…and it turns out it was all Russia’s fault
For those of you who don’t know, the Integrity Initiative is (was?) a UK-government funded operation to “counter disinformation”. It was run under the auspices of the (fake) charity the Institute for Statecraft, paid for by the foreign office and intelligence agencies, and co-opted journalists to spread propaganda.
Journalists and other influencers were collected into cells, what the Integrity Initiative’s (II) internal memos called “clusters”, usually by region. These clusters were tasked with “combating Russian disinformation”, or other polite translations of “disseminating propaganda”.
The II’s target list is short but predictable – it attacked Russia, Russian media and “Russian bots”. It attacked Scottish nationalists and the independence movement, and it attacked Jeremy Corbyn. Essentially, they turn the fire of their “clusters” on those perceived to be enemies of the status quo.
Those contributing to these clusters are then little more than attack dogs. They never call themselves that, of course, they have all sorts of mechanisms for defending themselves from the truth of their actions. That’s how the shallow have lived with the unconscionable since the beginning of time.
A good example of how this works is Scottish journalist David Leask – written about here by Craig Murrary.
We know from internal memos that Leask had a meeting with II personnel in late March of 2018. We know, from these notes, that Leask was “briefed” about how Scottish nationalism and independence played into Russia’s hands. Or the prevalence of “McBots” spreading anti-union messages on Twitter. He is “appraised of the dangers”, and then toddles off back to his computer, safe in the knowledge that – though he is doubtless writing about the government told him to write about – he’s making the world a safer, freer and better place. Somehow.
The details of the leaks are not important right now. They have been analysed and dissected in great detail already. The actual mechanics, how the different clusters worked, can be reasoned and guessed at, but never known for certain…short of more leaks.
What we DO know is that the foreign office spent millions of pounds funding an organisation which worked with journalists to spin pro-government narratives and smear the head of the opposition. This is a big deal. It should be enough to bring down the government, or least spark an investigation.
Neither happened. In fact, the content of these leaks was never reported in detail in the mainstream media. Indeed, it was barely covered at all – short of vague, snide opinion pieces about the UK “stooping to Russia’s level” and other childish nonsense. (The Guardian closed the comment section on that piece after 2 hours, when it was clear nobody was buying what they were trying to sell).
The detailed write-ups available are only on alternate media sites, or rebel academic groups. The only MP to raise the issue in Parliament was Chris Williamson…since hounded out of Labour under spurious charges of antisemitism. For the most part, the establishment simply ignored all mention if the Integrity Initiative.
Now, months later, the media have awakened to the II’s presence. Sky reported today:
‘Highly likely’ GRU hacked UK institute countering Russian fake news
It’s a long, rambling article that contains only one important point: Chris Donnelly, head of the Institute for Statecraft, admits there is “no proof” Russia was behind the “hack”.
Everything past that point is moot. There’s no proof, there’s no evidence even (at least, none that we are shown). We have no reason to simply accept, on faith, the assertion of the NCA.
A simple analysis of motive would suggest that, of course the government are going to blame Russia. They have to shift focus from their now proven corruption. This is politics 101. Deflection and diversion. It’s old-fashioned and, unfortunately, it works. Especially when you have a small army of government-backed hacks to shovel your bullshit narrative down the public’s throat.
Wow. This is fascinating & significant. NCA believe it was GRU – same military intelligence agency behind hacking of DNC & attack on Skripal. pic.twitter.com/PFUh0MGQXs
— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) March 6, 2019
Note that nowhere in this story, or anywhere else, is the veracity of documents questioned. They are real. They are the truth. The mainstream media are attempting to undermine a known, proven truth by repeating – without analysis or question – a government-backed theory, for which they admit they have “no proof”.
Interestingly, both Cadwalladr and Deborah Haynes (the author of the Sky article) are named as members of the “UK Cluster” in the leaked documents.
So, essentially, we have journalists accused of working with a government propaganda office to smear Russia…who are defending themselves by spreading government propaganda which smears Russia. (It’s a very “My aunt, who I live with…” scenario). But when you only have the one card you’ve got to play it, and play it with conviction, I suppose.
All of this, of course, mirrors the leaked DNC e-mails from 2016. The e-mails proved corruption on behalf of Hillary Clinton, and yet were attacked in the media as being the result of “Russian hacking”. No evidence for Russian hacking has ever emerged, and WikiLeaks have said – dozens of times – that the e-mails were leaked by an insider.
In fact, the media’s defensive strategy is a move straight out of the DNC playbook:
“Yes I’m corrupt and malign, but you only know I’m corrupt and malign because the Russians hacked my e-mail!”
It’s not really anything like the brilliant defense they seem to think it is.