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by John Helmer, Moscow 

Just over a year ago, five New York Times reporters published lies about the dead ducks they were told had been killed by Russian assassins running amok in the English town of Salisbury with a poison they called Novichok. This was a lie which came from the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Gina Haspel. She told her lie to President Donald Trump, who promoted her to head the CIA a few days later. She then handed the lie to the reporters to print as proof of how much the President trusted her.  

Two of the reporters,  called Julian Barnes (lead image, centre) and Adam Goldman (right),  refused to explain, retract or apologise for repeating Haspel’s lie as if it was the truth. They stuck to the lie even after the Salisbury authorities announced there had been no dead ducks. Instead, after three weeks of what Barnes called “research”, Haspel told them to print that she had shown Trump “pictures illustrating the consequences of nerve agent attacks, not images specific to the chemical attack in Britain”. That was a correction of the photographs, not of the lies which Haspel had told Trump, and the reporters continued to repeat.

Barnes and Goldman have now repeated more lies, this time about police violence against blacks in the US. The lies are occurring because “the Russian government has stepped up efforts to inflame racial tensions in the United States as part of its bid to influence November’s presidential election.”  This time Barnes and Goldman repeat the lying because “seven American officials briefed on recent intelligence” told them to say so. The seven told the two to print that on March 10. Now look what has happened.

A year ago, Barnes and Goldman were challenged to substantiate the truthfulness of their reporting of one detail of the US-backed British narrative of the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4, 2018. The detail was the dead ducks in the park pond near the bench where the Skripals collapsed, allegedly from Novichok poisoning.

The story of the Barnes-Goldman lie, and their stonewalling to protect themselves, was told here.

In parallel, Barnes tried emailing his newspaper colleagues, and also reporters from the BBC, to tell them that a lie in print isn’t a lie if the “research” into the truth is “ongoing”. Barnes also claimed it wasn’t his “place” to “substantiate” the lie he had already published.  

Nineteen days then elapsed before Barnes and Goldman were told at the CIA that there had been a slip between Haspel’s cup and their lip, but not between her lip and Trump’s ear. The New York Times then announced a correction of the story.  

Source:  https://www.nytimes.com/

That was a new lie by Barnes and Goldman — that the Novichok poisoning was the truth, exactly as Haspel had told Trump; the dead ducks had come from another pond.  

There had been consultations between the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and they decided on the text Barnes and Goldman were told to report. The geographic coordinates of the pond in which the dead ducks had been photographed remained top secret in order to protect the sources, Haspel had agreed with Alex Younger, the MI6 chief.  Barnes and Goldman published what they were told.

Left, Sir Alexander Younger; right, Gina Haspel.

In their new story of the lethal things Russia has done and continues to do to people, as well as to ducks, Barnes and Goldman have announced that the narrative of police violence against blacks in the US came from “seven American officials briefed on recent intelligence.” Younger and MI6 appear not to be behind this. The newspaper story can be read in full here. It didn’t become newsworthy until the murder of George Floyd last week by Minneapolis police triggered protests across the US.

The allegations against Russia by Barnes and Goldman are: “Russia is also trying to influence white supremacist groups, the officials said”; “Russian operatives are also trying to push black extremist groups toward violence, according to multiple officials, though they did not detail how”; “Russia’s more public influence operations, like state-backed news organizations, have continued to push divisive racial narratives, including stories emphasizing allegations of police abuse in the United States and highlighting racism against African-Americans within the military”.

Anglo-American spies inside the Kremlin can’t breathe safely without an FSB man’s knee landing suddenly on their neck,  so to protect their identity, Barnes and Goldman were told this secret: “Russia’s primary goal, according to several officials briefed on the intelligence who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, is to foster a sense of chaos in the United States, though its motivations are under debate and difficult to decipher in the absence of high-level intelligence sources inside Moscow.”

Another secret, according to Barnes and Goldman, is that the Russian role is believed by intelligence officials supporting the Democratic Party’s candidate for president in the November election, but it isn’t agreed by those agents whose careers depend on Trump’s re-election.  “American officials are divided about whether Russia is provoking racial division to influence the presidential election. Some officials think the effort is separate from any Kremlin effort to favor Mr. Trump. But others argue that Russian intelligence officials believe their efforts could help turn out more of Mr. Trump’s core voters, though their understanding of American electoral politics is unclear.”

Barnes and Goldman also reported that the American constitution is getting in the way of settling this policy dispute inside Haspel’s CIA because Russian views about US racial discrimination and police violence are “difficult for American officials to combat given First Amendment protections for speech.”

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