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Is the Pentagon behind hit on independent journalists?: Slimed by the Wash Post in 'False News' McCarthyite Attack

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By Dave Lindorff

Like Sen. McCarthy before him, Post reporter Craig Timberg has a 'list' of subversives
Like Sen. McCarthy before him, Post reporter Craig Timberg has a 'list' of subversives
(Image by ThisCantBeHappening!)
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ThisCantBeHappening.net didn't make the Washington Post's list of 200 news sites that are "purveyors of Russian propaganda" designed to "undermine Americans' faith in democracy," but an article by yours truly published on our site on September 29 which was picked up by Counterpunch.org and run the following day was cited as "proof" that Counterpunch is just such a perfidious agent of Russian subversion of the US -- which I guess supposedly "outs" me as one of those secret Russian agents in the US alternative media.

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The article in question, headlined US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing , called out the Dutch "investigation" into that horrific shoot-down of a fully-loaded Malaysian jumbo jet over war-torn eastern Ukraine in 2013, pointing out that the prosecutors and investigators involved refused to accept any radar or transmission monitoring evidence offered by Russia or by separatist rebels in the region, using instead only evidence provided by the Ukrainian intelligence service and government -- this despite the fact that both Ukraine and Russia possessed quantities of the BUK missile and mobile launchers that were known to have been involved in the downing of the plane, and should thus both be potential suspects in the case. I also noted that as reported by noted former AP investigative reporter Robert Parry on his own Consortium News site (also on the Washington Post's hit list of Russian propaganda sites), and by retired CIA Senior Analyst Ray McGovern, the Dutch investigators never asked for nor received any satellite surveillance photos or NSA transcripts of relevant telecommunications concerning the shoot-down from the US, though such evidence certainly exists.

The Washington Post article in question, written by Craig Timberg -- surely either one of the most credulous and lazy journalists working in a major US news organization (and that's really an accomplishment!), or a rank propagandist for the US government posing as a journalist at the Post -- relied upon only two sources for his dramatic "expose'" purporting to prove that a massive Russian propaganda campaign had surreptitiously attempted to undermine (perhaps successfully!) the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and to throw the race to Donald Trump, at the same time undermining US foreign policy and faith in the US government while elevating the reputation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both sources are falsely described by Timberg as being "two teams of independent researchers." The assumption we clearly are meant to have is that these organizations have no institutional bias.

In fact, the first of these sources, the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), turns out to be a hoary relic of the Cold War founded in 1955 by Robert Strausz-Hupe', an Austrian emigre' and passionate anti-Communist. It has continued its anti-Russian propaganda stance since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 2002 death of its founder and now boasts on its board of trustees jailbait like former Reagan National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, a key player in the Reagan-era Iran Contra scandal who pleaded guilty to four counts of lying to Congress but was pardoned by President Reagan, arch-neocon and Russia-phobe Robert Kagan, a key promoter of the the US invasion or Iraq in 2003, and a whole host of other right-wing anti-Russian fanatics.

At least FRPI is willing to let people know who it is and who is running the joint. In contrast, the other of Timberg's sources, PropOrNot, an organization with a website, PropOrNot.com , founded only several months ago, remains totally secret, providing no information on its site about its origins, its funding, its leadership or its staff. And yet Timberg confidently claims its information about Russia's alleged epic propaganda effort was the result of the painstaking analytical work of these "experts." In fact Timberg says the organization's executive director, whom he quotes, asked for and received anonymity along with all his staff because they wanted to "avoid being targeted by Russia's legions of skilled hackers."

And the Post's editors allow him to get away with this gutlessness and lack of transparency.

To get the full picture of how credulous and unprofessional -- or wilfully biased -- Timberg's editors at the Washington Post(often still considered one of the nation's top "newspapers of record"), were in not vetting his article, read the Intercept's article Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist from a New, Hidden and Very Shady Group. which devastatingly eviscerates both PropOrNot and the Post.

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Suffice to say that besides allowing Timberg to use as the key source of his article and dramatic media blacklist an anonymous and clearly partisan group, PropOrNot, the Post's editors also never required their supposedly crack "technology reporter" to even attempt to contact a single editor or journalist at any of the named alleged purveyors or "useful idiots" he was accusing of secretly spreading Russian-sourced "false news." There's not even a perfunctory: "Efforts to contact the editors at Counterpunch were unsuccessful" in the entire piece. Timberg and the editors of a paper that once gave us the Watergate story that brought down President Richard Nixon clearly didn't even consider such basics of journalism important!

I can vouch for this personally. Counterpunch is listed on PropOrNot's home page [9] as number nine on the PropOrNot.org blacklist, under the headline: "Russian Propaganda Targets All Americans." PropOrNot conveniently included two links to Counterpunch articles which it indicates make its case for including the site on their list. The first, under the heading "Review Article," takes the reader to a page of Propornot.com and an article headlined: "Russia Useful Idiots Proliferate Russian Propaganda." Below that snarky headline, the PropOrNet analyst Joel Harding gives an analysis of the article, in which he questions the author's qualifications to be a self-described part of the American left, since he identifies himself as a socialist, which Harding then tells the reader "isn't exactly the normal American 'left', but the 'remnants of the Soviet' left." Comically, Harding fails to notice that actually the Counterpunch author in this case isn't even a US resident, but describes himself as a "retired aerospace worker living in British Columbia."

Clearly this is not a website given to sober expert analysis as characterized by the Post's Timberg.

In any event, the reprint that follows Harding's introduction, written by the Canadian Counterpunch contributor Robert Annis, and headlined "Western Media Propaganda Threatens Peace and Prolongs the Deadly Conflict in Eastern Ukraine," which ran Sept. 2, reports quite factually, quoting such Western sources as Reuters and the New York Times, that a plurality of Swedes and Finns oppose their respective conservative governments' efforts to join NATO. Annis then goes on to quite accurately write that US reporting on the civil war in eastern Ukraine fails to note that it is Ukrainian forces that are taking aggressive actions towards the separatist regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, not separatists (or Russians) invading the or threatening regions of Ukraine to the east of those two breakaway ethnic-Russian majority provinces.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)
 

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