If you have not been living under a rock you will have noticed the term ‘fake news’ being bandied around. Usually the term is used as part of the ongoing slagging match between supporters and detractors of the Trump presidency, and it tends to get used in connection with any statement of the Russian government. However, is there a deeper significance?
The ‘Fake News’ and ‘InfoWars’ lesson series look beyond the ‘fake news’ meme to the deeper covert and overt information wars and psychological operations now taking place between and within the United States, Europe, Russia and China. Since this is a big topic we will visit some highlights then pull back to discuss the bigger picture. We will start with where the term got initial momentum and that is with the website Prop-or-not in late 2016. Since then the ‘Fake News’ meme has gone viral.
How it all Started
In late 2016 an anonymous website called ‘PropOrNot’ (propaganda or not) published a list of 200 alternative news and media sites which it described as ‘Fake News’. At that time PropOrNot provided no information about their identity or agenda, nor did they reveal their methods or criteria for designating a site ‘Fake News’. They did claim to use statistical methods and key word/phrase searches on the internet to identify sites. This is essentially the same method used by the NSA PRISM program but much less sophisticated.
The list itself was very amateur in that there was little commonality between many of the sites. Some sites are certainly more credible than others – the same is true of the mainstream media. However, some are written by academics and subject matter experts and are highly credible, while other simply write from a non-mainstream or anti-Western, or anti-establishment perspective. For example one of the websites listed was Naked Capitalism, named one of the 25 Best Financial Blogs in 2011 by Time. Naked Capitalism is a left-wing website that tends to be highly critical of Wall Street.
Normally PropOrNot would have remained in a quiet corner of the internet but it appears to be well connected. The Washington Post ran an article giving cover and credibility to the site and agreeing that the 200 listed sites were ‘Fake News’. This created something of a storm and drew immediate attention to the growing importance of alternative news media which has been growing rapidly at the expense of mainstream media (MSM) outlets like the Washington Post. Many (if not all) of the 200 posts are highly critical of the MSM. Given that the PropOrNot site was anonymous and essentially hollow it was highly unprofessional of the Washington Post to basically re-post the site. Naked Capitalism threatened to sue and demanded a retraction. However other media lack the resources to take on the Washington Post.
Since then the ‘Fake News’ meme has gone viral and PropOrNot has revealed its true purpose and methods (but not identity). The site is growing rapidly and now has a social media presence complete with facebook page.
The site’s thesis is that the Russian secret services (FSB) directed by President Putin are organising a vast propaganda front to undermine Western interest and liberal democracies because these pose an existential threat to the ruling oligarchy in Russia. Each of the 200 listed sites (and allegedly many more) is said to be a witting or unwitting vector for Russian propaganda. According to PropOrNot anything that is positive about Russia or the government of Russia or its allies, and anything that is critical of the West, the US government, or US foreign policy, is “Russian Propaganda”. Ipso Facto much of the alternative English language media is “Russian Propaganda”. This includes specifically any post or article:
- connected to the Russian government or favourable about Russia,
- critical of Obama’s foreign policy,
- critical of wall Street,
- critical of the Federal reserve,
- critical of the secret services; or
- providing any real analysis of events in the Middle East or Eastern Europe.
According to Both the CIA and PropOrNot 15 million Americans view these “propaganda outlets” and this constitutes a threat to “liberal democracy”.
PropOrNot do not appear interested in the truth or otherwise of the content and do not seem to believe that a person through honest inquiry might arrive at a conclusion that is favourable to Russia and unfavourable to the United States. PropOrNot endorses a smattering of anti-Russian media sites and does not attempt to analyse propaganda from other nations including the US.
What is ‘Fake News’?
The site is well worth reading because it provides an insight into the mentality and world view of the anti-Trump, anti-Russian, anti-Putin, globalist establishment in the United States. That is the same world view evidenced by recent publications by the US Intelligence community into alleged Russian hacking. Indeed, the beliefs, agendas and world views of PropOrNot and the CIA are so closely aligned it is highly probable that PropOrNot is at least in part a CIA front organisation.
According to PropOrNot fake news is any content: ….” aligning with the “Eurasianist” philosophy of Alexander Dugin;” or promoting:
- Conspiracy theories about and protests against U.S. military exercises
- Isolationism and “anti-interventionism” for the US, but not for Russia
- Support for policies like Brexit, and the breakup of the EU and Eurozone
- Opposition to Ukrainian resistance to Russia and Syrian resistance to Assad
- Support for the anti-vax, anti-Zika spraying, anti-GMO, 9/11-”truther”, gold-standard, and other related movements
- “Generally echoing the Russian propaganda “line”, by using themes, arguments, talking points, images, and other content similar to those used by official state-owned and semi-official Russian propaganda outlets;”
So according to PropOrNot, if you agree with Russia on something, or don’t like the Federal Reserve, or want to return to the gold standard, or care about the environment, or are critical of American militarism, or doubt the official version of 9/11, or have concerns about vaccines, or are otherwise not within the mainstream, you are a victim of a sophisticated campaign by President Putin and the FSB to undermine liberal democracy.
Is PropOrNot Credible?
No it isn’t for the following reasons:
It Shows Extreme Prejudice
In effect PropOrNot relegates as ‘fake’ anything that does not agree with their world view. That automatically discredits them. It is like the Vatican dismissing all Protestant writings as ‘fake’ or the Communist Party dismissing mainstream economic texts as ‘fake’. See further Policy Vignette 1 Irrational Beliefs.
The Thesis is Overstated
Russia has made no secret of the fact that it has opened up an ‘information front’ within the West to put Russia’s version of events and counter blatant war mongering and Russiaphobia in the Western media. Putin is quite open about that and regularly seeks Western audiences, even pleading with Western Journalists to communicate Russia’s concerns.
It is naïve to imagine that the FSB does not also seek to influence target countries just as the CIA does, and just as China does. That’s how the world works. The problem with PropOrNot is in paranoid overstatement. The site’s FAQ provides a manifesto which alleges among other things that President Putin controls the Russian Orthodox Church, and virtually the entire Western alternative news media is controlled by the Kremlin. Both claims are absurd.
In addition, the claim that Western liberal democracy presents some kind of threat to ‘Putin and the oligarchs’ shows a surprising ignorance. Putin’s job is to balance the power factions within Russia. That requires that he ‘crack down’ on some Oligarchs and appease others. The Oligarchs themselves enjoy many benefits from the West (including ownership of more than one British newspaper) and have no reason to undermine it. There is significant tension between the Western aligned oligarchs represented by Medvedev and the FSB aligned faction represented by Putin. Nevertheless, Putin has consistently sought rapport, co-operation, and trade with both the US and the EU. The Neocon network has worked tirelessly to prevent co-operation and isolate Russia. PropOrNot appears to be part of this effort.
While PropOrNot list ‘conspiracy’ websites as ‘fake news’ they are themselves peddling a conspiracy. As evidence for this conspiracy they provide analysis showing that alternative media sites often share and reference the same story. Sometimes those stories start out in a Russian media outlet. This is seen as proof of Russian influence. In reality though, that’s how the media works. In the mainstream media stories are frequently cited and circulated by and between numerous outlets originating with a single source. The same is true in the alternative media.
Fail to Acknowledge Western Propaganda
PropOrNot allege that Russian security agents plant stories in obscure media outlets or mainstream Russian media so they can be picked up and circulated. That may be true. It is also true that Western intelligence agencies employ the same technique as do corporations with paid ‘advertorials’. It is fairly self-evident that on a range of issues CNN, the Washington Post, and Fox News for example are propaganda outlets for specific interests. PropOrNot seem to assume that proper standards of journalism are applied by these organisations and therefore they can be trusted while alternative media cannot. However, in their reporting on PropOrNot the Washington Post has already shown that journalistic standards do not apply. PropOrNot on the other hand states that: “the Obama administration lawfully employs US influence in numerous ways, generally focusing on supporting democratic governance, human rights, economic equity, and the rule of law. Some of those ways involve strategic communications efforts, like Voice of America and RFE/RL.” PropOrNot is either unaware or chooses not to acknowledge Western propaganda techniques.
Disinterested in Truth
2+2=4. That is true whether the person saying it is a communist, a Russian agent, a ‘bought and paid for’ journalist, a conspiracy theory nutter, or a maths teacher. PropOrNot is unconcerned with whether the Russians might be telling the truth about something, or providing a useful alternative perspective, or whether citizen journalists in the alternative media might also be telling the truth. Their only concern is to expose Russian sources.
There may be value in exposing the source of an article if that source is hidden. It is good to know where news comes from. The problem is in their assertion that Russian sources are always harmful to Western interests. No evidence is provided for this assertion. For example, the following policies are advocated by the Kremlin through Russia Today and other Russian news outlets:
- Federalisation of Ukraine
- Insistence that Ukraine honour the Minsk accords
- Removal of all sanctions
- Recognition that Crimea chose to become part of Russia and is historically part of Russia
- Co-operation in defeating ISIS and its affiliates, and in combating terrorism and extremism
- Intelligence sharing on terrorism
- Adherence to world trade organisation rules
- Stabilising the Middle East in order to stabilise the EU
- A free trade agreement with the EU and scientific co-operation
- A removal of the Aegis offensive missile system from Eastern Europe
- An end to pointless provocations and military posturing
Which of these policies is harmful to ‘Western interests’ and ‘liberal democracy’?
PropOrNot provide a sample case study of a popular website ‘ZeroHedge’ showing other sites that reference ZeroHedge all of which are listed as ‘fake news’. Some of these contain thoughtful and credible commentary from people with good sources and/or relevant backgrounds, whose predictions are often found to be accurate over time. That is not to say that all content is ‘gospel truth’. However, they provide alternative and useful view points and report factual information that is often not found elsewhere. I personally read and recommend the following (which makes me a FSB controlled ‘useful idiot’ apparently):
Following is an example of some ‘Russian propaganda’ from Russia Today which I took from a ‘Fake News’ website which was linked from Paulcraigroberts.org
I encourage you to view this and draw your own conclusions.
Ulfkotte’s book Bought Journalists became a bestseller in Germany but, in a bizarre twist which Ulfkotte says characterizes the disconnect caused by CIA control of the western media, the book cannot be reported on by the German press. Ulfkotte was recently found dead. This is his interview.
Is there an Agenda?
Yes, and we should be concerned. PropOrNot state:
“We call on Congressional leadership, and the Obama administration to:
- Immediately begin investigations to determine whether any U.S. government action or inaction has allowed Russia to manipulate the US domestic political process, and interfere in the 2016 election, through online propaganda.
- Immediately begin investigations to determine whether, by action or inaction, the American public has been deprived of related information that they need to vote in an informed manner.
- Work with our European allies to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT financial transaction system, effective immediately and lasting for at least one year, as an appropriate response to Russian manipulation of the election.”
So the objective is political. Specifically, it is to restrict public access to alternative news media, and engage in economic warfare against Russia.
This call has not gone unheard. On 23 December 2016, President Obama signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act into law.
The Act creates a ‘Ministry of Truth’ known as the Global Engagement Center to “fight against propaganda from foreign governments, and publicize the nature of ongoing foreign propaganda and disinformation operations against the U.S. and other countries.” [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countering_Foreign_Propaganda_and_Disinformation_Act ]
Further sanctions were enacted against Russia in the dying days of the Obama Presidency.
However this was not sufficient for PropOrNot who also state that:
“To the extent any of these [alternative media] sites are involved in supporting Russian objectives that run counter to Western interests, they – and more to the point, the people who operate them – should be of interest to the security services of the Western countries in which they live, work, and acquire services related to their websites.”
That is code for punishing dissenting journalists and shutting down alternative news media because any media that deviates from a certain world view or agenda is ipso facto Russian propaganda which ipso facto runs contrary to Western interests which ipso fact makes dissenters into traitors. Expect there to be all sorts of Congressional inquiries into “Russian propaganda and interference” followed by calls for internet censorship against “fake news” and potential star chamber trials against persons whose media presence “compromises our national security” etc. In the current climate that would include any views which counsel against rushing to war with Russia or China.
Perhaps we should leave the last word in propaganda to the master himself – Hermann Goering – Hitler’s Reich-Marshall and chief minister of propaganda. At the Nurenberg Trials after World War II he reputedly said:
“Naturally, the common people don’t want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine its policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliamentary system or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifist for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
Discovering Real Fake News
PropOrNot defines propaganda as:
“A systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specific target audiences for political, ideological, and religious purposes, through the controlled transmission of deceptive, selectively-omitting, and one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels”
PropOrNot further advises viewers to:
“Check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet lacks the hallmarks of good actual journalism: Are the stories factual? Are the facts placed in appropriate context? Do the headlines match the content? Are the agendas of the sources clearly disclosed? Are there good explanations? Does it bring clarity to complicated issues? Is there an absence of hype?”
Let’s apply that definition and sage advice to a piece of mainstream news media reporting on the Syrian conflict.
Fake News Example
Reuters Article 29 September 2016: Warplanes knock out Aleppo hospitals as Russian-backed assault intensifies
Russian or Syrian warplanes knocked two hospitals out of service in the besieged rebel sector of Aleppo on Wednesday and ground forces intensified an assault in a battle which the United Nations said had made the city worse than a slaughterhouse.
[3P Training Comments: this opening reference feeds into narrative that Russians are evil because only evil people destroy hospitals. No comparison is given to the US one hour bombardment of a hospital in Afghanistan that was no-where near any fighting and for which precise coordinates had been supplied to the US by Medecins Sans Frontieres. No reference is made to Russian mobile hospitals operating in Aleppo. No reference is made to use by ‘rebels’ of the civilian population as human shields. No historical reference is made that Aleppo was overrun by ISIS as part of the CIA policy of weaponising ISIS to overrun Syria and then be re-branded as ‘moderate’.]
[3P Training Comments: it is fair enough to quote the United Nations on this issue but fails to explain why the UN has been silent on the US led assault on the ISIS occupied city of Mosul in Iraq. Mosul is also densely populated. The assault there has also created a slaughter house and refugee crisis.]
Two patients died in one of the hospitals and other shelling killed six residents queuing for bread under a siege that has trapped 250,000 people with food running out.
[3P Training Comments: why is there no reference to Russian and Syrian government forces’ strident attempts to create and protect humanitarian corridors to supply aid and evacuate citizens?]
The week-old assault, which could herald a turning point in the war, has already killed hundreds of people, with bunker-busting bombs bringing down buildings on residents huddled inside. Only about 30 doctors are believed to be left inside the besieged zone, coping with hundreds of wounded a day.
“The warplane flew over us and directly started dropping its missiles … at around 4 a.m.,” Mohammad Abu Rajab, a radiologist at the M10 hospital, the largest trauma hospital in the city’s rebel-held sector, told Reuters.
“Rubble fell in on the patients in the intensive care unit.”
M10 hospital workers said oxygen and power generators were destroyed and patients were transferred to another hospital.
Photographs sent to Reuters by a hospital worker at the facility showed damaged storage tanks, a rubble strewn area, and the collapsed roof of what he said was a power facility.
There were no initial reports of casualties there, but medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said two patients had been killed at the other hospital, in shelling which took it out of service as well, leaving east Aleppo with only seven doctors in a position to undertake surgery.
“And this comes at a time when east Aleppo has been under siege since July and is suffering the bloodiest indiscriminate bombing since the beginning of the war,” MSF’s Syria head Carlos Francisco said.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian air power, Iranian ground forces and Shi’ite militia fighters from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, has launched a massive assault to crush the rebels’ last major urban stronghold.
Syria’s largest city before the war, Aleppo has been divided for years between government and rebel zones, and would be the biggest strategic prize of the war for Assad and his allies.
[3P Training comment: Does “Syria’s largest city before the war” mean that the city has shrunk or that it is no longer part of Syria? Is this a subconscious reference to the alleged US plan to partition Syria? There are no ‘rebel zones’ in Alleppo. They are Jihad zones where ISIS has imprisoned the population, imposed a caliphate and committed atrocities with the active support of intelligence officers from the US, Britain, France, Turkey, Israel, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia some of whom were later captured by the Syrian army in Aleppo]
Taking full control of the city would restore near full government rule over the most important cities of western Syria, where nearly all of the population lived before the start of a conflict that has since made half of Syrians homeless, caused a refugee crisis and contributed to the rise of Islamic State.[3P Training comment:…so Islamic State just happened to benefit from ‘the conflict’. This ignores the fact that the US directly assisted ISIS and affiliate groups to invade Syria.]
The offensive began with unprecedentedly fierce bombing last week, followed by a ground campaign this week, burying a ceasefire that had been the culmination of months of diplomacy between Washington and Moscow.[3P Training comment:…If the ‘offensive’ buried the ceasefire when did it die? Reuters fails to mention that the ceasefire died when the USAF bombed Syrian army positions that were observing the ceasefire and which were promptly overrun by Al-Nusra in what was clearly a co-ordinated offensive.]
Washington says Moscow and Damascus are guilty of war crimes for targeting civilians, hospitals, rescue workers and aid deliveries, to break the will of residents and force them to surrender. Syria and Russia say they target only militants.[3P Training comment:…The residents can’t surrender. They are being held as human shields. The purpose of the airstrikes is to assist the Syrian army in its attempt to liberate the city. Why can this obvious truth not be stated by Reuters?]
[Further comment: In WWII the USAF and RAF flattened major German cities with the entire civilian population inside them. This was justified as necessary to defeat Nazism. Why does the same logic not apply when Russians fight Wahhabism? Why can’t Reuters make this obvious comparison?]
Asked by a reporter at the United Nations whether Syria had bombed the two hospitals hit on Wednesday, the Syrian ambassador to the world body, Bashar Ja’afari, appeared to laugh.
[3P Training comment: this needed to be explored further. As written it feeds into the propaganda narrative that he, as a representative of an evil regime, must be evil! Maybe he laughed because the question was so absurd – why would the Syrian government bomb the people it is fighting to liberate?]
The Syrian army said a Nusra Front position had been destroyed in Aleppo’s old quarter, and other militant-held areas targeted in “concentrated air strikes” near the city.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said those using “ever more destructive weapons” were committing war crimes. Describing the situation in Aleppo, he said: “This is worse. Even a slaughterhouse is more humane.”
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was working to put forward a United Nations Security Council resolution to impose a ceasefire in Aleppo, and that any country that opposed it would be deemed complicit in war crimes.
[3P Training comment: quality journalism would explore this. The proposal would mean that defending a sovereign state against a terrorist/mercenary army with foreign sponsors would constitute a war crime. That would mean that the US would be committing a war crime if it defended itself against a 9/11 style attack. Reuters failed to point out that ISIS benefitted enormously from the Lavrov/Kerry ceasefire. Facing defeat, ISIS was able to re-group, re-inforce their positions, and take possession of 3000 tonnes of military equipment supplied to them by the CIA and the American tax payer. Once ISIS was in position the USAF killed the ceasefire by bombing the Syrian army, and hostilities resumed.]
“This resolution will leave everyone facing their responsibilities: those who don’t vote it, risk being held responsible for complicity in war crimes,” he said.
[3P Training comment: Reuters appears incapable of historical memory….ISIS has re-introduced crucifixion to the levant, murdered children, thrown homosexuals off buildings, opened a stock exchange in sex slavery, kept entire populations as human shields, and committed genocide. However, their financial and military backers in the US, Europe, Arabia, and Turkey are clearly not “complicit in war crimes”.]
Another hospital, M2, was damaged by bombardment in the al-Maadi district, where at least six people were killed while queuing for bread at a nearby bakery, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring body and residents.
[3P Taining comment: the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has been criticised as being a pro Jihadist Western backed front group. This needed to be explored if they were to be quoted]
Food supplies are scarce in the besieged area, and those trapped inside often line up before dawn for food.
The collapse of the peace process leaves U.S. policy on Syria in tatters and is a personal blow to Secretary of State John Kerry, who led talks with Moscow despite scepticism from other top officials in President Barack Obama’s administration.
[3P Taining comment: No, it left their policy intact. The policy was to arm ISIS and affiliates to overthrow the government of Syria. The collapse of the peace process was a tactical gain in this strategy.]
Kerry spoke to Lavrov on Wednesday and Russia said later that it was ready to continue diplomacy on Syria and would soon send experts to Geneva for talks with U.S. counterparts on normalizing the situation in Aleppo and elsewhere.
The U.S. State Department said non-diplomatic options to halt the violence had been discussed within the administration, but declined to say what the options might be.
[3P Taining comment: there is no mystery here. The option was a ‘no-fly’ zone aka bombing of the Syrian army and government which would lead to a final ISIS victory. Reuters failed to mention that only the mass deployment of Russian air defence systems and the threat from Russia to shoot in sight American aircraft prevented this.]
Assad’s Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies have said in recent days the war will be won in combat.
But the rebels remain a potent military force even as they have lost control of urban areas. The collapse of peace efforts ends a proposed scheme to separate Western-backed fighters from hardened jihadists.
[3P Taining comment: this deserves real analysis. What qualifies someone as a ‘rebel’ in the eyes of Reuters? They have no uniform and the beards all look a bit the same. They all pray. If Reuters has a method of telling the difference between ‘rebel commanders’ and ‘hardened Jihadists’ perhaps they could pass it on to the Americans so they can ‘separate’ the two when the next ceasefire happens…the reference to “separate Western-backed fighters from hardened jihadists” presumes that ‘Western-backed’ fighters are not ‘hardened jihadists’. Clearly they are. The fact that the US either made no attempt or was unable to separate one from the other proves that for all practical purposes they are one and the same. Why can Reuters not mention this?]
It has also raised the question of whether the rebels’ foreign backers, states including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States, will increase military backing to rebels who have long said weapons they provide are inadequate.
[3P Taining comment: So Reuters now admits that these forces are backing the ‘rebels’. The ‘rebels’ have presumably not committed war crimes because they are not really ‘hardened jihadists’ but nice Syrians fighting the evil Russians and the evil Syrian army who just happens to have spent five years trying to save their country from the ‘moderate rebels’ and their friends. Reuters should know that in military and political terms the only groups that matter in the Syrian ‘opposition’ are the Kurds, and the Islamist terror organisations. Remove the Islamists and the fight is over.]
The rebels’ main demand has long been for the provision of anti-aircraft missiles, but Washington has resisted this, fearing they could end up in the hands of jihadists.
U.S. officials told Reuters in Washington that the collapse of the Syrian ceasefire had heightened the possibility that Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, might arm rebels with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
A senior rebel commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was not out of the question that this could happen. “The Americans might thinking about doing something, but nobody knows how big it will be,” the commander said.
Another rebel commander told Reuters his group had received deliveries of a new type of Grad surface-to-surface rockets. The rockets, with a range of 22-40 km, had arrived in “excellent quantities” and will be used on battlefronts in Aleppo, Hama and the coastal region, Colonel Fares al-Bayoush said.
[3P Taining comment: Fails to mention that the weapons have been supplied to the Free Syrian Army through a US-backed coordination center in Turkey. So rather than help end the siege of Aleppo and the civilian suffering we just read about, the US and Turkey are supplying powerful tactical weapons to prolong the conflict. This presumably not a war crime.]
Fierce fighting accompanied by air strikes was reported on Wednesday in northern Hama province between Syrian government and allied forces trying to recapture territory lost to insurgents this week, and rebels who made some advances, the Observatory and a rebel group said.
[3P Taining comment: This article provided quotes from only one side of the conflict. No quotes from the Syrian authorities and none from the Russian ministry of defence. The Russian MoD puts out regular press releases on this sort of thing which Reuters has chosen to ignore in favour of “a rebel group”.]
MORE GROUND ATTACKS
A senior official in Aleppo-based rebel group said pro-government forces were mobilizing in apparent preparation for more ground attacks in central areas of the city.
“There have been clashes in al-Suweiqa from 5 a.m. until now. The army advanced a little bit, and the guys are now repelling it, God willing,” a fighter in the rebel Levant Front group said in a recording sent to Reuters, referring to an area in the city center where there was also fighting on Tuesday.
Another rebel official said government forces were also attacking the insurgent-held Handarat refugee camp a few kilometers to the north of Aleppo.
[3P Taining comment: note the use of language. Government forces “attack” refugee camps….but don’t “liberate them” apparently. Presumably they are “liberated” if they are under “rebel” control.]
“It doesn’t seem that their operation in the old city is the primary operation, it seems like a diversionary one so that the regime consumes the people on that front and advances in the camp,” the official, Zakaria Malahifij, head of the political office of the Fastaqim group, told Reuters from Turkey.
[3P Taining comment: and Fastaqim group is ….? According to Wikipedia this group has basically been wiped out. They have some guy with a political agenda and an office in Turkey. How reliable is this source?…and he was wrong. The focus has been firmly on Aleppo. At the same time the opposition forces attempted to re-take Palmyra to relieve pressure on the Aleppo front in what shows clear co-ordination between the opposition groups regardless of political colour. This once again ‘gives-the-lie’ to the notion of ‘Western backed rebels’ and ‘Jihadists’ being different people.]
(Reporting by Tom Perry, Ellen Francis and Lisa Barrington in Beirut, Philip Pullella in Vatican City, John Irish in Paris and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Lidia Kelly in Moscow, Michelle Nichols in New York and Arshad Mohammed in Washington, writing by Peter Graff, editing by Peter Millership and Philippa Fletcher)
This article quotes a number of sources all sympathetic to the Washington narrative. No sources that challenge that narrative were consulted. The credibility of some sources is questionable. The article systemically omits basic and essential facts about the Syrian conflict. It incorporates highly contentious statements from partisan players without analysis, reflection, or historical reference.
Due to its selective use of language, of sources, issues framing, systemic anti Russian bias, and uncritical repetition of Washington propaganda memes, this article qualifies a ‘fake news’.
Behind Fake News
Following is an example of what actual investigative news looks like. Contrast this with mainstream coverage to understand how fake the mainstream news is.
Source: Seymore Hersh
Retaliation: Tomahawk missiles from the “USS Porter” on the way to the Shayrat Air Base on April 6, 2017
President Donald Trump ignored important intelligence reports when he decided to attack Syria after he saw pictures of dying children. Seymour M. Hersh investigated the case of the alleged Sarin gas attack.
On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.
The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives. Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.
Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president’s determination to ignore the evidence. “None of this makes any sense,” one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. “We KNOW that there was no chemical attack … the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth … I guess it didn’t matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.“
Within hours of the April 4 bombing, the world’s media was saturated with photographs and videos from Khan Sheikhoun. Pictures of dead and dying victims, allegedly suffering from the symptoms of nerve gas poisoning, were uploaded to social media by local activists, including the White Helmets, a first responder group known for its close association with the Syrian opposition.
The provenance of the photos was not clear and no international observers have yet inspected the site, but the immediate popular assumption worldwide was that this was a deliberate use of the nerve agent sarin, authorized by President Bashar Assad of Syria. Trump endorsed that assumption by issuing a statement within hours of the attack, describing Assad’s “heinous actions” as being a consequence of the Obama administration’s “weakness and irresolution” in addressing what he said was Syria’s past use of chemical weapons.
To the dismay of many senior members of his national security team, Trump could not be swayed over the next 48 hours of intense briefings and decision-making. In a series of interviews, I learned of the total disconnect between the president and many of his military advisers and intelligence officials, as well as officers on the ground in the region who had an entirely different understanding of the nature of Syria’s attack on Khan Sheikhoun. I was provided with evidence of that disconnect, in the form of transcripts of real-time communications, immediately following the Syrian attack on April 4. In an important pre-strike process known as deconfliction, U.S. and Russian officers routinely supply one another with advance details of planned flight paths and target coordinates, to ensure that there is no risk of collision or accidental encounter (the Russians speak on behalf of the Syrian military). This information is supplied daily to the American AWACS surveillance planes that monitor the flights once airborne. Deconfliction’s success and importance can be measured by the fact that there has yet to be one collision, or even a near miss, among the high-powered supersonic American, Allied, Russian and Syrian fighter bombers.
Russian and Syrian Air Force officers gave details of the carefully planned flight path to and from Khan Shiekhoun on April 4 directly, in English, to the deconfliction monitors aboard the AWACS plane, which was on patrol near the Turkish border, 60 miles or more to the north.
The Syrian target at Khan Sheikhoun, as shared with the Americans at Doha, was depicted as a two-story cinder-block building in the northern part of town. Russian intelligence, which is shared when necessary with Syria and the U.S. as part of their joint fight against jihadist groups, had established that a high-level meeting of jihadist leaders was to take place in the building, including representatives of Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaida-affiliated group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra. The two groups had recently joined forces, and controlled the town and surrounding area. Russian intelligence depicted the cinder-block building as a command and control center that housed a grocery and other commercial premises on its ground floor with other essential shops nearby, including a fabric shop and an electronics store.
“The rebels control the population by controlling the distribution of goods that people need to live – food, water, cooking oil, propane gas, fertilizers for growing their crops, and insecticides to protect the crops,” a senior adviser to the American intelligence community, who has served in senior positions in the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency, told me. The basement was used as storage for rockets, weapons and ammunition, as well as products that could be distributed for free to the community, among them medicines and chlorine-based decontaminants for cleansing the bodies of the dead before burial. The meeting place – a regional headquarters – was on the floor above. “It was an established meeting place,” the senior adviser said. “A long-time facility that would have had security, weapons, communications, files and a map center.” The Russians were intent on confirming their intelligence and deployed a drone for days above the site to monitor communications and develop what is known in the intelligence community as a POL – a pattern of life. The goal was to take note of those going in and out of the building, and to track weapons being moved back and forth, including rockets and ammunition.
One reason for the Russian message to Washington about the intended target was to ensure that any CIA asset or informant who had managed to work his way into the jihadist leadership was forewarned not to attend the meeting. I was told that the Russians passed the warning directly to the CIA. “They were playing the game right,” the senior adviser said. The Russian guidance noted that the jihadist meeting was coming at a time of acute pressure for the insurgents: Presumably Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham were desperately seeking a path forward in the new political climate. In the last few days of March, Trump and two of his key national security aides – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley – had made statements acknowledging that, as the New York Times put it, the White House “has abandoned the goal” of pressuring Assad “to leave power, marking a sharp departure from the Middle East policy that guided the Obama administration for more than five years.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a press briefing on March 31 that “there is a political reality that we have to accept,” implying that Assad was there to stay.
Russian and Syrian intelligence officials, who coordinate operations closely with the American command posts, made it clear that the planned strike on Khan Sheikhoun was special because of the high-value target. “It was a red-hot change. The mission was out of the ordinary – scrub the sked,” the senior adviser told me. “Every operations officer in the region” – in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, CIA and NSA – “had to know there was something going on. The Russians gave the Syrian Air Force a guided bomb and that was a rarity. They’re skimpy with their guided bombs and rarely share them with the Syrian Air Force. And the Syrians assigned their best pilot to the mission, with the best wingman.” The advance intelligence on the target, as supplied by the Russians, was given the highest possible score inside the American community.
The Execute Order governing U.S. military operations in theater, which was issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provide instructions that demarcate the relationship between the American and Russian forces operating in Syria. “It’s like an ops order – ‘Here’s what you are authorized to do,’” the adviser said. “We do not share operational control with the Russians. We don’t do combined operations with them, or activities directly in support of one of their operations. But coordination is permitted. We keep each other apprised of what’s happening and within this package is the mutual exchange of intelligence. If we get a hot tip that could help the Russians do their mission, that’s coordination; and the Russians do the same for us. When we get a hot tip about a command and control facility,” the adviser added, referring to the target in Khan Sheikhoun, “we do what we can to help them act on it.” “This was not a chemical weapons strike,” the adviser said. “That’s a fairy tale. If so, everyone involved in transferring, loading and arming the weapon – you’ve got to make it appear like a regular 500-pound conventional bomb – would be wearing Hazmat protective clothing in case of a leak. There would be very little chance of survival without such gear. Military grade sarin includes additives designed to increase toxicity and lethality. Every batch that comes out is maximized for death. That is why it is made. It is odorless and invisible and death can come within a minute. No cloud. Why produce a weapon that people can run away from?”
The target was struck at 6:55 a.m. on April 4, just before midnight in Washington. A Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) by the U.S. military later determined that the heat and force of the 500-pound Syrian bomb triggered a series of secondary explosions that could have generated a huge toxic cloud that began to spread over the town, formed by the release of the fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement, its effect magnified by the dense morning air, which trapped the fumes close to the ground. According to intelligence estimates, the senior adviser said, the strike itself killed up to four jihadist leaders, and an unknown number of drivers and security aides. There is no confirmed count of the number of civilians killed by the poisonous gases that were released by the secondary explosions, although opposition activists reported that there were more than 80 dead, and outlets such as CNN have put the figure as high as 92. A team from Médecins Sans Frontières, treating victims from Khan Sheikhoun at a clinic 60 miles to the north, reported that “eight patients showed symptoms – including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation – which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds.” MSF also visited other hospitals that had received victims and found that patients there “smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.” In other words, evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force – as opposition activists insisted – had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin.
The internet swung into action within hours, and gruesome photographs of the victims flooded television networks and YouTube. U.S. intelligence was tasked with establishing what had happened. Among the pieces of information received was an intercept of Syrian communications collected before the attack by an allied nation. The intercept, which had a particularly strong effect on some of Trump’s aides, did not mention nerve gas or sarin, but it did quote a Syrian general discussing a “special” weapon and the need for a highly skilled pilot to man the attack plane. The reference, as those in the American intelligence community understood, and many of the inexperienced aides and family members close to Trump may not have, was to a Russian-supplied bomb with its built-in guidance system. “If you’ve already decided it was a gas attack, you will then inevitably read the talk about a special weapon as involving a sarin bomb,” the adviser said. “Did the Syrians plan the attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Absolutely. Do we have intercepts to prove it? Absolutely. Did they plan to use sarin? No. But the president did not say: ‘We have a problem and let’s look into it.’ He wanted to bomb the shit out of Syria.”
At the UN the next day, Ambassador Haley created a media sensation when she displayed photographs of the dead and accused Russia of being complicit. “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?” she asked. NBC News, in a typical report that day, quoted American officials as confirming that nerve gas had been used and Haley tied the attack directly to Syrian President Assad. “We know that yesterday’s attack was a new low even for the barbaric Assad regime,” she said. There was irony in America’s rush to blame Syria and criticize Russia for its support of Syria’s denial of any use of gas in Khan Sheikhoun, as Ambassador Haley and others in Washington did. “What doesn’t occur to most Americans” the adviser said, “is if there had been a Syrian nerve gas attack authorized by Bashar, the Russians would be 10 times as upset as anyone in the West. Russia’s strategy against ISIS, which involves getting American cooperation, would have been destroyed and Bashar would be responsible for pissing off Russia, with unknown consequences for him. Bashar would do that? When he’s on the verge of winning the war? Are you kidding me?”
Trump, a constant watcher of television news, said, while King Abdullah of Jordan was sitting next to him in the Oval Office, that what had happened was “horrible, horrible” and a “terrible affront to humanity.” Asked if his administration would change its policy toward the Assad government, he said: “You will see.” He gave a hint of the response to come at the subsequent news conference with King Abdullah: “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies – babies, little babies – with a chemical gas that is so lethal … that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line . … That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me. Big impact … It’s very, very possible … that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”
Within hours of viewing the photos, the adviser said, Trump instructed the national defense apparatus to plan for retaliation against Syria. “He did this before he talked to anybody about it. The planners then asked the CIA and DIA if there was any evidence that Syria had sarin stored at a nearby airport or somewhere in the area. Their military had to have it somewhere in the area in order to bomb with it.” “The answer was, ‘We have no evidence that Syria had sarin or used it,’” the adviser said. “The CIA also told them that there was no residual delivery for sarin at Sheyrat [the airfield from which the Syrian SU-24 bombers had taken off on April 4] and Assad had no motive to commit political suicide.” Everyone involved, except perhaps the president, also understood that a highly skilled United Nations team had spent more than a year in the aftermath of an alleged sarin attack in 2013 by Syria, removing what was said to be all chemical weapons from a dozen Syrian chemical weapons depots.
At this point, the adviser said, the president’s national security planners were more than a little rattled: “No one knew the provenance of the photographs. We didn’t know who the children were or how they got hurt. Sarin actually is very easy to detect because it penetrates paint, and all one would have to do is get a paint sample. We knew there was a cloud and we knew it hurt people. But you cannot jump from there to certainty that Assad had hidden sarin from the UN because he wanted to use it in Khan Sheikhoun.” The intelligence made clear that a Syrian Air Force SU-24 fighter bomber had used a conventional weapon to hit its target: There had been no chemical warhead. And yet it was impossible for the experts to persuade the president of this once he had made up his mind. “The president saw the photographs of poisoned little girls and said it was an Assad atrocity,” the senior adviser said. “It’s typical of human nature. You jump to the conclusion you want. Intelligence analysts do not argue with a president. They’re not going to tell the president, ‘if you interpret the data this way, I quit.’”
The national security advisers understood their dilemma: Trump wanted to respond to the affront to humanity committed by Syria and he did not want to be dissuaded. They were dealing with a man they considered to be not unkind and not stupid, but his limitations when it came to national security decisions were severe. “Everyone close to him knows his proclivity for acting precipitously when he does not know the facts,” the adviser said. “He doesn’t read anything and has no real historical knowledge. He wants verbal briefings and photographs. He’s a risk-taker. He can accept the consequences of a bad decision in the business world; he will just lose money. But in our world, lives will be lost and there will be long-term damage to our national security if he guesses wrong. He was told we did not have evidence of Syrian involvement and yet Trump says: ‘Do it.”’
On April 6, Trump convened a meeting of national security officials at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The meeting was not to decide what to do, but how best to do it – or, as some wanted, how to do the least and keep Trump happy. “The boss knew before the meeting that they didn’t have the intelligence, but that was not the issue,” the adviser said. “The meeting was about, ‘Here’s what I’m going to do,’ and then he gets the options.”
The available intelligence was not relevant. The most experienced man at the table was Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who had the president’s respect and understood, perhaps, how quickly that could evaporate. Mike Pompeo, the CIA director whose agency had consistently reported that it had no evidence of a Syrian chemical bomb, was not present. Secretary of State Tillerson was admired on the inside for his willingness to work long hours and his avid reading of diplomatic cables and reports, but he knew little about waging war and the management of a bombing raid. Those present were in a bind, the adviser said. “The president was emotionally energized by the disaster and he wanted options.” He got four of them, in order of extremity. Option one was to do nothing. All involved, the adviser said, understood that was a non-starter. Option two was a slap on the wrist: to bomb an airfield in Syria, but only after alerting the Russians and, through them, the Syrians, to avoid too many casualties. A few of the planners called this the “gorilla option”: America would glower and beat its chest to provoke fear and demonstrate resolve, but cause little significant damage. The third option was to adopt the strike package that had been presented to Obama in 2013, and which he ultimately chose not to pursue. The plan called for the massive bombing of the main Syrian airfields and command and control centers using B1 and B52 aircraft launched from their bases in the U.S. Option four was “decapitation”: to remove Assad by bombing his palace in Damascus, as well as his command and control network and all of the underground bunkers he could possibly retreat to in a crisis.
“Trump ruled out option one off the bat,” the senior adviser said, and the assassination of Assad was never considered. “But he said, in essence: ‘You’re the military and I want military action.’” The president was also initially opposed to the idea of giving the Russians advance warning before the strike, but reluctantly accepted it. “We gave him the Goldilocks option – not too hot, not too cold, but just right.” The discussion had its bizarre moments. Tillerson wondered at the Mar-a-Lago meeting why the president could not simply call in the B52 bombers and pulverize the air base. He was told that B52s were very vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in the area and using such planes would require suppression fire that could kill some Russian defenders. “What is that?” Tillerson asked. Well, sir, he was told, that means we would have to destroy the upgraded SAM sites along the B52 flight path, and those are manned by Russians, and we possibly would be confronted with a much more difficult situation. “The lesson here was: Thank God for the military men at the meeting,” the adviser said. “They did the best they could when confronted with a decision that had already been made.”
Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were fired from two U.S. Navy destroyers on duty in the Mediterranean, the Ross and the Porter, at Shayrat Air Base near the government-controlled city of Homs. The strike was as successful as hoped, in terms of doing minimal damage. The missiles have a light payload – roughly 220 pounds of HBX, the military’s modern version of TNT. The airfield’s gasoline storage tanks, a primary target, were pulverized, the senior adviser said, triggering a huge fire and clouds of smoke that interfered with the guidance system of following missiles. As many as 24 missiles missed their targets and only a few of the Tomahawks actually penetrated into hangars, destroying nine Syrian aircraft, many fewer than claimed by the Trump administration. I was told that none of the nine was operational: such damaged aircraft are what the Air Force calls hangar queens. “They were sacrificial lambs,” the senior adviser said. Most of the important personnel and operational fighter planes had been flown to nearby bases hours before the raid began. The two runways and parking places for aircraft, which had also been targeted, were repaired and back in operation within eight hours or so. All in all, it was little more than an expensive fireworks display.
“It was a totally Trump show from beginning to end,” the senior adviser said. “A few of the president’s senior national security advisers viewed the mission as a minimized bad presidential decision, and one that they had an obligation to carry out. But I don’t think our national security people are going to allow themselves to be hustled into a bad decision again. If Trump had gone for option three, there might have been some immediate resignations.”
After the meeting, with the Tomahawks on their way, Trump spoke to the nation from Mar-a-Lago, and accused Assad of using nerve gas to choke out “the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many … No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” The next few days were his most successful as president. America rallied around its commander in chief, as it always does in times of war. Trump, who had campaigned as someone who advocated making peace with Assad, was bombing Syria 11 weeks after taking office, and was hailed for doing so by Republicans, Democrats and the media alike. One prominent TV anchorman, Brian Williams of MSNBC, used the word “beautiful” to describe the images of the Tomahawks being launched at sea. Speaking on CNN, Fareed Zakaria said: “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States.” A review of the top 100 American newspapers showed that 39 of them published editorials supporting the bombing in its aftermath, including the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Five days later, the Trump administration gathered the national media for a background briefing on the Syrian operation that was conducted by a senior White House official who was not to be identified. The gist of the briefing was that Russia’s heated and persistent denial of any sarin use in the Khan Sheikhoun bombing was a lie because President Trump had said sarin had been used. That assertion, which was not challenged or disputed by any of the reporters present, became the basis for a series of further criticisms:
– The continued lying by the Trump administration about Syria’s use of sarin led to widespread belief in the American media and public that Russia had chosen to be involved in a corrupt disinformation and cover-up campaign on the part of Syria.
– Russia’s military forces had been co-located with Syria’s at the Shayrat airfield (as they are throughout Syria), raising the possibility that Russia had advance notice of Syria’s determination to use sarin at Khan Sheikhoun and did nothing to stop it.
– Syria’s use of sarin and Russia’s defense of that use strongly suggested that Syria withheld stocks of the nerve agent from the UN disarmament team that spent much of 2014 inspecting and removing all declared chemical warfare agents from 12 Syrian chemical weapons depots, pursuant to the agreement worked out by the Obama administration and Russia after Syria’s alleged, but still unproven, use of sarin the year before against a rebel redoubt in a suburb of Damascus.
The briefer, to his credit, was careful to use the words “think,” “suggest” and “believe” at least 10 times during the 30-minute event. But he also said that his briefing was based on data that had been declassified by “our colleagues in the intelligence community.” What the briefer did not say, and may not have known, was that much of the classified information in the community made the point that Syria had not used sarin in the April 4 bombing attack.
The mainstream press responded the way the White House had hoped it would: Stories attacking Russia’s alleged cover-up of Syria’s sarin use dominated the news and many media outlets ignored the briefer’s myriad caveats. There was a sense of renewed Cold War. The New York Times, for example – America’s leading newspaper – put the following headline on its account: “White House Accuses Russia of Cover-Up in Syria Chemical Attack.” The Times’ account did note a Russian denial, but what was described by the briefer as “declassified information” suddenly became a “declassified intelligence report.” Yet there was no formal intelligence report stating that Syria had used sarin, merely a “summary based on declassified information about the attacks,” as the briefer referred to it.
The crisis slid into the background by the end of April, as Russia, Syria and the United States remained focused on annihilating ISIS and the militias of al-Qaida. Some of those who had worked through the crisis, however, were left with lingering concerns. “The Salafists and jihadists got everything they wanted out of their hyped-up Syrian nerve gas ploy,” the senior adviser to the U.S. intelligence community told me, referring to the flare up of tensions between Syria, Russia and America. “The issue is, what if there’s another false flag sarin attack credited to hated Syria? Trump has upped the ante and painted himself into a corner with his decision to bomb. And do not think these guys are not planning the next faked attack. Trump will have no choice but to bomb again, and harder. He’s incapable of saying he made a mistake.”
The White House did not answer specific questions about the bombing of Khan Sheikhoun and the airport of Shayrat. These questions were send via e-mail to the White House on June 15 and never answered.
Fake News Analysis from Former Insider
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
Source: Wikileaks: https://youtu.be/aha8bicPN88
The CIA created and accumulated from other sources a huge array of malware and cyber attack capability capable of stealing information from any individual, any government, any corporation, any intelligence agency and either leaving no trace or leaving a “fingerprint” of an innocent party. The CIA, being arrogant and incompetent, lost control over its monster which escaped and now is in the hands of we know not who. Floating around the Internet, it was sent to WikiLeaks. Listen to Julian Assange’s explanation of the capability of the CIA’s spyware, which includes end runs around encryption. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aha8bicPN88
The presstitute media’s response was not outrage over the CIA’s criminal behavior, compounded by its incompetence in failing to keep the package from escaping. Rather, the whores who comprise the US media turned on Julian Assange for making known what we need to know. Brian Ross, the chief presstitute at ABC, wanted to know if WikiLeaks took money from Russia. Presstitute Andrea Mitchell, faithful to the CIA, quickly got former CIA director Michael Hayden on TV to agree with her that “Wikileaks has struck again” and revealed information damaging to the US about the CIA’s foreign intelligence operations. You can see what a great lie Andrea and Hayden have conspired to tell by listening to Assange explain the information delivered into his hands.
The American print and TV media are servants of the police state. This makes the US media the principal threat that Americans face. The US media is the handmaiden of war, the police state, lies, and evil. The presstitutes have no shame over their lack of integrity and the risk of thermo-nuclear war to which they expose humanity.