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CBS 60 Minutes Reports on Gaza: The Exception that Proves the Rule?

What's come over these people? A sudden attack of conscience? Restoring credibility? This is not yet a trend but it might soon become one. Then what?

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EDITOR'S  COMMENTARY
Regarding recent spasms of truth on the Israel and Ukraine stories.

CBS 60 Minutes on the Gaza story, and NYTimes' mea culpa re the Ukraine War falsifications
Some of the phrasing and images used by CBS on this piece may still be the familiar pro-Israel propaganda slant (i., "barbaric Hamas attack," or allusion to UNRWA employees who "betrayed the values" (sic) of the organisation by supporting the Hamas/Palestinian cause), but, overall the images and much of the narration, approximate the truth. That said, the segment is much too sanitised, and way too short to repair the propaganda damage of not just months, but long decades, of lies, omissions and grotesque distortions favoring the depraved Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people. 

How did this happen?
The story how this report got through the heavy Zionist filters embedded in all Western media, especially at major engines of disinformation like CBS, is an interesting one waiting to be told. Given the size and complexity of these bureaucracies, we can assume it was probably tough. And that the reasons for publishing such a relatively truthful report to a mass audience long conditioned to heavy pro-Israeli biases had little to do with noble motives.

For starters, there is the matter of self-preservation. The US mainstream media, and the vassalised establishment media in general, have been shedding audiences in significant numbers, their abominable journalistic performance in the service of imperialist goals and domestic pacification finally catching up with them, thanks, in large measure to the rise of highly motivated alternative media on the Internet. 

Their model, currently collapsing while doubling down precisely on the vices that triggered their downfall, is a clear case of massive status quo propaganda —"narrative control at any cost"—which has become ever more blatant as the Empire sinks further into horrid crises of its own making.  This is a cause for alarm in ruling circles concerned about the erosion of the West's hitherto formidable "soft power apparatus", the machinery they rely on to preserve their legitimacy before internal and external publics.

But the mainstream media's headaches and now observable decline do not end with the appearance of scrappy competitors. As time goes by and reality, due to the worsening global crisis, generates more and more disturbing news, an expanding number of media people are feeling the sting of their conscience as they labour in institutions that clearly betray their implicit social mission.  This circle of discontents may not yet outweigh those who live inside their own privileged bubble, or the curse of most professions, the ambitious careerist, but they can more than make up their deficiency in numbers through the strength of their commitment. In such circumstances, all it takes is a little spark and we can have a mighty explosion. Worse, if the spark is not just a spark but a genuine nuclear detonation that few can deny. Well, to establishment journos, their billionaire owners, and the broader corrupt polity in which they toil, Gaza is exactly that kind of flame.  The sheer ghastliness of this conflict has been made possible by the arrogant, simply stunning depravity of a Zionist leadership—supported by a bizarrely deranged population—long accustomed to impunity from practically all centers of world power. Meanwhile, the importance of the Gaza story has become equally obvious because the Gaza conflict is an antechamber of WW3, whose conclusion may be the end of the movie for the whole human race. 

Under such circumstances, there's the question of maintaining morale and discipline among media personnel in the face of a story that continues to deliver heartwrenching documentation about the repugnant savagery and moral bankruptcy of Zionism and its fully complicit backers throughout the West, the Anglo-American axis, and EU vassal, in particular. There have been reports of internal troubles, insolent rumblings, at several leading media—including icons of establishment apologetics like CNN and the NYTimes. Some personnel apparently became too shaken and disgusted with the information arriving on their desks to continue to put career over conscience.  The story of why and how these stories are suddenly emerging, and whether they will eventually constitute a trend, will have to be written by someone on the inside. That hasn't happened yet, to my knowledge. So for the time being, we can only conjecture. 

Incidentally, we are glad the NYTimes (though criminally late), is now at last timidly breaking ranks with the wall of lies still enveloping much of the Ukrainian War story, a conflict clearly imposed on the Russian people by the irrepressible treachery and imperialist compulsion of the Neocon-dominated West.  Patrick Martin's account is characteristically solid and deserving of commendation. As many of our readers already know, we substantially disagree with wsws.org at times, since we do not subscribe, in general, to a Trotskyist interpretation of history or practical politics.  This is fortunately not such case, so I'd like to express my gratitude to Martin for his impeccable analysis.

PG

Part 1: Gaza

Note: Google (YouTube) and CBS are playing games with the code, and making third-party embedding (for example, Greanville Post) difficult or impossible. Google as usual is trying to reduce to the maximum possible the circulation of this video. So we had to waste time doing a workaround. Thanks for your patience.
 


Feb 25, 2024

60 Minutes Overtime spoke with correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi and producer Ashley Velie about how they reported their story this week and revisited their coverage of the first Israel-Hamas war in 2006.


Part 2: Ukraine

New York Times report demolishes the narrative of the “unprovoked war” in Ukraine

 
NYT 2/24/24 on Ukraine war
 
 
 

For the past two years, nearly every reference in the US media to the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been preceded by an obligatory word—“unprovoked.”

The public was told that this was a war without cause, that Ukraine was blameless, and that the invasion was to be explained entirely in terms of the intentions and psychology of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, on the weekend of the second anniversary of the war, the New York Times published a lengthy article revealing that the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 was instigated by a systematic and widespread campaign of military-intelligence aggression on the part of the United States.

The article details longstanding Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations in Ukraine, in which the agency sponsored and built up the Ukrainian military intelligence agency HUR, using it as a weapon of spying, assassination and provocation directed against Russia for more than a decade.

The Times writes:

Toward the end of 2021, according to a senior European official, Mr. Putin was weighing whether to launch his full-scale invasion when he met with the head of one of Russia’s main spy services, who told him that the C.I.A., together with Britain’s MI6, were controlling Ukraine and turning it into a beachhead for operations against Moscow.

The Times report demonstrates that this Russian intelligence assessment was absolutely true. For more than a decade, dating back to 2014, the CIA was building up, training and arming Ukrainian intelligence and paramilitary forces that were engaging in assassinations and other provocations against pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, against Russian forces in Crimea and across the border into Russia itself.

In a critical passage, the Times writes:

As the partnership deepened after 2016, the Ukrainians became impatient with what they considered Washington’s undue caution, and began staging assassinations and other lethal operations, which violated the terms the White House thought the Ukrainians had agreed to. Infuriated, officials in Washington threatened to cut off support, but they never did.

In other words, Ukrainian paramilitary forces that were armed, funded and led by the United States and NATO were systematically assassinating forces supporting closer relations with Russia.

The newspaper’s account begins with the Maidan Coup of February 2014, when right-wing and neo-Nazi forces backed by the US and the European Union overthrew the elected pro-Russian president and installed a pro-imperialist regime headed by the billionaire Petro Poroshenko.

Azov in Kiev

Ukraine—especially in the West, where Lviv is situated, has a long history of Nazi sympathies. These rabidly anti-Soviet/Anti-Russian groups have been cultivated by the CIA and UK intel services for at least 80 years. (TGP screenshot)


This coup was the culmination of two decades of imperialist inroads into the former Soviet bloc, including the expansion of NATO to include virtually all of Eastern Europe in violation of pledges made to the leaders of the former Soviet Union. The Times is silent on this earlier history, as well as on the role of the CIA in the Maidan events.

Maidan set the stage for a massive escalation of the CIA intervention, as detailed in the Times report. The intelligence agency played a central role in fueling conflict between Ukraine and Russia, first as a low-level war against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, then as a full-scale war after the Russian invasion in February 2022. Three US administrations were involved: first Obama, then Trump and now Biden.

According to the Times account, CIA operations included not only widespread spying, but also assisting direct provocations such as the assassination of pro-Russian politicians in eastern Ukraine and paramilitary attacks on Russian forces in Crimea.

The Times reports that a Ukrainian unit, the Fifth Directorate, was tasked with conducting assassinations, including one in 2016. The Times writes:

[A] mysterious explosion in the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, ripped through an elevator carrying a senior Russian separatist commander named Arsen Pavlov, known by his nom de guerre, Motorola.

The C.I.A. soon learned that the assassins were members of the Fifth Directorate, the spy group that received C.I.A. training. Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency had even handed out commemorative patches to those involved, each one stitched with the word “Lift,” the British term for an elevator.

The report describes another such operation:

A team of Ukrainian agents set up an unmanned, shoulder-fired rocket launcher in a building in the occupied territories. It was directly across from the office of a rebel commander named Mikhail Tolstykh, better known as Givi. Using a remote trigger, they fired the launcher as soon as Givi entered his office, killing him, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

Since the outbreak of full-scale war, the Ukrainian HUR has extended these assassination operations to the whole territory of Russia, including the killing of Darya Dugina, a leading pro-Putin polemicist in the Russian media, and Russian government and military officials.

The CIA found its Ukrainian allies very useful in collecting vast amounts of data on Russian military and intelligence activity, so much that the HUR itself could not process it and had to forward the raw data to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia for analysis. An earlier, less detailed report on this intelligence collaboration, in the Washington Post, cited a Ukrainian intelligence official’s estimate that “250,000 to 300,000” Russian military/intelligence messages were being collected each day. This data was not just related to Ukraine, but concerned Russian intelligence activity all over the world.

Long before the Russian invasion, the CIA was seeking to broaden its attack on Moscow. The Times reports:

The relationship [with the Ukrainian HUR] was so successful that the C.I.A. wanted to replicate it with other European intelligence services that shared a focus in countering Russia.

The head of Russia House, the C.I.A. department overseeing operations against Russia, organized a secret meeting at The Hague. There, representatives from the C.I.A., Britain’s MI6, the HUR, the Dutch service (a critical intelligence ally) and other agencies agreed to start pooling together more of their intelligence on Russia.

The result was a secret coalition against Russia—and the Ukrainians were vital members of it.

All these activities occurred well before the Russian invasion of February 2022. The outbreak of full-scale war led to even more direct CIA engagement in Ukraine. CIA agents were the only Americans not covered by the initial evacuation of US government personnel from Ukraine, removing only to western Ukraine. They continually briefed the Ukrainians on Russian military plans, including precise details of operations as they were unfolding.

According to the Times:

Within weeks, the C.I.A. had returned to Kyiv, and the agency sent in scores of new officers to help the Ukrainians. A senior U.S. official said of the C.I.A.’s sizable presence, “Are they pulling triggers? No. Are they helping with targeting? Absolutely.”

Some of the C.I.A. officers were deployed to Ukrainian bases. They reviewed lists of potential Russian targets that the Ukrainians were preparing to strike, comparing the information that the Ukrainians had with U.S. intelligence to ensure that it was accurate.

In other words, the CIA was helping direct the war, making the US government a full participant, a co-belligerent in a war with nuclear-armed Russia, despite Biden’s claim that the United States was only aiding Ukraine from afar. And all this without the American people having the slightest say in the matter.

The Times account also provides an inadvertent indictment of the American media. The newspaper writes:

The details of this intelligence partnership, many of which are being disclosed by the New York Times for the first time, have been a closely guarded secret for a decade.

This admission means that these secrets were “closely guarded” by the Times itself. As former Editor Bill Keller once observed, freedom of the press means freedom not to publish, and “that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity.” Particularly, we might add, when it comes to the crimes of US imperialism.

The Times article is not so much an exposure as a controlled release of information. The US “newspaper of record” reports that the two authors of the piece, Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz, conducted “more than 200 interviews” with “current and former officials in Ukraine, elsewhere in Europe, and in the United States.” This activity could hardly have taken place without the knowledge, permission, even encouragement of the CIA, as well as the Zelensky regime and Ukrainian intelligence.

In the meantime, a real journalist, Julian Assange, is awaiting the decision on his final appeal against extradition to the United States, where he faces 175 years in prison or even a death sentence. The crime of Assange and WikiLeaks, which Assange founded, is that they did not obey the rules of bourgeois journalism and did not seek the permission of the military-intelligence authorities before publishing revelations about US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the efforts of the US State Department to subvert and manipulate governments, and the spying activities of the CIA and National Security Agency.

The exposure of a decade of CIA operations in Ukraine—clearly at the request of the agency itself—appears to be linked to the ongoing conflict within the US ruling elite over what policy to adopt in that war, in the wake of the debacle suffered by the Zelensky regime in last year’s offensive, which gained little and suffered colossal casualties. Congressional Republicans have blocked further military and financial aid to Ukraine, effectively declaring that the US must cut its losses there and concentrate on the main enemy, China.

By reporting the virtual control of the Ukrainian regime by the US military-intelligence apparatus, the Times is seeking to pressure the Republicans to support the war funding. It is arguing that this money is not going to a foreign government, in a foreign war, thousands of miles from US borders, but to a subcontractor of American imperialism, waging an American war in which US personnel are deeply and directly engaged.

In so doing, the Times has revealed its own coverage of the Ukraine war over the past two years to have been nothing more than war propaganda, aimed at using a fraudulent narrative to dragoon the American public to support a predatory imperialist war of aggression aimed at subjugating and dismantling Russia.


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—The Editor, The Greanville Post
—The Editor, The Greanville Post

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