The Integrity Initiative logo. Don’t be fooled by the words”democracy”: and “disinformation” – they often come out of the mouths of scoundrels these days.
Recent exposure of a shady organisation, the Integrity Initiative, has exposed how media, “think tanks” and politicians are mobilised in campaigns to manipulate public opinion and achieve political objectives. leaked documents show how this is funded by states (in this case the UK) as well as private interests.
Set up in 2015 by The Institute for Statecraft, the Integrity Initiative Describes itself as:
“a network of people and organizations from across Europe dedicated to revealing and combating propaganda and disinformation.”
And it describes its purpose as:
“To counter Russian disinformation and malign influence, and associated weapons of “Hybrid warfare”, in Europe and North America by: expanding the knowledge base; harnessing existing expertise, and; establishing a network of networks of experts, opinion formers and policy makers, to educate national audiences in the threat and to help build national capacities to counter it.”
Don’t be fooled by the term “Russian disinformation.” This really means any information the NATO states want to keep hidden or information with a different spin to that preferred by the NATO establishment.
The documents show the mechanism the Integrity Initiative uses to influence public and political opinions. This uses “clusters” of journalists, politicians, the staff of “think tanks” and state bodies like the Ministry of Defence. And no doubt intelligence agents will be in there somewhere.
“Members of Integrity Initiative clusters actively engage with policy-makers, and the wider public in their own countries to show them the damage which can be done to their societies by disinformation.”
The most public part of this “engagement” will be media campaigns.
An example of how these “clusters” work
Leaked documents from this groups give an example of one of their successful campaigns – the reversal of the planned appointment of Pedro Baños as Director of National Security in Spain.
First – this from the Wikipedia entry for Pedro Baños (machine translation from Spanish):
“[He] started working as an analyst at the General Secretariat of the Army Staff in 1999 and in 2001, for three years, he was Head of Counterintelligence and Security of the European Army in Strasbourg . 3 From 2004 to 2010 he served as Professor of Strategy and International Relations at the Higher School of the Armed Forces. From 2010 to 2012 he was assigned to the Strategic Affairs and Security Division of the General Secretariat for Defense Policy, as head of the Geopolitical Analysis Area, and in 2012 he moved to stand-by working later as an analyst and autonomous lecturer.
In 2017 he published the book Así se domina el mundo. Unveiling the keys to world power , a dissemination work on geopolitics, denouncing the “hypocrisy” of international politics in which it considers that “there are no good or bad” and that each country “seeks its interests”. 4
On June 7, 2018 it was announced that it would assume the National Security Directorate of Spain with responsibility for the secrecy of the Government’s communications, the coordination of the National Security, Maritime Security and Cybersecurity councils, as well as the management of migratory crises and energetics 5 6 days later he transpired that finally the President of Government Pedro Sanchez opted by the General Miguel Angel Ballesteros for the position.”
The news report “Sanchez dismisses Pedro Baños as director of National Security and finally opts for General Ballesteros” describes the event in the last sentence above.
Apparently, the decision reversal arose from a “barren polemic for his media profile and his opinions on international politics.” This polemic accused him of “having sympathy for the Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
See the problem? Because Pedro Baños recognised that in international relations “each country seeks its interests” he gets labeled as a supporter of Vladimir Putin and hence guilty of promoting Russian Disinformation.”
This documents from the Integrity Initiative reveals how this “barren polemic” was carried out:
Funding for the Integrity Initiative campaigns
This outfit claims private funding for the early years but is now funded by the UK government to the tune of over 2 million pounds per year. This is acknowledged by the outfit itself – a bit hard to deny as the leaked documents come largely from their funding applications.
The network revealed by cluster members
The leaked documents contain information for cluster groups in a number of European countries. I will just list one example here – the members of the UK cluster in its subgroups. The cluster is led by Keith Sargent – a member of The Institute for Statecraft according to his email address. (The leaked documents contain email address but I have not included them in the post as I hesitate to show personal information. However, readers can access the leaked document with these addresses here –392195849-UK-Cluster).
Office Core Team
This contains 15 staff and 3 fellows so gives some idea of the financial backing and size of the UK cluster.
I have provided names for members of the other clusters as readers will no doubt recognise some of these people.
UK General – Inner Core – Russia
How many names do you recognise? William Bowder is a very active campaigner for Russian sanctions and promoter of the Magnitsky Act. Anne Applebaum can be relied on for frequent and rather naive anti-Russian media articles and books. Ben Nimmo works for the Atlantic Council in its Digital Forensic Research Lab and is well know for outing real live humans as automatic “Russian Bots.” The Digital Forensic Research Lab is contracted to work with Facebook to censor accounts and “fake news.”
UK General – Inner Core – Military & Defence
Dr David Ryall
Neil Logan Brown
The email addresses show a number of members of the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence in this sub-cluster.
UK General – Outer Core – Russia
Sir Adam Thompson
This list contains several members of parliament and staff of government departments. Baiba Braze’s email address is for the UK embassy in Latvia.
UK General – Outer Core – Military & Defence
Agnes Josa’s email address is for the Government of Catalonia.
These journalists work for The Times, The BBC and the Financial Times.
It is naive to think that the frequent political campaigns we see arise spontaneously. These leaked documents provide one illustration of how such campaigns can be launched and coordinated. How they are facilitated by links between think tanks, military, and state departments, politicians and journalists. It is logical that these networks will also contain intelligence agents.
Although this organisation and similar ones promote themselves as fighting “disinformation” readers would be naive to taker them at their word. They often promote disinformation or fake news themselves, or at least provide a spin on events and news promoting a state and ideologically approved narrative.
The mainstream media is clearly integrated into such networks – which should make readers think twice about the news this media presents. My advice is to always approach the media, all media, critically and intelligently. And to include alternative sources of information in one’s day-to-day reading.