Stovepiping to produce fake news

Image credit: THOSE ’17 INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES’ CITED BY HILLARY CLINTON ABOUT TRUMP AND RUSSIA TURNED OUT TO BE FAKE NEWS

I have discovered a new word – “stovepiping.” Must admit I had to look it up – but it seems to be highly relevant to the way media seem to authenticate their news reports today – particularly in the current political hysteria emanating from the USA. And, I think, stovepiping plays a central role in the promotion of fake news.

There is nothing new about fake news – we have been subjected to it for ages. But suddenly everyone is talking about it. Of course, it is always the “other” side which indulges in fake news – never “our” side. But I suggest that just demonstrates our own prejudices and confirmation bias. We should look more critically and objectively at the way “our” news media gathers and present what it feeds us.

Stovepiping in the intelligence community

So we come to “stovepiping” which Wikipedia says:

“has been used, in the context of intelligence, to describe several ways in which raw intelligence information may be presented without proper context. . . . . the lack of context may come from a particular group, in the national policy structure, selectively presenting only that information that supports certain conclusions. “

On the one hand, this may be an inevitable result of the way intelligence agencies work – “due to the specialised nature, or security requirements, of a particular intelligence collection technology.”

On the other hand, it may be purposely used to deceive politicians and the public  (to support “certain conclusions”) – the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the justification for the US invasion of that country provides a clear example.

Unfortunately, stovepiping is rampant in the current US media and political hysteria surrounding the current political struggles resulting from an election result which didn’t go the way the establishment wanted and believed it would.

Consider all the “confidence” that the US presidential elections were “hacked” by Russia – even by, or under the personal orders of, the president of the Russian Federation. The assertion is claimed to be unassailable, beyond any question, because it was a conclusion reached, unanimously, by 17 US intelligence agencies. Hillary Clinton made the claim last October in a presidential election debate:

 “We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.”

The really “deeply disturbing” aspect is that this claim was repeated again and again without a sniff of evidence. Anyone questioning the claim, or asking for evidence, was jumped on as a “Kremlin troll” and no politician seemed to have the courage to draw parallels with the Emperors Clothes.” To actually ask – “where is the evidence.” Neo-McCarthyism is alive and active.

Welcome to evidence-free reporting – where stories rely on unattributed, unnamed sources. Where “intelligence reports” are completely free of evidence – yet presented with high authority. And worse – the media then claims the evidence-free reports themselves as “evidence!”

The retractions are buried and ignored

Sometimes such stories do get retracted. On June 29 The New York Times issued a retraction of the claim that 17 intelligence agencies had reported Russian hacking. The NYT admitted:

“The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

Worse – we had stovepiping within stovepiping. Not only was the claim not approved by the 17 agencies – the claim itself was made by selected personal within the four agencies involved. Heavy reported:

“Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had already essentially admitted to this when he testified in May in front of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee. He said the Russia hacking finding came from a special intelligence community assessment, formed by hand-picked analysts from the NSA, FBI, and CIA.”

This sort of stovepiping is loaded with possibilities for anyone wishing to promote evidence-free but politically damaging claims as part of a political battle. Just hand-select a few anonymous agents who you know will support the story you want. The ultimate confirmation bias.

One might think the news media has the ethical responsibility to be a bit more critical of such stories. To refuse to repeat evidence-free claims. To avoid unnamed, and unchecked, sources. And to publish an analysis of the origins of these claims, stressing the lack of evidence.

Unfortunately, in the USA it appears that the mainstream media has forgotten these ethics. It is wholeheartedly participating in this political battle. It is cooperating with elements in the intelligence community who have also joined this political battle. The mainstream media and this politically motivated section of the intelligence community are taking in each others laundry. Unnamed intelligence sources are providing evidence-free information to fill the news reports. The media is giving public voice to these disaffected intelligence agents and the intelligence community (or elements within it), in turn, is giving “authority” to the reported evidence-free claims. After all, what patriotically-minded US citizen will refuse to accept the authority of the intelligence agencies – even without evidence?

Weak retractions, or even the absence of retractions, seems to be an accepted procedure within the mainstream media. Remember Omran Dogneesh, the “Aleppo boy?” Much media hysteria was spent on his story (accompanied by an admittedly outstanding photograph) promoted by the al Qaeda-affiliated White Helmets as part of their propaganda campaign against Syria. His family was liberated with the rest of eastern Aleppo and they can now tell their story about the way their boy was used – in effect kidnapped by the White Helmets – for propaganda purposes. His family’s story has been reported to some extent – certainly without any of the fanfare the original misleading story was promoted (see How Omran, the dazed Aleppo boy who reappeared this week, became a political pawn in Syria’s war). And a gullible public will be encouraged to continue to believe the original distortions.

Aleppo boy – his true story was buried. The first photo was trumpeted around the world as part of anti-Syria propaganda. The second practically ignored. Credit: India.com.  Aleppo boy Omran Daqneesh makes his first appearance since 2016 bombing! See heart warming pictures of the Syrian kid 

Just as “authoritative” mainstream media sources continue to report that 17 intelligence agencies had a “high confidence” the Russians “hacked” the US elections.

It’s wider than the Clinton-Trump conflict

While this example of stovepiping and fake news is typical of the current political conflict in the USA the problem is not going to go away when that conflict disappears. I think stovepiping and fake news have resulted from the danger the established news media sees itself in as a result of social media and wider digital sources for news.

In fact, when we look at the intelligence reports about the so-called Russian hacking of the US elections we find the main concern being expressed is the possible influence of alternative media. These reports concentrate on media like RT and Sputnik which have Russian origins – but the concern is really about alternative media in general. After all, if the best they can do is complain that RT gave coverage to minority candidates and ran one interview with Trump then we can see what their crime is. RT and Sputnik, just like the rest of the alternative media, is not under the thumb of the establishment. They are free to question the narrative promoted by that establishment.

The alternative media, just like the internet, is not going to go away. It will persist and it will provide alternatives to those of us tired by the conformity and fake news of the establishment mainstream media.

The political establishment in the US and Europe is trying to nip this phenomenon in the bud – after all the alternative media has limited reach so far. But the establishment can see the danger it represents and we cannot avoid the possibility it may take extreme action to prevent the loss of its influence a wider spread of alternative media represents.

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20 responses to “Stovepiping to produce fake news

  1. ,i> It [MSM] is cooperating with elements in the intelligence community who have also joined this political battle.

    Joined?? The intelligence “communities” have always been politically aligned, both in the West and elsewhere such as Russia and earlier in the USSR. In NZ they have been supporting the right wing establishment for decades and decades, destroyng career prospects of left wing activists etc, the SIS even targeting for surveillance the children of left wing activists (Keith Locke is prime example has disclosed he was under surveillance from before he was a teenager), right wing proponents seldom, if ever, suffer such targeting in NZ.

    RT and Sputnik, just like the rest of the alternative media, is not under the thumb of the establishment. They are free to question the narrative promoted by that establishment.

    Well, to be fair, so says Glen Beck.

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  2. Yes, intelligence organisation have always been politically aligned – but usually not in the partisan way we are seeing in the USA. And I use “partisan” in a more limited sense – I think the same sort of illegal activity of a section of the intelligence community would have occurred if Sanders had been elected.

    I personally experienced the way the SIS behaved towards left-wing activists in NZ. I was not surprised – it is the sort of thing we expect. Most people thought Muldoon went too far when he used SIS information to attack trade unionists but the US situation is far worse. The equivalent thing would be for disaffected SIS members to leak information so as to interfere with, say, a leadership vote in the National Party. Partisan interference within a party.

    I think there are reasons for this. Trump (and Sanders if elected) comes from left field – he is not part of the establishment. he is a Maverick. The establishment cannot trust him. Nor can they control him (whether just because he is a maverick or because he is a buffoon)? Hence this political campaign to either control him via media and perceived public pressure – or even to get rid of him.

    And it is more than the normal political campaign. It is a controlled political campaign operating within the media and the intelligence community – and they are operating in an alliance. And surely illegally considering the use of “leaks” – from intelligence agents!

    We can see how effective this contrived political campaign is in controlling Trump. It has so far prevented him from taking sensible steps to defuse the dangerous situation of the relationship with the Russian Federation. Specifically, he has not yet been able to reverse Obama’s expulsion of diplomatic staff or seizure of diplomatic property – a situation which can not be allowed to continue without some sort of reprisal. And Trump’s behaviour regarding Syria smacks of appeasement towards the neocons.

    Your comment about Glen Beck is completely valid. I am not saying the alternative media is good just because it is alternative. The intelligent reader must approach all the media critically and sensibly – they should not put their uncritical faith in Glen Beck any more than they should in RT, Sputnik, CNN, NYT or Washington Post.

    I don’t know about Glen Beck, but I do know that the RT editors do advocate that readers should make use of the various sources available. They don’t pretend to be completely objective – they acknowledge they are presenting a viewpoint. I think that is honest. Whereas the Washington Post, for example, is advocating the exact opposite – trying to advocate that readers wear blinkers. They even got involved in promoting software which would warn against using sources they didn’t like.

    Worryingly the European Parliament and NATO are doing much the same thing. And the US intelligence report I referred to here clearly expressed this sort of attitude towards alternative media.

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  3. David Fierstien

    A couple of things about your article. You and Richard Christie have it backwards.

    Ken: “On the other hand, it (Intelligence) may be purposely used to deceive politicians and the public (to support “certain conclusions”) – the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the justification for the US invasion of that country provides a clear example.”

    Completely Wrong. That is a myth that is repeated over and over again with no thought. Trump repeats it all the time, (ironically, to blast his own intelligence) and sadly you are repeating it here.

    Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. Intelligence was correct. There were no WMD in Iraq. It was the Bush Administration that lied, and the Intelligence Community did not support it. (And of course you, like Trump, are using this false example as a foundation upon which to continue the argument.)

    However, one only need look at the stories of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame to underscore the reality of what actually happened prior to the invasion of Iraq.

    Another lie from Trump that you are repeating for the purpose of blasting Western Mainstream Media, in Trump-like fashion:
    “Worse – we had stovepiping within stovepiping. Not only was the claim not approved by the 17 agencies – the claim itself was made by selected personal within the four agencies involved.”

    The 17 U.S. Intelligence Agencies referred to are: Air Force Intelligence, Army Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Coast Guard Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, Energy Department, Homeland Security Department, State Department, Treasury Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Marine Corps Intelligence, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency, Navy Intelligence and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    Some of these are large, independent agencies, like the FBI, CIA and NSA. Others are smaller offices within agencies whose main focus is not intelligence, like the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research or the Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

    Four out of the 17 were involved in the January assessment about Russia: CIA, FBI, NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which is an umbrella agency that oversees all 17 organizations.

    This doesn’t mean the remaining 13 intelligence organizations disagree with the January assessment, nor does it mean the report was insufficient, according to multiple national security experts.

    The 17 organizations differ on their missions and scope, so they wouldn’t all be expected to contribute to every intelligence assessment, including one of this import.

    “What matters is the agencies that (were involved) and whether, based on their mandate and collection responsibilities, those are the agencies best positioned to make the assessment,” says Carrie Cordero, counsel at law firm ZwillGen and former counsel for various federal agencies focusing on national security.

    For example, the intelligence arms of the Drug Enforcement Agency or the Coast Guard would not be expected to collect intelligence related to Russian interference in an election, according to Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

    “So their endorsement or non-endorsement basically means nothing in this case,” Aftergood said, adding, “In this context, the assessments that count the most are those of CIA, NSA, FBI and ODNI.”

    The intelligence community likely limited the Russia assessment to those four agencies because they have the most to contribute on this topic, and because they wanted to contain the highly sensitive intelligence as much as possible, said Paul Pillar, senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies who served in the intelligence community for 28 years.

    “The ones that participated are the ones you’d expect on this,” Pillar said. “It’s hard to see any of the others having something to contribute.”

    “That does not vitiate the conclusions. It does not mean the jury is still out,” he added.

    ACCORDING TO POLITIFACT:

    “Back in October 2016, we rated this statement by then-candidate Hillary Clinton as True: “We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election.”

    Many readers have asked us about this rating since the New York Times and Associated Press issued their corrections.

    Our article referred to an Oct. 7, 2016, joint statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security that presented a preliminary conclusion about Russia’s involvement in the election.

    We noted then that the 17 separate agencies did not independently declare Russia the perpetrator behind the hacks; however, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence speaks on behalf of the group.

    We asked experts again this week if Clinton’s claim was correct or not.

    “In the context of a national debate, her answer was a reasonable inference from the DNI statement,” Cordero said, emphasizing that the statement said, “The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident” in its assessment.

    Aftergood said it’s fair to say the Director of National Intelligence speaks for the intelligence community, but that doesn’t always mean there is unamity across the community, and it’s possible that some organizations disagree.

    But in the case of the Russia investigation, there is no evidence of disagreement among members of the intelligence community.”

    Ken: “The political establishment in the US and Europe is trying to nip this phenomenon in the bud – after all the alternative media has limited reach so far.”

    And yet, it looks like it was the mainstream media that got it right. Only after the MSM asked Donald Trump, Jr. for a comment on emails it had obtained, he forced to become “transparent,” and he fully disclosed at least one email chain which included this:

    “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.”

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  4. David, I may be fighting personal distractions at the moment but surely I am not mistaken to be amazed at your statement:

    “Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. Intelligence was correct. There were no WMD in Iraq. It was the Bush Administration that lied, and the Intelligence Community did not support it.”

    Yes, we know there were no WMD any more than there was Russian collusion in the 2016 elections. Yet the US administration claimed there were and claimed this was based on their intelligence information. Just as the US Democrats claimed about Russian collusion. The US even went to the UN with this “intelligence information.”

    Yet you are telling me it was the other way around! That in fact, the US intelligence agencies opposed the administration claims!

    As I said, I am very distracted at the moment so perhaps I am wrong in my memories. But you can surely show that by citing and linking to the intelligence report, from that time, you rely on for this claim. From the time – not well afterwards when the lies were exposed (after all, I expect that in a few years time the intelligence agencies will report they were completely mistaken about their “Russian collusion” claims and that Clinton was lying).

    Or is this just another example of the way US political assertions operate today. Anything can be claimed, no evidence is required, and the gullible public will accept the claims provided it evokes their anti-Russian racist prejudices which have been carefully cultivated by the establishment?

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  5. As for the Trump Jr. emails – what a fiasco. I am of course talking about the media hysteria on this although Goldstein seems to be rather a clown).

    Here is a bit of sense from a US source on this. And it points out the danger of this sort of witch hunt and neo-McCarthist hysteria.

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  6. David Fierstien

    Ken, to your second comment first. You are using Tucker Carlson as a valid source? You are allowing him to speak for you in describing the sense of hysteria in the United States? . . Ken, I thought we were past this.

    By the way, and on a completely different subject, here is his file from Politifact: http://www.politifact.com/personalities/tucker-carlson/

    To your first comment, I referenced Joe Wilson (Joseph C. Wilson) and Valerie Plame in my comment as an example of the knowledge that U.S. Intel had prior to the war. Either you are not familiar with their story, or you didn’t take the time to look.

    In February of 2002, the CIA authorized Joe Wilson to go to Africa to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein was purchasing yellow cake uranium from Niger in his pursuit of WMD.

    In January, 2003, President Bush included these words in his State of the Union Address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

    You will recall that the U.S. invaded Iraq in March of 2003. Shortly afterward, Mr. Wilson began a series of op-eds in the New York Times questioning the validity of claims made by the Bush Administration. This is from July 6, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/opinion/what-i-didn-t-find-in-africa.html

    Although this is not an official Intelligence Report, as you have requested, it does reflect open knowledge from the time. As I said, U.S. Intelligence got it right. It was the Administration that lied.

    (I also suggest you take a look at Knight Ridder’s reporting on the Iraq war. And Bill Moyers did an excellent job of documenting how the war was sold to the American people in this documentary: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html )

    Mr. Wilson’s story continues. I suggest you take a look at it. His wife, CIA Agent Valerie Plame, was punished for her husband’s efforts. I suggest you take a look at the role of Scooter Libby, from Dick Cheny’s Office in this affair, and his conviction for criminal activities for his efforts.

    From my own recollection, I remember that Donald Rumsfeld actually said, ‘We know where his weapons are, they’re in the Tikrit area.” – No one ever told him that.

    I also remember that just prior to the war, UN Inspectors were all over Iraq looking for WMD, and couldn’t find them. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld said that they knew where they were.

    It occurred to no one that the Bush Administration could have easily provided this information to the UN Inspectors. There may have been a few reasons why no one questioned it. There was an unhealthy patriotism at the time, and certain networks, particularly Fox News (where your Tucker Carlson is now employed) “branded” anyone who dared question the Administration.

    There’s your neo-McCarthyism in the U.S.

    One particular case stands out in my mind. Cindy Sheehan was a mother who had lost her son in the war. She questioned the validity of the war and openly criticized President Bush. Take a good look at how the network of your Tucker Carlson operated as they tried to bully her https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIIGwOTHcDI

    Take a good look at the way Fox News operates. I point this out to you in case you ever consider using Fox as any kind of source again.

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  7. David Fierstien

    Good comment. It depends on how you define “Intelligence Failure.” And I don’t think we’re spitting hairs here.

    It’s possible that Powell believed in the arguments he presented at the U.N. In fact, that is what I believe. The blame falls on George Tennant’s shoulders. He was present when Powell gave the speech, and he was little more than a Bush lackie . . He was the thing that Trump wanted when he asked for a pledge of loyalty from James Comey.

    So . . If by “Intelligence Failure,” you mean that the head of the CIA provided false information to people in the Bush Administration (Powell), then yes, there was an intelligence failure.

    However, if by Intelligence failure you mean that the intelligence actually gathered by the intelligence community was wrong, then no. There was no failure. The intelligence community knew full well that, at best, evidence of Iraqi WMB was meager.

    I draw your attention to the Downing Street Memo, which has never been denied by the Bush Administration. This from it:

    “There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

    And: “It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”

    And of course, let’s not leave Cheney off the hook. Scooter Libby, from the office of Dick Cheney, and later pardoned by Cheney, was convicted for his actions.

    Whether Bush knew all the facts or not is questionable, at least in my mind.

    However – getting back to the subject at hand, you can’t compare “intelligence failures” from the Bush Administration to what is happening in the Trump Administration. If anything, it is a complete opposite. U.S. Intel is clearly not bending over backwards to accommodate the wishes of a U.S. president.

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  8. David – when you say that “U.S. Intel is clearly not bending over backwards to accommodate the wishes of a U.S. president” you are actually supporting a main message in my post. There is currently a campaign involving the media and elements of the intelligence community aimed at constraining the president’s actions. The methods used are often illegal and certainly ethically wrong.

    And, importantly, the claims made are not based on any evidence at all – or at least the campaigners refuse to produce evidence and just adopt the attitude of “trust me – we know what we are doing.” This hubris no longer works – unless you are gullible. We saw the consequences of such approaches in Iraq and they were catastrophic.

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  9. David, you clearly did not watch the Tucker interview or understand my point. I was not using the interview as a source of information. Just to illustrate the consequences of the current political hysteria in the US. He expressed these consequences well. I can understand your political commitment to that hysteria motivates you to discredit the source – but that attempt is irrelevant.

    Your attempt to avoid the issue by questioning Fox as a “source” is a diversionary tactic that you use continually. To my mind, such diversions illustrate at least a lazy attitude (in that you avoid dealing with substance by shooting the messenger) and more likely simply a dishonest avoidance of the real issue because you are incapable of dealing with the substance.

    I keep on repeating to you that relying unquestionably on sources because they are “reputable” is simply ignorant in today’s situation. readers must approach any and every source intelligently and critically. The way you limit the information you consider by wearing blinkers, and naively expect that of others, is not something to be proud of – quite the opposite.

    Tucker has, in this case, identified a dangerous result of the current US political hysteria – and he has actually made similar intelligent comments on the political childishness rampant in the US at the moment in some of his other interviews.

    You say “Take a good look at the way Fox News operates.” Well, why be so restrictive? Take a good look at the way all media operates – and particularly the mainstream media in the USA at the moment. I have tried to illustrate in my article how politically motivated the US media is in a limited partisan way at the moment. That should ring alarm bells. As should the use of unnamed sources for unsubstantiated information. Add on top of that the way media like the Washington Post is campaigning against anyone who steps out of line in their understanding and against alternative media sources.

    The intelligent observer has a lot to be concerned about at the moment and only fools will continue to rely uncritically on sources like the Washinton Post and NYT while wearing blinkers to prevent getting information from other sources. In this case, the comments from Tucker are of much higher value than the brainwashing hysteria being promoted by sources you seem to rely on and uncritically accept information from.

    I find it really disappointing when people who I might otherwise consider to be rational resort to source bashing as a way of avoiding the consideration of information. Iit is not rational or honest.

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  10. Perhaps I need to spell it out. Maybe, David, you could not bring yourself to watch Tucker’s comments because the word “Fox” on the screen froze your mind.

    Tucker was simply showing the consequences of the attitudes being expressed by politicians who saw Trump Jr’s meeting as evidence of a capital offence – of treason.

    Tucker pointed out what that attitude could mean for the ordinary person – is meeting with a foreigner now a capital offence? Does having an exchange student in your home qualify as treason? And what does that mean for all those lobbyists and their huge numbers of meetings held every day in Washington? Could those lobbyists be guilty of an offence which could result in a lethal injection?

    And, yes that goes for the Clinton crowd too. After all the Democrat election committee personnel and agents met often with staff of the Ukrainian Embassy and agents working for that embassy as they considered information they could use against the trump campaign. And the Ukrainian regime had a clear interest in preventing Trump’s election.

    Now it is sad that i have had to extract these details from the short video. I had hoped you would be able to watch it and see the points being made.

    Nevertheless – I have now given the detail that I hoped you could watch for yourself so that you now have no excuse to avoid those points.

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  11. This current US political hnysteria is bringing some crazy people out of the woodwork. These people are dangerous.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/clinton-ally-paul-begala-trump-should-consider-bombing-russia

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  12. David Fierstien

    Well, there is a lot here, and rather than, “attempting to avoid the issues,” I will attempt to answer each, head on.

    Ken: “David – when you say that “U.S. Intel is clearly not bending over backwards to accommodate the wishes of a U.S. president” you are actually supporting a main message in my post. There is currently a campaign involving the media and elements of the intelligence community aimed at constraining the president’s actions.”

    Response: I am not supporting the cited message in your post. There is a difference between standing up to the President, in defense of a truth, and “constraining a president’s actions.” In some cases, I suppose they could be one in the same. For example, if George Tennant had stood up to President Bush, allowed free access to all Intel, that would have constrained the President’s actions and his invasion of Iraq would not have been so easily sold.

    So, no, I am not supporting that message in your post.

    Ken: “The methods used are often illegal and certainly ethically wrong.”

    Response: Please cite one example in which the media had done anything illegal to constrain this president. (Asking for an example of something ethically wrong would be asking for a subjective opinion – and we could bat that around for weeks and nothing would be accomplished.)

    Ken: “ . . campaigners refuse to produce evidence and just adopt the attitude of “trust me – we know what we are doing.” This hubris no longer works – unless you are gullible. We saw the consequences of such approaches in Iraq and they were catastrophic.”

    Response: Again you raise the spectre of Iraq. That was the President who lied to you. As I said earlier, Joseph C. Wilson told you the truth. He was one of the gatherers of Intel prior to that war, and he made public what he found. He did it because he found it unacceptable that the Bush Administration was twisting its own Intelligence.

    And here you are, using that example to defend this President against his Intelligence agencies. I find that ironic, to say the least. . . More likely, however, you have inadvertently chosen the worst possible example possible to illustrate your point.

    Ken: “David, you clearly did not watch the Tucker interview or understand my point. I was not using the interview as a source of information. Just to illustrate the consequences of the current political hysteria in the US.”

    Response: I did watch the video and I understood your point. That is why I said, “You are allowing him to speak for you in describing the sense of hysteria in the United States.” That is what you just said.

    Ken: “I can understand your political commitment to that hysteria motivates you to discredit the source – but that attempt is irrelevant.
    Your attempt to avoid the issue by questioning Fox as a “source” is a diversionary tactic that you use continually.”

    Response: Tucker Carlson was discredited long before you posted his video here. It’s not about you or your arguments this time. It’s about him. Fox as a source? I can’t think of another U.S. Network which has openly bullied U.S. citizens who have openly criticized a president which they support. For example, Jeremy Glick, whose father died on September 11, 2001, and was critical of the Bush Administration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IwIRNM5noY

    You want to use Fox as a source? Go ahead. It’s not news, (when it doesn’t “become” news). It is a propaganda machine. Please cite one other network which has openly tried to bully and suppress ordinary citizens who have dared to speak up against their political agenda.
    HOWEVER, the truly remarkable irony in your statement is that Tucker Carlson might well have been talking about Fox News as he described current U.S. hysteria. Here we see Tucker defending himself against Fox political analyst, Ralph Peters, whom Tucker claims just called him a Nazi sympathizer:
    https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/07/11/Fox-analyst-compares-Tucker-Carlson-to-Nazi-sympathizer-as-the-Fox-host-defends-Putin/217224

    The sharks have turned on themselves.

    Ken: “To my mind, such diversions illustrate at least a lazy attitude (in that you avoid dealing with substance by shooting the messenger) and more likely simply a dishonest avoidance of the real issue because you are incapable of dealing with the substance.”

    Response: Again, my distaste for a network that openly bullies and tries to disenfranchise anyone who dares to hold an opposing opinion is hardly a diversion. I held these values long before I read your post, and I intend to continue living by them. If the “messenger” be Fox, or CNN, I hope I will apply these values fairly and equally.

    Ken: “I keep on repeating to you that relying unquestionably on sources because they are “reputable” is simply ignorant in today’s situation. readers must approach any and every source intelligently and critically. The way you limit the information you consider by wearing blinkers, and naively expect that of others, is not something to be proud of – quite the opposite.”

    Response: Reputable: “held in good repute; honorable; respectable; estimable:”

    Ok. I think we’re still talking about Fox here – a “news source” Reputable? You are quite right not to include Fox among the reputable.
    I have looked at Fox intelligently and critically. Have you? Let’s take a look at Fox’s biggest money-maker. Oh, that’s right . . he just got fired for his un-reputable behavior . . . How about we just look at Fox.

    On this scorecard, Politifact gives Fox a whopping 10% True, 12% Mostly True . . . 29% False, and 10% Pants on Fire. The rest are somewhere inbetween: http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/tv/fox/

    Yes, Ken, one thing you got right. I do rely on reputable news sources. Apparently, you don’t.

    Ken: “You say “Take a good look at the way Fox News operates.” Well, why be so restrictive? Take a good look at the way all media operates – and particularly the mainstream media in the USA at the moment.”
    I have taken a good look. To my knowledge there is no other network which openly bullies ordinary citizens who hold opposing viewpoints to this degree. Again, this is a perfect example of what they do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IwIRNM5noY This is entertainment, nothing more.

    Show me CNN doing this. This is about values and ethics, it’s not about wearing blinders. If you want to be entertained, if you want to watch the undesirables being eaten by lions in the arena . . then by all means, Fox is the network for you. As for myself, I would like to become informed.
    To your last comment – Ken: “This current US political hnysteria is bringing some crazy people out of the woodwork. These people are dangerous.”
    Response: That is interesting. I hadn’t seen it before, and since it was a CNN interview I naturally wondered why you wouldn’t have used the primary source. I looked for it on the CNN website & couldn’t find it, but I do see it repeated by other “less reputable” news services, so, since you are the source presenting it to me, I am going to uncritically accept it as valid, and assume that it was not in any way taken out of context.

    I will “just adopt the attitude of “trust me – we know what we are doing.”” I will rely “unquestionably on sources because they are “reputable”” (Ahh, where have I heard these comments before? From you.) I will believe you.

    Yes, Ken. I completely agree. If this guy actually suggested bombing Russia he is dangerous. And, to be fair, I completely disagreed with Hillary Clinton when she ran against Obama and said that she would “obliterate Iran.” That was extremely reckless and dangerous.
    HOWEVER, When Trump tells his minions that he will pay their legal fees if they inflict violence on anti-Trump protesters, that is extremely reckless and dangerous. . . .

    And when Trump refuses to disavow his White Supremacist followers – very dangerous. He is actively courting the worst in us. He is inviting the crazies to come out of the woodwork, and he is trying to normalize them by lowering the bar of our own values.
    Trump has identified that which separates us as a democracy, he has identified our cancer, and instead of looking for a cure, he has exploited it and made it worse.

    Why aren’t you upset about that hysteria? And why don’t we hear about the governmental hysteria resulting from the June 12 crackdown against protesters in the Russian Federation? Or the governmental hysteria that lead to the crackdown of protesters on May 6, 2012 . . . or March 26 . . Certainly the arrests of peaceful protesters on March 26 in Russia was a form of hysteria by it’s government? Why are you so focused on the United States and it’s free press?

    The word hypocrisy comes to mind. . . I digress. I’ll work on controlling my passions.

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  13. David, you are not being honest. I cannot see how one can have discussion with a partner who is not interested in understanding and relating to the actual points being made – only in wilfully misrepresenting and diverting.

    Life is too short to waste in this way.

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  14. David Fierstien

    Thank you for your response, Ken. Please let me know exactly what you mean so that we can have a rational discussion. I actually agreed with your last comment, but please, let me know what you feel is dishonest.

    I had asked you to “Please cite one example in which the media had done anything illegal to constrain this president.”

    I’ll be honest. I don’t believe you when you say, “There is currently a campaign involving the media and elements of the intelligence community aimed at constraining the president’s actions. The methods used are often illegal and certainly ethically wrong.” . . . So, please cite anything illegal that the media or Intelligence has done to constrain President Trump. Please show me that you are not dishonest.

    One of the most real things I’ve ever written: “He (Trump) is actively courting the worst in us. He is inviting the crazies to come out of the woodwork, and he is trying to normalize them by lowering the bar of our own values.
    Trump has identified that which separates us as a democracy, he has identified our cancer, and instead of looking for a cure, he has exploited it and made it worse.”

    Please enlighten me. Show me the dishonesty in that.

    Like

  15. David Fierstien

    I have thought that Trump has been quite clever with the media. In recent history, when despots have wanted to seize control of a population, the Media was one of the first victims.

    Trump can’t march into a radio station with a group of soldiers and a few machine guns. He can’t have journalists assassinated. He has done something quite different and impressively effective. He has coined the phrase “Fake News.” He is attempting to de-legitimize the media. He is attempting to render its effectiveness impotent.

    Sadly, you have bought into his sales pitch – as your post suggests. “Stovepiping.” And, for example, “There are not 17 U.S. Intelligence agencies that have concluded there was Russian meddling in the U.S. election.” (I have responded to your inaccuracies. Unfortunately, you either chose not to defend them, or to divert away from the facts.)

    Even more ambitious of Trump –

    He has coined the phrase, “Alternate Facts.” He is attempting de-legitimize reality. Will we see an alternate reality in your future posts? . . I eagerly await a trip into Trump’s Twilight Zone in one of your future posts.

    Like

  16. I am sorry David, I really do not have the energy or time to devote to these diversionary internet debates at the moment. The issues are, I think, clear and I haven’t the patience for any argument relying on misrepresentation or shooting the messenger.

    My partner of 30 years died a few weeks back and my granddaughter has just gone into labour. So you can see I am on an emotional roller coaster dealing with both grief and joyful anticipation and there are more important issues I need to spend my time on.

    I did explain what I meant by illegality in a previous comment:

    “And it is more than the normal political campaign. It is a controlled political campaign operating within the media and the intelligence community – and they are operating in an alliance. And surely illegally considering the use of “leaks” – from intelligence agents!”

    Leaks by intelligence agents, whether factual or lies, are illegal. Otherwise, why does your government want to get hold of Snowden?

    Of course, the media situation might be more complex. I did not specifically say the media had done anything illegal as you charge (I haven’t got any tolerance for arguments putting words in my mouth at the moment). It might be that a legal case could be made against news media knowingly using information illegally obtained and of doubtful accuracy because of its origin.

    However, ethically the US media has become extremely partisan. It is deep in a political campaign which has the declared intention of reversing an election result by any means. The political motivations (and, yes, there are other factors) mean the mainstream reportage is completely unreliable nowadays and people are, understandably, drifting to other sources. The internet makes this easier (while at the same time may be one reason for the dramatic drop in quality and reliance of the mainstream media).

    This mainstream media is also campaigning against alternative news sources – and doing so in alliance with the neocons, government bodies, military organisations and think tanks. NATO’s Stratcom is one high-level example.

    Yes, in this situation we have events we may in the past have deemed impossible. For example, media which in the past “progressives” relied on refusing to present certain information, presenting distorted information and preventing communication by certain experts because the media does not approve of their information (the virtual ban on Prof Cohen by that media at the moment is one example). On the other hand, media like Fox which “progressives” would not have touched with a barge pole in the past are sometimes breaking through the mainstream media bans and presenting the information more truthfully. Why is Tucker developing a following of former self-described “progressives” at the moment? Because the information he provides is of better quality than that provided by the campaign driven CNN, NYT and Washington Post. Aand his opinions more in touch with rational thinking than the opinions from those other news media people. Tucker did interview Professor Cohen on the current political hysteria, for example, and Cohen’s contribution should have got far wider coverage it was so good and so relevant. He is an expert on US-Russia relations and his warnings should be listened to.

    So please – stop this shooting of the messenger. Stop disparaging sources just because you refuse to accept the information presented. And stop advocating sources which confirm you bias as reliable. That is just avoidance and refusal to consider the actual information itself.

    No sources are reliable or trustworthy today. We have to stop accepting what the media says on faith and start thinking for our selves.

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  17. David Fierstien

    Part of the problem here, Ken, is that you are so partisan you lack the ability to look at even your own arguments rationally, let alone mine. Your tunnel vision makes you blind. When you can’t look at what is being said rationally, when you are blinded to reason, your arguments have no merit.

    Allow me to juxtapose two of your own comments,

    Ken: “So please – stop this shooting of the messenger. Stop disparaging sources just because you refuse to accept the information presented.”

    And, Ken: ” . . Goldstein seems to be rather a clown).”

    Let it sink in.

    Like

  18. David Fierstien

    One more thing. At least try to pretend to be honest.

    If Hillary Clinton were under investigation for exactly the same thing that Donald Trump is under investigation, do you honestly believe that Tucker Carlson would be defending U.S. cooperation with Russia? Do you seriously believe he would be crying about all the anti-Russian hysteria in the U.S.?

    If you do, you really are ignorant.

    Like

  19. David Fierstien

    Let’s be clear about something. You lied.

    This is your quote, in its full context, in its entirety:

    “There is currently a campaign involving the media AND elements of the intelligence community aimed at constraining the president’s actions. The methods used are often illegal and certainly ethically wrong.”

    To be clear, the media has done NOTHING illegal to constrain President Trump.

    And then you lied again.

    ” I did not specifically say the media had done anything illegal as you charge”

    Yes you did. Anyone who reads your quote can clearly see what you said: “The media AND elements of the intelligence community.” . . And then, when called on that lie, you lied again.

    “(I haven’t got any tolerance for arguments putting words in my mouth at the moment).”

    No one put your words in your mouth other than you.

    I point this out, as if it weren’t obvious enough, because the entire thesis of your post is accusatory in nature. You have accused Mrs. Clinton of lying, you have accused U.S. Intelligence of lying, and you have accused the media of lying.

    You have not one shred of evidence to support anything you have said here. You are a proven liar, you have shown your lack of intelligence by using a partisan opinion mouthpiece (who would be making a completely opposite argument had Mrs. Clinton been caught with her fingers in a russian cookie jar) . . .

    And now, after picking a fight in the first place, this: “I haven’t the patience for any argument relying on misrepresentation or shooting the messenger. . . . there are more important issues I need to spend my time on.”

    Don’t pick fights if you can’t handle it when you are called on your inaccuracies.

    Like

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