The annual festive Halloween holiday is commonly a time for spooky pranks and scare stories. And the British news media delivered – albeit unintentionally it seems. This week several top national newspapers conveyed a stark message from the chief spook at Britain’s secret service, MI5. Andrew Parker, chief of Military Intelligence (Section) 5, warned that Russia was presenting a clear and present danger to the security of the state.
It was The Guardian that first broke the story, with an «exclusive» article on its front page headlined: «MI5 chief warns of growing Russian threat in UK».
With virtually the same headline, the story was replicated in the pages of The Independent, Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, among others.
Russia swiftly scorned the British media coverage as fatuous.
However, this was no Halloween prank being played on the British public for kicks. The issue was presented as serious journalism, reporting on a grave matter of national security. The coincidence of the netherworld festival only lends a certain unintended ironical mirth.
More importantly, though, it is one more example of how Western publics are being conditioned by a relentless mental diet of Russophobia. That a host of British newspapers in unison published without question «talking points» from the head of MI5 alleging a threat to national security from Russia is in itself indicative of a «psychological operation». It reflects the abject standard of supposedly independent media in Britain.
The Guardian billed its «exclusive» by saying it was the «first interview given by a serving spy chief». Andrew Parker has been head of Britain’s state security service for the past nine years. Neither he nor his predecessors have ever given such a full-court press briefing.
MI5 was first established in 1909 and serves as Britain’s premier internal state security agency, dealing with counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism. The organization’s MI6 counterpart deals with foreign military intelligence.
The unprecedented public intervention by MI5 this week is again suggestive of a psychological operation.
Moreover, for anyone with a critical faculty, what is bizarre about the latest claims of a Russian «threat» is that despite the gravity and the factual-sounding wording of the headlines, there is a dearth of substance reported to support said claims.
MI5’s Andrew Parker merely makes vague assertions about Russia «pushing foreign policy in increasingly aggressive ways involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks».
These are the same zero-evidence, breathless assertions that are echoed by American security services and media. The Obama administration citing its own intelligence agencies last month accused Russia of state-sponsored cyber-attacks and interference in the US presidential elections.
Moscow has categorically rejected these insinuations as baseless. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov notes that repeated requests for evidence have been ignored by US authorities. While Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has dismissed allegations of political interference as a cynical «distraction» from real internal American problems.
Another indicator of psychological operation is the way that the alleged Russian threats are packaged as «talking points» which are easily disseminated and regurgitated. After a while, the claims become hackneyed and stale from lack of supporting substance.
The alleged threats which MI5’s Andrew Parker treated the British media and public to have less the ring of truth and more the dull thud of tedium. And yet the British media – like a circus dog – jumped on cue this week to the instruction as if it was something novel and exciting.
How many times have we heard from sundry atlanticist, pro-NATO think tanks warning us about Russian «subversion» or «cyber-attacks» or trying to undermine Western democracies? The level of repetition and coordination of talking-points that we hear from the likes of the Atlantic Council, Center for Strategic and International Studies, the National Endowment for Democracy, NATO, and so on, are reflective of central authorship in state intelligence emanating from the CIA and MI5 / MI6, which in turn feeds into the foreign policy establishments of nominally democratic governments. In short, the Deep State network that transcends Western electoral politics.
Last month at an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, European Council President Donald Tusk urged the bloc to adopt harsher economic sanctions on Russia, as did the leaders of Germany, Britain and France. Tusk listed a litany of purported Russian malfeasance, including «cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, interference in the EU’s political processes» and «trying to weaken the European Union».
Fortunately, Italy, Austria, Spain, Hungary and a number of other European leaders rejected Tusk’s appeal for tougher sanctions on Russia, saying they were counterproductive.
But the point here is that Tusk, supposedly a guiding political light for the EU, sounds more like a hired-hack for the CIA or M15, as ascertained by the trite talking points that he so readily recites about Russian «threats».
The comparison with the briefing given this week to British media by the head of MI5 tends to prove that there is a sinister group-think shared by certain American and European political leaders with unelected Deep State agencies. This relationship as expressed in formulaic Russophobia raises disturbing questions about the true nature of democracy and democratic accountability in Western states. Are the elected leaders following the people’s will or are they following instructions from shadowy agencies whose whole purpose is driven by geopolitical conflict, in particular conflict with Russia?
This perhaps explains why in the US, the Washington establishment and the military-intelligence apparatus appear to be so hostile to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. For all his flaws, one thing that can be said to Trump’s credit is that he doesn’t trot out the usual canned talking points manufactured by the Deep State towards demonizing Russia. On that score, he is not a hack, whereas Hillary Clinton has repeatedly toed the Russophobia line.
The Western corporate news media are integral to the political establishment. It is therefore not surprising that senior journalists and editors belonging to media outlets are susceptible to manipulation by state intelligence agencies, either wittingly or unwittingly. Former German newspaper editor Udo Ulfkotte revealed how the CIA infiltrates European journalists to relay the agency’s talking-points to the wider public.
The way that the British media so pliantly provided a platform to the head of M15 this week to disseminate Russophobia is a strong indicator of state-orchestrated propaganda. It speaks of the deplorable lack of independence and genuine public service that the British media conceitedly claim to provide. They are evidently serving as a propaganda device, peddling disinformation whose ultimate logic is to condition the public into accepting hostile policy, and even war with Russia.
That is not journalism. It is flagrant manipulation of public perception on the same level as telling children scary stories about ghouls and ghosts.
But the funny thing is that it is MI5 and all the other spooky agencies of the Western Deep State who are really afraid. What they mean by Russian «propaganda» and «subversion» is that Russian news media are increasingly exposing the systematic deception on numerous world issues that Western media and their intelligence handlers have for too long gotten away with in the pursuit of imperialist interests.
Unable to bear the exposure, Western Deep State creatures are lashing out desperately with scare story upon scare story in order to distract the «children». That’s why Britain’s MI5 came out of its murky swamp of secrecy this week to give a first-ever «exclusive» to the British media. Boo! Boo! Boo! But that power of deception is no longer working.