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FAKE NEWS WEEK: Government & Mainstream Media’s ‘Wag the Dog’ War on Reality

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In response to the establishment media’s contrived ‘fake news’ crisis designed to marginalise independent and alternative media sources of news and analysis, 21WIRE is running its own #FakeNewsWeek campaign, where each day our editorial team at 21st Century Wire will feature media critiques and analysis of mainstream corporate media coverage of current events – exposing the government and the mainstream media as the real purveyors of ‘fake news’ throughout modern history…

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The Proverbial Pandora’s Box (Photo illustration by 21WIRE’s Shawn Helton)

Shawn Helton
21st Century Wire 

When analyzing the fear-based odyssey of today’s War On Terror era in America and in Europe, we see that the public has been subjected to highly sensationalized tragedy, false and misleading wartime agitprop and a ‘Wag the Dog’ reality that has deflected the true nature of organized criminality the world over.

The purpose of this article is to illustrate how three rather large mainstream media lies were used as a pretext for war in the Middle East, three aspects that have separately, albeit symbiotically, altered the course of Western foreign policy by way of deception, and dramatically paved the way to destabilization in Iraq, and later to Libya, and finally to Syria.

Government entities, along with mainstream TV news, print media and PR firms – have all worked hand in hand to heavily influence the public’s political perspective concerning the reality of modern warfare. Let’s take a look at the deliberate fabrication used to accelerate Western interests in the Middle East…


‘CROCODILE TEARS’ – Nayirah al-Ṣabah falsely claimed human rights abuses before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in 1990. (Image Source: mintpressnews)

The First Gulf War Psy-op

On October 10th, 1990, 15 year-old Nayirah al-Ṣabah, the daughter of Saud bin Nasir Al-Sabah, (the Kuwaiti ambassador for the United States) provided a tearful testimony in front of the TV cameras, decrying the alleged human rights abuses to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. The young Kuwaiti teenager claimed to have witnessed Iraqi soldiers taking hundreds of babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital during the height of the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. Her seemingly gripping testimony later turned out to be completely false.

Still, the seed was already planted. This was the lie that Washington DC and its PR strategists used as the emotional pretext for the First Gulf War in 1990, a precursor to the WMD deception used to invade Iraq over a decade later in 2003.

The gripping testimony provided by ‘Nayirah’ proved to be a clever form of war propaganda following her apparent volunteer efforts at the Al-Adan Hospital in Kuwait under an “assumed name.” Her shocking claims of human rights abuse were at first confirmed by human rights charity Amnesty International, stating that some 312 babies had died (the well-known NGO later retracted those claims), prior to the story being cited at the United Nations by Red Cross affiliated group the Red Crescent in Kuwait.

All told, Nayirah’s sensational story could not stand up to a forensic review after interviews with over a dozen doctors in Kuwait failed to provide any validity to her claims.

A full year after the “Babies in Incubators” story first broke, it was finally revealed that Nayirah was no ordinary Kuwaiti citizen, as she was related the Kuwaiti royal family. Here’s a piece by 60 Minutes discussing the matter:

The true identity of Nayirah first became public after John R MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s Magazine, published in op-ed in the New York Times in January of 1992, five months after the young girl’s dubious claims. It just so happened that MacArthur had been working on a book called Second Front which was about propaganda and the Gulf War when he discovered Nayirah’s family background and multiple connections linked to Democratic Congressman from California, Tom Lantosa, who was co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus that heard Nayirah’s story. Here’s a passage from MacArthur’s revealing NY Times article:

“Mr. Lantos says that the fact that Nayirah is the Ambassador’s daughter did not alter her credibility. That doesn’t wash. Had her identity been known, her accusations surely would have faced greater skepticism and been questioned more closely. Mr. Porter isn’t angered that he was misled. But his complacency is far less troubling than Mr. Lantos’s lack of candor and lapse of judgment.

The episode also calls into question the dubious financial dealings of the House caucus system. Unlike Congressional committees, which act on legislation, the caucuses bring together like-minded members to highlight issues like human rights abuses, the environment and minority concerns.

Current rules prohibit the caucuses from accepting private donations or government grants. But the caucuses often have close ties to companion nonprofit “foundations” or “institutes” that attract funds from special interests. Caucus leaders often play a central role in these foundations.

Until recently, for example, Mr. Lantos and Mr. Porter headed the Congressional Human Rights Foundation. It rents space in Hill & Knowlton’s Washington headquarters at a reduced rate. The same Citizens for a Free Kuwait that produced the mysterious Nayirah also gave $50,000 to the foundation sometime after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The foundation has financed caucus travel, including trips by Mr. Lantos and his wife.”

The senior Al-Sabah and his daughter Nayirah were involved in the astroturf (aka artificial front group) NGO called Citizens for a Free Kuwait (CFK), who just so happened to be a client of the large Washington-based PR firm Hill & Knowlton. The Kuwaiti-sponsored CFK then came under fire for its prior knowledge of Nayirah and her Kuwaiti-US ambassador father and their role in what was later perceived to be “undisclosed bias” (along with Nayirah’s false testimony) that had been used to convince the US Congress to sell the Persian Gulf war to the public.

Hill & Knowlton was paid $10.5 million from CFK, while CFK received $11.8 million from the State of Kuwait.


‘THE GULF WAR’ – President George HW Bush seen in 1990 with Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in Kennebunkport, Maine in the lead up to the Persian Gulf War. Image Source: pinterest)

US President George HW Bush then filled the PR echo chamber for Nayirah’s fraudulent story, repeating her claims at least 10 times in the following weeks after the US Congressional hearing at media events. Here is a passage of Nayirah’s scripted testimony that whipped the American public into an emotional frenzy in an attempt to gain support for Kuwait’s humanitarian war against Iraq:

“While I was there I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the children to die on the cold floor. [crying] It was horrifying.”

Washington’s Blog added the following details concerning the history linking the Bush family to the Kuwaiti royal family and the CIA – some of whom later had ties to the Attacks on September 11, 2001:

“In the 1980s, both men were strongly linked to the Bush family network, to Kuwait, and to aviation. They both ran security companies as well. [Wirt] Walker became close to the Kuwaitis at the same time as their government was working closely with [Ted] Shackley and another CIA operative. Moreover, the people pulling the strings from the Kuwaiti side in those relationships were close relatives of KuwAm chairman Mish’al Al-Sabah.”

It turns out that “Nayirah was a first cousin of KuwAm’s Mish’al Al- Sabah.”

In December 1992, the documentary entitled To Sell A War – Gulf War Propaganda (1992) was aired as part of the CBC program The Fifth Estate. The shocking film uncovered how Nayirah’s discredited claims had been parroted by media and politicians alike in the lead up to the Gulf War:

In January of 2017, an article entitled, ‘Fake News’ Isn’t New: Dissecting Two Decades Of War Propaganda by Mnar Muhawesh published at Mint Press News, collated the woes of western intervention in the Middle East over the past 20 years in the lead up to the highly controversial Syrian conflict we see today:

“The “fog of war” erupts in the confusion caused by the chaos of war. And in the media, it’s an intentional phenomenon that makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction.

While the battles over war narratives evolve, they all have a common goal: to distort reality on the ground.

Such is the case on the crisis in Syria, the new cold war with Russia, and even the buildup for President Bush’s support for Kuwait’s “humanitarian” war against Iraq.”

The deception that boosted public acceptance for the First Gulf War led to another wave of lies in the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Iraq War, just like its predecessor the First Gulf War, was fully aided by reportage by both the media and members of the US government…

The WMD Lie

Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell and the George W Bush administration’s findings were revealed to be a highly coordinated disinformation campaign that led to over half a million deaths in the US-led invasion in Iraq in 2003.

Both the US and UK governments provided detailed briefings and documents supposedly outlining Iraq’s apparent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program. In those reports, it was claimed that Iraq had attempted to obfuscate the true nature of their WMD programs. British PM Tony Blair wrote a foreword in a publicly published intelligence report in an effort to plead the case for UK involvement in Iraq without concrete evidence.

In 2013, The National Security Archive a non-profit research and archival institution summarized the failed search for WMD’s in Iraq. Its conclusions were stunning:

The first item is a memo from the State Department’s Near East bureau, provided to incoming Secretary of State Colin Powell at the very outset of the new George W. Bush administration in 2001, outlining the Clinton administration’s policy supporting regime change in Iraq, but through financial and weapons support for internal opposition groups, propaganda efforts, and regional actors rather than direct action by the U.S. military. (The Iraq Liberation Act signed by Bill Clinton on October 31, 1998, codified this policy and committed the U.S. to continuing support for Iraqi opposition groups.)

A bullet-pointed set of notes discussed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, in late 2001 shows the Pentagon already diverting focus and energy from the Afghan campaign less than three months after the U.S. and its allies entered that country. An “Eyes Only” British government memo succinctly summarizes the climate leading to war by the summer of 2002: the U.S. saw military action as inevitable; George Bush wanted military action to be justified by linking Iraq to terrorism and WMD; to that end “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” while as to discussion in Washington of the aftermath of invasion, “There was little…”

In 2011, Judge Andrew Napolitano pressed former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about US ‘intervention’ in Iraq on the now defunct program Freedom Watch…

During the race to the White House in 2016, Donald Trump was routinely pressed on matters concerning the Middle East and his response was surprisingly diplomatic with a non-interventionist platform. Trump’s open condemnation of the Bush Administration for the Iraq War, and the Obama White House for its deceptive war which led to the destruction of Libya – all resonated with voters on both sides of the political spectrum. Trump asserted that 2003’s invasion in Iraq and the blitzkrieg in Libya via NATO members in 2011, was further evidence of a perennial failed US foreign policy over the last decade.

Supposedly liberal and left-wing publications like The Guardian, along with other mainstream outlets, at the time appeared overly sympathetic to Western intervention in Iraq. Truth Out outlined the media fueled push for war:

“In the days and weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, corporate media – and even NPR and PBS – were abuzz with the talking points of the Bush Administration, echoing claims that Iraq had its hands on “yellow cake uranium” and that it had a massive arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction.”

Thanks to the media’s repeated claims that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were immediate threats to our nation, in the weeks leading up to the invasion, nearly three-quarters of Americans believed the lie promoted by Donald Rumsfeld that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the attacks of 9/11.”

An article entitled, “The Lie of the 21st Century: How Mainstream Media “Fake News” Led to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq,” republished at Global Research added the following behind the scenes details crucial to the US led invasion in Iraq:

“The U.S. led war turned out to be a calculated plan by The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-conservative think-tank who wrote the secretive blueprint called ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century’ to remove Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath party from power. The blueprint was originally written for the neocon lunatics who served under then-President George W. Bush including Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to establish an “international Security order” dominated by the United States.”

Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) member and Pulitzer Prize winner Judith Miller wrote a series of New York Times exclusives detailing Iraq’s so-called WMD’s – sourcing much of her info from the disgraced Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi. Miller’s weapons spiked articles laid out a one-sided case in favor of US intervention based on unverified intelligence reports. Her notorious New York Times published reports became a clear example of mainstream media peddling ‘Fake News’ in an attempt to sell another war to the public.

NY Magazine disclosed the overwhelming media manipulation used by Miller and her apparent source Chalabi:

“For the past year, the Times has done much to correct that coverage, publishing a series of stories calling Chalabi’s credibility into question. But never once in the course of its coverage—or in any public comments from its editors—did the Times acknowledge Chalabi’s central role in some of its biggest scoops, scoops that not only garnered attention but that the administration specifically cited to buttress its case for war.

The longer the Times remained silent on Chalabi’s importance to Judith Miller’s reporting, the louder critics howled. In February, in the New York Review of Books, Michael Massing held up Miller as evidence of the press’s “submissiveness” in covering the war. For more than a year, Slate’s Jack Shafer has demanded the paper come clean.”

Incredibly, in spite of Miller’s deceptive reporting on Iraq, she was tapped to be a geopolitical analyst on FOX News.

On October 12th 2001, Miller subsequently opened a suspicious anthrax hoax letter while at the New York Times during another intense media scare right after 9/11. Interestingly, she just so happened to have co-written a book on  bio-terrorism, as well as co-authoring a Pentagon article which discussed of all things, a more potent form of anthrax. In June of 2001, Miller also participated in “senior-level bio-terror attack simulation on Oklahoma City,” code named Operation Dark Winter.

Despite an insistence by the Bush Administration that Saddam was harboring WMDs, the evidence just wasn’t there. In 2004, FOX News reported that theThe chief U.S. arms inspector in Iraq has found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction (search) production by Saddam Hussein’s (search) regime after 1991.”

Continuing the US intelligence report revealed the following:

“U.S. officials also said the report shows Saddam was much farther away from a nuclear weapons program in 2003 than he was between 1991 and 1993; there is no evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda exchanged weapons; and there is no evidence that Al Qaeda and Iraq shared information, technology or personnel in developing weapons.”

In 2016, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that the Pentagon reportedly paid UK PR firm Bell Pottinger $540 million to produce fake terror videos used to steer western political interests. While it’s impossible to know the full extent and scope of this classified operation, it provides yet another startling example of the deceptive and underhanded tactics of the US-UK Deep State, in terms of covert social engineering impacts and wider geopolitical war campaigning – unwittingly paid for by taxpaying western electorates.

The Road to Damascus

The deception used to propel both the First Gulf War and the Iraq War over the last two decades helped to pave the road for further western interventions in Libya as well as the regime-change-by-proxy war against Syria.

Since hostilities began in Syria in 2011, those on Capitol Hill, along with their public relations scriveners, have acted as dutiful functionaries by repeatedly presenting false evidence to the public. Over the past several years Washington and its trusted NATO partners have perpetually pushed unsubstantiated allegations concerning chemical weapons in a concerted effort to frame the Syrian government for war crimes – a plan designed to trigger either a UN Resolution for a No Fly Zone, or to give legitimacy to a ‘Coalition’ action against Syria.

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BBC Fakery & the White Helmets Fraud

In 2013, in the lead up to a deeper conflict in Syria the BBC were caught staging a video after an alleged chemical weapons attack featuring what clearly looked to be crisis actors. The BBC report, Saving Syria’s Children, even went so far (according to the RT’s investigation below) as digitally altering the word napalm for “chemical weapons’ when they interviewed emergency response personnel. To date, the BBC has never properly explained why it altered the audio in that scene. It was not, however, the only apparently staged scene in the emotive documentary report, as described in the extensive research conducted by independent media researcher Robert Stuart. Nonetheless, the BBC’s policy of silence has left skeptics to conclude what many see as the obvious answer: to prosecute the Syrian government for WMD crimes on the eve of a British Parliamentary vote on military intervention in Syria. The war vote was supposedly in response to alleged ‘chemical weapons attack carried out by “The Regime” in East Ghouta, Damascus weeks before.

In the end, the western claims were discredited, and the evidence for the alleged sarin gas attacks which took place instead pointed at the western and Gulf state-backed “rebels” (aka terrorists) as being the true culprits. Bear in the mind that the entire western mainstream media had already cast blame on Syrian President Bashar al Assad for the chemical attacks – making this the pretext for yet another war and “humanitarian intervention by the west. This was just one more example of a false crisis being used to sway the opinion not only of the American public but that of the international community.

Here’s an investigative feature by RT’s Truth Seeker discussing the deceptive claims presented by the BBC’s flagship investigative program, Panorama, and its producer Ian Pannell regarding allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syria government:

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High-Tech Propaganda

New forms of subliminally arresting and deceptive propaganda have appeared recently in Western media and more broadly, over the past few years, supplied to the western media by NGO’s linked to the member states of the NATO military alliance, and also linked to known Islamist terrorist groups operating in Syria.

Most recently, the BBC was caught ‘parroting’ an absurd White Helmets wartime story without question. The patently false claims suggested that earthquake inducing barrel bombs were being dropped in Syria. Here’s a passage from a report from 21WIRE‘s Vanessa Beeley that includes a video presentation that refutes the “NATO-state-aligned NGO narrative, ” concerning the alleged barrel bomb saga:

“We have compiled statements by James Le Mesurier into a short video. They include the bare-faced lie, presented to CNN, that in Syria there is no emergency number to call for rescue or fire services, an attempt by this UK regime intelligence operative & OBE recipient, to disappear the REAL Syria Civil Defence, established in 1953: Watch ~

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In August of 2016, an emotionally charged scene supposedly depicting a Syrian child rescued after an airstrike became a polarizing story exploited by Western media.

The strange and disembodied footage of a blood and dust-covered boy Omran Daqneesh, was also reminiscent of 2015’s migrant crisis image of a child washed ashore in Turkey, Aylan Kurdi – yet the mainstream media failed to question the obvious geopolitical angle behind the photograph, as well as the highly engineered migrant crisis itself.

While watching the entire video footage of the event, the dust-covered boy appeared to be bleeding after an apparent airstrike (yet the blood had already coagulated) was left unattended and uncleaned, as he was oddly propped up in an ambulance seat while being photographed by Mahmoud Raslan – an alleged ‘media activist’ who had been seen “fraternizing with terrorist groups in Aleppo.”

This then prompted critics to charge that Raslan was actually linked to the terrorist group Nour al-Din al-Zinki and the western-funded Aleppo Media Centre. Like the White Helmets, this is yet another example of a western-funded NGO embedded with Al-Qaeda members, who regularly disseminate what appear to be highly staged, emotive humanitarian media images and video for western public consumption, but also for the recruitment of western and Gulf state-backed militant and terrorist fighting groups.

Moreover, since their inception in late 2013, the White Helmets had been financed to the tune of over $100 million from the UK, US and EU nations alone, along with millions more from various other NATO and GCC member states like Qatar – all nations who are deeply invested in arming and backing rebel-terrorists vying for regime change in Syria.

Here’s another look at some background information about the White Helmets via a 21WIRE report by Vanessa Beeley, quoting researcher Rick Sterling:

“White Helmets is the newly minted name for ‘Syrian Civil Defence.’ Despite the name, Syria Civil Defence was not created by Syrians nor does it serve Syria. Rather it was created by the UK and USA in 2013. Civilians from rebel controlled territory were paid to go to Turkey to receive some training in rescue operations. The program was managed by James Le Mesurier, a former British soldier and private contractor whose company is based in Dubai.”

For further background material on the White Helmets, take another look at Beeley’s analysis in her anthology entitled, WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?“:

“The White Helmets are perhaps being demonstrated to be the most crucial component of the US and NATO shadow state building inside Syria.  Led by the US and UK this group is essential to the propaganda stream that facilitates the continued media and political campaign against the elected Syrian government and permits the US and NATO to justify their regime of crippling economic and humanitarian sanctions against the Syrian people.

If this latest mechanised ‘NGO’ blueprint is successful then we could see it being re-deployed as key to future neo-colonialist projects. The White Helmets are a direct intra-venus line into the terrorist enclaves within Syria, acting as a conduit for information, equipment and medical support to maintain the US NATO forces.”

From this information and other on the ground reports from Beeley and others, we observed that the recent summertime rescue operation in Aleppo featuring a dust-covered boy and many more since then, appear to be made-to-order propaganda – designed and produced for maximum emotional impact and internet viral capability, and always dovetailing perfectly with the West’s regime change narrative for Syria. By using the so-called ‘first-responder’ or ‘human rights’ NGOs, western interests believe their messaging will be unimpeachable and beyond reproach in the eyes of the average western media consumer.

In many ways, the term ‘Wag the Dog’ popularized by the 1997 Hollywood film, seems applicable when describing the west’s scripted propaganda concerning intervention in the Middle East for nearly the past three decades.

There you have it, dubious government intelligence and mainstream media approved ‘fake news’ has fueled decades of western-backed conflict from Iraq to Syria. Can the mainstream media really be trusted to be the arbiters of what is true in media? 

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Author Shawn Helton is Associate Editor of 21st Century Wire, as well as an independent media forensic analyst specializing in criminal investigations and media coverage from war theaters. 

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