Alternative media echoing Western media disinformation on Syria

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | DECEMBER 4, 2012

With the war between Israel and Hamas over — at least temporarily — the media is back at scaring people with new boogie men. This time has been different though, with so-called reputable alternative media helping spread the lies the corporate media is usually paid for to spread. Even the good old Drudge Report was dragged into linking his site to “reports” full of assumptions and second guesses.

The daddy of the alternative media conglomerate linked to a Wired Magazine article where writers Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman from the Danger Room page cite unknown U.S. government insiders who allegedly told them about “abnormal” movements of chemical weapons in Syria. According to such sources, there may be an attempt by President Assad to launch a chemical attack on his own people.

Neither Wired nor Drudge Report present the slightest spark of proof and simply repeat what the corporate media and alleged government informants say. “Engineers working for the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas, an American official with knowledge of the situation tells Danger Room,” reads the Wired report. Could they be right? Perhaps, but so far all they’ve done is help orchestrate a movement to promote a globalist attack on Syria, since they show zero proof to support their claims.

Meanwhile, alternative media and international media in Europe are reporting how the United States, one of the most influential propagators of weapons of mass destruction is warning Damascus about the West’s zero tolerance policy on chemical weapons. Both El Pais and La Vanguardia newspapers from Spain show alarm about the dire consequences that a Syrian chemical attack would have on people inside and outside the country.

As The Real Agenda informed a few weeks ago, the Turkish had requested the establishment of a Patriot Missile Shield System on the border with Syria, in anticipation of a supposed attack given Turkey’s complicity with the war waged against the Assad regime.

In addition to the corporate and alternative media, the website Debka File, known for unveiling exclusive reports about possible military attacks, among other issues, also published a short article about the “unusual activity” going on inside Syrian facilities. The article cites Western intelligence officers as the source of the information that was first provided to the dying dinosaur the New York Times. The NYT published an article about Syria on Monday.

In the report written by Peter Baker and Michael Gordon, the paper relates how U.S. president Barack Obama warns Syria “that it would be totally unacceptable to use chemical weapons against its own people.” That is an extraordinary statement given the U.S. government’s history of experimenting on Americans themselves as well as people in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East with its white phosphorous and depleted uranium bombs. I guess in this case such experiments are fairly acceptable for Obama and the West, since all NATO member nations use such chemicals.

Are we supposed to believe what the corporate whore media tell us about Syria or anything else? Haven’t we all learned our lesson from the “slam dunk” days? Are we supposed to believe the intelligence community who lied about WMD’s in Iraq? More importantly, should we begin to be weary of the so-called alternative media that is now working as a second-hand megaphone to promote the next ‘imminent’ conflict? Instead of making an effort to divulge main stream media lies on the Syrian conflict, now alternative media sites are playing along under the Establishment’s rules.

Besides the Drudge Report, Alternet, Global News and even Breitbart ran articles or re-published cooked disinformation from news agencies that cited the same “government officials” who spoke to main stream media outlets. After reminding its readers that the intelligence community lied before about WMD’s and other fake crises, Mike Rivero’s WhatReallyHappened.com seems to be one of a handful of sites which bothered to publish the Syrian point of view.

On its report, the site links to an article published on the Times of India, where Syrian officials found some room to issue their latest message to the world: “Syria has repeatedly stressed to the American side directly, or through the Russian friends, that it will not use such weapons, even if they existed, against its people under any circumstance”.

While the media drools about a possible attack on Syria, sites like RT report on how the United Nations has pulled out all non-essential staff from the country in what seems to be a proactive move which includes “halting aid missions outside Damascus”.

“The organization is restricting travels for remaining employees,” reports RT. Parallel to this report, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country “cannot give any guarantees on the Syrian leader’s intentions.” Putin’s statement aims at trying to distance himself from Assad. In the recent past, both Russia and China showed strong opposition to an attack on Syria; a trend that now appears to be ending.

Given recent history, it is more likely that western led forces will put chemical weapons in the hands of the terrorists now fighting against the Assad regime who would carry out a false-flag attack to justify the invasion of Syria, rather than the Syrian government attacking its own people. In fact, as shown here, chemical weapons were developed, deployed and used by Western nations to carry out their murderous agenda all over the planet.

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CIA, Google to monitor the web in real time, predicting the future

CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time — and says it uses that information to predict the future.

WIRED

The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine “goes beyond search” by “looking at the ‘invisible links’ between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events.”

The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event.

“The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases,” says company CEO Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in computer science.

Which naturally makes the 16-person Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm attractive to Google Ventures, the search giant’s investment division, and to In-Q-Tel, which handles similar duties for the CIA and the wider intelligence community.

It’s not the very first time Google has done business with America’s spy agencies. Long before it reportedly enlisted the help of the National Security Agency to secure its networks, Google sold equipment to the secret signals-intelligence group. In-Q-Tel backed the mapping firm Keyhole, which was bought by Google in 2004 — and then became the backbone for Google Earth.

This appears to be the first time, however, that the intelligence community and Google have funded the same startup, at the same time. No one is accusing Google of directly collaborating with the CIA. But the investments are bound to be fodder for critics of Google, who already see the search giant as overly cozy with the U.S. government, and worry that the company is starting to forget its “don’t be evil” mantra.

America’s spy services have become increasingly interested in mining “open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the daily avalanche of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports.

Secret information isn’t always the brass ring in our profession,” then CIA-director General Michael Hayden told a conference in 2008. “In fact, there’s a real satisfaction in solving a problem or answering a tough question with information that someone was dumb enough to leave out in the open.”

U.S. spy agencies, through In-Q-Tel, have invested in a number of firms to help them better find that information. Visible Technologies crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. Attensity applies the rules of grammar to the so-called “unstructured text” of the web to make it more easily digestible by government databases. Keyhole (now Google Earth) is a staple of the targeting cells in military-intelligence units.

Recorded Future strips from web pages the people, places and activities they mention. The company examines when and where these events happened (“spatial and temporal analysis”) and the tone of the document (“sentiment analysis”). Then it applies some artificial-intelligence algorithms to tease out connections between the players. Recorded Future maintains an index with more than 100 million events, hosted on Amazon.com servers. The analysis, however, is on the living web.

“We’re right there as it happens,” Ahlberg told Danger Room as he clicked through a demonstration. “We can assemble actual real-time dossiers on people.”

Recorded Future certainly has the potential to spot events and trends early. Take the case of Hezbollah’s long-range missiles. On March 21, Israeli President Shimon Peres leveled the allegation that the terror group had Scud-like weapons. Scouring Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s past statements, Recorded Future found corroborating evidence from a month prior that appeared to back up Peres’ accusations.

That’s one of several hypothetical cases Recorded Future runs in its blog devoted to intelligence analysis. But it’s safe to assume that the company already has at least one spy agency’s attention. In-Q-Tel doesn’t make investments in firms without an “end customer” ready to test out that company’s products.

Both Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel made their investments in 2009, shortly after the company was founded. The exact amounts weren’t disclosed, but were under $10 million each. Google’s investment came to light earlier this year online. In-Q-Tel, which often announces its new holdings in press releases, quietly uploaded a brief mention of its investment a few weeks ago.

Both In-Q-Tel and Google Ventures have seats on Recorded Future’s board. Ahlberg says those board members have been “very helpful,” providing business and technology advice, as well as introducing him to potential customers. Both organizations, it’s safe to say, will profit handsomely if Recorded Future is ever sold or taken public. Ahlberg’s last company, the corporate intelligence firm Spotfire, was acquired in 2007 for $195 million in cash.

Google Ventures did not return requests to comment for this article. In-Q-Tel Chief of Staff Lisbeth Poulos e-mailed a one-line statement: “We are pleased that Recorded Future is now part of IQT’s portfolio of innovative startup companies who support the mission of the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

Just because Google and In-Q-Tel have both invested in Recorded Future doesn’t mean Google is suddenly in bed with the government. Of course, to Google’s critics — including conservative legal groups, and Republican congressmen — the Obama Administration and the Mountain View, California, company slipped between the sheets a long time ago.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt hosted a town hall at company headquarters in the early days of Obama’s presidential campaign. Senior White House officials like economic chief Larry Summers give speeches at the New America Foundation, the left-of-center think tank chaired by Schmidt. Former Google public policy chief Andrew McLaughlin is now the White House’s deputy CTO, and was publicly (if mildly) reprimanded by the administration for continuing to hash out issues with his former colleagues.

In some corners, the scrutiny of the company’s political ties have dovetailed with concerns about how Google collects and uses its enormous storehouse of search data, e-mail, maps and online documents. Google, as we all know, keeps a titanic amount of information about every aspect of our online lives. Customers largely have trusted the company so far, because of the quality of their products, and because of Google’s pledges not to misuse the information still ring true to many.

But unease has been growing. Thirty seven state Attorneys General are demanding answers from the company after Google hoovered up 600 gigabytes of data from open Wi-Fi networks as it snapped pictures for its Street View project. (The company swears the incident was an accident.)

“Assurances from the likes of Google that the company can be trusted to respect consumers’ privacy because its corporate motto is ‘don’t be evil’ have been shown by recent events such as the ‘Wi-Spy’ debacle to be unwarranted,” long-time corporate gadfly John M. Simpson told a Congressional hearing in a prepared statement. Any business dealings with the CIA’s investment arm are unlikely to make critics like him more comfortable.

But Steven Aftergood, a critical observer of the intelligence community from his perch at the Federation of American Scientists, isn’t worried about the Recorded Future deal. Yet.

“To me, whether this is troublesome or not depends on the degree of transparency involved. If everything is aboveboard — from contracts to deliverables — I don’t see a problem with it,” he told Danger Room by e-mail. “But if there are blank spots in the record, then they will be filled with public skepticism or worse, both here and abroad, and not without reason.”