Paul Mason’s Covert Intelligence-Linked Plot To Destroy The Grayzone Exposed
Leaked emails reveal British journalist Paul Mason plotting with an intel contractor to destroy The Grayzone through “relentless deplatforming” and a “full nuclear legal” attack. The scheme is part of a wider planned assault on the UK left.
A former Trotskyist and BBC journeyman, journalist Paul Mason has made a career as the establishment’s favorite gatekeeper of the UK left. Since the Russian military incursion into Ukraine, he has cemented his position as one of Britain’s most vocal “left” cheerleaders for Western military intervention.
While leading a “U.K. left” delegation to Kiev and a demonstration through to streets of London in support of NATO military escalation against Russia, Mason has accordingly used his platform to assail journalists, academics, Labour party members and private citizens who oppose shipping piles of advanced weaponry to Ukraine.
In a series of recent columns, Mason called for the state-enforced suppression of facts and perspectives he considers overly sympathetic to the Kremlin, and demanded “state action” against members of the media that oppose the NATO line on Ukraine. He placed The Grayzone at the top of his fantasy censorship target list.
Mason has since announced a run for parliament on the Labour ticket to wage his crusade against “disinformation” from inside the House of Commons.
Paul can’t explain why he thinks what he thinks.
— Alex Nunns (@alexnunns) May 8, 2022
The Grayzone, meanwhile, has learned through anonymously leaked emails and documents that Mason has been engaged in a malicious secret campaign that aims to enlist the British state and “friendly” intelligence cut-outs to undermine, censor and even criminalize antiwar dissenters.
In one leaked email, Mason thundered for the “relentless deplatforming” of The Grayzone and the creation of “a kind of permanent rebuttal operation” to discredit it. In another, the celebrity journalist declared that “the far left rogue academics is who I’m after,” then rants that he is motivated by fear of an emergent “left anti imperialist identity” which “will be attractive because liberalism doesn’t know how to counter it.”
Mason is joined in his covert crusade by Amil Khan, the founder of a shadowy intelligence contractor called Valent Projects. In the cache of leaked emails, Khan proposed to Mason the initiation of a “clever John Oliver style stunt that makes [The Grayzone] a laughing stock,” as well as a “full nuclear legal to squeeze them financially.”
The Grayzone has previously revealed Khan’s extensive involvement in the Syrian dirty war, during which he provided public relations guidance to jihadist groups, trained anti-government activists in communication strategies, and secretly oversaw supposed citizen journalist collectives backed by foreign governments. His goal was to flood international media with pro-opposition propaganda, destabilize the government of Bashar Assad, and ready the ground for Western regime change.
This ethically dubious work was conducted for a variety of intelligence-adjacent British Foreign Office contractors, such as ARK, a firm founded by probable MI6 operative Alistair Harris, and IncoStrat, which has been plausibly accused of producing propaganda for the blood-stained UK and Saudi-backed insurgents.
After leaving the Middle East, Khan reinvented himself as an expert in countering “disinformation”, and has since charged a number of blue chip clients a premium for his dubious services. As this outlet reported, the same techniques of manipulation and information warfare that Khan honed in Syria were turned against Western citizens when he oversaw a British quasi-state funded astroturf YouTube project designed to counter public skepticism of Covid-related restrictions.
Khan’s email communications with Mason illustrate the grudge he has harbored since The Grayzone exposed his devious exploits. In the missives, he descends into self-delusion, insisting this outlet’s factual, objective reporting was, in fact, state-sponsored retaliation for his crusading work “opposing military dictators and kleptocrats.”
Together, Khan and Mason plotted to assemble a coalition of anti-Grayzone actors, including the US and UK government-funded “open source” outlet Bellingcat, which Mason revealingly described as a channel for “intel service input by proxy.” Khan proposed convening the de facto Victims of Grayzone Memorial Foundation at an in-person summit to “come up with a plan that addresses [The Grayzone’s] objectives and vulnerabilities.”
At one point, he even reached out across the Atlantic for advice from Nina Jankowicz, the disgraced former head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board.
It is uncertain how Mason and Khan became acquainted, but their mutual coincidence of needs, motives and vendettas is obvious. The public interest in releasing the pair’s private communications is also abundantly clear. If their planned criminalization of The Grayzone for publishing facts and opinions they abhor is successful, it will have dire ramifications for any and all journalists and independent media institutions seeking to challenge the status quo.
When approached by The Grayzone, Paul Mason declined to comment on the incriminating correspondence with Khan, and claimed to have informed local police that “an attempt was made” to hack his email account. While dismissing the leaked content as “likely to be edited, distorted or fake,” he went on to pledge he would “not cease to identify and rebut Russian disinformation operations masquerading as journalism.”
In other words, Mason implied he plans to carry on with the very activity exposed in the leaked emails.
On April 30 this year, Paul Mason emailed Amil Khan, making clear he was “keen to help” de-platform The Grayzone. He attached a bizarrely constructed “dynamic map of the ‘left’ pro-Putin infosphere” that resembled a spider’s web, with a mess of arrows linking the names of members of parliament, media outlets, activists, causes, and British minority communities.
The barely coherent, racially-tinged chart connected the Russian government, Russian state broadcaster RT, the People’s Republic of China, and Beijing-based tech millionaire-financier Roy Singham to the “Muslim Community,” “Young Networked Left” and “Black Community” through a series of leftist outfits and UK Labour figures. No evidence was provided to support Mason’s linkages.
At the center of Mason’s chart (see below) is Jeremy Corbyn. When Corbyn served as Labour leader, Mason plotted against him in private while simultaneously posing as one of his most ardent public supporters. He also sought to influence Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell in a pro-war direction.
The implication behind Mason’s Nixonian enemies chart was clear: Russia and China have weaponized the British left to corrupt key Labour constituencies – therefore the left must be neutralized.
Mason suggested to Khan that he enlist the help of “pro traffic analysts to map” how these “different echo chambers interact, where their material begins – and work out who might [emphasis added] be pulling the strings.”
He nonetheless seemed certain about the dark forces animating The Grayzone, bombastically charging that its “attacks” on Khan and others are “fed by Russian and Chinese intel,” including hacking, “electronic warfare” and human intelligence.
Mason compared this process to Bellingcat receiving “a steady stream of intel from Western agencies.” The US and UK government-funded outlet Bellingcat has frequently been accused of laundering CIA and MI6 dirt, a charge which the operatives behind it aggressively repudiate. However, Khan – a long-time advocate and associate of the outlet – did not once challenge Mason’s repeated characterization of the supposed citizen journalist collective as a clearing house for friendly spy agencies.
Underlining the sensitivity of the pair’s malicious plans for The Grayzone, Mason stressed the need for their work to be conducted via “white label organisations operating with firm infosec – Signal/ProtonMail, clean phones.”
Khan was clearly amenable to his suggestions. Five days later, he outlined two options for taking down The Grayzone: “some sort of clever John Oliver style stunt that makes them a laughing stock” – referencing a sting operation targeting academic Paul McKeigue conducted by the dubious, intelligence-linked Commission for International Justice and Accountability back in 2021 – “or full nuclear legal to squeeze them financially.”
Mason was enthused by the latter prospect, submitting that it should be “combined with relentless deplatforming,” including cutting off The Grayzone from donation sources such as PayPal, in the manner of Consortium News and MintPress, and setting up “a kind of permanent rebuttal operation.”
Khan agreed, proposing the pair “get a few people together who are looking at/been target [sic] by this together and do a centre of gravity analysis,” pooling “what we’ve all learnt about how they operate” in order to “come up with a plan that addresses their objectives and vulnerabilities, not just their arguments.”
Mason responded by launching into a conspiratorial aside asserting that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) post-February 16, 2022 reports showing a dramatic Ukrainian military escalation against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region represented “manipulated facts.” He then proposed “creating a dynamic reference catalogue debunking all [The Grayzone’s] allegetions[sic] and ‘facts,’” pitching the initiative as an alternative to direct engagement or “toe to toe” debate.
“Keen” to move on the project, Mason suggested several information warriors to join them; Emma Briant, an academic researching disinformation; Chloe Hadjimatheou, the British intelligence-linked BBC journalist who produced a multi-part podcast series smearing critics of the NATO-backed Syrian White Helmets organization as Kremlin stooges and fascists; and Bellingcat, which he said could provide “intel service input by proxy.”
Khan said he was “happy” to host a secret meeting of these individuals at Valent Projects’ London offices. After Mason proposed inviting a representative of the UK Foreign Office to the anti-Grayzone meet and greet, the Valent Projects chief reached out to a friend at the National Security Council’s Communications Directorate, a Whitehall unit “tasked with hybrid threats.”
His Directorate source said the British government would be averse to sending a representative to the gathering, “as it could jeopardise outcomes later.” Nonetheless, they advocated convening people “targeted” by The Grayzone, to collate evidence that could be submitted to OFCOM, Britain’s communications regulator, and/or Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the name of both a government department and parliamentary committee, “as part of a formal complaint.”
They imagined that this process could somehow trigger an investigation into The Grayzone’s “funding and activities,” leading the government to “get properly involved.” Khan added that his pal suggested also approaching Thomson Reuters Foundation and BBC Media Action for the initiative. The Grayzone has previously exposed these media charities as having participated in covert British state-funded efforts to “weaken the Russian state’s influence.”
Khan said he would also be in touch with the Foreign Office’s newly-founded psychological warfare unit, the Government Information Cell.
Mason’s reaction was mixed. While hailing the prospect of triggering an official government investigation into The Grayzone as “a good idea,” he seemed crestfallen the plan did not include securing material from British intelligence on who funds the site, and “what their ultimate deliverables are on behalf of the ppl [people] their work benefits.”
“An investigation into them would lead to what? Deplatforming? Anyway that’s progress,” he concluded.
Khan reassured Mason that OFCOM and DCMS could task “other bits of government to get that intel; and the findings will automatically enter the system” – meaning The Grayzone and its contributors could end up slapped with “Russian state affiliated media” labels on social media, leading to algorithmic discrimination and potential shadow banning, among other penalties.
“I think/hope there’s potential to go further [emphasis added]. It’s too easy for them to flip deplatforming with ‘the system is scared of us’. We need to look at their influence/legitimacy with audiences,” Khan stated.
The the rest of the full report at The GrayZone
Wed, 06/08/2022 – 23:40