Facebook Hires NATO Press Officer Ben Nimmo as Intelligence Chief

By Alan Macleod

Source

Ben Nimmo

Ben Nimmo, a former NATO press officer and current senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, has announced Facebook has hired him to “lead global threat intelligence strategy against influence operations” and “emerging threats.” Nimmo specifically named Russia, Iran and China as potential dangers to the platform.

His announcement was greeted with joy by several NATO officials but was not met with such enthusiasm by others. “More censorship on the way as the former NATO press officer turned Pentagon-funded ‘researcher’ who labeled real people as Russian bots and peddled disinformation to link Jeremy Corbyn to Russian active measures moves to big tech,” responded investigative journalist Max Blumenthal.

Nimmo’s questionable past certainly raises questions over whether such an official having a substantial say in what 2.8 billion Facebook users worldwide see in their feeds is such a positive step for the free and open exchange of information.

“Disinformation agents”

For example, in 2019, U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn revealed secret Conservative Party documents showing negotiations the Tory government had with the U.S. over the privatization of the National Health Service (NHS). With just days to go before the U.K. general election, the scandal could have toppled the government and brought into power the most radical antiwar, anti-establishment government in the country’s history. Corporate media went into overdrive to spin the news, and Nimmo was a key part of this, immediately announcing, without evidence, that the documents “closely resemble…a known Russian operation.” His supposedly expert conjecture allowed the story to become “Corbyn’s links to Russia” rather than “Tories privatizing the NHS in secret.” Nimmo’s work helped the Conservatives to an election victory and consigned Corbyn to the scrapheap.

This was much to the relief of Nimmo’s Atlantic Council, who had branded Corbyn the “Kremlin’s Trojan Horse” — someone pushing Moscow’s agenda abroad. A British Army general was of a similar opinion, claiming that if Corbyn were to win the election, the military would respond. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said that the U.S. government was “doing its best” to prevent a radical leftist from winning power in the U.K.

Nimmo has been extremely liberal with whom he labels Russian disinformation agents. In 2018, his research identified one Twitter user, @Ian56789, as a “Kremlin troll.” In reality, the user, Ian Shilling, was a British pensioner, as Sky News was easily able to confirm, interviewing him on air and asking him the patently absurd question if he was actually a Russian bot or not. Despite clearly being a flesh and blood human, Shilling’s account was later deleted anyway.

In the past, Nimmo has also insisted that Ruslana Boshirova was an influential Russian bot. In reality, she is an internationally known concert pianist, as one Google search would have shown. This sort of behavior does not augur well for those critical of Western foreign policy, who have faced constant harassment, suspension, or outright bans from social media.

Pro-war putsch

The Atlantic Council began as an offshoot of NATO itself and maintains extremely close connections to the military alliance. It continues to receive major funding from Western governments and weapons contractors, and its board of directors is filled to the brim with senior American statespersons, such as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Henry Kissinger. Also appearing on the board are no fewer than seven former CIA directors and a number of top military generals, such as Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Wesley Clark, and David Petraeus.

In recent years, the council’s employees have penetrated deep into big tech and social media organizations. In 2018, it announced it had partnered with Facebook to aid in the curation of Facebook news feeds of users worldwide, giving it considerable power over what sort of views to highlight and which to demote. One year previously, Jessica Ashooh left the position of the council’s Deputy Director of Middle Eastern Strategy to take the position of Director of Policy at Reddit, the eighth-most visited website in the United States. However, as with many intelligence agencies, it is unclear whether one truly “leaves” the Atlantic Council.

It is not just Russia that is in NATO’s crosshairs. Last week, the Atlantic Council published an anonymous, 26,000-word report stating that their goal for China was regime change and advising President Biden to draw a number of “red lines” around it, beyond which the U.S. would respond militarily. Meanwhile, the head of STRATCOM, Admiral Charles A. Richard, wrote that the U.S. must prepare for a potential nuclear war with Beijing.

Greater control

The military escalation has been mirrored by an intensifying online propaganda war, where the U.S. has attempted to isolate China economically and stop advancing Chinese technologies such as Huawei’s 5G network, mobile phone, and semiconductor manufacturer Xiaomi, and video sharing app TikTok. Nimmo has played his part in ramping up suspicions of nefarious Chinese activity online, claiming the existence of a wide-ranging pro-Beijing bot network encouraging Americans to believe that China has handled the COVID-19 pandemic far better than the United States. That Americans might have come to that conclusion on their own appears not to have been considered.

There is an enormous government effort to convince its population of the existence of (foreign) government efforts to manipulate their opinions online. In a massive case of projection, Western governmental organizations point the finger at their enemies, all the while securing greater access and control over the means of communication themselves, to the point where it is now difficult to distinguish where the deep state ends and the fourth estate begins. Nimmo’s move from NATO to NATO-aligned think tank to Facebook is just another example of this phenomenon. Perhaps the reason Nimmo is not looking for any Western influence operations online is that he is part of one.

Atlantic Council Braces for Opportunities of Potential Bioterror Attack

By Raul Diego

Source

Less than a month away from the one-year anniversary of the pandemic’s official declaration, policy wonks at the Atlantic Council together with former and current government officials are dissecting the “lessons” of the Covid-19 epidemic to advise the Biden administration on the steps to take in order to avert the next disaster.

Following a report by the Atlantic Council’s “Forward Defense” program housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security published in October, a panel comprised of the report’s author Franklin D. Kramer and others, including former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute and Jaclyn Levy, Director of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), discussed Kramer’s “key findings” and how these should influence White House policy moving forward.

Right from the top, Atlantic Council Vice President and Director of the Scowcroft Center, Barry Pavel introduced the proceedings by establishing that the American “homeland” is “a theater increasingly under threat,” which is facing a broad “spectrum of non-kinetic risks to U.S. critical infrastructure and national security, such as cyberattacks, industrial espionage [and] potentially bioweapons.”

The last point squares with Bill Gates’ prediction that the most imminent threat to the U.S. will come in the form of a bioterrorist attack – a topic he most recently broached during an interview with “Veritasium” in early February. “Somebody who wants to cause damage could engineer a virus,” Gates warned, adding that “the cost, the chance of running into [such a virus] is more than just the naturally-caused epidemics like the current one.”

Gates has been spreading the idea of a bioterrorist attack since 2017 when he revealed to a group of Redditors that he was “concerned about biological tools that could be used by a bioterrorist.” He also told The Telegraph that same year that engineering a new strain of the flu would be “relatively easy.”

Despite buttressing his image as a supervillain in popular Internet culture, such warnings did not originate with Gates and have been fueling the rise of the biosecurity state in the U.S. since the late 1960s, when the father of bioterrorist plots Joshua Lederberg and his cohorts in government were sounding the alarm over Soviet bioweapons and imminent bioterror attacks that called for more robust policies, laws, and new federal agencies to deal with the purported threat.

Not out of nowhere

Those efforts yielded significant changes, culminating in the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, which produced the first comprehensive policy directive to address these questions on a legislative level through the National Blueprint for Biodefense in 2015 and the establishment of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, co-chaired by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former Senator Joe Lieberman.

In September of last year, the Commission announced the creation of the Apollo Program for Biodefense. As its name suggests, the promoters of the biosecurity state want to liken their renewed zeal to space missions by tackling the challenges “with the same ambition and ingenuity that put the first human on the moon in 1969,” in the words of co-chair Ridge.

Just this past January, the Commission published the program’s first report, subtitled “Winning the Race Against Biological Threats,” which closely aligns with the thrust of the Atlantic Council’s approach to its policy recommendations for the Biden administration, and uses the COVID-19 pandemic as the jumping-off point to push for things like a “national pathogen surveillance and forecasting center” and the full implementation of the 2015 Study Panel’s recommendations.

Pavel, who is also the Director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, echoed the sentiment by exhorting Biden to adopt what the think tank is calling strategies of “resilience” to safeguard the “health, economic and security sectors” of the United States, warning that “if the U.S. is to avoid and mitigate major systems shocks like Covid-19 in the future, the President will need to prioritize and expand its focus on resilience in the early days of this administration.”

They’re all in it together

The Forward Defense panel discussion centered on the requirements for a national strategy based on the findings of the October report, which the author summarized in the following five points: First, to “undertake major research and development programs”; second, to “enhance public health”; third, to use artificial intelligence “to predict epidemiological trends”; fourth was the development of “a national pandemic plan and, finally “prepare US biodefense for bioterrorism threats.”

Jaclyn Levy from the IDSA referred to the progress made in these matters over the years, conceding that “the U.S. government [had] developed already prior to 2020 a number of pandemic preparedness programs and resources. But, operationalizing them during the pandemic proved to be a challenge.” She further expressed her belief that “federal coordination and federal support are absolutely critical to mounting a successful response [to biological threats],” and going as far as attributing the spread of Covid-19 to “the lack of a coordinated, centralized testing strategy funded by federal dollars.”

Levy was also keen on expanding the collection of genomic data from the population, extolling the efforts to advance “precision medicine” through public-private partnerships like the All of Us Research Program which set out to collect and sequence the genomes of one million people “stored in a biobank, which is housed by the Mayo Clinic,” as well as other “true sort of public-private partnership[s]” with Google and it’s parent company Alphabet, cautioning against turning away from such endeavors over potential privacy concerns.

Franklin Kramer followed that with his own stamp of approval, stating that “with the right incentive… we really can bring the private sector and the innovation capacities, both in the United States and with allies and partners to work on these issues,” proposing that institutions like Fauci’s NIAID approach Congress with a five or ten-year plan, similar to how the Pentagon does to procure funding for public-private partnerships in regards to these programs.

The final piece

In 2008, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated the seed funding for the creation of the IDSA’s Center for Global Health Policy (CGHP), which bills itself as “a trusted leader in shaping and advancing international and national policies and investments in global HIV, TB, health security and antimicrobial resistance.”

Through the CGHP, IDSA is a regular “non-state” participant in World Health Organization executive board meetings and is a strong advocate for global immunization campaigns, which along with the vaccine development and surveillance, remains one of the top priorities of the Gates Foundation.

In a section titled “Lessons From The Pandemic— Underprioritizing Resilience” from his report, Kramer highlights the GAVI foundation – a Gates initiative – as an example of how the private sector was better prepared for a pandemic than most governments were, quoting from the organization’s own website describing it as “an elegant solution to encourage manufacturers to lower vaccine prices for the poorest countries in return for long-term, high-volume and predictable demand from those countries.”

It seems that as the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its first year anniversary, all of the previously scattered tactics and methods employed to deliver a true biosecurity state are consolidating. The only thing missing is the military defense component, which is the principal focus of the Scowcroft Center. Conveniently, Bill Gates’ bioterror prediction could put that final piece into place.

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