Briefing Note on the Integrity Initiative: comments and discussion

This page is for public comments and discussion relating to the Briefing Note on the Integrity Initiative, by Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, Piers Robinson, for the Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media.

The Briefing Note is work in progress, and the Working Group can be contacted at  For further information about the Working Group visit

Read the full Briefing Note.

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10 Responses to Briefing Note on the Integrity Initiative: comments and discussion

  1. Charles Wood says:

    Your section 4.1.1 omits Dan Kaszeta who claims a military background, perhaps not coincidentally is a core propagandists for Bellingcat.

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  3. Norman Pilon says:

    And speaking about propaganda in relation to Syria, what should we make of this, a brief put together by Nafeez Ahmed and that, amongst other things, raises serious questions about the journalistic integrity of Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett: State Propaganda in Syria: From War Crimes to Pipelines

    In particular, see the following sub-chapter: 3.5 The White Helmets and propaganda: myths (pp.46-57.)

    • Yes. That IS disturbing. Its style reminds me of Wikipedia articles on sensitive geo-political issues – masses of obfuscating detail referenced to ‘respectable/acceptable’ western MSM sources only and with a clear, relentless bias towards the western ‘official narratives’.

      Ahmed cultivates a position of scholarly skepticism towards these ‘official narratives’, but he is careful never to go toooo far. This, as other of his output, has all the characteristics of that now somewhat cliched expression – a ‘limited hangout’. For sure, whilst ostensibly opposing western geo-political shenanigans, his output for the most part is hugely beneficial to them.

      The question for me therefore becomes, to what extent might Mr Ahmed be dependent upon Western covert intel operations for his own position and place in society.

      • Norman Pilon says:

        Ah . . . no, actually . . .

        Ahmed builds a case grounded in a series of itemized if purported ‘factual’ claims.

        If you’re going to argue that he is in the business of disinformation, you must demonstrate that his factual claims are factually false or that his interpretative framework of those claims is theoretically unwarranted.

        So, for instance, when he alleges that Beeley confides to a fellow pro-Assad activist that she knows that in Syria torture is standard operating procedure for the Syrian security and intelligence apparatus (pp.50-52.), but that she would never admit this publicly so as not “to give that opening to anti Syrian brigades,” then clearly Ahmed is correct to observe that this “. . . is an extraordinary admission of willingness to lie and conceal in her reporting on Syria.”

        So either Beeley never made that admission, which would be the ‘fact’ disproving Ahmed’s ‘factual’ allegation, or you need to explain to me how that admission isn’t by implication an admission of a willingness to lie and conceal in her reporting on Syria. And so it goes for each and everyone of Ahmed’s ‘factual’ claims . . .

        Furthermore, if one peruses the expert literature on Syria, it would appear that in 2011 there was both an articulated political and popular opposition to the Assad regime. In other words, to assert that there never was anything like an uprising in Syria in 2011 flies in the face of what appears to be a consensus, grounded in a wealth of empirical facts, among Middle East and Syrian scholars. That is a bit of a problem, no?

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  6. Norman Pilon says:

    BTW, Tim: if you do decide to post the foregoing, I muffed the last link. I would appreciate it if you could amend it with this corrected version of that link: The Syrian Cause and Anti-Imperialism

  7. Pingback: Two Journos and Something about the White Helmets: Some Apparent Revelations by Nafeez Ahmed — Norman Pilon | Taking Sides | Taking Sides

  8. Pingback: Research & Information on the Integrity Initiative – Red Pill Project

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