I’ve been watching a video discussion about the so-called ‘Integrity Initiative’ (a semi-private UK black propaganda outfit) which was linked in a post by Jewish Voice for Labour. The ‘initiative’ as we now know has received millions of taxpayers’ money and has beavered away seeking to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. In this discussion there was a mention of the British Army’s 77th Brigade, which deals with ‘Influence and Outreach.’ Talk about euphemisms. This is not what we might normally associate with social work and community development. The 77th Brigade’s website says:
SOME OF THE WAYS WE HELP
Conducting timely and appropriate audience, actor and adversary analysis.
Planning and integrating information activity and outreach (IA&O).
Supporting and delivering IA&O within pre-designated boundaries.
Supporting counter-adversarial information activity.
Support to partners across Government upstream and post-conflict institutional development/reform.
Collecting, creating and disseminating digital and wider media content in support of designated tasks.
Monitoring and evaluating the information environment within boundaries or operational area.
The second to last sentence deserves more scrutiny so far as the media is concerned. When did you last see an attribution to the 77th Brigade in the news? I wonder how many (e.g. Guardian) stories are sourced from the 77th Brigade? How many journalists have been cultivated by the 77th Brigade? The problem with establishment journalists’ unattributable intelligence briefings is that one never knows to what extent the source has been interrogated or at least tested. How can their info even be verified? How far would a journalist risk losing their precious (pay cheque giving) source? Now we must rely on a second tier of ‘interrogation’ (such as the video referred to above) which of course is considered less reliable – which is to say it doesn’t appear in the mainstream media. We are now in a position where every story touching on this sort of stuff has to be cross referenced on the internet in order to gain a more rounded view, or even just to be able to ask the questions we know need to be answered.
I know the 77th Brigade’s type of activity has always gone on but now it is being legitimised like never before. Not that long ago the very existence of such activities would have been a state secret. The existence of our intelligence and security services was never officially acknowledged. The internet has cemented a new faux openness, but I’m not sure it’s changed anything of substance even if MI5 runs Christmas quizzes (I’m sure I read that somewhere). What we’re getting is more state chaff as we revert to a Cold War mentality which prohibits efforts to develop trust as the basis for building sensible engagement with our ‘adversaries.’ Who cares if a mission statement or two is published for public consumption, written in ever-so-clever goobledespook?
The objective seems to be to rule out trust as any kind of possibility. Perhaps in the case of Russia this is a reaction not just to the perception of Putin as the all-seeing, all-knowing adversary, but the Western elite’s disappointment at its failure to capture Russia after the fall of Gorbachev. Russia’s development didn’t proceed according to plan! Let’s revive the Great Game! Crimea! Half a league forward, all in the valley of Death!
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