June 14, 2021

NYT: John Wilkes Booth Worked for the KGB

In a breakthrough piece of investigative journalism, the New York Times has revealed that John Wilkes Booth and Nathan Bedford Forrest, President Lincoln’s assassin and the founder of the KKK, were KGB agents.
Today, everyone is aware of the existence of Russian disinformation campaigns, but few people realize their scope. According to the Times, the KGB’s Cold War playbook focused on “turning Western countries on themselves.” But these “active measures” did not end with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Reporters Adam Ellick, Adam Westbrook, and Jonah Kessel reveal that the KGB’s disinformation operations carried over to the agency’s successor, the FSB, and are still in use today in a long-game designed to “destroy democracy.”
In the time of our Founding Fathers, Americans were a peaceful, respectful people. They ate turkeys together, worked in the fields together, and in their spare time played baseball and built railroads. Simply put, no two Americans had any real cause not to feel unified, much less to hate each other. All that changed in the Cold War, when Communist Russia started sowing discord.
Fast forward to 2018, when you have decent American citizens facing off at protests and trying to beat each other with clubs. At one typical protest in Houston, Texas, in which one group wanted to lynch Muslims and the other group wanted to stop them, the Times discovered that both sides had “been duped” by a Russian disinformation campaign. The unwitting Americans had “been brought here, same place, same time, by two separate Facebook events, posts which we now know came from the same source, thousands of miles outside Texas, in Russia.”
As the New York Times has revealed in the past, fascists and anti-fascists have a great deal in common. They are both prone to senseless violence, and they both have the word “fascist” in their name. But of greater use to Moscow, they are both gullible enough to fall into the trap of a disinformation campaign. The fascists were gullible enough to believe fake news stories claiming that Muslims are trying to take over America, while the anti-fascists gullibly believed they aren’t.
Fake news isn’t the only problem. The FSB has also been spreading fake history. Polling suggests most “antifa” are unaware that in the run-up to World War II, France and Great Britain effectively contained the Nazis by ignoring them, respecting their rights to free speech, and wishing patiently for them to go away.
Of course, the New York Times doesn’t go as far as the Washington Post in asserting a moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and antifa, but they do reveal how the group’s political naïveté is putty in the devious hands of the Russians. Ensnared by the influence of Moscow’s assembly line of inflammatory viewpoints, neo-Nazis and antifa both have been turned into pawns, destabilizing America rather than working together.
Protesters in Texas were by no means the only dupes, nor is Islamofobia the only fake issue used by the Russians. Disinformation campaigns vary widely, running the gamut from big lies to little ones, but always with the fundamental goal of undermining American unity. Examples include Pizzagate, AIDS conspiracy theories, and false studies claiming that fast food can be detrimental to your health.
Black Lives Matter? Another Russian conspiracy. Before the internet expanded the reach of KGB disinformation campaigns, black people didn’t mind getting shot at by cops. They were happy. It was only when provocateurs like John Wilkes Booth and Nathan Bedford Forrest started breaking laws and causing trouble that the specter of racial strife reared its ugly head in this country. Digging deep into Moscow’s archives has revealed what in hindsight seems obvious, but before this week no one had dared believe: that Booth and Forrest were both registered KGB agents.
The Times’ courageous investigation may help remind Americans to adopt a common-sense approach to future provocations. Police and safety experts advise anyone seeing a group of neo-Nazis beating up a person of color to just “do what Americans have done for generations,” and look the other way. Chances are, they’re just Russian actors.
The media world is already abuzz that this shocking report may be shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. We shouldn’t expect anything less than journalistic excellence from the New York Times. This is the newspaper, after all, that uncovered Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, and five years later, long before anyone else suspected it, revealed that those weapons didn’t actually exist. A better example of how brave reporting can make the world a safer place is hard to imagine. First the Times saved all those lives being threatened by Iraq’s illegal arsenal. And when it turned out none of the stockpiles were real, their hard-hitting coverage ensured the US paid reparations and pulled out of Iraq before another million lives were lost, and before the foundations for the next wave of religious extremism could be laid, bringing a happy and swift end to the conflict. If that kind of coverage doesn’t win a Pulitzer, it deserves the Julius Streicher prize at the very least.


Via:: https://anarchistnews.org/content/nyt-john-wilkes-booth-worked-kgb


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