Tag: Victor Lewis-Smith

Al-Qaeda Win the Oscar for ‘Best Documentary Short’

By Daniel Margrain

Barry Jenkins receiving the award for Best Picture for Moonlight

It was hard to avoid the mix-up that occurred at the Oscar ceremony because it made the headlines on every major corporate news channel. Never mind the fact that human beings are dying of famine in Yemen or are being killed by bombs raining down on them supplied by BAE whose head is vice-chair of the BBC Trust. Never mind that four million other people are without water in Chile, or that current Arctic sea ice extent has reached a record 36th-time low for 2017 alone.

Never mind any of these things, just remember that what’s important is that Warren Beatty or whoever, messed up in front of a bunch of self-congratulatory narcissists. Many of these privileged people take almost every opportunity they can to bash a president who has stated publicly that he wants a good relationship with a country that has most effectively dealt a hammer blow to Salafist-inspired terrorists in Syria. Is it any wonder that Trump had no intention of showing up to the ceremony, particularly as he probably had insider knowledge as to who won the Oscar for the Best Documentary Short category? That particular accolade went to the Netflix-produced The White Helmets. The photographic evidence linking the White Helmets to the various Salafist terrorist groups in Syria is overwhelming.

Public relations

The nefarious agenda behind the White Helmets operation was initially exposed by brave independent journalists working inside Syria – Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett – both of whom have written extensively on the White Helmets. What follows is a relatively brief synopsis for the benefit of numerous media commentators who are not yet up to speed on the issue. The White Helmets are essentially a public relations project who work in areas of Syria controlled by al-Qaida and their various offshoots. Their primary function is the production of propaganda that involves demonizing the Assad government, the aim of which is to encourage direct foreign military intervention into the country with a view to regime change.

Their strategy has involved writing a Washington Post editorial in addition to being very active on social media where they have a presence on Twitter and Facebook. According to their website, contact to the group is made by email through The Syria Campaign which underscores the relationship. Although the organization is highly publicized as civilian rescue workers in Syria, in reality they are a project that have been created by the UK and US governments.

Training of the White Helmets in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier, and the promotion of their activities is undertaken by The Syria Campaign supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. Ubiquitous in the mainstream media’s coverage of the aftermath of bomb damage in Aleppo, have been the images of ‘volunteers’ of the White Helmets rescuing young children trapped in the rubble of buildings allegedly bombed by the Syrian government and its Russian ally forces.

Neutrality

The group, who have some 2,900 members and claim complete neutrality, are said to operate as first responder, search and rescue teams in areas outside of Syrian government control. They are portrayed in the Western media as selfless individuals who rush into the face of danger and feted as being saviours of humanity. Western journalists and human rights groups frequently cite unverified casualty figures and other uncorroborated claims from the White Helmets and therefore take at face value the organization’s self-proclaimed assertions they are an unarmed, impartial and independent NGO whose sources of funding are not derived from any of the conflicting parties in Syria.

The group have produced a slick website in which they push for a No Fly Zone (euphemism for regime change) in Syria. Their public relations campaigns include a short documentary film – which in reality amounts to a self-promotional advertisment – that was shown at a prestigious invitation-only Chatham House event in London. The group were subsequently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Funding

Funding for the White Helmets comes principally from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who have committed at least $23 million to the group since 2013. In addition, the organization have received £22m from the UK rising to a probable £32m and £7m from Germany. Other substantial funds come from Holland and Japan. Conservative estimates suggest that some $100m dollars in total have been donated to the group.

Essentially, the White Helmets are the most prominent manifestation of what is a highly sophisticated propaganda campaign by the UK government comprising a complex interwoven web that connects the various government departments, NGOs, opposition groups and activists with the corporate media who facilitate and amplify the propaganda in order to help achieve the ultimate objective of regime change in Syria.

High profile advertising campaigns and public relations exercises that involve the production of videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts, have unfortunately persuaded many well-meaning activists that the White Helmets are an independently funded bi-partisan humanitarian group, when in reality they are Salafist sectarian extremists who operate as a front for al- Qaida, ISIS and their various affiliates. Many of the fighting groups tied to the White Helmets are branded with the logos of fighting groups by contractors hired out by the Foreign Office and overseen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The evidence outlined by Dr Barbara McKenzie is compelling:

“The role played by the British Foreign Office and other government departments in the unremitting propaganda against the Syrian government is unquestionable. The British government is determinedly pursuing its policy of regime change in Syria, and sees gaining public acceptance of that policy through propaganda that demonises the Syrian government and glorifies the armed opposition as essential to achieving that goal.”

Given the extent to which the Foreign Office financially and logistically support the White Helmets in Syria, it was fitting that they congratulated them on their ‘success’ at the Oscars. As Dr Barbara McKenzie put it on Twitter, the Foreign Office were, in effect, congratulating themselves.

Saving Syria’s Children

The fake BBC documentary, Saving Syria’s Children, painstakingly critiqued by Robert Stuart, whose principle purpose was to attempt to persuade British parliamentarians to vote for military intervention, represents the apex of this propaganda process. But having failed in that objective, the propaganda effort was stepped-up. In the autumn of 2013, the UK government embarked on behind-the-scenes work to influence the course of the war by shaping perceptions of opposition fighters.

It was during this time that the media narrative began to shift. Where previously Islamist extremist beheaders were described as ‘Jihadists’ and ‘terrorists’ the more benign terms, ‘rebels’ and ‘Syrian opposition’ were preferred. Speaking on UK Column News (February 27, 2017), Vanessa Beeley, who was one of only a handful of independent investigative journalists on the ground in Syria, said this about the attempts to glorify the White Helmets exemplified by their Oscar ‘success’. I want to quote Beeley extensively because her impassioned plea was emotionally powerful and clearly sincere. What she had to say is of extreme importance:

“Terrorism gets given the red carpet treatment in Hollywood which demonstrates very clearly who we are dealing with. In fact, one positive that comes out of this, is that it fully exposes the elite cartel behind the attempt to dismember Syria. This cartel is essentially Zionism, along with Saudi extremist ideology funded, of course, by the US-UK deep state and supported by the illegal state of Israel, Turkey and various other nations in the region.

The intention is to whitewash terrorist atrocities that are being committed on a daily basis inside Syria and facilitated by the organization that has just been given one of the highest accolades that can be given in the film industry. So for that reason it is also extremely fitting that they are all effectively some of the best actors around at the moment.

The celebration of The White Helmets is tantamount to celebrating the use of children for war porn, the killing of more children in Syria, the support and celebration of the rape of Syrian women, the massacre of entire families, the ethnic cleansing of minorities, the kidnapping and abuse of children and the selling of them to paedophile rings, drug traffickers and pimps. In other words, the Oscars are basically celebrating every evil that has been created by our regimes.

We can no longer sit back and pretend that it’s happening somewhere else and we don’t have an obligation to take a stand against it. It’s time to stand up and be counted. It’s time to stop sitting on the fence. It’s not only about Syria, but about Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Ukraine – about every country that is being infested by this terrorist plague that is being created by our regimes. We are responsible for that and we need to start taking that responsibility seriously and to actually express that outrage.

If you are at a party where people are celebrating the Oscars – speak out! Because until your voices are heard, this is going to continue and these children in Syria – these orphans – are going to continue suffering. We are responsible for that, and that same plague is not that far off from being on our doorsteps. So we need to start making a stand – right now.”

Please make a small donation

If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. I don’t make any money from my work, and I’m not funded. You can help continue my research and write independently.… Thanks!


Donate Button with Credit Cards

The Imperial arrogance of the BBC

 

 

By Daniel Margrain

“I think the days of Britain having to apologize for our history are over….I think we should celebrate much of our [imperialist] past rather than apologize for it, and we should talk, rightly so, about British values.”

The above words were uttered not by Nigel Farage, Nick Griffin or Enoch Powell, but former New Labour Chancellor, Gordon Brown eleven years ago during the recording of a BBC ‘Newsnight’ film which explored Brown’s ideas about Britishness. The “values” supposedly specific to Britain that Brown was referring to were not made clear.

Four years later, in 2009, Brown as Prime Minister, became embroiled in the controversy that surrounded the appearance of the fascist Nick Griffin on the BBCs flagship political forum programme, Question Time. After much to-ing and fro-ing between the BBC hierarchy and Brown, it was the latter who finally decided that the responsibility to allow Griffin on to the programme rested with the former.

Although in principle the BBC Trust – which oversees the requirement of the organisation “to deliver duly impartial news by the Royal Charter and Agreement and to treat controversial subjects with due impartiality” – is able to intervene in cases like this, in practice the body never interferes in individual programme content prior to transmission.

The decision to allow the then leader of an openly fascist party on to the programme on the basis that not to have done so would have breached the corporations impartiality guidelines, is an illustration of the absurdity underpinning the BBC claim. The organization frequently breaches its guidelines in this area. This can be seen in terms of a) how little BBC journalists scrutinize and challenge fascists in interviews and political debating programmes (Andrew Marr’s treatment of French MEP, Marine Le Pen being an example), and b) the extent to which these journalists uncritically accept the views and pronouncements of those in political power.

Stenography

Another clear example of how the corporation breaches its impartiality guidelines was in 2007. The then North America editor for the BBC, Justin Webb, whose role could be said to be closer to that of a stenographer than a journalist, rejected the charge he was a propagandist for US power. Webb said:”Nobody ever tells me what to say about America or the attitude to take about the United States. And that is the case right across the board in television as well”

Webb began a radio programme from the Middle East as follows:

“June 2005. US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice flies to Cairo and at the American University makes a speech that will go down in history”.

Reproducing Rice’s subsequent statement verbatim, Webb allowed her views to be aired without challenge or critique. Rice said, “For sixty years my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither”.

The former U.S Secretary of State added:

“Now we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.”

Webb told his listeners in all seriousness:”I believe the Bush administration genuinely wanted that speech to be a new turning point; a new start”.

Nobody had to tell Webb to say these words; he genuinely believed them.

In March, 2009, BBC reporter Reeta Chakrabarti was asked why she had claimed that Tony Blair had “passionately believed” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when all evidence suggested otherwise. Chakrabarti responded it was because he [Blair] had “consistently said so.”

When Media Lens challenged former BBC news director Helen Boaden on whether she thought these kinds of uncritical responses relating to U.S-UK intent compromised the BBC’s commitment to impartial reporting, she replied that “analysis of the underlying motivation of the coalition is borne out by many of the speeches and remarks of both Mr Bush and Mr Blair.”

Another clear illustration of how the BBC breaches its impartiality guidelines occurred in 1999. It was during this year that the corporation made the political decision to allow its own high-profile newsreader, Jill Dando, to present a DEC appeal for Kosovo at the height of NATO’s 78-day bombing campaign against Serbian “genocide” in Kosovo (the genocide claim has since been proven to have been false).

Shortly after broadcasting the appeal, the BBC reported:”Millions of pounds of donations have been flooding in to help the Kosovo refugees after a national television appeal for funds.”

In a linked article, Tony Blair was was quoted as saying:”This will be a daily pounding until he [the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic] comes into line with the terms laid down by NATO”.

The Kosovo appeal contrasted with the BBC’s decision not to broadcast the Gaza Charity Appeal a decade later in response to Israel’s violent 22-day attack on Gaza as part of Operation Cast Lead.

The BBC’s refusal to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, breached an agreement that dates back to 1963 and left “aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations.”

The BBCs support of the Kosovo appeal was consistent with the British states political and military imperial objectives in the region. By contrast, the notion of any support given to the Palestinian’s in Gaza run counter to these objectives. Apparently, the BBC had no concerns that this clear double-standard might damage its alleged reputation for impartiality.

The state broadcaster’s claims of impartiality are further compromised in relation to both the nature of their senior management appointments which are made by the government of the day, and by acts of cronyism of which there is clear evidence. For instance, at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, both the BBC chairman, Gavyn Davies and his director-general, Gregg Dyke, were supporters of, and donors to, Blair’s New Labour government. Davies’s wife ran Gordon Brown’s office; his children served as pageboy and bridesmaid at the Brown wedding. Tony Blair has stayed at Davies’s holiday home.

Consider too, the establishment links of the members of the BBC Trust whose duty, to recall, is to uphold its public obligations, including impartiality. Are the general public seriously expected to believe that the unrepresentative demographic composition of the trustees, as reflected in their relatively narrow educational and professional backgrounds, are independent of the government that appointed them and of the elite corporate and other vested interests which they are deeply embedded?

Lord Reith, founder of the BBC, was honest in his assessment of the corporation and its relationship to the establishment: “They know they can trust us not to be really impartial”, he said.

Arguably, it’s the Iraq debacle more than any other event in recent history that has exposed the BBCs flagrant beaching of its Charter. BBC journalist, Andrew Gilligan lost his job after he revealed that the Blair regime had manipulated intelligence in relation to Saddam’s supposed possession of WMD.

Marr and full spectrum dominance

Probably no clearer illustration of BBC bias has existed as that which occurred outside 10 Downing Street on April 9, 2003. The BBCs political editor, Andrew Marr’s infamous piece to camera in which he described government ministers walking around Whitehall “with smiles like split watermelons” amounted to imperial hyperbole of the most obnoxious kind.

But it was his premature eulogizing of war criminal Tony Blair that will go down in history as one of the most blatant examples of pro-establishment propaganda ever witnessed. Marr, in overtones that echoed Churchill, and with a wry smirk and air of self-congratulatory righteousness, said of Blair and the coalition forces:

“He [Blair] said they [coalition forces] would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and in the end the Iraqi’s would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right. And it would be entirely ungracious even for his critics not to acknowledge that tonight he stands a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result.”

With Iraq fast becoming an historical footnote, the latest Western-led imperialist wars of aggression in the middle east extended to Libya and latterly, Syria. However, unlike the former two countries, the government of president Bashar al Assad is proving to be a far stronger adversary than perhaps many U.S-UK strategists initially thought.

The BBCs propaganda offensive against Syria and its key regional Russian ally, is all-pervasive. John Pilger said, correctly, that “the first casualty of war is journalism.” What the public is witnessing, in other words, is a media propaganda war machine in ‘full spectrum dominance’ mode.

The BBCs deceptions and lies in relation to Syria – whether in terms of their uncritical stance to the role played by the White Helmets, their use of a fake BBC documentary film in an attempt to influence an important government vote in the House of Commons, or of their censorship by omission –  is so entrenched as to have become systemic and normalized in virtually all aspects of mainstream reportage emanating from that country.

RT & the demonization of Russia

The lies and deceptions also involves the BBCs demonizing of Russia. One way the media manages to achieve this is by instilling fear in the UK population. For instance, on the same day the head of Britain’s M15, Andrew Parker, was interviewed in the Guardian about the Russian “threat” – subsequently reported uncritically on the BBC – the CIA-financed Henry Jackson Society unveiled their new Manual of Russophobia.

A crucial component of the BBCs ‘demonization of Russia strategy’ relates to their attempts at discrediting the broadcaster, RT (also known as Russia Today). The BBCs Andrew Neil, for example, who post-satirist, Victor Lewis-Smith points out, hosts three political programmes on the station, while acting as chairman of the company that runs the Spectator and Telegraph, oversaw, on the Daily Politics programme, arguably one of the most repugnant pieces of anti-Russian propaganda ever witnessed on British television.

Launched in October, 2014, the RT channel is accused by its critics as essentially being a Putin propaganda mouthpiece. However, writer Glenn Greenwald proffers a far more nuanced (and accurate) evaluation. Writing about an anti-RT campaign in March, 2015, Greenwald said:

“The most vocal among the anti-RT crowd – on the ground that it spreads lies and propaganda — such as Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm — were also the most aggressive peddlers of the pro-U.K.-government conspiracy theories and lies that led to the Iraq War. That people like this, with their histories of pro-government propaganda, are the ones demanding punishment of RT for ‘bias’, tells you all you need to know about what is really at play here”.

It’s also worth noting that another of the prominent liberal ‘leftist’ anti-Russia-RT brigade is David “those [Iraqi] weapons had better be there” Aaranovitch of the Times whose role for decades on the BBC appears to be to support just about every opportunity to wage war.

Journalists and broadcasters like Aaranovitch, Kamm and Cohen who are critical of RT, nevertheless tend to overstate the channel’s influence. The reality is RT’s global reach is far less than the BBCs, whose World Service is essentially funded by the organization who founded it – the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Meanwhile, the U.S spends hundreds of millions annually on outfits like RFE/RL in order to spread American values to the rest of the world in much the same way the BBC does in relation to its spreading of British values to a global market.

Apparently propaganda is only ‘evil’ when the broadcaster of the official enemy engages in promoting it, even though the impact of such propaganda is far less destructive than the propaganda emanating from the BBC.

The default position of the British state broadcaster appears to be that the nature of the liberal-democratic state in which they are embedded is such it confers them with certain entitlements – one of which is an unwritten rule allowing them to be selective in terms of their reportage. Thus, ignoring ‘our’ criminality is deemed to be acceptable based on the premise that elected politicians serve the people, and that it is the task of journalism to support, not undermine democracy.

However, democracy is dependent on a fair and impartial media to keep it in check. The realization that corporate lobbying money is becoming increasingly concentrated within the executive arm of the state, results in the subversion of democracy and a lack of honest media scrutiny of its actions. This explains why the mainstream’s demonization of official enemies like Russia and Syria is a given. As Media Lens put it:

“As a rule of thumb, we can be sure that the demonization of official enemies is a key requirement of all [mainstream] journalists in [influential positions]….It is simply understood.”

This structural bias also explains why Barack Obama, for example, continues to be depicted by the BBC as an almost saintly figure, while in truth his record of bombing seven countries is indicative of a warmongering psychopath. In Britain, the notion that the BBC is a propaganda organ of the British state that promotes imperialist war, is widely regarded as being outside the boundaries of acceptable discourse.