The new British covert propaganda bureau, producing the “narrative” for international media as well as working as the permanent press office of the Syrian rebels, has been exposed in a series of articles by a Guardian investigative team.
In an article entitled “Inside RICU, the Shadowy Propaganda Unit Inspired by the Cold War,” Ian Cobain, Alice Ross, Rob Evans and Mona Mahmood in the Guardian of May 2 expose the new covert propaganda bureau modeled on the Cold War era Information Research Department (IRD), which was a covert operation to run economic and political warfare against European nations.
The new bureau is called Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU) and is under the Home Office. It was established in 2007 and has a budget of £17 million. The official aim of RICU is to produce anti-ISIS propaganda, but in reality it works as a manipulative, derivative scheme for orienting western opinion in the direction of British interests.
Much of RICU’s work is outsourced to Breakthrough Media Network Ltd. Breakthrough produces and disseminates covert propaganda either directly or through companies it has set up for the purpose. One of such companies is Horizon PR, set up last year in a joint enterprise with M&C Saatchi, “to support the public relations of civil society groups, voluntary organizations and NGOs who want to drive positive social change,” a Saatchi spokesman said.
The Guardian interviewed former Breakthrough employees who said that they were not aware they were working for the British government. When they realized, they quit.
“RICU was modeled on the Information Research Department (IRD), a propaganda unit established in 1948 by the Attlee government. The IRD’s exploits included hoodwinking journalists and academics and targeting trade unionists, before it was shut down in 1977,” the Guardian wrote.
IRD hired hundreds of journalists and opinion-makers in targeted countries and used them as vehicles for serving British interests, including plans for overthrowing governments and eliminating political figures. The IRD role in Italy has been broadly documented by author Giovanni Fasanella in two books, both reviewed by EIR: The British Coup and Italy as a Colony.
Fasanella commented on the RICU revelations in his blog:
“Where does the necessary information work on the danger of ISIS end, and where, instead, begins the covert work of manipulating public opinion and destabilizing foreign states and governments functional to British interests?”
In a second article May 3, the Guardian authors exposed another element of the British covert propaganda bureau, consisting in an operation to run a “Free Syrian Army Press Office” directly from 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s office. “Through its Conflict and Stability Fund the government is spending £2.4 million on private contractors working from Istanbul to deliver ‘strategic communications and media operations support to the Syrian moderate armed opposition’ (MAO). The contract is part of a broader propaganda effort focused on Syria, with other elements intended to promote ‘the moderate values of the revolution’ and help mold a Syrian sense of national identity that will reject both the Assad regime and ISIS.”
One of the contractors, Regester Larkin, set up a company called Innovative Communications & Strategies, or InCoStrat. Both RL and InCoStrat “emphasized the close supervision of the work by the British government.”
“Much of the material produced under these contracts is day-to-day wartime propaganda, aimed at Syrian civilian and military audiences.” The Guardian questioned the British ministry of Defense, which said the UK government supports only “moderate” groups, but “The contracting document seen by the Guardian lists several ‘mid-level units’ as examples of groups considered to be part of the ‘moderate armed opposition.’ These include Harakat al-Hazm, which received military assistance from the U.S., and Jaish al-Islam, a group reportedly set up with Saudi backing.”