The British were urging men to fight in WWI while secretly forcing President Wilson to enter the war against the will of the American people. Author: Arthur Wardle.[Public Domain] The British were urging men to fight in WWI while secretly forcing President Wilson to enter the war against the will of the American people. Author: Arthur Wardle.[Public Domain]

The sordid history of British manipulation of American democracy

... Guest post- pt1

The Sordid History of British Manipulation of American Democracy Series: Read it and weep!

 By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

Part 1: MI6 intelligence has always been an anti-Soviet/Russian “Rumor Factory”           

“The ultimate sophistication of subversion is to take over the government, not by unlawful but by lawful means" - Brian Crozier, Free Agent 1941-1991

According to the dean of American intelligence scholars Loch K. Johnsonas reported in the New York Times, the real story about alleged “Russian meddling” in America’s presidential election is that the United States meddlesin other nation’s elections and in a big way. But the extent of Britain’s secret services meddling in American politics - at least since - the beginning of the 20thcentury would shock even the most devout cheerleaders of ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steeleand his “dirty dossier”. 

In a case oddly reminiscent of America’s current hysteria over the Russians, British intelligence even meddled with its own government back in the mid-1970s when panicked right-wing elements of the military plotted a coup d’ etat of Labor Prime Minister Harold Wilson based on information generated by their own disinformation campaign about the Soviet Union. As told by Colin Wallace, a psychological warfare specialist for the British army working to smear Wilsonand other British politicians as Soviet puppets:  “One of the main byproducts of the disinformation campaign in 1973-74 was the dramatic growth of paramilitary organizations. Bearing in mind that these people were motivated for the real reasons one can only surmise that the bulk of the information that they were reacting to was the disinformation which we and other parts of the government apparatus was producing at that stage. One of the other side effects of the psychological operations is that once we actually created false information about an individual or an organization, members of the intelligence community also believed it.”

Do you get that America? In 1974 Britain’s intelligence services plotted the overthrow of their own elected government in London which they had convinced themselves with their own lies had been infiltrated and subverted by KGB agents from Moscow whom they, themselves had invented. Continuing to accuse anyone who opposes the “Russians did it narrative” as working for the Russiansis what used to be called paranoid right-wing McCarthyism, and the anti-Putin bureaucracy is pouring gasoline on themselves by continuing to push it. The Democratic Party has long used falsified evidence to move the United States to war against London’s enemies and the British government has a reputation for producing dirty dossiersto help them. The “leak” of the 1917 Zimmerman telegram(conveniently intercepted by British intelligence) was “arranged” so as to make it politically impossible for Democratic President Woodrow Wilson to fulfill his promise to keep the United States out of World War I.  In the spring of 1940, more than a year and half before America’s entry into World War II, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) created a massive covert operation in New York City known as the British Security Coordination(BSC) to conduct an illegal campaign of political subversion, propaganda and sabotage inside the United States (to frame Germany).  Initiated by Winston Churchill with the private approval of Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt and the cooperation of the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, who insisted “that no other US government department, including the Department of State should be informed of it”, BSC’s purpose was to manipulate a neutral United States once again into war with Germany. Then once Germany was dispensed with, Winston Churchill followed up with his Iron Curtain speechin the spring of 1946 and the foundation for the Cold War with the Soviet Union was laid.

The documented history of the BSC compiled by BSC officers after the war and published in 1998 as The Secret History of British Intelligence, details how deeply British intelligence penetrated American politics before during and after World War II while providing the inspiration and cultural continuity for America’s Cold War national security state that followed. Military historian Nigel West expresses his disbelief in the introduction. “Overall, the history falls into two distinct parts, pre- and post-Pearl Harbor, and reveals the lengths taken to influence US public opinion and isolationist politicians. In particular the willingness of American radio commentators, then a very influential medium, to peddle what amounted to foreign propaganda, will shock.”

Even more shocking is how today’s influential commentators march in lockstep with their 1940s counterparts in words and deeds as they once again peddle propaganda cooked up in London to undermine an American president and prepare the United States for fighting yet another and most likely final World Waragainst the old British Empire’s most formidable enemy; Russia. 

Unconstitutional in the extreme, these kinds of covert operations were privatized in the 1970s to avoid accountability and today work in tandem with corporate/business intelligence services such as London based Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., Hakluyt & Co.and Fusion GPS, but the overall objective remains the same:Manipulating public opinion through subversion, propaganda and sabotage in order to covertly make the case for war a fait accompli. The Trump dossier is a crude piece of unsubstantiated character assassinationthat circulated for months among journalists who knew better than to use it and that even the FBI has yet to verify. Yet in their wonton desire to delegitimize Trump and his constituency, his enemies in the Democratic Party and Federal bureaucracy, bet the farm on it. Former MI6 agent, author Christopher Steeleand his business partner and co-director Christopher Burrows are highly regarded Kremlin experts who’d previously worked at Britain’s Foreign Office. 

It’s not unreasonable to ask what two highly regarded Kremlin experts are doing peddling unsubstantiated salacious rumor and innuendo.  But as the BSC’s history demonstrates - establishing a “Rumor Factory” - is exactly what MI6 intelligence experts are trained to do, replete with important rules to follow:

1.     A good rumour should never be traceable to its source.

2.     A rumour should be of the kind which is likely to gain in the telling.

3.     Particular rumours should be designed to appeal to particular groups.

4.     A particular rumour should have a specific purpose. The objectives of rumor spreading may be many, but a single rumour cannot be expected to serve more than one of them.

5.     Rumours are most effective if they can be originated in several different places simultaneously and in such a way that they shuttle back and forth, with each new report apparently confirming previous ones. 

Creating a successful rumour assumes of course that you will never get caught in the act and if ever traced back to the source you will never have to testify to it in court. The BSC excelled at devising new ways to harass Nazis. An operation known as Station M was created to fabricate letters and documents and came up with a game called Vik so even civilians could play at it. “A Nazi, they said ‘can be telephoned at all hours of the night and when awakened can be apologetically assured that it is the wrong number; the air can disappear mysteriously out of his motor tires; shops can be telephoned on his behalf and asked to deliver large quantities of useless and cumbersome goods... his lady friend can receive anonymous letters stating that he is suffering from mysterious diseases… a rat might die in his water tank… his favorite dog might get lost.’” 

Prior to and all through World War II the BSC prided itself at spreading low brow fabricated rumours about the Nazi leadership in the name of the “forces of Democracy,” and continued on to new lows against the Soviets during the Cultural Cold War through the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), and Britain’s CIA-supported Information Research Department the IRD. According to Paul Lashmar and James Oliver, authors of Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, “the vast IRD enterprisehad one sole aim: To spread its ceaseless propaganda output (i.e. a mixture of outright lies and distorted facts) among top-ranking journalists who worked for major agencies and magazines, including Reuters and the BBC, as well as every other available channel. It worked abroad to discredit communist parties in Western Europe which might gain a share of power by entirely democratic means, and at home to discredit the British Left”. 

London operated as propaganda central in the 1980s for the Soviet War in Afghanistanand a recruitment hubfor radical Islamic groups like the Taliban afterward. But the 1970 creation of the IRD’s privatized spinoff, the Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC)marked an evolution in the degree to which the techniques of infiltration and propaganda could be used to create a façade of legitimacy for right-wing causes. It also provided a platform for a right-wing element of Western intelligence services to plot against their own governments and covertly make the rise of an authoritarian neoconservative agenda a fait accompli. 

As presented by Edward Herman and Gerry O’ Sullivan in their 1989 study, The Terrorism Industry,“The London-based Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC) provides an especially well-documented case study of the use of a purportedly ‘independent’ institute as a front for propaganda operations of hidden intelligence agency and corporate sponsors. In 1968, and again in the mid-1970s, ISC’s principal, Brian Crozier, was revealed in the British press to have been an agent of British and U.S. intelligence, to have served secretly as a propaganda conduit for the South African police, and to have colluded with British firms and trade associations in a campaign to smear British trade Unions with the tar of subversion.  This did not in any way discredit Crozier as a Western expert.” 

If Brian Crozier’sexposure as a spy did anything it only enhanced his reputation as a Cold Warrior dedicated to defeating what he called Moscow’s “war called peace.”

As a devoted acolyte of the very first neoconservative, James Burnham, Crozier brought to his secret world of rightwing businessmen, intelligence, police and military officials a strategic plan to use the media to move the West’s liberal democracies to the ideological right by fabricating threats of Communist subversion. In doing so, he got the CIA, Richard Mellon Scaife, The Ford Foundation , Shell Oil, British Petroleum, the Heritage Foundation and an exclusive secretive right-wing business group known as the Pinay Cercle, to pay for it. Crozier shared Burnham’s view that the West and the Soviet Union were in a war for civilization and had to be fought with politics, subversion, terrorism and psychological warfare. Citing Burnham’s  oblique defense of Joe McCarthy in his 1954 book The Web of Subversion, his greatest concern was “not with open, professed, Communists,” he wrote in 1976, but “with the underground—the illegal apparatus, and the hidden, secret Communist agents and collaborators.” 

Like Burnham, Crozier believed that trade unions, peace groups and the non-communist left had no legitimate concerns of their own but were witting and unwitting fronts for a vast Soviet plot. But his biggest concern was for what he believed to be the KGB’s infiltration and subversion of Western governments which mandated a preemptive counterinsurgency or even military coups d’ etat to thwart. In Britain this took the shape of a covert campaign against the Labor government of Harold Wilson, the discrediting of Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe with “black information” and the replacement of Conservative leader Edward Heath with someone willing to act on the fabricated threats and outright lies the ISC and other right-wing organizations were feeding them. As retold by The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedlandsummarizing the BBC2 docudrama, “The Plot Against Harold Wilson”. “It sounds fantastic, almost comic. But watch [Alexander] Greenwoodtalk of setting up his own private army in 1974-75. Listen to the former intelligence officer Brian Crozier admit his lobbying of the army, how they ‘seriously considered the possibility of a military takeover’. Watch the archive footage of troop manoeuvres at Heathrow, billed as a routine exercise but about which Wilson was never informed - and which he interpreted as a show of strength, a warning, even a rehearsal for a coup.”

As revealed by West German intelligence officer Hans Langemann in a 1982 Der Spiegel Magazine article titled “Victory for Strauss,” throughout the 1970s Crozier facilitated “a transnational security organization,” that helped to successfully replace numerous labor, liberal or centrist governments with ultra-conservative ones. Working alongside right-wing elements of  business, the military and police in France, Britain, Switzerland and the United States, a variety of tactics had extended to  “Covert Financial Transactions for Political Purposes”… “Organizing public demonstrations…”  “Carrying out international campaigns with the aim of discrediting hostile personalities…”  “Recruiting writing contributions by certain, well-known journalists in Britain, the U.S. and other countries,” “Ensuring a lobby in influential circles…” and the establishment of offices “with full-time coordinators and operational plans for London, Washington, Paris, Munich and Madrid.”

Left unreported in the United States and thereby unknown to most Americans, Crozier and his ISC were the hidden hand of British intelligence, guiding the post-Vietnam rise of the neoconservatives and the gradual transfer of power through its Washington branch, the Washington Institute for the Study of Conflict, WISC - into the hands of a right-wing military industrial cabal bent on using the United States as a host for Britain’s long lost imperial conquest of the Eurasian continent.

Copyright © 2018 Fitzgerald & Gould All rights reserved


By Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould

Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, a husband and wife team, began working together in 1979 co-producing a documentary for Paul's television show, Watchworks. Called, The Arms Race and the Economy, A Delicate Balance , they found themselves in the midst of a swirling controversy that was to boil over a few months later with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Their acquisition of the first visas to enter Afghanistan granted to an American TV crew in 1981 brought them into the middle of the most heated Cold War controversy since Vietnam. But the pictures and the people inside Soviet occupied Afghanistan told a very different story from the one being broadcast to Americans.

Following their exclusive news story for the CBS Evening News, they produced a documentary (Afghanistan Between Three Worlds ) for PBS and in 1983 they returned to Kabul for ABC Nightline with Harvard Negotiation Project director, Roger Fisher. They were told that the Soviets wanted to go home and negotiate their way out. Peace in Afghanistan was more than a possibility, it was a desired option. But the story that President Carter called, "the greatest threat to peace since the second World War" had already been written by America's policy makers and America's pundits were not about to change the script.

As the first American journalists to get deeply inside the story they not only got a view of an unseen Afghan life, but a revelatory look at how the U.S. defined itself against the rest of the world under the veil of superpower confrontation. Once the Soviets had crossed the border into Afghanistan, the fate of both nations was sealed. But as Paul and Liz pursued the reasons behind the wall of propaganda that shielded the truth, they found themselves drawn into a story that was growing into mythic dimensions. Big things were brewing in Afghanistan. Old empires were being undone and new ones, hatched. America had launched a Crusade and the ten year war against the Soviet Union was only the first chapter.

It was at the time of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 when Paul and Liz were working on the film version of their experience under contract to Oliver Stone, that they began to piece together the mythic implications of the story. During the research for the screenplay many of the documents preceding the Afghan crisis were declassified. Over the next decade they trailed a labyrinth of clues only to find a profound likeness in Washington's official policy towards Afghanistan - in the ancient Zoroastrian war of the light against the dark - whose origins began in the region now known as Afghanistan. It is a likeness that has grown visible as America's entanglement in Afghanistan threatens to backfire once again.

Afghanistan's civil war followed America's Cold War while Washington walked away. A new strain of religious holy warrior called the Taliban arose but at the time few in America cared to look. As the horrors of the Taliban regime began to grab headlines in 1998 Paul and Liz started collaborating with Afghan human rights expert Sima Wali. Along with Wali, they contributed to the Women for Afghan Women: Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future book project published by Palgrave Macmillan (2002). In 2002 they filmed Wali's first return to Kabul since her exile in 1978. The film they produced about Wali's journey home, The Woman in Exile Returns, gives audiences the chance to discover the message of one of Afghanistan's most articulate voices and her hopes for her people.

In the years since, much has happened to bring Paul and Liz's story into sharp focus. Their efforts at combining personal diplomacy with activist journalism are a model for restoring a necessary dialogue to American democracy. Their book, Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, published by City Lights (2009), lays bare why it was inevitable that the Soviet Union and the U.S. should end up in Afghanistan and what that means to the future of the American empire. Their book, Crossing Zero The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire, published by City Lights (2011), lays out the paralyzing contradictions of America’s AfPak strategy. It clarifies the complex web of interests and individuals surrounding the war and focuses on the little understood importance of the line of demarcation between Afghanistan and Pakistan called the Durand line. Their novel The Voice is the esoteric side of their Afghan experience. Gould and Fitzgerald’s articles and blogs have been published in numerous online and print journals and newspapers such as The Boston Globe, The International Herald Tribune, Huffington Post, The New York Times, GlobalPost World News, Middle East Institute’s Viewpoints, CounterPunch, Sputnik News and OpEdNews. They have been interviewed by major media outlets such as MSNBC, RealNews TV, Democracy Now and numerous commercial and PBS radio stations from Boston to LA. They have also made presentations that have aired across the country on C-Span Book TV and the Cambridge Forum (WGBH Forum Network). Their presentation-Afghanistan and Mystical Imperialism: An expose of the esoteric underpinnings of American foreign policy is viewable here. For more information visit their websites at invisiblehistory and grailwerk.

(Source:; June 23, 2018;
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