned, indeed most who comment elsewhere. Only the most bland and inoffensive are left.

      • Goose

        Like liberals in the US , they’ve become hugely intolerant of any dissent. Censorship betrays a fundamental lack of confidence in their own positions though.

        They’ve also likely fallen victim to the ‘Russian bot vigilance’ paranoia – the idea that Russian manipulators are everywhere online is now pervasive in the west – just as German spies were once on every street corner in a different era when that nonsense was useful. Paranoia presumably fanned by the security services as a means to close down debate / discussion of events like those in Salisbury and Douma et al. Events which raise more questions than factual answers. Raise basic, sensible questions highlighting the many inconsistencies, and it’s as certain as night follows day accusations of working for the Kremlin will follow – Craig gets that nonsense thrown at him all the time.

        It’s probably routine now for western spooks to tell social media outlets they’ve seen ‘Russian activity’ on their forums…in the knowledge they’ll censor/remove the comments of ordinary UK citizens that don’t stick to their narratives.

        • Ultraviolet

          I find it depressing that we can’t talk openly about Salisbury. There is so much wrong with it, but to my mind, one fact above all others is paramount. The official narrative relies on CCTV of the Russians arriving in Salisbury after 11.00 am, after which they poisoned the Skripals by smearing Novichok on a door handle they did not touch after about 9.00 am.

          I don’t know what did happen. I do know the official narrative is self-evidently false because of its own inherent contradictions. And I get fed up with being accused of all sorts if I try to point out those contradictions and ask what actually is going on.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            In the official version of events UV, Skripal’s car was spotted on Devizes Road (A360) around 1:30pm heading towards the city centre, meaning that they could have gone back briefly to his house in Christie Miller Road after ‘Boshirov & Petrov’ had applied the deadly Novichok to his door handle around noon. To my mind, the biggest issue with the official narrative is that we’re expected to believe that two individuals of considerably different ages, sexes, weights, skin thicknesses etc can both succumb to the effects of a nerve agent 8-10 times more powerful than VX at virtually the same time, over three hours after supposedly coming into contact with it – and then apparently go on to make complete recoveries.

            You can see why some people might find that hard to swallow, so thank goodness for the medical director of Salisbury NHS trust, Dr Christine Blanchard, and her hard-working staff being willing and able to take a few minutes out of a typically hectic day to put our suspicious minds at rest (her bit starts about 1:35 if you’re short on time):


          • andyoldlabour


            I keep asking how two people, of different ages, builds, sex and medical histories, were supposedly poisoned at 09:00, then travelled about Salisbury for several hours, visiting multiple locations, interacting with different people, including feeding ducks with two young lads and then mysteriously collapsed at exactly the same time on a park bench, where they were discovered by the chief nurse (and her daughter) of the British army – incredible.
            Why are so many people able to accept this quite fantastical story?

          • Goose


            Ask anyone who repeats the claims as laid out in the official narrative, when – to the nearest half hour, they returned to touch the door, and you’ll likely be met with silence. Shouldn’t anyone asserting something as fact, and accusing those who don’t share their views of being conspiracy theorists, have that time window involved clearly ascertained?

            The fact that the then Chief Nursing Officer of the British Army, Colonel Alison McCourt OBE was the first on the scene(and they kept that fact secret) seems hard to accept as a purely ‘random’ coincidence.

            There is certainly scope for scepticism when most of the questions Craig posed remain unanswered. Those who throw ‘crank’ at those questioning any of this typically get angry and defensive as hell when asked basic questions.

          • Vivian O’Blivion

            Add to this the presence of American, non-lethal, chemical weapon BZ in the report from the OPCW. The OPCW report has only been released to the public in Executive summary form. Nonetheless, Sergei Lavrov (who’s in possession of the full report) states that BZ is mentioned in the report in some context. A British diplomat has rebutted that BZ is present only as an “environmental indicator” (he means spike sample, this being the correct term and environmental indicator being something else entirely).
            If BZ really does show up in the gas chromatograph trace of the Skripal’s blood, this is a slam dunk.

            The Skripals who were exhibiting symptoms consistent with exposure to BZ prior to their collapse were therefore poisoned with BZ and their blood samples were spiked with Novichok. A FOI request has revealed that there’s no chain of custody for the Skripal’s blood samples. No date, time, place or name of the phlebotomist. Highly unusual.

          • Dawg

            The link given by Lapsed Agnostic contains a perceptive quote from the philosopher and media critic Marshall McLuhan:

            ‘Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity’

            No no, the government couldn’t possibly propagate a load of inconsistent fibs – so the reasoning goes – because they’d be found out right away. Yet the offical narrative of the Skripal incident just doesn’t make sense – the Russian henchmen would have to run like Olympic sprinters to squeeze into that timeline, and Novichuckle would need to possess the magical properties of a Hogwarts potion.

            Unfortunately the public consciousness only assimilates tabloid headlines. Westminster peddles these inconsistencies like guilty schoolchildren squirming to evade punishment – Boris has honed it to a fine art – yet people continually assure each other that it’s all in our best interests to accept the ‘official’ story. Not only that, but anyone who questions it is branded a disbeliever: “Kill the heretic!”

            The forthcoming Online Safety Act will dispense the powers to silence people who dare to dissent from the official line. Unless the redtops alert people to its sinister overtones, they won’t realise what’s really happening. We’re so focused on the minutiae of everyday concerns and dazzled by celebrity pizzazz that we fail to notice the creeping shadow of dystopian dominions forming around us. We don’t need to sleepwalk into hell … it comes to us. Darkness descends in imperceptible increments with the receding daylight and signs of danger blend into the surroundings, so we can no longer see the monsters creeping up on us. That’s when the fear of darkness will kick in. And it’ll be too late.

          • Goose


            What about Sergei Schrödinger’s cat, that at various times in media reports, was both alive and dead. Do they even acknowledge their own contradictory stories?

            They claim the stuff was painted on the door knob, but there are pictures in the days following(google them) of police stood outside, next to that very door – a door that supposedly had seen forced entry by Nick Bailey who allegedly fell seriously ill after being contaminated at Skripal’s home. So,…an officer collapses after contact with mysterious agent at the home but no special protections are put in place to seal off the area? The door has no covering in the pictures, nor the officers any protective gear.

            The telegraph newspaper, which boasts it has good security service contacts first reported the stuff was somehow likely in the air vents of his BMW , then that changed to perfume Yulia had brought in with her unwittingly. Finally, it became the door knob.
            The Guardian also reported senior medics as claiming the pair’s chances of survival were minuscule in the week Yulia’s leaked phone call home emerged – the one in which she told her cousin in Russia, they were both fine, bored and waiting for the ‘situation’ to end.

            Can you imagine what TV’s Harry Bosch would do with this case? Pity there is no one as honourable as him in real life.

          • IMcK

            I think the reason for the changing storyline was down to Yulia’s unintended phone call that blew the gaff on the Skripal’s demise. Nick Bailey had initially been claimed to be the first responder and having given resuscitation. His subsequent claimed illness would be consistent with his contamination at the scene. The obvious scenario would be the Skripals having been attacked just before their synchronised collapse but, alas, they weren’t in a state to tell what happened. I believe this was to be the plot-line and which was blown by Yulia’s phone call. She decided not to make any more calls after that – it would seem.

          • Goose


            The guardian swiftly moved in one week, from both being comatose and never to recover (iirc they gave them a a 1% chance of survival?) to both being awake and ready to leave care, as if that was a perfectly normal path of recovery.

            Wonder who was feeding the guardian the ‘at death’s-door’, ‘last rites’ stories?

            Maybe the planned course was for them to be officially pronounced dead and Yulia became alert to that possibility and worried they may end up being disposed of in a MI6/CIA ‘tidying up’ exercise? Hence the dangerous cover-breaking phone call. A kind of ‘proof of life’ move by her, to thwart any dark plans?

            Pure conjecture, as I’ve no clue as to her logic and state of mind in making that call – but it clearly wasn’t authorised. Could it be the move that saved her life?

          • Pears Morgaine

            “47 Christie Miller Rd on Google Maps”

            Images dated 2009.

            The Skripals appear not to have moved in until 2011.

          • Fat Jon

            Didn’t Sergei Skripal live next door to Pablo Miller in Christie Miller Road? Or have I got this wrong?

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            To address people’s points:


            According to the official narrative, the Skripals came into contact with the Novichok on the door handle sometime between noon and 1:30pm. 47 Christie Miller Rd wasn’t demolished, but its roof timbers were replaced by a military team in 2019. Charlie Rowley’s housing association flat in Amesbury was demolished in 2020, along with the one underneath.

            Father O’B:

            Bit pedantic, but I think Lavrov said that it was information leaked from a lab in Spiez in Switzerland to the Russians that supposedly revealed that traces of BZ were present in a sample from Salisbury, not the OPCW report. BZ intoxication might be consistent with eyewitness reports of Sergei’s state on the bench (rigid with slowly-moving arms outstretched), but not with Yulia’s (slumped next to her father with eyes completely white and foaming at the mouth) which is consistent with typical cholinesterase inhibitor (nerve agent) poisoning – although no one reported anything about her having wet or shat herself, which are also a common symptoms. Bear in mind, though, the old Russian saying: ‘He lies like an eyewitness.’


            ‘Boshirov & Petrov’ could have done all the things it’s claimed they did in the official narrative (applying Novichok to Skripal’s door, putting the perfume bottle dispenser in the bin behind the charity shop, and getting back to the train station) within the timeframe without sprinting if you assume that the clock on the CCTV in Dauwalders coin shop was running a few minutes fast.

            Fat Jon:

            Haven’t heard any mention of Pablo Miller living next door to Skripal, although I think he lived nearby.


            In a fairly recent but obscure podcast, Nick Bailey says he got the key to Skripal’s house from his neighbour so didn’t need to break in. There’s no proof that the call from Yulia to her cousin Viktoria that was played on Russian TV wasn’t fabricated.


            (Worth a listen if you haven’t heard it – relevant bit from 43:30 – 1:02:50)

          • andyoldlabour

            Lapsed Agnostic

            Pablo Miller was Skripal’s MI6 handler (as a British agent, he recruited Skripal in Estonia in 1995), who joined the 4th Tank Regiment at exactly the same time as Mark Urban the BBC correspondent. Pablo Miller lived in Salisbury. In June 2017, Mark Urban went to Salisbury to interview Sergei Skripal.




          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Thanks for your reply Andy, and for the links – especially to the tweet which I hadn’t seen before. The group photo of the 4th Tank officers in Germany in 1979 made me smile a little: clearly such fine leaders of men would have given the Soviets what for had they ever decided to cross the Fulda Gap and the like. Despite being only a 2nd lieutenant at the time and wearing black tie instead of dress uniform, Pablo Hewitt has the most martial bearing of the lot, I’d say – whereas the only rank Mark Urban looks to have attained is captain of his middle school’s chess team – but is that actually General Sir Mike Rose front and centre, or just his namesake and vague lookalike? He would have been CO of 22 SAS at the time, so if it is, what he’s doing there I don’t know.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            Correction to my previous comment:

            ‘Pablo Hewitt’ should be ‘Pablo Miller’. Getting mixed up with Paolo Hewitt who used to write books about mods and Oasis, a couple of which adorn the bookshelves in my teenage bedroom where I’m writing this. Apologies for any confusion caused.

    • Ultraviolet

      I still post there occasionally. There was a time a few months back when being anti-Starmer was starting to become a consensus view, but suddenly it has all become violently pro-Starmer again, and any criticism of him triggers a very hostile pile-on. I guess that the concerns that Boris might be on the way out, and there might be an election soon, have led to a determination to shore him up.

      The Wakefield bye-election is going to be very interesting. If the Northern Independence Party candidate polls enough to stop Labour winning, it will be significant. If by some miracle he were to win himself, it would be seismic. Every excuse for Starmer’s approach would be wiped out instantly.

      • Bayard

        “Every excuse for Starmer’s approach would be wiped out instantly.”

        I very much doubt it. I am sure some sort of excuse will be manufactured, if it hasn’t already.

        • Bramble

          Most likely – a claim that the Northern Independence Party is funded by Russia and Putin campaigned for its candidate in person.

      • Lapsed Agnostic

        I’m afraid I don’t rate the Northern Independence Party’s chances in Wakefield particularly highly UV, seeing as the genuinely likeable (imo) former Labour MP Thelma Walker, who was endorsed by them in last year’s Hartlepool by-election – though had to stand as an Independent since the northern monkeys couldn’t manage to register their newly-formed party with the Electoral Commission in time – couldn’t even muster 1% of the vote, and indeed only got two votes more than the recently-convicted sex offender Chris Killick, who claimed that he was only standing as an Independent “to see how much publicity I can get”.

        Anyway, it seems like Tory Minister without Portfolio Oliver Dowden is off to an early start out and about on the campaign trail – it being Wakefield, he could have at least found some rhubarb in some old boy’s veg patch to pose next to. (I sometimes wonder why I continue with my fairly poor, half-arsed attempts at political satire on here when, if they want that, folks can just follow Cabinet members’ Twitter feeds instead):

  • Deb O'Nair

    In today’s UK it is perfectly acceptable to deny people their basic legal and human rights simply because other people, the authorities and public, think that someone is not “nice” enough to deserve either. Fascist mob rule.

    • Goose

      Have you seen the dog’s breakfast that is the Online harms Bill they are pushing through?
      It looks almost as if designed to close down blogs like this.

      “…the Bill exempts news publisher content, being content generated by a ‘recognised news publisher’ … i.e. carve-outs for established media actors that come at the expense of citizen journalists who do not fulfil the exemption criteria, even though they may engage in vital journalistic activity. In other words, this leads to different standards in which the speech of some actors is more valued than others.”

      Many reasonable criticisms here :

      • Bayard

        Now that the Tories have realised they can do precisely what they like, there’s going to be a lot more of this.

        • Goose

          And loyal establishment lapdog and supposed ‘human rights’ lawyer Starmer won’t raise a single objection.

          This legislation is so broad and vague, open to interpretation, it’s the digital equivalent of ‘If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.”

          And Ofcom? They aren’t elected, it’s another London bunch of establishment betitled worthies imposing their morality and tastes on the nations of the UK. Fundamentally undemocratic.

          They say this Bill -> Act will make the UK the ‘safest place in the world to go online,’ in a country obsessed with crushing dissent, mass surveillance what does that even mean? Surely China is the safest place in the world to go online, is that country their inspiration? Authoritarianism really worth boasting about?

          It’s another good argument for Scottish independence.

      • Collie Dog

        There has been remorseless legislative intent for a few years now which pushes us into territory way beyond anything within reach even of the tools for seeing Orwell tried to give us. Orwell’s political cosmos, for all its necessary genius, had one or two flaws, but perhaps this shows that the only one fatal to it was this: that it still assumed a kind of rational playscript according to something like rules. Legislation of this order is more like Lewis Carroll. Free speech and human rights organisations attempting to grapple with such convoluted legislative intrusion and amend it for the better through trying to rationally criticise and understand and second guess it, are not only on a hiding to nothing but – worse – only make themselves complicit. It is wholly a gordian knot. Even in so far as there could be a modicum of success in loosening it, yet more tightening will only be introduced in next year’s new legislative round, and then the year after that. The short brutal truth is that, in the name of turning everything online into “safe space”, and in a society where almost every aspect of our lives public and private is as good as legally accounted to be online space, legislation such as this, and all other of its ilk, does nothing but create an ever more watertight abuser’s charter for unaccountable corporate power.

    • Ultraviolet

      They are doing it explicitly. National Security Bill, clauses 57 onwards. If you are suing the Crown, and had been subject to RIPA powers, your compensation can be reduced to zero. There doesn’t even have to be a connection between the RIPA powers and what you are suing for.

      And next up in the subsequent clauses, if you have been convicted of a terrorist offence, then you will not be entitled to civil legal aid for anything for the next 30 years. So a woman who turned a blind eye to her brother’s activities when she was 18, and now aged 35 wants an injunction against her abusive husband will not be entitled to any help with the costs of legal advice to protect herself and her children.

      It’s obscene, but it is also diabolically clever, because who wants to be seen to be standing up for the rights of terrorists? The fact that the new clauses are actually way broader than that, and that terrorist legislation is already amazingly wide and vague, and has repeatedly been abused will no doubt get completely overlooked as the Bill passes through Parliament.

      And that is before the Government stretches things further to clamp down on dissent.

  • Peter

    “Well it ain’t written in the papers, but it’s written on the walls
    The way this country is divided to fall …

    The ammunition’s being passed and the lords been praised
    But the wars on the televisions will never be explained
    All the bankers gettin’ sweaty beneath their white collars
    As the pound in our pocket turns into a dollar

    This is the 51st state of the U.S.A.
    This is the 51st state of the U.S.A.
    This is the 51st state of the U.S.A.”

    Above scenario courtesy of Boris Johnson & Co.

    Song and lyrics courtesy of Matt Johnson and The The:

    Henry Rollins:

    “All you need is one guy, or girl, to stand up and say ‘f**k this!’ and everyone goes: ‘Voice of a generation, thank you, I’ve been thinking that, I never had the guts to stand up and say it. …”

    Jim Jarmusch:

    “You only need five percent, or less, to, like, embrace ideas and to change it and, you know, change the way people think all over again … “

    Is there one politician anywhere here with the decency, guts, brains or backbone to stand up and say “f**k this!”?

    • mark cutts

      I like that song and the video it is very prescient from the mis 80’s I think.

      It always amazes me as to how the US can get European Nations to jump as high as they can if demanded.

      The German coalition seems to be prepared to jump the highest – The Swiss have given up all pretence of neutrality.

      Note carefully that a media outlet called The Atlantic has cropped up and I suspect ( due to the journalist s that work for it are ex Guardian) that this is a centrist Clinton/Obamarite and is opposed to the Trumpist Republicans and has a reach into the current Labour Party.

      In other words it will have no effect as Trump’ s gang will win due to Biden doing less than F all for the ordinary Americans and the UK Labour Party are even more scared of the media in general because they think they may be able PR their way to power without assistance from activists who have now left the Labour Party.

      Truth is the centre has no answers whatsoever – worldwide.

      I honestly believe that they are even more nostalgic for the past as Brexiters.

      • Bayard

        “It always amazes me as to how the US can get European Nations to jump as high as they can if demanded.”

        I think having troops stationed on their soil has something to do with it.

  • James Chater

    It is hard to think how any US court could find him guilty. But I suspect this is not the goal, which is to grind him down with detentions, procedures, accusations and spin the whole thing out for as long as it takes to kill him. Hypocritical and diabolical.

    • Lysias

      If Assange does end up in the U.S., the court in which he will be tried will be in the Eastern District of Virginia, which has a history of convicting almost everybody accused of national security offenses.

    • pretzelattack

      The US courts could absolutely find him guilty. they bend over backwards to excuse the war criminals he helped expose.

  • Giyane

    “The press is not humiliated”.

    The press itself is not humiliated because they are grounded to official government policy. But the press and its anchor the deep state are no longer believed if whistle-blowers challenge the official narrative.

    I have spent three years thinking about electrical earthing of PV inverters. The mains supply in this country is grounded on one side, neutral, to earth. But if you add another mini-mains, your PV inverter, it also needs to be grounded on one side to its little neutral.

    If Joe Bloggs reads contradictory information from the BBC and some blog, he is “floating”. He’s not involved in politics so he isn’t grounded to government lies. His only connection to politics is every five years with a government clothes peg clamped onto its nose.

    The unofficial blogosphere causes massive humiliation to the Govt.grounded press when a government body like a court has to listen to contradicting evidence which makes it look, and feel, stupid.

    Freedom of speech was containable in the printed world as books can be censored, banned or burned.

    Going back to electrical earthing. In Kurdistan the electrical supply is grounded to earth at the street transformer, but nowhere else. If I install an earth in my house and connect it to Mains neutral I have provided an new path back to earth and to Mains neutral Electrical faults in my neighbour’s house will now use my electrical path making my neutral.a bit live.

    By this metaphor I conclude that whistle blowers are making diplomatic relationships with dictatorships very difficult. How does Saudi Arabia explain away its crimes to its people when they are shouted from the rooftops every day in the West?

    To the US its agents are expendable, but the Dictators it needs for oil like Barzani who is coming soon to stay with our Queen, like the Sultan of Brunei etc, find their authority constantly charged with leaks from whistle blowers, that expose the whole charade of Western Colonialism, war, stooges and proxy terrorists and the pretence of the West being civilised.

    Julian Assange is an easy target for Colonial rage, but the Internet has fxxxed up Colonialism, and they designed it that way. If colonialism ends, Western Civilisation dies.

  • fonso

    “There is plainly a crisis in western neo-liberal societies. The wealth gap between rich and poor has become so extreme as to be insupportable, and even in the wealthiest countries in the world, people in employment are struggling to achieve decent accommodation”.

    Euan Blair has just bought a £22 million house in London, while his Dad, Sir Tony, has a buy-to-let empire of at least 14 houses and 29 flats.

    • Goose

      People don’t go into politics to get rich. Altruism and a commitment to the public service ethos are what drives them. Yeah right!

      In early 2020 it was reported Theresa May had already made more than £1 million in speaking engagements since she quit as prime minister in June the previous year. This after it was revealed David Cameron had made £1.6 million for similar speaking activities.

      These post-election paid speeches and book deals, are clearly the US/UK elite’s preferred mechanism for you know what. Allowing for banks and others to show their gratitude for their service, when in office. Why on earth would anyone want to hear what these, often mediocre, former leaders have to say on matters that are no longer their direct responsibility?

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