The leaked documents on the Integrity Initiative (II) reveal that the British government-funded smear project is moving to the US, Max Blumenthal and Mark Ames presented in an analysis on consortiumnews.com.
According to information from the documents, II has “powerful allies inside the State Department, top D.C. think tanks, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, where it has gained access to Katharine Gorka and her husband, the fascist-linked cable news pundit Sebastian Gorka.”
The Institute for Statecraft’s (IfS) project “has spelled out plans to expand its network across the U.S., 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.”
In the UK, UK MP and Labour party member Chris Williamson is calling for an investigation into II’s abuse of public money.
The Integrity Initiative story is just growing and growing. Many are rightly outraged that this Tory government could fund a political smear unit.
Questions need to be answered. Share this video on Facebook to make that happen. https://t.co/MGepaIEfGw
— Chris Williamson MP #GTTO (@DerbyChrisW) December 14, 2018
The Morning Star also published an editorial by Williamson.
“These tactics resemble those deployed by the CIA in Operation Mockingbird that was launched at the height of the cold war in the early 1950s. Its aims included using the mainstream news media as a propaganda tool,” Williamson wrote.
“They manipulated the news agenda by recruiting leading journalists to write stories with the express purpose of influencing public opinion in a particular way,” the Labour parliamentarian continued. “Now it seems the British Establishment have dusted off the CIA’s old playbook and is intent on giving it another outing on this side of the Atlantic.”
The authors also reminded the discovery of the project after the Anonymous hacking syndicate leaked documents relating to its activities in November 2018.
However, one of the latest batch of documents revealed the II’s plan to aggressively expand across the US.
“The Integrity Initiative claims to have already established a “simple office” in Washington, D.C., though it does not say where. It also boasts of partnerships with top D.C. think tanks like the Atlantic Council, the Center for European Policy Analysis, Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) and its close relationships with U.S. officials.”
Also a major II influence hub is the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, which was established to battle ISIS online recruitment, but has since been transformed into yet another tool to battle alleged Russian disinformation, following the Trump election.
The II has also hired John Rendon, one of the most infamous PR men, to organize its clusters of journalists and political figures.
Rendon is “best known as “The Man Who Sold The War”— several wars, in fact, but most notoriously the Iraq invasion. Rendon was the self-described “information warrior” who planted fake news in major U.S.-U.K. media about non-existent WMD threats. With deep ties to the CIA and other military-intelligence agencies, his PR firm was paid $100 million to organize and sell Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress. In 2002, The New York Times exposed a Pentagon program using Rendon to plant “disinformation” — including “false stories” and “the blackest of black PR” — in media outlets around the world, in order to shape public opinion and sell the Iraq invasion,” the Authors reported.
Internal documents also mention IfS director Chris Donnelly and interactions with Katharine Gorka, “a vehemently anti-Muslim Department of Homeland Security official, as well as her husband, Sebastian, who earned right-wing fame during his brief tenure in Trump’s White House.”
Donnelly and Sebastian Gorka had breakfast, after which Donnelly delivered a presentation on “Mapping Russian Influence Activities” at the federally funded military research center, CNA.
“According to the itinerary, Donnelly was granted access to Pentagon officials such as Mara Karlin, an up-and-coming neoconservative cadre, and John McCain Institute Executive Director Kurt Volker, another neoconservative operative who also serves as the U.S. special representative for Ukraine. Numerous meetings with staffers inside the State Department’s Office of Global Engagement were also detailed.”
In the US State Department, the biggest II ally appeared to be Todd Leventhal. He is a staffer at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, boasting of “20 years of countering disinformation, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and urban legends.”
Furthermore, the article looks into ways the US is paying for propaganda targeting of its own citizens, through grants to the right-wing Smith Richardson Foundation, and funding for the State Department’s Global Engagement Center.
The II’s “main event” was a conference on disinformation in Seattle, Washington, under the auspices of a data firm called Adventium Labs. Together with the Technical Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota, the Integrity Initiative listed Adventium Labs as one of its “first partners outside DC.”
A document argues that “DC is well served by existing US institutions, such as those with which the Institute [for Statecraft] already collaborates,” the organization should “concentrate on extending the work of the Integrity Initiative into major cities and key State capitals [sic] across the USA.”
Notably, one of the presentations was by “Alexander Reid Ross, a half-baked political researcher who peddles computer-generated spiderweb relationship charts to prove the existence of a vast hidden network of “red-brown” (or fascist-communist) alliances and “syncretic media” conspiracies controlled by puppeteers in Moscow.”
Less than 24 hours after he carried out the presentation, he sent a menacing email to co-author of the article Mark Ames, “announcing his intention to recycle an old and discredited smear against him and publish it in The Daily Beast — a publication that appears to enjoy a special relationship with Integrity Initiative personnel.”
The report moves on to present information on other people who were mentioned, such as proven “child rapist” Brand Spangler, neo-Nazi Keith Preston among others.
The analysis concludes with the obvious observation that despite calls for investigations in the UK, the IfS and its pet project the II are not planning to relent in their smear campaign and efforts against alleged Russian disinformation.
“Despite the threat of investigation in the U.K., the Integrity Initiative’s “network of networks” appears to be escalating its covert, government-funded influence operation, trashing the political left and assailing anyone that gets in its way; all in the name of fighting foreign disinformation,” the authors concluded.
“We have to win this one,” Integrity Initiative founder Col. Chris Donnelly said, “because if we don’t, democracy will be undermined.”
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