UK Security Services Neutralized Country’s Leading Liberal Newspaper

The Guardian has been successfully deterred from producing its former adversarial reporting on the “security state,” report Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis.

By Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis
Daily Maverick

U.K. security services targeted The Guardian after the newspaper started publishing the contents of secret U.S. government documents leaked by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in June 2013.

Snowden’s bombshell revelations continued for months and were the largest-ever leak of classified material covering the NSA and its U.K. equivalent, the Government Communications Headquarters. They revealed programs of mass surveillance operated by both agencies.

According to minutes of meetings of the U.K.’s Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee, the revelations caused alarm in the British security services and Ministry of Defence.

“This event was very concerning because at the outset The Guardian avoided engaging with the [committee] before publishing the first tranche of information,” state minutes of a Nov. 7 , 2013, meeting at the MOD.

The DSMA Committee, more commonly known as the D-Notice Committee, is run by the MOD, where it meets every six months. A small number of journalists are also invited to sit on the committee. Its stated purpose is to “prevent inadvertent public disclosure of information that would compromise U.K. military and intelligence operations.” It can issue “notices” to the media to encourage them not to publish certain information.

The committee is currently chaired by the MOD’s Director-General of Security Policy Dominic Wilson, who was previously director of security and intelligence in the British Cabinet Office. Its secretary is Brigadier Geoffrey Dodds OBE, who describes himself as an “accomplished, senior ex-military commander with extensive experience of operational level leadership.”

The D-Notice system describes itself as voluntary, placing no obligations on the media to comply with any notice issued. This means there should have been no need for The Guardian to consult the MOD before publishing the Snowden documents.

Yet committee minutes note the secretary saying: “The Guardian was obliged to seek … advice under the terms of the DA notice code.” The minutes add: “This failure to seek advice was a key source of concern and considerable efforts had been made to address it.”

The Guardian’s headquarters in London. (Bryantbob, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

 ‘Considerable Efforts’

These “considerable efforts” included a D-Notice sent out by the committee on June 7, 2013 – the day after The Guardian published the first documents – to all major U.K. media editors, saying they should refrain from publishing information that would “jeopardise both national security and possibly U.K. personnel.” It was marked “private and confidential: not for publication, broadcast or use on social media.”

Clearly the committee did not want its issuing of the notice to be publicized, and it was nearly successful. Only the right-wing blog Guido Fawkes made it public.

At the time, according to the committee minutes, the “intelligence agencies in particular had continued to ask for more advisories [i.e. D-Notices] to be sent out.” Such D-Notices were clearly seen by the intelligence services not so much as a tool to advise the media but rather a way to threaten it not to publish further Snowden revelations.

One night, amidst the first Snowden stories being published, the D-Notice Committee’s then-secretary, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Vallance, personally called Alan Rusbridger, then editor of The Guardian. Vallance “made clear his concern that The Guardian had failed to consult him in advance before telling the world,” according to a Guardian journalist who interviewed Rusbridger.

Later in the year, Prime Minister David Cameron again used the D-Notice system as a threat to the media.

“I don’t want to have to use injunctions or D-Notices or the other tougher measures,” he said in a statement to MPs. “I think it’s much better to appeal to newspapers’ sense of social responsibility. But if they don’t demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act.”

The threats worked. The Press Gazette reported at the time that “The FT [Financial Times] and The Times did not mention it [the initial Snowden revelations] … and the Telegraph published only a short.” It continued by noting that only The Independent “followed up the substantive allegations.” It added, “The BBC has also chosen to largely ignore the story.”

The Guardian, however, remained uncowed.

Supporters of Edward Snowden demonstrate in Hong Kong, June 15, 2013. (EPA/JEROME FAVRE)

According to the committee minutes, the fact The Guardian would not stop publishing “undoubtedly raised questions in some minds about the system’s future usefulness.” If the D-Notice system could not prevent The Guardian publishing GCHQ’s most sensitive secrets, what was it good for?

It was time to rein in The Guardian and make sure this never happened again.

GCHQ and Laptops

The security services ratcheted up their “considerable efforts” to deal with the exposures.

On July 20, 2013, GCHQ officials entered The Guardian’s offices at King’s Cross in London, six weeks after the first Snowden-related article had been published.

At the request of the government and security services, Guardian deputy editor Paul Johnson, along with two others, spent three hours destroying the laptops containing the Snowden documents.

The Guardian staffers, according to one of the newspaper’s reporters, brought “angle-grinders, dremels – drills with revolving bits – and masks.” The reporter added, “The spy agency provided one piece of hi-tech equipment, a ‘degausser,’ which destroys magnetic fields and erases data.”

Johnson claims that the destruction of the computers was “purely a symbolic act,” adding that “the government and GCHQ knew, because we had told them, that the material had been taken to the U.S.  to be shared with The New York Times. The reporting would go on. The episode hadn’t changed anything.”

Yet the episode did change something. As the D-Notice Committee minutes for November 2013 outlined: “Towards the end of July [as the computers were being destroyed], The Guardian had begun to seek and accept D-Notice advice not to publish certain highly sensitive details and since then the dialogue [with the committee] had been reasonable and improving.”

The British security services had carried out more than a “symbolic act.” It was both a show of strength and a clear threat. The Guardian was then the only major newspaper that could be relied upon by whistleblowers in the U.S.  and British security bodies to receive and cover their exposures, a situation which posed a challenge to security agencies.

The increasingly aggressive overtures made to The Guardian worked. The committee chair noted that after GCHQ had overseen the smashing up of the newspaper’s laptops “engagement … with The Guardian had continued to strengthen.”

Moreover, he added, there were now “regular dialogues between the secretary and deputy secretaries and Guardian journalists.” Rusbridger later testified to the Home Affairs Committee that he and Air Vice-Marshal Vallance of the D-Notice committee “collaborated” in the aftermath of the Snowden affair and that Vallance had even “been at The Guardian offices to talk to all our reporters.”

But the most important part of this charm and threat offensive was getting The Guardian to agree to take a seat on the D-Notice Committee itself. The committee minutes are explicit on this, noting that “the process had culminated by [sic] the appointment of Paul Johnson (deputy editor Guardian News and Media) as a DPBAC [i.e. D-Notice Committee] member.”

At some point in 2013 or early 2014, Johnson – the same deputy editor who had smashed up his newspaper’s computers under the watchful gaze of British intelligence agents – was approached to take up a seat on the committee. Johnson attended his first meeting in May 2014 and was to remain on it until October 2018.

The Guardian’s deputy editor went directly from the corporation’s basement with an angle-grinder to sitting on the D-Notice Committee alongside the security service officials who had tried to stop his paper publishing.

A New Editor

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger withstood intense pressure not to publish some of the Snowden revelations but agreed to Johnson taking a seat on the D-Notice Committee as a tactical sop to the security services. Throughout his tenure, The Guardian continued to publish some stories critical of the security services.

But in March 2015, the situation changed when The Guardian appointed a new editor, Katharine Viner, who had less experience than Rusbridger of dealing with the security services. Viner had started out on fashion and entertainment magazine Cosmopolitan and had no history in national security reporting. According to insiders, she showed much less leadership during the Snowden affair than Janine Gibson in the U.S. (Gibson was another candidate to be Rusbridger’s successor).

Viner was then editor-in-chief of Guardian Australia, which was launched just two weeks before the first Snowden revelations were published. Australia and New Zealand comprise two-fifths of the so-called “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance exposed by Snowden.

This was an opportunity for the security services. It appears that their seduction began the following year.

In November 2016, The Guardian published an unprecedented “exclusive” with Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, Britain’s domestic security service. The article noted that this was the “first newspaper interview given by an incumbent MI5 chief in the service’s 107-year history.” It was co-written by deputy editor Paul Johnson, who had never written about the security services before and who was still sitting on the D-Notice Committee. This was not mentioned in the article.

The MI5 chief was given copious space to make claims about the national security threat posed by an “increasingly aggressive” Russia. Johnson and his co-author noted, “Parker said he was talking to the Guardian rather than any other newspaper despite the publication of the Snowden files.”

Parker told the two reporters, “We recognise that in a changing world we have to change too. We have a responsibility to talk about our work and explain it.”

Four months after the MI5 interview, in March 2017, The Guardian published another unprecedented “exclusive,” this time with Alex Younger, the sitting chief of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency. This exclusive was awarded by the Secret Intelligence Service to The Guardian’s investigations editor, Nick Hopkins, who had been appointed 14 months previously.

Alexander Younger, head of the foreign intelligence service, in 2019. (PA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA)

The interview was the first Younger had given to a national newspaper and was again softball. Titled “MI6 returns to ‘tapping up’ in an effort to recruit black and Asian officers,” it focused almost entirely on the intelligence service’s stated desire to recruit from ethnic minority communities.

“Simply, we have to attract the best of modern Britain,” Younger told Hopkins. “Every community from every part of Britain should feel they have what it takes, no matter what their background or status.”

Just two weeks before the interview with MI6’s chief was published, The Guardian itself reported on the high court stating that it would “hear an application for a judicial review of the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to charge MI6’s former counterterrorism director, Sir Mark Allen, over the abduction of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his pregnant wife who were transferred to Libya in a joint CIA-MI6 operation in 2004.”

None of this featured in The Guardian article, which did, however, cover discussions of whether the James Bond actor Daniel Craig would qualify for the intelligence service. “He would not get into MI6,” Younger told Hopkins.

More recently, in August 2019, The Guardian was awarded yet another exclusive, this time with Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Neil Basu, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer. This was Basu’s “first major interview since taking up his post” the previous year and resulted in a three-part series of articles, one of which was entitled “Met police examine Vladimir Putin’s role in Salisbury attack.”

The security services were probably feeding The Guardian these “exclusives” as part of the process of bringing it onside and neutralizing the only independent newspaper with the resources to receive and cover a leak such as Snowden’s. They were possibly acting to prevent any revelations of this kind happening again.

What, if any, private conversations have taken place between Viner and the security services during her tenure as editor are not known. But in 2018, when Paul Johnson eventually left the D-Notice Committee, its chair, the MOD’s Dominic Wilson, praised Johnson who, he said, had been “instrumental in re-establishing links with The Guardian.”

Decline in Critical Reporting

Amidst these spoon-fed intelligence exclusives, Viner also oversaw the breakup of The Guardian’s celebrated investigative team, whose muck-racking journalists were told to apply for other jobs outside of investigations.

One well-placed source told the Press Gazette at the time that journalists on the investigations team “have not felt backed by senior editors over the last year,” and that “some also feel the company has become more risk-averse in the same period.”

In the period since Snowden, the Guardian has lost many of its top investigative reporters who had covered national security issues, notably Shiv Malik, Nick Davies, David Leigh, Richard Norton-Taylor, Ewen MacAskill and Ian Cobain. The few journalists who were replaced were succeeded by less experienced reporters with apparently less commitment to exposing the security state. The current defense and security editor, Dan Sabbagh, started at The Guardian as head of media and technology and has no history of covering national security.

“It seems they’ve got rid of everyone who seemed to cover the security services and military in an adversarial way,” one current Guardian journalist told us.

Indeed, during the last two years of Rusbridger’s editorship, The Guardian published about 110 articles per year tagged as MI6 on its website. Since Viner took over, the average per year has halved and is decreasing year by year.

“Effective scrutiny of the security and intelligence agencies — epitomized by the Snowden scoops but also many other stories — appears to have been abandoned,” a former Guardian journalist told us. The former reporter added that, in recent years, it “sometimes seems The Guardian is worried about upsetting the spooks.”

A second former Guardian journalist added: “The Guardian no longer seems to have such a challenging relationship with the intelligence services, and is perhaps seeking to mend fences since Snowden. This is concerning, because spooks are always manipulative and not always to be trusted.”

While some articles critical of the security services still do appear in the paper, its “scoops” increasingly focus on issues more acceptable to them. Since the Snowden affair, The Guardian does not appear to have published any articles based on an intelligence or security services source that was not officially sanctioned to speak.

The Guardian has, by contrast, published a steady stream of exclusives on the major official enemy of the security services, Russia, exposing Putin, his friends and the work of its intelligence services and military.

In the Panama Papers leak in April 2016, which revealed how companies and individuals around the world were using an offshore law firm to avoid paying tax, The Guardian’s front-page launch scoop was authored by Luke Harding, who has received many security service tips focused on the “Russia threat,” and was titled “Revealed: the $2bn offshore trail that leads to Vladimir Putin.”

Three sentences into the piece, however, Harding notes that “the president’s name does not appear in any of the records” although he insists that “the data reveals a pattern – his friends have earned millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage.”

There was a much bigger story in the Panama Papers which The Guardian chose to downplay by leaving it to the following day. This concerned the father of the then prime minister, David Cameron, who “ran an offshore fund that avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain by hiring a small army of Bahamas residents – including a part-time bishop – to sign its paperwork.”

We understand there was some argument between journalists about not leading with the Cameron story as the launch splash. Putin’s friends were eventually deemed more important than the prime minister of the country where the paper published.

Getting Julian Assange

The Guardian also appears to have been engaged in a campaign against the WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who had been a collaborator during the early WikiLeaks revelations in 2010.

Julian Assange displays the Guardian during press conference in London, July 26, 2010. (EPA/STR)

One 2017 story came from investigative reporter Carole Cadwalladr, who writes for The Guardian’s sister paper The Observertitled “When Nigel Farage met Julian Assange.” This concerned the visit of former U.K. Independent Party leader Nigel Farage to the Ecuadorian embassy in March 2017, organized by the radio station LBC, for whom Farage worked as a presenter. Farage’s producer at LBC accompanied Farage at the meeting, but this was not mentioned by Cadwalladr.

Rather, she posited that this meeting was “potentially … a channel of communication” between WikiLeaks, Farage and Donald Trump, who were all said to be closely linked to Russia, adding that these actors were in a “political alignment” and that “WikiLeaks is, in many ways, the swirling vortex at the centre of everything.”

Yet Cadwalladr’s one official on-the-record source for this speculation was a “highly placed contact with links to US intelligence,” who told her, “When the heat is turned up and all electronic communication, you have to assume, is being intensely monitored, then those are the times when intelligence communication falls back on human couriers. Where you have individuals passing information in ways and places that cannot be monitored.”

It seems likely this was innuendo being fed to The Observer by an intelligence-linked individual to promote disinformation to undermine Assange.

In 2018, however, The Guardian’s attempted vilification of Assange was significantly stepped up. A new string of articles began on May 18, 2018, with one alleging Assange’s “long-standing relationship with RT,” the Russian state broadcaster. The series, which has been closely documented elsewhere, lasted for several months, consistently alleging with little or the most minimal circumstantial evidence that Assange had ties to Russia or the Kremlin.

One story, co-authored again by Harding, claimed that “Russian diplomats held secret talks in London … with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the U.K., the Guardian has learned.” The former consul in the Ecuadorian embassy in London at this time, Fidel Narvaez, vigorously denies the existence of any such “escape plot” involving Russia and is involved in a complaint process with The Guardian for insinuating he coordinated such a plot.

This apparent mini-campaign ran until November 2018, culminating in a front-page splash, based on anonymous sources, claiming that Assange had three secret meetings at the Ecuadorian embassy with Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

This “scoop” failed all tests of journalistic credibility since it would have been impossible for anyone to have entered the highly secured Ecuadorian embassy three times with no proof. WikiLeaks and others have strongly argued that the story was manufactured and it is telling that The Guardian has since failed to refer to it in its subsequent articles on the Assange case. The Guardian, however, has still not retracted or apologized for the story which remains on its website.

The “exclusive” appeared just two weeks after Paul Johnson had been congratulated for “re-establishing links” between The Guardian and the security services.

The string of Guardian articles, along with the vilification and smear stories about Assange elsewhere in the British media, helped create the conditions for a deal between Ecuador, the U.K. and the U.S. to expel Assange from the embassy in April. Assange now sits in Belmarsh maximum-security prison where he faces extradition to the U.S., and life in prison there, on charges under the Espionage Act.

Acting for the Establishment

Another major focus of The Guardian’s energies under Viner’s editorship has been to attack the leader of the U.K. Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

The context is that Corbyn appears to have recently been a target of the security services. In 2015, soon after he was elected Labour leader, The Sunday Times reported that a serving general warned that “there would be a direct challenge from the army and mass resignations if Corbyn became prime minister.” The source told the newspaper: “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it. The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul, to prevent that.”

On May 20, 2017, a little over two weeks before the 2017 general election, The Daily Telegraph was fed the story that “MI5 opened a file on Jeremy Corbyn amid concerns over his links to the IRA.” It formed part of a Telegraph investigation claiming to reveal “Mr Corbyn’s full links to the IRA” and was sourced to an individual “close to” the MI5 investigation, who said “a file had been opened on him by the early nineties.”

The Metropolitan Police Special Branch was also said to be monitoring Corbyn in the same period.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, giving speech in Manchester, Britain, Sept. 2, 2019. (EPA-EFE/PETER POWELL)

Then, on the very eve of the general election, the Telegraph gave space to an article from Sir Richard Dearlove, the former director of MI6, under a headline: “Jeremy Corbyn is a danger to this nation. At MI6, which I once led, he wouldn’t clear the security vetting.”

Further, in September 2018, two anonymous senior government sources told The Times that Corbyn had been “summoned” for a “‘facts of life’ talk on terror” by MI5 chief Andrew Parker.

Just two weeks after news of this private meeting was leaked by the government, The Daily Mail reported another leak, this time revealing that “Jeremy Corbyn’s most influential House of Commons adviser has been barred from entering Ukraine on the grounds that he is a national security threat because of his alleged links to Vladimir Putin’s ‘global propaganda network.’ ”

The article concerned Andrew Murray, who had been working in Corbyn’s office for a year but had still not received a security pass to enter the U.K. parliament. The Mail reported, based on what it called “a senior parliamentary source,” that Murray’s application had encountered “vetting problems.”

Murray later heavily suggested that the security services had leaked the story to the Mail. “Call me sceptical if you must, but I do not see journalistic enterprise behind the Mail’s sudden capacity to tease obscure information out of the [Ukrainian security service],” he wrote in New Statesman. He added, “Someone else is doing the hard work – possibly someone being paid by the taxpayer. I doubt if their job description is preventing the election of a Corbyn government, but who knows?”

Murray told us he was approached by New Statesman after the story about him being banned from Ukraine was leaked. “However,” he added, “I wouldn’t dream of suggesting anything like that to The Guardian, since I do not know any journalists still working there who I could trust.”

The Guardian itself has run a remarkable number of news and comment articles criticizing Corbyn since he was elected in 2015 and the paper’s clearly hostile stance has been widely noted.

Given its appeal to traditional Labour supporters, the paper has probably done more to undermine Corbyn than any other. In particular, its massive coverage of alleged widespread anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has helped to disparage Corbyn more than other smears carried in the media.

The Guardian and The Observer have published hundreds of articles on “Labour anti-Semitism” and, since the beginning of this year, carried over 50 such articles with headlines clearly negative to Corbyn. Typical headlines have included The Observer view: Labour leadership is complicit in anti-Semitism,” Jeremy Corbyn is either blind to anti-Semitism – or he just doesn’t care,” and Labour‘s anti-Semitism problem is institutional. It needs investigation.

The Guardian’s coverage of anti-Semitism in Labour has been suspiciously extensive, compared to the known extent of the problem in the party, and its focus on Corbyn personally suggests that the issue is being used politically.

While anti-Semitism does exist in the Labour Party, evidence suggests it is at relatively low levels. Since September 2015, when Corbyn became Labour leader, 0.06 percent of the Labour membership has been investigated for anti-Semitic comments or posts.

In 2016, an independent inquiry commissioned by Labour concluded that the party “is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism. Further, it is the party that initiated every single United Kingdom race equality law.”

Analysis of two YouGov surveys, conducted in 2015 and 2017, shows that anti-Semitic views held by Labour voters declined substantially in the first two years of Corbyn’s tenure and that such views were significantly more common among Conservative voters.

Despite this, since January 2016, The Guardian has published 1,215 stories mentioning Labour and anti-Semitism, an average of around one per day, according to a search on Factiva, the database of newspaper articles. In the same period, The Guardian published just 194 articles mentioning the Conservative Party’s much more serious problem with Islamophobia. A YouGov poll in 2019, for example, found that nearly half of the Tory Party membership would prefer not to have a Muslim prime minister.

At the same time, some stories which paint Corbyn’s critics in a negative light have been suppressed by The Guardian. According to someone with knowledge of the matter, The Guardian declined to publish the results of a months-long critical investigation by one of its reporters into a prominent anti-Corbyn Labour MP, citing only vague legal issues.

In July 2016, one of this article’s authors emailed a Guardian editor asking if he could pitch an investigation about the first attempt by the right-wing of the Labour Party to remove Corbyn, informing The Guardian of very good inside sources on those behind the attempt and their real plans. The approach was rejected as being of no interest before a pitch was even sent.

Reliable Publication?

On May 20, 2019, The Times newspaper reported on a Freedom of Information request made by the Rendition Project, a group of academic experts working on torture and rendition issues, which showed that the MOD had been “developing a secret policy on torture that allows ministers to sign off intelligence-sharing that could lead to the abuse of detainees.”

This might traditionally have been a Guardian story, not something for the Rupert Murdoch-owned Times. According to one civil society source, however, many groups working in this field no longer trust The Guardian.

A former Guardian journalist similarly told us: “It is significant that exclusive stories recently about British collusion in torture and policy towards the interrogation of terror suspects and other detainees have been passed to other papers including The Times rather than The Guardian.”

The Times published its scoop under a strong headline, “Torture: Britain breaks law in Ministry of Defence secret policy.” However, before the article was published, the MOD fed The Guardian the same documents The Times was about to splash, believing it could soften the impact of the revelations by telling its side of the story.

The Guardian posted its own article just before The Times, with a headline that would have pleased the government: “MoD says revised torture guidance does not lower standards.”

Its lead paragraph was a simple summary of the MOD’s position: “The Ministry of Defence has insisted that newly emerged departmental guidance on the sharing of intelligence derived from torture with allies, remains in line with practices agreed in the aftermath of a series of scandals following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.” However, an inspection of the documents showed this was clearly disinformation.

The Guardian had gone in six short years from being the natural outlet to place stories exposing wrongdoing by the security state to a platform trusted by the security state to amplify its information operations. A once relatively independent media platform has been largely neutralized by U.K. security services fearful of being exposed further. Which begs the question: where does the next Snowden go?

 The Guardian did not respond to a request for comment.

Daily Maverick will formally launch Declassified – a U.K.focused investigation and analysis organization run by the authors of this article – in November 2019.

Matt Kennard is an investigative journalist and co-founder of Declassified. He was previously director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London, and before that a reporter for The Financial Times in the U.S. and U.K. He is the author of two books, “Irregular Army” and “The Racket.” 

Mark Curtis is a leading U.K. foreign policy analyst, journalist and the author of six books including “Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World” and “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam.”

This article is from Daily Maverick.

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38 comments for “UK Security Services Neutralized Country’s Leading Liberal Newspaper

  1. johnDoe
    September 16, 2019 at 12:30

    I don’t believe a single word. The Guardian is not liberal, it is designed to get the trust of people with a liberal mindset. It is a part of a system where all the media is strictly controlled, but modern power has understood that millions of people have millions of different opinions and think in many different ways, having all the media say the same BS as it happened in backward dictatorships does not work, therefore all the media is divided in segments, each in charge of getting the trust and influence a different niche of the population. So, the security services didn’t need to target the Guardian. I suspect that purpose of the news is helping the paper dwindling credibility.

  2. Eric McCoo
    September 15, 2019 at 17:16

    If The Guardian is such an obvious intelligence front (as the article claims), why would it publish an extract from Snowden’s own memoirs, advertising his book ?

    It wouldn’t, unless Snowden was one theirs, a fellow fraudster.


  3. Cornelius Pipe
    September 14, 2019 at 06:44

    The Guardian was destroyed by the UK ‘security services’ (an oxymoron) at the time of the Snowden revelations. At that point it became a zombie publication and mouthpiece of the neoliberal Deep State.

    It is compulsory reading for neoliberal ‘Outer Party’ members, just like The Sun and The Mail are compulsory reading for the English proles.

    For an expert take down of any of the disinformation provided by the liars at The Guardian I recommend OffGuardian (google it).

  4. Jacquelynn Booth
    September 13, 2019 at 19:59

    I think “The Guardian” has great significance in Britain as it is so helpful in establishing a Commonwealth Nazi-NewThink/NewSpeak state.

    I have been told it also makes high-quality linings for the bottoms of parrot cages.

    However, I would not eat fish n chips wrapped in The Guardian — I have my standards!

  5. September 13, 2019 at 17:08

    The next Snowden has only one outlet. Wikileaks.

  6. September 13, 2019 at 16:43

    The answer to your question: the next Snowden goes to RT, which is paradoxically keeping free speech alive in the West.

    • September 14, 2019 at 03:10

      Yes, you’re right. (+Wikileaks)…

  7. September 13, 2019 at 15:52

    A very welcome and overdue article about the takeover of the Guardian bu Satan’s minions. What is missing is a reference to the OffGuardian a very reliable online publication founded by dissidents that left the Guardian.

  8. Robert
    September 13, 2019 at 11:05

    I noticed a major change in the Guardian’s reporting of the neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine. At first they did an excellent job reporting the Maidan shootings, US involvement and neo-Nazi atrocities, then, a year or 2 later, they became the official mouthpiece of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi government, and anti-Russia megaphone. This clarifies why the Guardian can no longer be trusted.

  9. T. J
    September 12, 2019 at 23:42

    Congratulations to the authors for providing an insight into how the Guardian underwent a metamorphosis from a respectable news source into a propagandist mouthpiece for the establishment. It must be a huge disappointment to those former journalists who previously contributed quality news coverage for this paper. I used to read the Guardian regularly in the past but now hardly ever refer to it. It is remarkable how a great newspaper, in such a short period of time, has tarnished its reputation to the extent that it may never recover.

  10. David Otness
    September 12, 2019 at 18:43

    The sale of the Guardian that took place several years ago seems conspicuously absent from an otherwise informational article.
    As I recall these ‘gentlemen’ who bought it had Tory-like ‘interests.’ Let alone GCHQ, etc connections.
    Could somebody elaborate on this?

  11. Brendan
    September 12, 2019 at 14:34

    Luke Harding also spread disinformation by denying the connection between Sergei Skripal (the poisoned spy) and Christopher Steele (author of the Steele dossier about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US elections).

    In March 2018, Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury in England. A few days later, it was reported that his handler had worked for Steele’s company. Harding tweeted that this story was untrue.

    Although the evidence of this connection – the Linkedin page of Skripal’s handler – had been deleted, there were still references to it on the internet, including Google search results. That’s not something that can be faked. In spite of this, Harding stuck to his claim that the handler never worked for Steele’s company, and suggested that the search results were manipulated.

    • Jacquelynn Booth
      September 13, 2019 at 20:05

      Luke Harding makes Geraldo Rivera look like Ace (fictional) Reporter Clark Kent.
      And Rivera is a walking invitation to satirical jokes for the last 20-30 years.

      Harding is not a Journalist, a serious writer, a competent speaker. He is, I believe, a bold liar who works as anyone else’s “mouthpiece,” if the fame and money are right.

  12. Jeff Harrison
    September 12, 2019 at 11:17

    Clearly all of the UK’s press has been thoroughly compromised. I still read the Guardian on line but I won’t send them money and I don’t read them for news. They do have good and informative articles (New Batch of 3,000 year old mummies found in the Valley of the Kings) but certainly nothing about current affairs and events.

  13. bob
    September 12, 2019 at 10:13

    The ‘Gruandia’ has been past its sell-by date for 20years – who reads the british media anymore – apart from one bloke i saw getting in his van with a copy of the sun?????

    Are the security services accountable to the public – they should be?

  14. Joe Tedesky
    September 12, 2019 at 09:17

    Brilliant reporting…. thanks Consortium!

  15. Tony
    September 12, 2019 at 09:02

    The Guardian is also very careful about what books it chooses to review.

    Books about Lyndon Johnson do get reviewed. However, none of the books about how he killed President Kennedy, by authors such as Philip F. Nelson, have ever been reviewed. There are about 6 such books all of which are very persuasive and provide much well-sourced evidence on the subject.

  16. September 12, 2019 at 08:43

    This was a useful report. It was a fine overview of something that those who follows the alternative/progressive media, which includes Off Guardian, have known for a while.

    Regarding former Ecuadorian embassy staffer Fidel Narváez, see this Grayzone piece by him for a good idea how shameless and vile those who are out to destroy Julian Assange and honest reporting are: “40 rebuttals to the media’s smears of Julian Assange – by someone who was actually there” –

  17. September 12, 2019 at 08:21

    “Every community from every part of Britain should feel they have what it takes,” to betray their nation, “no matter what their background or status.” – Alexander Younger

  18. jmg
    September 12, 2019 at 05:32

    Former The Guardian readers, unhappy with its reversal from investigative journalism to deep state propaganda, have created an alternative news site called OffGuardian, with a very different view on issues, for example on Julian Assange:

    Julian Assange – OffGuardian …because facts really should be sacred

  19. Theo
    September 12, 2019 at 05:05

    Good article.Thank you.

  20. September 12, 2019 at 04:46

    “UK Security Services Neutralized Country’s Leading Liberal Newspaper”

    While The Guardian has occasionally acted on a liberal impulse for its own special reasons, that headline about “leading liberal paper” just could not possibly be more inaccurate.

    The Guardian’s main sympathies are not far removed from those of the Tory Party. That isn’t even an exaggeration.
    If you read it closely for a while, as I used to do, that becomes abundantly clear.

    It likes to play games around the edges with material that might be identified as liberal, but it is almost window-dressing.

    Its heart is not liberal at all.

    It supported the efforts against Jeremy Corbyn more intensely than anyone, for example.

    It views on Israel and its friendliness to biased views from Israel – a country where liberals are genuinely despised – are simply glaring.

    Its friendliness to America’s destructive foreign policies, too, as in the Neocon Wars. It has always embraced the rape of Syria and America’s weak excuses for it.

    It embraced and promoted the fake stories about Syrian use of chemical weapons.

    It embraced and supported the bombing and missile attacks against Syria.

    It much embraced the new Saudi Crown Prince, giving him glowing reports of being progressive, a bad joke to say the least.

    Indeed, not very long ago The Guardian ran an ugly smear campaign against Julian Assange himself.

    It is intensely Russophobic.

    How easily the The Guardian’s own myths about itself make it into an independent paper like Consortium News. It’s actually quite surprising.

    I have many, many examples of The Guardian’s immense bias and work for establishment disinformation, but here is my favorite, one where I analyzed it in some detail. Readers may enjoy it:

    • September 12, 2019 at 11:58

      My only objection to otherwise excellent comment of Mr. Chuckman is that I do not see what item on his long list does not fit the concept of “real liberalism”, i.e. what self-claimed liberals were doing for decades. There is some difference, namely that for ideological, aesthetic and pragmatic reasons liberals were embracing “pluralism”. That gave the unwashed rabble a sense of belonging while people who represented it were kept under control as minority, back benchers etc. Now that there is a “clear and present danger” of that rabble taking over, pluralism is significantly reduced, worship of MI5 and MI6 is apparently added to the credo of CoE, objections that Israel is not immaculately conceived and adorable are officially a heresy etc.

    • CitizenOne
      September 12, 2019 at 21:29

      I like your review of the Gourdian (It’s hollow inside). It is the same story all over. There are the foxes like Fox News and all the others owned by Rupert Moloch, eater of souls. All the others are just foxes in sheep’s clothing. The “liberal” journalistic outlets have laughing dancing foxes that put on sheepskins before delivering the news all over the World. They are the pied pipers leading the gullible down the road to ruin. For the flock, it is so entertaining to see their brethren sheep dancing, laughing and cutting up on liberals. Backstage, the foxes lick their chops.

      He He He Ha Ha Ha
      so much fun to watch.
      Its how we laugh the day away
      in the merry merry land of Oz.

      Well on a more serious note, can someone please figure out how to make the subscriber model work? People won’t pay for what they can get for free even if it’s crap. That’s perhaps an overlooked part of the problem. The problem I have is that the only ones enforcing subscribership are the ones I would not give a plug nickel for.

  21. September 12, 2019 at 03:52

    Good article but too kind. The Grauniad reavealed its true colours as far back as early 2003 when it editorialised in support of the illegal invasion of Iraq, an act of aggression meeting in full the definition of the supreme international crime. Anyone who paid a modicum of attention back then, and without the resources available to that rag, could work out it was all a mountain of lies. The publication of the Snowden revelations is the outlier here. I would not trust that bottom wipe to carry an accurate sudoku ket alone anything else.

    • CitizenOne
      September 12, 2019 at 23:23

      At least the British government took a look in their rear view mirror with the Iraq or Chilcot Inquiry. (from Wiki): “The document stated that at the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to British interests, that intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, that peaceful alternatives to war had not been exhausted, that the United Kingdom and the United States had undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council, that the process of identifying the legal basis was “far from satisfactory”, and that a war was unnecessary.” ” Prime Minister David Cameron said that he did not see “a huge amount of point” in “replaying all the arguments of the day” and said that focus should instead be on learning “the lessons of what happened and what needs to be put in place to make sure that mistakes cannot be made in future”.

      The British intelligence/security agencies did not share that view and the article does a job of chipping a few nuggets off the mountain of evidence that describes the ongoing efforts to place the press under even tighter control. Rather than doing what needs to be put in place to make sure that mistakes cannot be made in future, the security state has doubled down on preventing media outlets from revealing truths which are disturbing and could anger the general public thus guaranteeing that the same mistakes or even far worse mistakes that loom in the future.

      Trashing nuclear treaties and slapping draconian sanctions on Russia and Iran have increased the threat posed by a new generation of intermediate range and unlimited range nuclear weapons that both the USA and Russia are feverishly building with alleged claims from both sides that the new nukes are invincible. Space Force, the new US military branch will have the potential to trash space weapon treaty bans and has already caused other nations to promise their own space force military branches.

      The recent nuclear weapons programs in defiance of former treaties and the militarization of outer space are underreported since the development of a new heightened nuclear arms race might instill fear and anxiety in the general public.

      Successful conventional wars waged for bogus reasons lead to even greater dreams of nuclear wars. The deception and propaganda campaigns that hide fallacies and support and foster the fertile ground of an arms race are what we are seeing today.

      David Cameron said that he did not see “a huge amount of point” in “replaying all the arguments of the day” regarding the Iraq war. I would also argue that looking only at past wrongs is a mistake if we are also ignoring new and horrifying realities of future wars that are emerging right now.

  22. Daniel Rich
    September 12, 2019 at 03:37

    Democracy, eh?

    Kabuki theater on steroids at best…

  23. Brockland
    September 11, 2019 at 19:58

    The security services had a lot of help; The Guardian has been in financial trouble for some time, in the same dire straights as all the old newspapers in the digital age/collapse of the middle class age/collapse of bricks and mortar age.

    That’s a lot fewer people paying for a sub and small businesses taking out ads. Its impossible to discount the effect that the demise of revenue streams and winnowing of the revenue base has had on Editorial virtue let alone independence.

    Newspapers have always ultimately answered to the biggest adpayers. Now, the security Services are paying for what they want to see.

    This is to say nothing of the public democracy fail of allowing DA Notices to even exist. Any bureaucracy will cover ass and be hostile to public accountability. Security bureaucracies are easily the worst offenders and their errors, among the most impactful on social health.

  24. Abe
    September 11, 2019 at 17:25

    Journalistic standards at the Guardian have been in precipitous decline for the better part of the last decade.

    In 2013, while the the Edward Snowden revelations were being prepared for publication, the Guardian’s propaganda stenographer Matthew Weaver was peeking behind “tulip-patterned lace curtains” in the suburban Leicester apartment of blogger Eliot Higgins, aka “Brown Moses”.

    Weaver hailed Higgins as a “weapons expert” and “something of a pioneer” for laundering a “slew of YouTube footage” from so-called “citizen journalists”, most of whom turned out to be Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria.

    As the “Brown Moses” propaganda scam morphed into “Bellingcat”, the Guardian under Alan Rusbridger stepped up its abandonment of basic journalistic skepticism, and flagrantly flogged Higgins’ bogus “open source investigations” of conflicts in Syria and Ukraine as flat fact.

    Things went from bad to very much worse at the Guardian under Katharine Viner. The Guardian joined the “First Draft” network of “partners” including the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, the UK Telegraph, and BBC News. All are stalwart mainstream media organs for Western “regime change” war propaganda.

    Formed by Google in June 2015 with Bellingcat as a founding member, the new “First Draft” coalition of Propaganda 3.0 organizations also includes the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab and Stopfake. Kiev-based Stopfake site functions as a direct media outlet for Higgins’ “investigation reports” and uses the same fake fact-check post-truth strategy that Higgins employs.

    In a remarkable post-truth declaration, Google’s new First Draft hybrid war propaganda coalition insists that members “work together to tackle common issues, including ways to streamline the verification process”.

    In the post-truth regime of US, UK and NATO hybrid warfare, the deliberate distortion of truth and facts is called “verification”.

    The Washington Post / PropOrNot imbroglio, and “First Draft” coalition “partner” organizations’ zeal to “verify” US intelligence-backed fake news claims about Russian hacking of the 2016 US presidential election, reveal the post-truth mission of this new Google-backed hybrid war propaganda alliance.

    In Nazi terminology, Gleichschaltung was the process by which Hitler’s “security state” successively established its system of totalitarian control over all aspects of society, from the economy and trade associations to the media, culture and education. Gleichschaltung has been variously translated as “synchronization”, “bringing into line”, and “co-ordination”.

    The political process of Gleichschaltung has accelerated in American and British journalism, media and entertainment in recent years. This process is further coordinated with efforts of pro-Israel Lobby organizations in the US and UK, which actively seek confrontation with Russia, Syria and Iran.

    The Guardian’s disgusting vilification of Julian Assange, and its shameless enthusiasm for bogus charges of “anti-Semitism” against the British Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbin, are clear indications that the process of Gleichschaltung continues apace, much to the delight of the pro-Israel Lobby and “security state”, both in the UK and the US.

    • Tim Jones
      September 11, 2019 at 20:18

      Every thinking individual or entity now knows that if they ascend to a level where they begin to convincingly influence public debate by just simply tell truths inconvenient for the ruling class, that they or that entity, like CN will increasingly become a target of the ruling class. What is ironic is that the attacks that have come against CN have most likely been illegally carried out by private contractors that provide surveillance services paid for by US taxpayers. I remember back that Annonymous group exposed such an attack before. They were the heroes when no others could possibly expose a wrongdoing. We actually need groups like them because we have no advocates any more. For the naysayers who post here, turnkey tyranny is now here and there’s no going back I’m afraid. Some of those naysayers may mistakenly become enmeshed in the receiving end of the very tyranny. They always thought loyalty to the State would help them in their jobs and relationships.

  25. Sam F
    September 11, 2019 at 16:47

    Very useful information on the continuing demise of the Guardian. I read its weekly in the US back in the 1980s before internet news, but gave it up as its political bias and propaganda became intolerable, and was astonished that Snowden and others found any audience there. Plainly the money-intensive mass media are bought by the same forces the bought our former democracy, and must be tightly regulated against money control before democracy can be restored.

  26. R Zarate
    September 11, 2019 at 15:26

    People are still reading the Guardian?

    • Peter in Seattle
      September 13, 2019 at 14:25

      Yes, people are still reading the Guardian! It’s one of my primary sources of neoliberal/neocon propaganda! As Sun Tsu wrote, “know your enemy.”

  27. David G
    September 11, 2019 at 14:49

    When I first started seeing the anti-Assange stuff in The Guardian, I thought it was an outlier: an unfortunate but localized problem at an otherwise useful organization. It took me a while to understand there had been a sea change in favor of the surveillance and warfare state.

  28. Thomas W. Lucas
    September 11, 2019 at 14:29

    Thank you.

  29. Jay
    September 11, 2019 at 14:24

    And the Guardian has pushed delusional US 2016 Russia-gate claims, not just the garbage Luke Harding “reported” about Manafort, which I see this piece notes.

    At least in the US web version, there sure was a lot of lying coming from the Guardian about Bernie Sanders in 2015/16. Michael Wolff and Jill Abramson stand out as big sinners in this regard.

  30. John Kirsch
    September 11, 2019 at 14:22

    Great article. I only wish it had gone into more detail about the odious Luke Harding.

    • ElderD
      September 11, 2019 at 20:57

      Indeed. “Odious” is almost too mild a description for Harding. He occupies the very pinnacle of hateful, unreasoning Russophobia and refuses to let either fact or moderation interfere with his endless tirades.

      Harding’s continuing position is, as much as any other single factor, a clear indication of the extent to which the Graun has been co-opted (or beaten into submission) by GCHQ and the Five Eyes multinational security-industrial complex.

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