Tag: panorama

Panama Papers: Business As Usual

By Daniel Margrain

The Panama Papers : How the rich rob us

Steve Topple’s excellent piece for the Canary which revisited the one year old Panama Papers scandal, was a welcome reminder of the background to the biggest data leak in history. As Topple outlined, the government’s stated intention to tackle the systematic corruption that resulted from the handing over by an anonymous source of massive amounts of data from the Panama-based, German-run law firm Mossack Fonseca which specializes in providing clients with dodgy offshore accounts, was essentially a face-saving exercise intended to give the public the impression that the elites were taking the issue seriously. But a year down the line, it appears to be business as usual.

Due to the specific nature of the leak, it’s clear that the potentially incendiary material is unlikely to see the light of day within the public domain. Given that the leaked material is being managed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) who in turn are supported by some of America’s biggest corporate funders, this was always going to be the case.

As was suggested at the time, had the leaker approached Wikileaks with the 2.6 terabytes of data consisting of 11.5 million documents, rather than Suddeutsche Zeitung – and by extension, the Western media more widely – the impact and potential consequences for those concerned would of been far greater. Instead, the largest data leak that journalists have ever worked with was selectively ‘drip-fed’ with most of the significant amounts implicating Western elites being censored from the public gaze.

Luke Harding

The public had already seen signs of that with the release of Luke Harding’s Guardian piece published exactly one year to the day (April 4, 2016). Predictably, Harding focused on Russian individuals and companies whose wealth represents a minority of the money stashed away. Crucially, he failed to mention that 9,670 UK Companies and over 3,000 US Companies, as well as former PM David Cameron’s father, top Tories and some of the UK’s biggest allies, were implicated and/or named in the Panama Papers.

Did the corporate media vilify David Cameron for some serious high-ranking connections to this mother of all leaks? No, it did not. Did the same media publish any damning report that featured Cameron airbrushed alongside global ‘baddies,’ like former Iranian leader Ahmadinejad? Again, the answer is No.

In the year since the leak, there has been no mention in the corporate media of the fact that the amount of UK companies, banks and accountants complicit in the scandal ranked second highest in an international league table (see below):

Neither has there been any mention of the numerous huge Western multinational corporations or billionaires involved, some of whom sit in the House of Lords. It’s also worth recalling that Harding failed to mention by name the 12 leaders, past and present, identified in the documents. Instead, the Guardian journalist, in line with the methodological approach adopted by Suddeutsche Zeitung, selectively focused on the West’s official enemies – Russia, Syria and North Korea.

There was certainly no impression given in the Guardian article that the global web of corruption and tax avoidance extends to 72 states, heads or former heads of state. Instead, the front cover of the paper at the time sensationally headlined with the words “Exclusive: The Secret $2bn trail of deals that lead all the way to Putin”.

Kowtowing

Neither would one have ascertained the scale of the corruption having watched the UK state broadcaster, the BBC, who chose to mention just five of the 72 – Egypt, Iceland, Gaddafi, Putin and Assad. Central to all this is the pathetic kowtowing to power by our media that’s supposed to be impartial and independent yet they act reflexively on mass by directing their fire at enemies of the state.

Naturally, the media cannot be perceived to be so transparently biased which is why the occasional ‘balanced’ message is required. Step forward the Telegraph. A year ago to the day (April 4, 2016), the paper reported:

“David Cameron’s father ran an offshore fund which avoided paying tax in Britain by hiring Bahamas residents, including a bishop, to sign paperwork…The fund, which was established in the 1980s with help from the Prime Minister’s late father, continues today. The Guardian says it has confirmed that ‘in 30 years Blairmore has never paid a penny of tax in the UK on its profits.”

Nevertheless, the targeting of a dead man is virtually risk free as will be the ‘outing’ of an occasional senile corrupt Lord to be cynically used a sacrificial lamb for the media hacks to peruse over if and when the time is right. Ultimately, the UK Secret Services will never allow the media to publish anything that is likely to damage the ‘reputations’ of leading establishment figures. The Snowden files that the Guardian had in its possession but were requested to be destroyed by M15, are proof of that.

Agenda

On Monday April 4, 2016, I had been watching the UK media all day after the Panama Papers story broke. All of the news bulletins, without exception, prefaced the scandal with either Putin, Cameron’s deceased father or Assad. It’s mainly the first two which are easy and convenient targets intended to deflect away from the crimes that implicate ‘our’ leaders. Almost certainly then, there is a highly motivated political agenda at work here.

This explains why Iceland, who locked up many of its corrupt and criminal bankers, was also named. Following the revelation that the country’s PM was implicated in the scandal, the people of Reykjavik took to the streets in their thousands demanding his resignation which happened shortly afterwards.

The elites on both sides of the Atlantic are concerned about the affect the revealing of widespread and systematic corruption within the high echelons of media and politics will have on the body politic of Europe and North America. They don’t want Reykjavik to spread to London, Paris and Washington. This is another reason why the full scale nature of those implicated is unlikely to be revealed for many years to come, if ever.

What all this highlights is the public is being cynically deceived by the corporate media in order to get their fellow elites off the hook. Craig Murray’s brilliant expose of the BBC Panorama documentary, Tax Havens of the Rich and Powerful Exposed, highlights the extent to which BBC producers and presenters will go to in order to misdirect their audience to this end.

Perhaps less subtle than the overt propaganda pieceSaving Syria’s Children, but no less effective, the BBC related at length the stories of the money laundering companies of the Icelandic PM and Putin’s alleged cellist. As Murray said:

“The impression was definitely given and reinforced that these companies were in Panama. [Presenter] Richard Bilton deliberately suppressed the information that all the companies involved were in fact not Panamanian but in the corrupt British colony of the British Virgin Islands. At no stage did Bilton even mention the British Virgin Islands.”

Murray goes on to say:

“Is it not truly, truly, astonishing the British Virgin Islands were not even mentioned when the BBC broadcast their “investigation” of these documents?”

The BBC, and media in general, are obscuring the key role British money-laundering via its base in the British Virgin Islands plays in these transactions. It can never be stated enough that this corruption scandal mostly concerns the British Virgin Islands. Yes, the corruption is widespread and involves a number of world leaders, some of whom are the UK governments official enemies.

However, in the broader scheme of things, these political figures are essentially peripheral. The level of corruption is widespread and systemic. It’s important that the ruling elites are constantly reminded that the British public haven’t forgotten about the Panama Papers scandal.

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Is the BBCs Ian Pannell complicit in crude anti-Syrian propaganda?

By Daniel Margrain

This is Ian Pannell’s latest BBC report on Syrian chemical weapon use (September 10) allegedly by the Syrian government. Apparently this is yet more evidence of chemical attacks.

I want to declare from the outset that I am not a conspiracy theorist. That’s not to say, historically, there have not been genuine conspiracies’ undertaken by the state against adversaries that have served the political agendas of their protagonists.These have come in many guises from false flag attacks such as the Russian apartment bombings in 1999, the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 and the nurse Nayirah affair in 1990.

After having studied the contents of Robert Stuart’s blog in which he has meticulously and tenaciously examined the September 30, 2013 edition of the BBC Panorama documentary, ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and other related BBC news reports by presenter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway, Stuart has attempted, without much success, to negotiate around its Orwellian complaints procedure.

Pannell’s reports’ appeared peak time on BBC TV a few days after the attack in Ghouta and were seemingly intended as a propaganda tool in the prelude to war. After having studied Pannell’s work and Stuart’s detailed analysis, it’s impossible to disagree with journalist Jonathan Cook who said that we, the news consumers, “are being constantly spun by the media machine that’s the modern equivalent of “soma”, the drug in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World that its citizens were fed to keep them docile and happy.” 

What the Panorama documentary and related reports actually illustrate, in line with Chomsky and Herman’s Propaganda Model, is the media’s apparent ability to be able to keep many of us in a state of perpetual hypnosis. Stuart contends that sequences filmed by BBC staff and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a school in Urm Al-Kubra are largely, if not entirely, staged.

Scenes from the documentary were shown as part of a brief BBC News at Ten broadcast report by Pannell and Conway which contained harrowing scenes of teenage boys and young men, their skin apparently in tatters, racing into what the report describes as “a basic hospital funded by handouts” to be treated for burns. In one particularly disturbing scene a tableau of young men writhe, drool and groan, seemingly in great distress.

My first impression after having seen the film was that it was totally contrived and staffed by actors. What initially led me to this conclusion were the actions of the central figure, Mohammed Asi, who looked directly into the camera for several moments before raising his arm, at which point the group around him instantly became animated before moaning in unison.

Many other anomalies and contradictions too numerous to mention here in detail were evident throughout the Panorama documentary and the related reports’. These included conflicting and contradictory accounts, a “victim” who appeared to be grinning, implausible demeanours’ of alleged victims, questions as to the authenticity of the alleged burns to victims by experienced doctors, apparent choreographed behaviour, unconvincing injuries and testimonies’ that challenge the BBC version of events.

But perhaps the most controversial aspect of all was the participation of Dr. Rola Hallam who appeared anonymously to report on the aftermath of another attack in Syria. Her emotional call for humanitarian intervention in the shape of bombs drew parallels with “Nurse Nayirah“‘s lies to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in the run up to the US vote on the 1990-91 Gulf War.

But arguably most significantly of all, in a report headlined BBC Crew returns to Aleppo on 30 September 2013, rehashed footage from the original programme was aired again. The BBC explains “In a special edition, Panorama travels with British doctors inside Syria to exclusively reveal the devastating impact of the war on children caught in the conflict”  It is a heart-rending report of the suffering of the Syrian people, made so as to demonise the Syrian government.

Close inspection of the two different versions reveals that there were actually two or more takes of this scene.  The easiest tell is the arm position of the man in the fluorescent jacket next to the doctor.

If Dr Rola was as “overwhelmed” as the video claims, why take time off to do multiple almost identical takes of an interview?

The BBC portrayed this as a live action piece with casualties being rushed in. But clearly this is nonsense given that it must of been rehearsed because several takes were done. Furthermore, nobody else in the courtyard is wearing a face mask. One would have thought that if the doctor had time for various takes she would also have time to take her mask off to talk to camera.

Both Panorama programmes talk of two British female doctors, “volunteers for the Charity Hand-in-Hand-for Syria“, suspected to be Dr Rola Hallam and Dr Saleyha Ahsan. The BBC did not mention the backgrounds of either of the “charitable volunteers”. Dr Rola’s connections to the SNO and FSA and the fact that she was shilling for military action under medical/charitable/ altruistic volunteer credentials, all of which the BBC clearly understood but deliberately witheld from the viewer.

Her father is Dr Mousa al-Kurdi, a senior SNO member – who actually taught Assad at university; the Dep leader of the FSA is Col Malik al-Kurdi. Her on-site colleague is a former Captain in the British Army Medical Corps. There is plenty of other clear corroborating evidence of her support for the rebellion too.

All of it was hidden by the BBC who gave the impression she is just an ordinary doctor with selfless humanitarian concerns and plays to the Western interventionist agenda perfectly.

The BBC has not addressed any of the legitimate issues raised. All of the anomalies and contradictions call into question the authenticity of the entire alleged attack. George Galloway said:

The Bush-Blair Corporation as it became known leading up to the Iraq war has lost almost all journalistic integrity. A full inquiry must be launched into why the BBC used a piece of material that was not just wrong but was falsified…for the purpose of propelling our country into war. That’s not what the British public pays its TV license for so that it can be tricked into a war

It’s my view that it’s probable some kind of chemical attack did indeed take place but in a different location to the one depicted but the BBC embellished, fabricated and falsified the aftermath for propaganda purposes. The claims made throughout were that the Assad regime was responsible for the alleged attack despite the fact that there is no evidence supporting the assertion that he was responsible for the chemical attacks in Ghouta in the suburbs of Damascus on September 16 prior to the BBC documentary.

What both Pannell’s latest BBC report and Jonathan Rugman’s recent piece for Channel 4 News before that highlight, is that once again, the British public is being conditioned for war. Two years ago, when the majority of MPs voted against intervention in Syria, would seem to suggest that MPs were sensitive to the views of a highly sceptical and hostile public. But Cameron’s cynical exploitation of the little boy found washed up dead on a Turkish beach, might change all that.