Propaganda and Belief 150

It is nearly 20 years since I blew the whistle on British Government complicity in torture and the extraordinary rendition programme, under which thousands of people were deliberately tortured as a systematic act of government policy.

Many of them were killed.

I had, and I leaked, substantial documentary evidence to back my claims, of which this is but one example.

Yet the BBC never gave a spectacular, combat shot illustrated four and a half minute lead television news item to my revelations of official UK government involvement in mass torture, as they gave to junior Russian officer Konstantin Yefremov’s far less spectacular allegations.

My revelations were actually about the UK, not a foreign country. They came from a much more senior source than Lt Yefremov. They had undeniable supporting evidence. They revealed ministerially approved policy, not the possibly rogue behaviour detailed by Yefremov.

Yet to the BBC it was a much less important story.

Now I don’t actually doubt Yefremov’s modest testimony: he witnessed a single incident of torture and some looting. I am sorry to say I have no doubt, from close study, that torture and other crimes have always been committed by all armies in war.

Those who deny that Russian soldiers do it are as purblind and bigoted as those who deny that British or United States – or Ukrainian – soldiers do it.

But the massive propaganda punch given to Lt Yefremov’s testimony is in stark contrast to the treatment of domestic UK whistleblowers, or to the equally harrowing stories of the torture of Russian prisoners.

When have you ever seen Australian Major David McBride given four and a half minutes of BBC main news headline story to outline his allegations of widespread war crimes by allied forces in Afghanistan?

Of course you haven’t seen that. Such coverage would never happen.

How much prime time news coverage did the BBC allocate to the International Criminal Court’s listing of torture, rape and murder by British forces in Iraq?

Virtually none.

On the other hand, when Public Interest Lawyers were closed down over irregularities in soliciting and pursuing the cases of victims of British atrocities in Iraq, the BBC gave that enormous coverage including on prime time news broadcasts, as though it proved no such atrocities ever occurred.

The BBC gives blanket coverage to a junior Russian officer, but gave almost none to New Zealand’s Operation Burnham, in which the Special Air Service killed a child, tortured an opponent and handed him over to further torture, and then systematically lied and covered up – all of which an official inquiry confirmed happened but declared “legal”.

Of course we know we live in an age of wall to wall propaganda. Of course we know that the BBC is an integral part of it. The really shocking thing about propaganda – as true of today’s BBC as it was of Goebbels – is that being massively unsubtle and obvious appears to magnify rather than diminish its power to sway public opinion.

The lesson of this current article is that it is not necessary to invent facts for propaganda. A completely false narrative can be built by extreme selectivity of what facts you amplify, and what facts you bury.


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150 thoughts on “Propaganda and Belief

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  • Goose

    Interesting article on the UK’s propaganda here :

    I don’t know how/why this psychological manipulation of supposedly ‘free citizens,’ living in democracies, is justified and why it has been normalised? Why are our politicians so supine? If it blows up into a huge scandal, I suppose they’ll plead ignorance, claiming hey are horrified and simply had no idea.

    It seems like the EU ,NATO and UK are on a slippery slope towards this :

    I don’t see how anyone could carefully read through that lot, and not shudder at the parallels with similar activities happening now.

    The film ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ relates to COINTELPRO scandal. It’s currently showing as part of Amazon Prime. Well worth a watch if you’ve got a couple of hours.

    • MIO

      I’ve increasingly come to the view (realisation?) we are in a desperate, vicious war, and I don’t mean with Russia, I mean with the elites and their servants.

      Viciousness is one of the trump cards these people hold, along with their sheer stamina for bad actions, their determination to always double-down and their lofty self-belief (shared it seems by many of the spooks, gammons and tories policing Craig’s site).

      I saw ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ too and it was both staggering and yet unsurprising to me to learn how Fred Hampton was basically murdered and yet nothing changed.

      Wikipedia has this quote from Hampton:

      “We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.”

  • Sean_Lamb

    As far as Konstantin Yefremov claims are concerned, the Russian military is very keen to encourage Ukrainians to surrender and creates a lot of material showing the process happening with smoothly and with respect. For the obvious reason, the more that surrender the easier their job is.

    That doesn’t mean abuses don’t happen, but a lot of his accounts do sound like projection. The internet is drowning in images of civilians in Ukraine being taped to poles and having their trousers pulled down (by Ukrainian police and militias). That doesn’t mean Yefremov’s claims aren’t true, but he doesn’t make any claim to have reported the abuse he witnessed to any authority within the Russian MOD – which considering their clear incentive to encourage surrender might well have resulted in action.

    I guess if we were to put that to Konstantin Yefremov he would probably say that large amount of bitcoin he has received is more than sufficient to smooth his conscience.

  • Ebenezer Scroggie

    Once upon a time, in the old days of steam radio, There were two quite separate BBCs.

    There was the World Service, which broadcast from Bush House and was owned and controlled by the Foreign Office.

    There was the Home Service, which broadcast from Broadcasting House and was owned and controlled by the Home Office.

    In peacetime (anyone here remember that?) the World Service was a high quality outfit and almost always worth listening to. When living and working in a couple of dozen, often grotty, countries I was an avid listener to the World Service on a small Shortwave receiver. Then the Falkland thing kicked off. As if by a flick of a switch the World Service went into full-on propaganda mode. Within a week I ripped the batteries out of my radio and packed it away for the duration.

    Even Pakistani radio and tv was giving an even-handed reportage of the background and progress of the Conflict.

    Somewhere along the line the two parts of the BBC were merged and became a shameless and ubiquitous diet of propaganda.

    That’s all it is now: propaganda.

    • Steve Hayes

      I reckon the main reason the World Service used to try to appear unbiased is that they knew that other news sources such as Deutch Welle, Radio Moscow and even VOA were only a twist of a knob away. Sooner or later, the listeners in unaligned nations were going to notice if the bias was too obvious. In my case I noticed it (it was shortly after the Falklands) when Radio Moscow told us some allegations the Soviets were making about the USA. I can’t remember what the allegations were and never knew if they were true. But what I noticed was that there wasn’t a dickie bird about them on the World Service. For about two days. Then, all of a sudden, there was someone from the US State Department saying “we refute these allegations” – without actually offering any evidence supporting the “refutation”. For the next 24 hours, every World Service news bulletin told us that the allegations that had previously been not worth mentioning had been refuted. At that point, it became obvious to me that there was scarcely any difference between the World Service and VOA, anything I heard on it needed to be taken with a shovel of salt and the idea that a British state broadcaster was somehow more removed from propaganda than an American state broadcaster was a fantasy.

  • Pigeon English


    talks about Propaganda and Belief.

    Even a fucking Earthquake is turning in propaganda and politics.


    White Helmets, Assad Regime, Sanctions on Syria, Rebel held area can not be reached, Russia and Iran, PKK , Counterproductive to send aid to Assad regime, security threat etc. To long to explain but those “issues” are contemplated and Repported on Al Jazeera while
    in the background White Helmets operation are running on the screen.

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