How New York Times’ Scott Shane covered for architects of a shocking “false flag” election campaign in Alabama

The NY Times national security reporter held news of a massive voter manipulation campaign while pumping up the political operatives behind it as ace Russian disinformation detectives.

By Dan Cohen

In September 2018, New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane attended an off-the-record event in Washington, DC held by American Engagement Technologies, a data firm run by Obama administration veteran Mikey Dickerson. Shane was not there simply as an observer – he was invited to speak on his supposed subject of expertise: “Soviet and Russian disinformation.”

It was at that meeting where Shane learned of “Project Birmingham,” an online disinformation campaign waged against voters in the 2017 Alabama senate race between Republican Roy Moore and its eventual winner, Democrat Doug Jones.

The plot involved voter suppression tactics, including what its architects called an “elaborate false flag operation” that aimed to convince voters that the Kremlin was supporting Moore through thousands of fake Russian bots. The campaign also involved a phony Facebook page that encouraged Alabamians to vote for an obscure write-in Republican candidate, arranged interviews for him in major newspapers and even sought to arrange SuperPAC funding for his campaign.

But as Shane learned, this deception wasn’t the work of the Kremlin or financed by Russian oligarchs. It was a mass manipulation carried out by a private cyber intelligence firm run by Democratic operatives called New Knowledge. And it was run in conjunction with AET – the firm that had invited him to its secret meeting.

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New Documents Reveal a Covert British Military-Intelligence Smear Machine Meddling In American Politics

The Integrity Initiative has mobilized an international disinformation campaign across Europe. Now, with government and right-wing foundation money, this massive “political smear unit” is infiltrating the US.

By Max Blumenthal and Mark Ames

A bombshell domestic spy scandal has been unfolding in Britain, after hacked internal communications exposed a covert UK state military-intelligence psychological warfare operation targeting its own citizens and political figures in allied NATO countries under the cover of fighting “Russian disinformation.”

The leaked documents revealed a secret network of spies, prominent journalists and think-tanks colluding under the umbrella of a group called “Integrity Initiative” to shape domestic opinion—and to smear political opponents of the right-wing Tory government, including the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

Until now, this Integrity Initiative domestic spy scandal has been ignored in the American media, perhaps because it has mostly involved British names. But it is clear that the influence operation has already been activated in the US. Hacked documents reveal that the Integrity Initiative is cultivating powerful allies inside the State Department, top DC think tanks, the FBI and the DHS, where it has gained access to Katharine Gorka and her husband, the fascist-linked cable news pundit Sebastian Gorka.

The Integrity Initiative has spelled out plans to expand its network across the US, meddling in American politics and recruiting “a new generation of Russia watchers” behind the false guise of a non-partisan charity. Moreover, the group has hired one of the most notorious American “perception management” specialists, John Rendon, to train its clusters of pundits and cultivate relationships with the media.

Back in the UK, Member of Parliament Chris Williamson has clamored for an investigation into the Integrity Initiative’s abuse of public money.

In a recent editorial, Williamson drew a direct parallel between the group’s collaboration with journalists and surreptitious payments the CIA made to reporters during the Cold War.

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Senate Report on Russian Interference Was Written By Disinformation Warriors Behind Alabama ‘False Flag Operation’

Hailed by Congress and the media as defenders of democracy, high-tech Russiagate hustlers Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox have been exposed for waging “an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation” to swing the 2017 Alabama senate race.

By Dan Cohen

On December 17, two reports detailing ongoing Russian interference operations commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee were made public. They generated a week’s worth of headlines and sent members of Congress and cable news pundits into a Cold War frenzy. According to the report, everything from the Green Party’s Jill Stein to Instagram to Pokemon Go to the African American population had been used and confused by the deceptive Facebook pages of a private Russian troll farm called the Internet Research Agency.

Nevermind that 56% of the troll farm’s pages appeared after the election, that 25% of them were seen by no one, or that their miniscule online presence paled in comparison to the millions of dollars spent on social media by the two major presidential campaigns and their supporters to sway voters. This was an act of war that demanded immediate government action.

According to Sen. Mark Warner, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the reports were “a wake up call” and a “bombshell” that was certain to bring “long-overdue guardrails when it comes to social media”. His Republican counterpart on the committee, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, hailed the research papers as “proof positive that one of the most important things we can do is increase information sharing between the social media companies who can identify disinformation campaigns and the third-party experts who can analyze them.”  

But the authors of one of the reports soon suffered a major blow to their credibility when it was revealed that they had engaged in what they called a “Russian style” online disinformation operation aimed to swing a hotly contested special senate election. The embarrassing revelation has already resulted in one of the authors having his Facebook page suspended.

The well-funded deception was carried out by New Knowledge, a private cyber intelligence firm founded by two self-styled disinformation experts who are veterans of the Obama administration: Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox.

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NATO-Backed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Poses with Pro-Nazi Soldier

Ukraine President Poroshenko promoted a photo of himself posing next to a soldier wearing a Nazi SS totenkopf patch.

By Ben Norton

Petro Poroshenko, the staunchly pro-NATO president of Western ally Ukraine, posed for a photo op with a soldier wearing a Nazi symbol.

On December 6, the Ukrainian billionaire oligarch leader posted a photo on multiple social media accounts that shows him standing with armed troops. One of these Ukrainian soldiers is wearing a patch with a skull-and-bones design called the totenkopf. This is a symbol closely associated with Nazi Germany, and specifically the Third Reich’s genocidal paramilitary the Schutzstaffel  (SS).

This photo op came while Poroshenko is imposing martial law and requesting a NATO military buildup in the Black Sea.

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Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media “Just the Beginning,” Says Top Neocon Insider

At a Berlin security conference, hardline neocon Jamie Fly appeared to claim some credit for the recent coordinated purge of alternative media.

By Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague

This October, Facebook and Twitter deleted the accounts of hundreds of users, including many alternative media outlets maintained by American users. Among those wiped out in the coordinated purge were popular sites that scrutinized police brutality and U.S. interventionism, like The Free Thought Project, Anti-Media, and Cop Block, along with the pages of journalists like Rachel Blevins.

Facebook claimed that these pages had “broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.” However, sites like The Free Thought Project were verified by Facebook and widely recognized as legitimate sources of news and opinion. John Vibes, an independent reporter who contributed to Free Thought, accused Facebook of “favoring mainstream sources and silencing alternative voices.”

In comments published here for the first time, a neoconservative Washington insider has apparently claimed a degree of credit for the recent purge — and promised more takedowns in the near future.

“Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system,” remarked Jamie Fly, a senior fellow and director of the Asia program at the influential think tank the German Marshall Fund, which is funded by the U.S. government and NATO. “They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”

Fly went on to complain that “all you need is an email” to set up a Facebook or Twitter account, lamenting the sites’ accessibility to members of the general public. He predicted a long struggle on a global scale to fix the situation, and pointed out that to do so would require constant vigilance.

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Big Tech Corporations Are Now Banning Iranian Social Media Accounts – A Censored Student Journalist Speaks out

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are removing social media accounts of real life Iranians who are falsely dubbed as “government trolls.” Student journalist Sayed Mousavi warns “this is just the tip of an iceberg.”

By Ben Norton

Under apparent government pressure, big tech corporations in the United States have tightened their social media grip, censoring accounts that criticize the US government and its allies.

Under the spell of Russiagate hysteria promoted incessantly by the US government and corporate media, social media accounts that were identified by shady private cybersecurity firms as supposed “Russian trolls” were targeted first. Then pro-Venezuelan government websites like the state-funded media outlet TeleSUR English and even the independent Venezuela Analysis had their Facebook pages temporarily removed.

Now Silicon Valley has set its sights on Iran. While the Donald Trump administration is banning Iranians from traveling and imposing suffocating sanctions on their country, Big Tech is banning them from using social media.

Google (which owns YouTube), Facebook (which owns Instagram), and Twitter have removed hundreds of Iranian social media accounts that have been accused — without any evidence — of being linked to the government in Tehran. These suspensions were based on a questionable, thinly sourced report by the American cybersecurity firm FireEye, which is led by former US military officers.

But contrary to what numerous corporate media reports are claiming, some of the Iranian accounts being banned are in fact not operated by the government. In fact, many are average Iranians whose opinions do not fit into the tightly managed, pro-war Washington consensus.

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Inside America’s Meddling Machine: The US Funded Group that Interferes in Elections Around the Globe

Filmed inside the Capitol, this Grayzone special explores the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a taxpayer-funded organization that has interfered in elections, mobilized coups, and orchestrated public relations campaigns against nations that resist Washington’s agenda.

By Max Blumenthal

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Ukraine President’s Adviser Writes ‘Heil Hitler’ Neo-Nazi Symbol on Facebook

Yuri Biryukov, who advises Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and defense minister, wrote a Facebook post using the neo-Nazi symbol “1488,” which combines a white supremacist slogan with “Heil Hitler.”

By Ben Norton

An adviser for Ukraine’s president and defense minister wrote a neo-Nazi symbol on Facebook that means “Heil Hitler.”

This comes at a time when neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, some of which have received direct support from the Ukrainian government, are terrorizing ethnic minorities from the Roma and Jewish communities.

Ukraine’s billionaire oligarch President Petro Poroshenko, who is known as the “Chocolate King” due to his time in the confectionery industry, has campaigned for Kyiv to join NATO.

Since coming to power in 2014, the pro-Western Ukrainian leader has been advised by Yuri Biryukov, an extreme-right nationalist who also advises Ukraine’s defense minister.

Ukraine’s Glavred Media reported that Biryukov posted a neo-Nazi slogan on his personal Facebook page, where he has nearly 150,000 followers.

Biryukov wrote the Nazi symbol “1.4.8.8.” The latter half of this symbol, 88, is code for “Heil Hitler” (with H being the eighth letter of the Latin alphabet). The former half is a reference to the white supremacist slogan known as the “14 Words” (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”).

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Clint Watts’ World: How America’s top Russian disinformation expert pushes disinformation to justify censorship

When I challenged the high tech flim-flam man behind the Hamilton 68 Russian bots tracker, he ducked my questions. Then his fans asked me if I was a Russian asset.

By Ilias Stathatos

“Nothing is as evil as what Russia manages to pull off… We [Americans] just focus on extremists. Everything I have seen is democracy promotion. I haven’t seen the US creating fake personas.”

These were the words of Clint Watts, a self-styled counter-terror expert who has emerged through the passion play of Russiagate and hailed as “the pre-eminent experts on Russian influence operations via social media.” Watts has warned that computational propaganda has placed America on the verge of civil war, and suggested before a Senate panel that censorship of online media might be necessary.

“America’s war with itself has already begun,” Watts proclaimed earlier this year. “We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.” 

Watts is currently on a book tour that has seen him earn fawning prime time treatment from Bill Maher while avoiding uncomfortable questions from the public about his work. In fact, Watts has not encountered a single critical question since he released his book, “Messing With the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News,” this May.

And he should have, given his record. Watts was the moving force behind the Hamilton 68 Russian bot tracker, which maintains a dashboard claiming to expose Russian influence on everything from the NFL’s anti-police violence protests to the anti-fracking movement to the Parkland shootings.

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Senate Investigation into Jill Stein Reveals Xenophobic, Anti-Democratic Direction of Russiagate

By Max Blumenthal

The Senate Intelligence Committee has demanded all of Jill Stein’s campaign communications with “Russian persons.”

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has turned over a large tranche of emails and documents to the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating unfounded rumors that Stein was part of a Russian plot to subvert the 2016 US presidential election.

However, she has refused to oblige a series of demand that that the Green Party hand over “all communications with Russian media organizations, their employees, or associates, from February 6, 2015.” The committee also insisted it turn over “all communications related to the campaign’s policy discussions related to Russia” and “all communications with Russian persons.”

These requests provide one of the most revealing examples to date of the government’s exploitation of Russia hysteria to suppress independent politics and alternative media in the US. In its demand for communications with “Russian persons,” the Senate committee has weaponized xenophobia to implicate Stein and intimidate other public figures against associating with anyone of Russian origin. With a few notable exceptions, this escalation of the Russiagate investigation has gone largely without notice by American media.

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