Glenn Greenwald
Politics • Writing • Culture
BELLINGCAT—Who Funds the Favorite Outlet of NBC & the CIA? Plus: Media Pushes Pentagon Lies as Biden Drones More Innocents
Video Transcript
May 24, 2023
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Good evening. It's Friday, May 19. Welcome to a new episode of System Update, our live nightly show that airs every Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern, exclusively here on Rumble, the free speech alternative to YouTube. 

Tonight, controversy is once again swirling around the U.S. Government-funded site called “Bellingcat,” which, depending on your perspective, is either celebrated for its intrepid reporting and courageous investigations or is notorious for its relentless propaganda, always in servitude to the foreign policy agenda of the Western intelligence agencies and neoliberal global institutions which fund it. 

Mystery has long surrounded how this outfit, in a very short period, skyrocketed from an obscure rag team of failed journalists and dweebish, online neoliberals into a site that receives ample funding from the U.S. Government and the EU's most potent propaganda arms and has become genuinely revered and aggressively protected by the most pro-establishment media sectors, from NBC and CNN – with whom Bellingcat is officially partnered, even though those networks rarely, if ever, disclose that fact when defending Bellingcat – to numerous Western governments and politically active billionaires who are also counted among their most rabid supporters and ample funders. 

The latest controversy came this week when Elon Musk accurately described what Bellingcat does. “Bellingcat literally specializes in psychological operations,” Musk said. Immediately, the most devoted loyalist of U.S. foreign policy in media, politics and academia rose in indignation to Bellingcat’s defense, as they always do, all without even mentioning, let alone refuting, the rather crucial fact that a significant chunk of Bellingcat funding comes from exactly the agencies that specialize in that kind of PSYOP propaganda campaign, always in an alignment with the U.S. and EU foreign policy. 

One can barely imagine a fact more revealing than the situation we have here. The most beloved and popular “news site” among established media outlets and pro-establishment academics is one that just so happens to be funded by CIA adjacent government agencies, EU foreign policy units, and the same small handful of multi-billionaires – George Soros, Bill Gates, Pierre Omidyar over and over and over – whose fingerprints are always at the center of virtually every campaign of propaganda, disinformation and censorship. To say that Bellingcat is a shady and sketchy operation is to woefully understate the case. We'll show you who funds them, what functions they serve, and why glorifying and protecting them has become so crucial to CIA-aligned operatives and the nation's largest media corporations. 

Then: Joe Biden's drone program once again exterminated the life of an innocent person, this time in Syria, where a Hellfire missile fired by an American drone killed a 56-year-old father of ten who has spent his life languishing in poverty working as a bricklayer. The U.S. government once again lied about their victims, boasting that they killed a senior al-Qaida leader and the U.S. corporate media once again mindlessly spread those lies, dutifully claiming that Biden took out a senior al-Qaida official, even though they had no idea whether that was true at all. It turns out it wasn't. The same deceitful reporting has been going on for years, ever since President Obama bureaucratically redefined the word ‘militant’ so that essentially anyone the U.S. government kills by drones or bombing is now by definition a terrorist. 

This all comes on the heels of media outlets destroying the life and reputation of a pregnant woman who's a nurse by taking a completely decontextualized video that appeared online and basically, as it turns out, stapled the racism label to her forehead. As we will show you, we yet again find that those who most vocally and self-righteously claim to combat disinformation are, in fact, those who spread disinformation most maliciously and casually, all while calling themselves journalists. 

As a reminder, System Update is now available in podcast form. You can follow us and hear us there in podcast version on Spotify, Apple, and every other major podcasting platform to do so. Rate and review our show to help spread its visibility.

Welcome to a new episode of System Update starting right now. 


 

Whenever a tiny and obscure entity is jettisoned overnight into an international celebrity, it merits a great deal of critical scrutiny to find out who exactly is behind this new entity, who funds it, and what is it that they get in return for that funding. There are occasions when a Hollywood dream comes true when a young, scrappy group of rabidly intrepid and independent investigators stumbles into or finds some incredibly consequential story or series of stories and becomes celebrated for that reason – that does on occasion happen. And then there's Bellingcat – an entity that completely deviates from that script in every sense of the word. Bellingcat is indeed rabidly celebrated by almost every key establishment sector in politics, media and academia. Anyone who criticizes them or even subjects them to critical scrutiny as we're doing here will instantly become the target of all sorts of vitriol, all sorts of rabid anger, principally from employees of the largest media outlets in the West who have come to depend on Bellingcat and their reputation for independent journalism and courageous investigations for the mythology they like to propagate about what press freedom means in the United States, and more importantly, how their revelations prove the validity of U.S. foreign military adventures, U.S. and NATO wars, and all other kinds of foreign policy goals of the United States and EU, which it just so happens, turns out, to be among their biggest funders. 

Bellingcat, as I suggested at the beginning has been the subject of controversy for a long time now but they found a new controversy because earlier this week, the owner of Twitter and the CEO of Space X and Tesla, Elon Musk, was interviewed on CNBC and was asked about Bellingcat, and Elon Musk stated what is the truth, something that is demonstrable and dispositive. If you just look at the evidence as we're about to, we essentially said that Bellingcat exists for psychological operations, for spreading propaganda on behalf of Western centers of power. Let's watch this interview

 

(Video. CNBC. May 16, 2023)

 

CNBC: But when you link to somebody who is talking about the guy who killed children in a mall in Allen, Texas, you say something like it might be a bad psyops, not quite sure what you meant, but…

 

Elon Musk: In that particular case – not that the people were killed, but it was, I think incorrectly ascribed via white supremacist action. And the evidence for that was some obscure Russian website that no one's ever heard of, that had no followers, and the company that found this is Bellingcat, and you know what Bellingcat does, psyops.



That was Elon Musk's accurate description of what Bellingcat does. I'm not here to report on or analyze or comment upon the evolution of facts concerning that shooter and what ideology motivated him, simply because I have not devoted the time or attention necessary to opine with any degree of confidence on that question. The question I'm interested in instead is the broader claim about what Bellingcat does because they have become extremely influential in how narratives in Western discourse are formulated. The corporate media in the United States come to has come to rely on them to such an extent that they will just mindlessly repeat whatever Bellingcat claims is the case. And so interrogating what Bellingcat is and who funds them and why these state agencies and neoliberal billionaires fund Bellingcat is of vital importance precisely because of what Elon Musk said in this video – not about this specific instance of whether this shooter was motivated by Nazi ideology or not, but instead the broader assertion that Bellingcat exists for PSYOPS, for psychological operation campaigns, which is a Cold War term, that connotes an attempt to influence and manipulate public opinion by typically secretive operations with the inside government. His description is entirely correct. When he gave this interview and said this about Bellingcat, it created a huge amount of controversy because Bellingcat has become extremely important to all kinds of centers of power in the West. 

Let's pull up the documents here where we can take a look at exactly what happened. So here on the screen when controversy arose, you have Elon Musk essentially repeating what he said in that interview. He said

 

Didn’t the story come from @bellingcat, which literally specializes in psychological operations? I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but this is either the weirdest story ever or a very bad psyop! (@elonmusk. May 9, 2023)



Lots of people responded to Elon Musk by attacking him, insisting that his accusations about Bellingcat were unjust principally leading figures in the media. CNN’s Jake TAPPER responded to the controversy provoked by Musk’s comments by saying:

@bellingcat is a great journalistic organization. Conversely, Musk once linked to a deranged article about Paul Pelosi in the Santa Monica Observer, a nutjob website that claimed in 2016 that Hillary Clinton had died and had been replaced by a body double. (@jaketapper. May 16, 2023)



 It's true that Elon Musk's tweet in that instance was reckless. He deleted it. But the question that actually matters from which people like Jake Tapper are trying to distract is what is Bellingcat. It's Bellingcat, not Elon Musk, who has become a leading source of narrative influence by Western media outlets, including CNN. And so, every time there's a controversy surrounding Bellingcat, you have people inside CNN and NBC doing what Jake Tapper did here, which is rising to their defense and heaping praise on them as a “great journalistic organization.” 

The Yale history professor who has become a leading resistance advocate, uses his credentials as an Ivy League professor to essentially propagate Democratic Party talking points. He's a huge fan of U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. security state, and a fanatical supporter of the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine. He made a lot of money writing books about how Donald Trump is the new Hitler, how he's the singular threat to everything sacred in our democracy. He's just like a resistance troll on Twitter who happens to be an Ivy League professor of history. And here's Timothy Snyder, unsurprisingly, as an ardent defender of the U.S. security state, and U.S. foreign policy, doing the same thing

 

Bellingcat is a treasure trove of hugely important investigative journalism. (@TimothyDSnyder. May 17, 2023) 

 

One NBC personality who has an 8 p.m. show on MSNBC, Chris Hayes, decided that he wanted to refute the accusations about Bellingcat. Chris had been using his Twitter account to defend Bellingcat. And then in order to refute the accusations about Bellingcat, who did Chris Hayes bring on in order to discuss this? Did he bring on a critic of Bellingcat? Did he bring on somebody who has done investigative reporting about the U.S. government and European security agencies that fund Bellingcat to ask the question why would the leading propaganda arms of the U.S. government and EU security state agencies be funding a great journalistic outlet that is intrepid investigation and independent reporting? That's not who they go and try and fund. They obviously try and fund outlets that promote their agenda, that promote their foreign policy. And that's why every time Bellingcat needs defenders, the people who stand up and defend them are the people who are the most loyal devotees of the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Justice Department, to Homeland Security, the war in Ukraine and European security state agencies – because that's exactly who funds Bellingcat is. We're about to show you.

 So, you would think if you're going to do a TV segment where you intend to or purport to refute, what you understand about Bellingcat and the widespread criticisms about how they disseminate propaganda and don't do journalism at all, you would at least speak to a critic of Bellingcat or acknowledge the evidence about who funds them and how they function as a way to have a full and informed debate. But of course, that's not what people in corporate media ever do. There is no dissent on NBC News. You turn on NBC News or MSNBC or CNN and what you find is exactly the same thing all the time. Two people or three or four or five all violently nodding their heads in agreement with one another to the point that you worry they're actually going to get a neck sprain. That's what these outlets exist to do. They are a closed system of propaganda. And the way, you know that is they never have anybody on who disagrees with the view of the News Corporation. So, if I wanted to do a Bellingcat segment and I had a guest on, I would try and have that guest be someone from Bellingcat or somebody who defends Bellingcat. That's not what they do. 

So, Chris Hayes, a virulent defender of Bellingcat, decided to invite a Bellingcat operative to refute these claims and never once was the funding of Bellingcat mentioned or the criticisms of Bellingcat and the basis for those criticisms ever mentioned. Instead, they both joined together and scoffed at Bellingcat critics in a segment, a part of which we're about to show you. 

Just to clarify, these two are not related biologically. This Bellingcat operative is not the nephew or the son of Chris Hayes. I understand why people have asked that question, but I want to just clarify that to my knowledge, at least, they have no biological relationship despite their virtually identical appearance. But here's how this segment went. 

 

(Video. MSNBC. May 17, 2023)

 

Chris Hayes: So, I want you to respond to the world's richest man and the owner of Twitter basically saying this is a fabricated PSYOP that you invented. 

 

Bellingcat Research Director:  Yeah, well, I mean, obviously it's not. I mean, […] But I mean, you know, Musk is just getting garbage information because he's just entirely kind of flooded in this like far right, you know, info space. But, you know, people, you know, Glenn Greenwald and all these types who are kind of putting this kind of stuff out there. So, he's just getting, you know, garbage in, garbage out kind of. I was not processing. I don't think he actually understands this all this well. 

 

So, there was a lot of name-calling there. There was a lot of snickering, a lot of patronizing commentary. Do you know what there wasn't? Any substantive engagement with the criticisms, any of the reporting that we've done, because they cannot confront that. They don't want their audience to know about that. That's why they don't have a critique of Bellingcat or even mention the criticism themselves. I also will never stop finding it incredibly ironic that a TV host who never criticizes the U.S. security state except to beg them to do more on behalf of his party and an operative from a propaganda arm that is actually funded by the U.S. security state and its propaganda arms and EU security state agencies are calling me someone who has been a career-long critic of those security agencies, a far-right operative or a far-right voice. And of course, Chris Hayes lacks the courage. Chris Hayes has known me for 15 years. To point that out, that is a preposterous label. I don't care about these labels but the point is if this is how they try to discredit people that use these labels that they know are signifiers to their audience, once they put that label on someone, you can just tune them out forever. You don't have to engage with their reporting. You don't have to engage in the substance of anything that they say. So, it's just always bizarre to be called right-wing by people whose mission in life appears to serve the CIA, serve the U.S. in neo-wars, proxy wars, and spying by the FBI and censorship by homeland security. It's just a very odd dynamic that results in that but this is the kind of thing you see. What matters here is two things. One is that NBC and CNN feel so compelled, like on a kind of moral imperative mission to defend Bellingcat as a great journalistic outlet, even though they're funded by those agencies. Since when are great journalistic outlets funded by the U.S. government or by EU security state agencies? But the other part of it is they just don't even need to tell their audience what the criticism is. 

So, let's look at what the criticism is. Let's look at the facts. No snickering, no name calling, no casually, recklessly tossing around political labels to discredit. Let's just look at the facts of who exactly it is that has made Bellingcat able to function, who gives money to Bellingcat and who obviously supports the work they do. 

Here, from Bellingcat, its own website, is a section called “How to Support Bellingcat.” So, if you are inclined to transfer money out of your bank account to theirs, they provide the information for how that can be done. And you can see here that they say approximately “a third of Bellingcat’s budget is currently raised from workshops held throughout the year.” And then, they say “We would also like to express our gratitude to the following organizations for their support.” One of them is Civitas, the other the European Commission, which is a unit of the EU government; Wellspring philanthropic fund, and “several organizations who graciously support our work but prefer to remain anonymous.” 

Shouldn't we know who the funders are of this great journalistic outlet that is constantly being used by major media corporations to shape their narrative to the extent we do know who funds them, though, we know that it's the European Commission and then, keep in mind Wellspring Philanthropic Fund and Civitates because we're going to show you who they are. But the most important part of Bellingcat’s funding – both important in terms of how much they get from there and the portion of their budget that is accounted for but also important in terms of revealing their true function – is that they are funded by the U.S. and the EU governments. What media outlet could possibly maintain any credibility as a journalistic outlet when they're being funded by major governments on whom they're constantly reporting in a way that, just coincidentally, in almost every case happens to align with the foreign policy agenda of those governments that fund them? 

In their own financial report from 2021, they have a line item here: “Income from other nonprofit organizations.” There you see the National Endowment for Democracy, which in terms of the actual 2020 budget and the planned 2020 budget is the largest single donor, at least listed in these sections. 

We're going to show you what the National Endowment for Democracy is, but by its own description, it is funded entirely by the U.S. government. It answers to the Biden White House and to the Democratic Senate and now the Republican House. So, it is supervised and funded entirely by the U.S. government, and its mission, from the start, explicitly, was to do the work of the CIA – but to do it with transparency publicly because they were concerned that the CIA's reputation was getting contaminated by how secretly they operate and the idea was, let's create an agency that will claim is designed to spread democracy throughout the world. We all know what that means. Whenever the U.S. government wants to facilitate regime change in another part of the world, remove one government or replace it with the government they like better, they claim that they're doing so to spread democracy. That was the justification for invading Iraq. That was the justification for changing the government of Libya. That was the justification for a covert CIA war in Syria, all of which Bellingcat supported. That's the justification for the proxy war in Ukraine. And every time the U.S. government has facilitated regime change, even when the regime they're taking down was actually a democratically elected government, they call that spreading democracy. For decades during the Cold War – you can go back and see coups that the United States government engineered, taking down democratically elected governments as they did in Brazil in 1964, as they did in Chile, as they did in so many others – in El Salvador, Nicaragua, so many other countries throughout the world – it's always called the promotion of democracy. All U.S.-sponsored coups are called that. That's what this National Endowment for Democracy exists to do, is to fund opposition groups in countries that we want to change the government of. 

In 2014, when Victoria Nuland led the change of government in Ukraine, the coup in Ukraine, where the democratically elected president – whom the U.S. perceived was too close to Moscow but was democratically elected – was removed from power as a result of oppositional groups funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and other arms of the U.S. government, that was called the promotion of democracy. Even though it resulted in the democratically elected president being removed from power before his term expired, and the installation of a leader that the U.S. government picked because they knew that that would best serve their interest. In a recording we've all heard, where Victoria Nuland was speaking to the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and they were debating who should be the next leader and they picked the leader and that's who got installed. That's always what the promotion of democracy means, going back to the Cold War and still now, the U.S. does coups and calls it an advancement of democracy. That's what the National Endowment for Democracy exists to do. It's a U.S. government-funded agency designed to facilitate regime change throughout the world and call it “promotion of democracy.” That is Bellingcat, its biggest funder or one of its biggest funders, as demonstrated by their own financial disclosure documents. 

How can anybody possibly believe that the new National Endowment for Democracy is substantially funding some sort of independent journalistic outlet when the whole reason the National Endowment for Democracy exists is to do the CIA's work out in the open? That's their own description of what their function is and always has been. So, if you're going on television to do a segment about Bellingcat and purport to refute the criticisms of them, you might want to mention the rather significant fact that it is the National Endowment for Democracy, the CIA adjacent arm, that provides them with a significant amount of their funding. You also might want to mention the equally significant fact that the EU also funds Bellingcat. 

Item line 17, in “income from governments,” the first line item is the European Union, and the next is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Please tell me what independent journalistic outlets are funded by the security organizations and the security state agencies of governments around the world. Only for those outlets to then go and report, coincidentally in a way that furthers the foreign policy agenda of those governments. Is there anything more revealing about the function of our corporate media and pro-establishment journal academics, like Timothy Snyder, than the fact that the journalistic outlet they herald and most revere is one funded by the U.S. security state? This shows you how integrated all of these centers of powerful institutions are. Every journalist should look immediately askance and with great skepticism at Bellingcat because of this funding. Unless you think the CIA's mission – or the National Endowment for Democracy’s mission – is to just find really good journalists who are there to follow the facts wherever they might lead, even if it undermines U.S. foreign policy goals, just because the CIA cares so much about making sure we have an informed citizenry. If you believe that about the CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy and the European Union, maybe then you would actually believe that Bellingcat is actually a journalistic organization. But unless you believe that idiotic fairy tale that even an eighth grader would instantly find laughable, it would be very difficult to herald this entity as something journalistic, or, at the very least, when you talk about Bellingcat, to defend that, you should be mentioning these obviously relevant facts. 

Let's take a look now at a couple of other Bellingcat documents: “Funders and partnerships.” This, too, is from a Bellingcat publication right on their website. 

 

 

So, the European Union – on whom they're constantly reporting, on whose words they're constantly reporting, on whose foreign policy they constantly report – is a funder of Bellingcat. 

Let me ask you a question. If Bellingcat were frequently reporting facts that undermined, rather than advanced, the foreign policy interest of the EU and the CIA, do you think that these government agencies would be funding Bellingcat? Would they be funding media outlets that are adversarial to them? To ask the question is to answer it. In fact, asking the question is to reveal the utter fraud at the heart of Bellingcat. 

The independent media outlet Declassified UK offers a comprehensive report on what Bellingcat is. They talk about the fact that one of its leading funders is the National Endowment for Democracy, NED, which funds Bellingcat. The former CIA official they quote said that the National Endowment of Democracy is a “vehicle for U.S. government propaganda.” The National Endowment for Democracy, which is a big Bellingcat funder, is funded entirely by the U.S. Congress, or almost entirely, and it has repeatedly plowed millions of dollars into groups that call themselves media outlets.

 The New York Times reported, and we'll show you this article, in 1997, the National Endowment for Democracy was “created […] to do in the open what the CIA has surreptitiously done for decades.” This is the arm of the CIA that is explicitly acknowledged and always has been in Washington. It talks about how the media has been involved in undermining and removing governments that are too disobedient to Washington, including Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela. It quotes former directors of the NED openly admitting that what essentially their goal is to do the same thing as the CIA does just out in the open. And it talks about the money that the National Endowment for Democracy gives to Bellingcat, which is something you will find just by looking at Bellingcat’s own documents. 

Back in 2010, the actually independent media outlet ProPublica published an article about the National Endowment for Democracy and noted the propagandistic role that it plays. And the National Endowment for Democracy sent a letter to ProPublica objecting to that characterization. In responding to that, the probe ProPublica, which is a widely, highly regarded media outlet, said that they stand behind that characterization. And this is part of what they said about why they called the National Endowment for Democracy a state propaganda arm:

 

In the FAQs on its side, NED acknowledges its ongoing relationship with lawmakers, saying that its “continued funding is dependent on the continued support of the White House and Congress.” Those who spearheaded the creation of it have long acknowledged it was part of an effort to move from covert to overt efforts to foster democracy. 

President Reagan said in 1983 that “this program will not be hidden in the shadows. It will stand proudly in the spotlight, and that's where it belongs.” Allan Weinstein, a former acting president of the National Endowment for Democracy and one of the authors of the study that led to its creation, told David Ignatius, who I often refer to as the Washington Post CIA spokesman David Ignatius, in a 1991 interview that “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA. The biggest difference is that when such activities are done overtly, the flap potential is close to zero. Openness is its own protection.” (ProPublica. Nov 24, 2010).

 

 

 In other words, as I said, the U.S. government had a problem with the CIA because everything they were doing was in secret. Much of it was contaminated and they needed a way to redefine it to make it appear more noble. Therefore, they created an agency, the National Endowment for Democracy, whose only goal is to promote the CIA's agenda but to do so in a way that seems more open – amidst that agency that exists solely to promote the agenda of the CIA by their own explanation, their own self-description. There is major funding for Bellingcat. Why? Why would they be funding an independent journalistic entity? They don't. It's preposterous. They fund outlets, exactly as Elon Musk said, that are designed to disseminate PSYOPS – psychological operations – and propaganda campaigns and perception management on behalf of the U.S. security state. 

The New York Times about the National Endowment for Democracy, in 1997, says – and this is how the New York Times always talked about this entity:

 

Congress routinely appropriates tens of millions of dollars in covert and overt money to use in influencing domestic politics abroad. 

The National Endowment for Democracy, created 15 years ago to do in the open what the CIA has done surreptitiously for decades, spends $30 million a year to support things like political parties, labor unions, dissident movements, and the news media in dozens of countries, including China. (The New York Times. 1997).

 

They're not doing that because they want to help other countries be more democratic. They're doing that to influence those other countries and the domestic politics in them to make them more aligned with U.S. government foreign policy. It's absurd that I even have to explain this. 

And yet, Bellingcat, if you point out that the National Endowment for Democracy is an arm of the CIA and an arm of the U.S. government, has convinced its followers that this is nothing more than Russian propaganda. Every single fact that Democrats and corporate media employees like Chris Hayes dislike is instantly labeled Russian disinformation or far-right. Automatically. 

So, what has been true and stated openly by the NED and by the media for 20 years, 30 years is that the NED exists to promote the agenda of the CIA. If you say that now, you'll be accused of spreading Russian disinformation. That reminds me a lot of how for 10 years – the last 10 years – every major master of Western media has warned that the age of battalion is the most significant fighting force in Ukraine and unfortunately, and quite dangerously, they happen to be Nazis. They happen to embrace an overt neo-Nazi ideology. You can find articles in Time Magazine, in The Guardian, USA Today, and every major media outlet, including The New York Times, before the war in Ukraine, saying that the Azov battalion is an overt neo-Nazi organization but then, once the war in Ukraine happened and it came time to arm and fund that group, suddenly it became Russian propaganda overnight to point out what the media had been saying for years. In exactly the same way that in the CIA war under Obama to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it was just simply true that the U.S. was aligned with Al-Qaida and even ISIS was fighting on the same side as Al-Qaida and even ISIS. And yet, if you point that out, you get accused of being someone disseminating Russian disinformation, even though it is true. Syria was the number one foreign policy goal of the CIA over the last decade. Trump's opposition to that regime change operation, which he enunciated in 2015, was one of the major reasons the CIA was so devoted to destroying the Trump campaign – he was an explicit opponent of their number one foreign policy goal, which was to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. 

Bellingcat first became a known entity, and first came to the public spotlight, as a result of their “independent” investigations that constantly supported the CIA's accusations against the government of Bashar al-Assad – that they were using chemical weapons. In every instance, Bellingcat was on the side of the CIA. They'd done the same thing in Ukraine. That's what they exist to do. Exactly as Elon Musk said. That's why they're funded by these organizations. 

There is also a 2021 document from Bellingcat in which they show who their partners are. There you see one of the partners is the OCCRP, another one is the BBC, CNN, and NBC, among other partners as well. And it is, I think, quite extraordinary, just independent of everything else I've talked about that we just watched a CNN personality, Jake Tapper, rise in defense of Bellingcat on Twitter, herald them as a wonderful journalistic outlet. We watched part of the segment that NBC's Chris Hayes did where he invited a Bellingcat operative to sit in agreement with them about how great Bellingcat is. And to my knowledge, none of these networks ever disclose this partnership they have with Bellingcat while defending Bellingcat. I know for certain that in that entire segment Chris Hayes did, never once did he say, ‘Oh, by the way, you may want to know that my corporate employer, NBC, is an official partner of Bellingcat.’ There are CNN segments. I can't say that every CNN segment that talked about Bellingcat failed to disclose this, but the ones we found also have no disclosure of any kind, nor do CNN employees defending Bellingcat over social media. This is just something you may ignore – a kind of relevant fact when these news outlets are defending Bellingcat.

Here are some more connections of Bellingcat. Here are what they call “Bellingcat supporters.” And there you see the flag of the EU because it's absolutely true that the EU is a supporter of Bellingcat as is the National Endowment for Democracy, which again, according to its own description, exists to promote the agenda of the CIA. 

This is who's behind Bellingcat. This is why they skyrocketed to notoriety. This is why so many pro-establishment operatives and propagandists are so vested in defending them. Because this is what they exist to do. This is whose agenda they are devoted to promoting whatever they are. It is not journalistic. Here is one of their partners, the OCCRP. And I think what's really important here is that when you look at who funds Bellingcat directly by looking at their financial disclosures, as we just did, you will find that they get money directly from the National Endowment for Democracy and the EU. And people often say, well, those aren't very big amounts but the reality of what happens is that so much of this money is laundered by the U.S. government and the EU government giving money to Bellingcat sponsors, which then pass on that money to Bellingcat. If you look at Bellingcat’s financial statements, you will see direct government money from the EU and the U.S. but what you don't see is how much indirect money they get from the U.S. and the EU through their sponsors, such as the OCCRP. 

So, here's the OCCRP, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Here you see their financial statements for 2020. Their biggest donor by far, in fact, half or more than half of their budget came from the U.S. government, $5 million in 2020. And that's a budget, a total budget of $8 million. Actually, around 70% of their budget came from the U.S. government. So, they passed on money as well to Bellingcat. That's one of Bellingcat’s sponsors. This is how this works. It's the same web of money, the same people constantly funding these entities, the same billionaires – Bill Gates, Pierre Omidyar, George Soros – and the same governments laundering this money through all of these different networks that have benign-sounding names like the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project – who could be opposed to that? – when in reality what they exist to do is to promote the agenda of these governments by labeling government critics “Russian agents,” by constantly inventing propaganda to promote foreign policy agencies and by laundering all this money around. 

Let's look at another document from this OCCRP, which is a sponsor of Bellingcat. Here they have a page titled “Who Supports Our Work” – and what do we find here? More Western governments pouring their money into a Bellingcat partner, the Slovak Agency for International Development Cooperation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the United Kingdom's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Do you think these entities here are funding independent organizations that are willing to be adversarial to their foreign policy agenda if the facts lead them there? Or do you think these governments are funding exactly those entities they know exist or propagandized on behalf of their agenda? 

On the second page of this entity's funding, we find, unsurprisingly, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and, again, the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation. So, this OCCRP is funded by the U.S. State Department, by the U.S. security state, by numerous Western security intel agencies, as well as by George Soros. And this, too, is a sponsor of Bellingcat. It's just money laundered all over the place by the same sources for the same reasons. 

Here is another list of Bellingcat sponsors and it's not just that George Soros is a sponsor of Bellingcat indirectly, though, he is, he's also a direct sponsor. There you see the open societies foundations. Always. Whenever these outfits emerge, you find the fingerprints of George Soros. 

One of their partners is the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. This is another sponsor or funder of Bellingcat. We showed you the financial disclosure where they list the Wellspring Philanthropic fund. What is that? According to Influence Watch – and we verified these facts independently:

 

The Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, formerly known as the Matan B’Seter Foundation, was created in 2001 as part of an elaborate and secretive network of grantmaking organizations funded by three hedge fund billionaires: Andrew Shechtel, David Gelbaum and C. Frederick Taylor. (Wellspring Philanthropic Fund)



So, there are all kinds of this kind of money floating around, too, that ends up in Bellingcat. 

One of the partners of Bellingcat is the Center for American Progress. The Center for American Progress is, of course, the biggest Democratic Party think tank, the biggest neoliberal think tank in Washington. It was founded and run for years by John Podesta, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton. It was then run by Neera Tanden, who is now replacing Susan Rice in the Biden White House as the chief domestic policy adviser. If you look at who funds the Center for American Progress, you see entities like Bloomberg; the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which is Mark Zuckerberg and his wife; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and also Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. So, they're funding the largest Democratic Party think tank in Washington – as well as Bellingcat – because this money just floats around from all the same sources. 

The Center for American Progress funders, include Microsoft Corporation, of course; the Open Society Foundation; you have the Omidyar Network Fund. So, Pierre Omidyar, so money is there, as well as the Walton Family Corporation. Again, Bill Gates, Pierre Omidyar, George Soros, always their money is appearing wherever these things are funded. 

So, if you were going to do a segment like this inviting this little dweeby Bellingcat operative onto your show – who happens to be a doppelganger of the host for reasons that I guess are coincidental – and you want to put on this Elon Musk-fueling far-right conspiracy theories about Bellingcat and mentioned me as a far-right conspiracy theorist Elon Musk is relying upon – let me just ask you to compare this segment completely bereft of any subset of information, refusing to even acknowledge, let alone confront, all the facts I just showed you, to the way that we do reporting – which is to lay out all the facts for you so that you can make decisions about what you think about Bellingcat. I don't conceal the other side of the story. I showed you their defense. I showed you other defenses of them, but then I showed you the facts about who's behind Bellingcat and what those sponsors and funders exist to do. And when you actually do that, when you actually respect your audience enough to share with them both sides of the story and to walk them through the actual reporting that you've done, not using bizarre sources that just appeared in the last five years and that are funded by weird government agencies, but often using Bellingcat’s own documents and the documents of their funders to trace where the money goes to and why these outlets exist and what they fund outlets like Bellingcat for, the facts become extremely self-evident, very manifest. 

And so, there is a good reason why CNN and NBC are so eager to herald Bellingcat. There's a reason why U.S. security state propagandists like Professor Timothy Snyder become so indignant whenever anyone criticizes them. There's a reason that Western centers of power are so desperate to criticize any effort to bring transparency to Bellingcat. It's because they have become arguably the single most valuable and influential propaganda arm of the CIA, the U.S. security state and Western intelligence agencies on behalf of their foreign policy agenda. And to know that, you should not listen to me and my claims, or Elon Musk and his, or these two, and there's this Chris Hayes and this Bellingcat person – you should look at the facts. They won't show you those facts we just did. And I think that the picture that emerges is crystal clear and no longer even needs my commentary. 


 

So, speaking of propaganda and how Western intelligence agencies deceive the public systematically, there was a drone strike just recently in Syria that we were told was a great success. We were told that we should give great credit to President Biden because this drone strike in Syria took out a senior al-Qaida leader. Remember al-Qaida? We still hate al-Qaida. We're still told for some reason they're a danger to the United States, even though I don't remember the last attack carried out by al-Qaida on U.S. soil. It's been a while. But let's assume Al-Qaida is still this grave threat. We're all supposed to hate them. We're all supposed to applaud whenever we kill someone said to be al-Qaida, even though they just got replaced the next day. And nothing changes other than the need to replace those missiles we use to kill people. I still don't understand why we're even in Syria. There's no war in Syria that we're involved in, and yet we still have troops stationed in Syria. We're still bombing Syria. Of course, no congressional authorization. 

There was recently an attempt by Congressman Matt Gaetz with his sector of the Republican Party that in this one instance was joined by some of the progressives in the Democratic Party to de-authorize the use of troops in Syria – because I don't think anyone can ask the question why we're bombing there, why we're occupying Syria still. And it overwhelmingly failed because, as usual, the established wings of the Democratic and Republican Party united to keep those troops there. The way Joe Biden and the CIA and the Pentagon want to. As part of that weird, unexplained, unauthorized military campaign, we recently killed somebody. And we were told, as you can see here from Reuters on May 3, 2023, “U.S. Targets Senior al-Qaida leader in NW Syria.” 

So, this is the claim from the media all over the place that we took out a senior leader of al-Qaida and everybody was happy, it turns out, in credit to the Washington Post for noting it – although it was the Pentagon that came to them and told them because it was about to be exposed – as you see in their tweet: 

 

Breaking News, U.S. military officials are walking back claims that a strike in Syria killed a senior al-Qaida figure following claims by the dead man's family that he had no ties to terrorists but was tending to sheep when he was slain by the missile. 

U.S. officials walk back claim drone strike killed senior al-Qaida leader, the acknowledgment comes as a terrorism expert and the dead man's family have cast doubt on a Pentagon statement indicating the operation targeted a high-ranking militant in Syria. (@washingtonpost. May 18, 2023).

 

The article goes on to explain that this guy was a father of ten, that he has spent his whole life in poverty. They interviewed neighbors saying that he's always lived a very quiet life, that he was a bricklayer for a long time, and now he tends to sheep and he just had his life exterminated. And the U.S. government announced that it was a senior al-Qaida official, and the media mindlessly reported that. This has been going on for many years. This is a critical way that the U.S. government lies on behalf of military operations conducted by the United States. And it shows you how casually and willingly these new corporate media outlets are willing to lie, how casually and easily and eagerly they will write down whatever they're told to say by their sources in the U.S. security state. I'm sure you remember the horrific, genuinely horrific drone strike that President Biden ordered on our way out of Afghanistan that exterminated a family of ten people, all completely innocent, with no connections whatsoever to the al-Qaida crisis. At the time that we were told the exact opposite, that the drone strike actually killed a critical ISIS planner, one of the people who planned the suicide attack on the airport in Kabul days earlier that killed dozens of people, including U.S. soldiers. 

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As the Daily Wire Publicly Negotiated a Debate with Candace Owens, it Secretly Sought -- and Obtained -- a Gag Order Against Her
Due to a prior restraint order against Owens, the much-anticipated Israel debate with Ben Shapiro appears to be off.

On April 5, Candace Owens publicly invited her former Daily Wire colleague Ben Shapiro to a debate about "Israel and the current definition of antisemitism." It was Owens' criticisms of U.S. financing of Israel, and her criticisms of Israel's war in Gaza, that caused her departure from the Daily Wire two weeks earlier.

Both Shapiro and Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing responded by saying they would like to arrange the debate requested by Owens. That night, Shapiro appeared to accept her offer, writing on X: "Sure, Candace. I texted you on February 29th offering this very thing." The Daily Wire co-founder added: "Let's do it on my show this Monday at 5pm at our studios in Nashville; 90 minutes, live-streamed."

After Owens objected to the format and timing, she and Boreing exchanged several tweets in which they appeared to be negotiating, and then agreeing to, the terms and format for the debate. Owens had suggested the debate be moderated by Joe Rogan or Lex Fridman. Shaprio said he wanted no moderator. They ultimately agreed to the terms, with Boreing offering a series of conditions, including a no-moderator debate, and with Owens publicly accepting

Two weeks later, many readers of both Shapiro and Owens noticed, and complained, that the debate had not yet happened. On April 24, Owens addressed those inquiries by explaining that the Daily Wire had yet to propose dates, while reiterating her strong desire to ensure the debate happened.

But the debate was never going to happen. That is because the Daily Wire -- in secret and unbeknownst to its readers -- sought a gag order to be placed on Owens after she had called for a debate. They did this under the cover of secrecy, before a private arbitrator, at exactly the same time that they were claiming in public that they wanted this debate and were even negotiating the terms with her. To this date, the Daily Wire has not informed its readers, seeking to understand why the much-anticipated debate had not yet happened, that they had sought and obtained a gag order against Owens.

When seeking a gag order to be imposed on Owens, the Daily Wire accused her of violating the non-disparagement clause of her agreement with the company. To substantiate this accusation, the company specifically cited Owens' initial tweet requesting a debate with Shapiro as proof of this disparagement, along with concerns she voiced that Shapiro appeared to be violating the confidentiality agreement between them by publicly maligning Owens's views to explain her departure from the company. While the company claimed before the arbitrator that it did not object in principle to a "healthy debate," it urged the imposition of a gag order on Owens by claiming that the way she requested the debate constituted disparagement of Shapiro and the site.

To justify the gag order it wanted, the company also cited various criticisms of the Daily Wire and Shapiro on X that Owens had "liked." This proceeding took place as part of an exchange of legal threats between the parties after the public agreement to debate about Israel was solidified. Those threats arose from the fact that various Daily Wire executives and hosts, in both public and private, were castigating Owens as an anti-Semite. On March 22, Daily Wire host Andrew Klaven published a one-hour video that hurled multiple accusations, including anti-Semitism, at Owens. The Daily Wire cited Owens' response to that video -- her defense of herself from those multiple accusations -- as further proof that she needed to be gagged.

The initial tweet from Owens not only requested a debate, but also included a video from the popular comedian Andrew Schulz, who had mocked the Daily Wire for firing Owens over disagreements regarding Israel, and specifically mocked Shapiro for his willingness to debate only undergraduate students. The tweet underneath Owens's original debate request included a summary of Schulz's mockery of Shapiro which stated: Schulz now "realizes Ben Shapiro is only good at debating college liberals & can’t win debates against serious competition." 

After the prior restraint hearing sought by the Daily Wire and Shapiro, the arbitrator sided with them and against Owens. The arbitrator agreed with the Daily Wire that Owens' call to debate Shapiro, and her follow-up negotiations of the debate, constituted "disparagement" of the company and Shapiro. The company argued that any further attempt by Owens to debate, as well her suggesting that the debate would expose the Daily Wire's real "priorities," constituted criticisms of the site and of Shapiro, criticisms that the arbitrator concluded Owens was barred from expressing under her contract with the company.

The arbitrator thus imposed a gag order of prior restraint on Owens. Among other things, the order banned Owens from saying or doing anything in the future which could tarnish or harm the reputation of the Daily Wire and/or Ben Shapiro. Given that the Daily Wire had argued, and the arbitrator agreed, that Owens' offers to debate Shapiro about Israel and anti-semitism were themselves "disparaging," the Daily Wire has ensured that the debate with Owens that they publicly claimed to want could not, in fact, take place. Any such debate would be in conflict with the gag order they obtained on Owens from expressing any criticisms of the site or of Shapiro.

When asked for comment to be included this story, Owens replied: I "wish I could comment on this but I can’t." She added: "can neither confirm nor deny."

Boreing said: "your story is inaccurate to the point of being false," though he did not specify a single inaccuracy, nor did he deny that the Daily Wire had sought and obtained a gag order on Owens at the same time they were publicly posturing as wanting a debate with her. The confirmation we obtained of all these facts is indisputable. Boreing added: "I’m sure you can appreciate how fraught a high profile break-up like this is. For that reason, we are trying to resolve our issues with Candace privately."

It certainly seems true that the Daily Wire is attempting to achieve all of this "privately." Nonetheless, Ben Shapiro has constructed his very lucrative media brand and persona based on his supposed superiority in debating, a reputation cultivated largely as a result of numerous appearances at undergraduate schools around the country where he intrepidly engages with students who are often in their teens or early twenties. Both Shapiro and the Daily Wire have also predicated their collective media brand on an eagerness to engage in free and open debate with anyone, and to vehemently oppose any efforts to silence people, especially those in media, from expressing their political views.

It was the imperatives of this media branding that presumably led the Daily Wire and Shapiro to publicly agree to a debate with Owens over Israel and anti-semitism in the first place. Indeed, when it became apparent early after the start of Israel's war in Gaza that Owens had major differences with Shapiro, Boering responded to calls from Israel supporters for Owens to be fired by proclaiming in November: 

[E]ven if we could, we would not fire Candace because of another thing we have in common - a desire not to regulate the speech of our hosts, even when we disagree with them. Candace is paid to give her opinion, not mine or Ben’s. Unless those opinions run afoul of the law or she violates the terms of her contract in some way, her job is secure and she is welcome at Daily Wire.

But a mere four months later, Owens, despite being of one of the company's most popular hosts, was out. The company had concluded that her increasingly vocal criticisms of Israel, opposition to U.S. financing of it, and her views on anti-semitism were incompatible with the Daily Wire's policies.

All of those issues would likely have been the subject of the public debate that Owens sought, and that the Daily Wire claimed to want. Instead, the Daily Wire has succeeded in obtaining a gag order that, on its face, prevents Owens, in advance, from questioning or criticizing both the Daily Wire or Shapiro in any way.

 

 

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THE WEEKLY UPDATE: MAY 13-17
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We are pleased to send you a summary of the key stories we covered last week on SYSTEM UPDATE. 

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SYSTEM UPDATE RECAP: May 13-17
Weekly Recap

Welcome to the SYSTEM UPDATE recap: your weekend digest featuring everything we’ve covered throughout the previous week. 

 

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MONDAY, MAY 13 - EPISODE 269

Jen Psaki's Lies Expose the Fraud of "Disinformation"; Israelis Endanger Americans and Block Humanitarian Aid

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Intro (7:26)

Queen of Disinformation (14:11)

Israelis Block Gaza Aid (47:32)

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TUESDAY, MAY 14 - EPISODE 270

House Prioritizes Israel Over Funding U.S. Government; Seinfeld Commencement Debacle Fuels Antisemitism Panic; PLUS: China and Hungary's Close Ties Explained

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

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Intro (10:29)

House Prioritized Israel Over U.S. (16:19)

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Hungary and China Strengthen Ties (57:50)

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 15 - EPISODE 271

INTERVIEW: Professor Jeffrey Sachs on Ukraine's Failures, Israel's War in Gaza, China, and More

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WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (6:31)

Interview with Professor Jeffrey Sachs [13:12 - 1:10:23]

  • Ukraine (13:12 - 48:33)
  • Israel (48:34 - 58:40)
  • Columbia Student Protests (58:45 - 1:03:23)
  • China (1:03:24 - 1:10:23)

Outro (1:10:24)

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