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Caitlin Johnstone

Conspiracy Theories are Caused by Government Secrecy

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With anyone sharing "conspiracy theories" facing ever-harsher penalties online, we are ignoring their cause: governments so intent on keeping their secrets, not to protect their people, but to protect themselves.

The DC Circuit has ruled that the CIA is under no obligation to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests pertaining to its involvement with insurgent militias in Syria, overturning a lower court’s previous ruling in favor of a Buzzfeed News reporter seeking such documents.

As Sputnik‘s Morgan Artyukhina clearly outlines, this ruling comes despite the fact that mainstream news outlets have been reporting on the Central Intelligence Agency’s activities in Syria for years, and despite a US president having openly tweeted about those activities.

“In other words, the CIA will not be required to admit to actions it is widely reported as having done, much less divulge documents about them to the press for even greater scrutiny,” Artyukhina writes, calling to mind the Julian Assange quote, “The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security.”
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MSM Already Using Capitol Hill Riot To Call For More Internet Censorship

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The United States received a very small taste of its own medicine today as rioting Trump fanatics temporarily forced their way into the nation’s Capitol building, and now the whole nation is freaking out.

I am being generous when I say that America was given a very small taste of its own medicine; unlike the horrific coups and violent uprisings the US routinely orchestrates in noncompliant nations around the world, this one stood exactly zero chance of seizing control of the government, and only one person was killed.

I am also being generous when I say the rioters “forced their way” in; DC chose not to increase its police presence in preparation for the protests despite knowing that they were planned, and there’s footage of what appears to be cops actively letting them through a police barricade. There was some fighting between police and protesters, but contrasted with the unceasing barrage of police brutality footage which emerged from Black Lives Matter demonstrations a few months prior it’s fair to say the police response today was relatively gentle.

Predictably, this entirely American disruption has blue-checkmarked commentariat shrieking about Vladimir Putin on social media.
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The Washington Post Can’t Stop Babbling About Russians ‘Hacking Our Minds’

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The Washington Post has published another article warning its readers that the Russians are “hacking our minds”, this one authored by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

Russia hasn’t just hacked our computer systems. It’s hacked our minds.” blares the ridiculous, propagandistic headline for an article about “the Russian model” of propaganda which “rests on the principle that people get convinced when they hear the same message many times from a variety of sources, no matter how biased.”

Which is funny, since this is not the first time WaPo itself has repeated this cartoonish narrative about Russian mind-hackers.
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When Corporate Power Is Your Real Government, Corporate Media Is State Media

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The New York Times published an astonishingly horrible article the other day titled “Latin America Is Facing a ‘Decline of Democracy’ Under the Pandemic” accusing governments like Venezuela and Nicaragua of exploiting Covid-19 to quash opposition and oppress democracy.

The article sources its jarringly propagandistic claims in multiple US government-funded narrative management operations like the Wilson Center and the National Endowment for Democracy-sponsored Freedom House, the extensively plutocrat-funded Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the United States Naval Academy.

The crown jewel of this piece of State Department stenography reads as follows:
Adding to these challenges, democracy in Latin America has also lost a champion in the United States, which had played an important role in promoting democracy after the end of the Cold War by financing good governance programs and calling out authoritarian abuses.
Whoa, nelly.
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I Don’t Always Believe CIA Narratives. But When I Do, I Believe Them About China.

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My social media notifications have been lighting up the last few days with virulent Chinagaters sharing a video which purports to show Uighur Muslims being loaded onto a train to be taken to concentration camps. It’s actually an old video that had already surfaced last year, but it is magically making the rounds again as a new and shocking revelation in 2020 now that western China hysteria has been officially kicked into high gear, at exactly the same time the US enacts one of the most dangerous and incendiary escalations of recent years in the South China Sea.

Everyone tagging me in this video presents it as a self-evident “gotcha” moment, in exactly the same way Russiagaters spent years tagging me in every HUGE BOMBSHELL WALLS ARE CLOSING IN item of thinly sourced narrative fluff in their debunked conspiracy theory that the Kremlin had infiltrated the highest levels of the US government.

They are one hundred percent certain that the video shows Uighurs being loaded onto a train to go to a concentration camp, solely because that is what the bit of text over the video tells them they are seeing. They aren’t looking at the actual data and thinking critically about it, they’re looking at the narrative and believing it on blind faith. Which, in a post-Iraq invasion world, is an absolutely insane thing to do when presented with information about a nation that is targeted by the US-centralized empire.
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As Long As Mass Media Propaganda Exists, Democracy Is A Sham

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A new Reuters/Ipsos poll has reportedly found that a majority of Americans believe the completely discredited narrative that the Russian government paid Taliban-linked fighters to kill the occupying forces of the US and its allies in Afghanistan.

“A majority of Americans believe that Russia paid the Taliban to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan last year amid negotiations to end the war, and more than half want to respond with new economic sanctions against Moscow, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday,” Reuters reports.

“Overall, 60% of Americans said they found reports of Russian bounties on American soldiers to be ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ believable, while 21% said they were not credible and the rest were unsure,” says Reuters.

Those 21 percent are objectively correct: the story is not credible, and it’s not even close. Gareth Porter shows in The Grayzone how the “Bountygate” narrative is so utterly baseless that even US intelligence agencies have dismissed it, Joe Lauria of Consortium News explains how it doesn’t make any sense on its face, and FAIR’s Alan MacLeod breaks down the appalling journalistic malpractice that went into circulating this incredibly thinly sourced story to the mainstream public.
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The Establishment Only Dislikes Trump Because He Puts An Ugly Face On The Empire

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Barack Obama has given his perfunctory speech about the Black Lives Matter protests taking place in America today, and it was every bit as full of pretty words and empty of actual substance as you’d expect from a president who spent eight years stagnating the progressive movement with empty hope narrative while advancing the same murderous oppressive agendas as his predecessors.

The former president talked about changes that need to be made as though he wasn’t the most powerful politician in America for two full terms, praised the nation’s police officers saying “the vast majority” of them protect and serve the people, and encouraged them to continue making empty gestures of solidarity with the protesters to calm them down.

“I want to acknowledge the folks in law enforcement that share the goals of re-imagining policing,” Obama said. “Because there are folks out there who took their oath to serve your communities to your countries [who] have a tough job, and I know you’re just as outraged about the tragedies in the recent weeks as are many of the protesters. So we’re grateful for the vast majority of you who protect and serve. I’ve been heartened to see those in law enforcement who recognize, ‘Let me march along with these protestors. Let me stand side by side and recognize that I want to be part of the solution,’ and have shown restraint and volunteered and engaged and listened because you’re a vital part of the conversation, and change is going to require everyone’s participation.”
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Nothing Is Certain But Death, Taxes, And Police Infiltration Of US Protests

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video has been circulating of a white man casually smashing the windows of a Minneapolis shop with a hammer during protests against the police murder of George Floyd. The man is clearly trying to hide his identity by wearing a gas mask, carrying a large umbrella, and wearing full-length black clothing.

Protesters can be seen intervening to stop his destructive behavior in the video.

“Are you a fu*king cop?” one asks.

An officer with the Saint Paul Police Department has been publicly named by someone identified as the officer’s ex-wife, who said his voice, walk and gas mask made her “90% sure” it was him. The Saint Paul Police Department has denied this.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but it is a very safe bet that it’s a law enforcement officer of some kind. Disruptive police infiltration of protest movements is a historical constant in America, after all. It is the norm, not the exception.

Protests have spread throughout the United States since the emergence of that footage. Journalist Max Blumenthal has uploaded a very interesting video of an encounter he had with an undercover cop posing as a protester in Washington, DC.
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Narrative Managers Argue China-Like Internet Censorship Is Needed

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Neoconservative publication The Atlantic has published an article authored by two university professors titled “Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal”, subtitled “In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the US was wrong.”

The article is actually worth reading in full, not just because it’s outrage porn for anyone who values human communication that is unregulated by oligarchs and government agencies, but because it’s actually packed full of extensively sourced information about the way Silicon Valley tech giants are collaborating with western governments to censor speech. The only difference between this article and something you might read on some libertarian website is that this article argues that all of these regulations on speech are a good thing.

Here’s an archive of the article if you don’t want to give clicks to The Atlantic, whose editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg once assured the world that “the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.” Do give it a look if this interests you and you have time.
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