“The CPJ — Committee to Protect Journalists — has demanded that the Turkish authorities release Snell. We call on the government to end its harassment of reporters crossing the border from Syria.”
Nina Ognianova– CPJ Europe and central Asia programme coordinator
The story of the arrest of a US journalist by Turkey — for violation of a military zone — is open to interpretation. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
While the CPJ is strongly defending her, the US State Department will not discuss her work in that part of the world and Turkey accuses her of being an Intelligence Agent.
Those, who believe that she was indeed working as an agent, are quick to criticize this kind of “cover” for the risks it creates for all journalists.
US State Department
QUESTION: […] was the arrest at all related to her profession as a journalist or in any case – any way associated with that?
MR KIRBY: What I – what we understand is that she has been charged with violating a military zone, but I can’t speak to her reasons for being in Syria, for traveling there. I can’t speak to that. What I can tell you is that we’ve been informed she was charged with violating a military zone.
The Turkish media had made no secret of what happened. As Hurriyet reported on August 7:
A female intelligence agent from the United States has been saved by Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) soldiers after a two-day operation on the Syrian border, according to a report. Drones and helicopters participated in the operation to save the agent, who had been wounded in Syria.Two U.S. helicopters landed in a village in the Yayladağı district of the southern province of Hatay on Aug. 5, prompting locals to call officials and report the landing.
I would have expected more inquisitiveness and concern from CBS, NBC and from the BBC about the “journalist” cover the CIA uses for this agent.
There is an official ban on the CIA use of “journalist” cover for foreign operations since 1977. There are of course exceptions and whoever expects the CIA to stick to regulations or laws needs some lessons in reality perception. Still, any such use by the CIA makes the life of real journalist more difficult and more dangerous.
Lessons from the Past…
I will not discuss in this post the case of Lindsey Snell but I will remind you a few — well established — basic facts.
Conducting false flag operations and planting disinformation in the mainstream media have long belonged to the craft of the spies.
In the months preceding the 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies used both techniques abundantly.
A copy of the CIA’s secret history of the coup surfaced in 2000. Written in 1954 by the Princeton professor who oversaw the operation, the story reveals that agents from the CIA and SIS
“directed a campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in newspapers.”
The section of the report concerning the media speaks volumes:
“The CIA was apparently able to use contacts at the Associated Press to put on the newswire a statement from Tehran about royal decrees that the CIA itself had written. But mostly, the agency relied on less direct means to exploit the media.”
“The Iran desk of the State Department was able to place a CIA study in Newsweek, using the normal channel of desk officer to journalist. The article was one of several planted press reports that, when reprinted in Tehran, fed the war of nerves against Iran’s prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh.”
Half a century later, the technique of disinformation is as important as ever to intelligence agencies.
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In the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Pentagon set up the Defense Department’s Office of Strategic Influence with a mission
“to provide news items and false information directly to foreign journalists and others to bolster U.S. policy and the war on terrorism.”
The new office attracted so much criticism that the Bush administration eventually shut it down in February 2002. Even defense officials publicly denounced the dangers of such a program, which could have left the department without a shred of credibility.
“We shouldn’t be in that business. Leave the propaganda leaks to the CIA, the spooks,” a defense official said.
Who is US journalist Lindsey Snell detained in Turkey? BBC — 1 September 2016
American journalist detained in Turkey for ‘violating a military zone’ The Guardian — 2 September 2016
CIA Abuses “Journalist” Cover to Spy on Al-Qaeda in Syria – Media Acquiesce – Endanger Real Journos Global Research — 3 September 2016
Spooks & The Media