Caitlin Johnstone: False Flags Suddenly All the Rage

This sudden embrace of the idea that governments can stage attacks on their own people to justify their pre-existing agendas is a sharp pivot from the scoff such a notion in mainstream liberal circles has typically received.

By Caitlin Johnstone

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In a drastic pivot from typical denunciations of false flag operations as conspiratorial nonsense that don’t exist outside the demented imagination of Alex Jones, the U.S. political/media class is proclaiming with one voice that Russia is currently orchestrating just such an operation to justify an invasion of Ukraine.

“As part of its plans, Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday. “We have information that indicates Russia has already pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine.”

“Without getting into too much detail, we do have information that indicates that Russia is already working actively to create a pretext for a potential invasion, for a move on Ukraine,” Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby told the press on Friday. “In fact, we have information that they’ve pre-positioned a group of operatives, to conduct what we call a false flag operation, an operation designed to look like an attack on them or their people, or Russian speaking people in Ukraine, as an excuse to go in.”

The U.S. government has substantiated these incendiary claims with the usual amount of evidence, by which I of course mean nothing. The mass media have not been dissuaded from reporting on this issue by the complete absence of any evidence that this Kremlin false flag plot is in fact a real thing that actually happened, their journalistic standards completely satisfied by the fact that their government instructed them to report it. Countless articles and news segments containing the phrase “false flag” have been blaring throughout all the most influential news outlets in the Western world without the slightest hint of skepticism.

This sudden embrace of the idea that governments can stage attacks on their own people to justify their own pre-existing agendas is a sharp pivot from the scoff that such a notion in mainstream liberal circles has typically received.

This 2018 article from The New York Times simply dismisses the idea that the 2014 Maidan massacre was a false flag carried out by Western-backed opposition fighters in Ukraine to frame the riot police of the government who was ousted in that coup, for example, despite the existence of plenty of evidence that this is indeed what happened. This BBC article dismisses without argument the idea that the alleged 2018 chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria could have been a false flag carried out by the Al Qaeda-aligned insurgents on the ground to provoke a western attack on the Syrian government, yet there are mountains of evidence that this was the case.


“The way the mass media will instantly embrace an idea to which they’ve heretofore been consistently hostile just because their government told them to do it says so much about the state of the so-called free press today.”


Articles denouncing the very idea of “false flag conspiracy theories” surface routinely in the mass media. Snopes has a whole article explaining that false flags are kooky nonsense without any mention of the fact that this is a known tactic we’ve seen intelligence operatives discussing in declassified documents, like when the C.I.A. considered planting bombs in Miami to blame Castro. [ED.: And how the Nazis began World War II.]

I myself was once temporarily suspended by Facebook just for posting an article about false flag operations that are publicly acknowledged to have occurred. People who dare to question the many gaping plot holes in the official 9/11 narrative have often been treated with the same disdain and revulsion as neo-Nazis and pedophilia advocates.

None of this is to say that every theory about any false flag operation is true; many are not. But the way the mass media will instantly embrace an idea to which they’ve heretofore been consistently hostile just because their government told them to do it says so much about the state of the so-called free press today, and the fact that the rank-and-file public simply accepts this and marches along with it as though talking about false flags has always been normal says so much about the level of Orwellian doublethink that people have been trained to perform in today’s information ecosystem.

The way false flag operations were widely considered conspiratorial hogwash until the instant they were reported as real by the media institutions who’ve lied to us about every war is downright creepy.

The problem with preemptive false flag accusations is of course that the side making the claim can simply launch an unprovoked attack and then say “See? They’re staging a false flag to frame our side, just like we said they would!” And then they can present their subsequent actions as defensive in nature, when in reality they were the aggressors and instigators.

We are seeing nothing from the obedient Western news media to suggest they’d do anything other than uncritically regurgitate such claims into the minds of their trusting audiences.

As the Beltway doctrine that U.S. unipolar hegemony must be preserved at all cost crashes headlong into the reality of an emerging multipolar world, the U.S. government is now more dangerous than it has ever been at any point in its history. We need the press to be holding the drivers of empire to account with the light of truth, and we need the public to be opposing and scrutinizing these reckless escalations.

Instead, we are getting the exact opposite.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.  Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

29 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: False Flags Suddenly All the Rage

  1. January 20, 2022 at 00:29

    Why would any up-and-coming journalist write for any main media product? – this would only serve to destroy their credibility? There’s really only two stories in the world to cover: #1 is climate change, #2 is onrushing US fascism. That all the major media platforms have to offer up so much fluff in their news cycle is indicative of their utter lack of coverage of the real problems. I think the last time I watched a major media TV news show was 2003 and that was because it was just running in the background, kind of like FOX “news” is on every TV in the background – like elevator music. Can you recall any elevator music you’ve ever heard?

  2. Paine
    January 19, 2022 at 16:16

    Does framing a person qualify as false-flag operation? Was JFK assassination a false-flag operation to frame Lee Harvey Oswald?

    Appears so, as FBI Director J.Edgar Hoover told President Johnson shortly after the assassination that Texas Governor Connolly sitting in front of President Kennedy in the presidential limousine took a bullet for the President fired by LHO from the fifth Texas Book Depository Building (TSBD).

    In essence, Hoover was indicating the President was shot from the front when the Presidential limousine was at the corner and not where seen in the Zapruder film.

    See Michael Beschloss book, Taking Charge (transcript of conversation between Hoover and LBJ) Also. the President being shot from the front was confirmed by Parkland Hospital doctors that day.

    Hoover neglected to mention that President Kennedy was actually shot at by two shooters located in front from both sides of the grassy knoll.

  3. Marjorie
    January 19, 2022 at 15:54

    Not that I believe US wants war, it just can’t brake anymore.

  4. Marjorie
    January 19, 2022 at 15:47

    Propaganda that gets carried away is usually not a good sign.

  5. John Puma
    January 19, 2022 at 15:21

    “OUR false flags don’t stink!!!”

    This Psaki/media performance IS the only thing faintly resembling a false flag that will occur, concocted by the US to blame Russia for an invasion of the Ukraine … when it is forced by Kiev’s (+NATO & US) resumption of the civil war of 2014 to defend the ethnic Russian Donbas republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia did so in 2014 and has informed the world over and over that it would/must do an-other time if Kiev attacked again.

    Russia, more often than promising to defend the Donbas, has suggested adherence of west (Kiev) and east (Donbas) to the Minsk agreement was the best way to avoid it’s having to do so.

    Of course, Russia has been ignored, as usual, on this issue, in part because adherence to the Minsk accord, at worst, could diminish the number of square kilometers the EU/NATO might ultimately claim under new membership if the West’s intentions in Ukraine are realized. That is: “There will be no more of that Crimea sh*t!”

  6. Philip Nerland
    January 19, 2022 at 08:49

    Dear Caitlin ,

    Look at the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and all sorts of US Mischief in Latin America , Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua , Oliver North bull crap , . There is nothing new about false flag in incidents .

  7. Zalamander
    January 18, 2022 at 22:16

    Whatever happened to the word “alleged” when it come to news stories which can’t yet be confirmed or denied? The So-called journalists in the mainstream media are now just stenographers for the Military Industrial Complex (Pentagon and CIA) when it comes to reporting on foreign policy.

  8. Anonymotron
    January 18, 2022 at 20:25

    Tnx Caitlin CS
    Spot-on as usual.
    Irony/Propaganda (also as usual):
    US Military Gave Net 2 World… World People Spoke2 Each Other… CN Became Distributed (& Contributed) Around World (INSTANTLY!)… Thus I READ!

  9. rosemerry
    January 18, 2022 at 15:08

    As well as the droning on about Russia troops on the Ukraine border (ie IN RUSSIA)we now hear they have moved!!! Next to Belarus ie on the other side of Ukraine border with Russia, on the western part filled with Nazis!!! Why would Russia want that???Try watching the latest videos of Alexander Mercouris on the situation . Very enlightening!

  10. Gene Poole
    January 18, 2022 at 15:05

    No such thing as a false flag? Remember the Maine!

    • robert e williamson jr
      January 18, 2022 at 23:11

      Survivors of the USS Liberty incident are alive still today. Ask any of them what they think about false flags.

  11. Douglas Baker
    January 18, 2022 at 14:24

    Before Betsy Ross sowed the American flag, British subjects in Boston had a tea party dressed as Americans (Indians)–first U.S. as want to be, false flag? Nothing has changed as those that direct U.S. Empire seeking expansion of Monroe Doctrine, past the Americas, world wide continue with false flag narrative as trump.

  12. Brian
    January 18, 2022 at 13:46

    Ukraine has already signed an agreement. It is the Minsk II agreement, the provisions of which are for the Ukrainian army and paramilitary brigades to pull back back and remove certain classes of weaponry from their battle front in Luhansk/Donetsk and for the Ukrainian Rada (their parliament) to grant the region local autonomy. Successive Ukrainian president have violated the military pull back and the Rada refused to grant autonomy.

    All the United States needs to do is instruct their puppet government in Kiev to honor the already signed agreement and the tension would decrease dramatically. Since the agreement was signed, however, both the United States and Canada have flooded the country with military hardware so it’s obvious the west does not have peace in mind.

  13. Randal Marlin
    January 18, 2022 at 13:25

    Well said. Anyone can read all about the false flag suggestions to U.S. Kennedy about how to start war with Cuba. Just Google “Operation Northwoods.”
    If the story about Putin’s plans is true (which I won’t believe without evidence) one could accuse Putin of having plagiarized from U.S. Admiral Lemnitzer, who made the Northwoods suggestions.
    Back in ancient Greece, Herodotus tells how Peisistratus of Athens faked an attack on himself and his mules. He got the Athenians to provide him with bodyguards. He then used these guards to intimidate people and eventually he became tyrant of Athens.
    People believe what they want to believe. Those who challenge those beliefs may end up having to drink hemlock, or the modern equivalent of Socrates’ fate, as told by Plato (though Plato’s account has been disputed regarding the reasons for the jury sentence).

  14. Mike Maddden
    January 18, 2022 at 12:04

    Don’t expect the corporate media to put this in the historical context of Operation Northwoods. That would be contrary to their mission of demonizing official US adversaries and casting America in the best possible light.

    There is much yet to accomplish in Eurasia, and it’s going to take a lot of freedom-and-democracy mongering to get there.

  15. Feral Finster
    January 18, 2022 at 11:37

    Until a few days ago, the Ukrainians themselves downplayed the ZOMG cyberattack ZOMG., saying it probably didn’t originate from Russia.

    Apparently someone from the State Department gave them a talking-to, because they reversed course and are blaming Russia.

    This is similar to the run-up in December, when the Ukrainians expressed non-concern over Russian troop movements in their own country, even as the Americans were calling for fainting couch.

    Then Kiev suddenly reversed position.

    Why, it’s almost as if Kiev is desperately seeking an off-ramp to a war that they don’t want.

  16. January 18, 2022 at 11:27

    There is no skepticism remaining in the mass media. Just as there is no news in the mass media,,it is all opinion – talking heads talking about things they know nothing about. Everyone of them is a self -proclaimed expert parroting whatever bullshit they hear from the pentagon.

    I strongly suspect that the real problem with mainstream news is the corporate obsession with profit. In order to increase profit, they must reduce operating costs and the most effective cost reduction can be accomplished by firing and retiring well paid investigative reporters.

    Mainstream media is not about news, it’s about profit.

  17. Guy
    January 18, 2022 at 10:51

    If ever there was a situation that can be called projection ,this is it in bold colours.

  18. susan
    January 18, 2022 at 10:39

    The USA is King of the false flag! Wonder what false flag the USA will employ in Ukraine…It is all such a sick joke!

    • January 18, 2022 at 11:38

      Let’s see. Perhaps we could stage an attack on a U.S. military post using an ancient Russian made Katyusha rocket (probably available on Craig’s List or EBay). That would be cheap and easy and would certainly justify starting WW III.

    • blimbax
      January 18, 2022 at 14:21

      It may have already done so. The allegation by the U.S. that the Russians are preparing a false flag operation may itself be a “false flag,” planted by the U.S. in order to put the blame on the Russians if there is war.

      I am not saying that this is true. I have no idea.

      In the meantime, it has been reported that the U.S., through the CIA, is engaged in “a secret intensive training program in the U.S. for elite Ukrainian special operations forces and other intelligence personnel.” These “CIA-trained forces could soon play a critical role on Ukraine’s eastern border.” In what way would they play such a role? “One person familiar with the program put it more bluntly. ‘The United States is training an insurgency,’ said a former CIA official, adding that the program has taught the Ukrainians how ‘to kill Russians.'” /1

      This is quite interesting, given the White House’s characterization of the alleged Russian false flag planning: “We have information that indicates Russia has already pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation in Eastern Ukraine. The operatives are trained in urban warfare and in using explosives to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s own proxy forces.” /2

      One wonders to what extent there is a similarity in the training allegedly provided by the CIA and the training that Russia is allegedly providing to its operatives. They could be using the same training manuals, sold to them maybe by a modern-day Milo Minderbinder.

      It’s as if we find ourselves in a hall of mirrors. /3


      /1 hXXps://

      /2 hXXps://

      /3 hXXps://

      • Geoff Burns
        January 18, 2022 at 18:48

        Yes, the table has been set to organize an insurgency in eastern Ukraine, then call it a Russian false flag operation. The Russia-gate fanatics will be demanding war.

  19. Stephen Blobaum
    January 18, 2022 at 10:27

    The CIA’s mission of creating a “no truth, no trust” society is complete.

  20. Tedder
    January 18, 2022 at 10:23

    NBC analysis is typically void of genuine understanding. I get really tired of fake, shallow pundits second-guessing Putin’s mind or twisting Russia’s concerns into a parody of imperialist thinking, i.e. just because the Americans would do something does not mean a ‘rational actor’ would do the same.

  21. James Simpson
    January 18, 2022 at 04:50

    One of the reasons I accept the official narrative of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon is that it is damaging to the reputations of the US president, its government and its intelligence agencies. Why would the establishment cook up a story that made them look stupid and incompetent and which fingered Saudis so heavily? There are numerous other convincing reasons, such as that the US government is deeply prone to leaks and it would be nigh-on impossible to keep secret its alleged responsibility.

    • Eddy
      January 19, 2022 at 01:50

      Don’t agree with you James. For many years now, there have been numerous highly focused claims made regards U.F.O.’s all of which were Poo, Poo’d by the U.S. Govt AND the MSM. The folks who witnessed these events, were under suppression orders, considering many of them were in the military. It was not until their retirement, and even then, many years later, that some of these folks decided to go public with what they experienced and know of such events. This FACT, flies in the face of what you’re trying to put over. There are many issues on Sept 11, that a hand full of certain people could easily clarify, but have never been asked to, or threatened to remain silent. For example, the order to keep military planes on the ground, after the facts became clear there was hijacking in progress. Policy dictates, in such cases, said planes are to become airborne, yet a specific order was given to over ride that order, and the individual who gave that order, has to this very day, never been called to account for that order. Ever American MUST demand, this individual be brought to account and stand in the dock, explain to them all, why policy was breached that day on his orders. This is not a conspiracy, it’s not a fairy story, IT’S FACT, and needs serious scrutiny and explanation.
      On the same level, the mysterious Israeli camera crews caught dancing and high fiving on top of removal trucks, FILMING the event. Plainly, they KNEW this event was going down, that’s why they had their cameras and equipment there to film the event. That very knowledge of the coming event, could have saved three thousand plus lives, if they had passed on that knowledge. Yet they didn’t. What happened to those people ? They were arrested and shipped back to Israel where they were feted by the Israel media and bragged about their actions on that day. No conspiracy here mate, all historic events that happened, yet the perpetrators are allowed to walk the streets today as if nothing happened. When the criminals who were involved in this massive criminal act on their own people are on their death beds, keep an eye out for their confessions, so they can enter the after World with a clear slate. Question is though, will the MSM have the internal fortitude to actually publish such confessions ???

  22. alley cat
    January 18, 2022 at 02:10

    “This BBC article dismisses without argument the idea that the alleged 2018 chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria could have been a false flag carried out by the Al Qaeda-aligned insurgents on the ground to provoke a western attack on the Syrian government, yet there are mountains of evidence that this was the case.”

    The Nazis dressed prisoners in Polish uniforms, shot them, and then claimed that they had died in a Polish attack on Germany.

    Goebbels, Goering and Hitler knew all about big lies, false flags, and how to trick Germans into war.

    There are mountains, if not entire mountain ranges, of evidence pointing to chemical attacks in Gouta, Khan Shaykun, and Douma as false flag attacks, yet Americans are unaccustomed to questioning U.S. propaganda. The official U.S. propaganda narrative is that these attacks were sponsored by the Syrian government, and that’s probably what most Americans dutifully believe.

    Americans would have to sift through mountains of media and government lies in order to determine where the real evidence points, and they’re just not in the habit of it. It’s much easier to keep their eyes wide shut, to systematically reject all evidence of CIA and Pentagon skullduggery as mere conspiracy theories, and to accept evidence-free claims of foreign conspiracies as the real deal.

    This is the road to delusional thinking, and delusional thinking is the road to perdition. Nuclear perdition. Americans are letting themselves be led by their noses to their own serfdom and/or extinction, because they won’t apply a healthy dose of skepticism to outrageous claims by their own war- and fear-mongering leaders.

    Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and countless coups, often of democratically elected governments … all evidence pointing to the relentless determination of U.S. plutocrats to establish a global dictatorship and crush all challenges to it.

    • FrankDrebin
      January 18, 2022 at 04:52

      The USA is a society in which its children are forced to place their hands on their chests and recite a pledge of allegiance to its capitalist regime every school day. Is it any wonder that, as adults, they don’t question their governments?

    • Altruist
      January 18, 2022 at 11:29

      Well said, Alley Cat.

      I first woke up to the false flag propaganda when I realized that it made no sense whatsoever that Assad would repeatedly decide to “gas his own people” when this was exactly what would bring in foreign intervention. With the media then braying that immediate air strikes were necessary, without the necessity for any investigations. And then, digging a bit more deeply – with the help of Consortium News _ understood where all this came from.

      But false flags are nothing new. Remember the Maine! (of course we don’t know if the Maine was sabotaged or if it was simply an accident – but like in other cases this was used as a propagandistic casus belli)

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