Caitlin Johnstone: News & Conspiracies

Accuse the U.S. of sabotaging the Nord Stream pipelines and it’s called a conspiracy theory. Accuse Russia of doing the exact same thing and it’s called news.

(Christopher Dombres, CC0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

The Western political/media class has been dismissing as “conspiracy theories” all claims that the U.S. is likely responsible for last month’s sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines, even while leveling the exact same accusations against Russia without ever using that term. Which probably says a lot about the way that label has been used over the years, if you think about it.

At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Friday, U.S. envoy Richard Mills repeatedly accused Russia of promoting “conspiracy theories” in its Nord Stream accusations against the United States, saying that “our Russian colleagues have decided to instrumentalize the Security Council meeting to spread conspiracy theories and disinformation.”

“It’s important that we use this meeting not to foster conspiracy theories, but to focus our attention on Russia’s blatant violation of the Charter and its crimes in Ukraine,” Mills argues, after saying that “the United States categorically denies any involvement in this incident” and that there is no justification for “the Russian delegation raising conspiracy theories and mass disinformation in this Council.”

Mills then spends the remainder of his remarks insinuating that it is actually Russia who perpetrated the attacks, mentioning the word “infrastructure” no less than nine times in his arguments to establish that in Ukraine, Russia has a history of attacking critical civilian infrastructure similar to the pipelines.

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“Sabotage of critical infrastructure should be of concern to us all,” Mills says. “In the context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, we have seen numerous Russian attacks damaging civilian infrastructure. We witnessed Russia recklessly seize control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, risking a nuclear disaster in Europe. We saw countless attacks destroying civilian electricity infrastructure.”

“Despite efforts that we heard today to distract us from the truth, to distribute more disinformation and slightly wacky theories, the facts on the ground in Ukraine speak for themselves,” Mills concludes.

Business Insider has an article, “The sabotage of gas pipelines were a ‘warning shot’ from Putin to the West, and should brace for more subterfuge, Russia experts warn.” The “experts” in question are as follows:

That’s it; that’s all the experts. Two lying warmongers and a history professor.

Nowhere in the Business Insider article do the words “conspiracy” or “theory” appear. Contrast this with the recent Associated Press article titled “Russians push baseless theory blaming US for burst pipeline,” which was so frantic to spin accusations of U.S. Nord Stream sabotage as a crazy conspiracy theory that it framed it as something only QAnon cultists believe.

“The suggestion that the U.S. caused the damage was circulating on online forums popular with American conservatives and followers of QAnon, a conspiracy theory movement which asserts that Trump is fighting a battle against a Satanic child-trafficking sect that controls world events,” AP wrote.


Over and over again we see the pejorative “conspiracy theory” applied to accusations against one nation but not the other, despite the fact that it’s the exact same accusation. They are both conspiracy theories per definition: they’re theories about an alleged conspiracy to sabotage Russian pipelines.

But the Western political/media class consistently applies that label to one and never the other.

Here’s a link to another Business Insider article applying the “conspiracy theory” label to accusations of U.S. Nord Stream sabotage. Here’s one from The Independent doing the same. Here’s one from The Washington Post. Here’s one from Newsweek. Here’s one from Vox. Here’s one from The Atlantic Council think tank. Here’s one from the Brookings Institution think tank. Here’s one from Media Matters for America, founded by the Center for American Progress think tank.

Do you get the message? Are you receiving the messaging loud and clear? Accuse the U.S. of sabotaging the Nord Stream pipelines and it’s called a conspiracy theory. Accuse Russia of doing the exact same thing and it’s called news.

And of course, by pointing out this cartoonish double standard I do not mean to suggest that both theories are equally well-evidenced. One wouldn’t expect them to be in a contest in which one party had their own energy infrastructure sabotaged.

For example, there’s the fact that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken explicitly said that the sabotage of pipelines delivering Russian gas to Germany offers a “tremendous opportunity” to end Europe’s dependency on Russian energy.

There’s also the fact that a 2019 Pentagon-commissioned study by the RAND Corporation on how to overextend and weaken Russia explicitly stated that the U.S. would benefit from stopping Nord Stream 2.

There’s also the fact that: 

But sure, if you think the United States could have any responsibility for this attack at all, you’re a crazy conspiracy theorist and no different from QAnoners who think pedophile Satan worshippers rule the world.

Okay, empire. Message received. Does make me wonder about some of those other “conspiracy theories” you’ve told us to ignore, though.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

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.

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30 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: News & Conspiracies

  1. J Anthony
    October 8, 2022 at 06:35

    I don’t know how long my fellow citizens in the west are going to sleep-walk into increasing disaster, but I’d do just about anything to help wake them up and join those of us who know better to put a stop to this utter insanity.

  2. Moi
    October 7, 2022 at 16:30


    A U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft flew near the site of the ruptured Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea hours after the first damage emerged, according to tracking reviewed by Reuters, a flight Washington said was routine.

    Flight data showed a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance plane was over the North Sea at 0003 GMT when Swedish seismologists registered what they later described as a subsea blast southeast of Bornholm Island in the Baltic Sea.

    The plane, which had flown from Iceland, performed a pattern of regular racetrack-shaped circuits over Poland before breaking away towards the Baltic pipeline area, data showed.

    According to the data, several minutes past 0100 GMT the plane flew south of Bornholm heading to northwestern Poland, where it circled for about an hour above land before flying at around 0244 GMT to the area where the gas leak was reported.

    It came as close as some 24 kms (15 miles) to the reported leak site, circled once and flew towards the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, a frequent focus for surveillance, analysts say.

    There is flight data missing between 0339 GMT and 0620 GMT, but on its way back, around 0700 GMT, the plane flew some 4 kms north of the reported leak site.

  3. Noah Scape (Kev)
    October 6, 2022 at 16:37

    Caitlin points out the “conspiracy/news” double standard used by the USA and it’s journalistic minions. it is a thing that keeps showing up – like today’s announcement that Venezuela can be a supplier of oil to the US “if they move towards democracy” – as if America is a model of democracy!!

    U.S. activities in Venezuela involving coups and regime changes and civilian killing sanctions, election interference, and then daring to claim Venezuelan elections when Maduro won were tainted (despite election observers, including former President Carter himself, saying the election in question was “of the highest standards in the world”) (sorry I forget what year that was). Go suck an egg, O.A.S..

    That is just one more example, and I am preaching to the choir here…. But these double standards are so OBVIOUS that it seems the USA is just saying “you know, and you can say it, but we want to show you we can do whatever we want and get away with it” Sorta like Tr7mp saying he can shoot someone on Main Street and get away with it. I think they like the thrill of crapping on us, and getting away with it.

    Russia, China, India, South and Central America, North Korea, Iran, African nations – the bulk of humanity – are all fed up with US arrogance and double standards (have I pandered to Caitlin enough, lol) A multipolar world is desperately needed.

    • Mark Thomason
      October 6, 2022 at 18:32

      A temporary suspension of regime change so the US can more conveniently loot the oil during a time of need. Then back to regime change, meant to get it all eventually. It is the world’s largest since oil reserve, and the US means to have it.

    • Noah Scape.
      October 6, 2022 at 20:04

      Oh!! More evidence quote:
      “some experts are pointing the finger at the Kremlin, saying it’s fitting that it happened around the same time as the referendums in Russian-occupied Ukraine.”.

      Well there you have it folks, annexation means explosions are Russa’s doing.
      And it comes straight from ‘some experts’, so SLAM DUNK.

      But seriously, no really. Come on, agree with me!! Arrrrggg, I can’t abide. Arrest everyone here. Dammit this is authorized. Stop resisting it won’t hurt so much.

      Thank you.

  4. Curmudgeon
    October 6, 2022 at 15:52

    My comparison for this operation is Jack Kevorkian aka Dr. Death. Kevorkian produced the bag containing the chemical cocktail that was going to kill those terminally ill, who wished to die. He took that cocktail to the patients, connected it with an IV, told the patient what would happen if the patient opened the valve, then left the room. He claimed he was innocent, because he didn`t open the valve.
    My guess is that the US provided what the necessary means, and trained Polish and/or Ukrainian special forces to do the job. They may even have placed the explosives, but left the detonation to others, claiming they didn’t do it.
    It didn’t work for Kevorkian, and won’t for the Straussian psychopaths in charge, providing, of course that Germany, France, and others wake up to the fact that there actually are psychopaths in charge who are not their friends.

    October 6, 2022 at 14:54

    Bloomberg News is reporting on their website “Gazprom Ready to Ship Gas Via Shelved Nord Stream 2 Pipeline.” Apparently, Line B escaped damage in the attacks. Consent of the EU Parliament is needed for the line to become operational. This is unlikely as that body has just announced further sanctions against Russia. Some have made the case that the attack on the pipeline was an attack on Germany, which gets much of its energy from Russia since it abandoned nuclear power. There have been substantial protests in Germany against the sanctions, which are crippling that nation’s economy. Nevertheless, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock recently declared that such support would continue regardless of German public opinion.

  6. vinnieoh
    October 6, 2022 at 14:24

    Of course Russia did not bomb their own pipeline. The US government and all their necessary supporting propagandists just look back at all the lies they’ve launched and that seem – thank you very much – to be holding sway. As depressing as that is, it does seem to be the state of affairs.

    There is something else here that no-one has yet addressed. For several decades now I’ve believed that these “energy wars” would come, possibly the very last wars of our species. Of course pipelines, refineries, storage facilities, etc. have been attacked in the past but this incident has the distinction of obviously being between two of earth’s major powers (despite US protestations that it is merely “helping” the neo-Nazis in Ukraine,) two opposing forces that are armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. Without putting too fine a point on it, what I’m saying is that this (final?) conflict has now begun, as one of those entities (YES – I mean you Uncle Sam) has made a bold undeniable statement that no action is outside the bounds of acceptability.

    Expect US enemies to respond in kind.

    Expect horrible tragedies as a result of “winning at any and all cost.”

    Expect the climate and environmental destruction to kick into hyperdrive.

    From all apparent evidence – produced by the very party in question – the only way to stop the US from pursuing this new global world war is for it to suffer a very major military defeat, say the absolute destruction of one or several of its naval fleets along with all the winged messengers of death on its carriers. Short of such a military neutering, the fucking crazies in this nation will pursue this apocalypse to its predictable end.

  7. Dario
    October 6, 2022 at 12:16

    Caitlin has a unique ability to capture and expose the very essence of an issue, while retaining quite an uncommon open and independent mind at all times.
    This should be required reading in any journalism school.
    Another chilling episode in the collapse, we can no longer call it deterioration, of any deontological and inquiring standard in MSM.

    Basic logic (read: if Russia wants to use gas supply for political leverage, it can simply turn it off, doesn’t have to destroy its own multimillion infrastructure; second, Moscow has the obvious, constant interest in keeping the pipelines operative as soon as any European receiving country shows the willingness and interest in acquiring it again, instead of having to rebuild them again!! Do we really have to spell out such things?!?) is immediately distorted and brushed aside as obscure thinking anytime it doesn’t serve the mainstream narrative.

    You may want to add a great deal of US self-righteousness to this picture.
    Strange as it may appear to foreign observers, lots of American liberals still entertain quite a messianic view of their own country.
    Intentionally sabotaging gas infrastructures, with all the security and ecological risks that such an act entails, for vile economic and geopolitical purposes, is something that still doesn’t go down well with many American’s rose tinted view of the US.
    At least now that Trump is no longer in charge.

  8. michael888
    October 6, 2022 at 07:07

    Since Obama abolished Smith Mundt, the State Department/ CIA LEGALLY controls all State Media and all its overpaid stenographers. The official lies are the Official Narratives; they are repetitive and no dissent or discussion is allowed. This is much more effective than anything in history, as the technology has massively improved. The Biden administration has no qualms about stomping on civil liberties in pursuit of money and power for a small cadre of Elites.
    Sadly alt media will be next.

  9. Vesa
    October 6, 2022 at 03:25

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if Russia just said that, okay lets repair the pipelines together as everybody (almost) agree that this kind of attack was wrong.

  10. Realist
    October 6, 2022 at 03:13

    Assuming that Washington does not instigate a civilisation-ending nuclear conflict deriving from the war it has provoked in Ukraine, I would hope that one day the truths that will trump all the ambient propaganda are made known to the entire world and that the vast conspiracy of American media propagandists are held to account for what are their war crimes, for deceiving one’s entire populace into embracing mass murder is certainly a criminal action. No more “professional courtesy” by the media to fellow media engaging in such criminal acts. Sharing the same lies should not get anyone off the hook.

    • Neil
      October 6, 2022 at 09:12

      The truth may come out but it will be much later and no effect on the next war. We know about the false claims of WMD’s in Iraq – actually we knew prior to the invasion of Iraq – yet nothing different happened this time. Not with the lying politicians or the lying mass media. They only learn how to get better at manipulation the public.

  11. Moi
    October 6, 2022 at 02:46

    Russia could have simply turned off the valves.

    They certainly didn’t need to destroy their own extremely valuable infrastructure in waters that are so heavily monitored that a single herring couldn’t remain undetected.

  12. Paine
    October 6, 2022 at 02:15

    Each nation that has satellites should publish what they show on the day the gas lines were sabotaged.

    • Al
      October 6, 2022 at 15:10

      They set it all up days before. There are several recorded instances of NAZO vessels operating in the area, helicopters with American identifiers flying over the precise pipeline route between the points where the detonations occurred, the “underwater exercises” NAZO admitted to doing in the exact same timeframe and the same location of the explosions, and the fact that given the number of sensors in the area due to its proximity with Russia, had anyone else been there to set the charges, they would have been detected.

      • R. Billie
        October 7, 2022 at 00:49

        “NAZO ” I love it! That’s as good as another slight misspelling I read in a comment section once, “SCROTUS”. Being able to laugh a bit at least keeps my blood below the boiling point. USA USA USA. Founded on genocide developed through slavery, sustained by lies foreign exploitation and wars, In the history of the world there’s never been another country as totally amoral as the good ole United Snakes of America.

  13. Coltrane
    October 5, 2022 at 22:17

    Let’s be honest. The USA is the country that lied to the whole world about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction in order to justify going to war in Iraq. The US also destroyed most of the necessary civilian infrastructure and called it “shock and Awe.” Enough said.

    • Eddie S
      October 5, 2022 at 23:54

      Exactly! On top of it, we (the US, of which I’m a politically-frustrated member-of) went all the way TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD to slay this imaginary dragon, basically on a bad hunch of Cheney & friends, and bombed the piss out of a country that hadn’t threatened or attacked us. But when Russia invaded a country that it borders who has been making various threats towards Russia as well as killing -14000 Russian speaking people in SE Ukraine, then they’re intolerable monsters! I can’t handle these dbl-standards anymore, so I can’t watch even 30 seconds of international news on TV.

    • October 6, 2022 at 14:08

      Everyone talks about Iraq but we did the same to Libya. Syria is a mess but we were not as successful since Iran and Russia stepped in. We are still stealing their resources though from the area we control.

  14. marty
    October 5, 2022 at 20:47

    Retired Colonel Richard Black has similar views :
    “US Col. Richard Black Asks: Did U.S/NATO Blow up the Nord Stream Pipelines?”

  15. LeoSun
    October 5, 2022 at 17:02

    “If, wars can be started by lies; then they can be stopped by truth,” Julian Assange

    “Facts do not cease to exist b/c they are ignored.” Suffice it to say, the whole phkn ball of war, is a crime against humanity; and, the criminals have been identified, i.e., “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” (Aldous Huxley)

    Imo, NATO, Ukraine, POTUS-V.P., their Board of Executioners, the $enate, The House of Disrepute, & the Military Industrial Complex are dishonest, insane, greedy, warmongers fueling “The WAR On TERRA!!!” “They” lie. “By repetition, each lie becomes an irreversible fact upon which other lies are constructed. “ Imo, “They,” the muckity-mucks, are out to kill US, “Welcome,” to The F*c—ing Club. The agenda is, MADness, Mutually Assured Deception, Destruction Death.

    “A Nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” Edward R. Murrow

    Protest & Survive. “Truth CAN Stand On Its Own.” TY, Caitlin Johnstone. TY, Jeffrey Sachs, for ‘Raising Your Voice!!!”“Keep It Lit.”

  16. Mark Thomason
    October 5, 2022 at 15:35

    The US just admitted, in the NYT on the front page, that Ukraine killed Daria Dugin with a bomb in Moscow, AND that the US knew that all along, AND that the US LIED about it to cover for Ukraine.

    Lied to the American people about war and peace.

    Did “senior US officials” also lie to Biden? To Blinken? Who knew and when did they know it?

    So now we should believe the same liars about ,”Ukraine didn’t do this bomb?”

    More likely the truth was leaked now by “annonymous officials” because Ukraine did the pipeline bomb too, and the US found that to be a bridge too far (the EU will find out and be furious, it can’t be contained).

    And so the US finally told one truth about its coverup on that first bomb. Perhaps in the rush of news now, that can be covered up another way, by burying it. No other major Western media has yet picked up that story on this first day.

  17. Drew Hunkins
    October 5, 2022 at 15:10

    Anyone who doesn’t understand it was a State Dept (Nuland, Blinken Russophobic psychopaths) operation is either hopelessly deluded or a paid propagandist. The inside word is that it was some elements at State working with certain Polish operatives to pull off the sabotage.

    The absolute latest is that that Nord Stream is possibly (possibly) fully repairable.

    • Mark Thomason
      October 5, 2022 at 15:37

      Certainly they used Ukraine.

      Now they lie about knowing.

      Just like the same people now admit they lied about the Dugin bomb.

    • Jeff Harrison
      October 6, 2022 at 00:36

      Is the Pope Catholic? Do bears shit in the woods? Did the US do it, or, at the very least orchestrate it?

      I have said that of course the pipeline is repairable even if that means literally replacing all the pipe currently underwater. However comma. If I were Russia, I would tell them that (a) they have to lift all sanctions against Russia and (b) pay for 100% of the repairs and (c) knock it off with the chickenshit regulations put in place to placate their master before I’d lift a finger.

  18. mgr
    October 5, 2022 at 13:24

    America’s house of cards is already swaying even as the wind continues to rise. The only people in the world who are buying the Western narrative(s) are those in America’s vassal states. All the while America is dealing with being stuck fast in the tar-baby. Why? Because, as neocons repeatedly and reliably demonstrate, they are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

    • Donald Duck
      October 5, 2022 at 14:09

      ‘The only people in the world who are buying the Western narrative(s) are those in America’s vassal states.” But I don’t even think that is true. This collective euro-pondlife are simply out-and-out rascals who will do anything to further their own interests and petty little careers. There’s an old saying my mother used to teach me. When the milk has been standing for too long the scum rises to the top.

      • Piotr Berman
        October 5, 2022 at 22:52

        “who are buying the Western narratives” are those who pay for them whether they like it or not. After all, going along with those lies is not cheap at all.

  19. Dfnslblty
    October 5, 2022 at 12:33

    Excellent review of usa perfidy.
    Keep writing.

Comments are closed.