Joined: 25 Jul 2005
Location: St. Pauls, Bristol, England
|Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 1:55 pm Post subject: Integrity Initiative: MI6 funding anti-Corbyn trolls
|Inside the Temple of Covert Propaganda: The Integrity Initiative and the UK’s Scandalous Information War
https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/12/17/inside-the-temple-of-covert-pro paganda-the-integrity-initiative-and-the-uks-scandalous-information-wa r/
The Grayzone entered the carefully concealed offices of a covert, British government-backed propaganda mill that is at the center of an international scandal the mainstream media refuses to touch.
By Mohamed Elmaazi and Max Blumenthal
Recent hacked documents have revealed an international network of politicians, journalists, academics, researchers and military officers, all engaged in highly deceptive covert propaganda campaigns funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), NATO, Facebook and hardline national security institutions.
This “network of networks”, as one document refers to them, centers around an ironically named outfit called the Integrity Initiative. And it is all overseen by a previously unknown England-based think tank registered in Scotland, the Institute for Statecraft, which has operated under a veil of secrecy.
The whole operation appears to be run by, and in conjunction with, members of British military intelligence.
According to David Miller, professor of political sociology in the school of policy studies at the University of Bristol and the director of the Organization for Propaganda Studies, the Integrity Initiative “appears to be a military directed push.”
“The most senior government people are professional propagandists and spooks,” Miller explained. “The ‘charity’ lead on this [Chris Donnelly] was also appointed as a colonel in military intelligence at the beginning of the project — a truly amazing fact that suggests this is a military intelligence cut out.”
A minister for the UK FCO has officially confirmed that it has been funding the Integrity Network.
In addition to conducting diplomacy, the FCO oversees both the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) the UK equivalent to the National Security Agency, and the Secret Intelligence Services (SIS) commonly known as MI6.
SOURCE: National Intelligence Machinery, UK government briefing November 2010
The think tank that oversees the Integrity Initiative, the Institute for Statecraft, has also received funding from the British Army and Ministry of Defense.
This is pretty major. UK govt admits that not only the Foreign Office but also the Army and the Ministry of Defence have funded the Institute for Statecraft, the body behind anti-Corbyn propaganda. https://bit.ly/2PBekNm
8:44 AM - Dec 14, 2018
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The entire extremely shady enterprise, as Miller explained, is an elaborate front for the British military-intelligence apparatus. Its covert coordination with friendly politicians and mainstream journalists recalls the Cold War-era intrigue known as Operation Mockingbird.
That scandal involved the unmasking of “more than 400 American journalists who…in the past twenty-five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency,” as Carl Bernstein revealed in a 1977 Rolling Stone report.
The exposing of the Integrity Initiative has just scratched the surface of what appears to be a much more sophisticated, insidious, and extremely online version of Operation Mockingbird. With new internal documents appearing each week through a hacker’s organization called Anonymous Europe, the revelations are yielding one of the most potentially explosive national security scandals in recent times.
But even as members of Britain’s parliament thunder with demands for official accountability, the UK and US mainstream media still strangely refuses to touch the story.
Smearing left-wing political figures in NATO member states
The Integrity Initiative claims that it is “counter[ing] Russian disinformation and malign influence,” and indeed, the main players behind it appear intent on hyping the Russian threat to justify ramped up military budgets and a long-term war footing.
Above: An Institute for Statecraft memo emphasizes the need for “ramping up” anti-Russian messaging
But the Integrity Initiative has also trained its fire on perceived subversives inside NATO member states, including the UK.
An article attacking left-wing activists that was listed in the “Recent Posts” section of the Integrity Initiative website
The Integrity Initiative waged a successful covert campaign to destroy the appointment of Pedro Baños to Director of Spain’s National Security Department on the bogus grounds that he was “pro-Kremlin,” thus interfering in the affairs of a fellow EU and NATO member. It carried out the hit job through a hand-picked “cluster” of Spanish politicians and operatives to flood social media and sympathetic outlets with messages demonizing Baños.
Above: an Integrity Initiative document detailing how the group’s clusters destroyed a Spanish national security appointee.
The Integrity Initiative appears to have employed the same tactics to smear left-wing journalists and political figures across the West, including the leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.
· Nov 27, 2018
Replying to @BenjaminNorton
A British government-funded disinformation organization is retweeting outrageous smears of anti-war journalists @RaniaKhalek, @TheWarNerd, and Corbyn adviser Seumas Milne, amplifying the lies of "leftist" imperialists Alexander Reid Ross and Pat Hilsman https://twitter.com/BenjaminNorton/status/1067209279550251008 …
This UK government-funded, bogus McCarthyite "monitoring group" the Integrity Initiative repeatedly smeared Jeremy Corbyn, while it claims to "defend democracy against disinformation."
These are effectively state-sponsored attacks on Corbyn and the left.http://archive.li/JJW1S pic.twitter.com/sUP3C9SJ1I
4:57 PM - Nov 27, 2018
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Member of Parliament Chris Williamson – a close ally of Corbyn – is now openly and indignantly calling for “a public inquiry into the Integrity Initiative and similar information war efforts being funded by our government.”
It is not necessarily illegal for the FCO to direct propaganda towards its own citizenry, according to Miller of the Organization for Propaganda Studies. However, he said that “it is not legal for ministers to effectively direct a charity. Thus, if the MoD through military intelligence are effectively running a charity, that would be contrary to law.”
An abandoned mill in Scotland covers for an active office in London’s “Temple”
To conceal its potentially illegal activities, the Institute for Statecraft has employed a web of deceptions. Not only did they hide their government funding, the outfit listed a fake location as its address.
Mohammed Elmaazi, a co-author of this piece, discovered the elaborately hidden location of the Institute for Statecraft inside a posh warren of barristers’ offices in London. Elmaazi’s swift ejection from the premises confirmed the lengths that this shadowy organization continues to go to to avoid public scrutiny.
The Institute for Statecraft, is a registered charity in Scotland, whose registered office is listed as being an old mill in Fife Scotland involved in the “manufacture of wood and other products.” David Scott of UK Column news, visited the registered office in Fife only to find a “an empty, semi-derelict, partly demolished, building.”
The partially demolished address at Gateside Mills. Photo: David Scott
While the address in Fife, Scotland appears to be a derelict building, the London address listed in the hacked documents is fully operational, so far as Elmaazi could tell.
He located the offices belonging to The Institute for Statecraft at the Embankment at Two Temple Place in London. It shares offices in the basement of a “spectacular neo-gothic mansion” which is owned or leased by The Bulldog Trust, an organization dedicated to “promoting culture and philanthropy”. This area, known as “the Temple,” is filled with barristers’ chambers and used to serve as the precinct for the Knights of Templar.
A Christmas themed projection lights up the walls of 2 Temple Place. Photo: Mohamed Elmaazi
Elmaazi found the offices on December 6, having nearly given up and becoming convinced that he would discover nothing more than was found at the derelict house in Fife. When he arrived at the location, preparations were underway for some sort of Christmas-themed event to be held in the main building on the ground floor. But upon discovering the signs pointing downstairs to the basement, Elmaazi found himself staring at a door with a sign that read, “The Institute for Statecraft / The Fore.”
Photo: Mohamed Elmaazi
Elmaazi rang the Institute for Statecraft’s doorbell and was eventually let in by a well-dressed elderly gentleman in a beige overcoat. The man claimed that he worked neither at The Institute nor at The Fore but at “another organization.” He then called out for “Charles.” Having walked in, Elmaazi could see a few smaller offices to the side, with a larger planned office with tables and computers around the corner.
A man whom Elmaazi presumed was “Charles” came around the corner and called out, “Yes?” He seemed somewhat confused by the journalist’s presence, understandably so as he was there without an appointment. When “Charles” confirmed that he worked with the Institute for Statecraft, Elmaazi identified himself as a journalist and asked if he would be willing to be interviewed. The request was met with a curt refusal.
“Charles” then guided Elmaazi sternly with his hand back to the entrance. When the journalist repeated his request, he was met with stone silence. And that was that.
A “Charles Hart” is listed as the chairman of the Institute for Statecraft, but no photo is available to confirm that Hart was the same “Charles” that Elmaazi met.
The neocon connection
Two buildings away from the Institute for Statecraft, separated only by the home of British American Tobacco, lies the offices of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). This think tank is key organ of the Western foreign policy establishment, pushing military interventionism and promoting the Saudi-backed Syrian opposition-in-exile.
Among the funders of IISS is the Smith Richardson Foundation.
This foundation also happens to be a supporter of the Integrity Initiative, providing it with £45,000 (about $56,600 USD) for covert propaganda activities in Europe and the US.
The Smith Richardson Foundation was founded by billionaire heir to the Vicks fortune, H. Smith Richardson, in 1935. In 1973, the founder’s son, Randolph Richardson – a free market fundamentalist and long-time patron of neoconservative ideologue Irving Kristol – inherited the organization.
Kristol’s son, William Kristol, is a co-founder of the Project for a New American Century which openly called for the US to assert itself as the single global hegemon following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Recipients of funding from the Smith Richardson Foundation include a who’s who of neoconservative and militaristic right-wing institutions. The foundation has bankrolled neoconservative outfits like the American Enterprise Institute (to the tune of nearly $10 million since 1998), the Hudson Institute, the Institute for the Study of War, Freedom House, the Hoover Institution, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, along with Democratic Party-aligned think tanks like the Center for New American Security and the Center for American Progress.
“To say the [Smith Richardson] foundation was involved at every level in the lobbying for and crafting of the so-called global war on terror after 9/11 would be an understatement,” wrote Kelley Vlahos in a profile of Nadia Schadlow, a former Trump administration deputy national security advisor who previously worked as the senior program director for Smith Richardson.
Smith Richardson complements a roster of international funders backing the Integrity Initiative’s parent organization:
HQ NATO Public Diplomacy, £12,000 for each inaugural workshop = £168,000
Partner institutions £5,000 for each inaugural workshop = £70,000
NATO HQ for educational video films – free provision of camera team
Lithuanian MOD to provide free all costs for their stratcom team for a monthly trip to support a new hub/cluster creation and to educate cluster leaders and key people in Vilnius in infowar techniques = £20,000
US State Dept, for research and dissemination activities (excluding any activity in USA) = £250,000
Smith Richardson Foundation, £45,000 for cluster activities in Europe and USA
Facebook, £100,000 for research and education activities
German business community, £25,000 for research and dissemination in EU countries
A covert asset in the Bernie campaign?
Elmaazi, the co-author of this piece, was not the only reporter to gain momentary access to the Institute for Statecraft’s hidden location at 2 Temple Place. On December 11, five days after Elmaazi’s visit, Kit Klarenberg of Sputnik Radio entered the covert propaganda mill’s neo-gothic offices. As soon as he identified himself as a journalist, he was angrily ejected by an Institute for Statecraft staffer named Simon Bracey-Lane.
“You need to leave right now!” Bracey-Lane barked at Klarenberg. “You haven’t arranged to see us! Go! Right now! Please leave immediately! Leave!”
Bracey-Lane is a 20-something British citizen with no publicly acknowledged experience in intelligence work. But as Klarenberg noted, there are some unusual details in the young staffer’s bio.
In 2016, Bracey-Lane appeared out of nowhere to work in Iowa as a field organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign for president.
Simon Bracey-Lane being interviewed in Bernie Sanders’ Iowa field office on January 27, 2016
“I spent a year working, saving all my money, just thought I was gonna go on a two month road trip from Seattle to New York and I thought, you know what? I’m gonna stay and work for the Bernie Sanders campaign,” Bracey-Lane told a reporter for AFP on January 27, 2016.
He said that after he decided to work for Bernie, he first went to England to “get a visa and get everything legal,” then came back to join the campaign in earnest.
Bracey-Lane also claimed to AFP, “I’m not sure there’s a place for me in British politics… I’ve never been struck by an urge to work in my own political system.”
However, a February 1, 2016 profile of Bracey-Lane by Buzzfeed’s Jim Waterson said the Brit-for-Bernie “was inspired to rejoin the Labour party in September  when Corbyn was elected leader. But by that point, he was already in the US on holiday.”
It is clearly odd for Bracey-Lane to tell one reporter that he had never had any interest in British politics, while claiming to another that he had been eager to support Corbyn before he joined the Bernie campaign. What’s more, as Klarenberg reported, Bracey-Lane went on to establish a get-out-the-vote effort for various progressive politicians and parties in Britain’s 2017 general election, gaining inside access to a wide array of campaigns.
The contradiction in Bracey-Lane’s narrative raises serious questions about his real role on the Bernie campaign, as does his suddenly transition from progressive politics to a staff position at a military-backed propaganda farm that waged a covert information war on Corbyn and other left-leaning politicians across the West.
An Institute for Statecraft document on “roles and relevant experience” of the outfit’s “expert team” notes that Bracey-Lane conducted a “special study of Russian interference in the US electoral process.” The document does not make clear when that study was conducted, however, it is listed directly next to its author’s history of work with the Bernie campaign.
“At Thanksgiving, I was asked, why are you meddling?” Bracey-Lane remarked to Reuters, referring to his work for Bernie Sanders. “Which is an interesting way to phrase it, but I was happy to answer: it needs meddling with.”
Those comments take on an entirely different meaning now that the former Bernie field worker has been outed as part of a British military-intelligence influence operation.
In the coming days, the Grayzone will take a closer look at the Integrity Initiative’s activity inside the US, and whether it is interfering in American politics as it has done in other NATO member states.
Mohamed Elmaazi obtained his LLB from SOAS and Masters in International and Comparative law from the American University in Cairo. He worked in human rights law for a number of years before shifting to journalism. He occasionally reports for The Real News Network and currently contributes to Open Democracy, The Canary, and the Grayzone. You can follow him on Twitter @MElmaazi
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of books including best-selling Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, The Fifty One Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, and The Management of Savagery, which will be published later this year by Verso. He has also produced numerous print articles for an array of publications, many video reports and several documentaries including Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie and the forthcoming Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded the Grayzone Project in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
Last edited by TonyGosling on Thu Dec 20, 2018 12:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 25 Jul 2005
Location: St. Pauls, Bristol, England
|Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 1:59 pm Post subject:
|Secret Scottish-based office led infowars attack on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn
Explosive leaked documents passed to the Sunday Mail reveal the organisation’s Integrity Initiative is funded with £2million of Foreign Office cash and run by military intelligence specialists.
By John Ferguson 04:30, 9 DEC 2018
A secret UK Government-funded infowars unit based in Scotland sent out social media posts attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.
On the surface, the cryptically named Institute for Statecraft is a small charity operating from an old Victorian mill in Fife.
But explosive leaked documents passed to the Sunday Mail reveal the organisation’s Integrity Initiative is funded with £2million of Foreign Office cash and run by military intelligence specialists.
The “think tank” is supposed to counter Russian online propaganda by forming “clusters” of friendly journalists and “key influencers” throughout Europe who use social media to hit back against disinformation.
The HQ of the Institute for Statecraft in Fife (Image: Sunday Mail)
Derelict Scottish mill is shadowy hub in UK's fight against Putin's propaganda machine
But our investigation has found worrying evidence the shadowy programme’s official Twitter account has been used to attack Corbyn, the Labour Party and their officials.
One tweet quotes a newspaper article calling Corbyn a “useful idiot”, that goes on to state: “His open visceral anti-Westernism helped the Kremlin cause, as surely as if he had been secretly peddling Westminster tittle-tattle for money.”
A message from the UK Government-funded organisation promotes an article that states: “Unlike Galloway (former MP George Galloway) Corbyn does not scream conspiracy, he implies it,” while another added: “It’s time for the Corbyn left to confront its Putin problem.”
A further message refers to an “alleged British Corbyn supporter” who “wants to vote for Putin”.
It is not just the Labour leader who has been on the receiving end of online attacks.
His strategy and communications director Seumas Milne was also targeted.
The Integrity Initiative, whose base at Gateside Mill is near Auchtermuchty, retweeted a newspaper report that said: “Milne is not a spy – that would be beneath him.
“But what he has done, wittingly or unwittingly, is work with the Kremlin agenda.”
Jeremy Corbyn with Seumas Milne, Labour's Executive Director of Strategy and Communications
Jeremy Corbyn with Seumas Milne, Labour's Executive Director of Strategy and Communications (Image: PA)
Another retweet promoted a journalist who said: “Just as he supports the Russian bombardment of Syria, Seumas Milne supported the Russian slaughter of Afghanistan, which resulted in more than a million deaths.”
The Integrity Initiative has been accused of supporting Ukrainian politicians who oppose Putin – even when they also have suspected far-right links.
Further leaked documents appear to show a Twitter campaign that resulted in a Spanish politician believed to be friendly to the Kremlin being denied a job.
The organisation’s “Spanish cluster” swung into action on hearing that Pedro Banos was to be appointed director of the national security department.
The papers detail how the Integrity Initiative alerted “key influencers” around Europe who launched an online campaign against the politician.
In the wake of the leaks, which also detail Government grant applications, the Foreign Office have been forced to confirm they provided massive funding to the Integrity Initiative.
In response to a parliamentary question, Europe Minister Alan Duncan said: “In financial year 2017-18, the FCO funded the Institute for Statecraft’s Integrity Initiative £296,500.
“This financial year, the FCO are funding a further £1,961,000. Both have been funded through grant agreements.”
Neil Findlay MSP
Politicians and academics have reacted with fury to news a covert Government-funded unit had been attacking the official opposition in Parliament.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “It would appear that we have a charity registered in Scotland and overseen by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator that is funded by the UK Government and is spewing out political attacks on UK politicians, the Labour Party and the Labour movement.
“Such clear political attacks and propaganda shouldn’t be coming from any charity. We need to know why the Foreign Office have been funding it.”
David Miller, a professor of political sociology in the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol, added: “It’s extraordinary that the Foreign Office would be funding a Scottish charity to counter Russian propaganda which ends up attacking Her Majesty’s opposition and soft-pedalling far-right politicians in the Ukraine.
“People have a right to know how the Government are spending their money, and the views being promoted in their name.”
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The senior manager of the Integrity Initiative appears to be Chris Donnelly. A website biography states he is a graduate of Manchester University and reserve officer in the British Army Intelligence Corps who previously headed the British Army’s Soviet Studies Research Centre at Sandhurst.
Documents passed to the Sunday Mail suggest he was appointed an “Honorary Colonel in Military Intelligence” in 2015 – the year the Integrity Initiative was formed.
Papers we have viewed also suggest senior operative Dan Lafayeedney was an SAS soldier in 1978 and attached to a regiment which ran spy cells in Russia.
After contacting the Integrity Initiative through its website to ask about the Labour attacks, we received a call from spokesman Stephen Dalziel.
He said: “I’m not aware of that. I’m not the one who controls the Twitter account. If it was criticism of one of our politicians, then that shouldn’t be on there.”
When asked about the military background of Integrity Initiative employees, Dalziel denied any secret service involvement.
Gateside Mill in Fife where the Integrity Initiative is based (Image: Garry F McHarg/Sunday Mail)
He added: “Chris Donnelly was in the TA for many years.
“Dan Lafayeedney, who is a Scot, that’s why it is registered in Scotland, was many years ago in the Army.
“I did one year as a TA officer on attachment. The biggest chunk of my career, I was a BBC journalist. Definitely not secret service, I promise you.”
Previous online biographies about Dalziel suggest he spent a year in the British Army in 1981, before joining the Soviet Studies Research Centre at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
The leaked documents show a funding application to the Foreign Office that details the unit’s work.
Further papers reveal a unit in Lithuania which received overseas funding to “support a new hub/cluster creation and to educate cluster leaders and key people in Vilnius in infowar techniques”.
The Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung