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By Jason Michael
Rumour has it that David Leask is GCHQ’s man in the Scottish media. It’s only a rumour, but we can be absolutely sure British intelligence has its fingerprints all over the Scottish unionist press.
In two separate interviews with prominent independence supporting members of the Scottish media David Leask – a reporter at The Herald – was named in relation to “rumours” of his connection to the British Security Services. One described him as an “asset” and another as an “agent of influence.” There’s no proof of this of course, but rumours are still delicious. Apparently a number of journalists in Scotland have been whispering for a while that Mr Leask is one of GCHQ’s men in Scotland. This rumour only piqued my interest more when he blocked me on Twitter yesterday the moment I suggested his connection to a particular British government facility in Cheltenham.
Does this mean that David Leask is on the payroll of the UK’s intelligence services; that he is employed to plant fake news stories or massage the news in such a way as to present a pro-union slant? No, of course it doesn’t. That would be almost impossible to prove, and – besides – it’s the wrong question. The right question to ask is: Would GCHQ, MI5, or some other clandestine British state outfit go to the lengths of recruiting journalists and other people in the media in order to protect the interests of the state? We know the answer to this question.
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) April 15, 2018
The British intelligence services have been in the business of influencing both foreign and domestic media for years. Tony Campbell, former head of the Canadian intelligence agency, observed that “broadly speaking” the media and state intelligence are in the same game; with “journalists working closely with the intelligence services and vice versa.”
Like the police force and the military, the prime directive of state intelligence is the security of the state and this objective has always been pursued through the national and international reach of the fourth estate. So while unionist trolls in the establishment media – people like David Leask – may see it as their job to “spot lies” and to “establish facts,” the truth is that their job is of great interest to the hidden military and secret police infrastructure of the British state. Whether or not Leask gets a monthly cheque from Whitehall is unimportant. His positioning makes him an agent of influence, and he or at least some of his colleagues know a wee G man down the pub.
Guys like Leask and David Torrance will call us “zoomers” for suggesting anything like this; that to even imagine such a connection exists between the press and the government betrays a level of paranoia most probably meriting a protracted holiday in a secure psychiatric facility. There was a time I would have suspected this myself, but we do have evidence of how journalists and the media in general colluded with the security services in Ireland during the Troubles.
What you do for a living David is make lies look like truth. You say your rag isn't political, but it has named the… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) April 15, 2018
Only last weekend, as fate would have it, I ran into my friend Anthony McIntyre – former IRA volunteer and Long Kesh prisoner and blanket protester – while enjoying some R&R up in Drogheda. What he had to say about the role of journalists in the North was supported by another friend in Tallaght – a man who spent a number of years locked up in Portlaoise for his job as an intelligence operative in an “illegal organisation.”
In the occupied six counties of Ireland, especially after British paratroopers started murdering unarmed civil rights marchers in 1972, Britain was faced with the very real prospect of at least half the population of the province going into open revolt against British rule. Almost overnight every branch of the British administration in Ireland was mobilised to secure the interests of the state, and this included the BBC and every newspaper and journalist that could be relied on for a favour. Inducements – everything from royal honours to cash bonuses – were offered, some were bribed, others were blackmailed, and others still were just good old loyalists. With paid assets and paid and unpaid agents of influence everywhere in the media, together with the British Army, the RUC, and the wholesale collusion of the UK’s secret services with loyalist paramilitary murder squads, Britain was just about able to keep the lid on Northern Ireland.
"It's my job to spot lies." https://t.co/RxfksJBL2E—
Wings Over Scotland (@WingsScotland) April 15, 2018
It was the lessons Britain learnt in this “dirty war” that led to the development of more sophisticated dark and psych operations – targeting civilian populations in propaganda wars – in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was from this that GCHQ and British military intelligence began working through private contractors like PR firm Bell Pottinger and data analytics company Cambridge Analytica (SCL Group). The “battle for hearts and minds” was all about changing public perceptions in conflict zones through the close relationship of the media and the intelligence services. Why would the British intelligence community forget these lessons when dealing with Scotland?
David Leask’s job isn’t to spot lies. He may want to convince himself that this is what he does for a living, but he’s deluding himself. Mr Leask can’t even spot the lies in his own paper. He hasn’t commented on the astronomical number of retractions The Herald has had to publish in relation to its coverage of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, and the Scottish government (see the pattern?). Retractions on page 12 a week later, as The Herald well knows, don’t correct the damage done by a lie published in bold on the front page – and that’s how it works.
It’s not the case that papers like The Herald are up to dirty tricks. The British government is up to dirty tricks and The Herald and pretty much everything Leask contributes to it is one of those dirty tricks. This “free press” nonsense doesn’t mean the media in the UK is free from government influence. It simply means, as has been pointed out often in the past, that it is available to be bought by the highest bidder. This isn’t journalism. People like this aren’t journalists, they are government employees – whether they know it or not.
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