Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 9, 2019

The Integrity Initiative controversy (yawn)

Filed under: Russia — louisproyect @ 8:52 pm

On November fifth, a group identifying itself as Anonymous began releasing internal documents it hacked from the Integrity Initiative, a British group that describes itself as follows:

We are a network of people and organizations from across Europe dedicated to revealing and combating propaganda and disinformation. Our broader aim is also to educate on how to spot disinformation and verify sources. This kind of work attracts the extremely hostile and aggressive attention of disinformation actors, like the Kremlin and its various proxies, so we hope you understand that our members mostly prefer to remain anonymous.

So we are dealing with Anonymous vs Anonymous apparently. It sort of reminds me of this:

Trying to make sense of the raw documents is a chore and a half but basically they reveal an organized attempt to influence reporters to write anti-Russian propaganda. For example, a selected group of Spanish reporters were urged to expose a military officer as being soft on Putin. The go-to guys, Grayzone’s Katzenjammer Kids Mohamed Elmaazi and Max Blumenthal, told of a campaign to block Army Colonel Pedro Baños from being appointed to Director of Spain’s National Security Department on the “bogus grounds” that he was pro-Kremlin.

Reading this, you would think that it was tantamount to Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers writing a report that described Elizabeth Warren as a “socialist” even though she has openly denied that, instead claiming she was in favor of markets.

What about the good Colonel? El Pais, a newspaper that was part of the Integrity Initiative’s plot, published an article that made a series of interesting observations, starting with his tweet that referred to Putin enjoying a 74% popularity rating, something that inspired this remark: “Wouldn’t we love to have a political leader half as popular right here in the European Union!!!”

Other tweets stated: “The media war, and between the US and Russia, is so intense that it is increasingly difficult to know what’s really going on in the Syria war;” “I agree that Europe cannot draw away from Russia, but must rather be its natural complement;” “Sometimes I find it hard not to believe in conspiracy theories;” and: “As a military official from a country that is part of NATO, I cannot give an opinion. But I do believe that Europe has lost an opportunity with Russia.”

I mean, really, is the charge of being -pro Putin bogus? I suppose that in Grayzone’s eyes it is since the Colonel’s words were so undeniably true. Max Blumenthal would probably go far as to say that the officer was a NATO tool since he wrote that it was “increasingly difficult to know what’s really going on in the Syria war.” Surely, he must have been reading Idrees Ahmad or some other pro-imperialist al-Qaeda operative if he could have written these words since the entire world, at least those that seek peace and national sovereignty, understand that Assad was defending a secular, diverse and economically progressive country from American-backed mercenaries in the same way Fidel Castro defended Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.

The essential method of Grayzone and all the other propaganda outlets that have taken up the Integrity Initiative documents (Mint News, Moon of Alabama, RT, Sputnik, et al) is to discount the material on the Integrity Initiative website and the articles published under their prodding, such as the El Pais item, as “fake news” because it is led by British neocons with close ties to the military. Not only does Pedro Baños get a clean bill of health, so do we hear that the Skripal Novichok poisoning was a “false flag” operation.

Why? Because in 2015 it issued a policy paper calling for expelling “every RF [Russian Federation] intelligence officer and air/defense/naval attache from as many countries as possible”. And guess what? In 2018, the same year the Skripals were poisoned, it issued another policy paper with similar goals. Given the obvious Cold War mindset of the Institute, you might have expected such papers to come out not only on a yearly basis but twice a month.

Of course, the only way to make sense of the Skripal affair is to examine the evidence as Bellingcat has done. Here, by contrast, is Max Blumenthal’s version of what happened:

One can gather how much impact Grayzone has versus Bellingcat. According to Alexa, Grayzone is ranked 452,193 globally while Bellingcat is 65,661. Maybe Max should do standup like Jimmy Dore instead of posing as a serious journalist.

Meanwhile, in an effort to show that they are gumshoes equal to Sam Spade, they discovered that the Institute for Statecraft, another neocon outfit funded by the Conservative government in England and parent to the Integrity Initiative, has a different address than the one listed in a Scottish registry of nonprofits. Going to the Scottish address listed there, Mohamed Elmaazi discovered that it was a building in complete disrepair. But the hacked documents revealed the real address, which was in the basement of a “spectacular neo-gothic mansion” in London. When Elmaazi wrangled his way into the building like Michael Moore busting a polluter’s corporate headquarters, they showed him to the door pretty quickly, which led Grayzone to comment: “Elmaazi’s swift ejection from the premises confirmed the lengths that this shadowy organization continues to go to to avoid public scrutiny.”

Really? You don’t have to be quick on the uptake to figure out that this was a military intelligence asset. Just look at their website under “Fellows” and you will see how little attention they pay to concealing their purpose. Martin Edmonds is Senior Associate Fellow for Civil-military Relations. Amalyah Hart is Fellow for Hybrid Warfare in the Indo-Pacific Region. This is a strategic planning think-tank obviously serving as an adjunct to the British military, filled with the kind of academics that get degrees from the British equivalent of Georgetown University, Princeton, et al.

One might say that Mr. Elmaazi shock as its nefarious goings-on was akin to Captain Renault’s surprise that gambling was going on at Rick’s place.


  1. In the scene in Casablanca when Renault expresses shock, just as he is expressing shock, he is handed his winnings, if you remember:

    Rick : How can you close me up? On what grounds?
    Captain Renault : I’m shocked! Shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.
    [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
    Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
    Captain Renault : [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
    Captain Renault : Everybody out at once.

    My question: How much did Mr. Elmaazi win, I wonder?

    Comment by Reza — January 10, 2019 @ 12:02 am

  2. Left out the Corbyn bit. And the Sanders campaign bit. Lot’s of bits.

    Comment by Rojo — January 10, 2019 @ 11:52 pm

  3. I left a lot out. People can spend time delving into it but I stopped taking it seriously when it tried to make the case that the Skribal poisoning was a “false flag”. The stuff I’ve read from Craig Murray, et al, is laughable.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 11, 2019 @ 12:03 am

  4. Yet you have ZERO proof of Russian influence of anyone. ZERO.

    What’s laughable? Do some digging Woodward and Berstein. Present some evidence of “collusion”.

    Otherwise you’re argument is just “I trust the NYT and the Military-Industrial-Complex”.

    I’m waiting.

    Comment by Rojo — January 11, 2019 @ 9:33 am

  5. Of course Russia has influence. People like Max Blumenthal repeat the talking points of RT.com on a daily basis through Twitter. On the other hand, if you are referring to bribing people to spout Russian propaganda, I doubt there is much of that at all. Some regard Blumenthal as being a secret agent because he went to an RT.com banquet. I disagree with that. He more likely switched to Putinist propaganda because it is better for his career path. All these liberal online magazines like Alternet and The Nation are sympathetic to the Kremlin. For every article in such magazines opposing Assad, there were a dozen supporting him. I know because I keep track.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 11, 2019 @ 1:34 pm

  6. Here’s my question. Is smearing an art form?
    If it is, keep working, Louis, you’ll get there. Your talent will be recognized one day.

    Comment by Doug Colwell — January 13, 2019 @ 7:22 am

  7. I myself regard you as a minor master and think the Atlantic Council should send you a cheque.
    Fingers crossed!

    Comment by Doug Colwell — January 13, 2019 @ 7:29 am

  8. Colwell, comments 6 and 7 are too much like the shit you post here all the time. Crude insults that demonstrate your inability to discuss the article above are okay from time to time but you have crossed the line. Bye-bye.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 13, 2019 @ 1:10 pm

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