The Grayzone entered the carefully concealed offices of a covert, British government-backed propaganda mill that is at the center of an international scandal the mainstream media refuses to touch.
Recent hacked documents have revealed an international network of politicians, journalists, academics, researchers and military officers, all engaged in highly deceptive covert propaganda campaigns funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), NATO, Facebook and hardline national security institutions.
This “network of networks”, as one document refers to them, centers around an ironically named outfit called the Integrity Initiative. And it is all overseen by a previously unknown England-based think tank registered in Scotland, the Institute for Statecraft, which has operated under a veil of secrecy.
The whole operation appears to be run by, and in conjunction with, members of British military intelligence.
According to David Miller, professor of political sociology in the school of policy studies at the University of Bristol and the director of the Organization for Propaganda Studies, the Integrity Initiative “appears to be a military directed push.”
“The most senior government people are professional propagandists and spooks,” Miller explained. “The ‘charity’ lead on this [Chris Donnelly] was also appointed as a colonel in military intelligence at the beginning of the project — a truly amazing fact that suggests this is a military intelligence cut out.”
A minister for the UK FCO has officially confirmed that it has been funding the Integrity Network.
In addition to conducting diplomacy, the FCO oversees both the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) the UK equivalent to the National Security Agency, and the Secret Intelligence Services (SIS) commonly known as MI6.
The think tank that oversees the Integrity Initiative, the Institute for Statecraft, has also received funding from the British Army and Ministry of Defense.
The entire extremely shady enterprise, as Miller explained, is an elaborate front for the British military-intelligence apparatus. Its covert coordination with friendly politicians and mainstream journalists recalls the Cold War-era intrigue known as Operation Mockingbird.
That scandal involved the unmasking of “more than 400 American journalists who…in the past twenty-five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency,” as Carl Bernstein revealed in a 1977 Rolling Stone report.
The exposing of the Integrity Initiative has just scratched the surface of what appears to be a much more sophisticated, insidious, and extremely online version of Operation Mockingbird. With new internal documents appearing each week through a hacker’s organization called Anonymous Europe, the revelations are yielding one of the most potentially explosive national security scandals in recent times.
But even as members of Britain’s parliament thunder with demands for official accountability, the UK and US mainstream media still strangely refuses to touch the story.
The Integrity Initiative claims that it is “counter[ing] Russian disinformation and malign influence,” and indeed, the main players behind it appear intent on hyping the Russian threat to justify ramped up military budgets and a long-term war footing.
But the Integrity Initiative has also trained its fire on perceived subversives inside NATO member states, including the UK.
The neocon connection
Two buildings away from the Institute for Statecraft, separated only by the home of British American Tobacco, lies the offices of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). This think tank is key organ of the Western foreign policy establishment, pushing military interventionism and promoting the Saudi-backed Syrian opposition-in-exile.
Among the funders of IISS is the Smith Richardson Foundation.
This foundation also happens to be a supporter of the Integrity Initiative, providing it with £45,000 (about $56,600 USD) for covert propaganda activities in Europe and the US.
The Smith Richardson Foundation was founded by billionaire heir to the Vicks fortune, H. Smith Richardson, in 1935. In 1973, the founder’s son, Randolph Richardson – a free market fundamentalist and long-time patron of neoconservative ideologue Irving Kristol – inherited the organization.
Kristol’s son, William Kristol, is a co-founder of the Project for a New American Century which openly called for the US to assert itself as the single global hegemon following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Recipients of funding from the Smith Richardson Foundation include a who’s who of neoconservative and militaristic right-wing institutions. The foundation has bankrolled neoconservative outfits like the American Enterprise Institute (to the tune of nearly $10 million since 1998), the Hudson Institute, the Institute for the Study of War, Freedom House, the Hoover Institution, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, along with Democratic Party-aligned think tanks like the Center for New American Security and the Center for American Progress.
“To say the [Smith Richardson] foundation was involved at every level in the lobbying for and crafting of the so-called global war on terror after 9/11 would be an understatement,” wrote Kelley Vlahos in a profile of Nadia Schadlow, a former Trump administration deputy national security advisor who previously worked as the senior program director for Smith Richardson.
Smith Richardson complements a roster of international funders backing the Integrity Initiative’s parent organization:
- HQ NATO Public Diplomacy, £12,000 for each inaugural workshop = £168,000
- Partner institutions £5,000 for each inaugural workshop = £70,000
- NATO HQ for educational video films – free provision of camera team
- Lithuanian MOD to provide free all costs for their stratcom team for a monthly trip to support a new hub/cluster creation and to educate cluster leaders and key people in Vilnius in infowar techniques = £20,000
- US State Dept, for research and dissemination activities (excluding any activity in USA) = £250,000
- Smith Richardson Foundation, £45,000 for cluster activities in Europe and USA
- Facebook, £100,000 for research and education activities
- German business community, £25,000 for research and dissemination in EU countries
A covert asset in the Bernie campaign?
Elmaazi, the co-author of this piece, was not the only reporter to gain momentary access to the Institute for Statecraft’s hidden location at 2 Temple Place. On December 11, five days after Elmaazi’s visit, Kit Klarenberg of Sputnik Radio entered the covert propaganda mill’s neo-gothic offices. As soon as he identified himself as a journalist, he was angrily ejected by an Institute for Statecraft staffer named Simon Bracey-Lane.
“You need to leave right now!” Bracey-Lane barked at Klarenberg. “You haven’t arranged to see us! Go! Right now! Please leave immediately! Leave!”
Bracey-Lane is a 20-something British citizen with no publicly acknowledged experience in intelligence work. But as Klarenberg noted, there are some unusual details in the young staffer’s bio.
In 2016, Bracey-Lane appeared out of nowhere to work in Iowa as a field organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign for president.
“I spent a year working, saving all my money, just thought I was gonna go on a two month road trip from Seattle to New York and I thought, you know what? I’m gonna stay and work for the Bernie Sanders campaign,” Bracey-Lane told a reporter for AFP on January 27, 2016….
I can guarantee he didn’t have to save any money. It is simply impossible for normal people to grasp the quantity of money at the disposal of such operations. As a nobody in 1988, I was targeted by a very well-funded group of operatives for trying to raise the issue of GHW Bush’s role in mass cocaine importation on the net. They had a massive amount of physical assets, people and time at their disposal. They broke in my house at least twice, bugged it (revealed on a police scanner around 800Mhz) and tried to poison me. If you don’t think the “deep state” exists or that it’s not a gangster-inspired operation I envy your naivete. There is a whole lifestyle built around such institutions, probably intergenerational. They remain utterly invisible unless you cross them, and it really doesn’t take much to cross them.