Atlantic Council Digital Forensics Research Lab and Iranian Propaganda

While the vast majority of people in the West have not heard of the Atlantic Council, it is becoming an increasingly important organ of the “censor the internet and remove all disinformation” movement that has taken over the global media since Hillary Clinton lost her birthright to the Oval Office in November 2016.  In this posting, I want to take a very brief look at the people behind the Atlantic Council, its affiliate, the Digital Forensic Research Lab aka Digital Sherlocks and how it is handling so-called misinformation from Iran.

First, let’s look at the backers of the Atlantic Council.  Here is a complete list of executives and directors:

Note the presence of Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor, Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security, Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor and David Petraeus, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Here are the contributors to the Atlantic Council, a list that reads like a who’s who of the Deep State along with state and quasi-state organizations:

 

Now, let’s take a brief look at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab (DFRLab) also known as Digital Sherlocks.  Here is a screen capture of their lead-in webpage:

When you click on the “discover” button, this is what you find:

Here is some additional information about DFRLab:

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news, documenting human rights abuses, and building digital resilience worldwide.

We continually track global disinformation campaigns, fake news stories, covert military developments, and subversive attempts against democracy while teaching the public skills to identify and expose attempts to pollute the information space.

Using open source, social media, and digital forensic research DFRLab’s Digital Sherlocks have conducted ground breaking investigations into war crimes committed during the siege of Aleppo and ceasefire violations in Ukraine.” 

The DFRLab team consists of eleven members with very wide-ranging backgrounds with this gentleman as their Managing Editor and Director, noting that he served in the Obama Administration:

Here is one of the other members of DFRLab who worked in the Obama Administration:

Here is one of the founding members of DFRLab, Ben Nimmo:

With that background, let’s look at some recent investigatory work that DFRLab has done on the use of disinformation by Iran in an article entitled “An Iranian Message Laundromat” According to the unnamed author(s) of the article, there are a cluster of at least ten websites known as International Union of Virtual Media or IUVM which appears to have been linked to the Iranian state.  IUVM’s purpose was to claim messages from the Iranian government and its proxies, claiming it as their own and repackaging it and passing it along to other users without showing that its original source was the Iranian government/stat-controlled channels.

Here is the lead-in webpage for IUVM:

Here are IUVM’s policies and goals and its other services:

Here are IUVM’s principles and objectives:

Here is a link to IUVM’s downloadable “Statute” which is where you will find these pages:

 

IUVM clearly states that its headquarters are in Tehran and that it raises funds by individual donations, fundraising through other organizations, selling products, running technical services and membership fees from Founding members.

If you click on IUVMTV, this is what you will find:

IUVMTV also had an account on YouTube, but this is what you will find on IUMV’s YouTube account now:

According to IUVMTV’s “About Us” page, it is a “Nonprofit Autonomous Organization that devotes itself to present the people with facts which the Mainstream Media Hides, Manipulates or Transforms“.  According to DFRLab, IUVMTV was a news aggregator for outlets including Iran’s news agency Fars, the Iran state broadcaster Press TV, Russia’s RT, Syria’s pro-Assad Al-Masdar and America’s “conspiracy site, Veterans Today”.  

Under the IUVMTV banner, you will also find this page entitled “U.S. Hypocrisy”:

If you click on IUVMPress, you will find a series of pro-Iran and anti-American/anti-Israeli articles:

The rather lengthy analysis on IUVM by DFRLab goes on to compare what appears on IUVM’s various websites to its original, Iran-sourced information as shown here:

It also links other websites including “RPFront.com”, “Britishleft.com” and “LibertyFrontPress.com” which appear to be Iranian-sourced according to research by FireEye as shown here:

DFRLab’s biggest beef with IUVM was that it didn’t properly attribute its content to its sources, making it difficult for readers to assess the validity of its content.  I would choose to disagree since, to me, it is very clear that the source is non-American, non-Israeli and has a pro-Palestinian, pro-Iranian stance and, as such, should be consumed with those predispositions in mind.   If it is IUVM’s goal to divide Americans, I would suggest that the United States has already become severely politically and socially polarized and that IUVM is wasting its time.

Please note that this article is found on the Medium website, an online publishing service that was founded in 2012 by Twitter/Blogger co-founder, Ev Williams.  In August 2018 alone, Medium has published 26 articles submitted by DFRLab as you can see here and is acting as a bit of a shill for the Atlantic Council’s view of the world.

What we can learn from this information is that disinformation is in the eye of the beholder.  One simply can no longer accept anything that one reads on the internet as truthful; all organizations and governments have their own agenda and just because the narratives don’t agree doesn’t make one more right than another.  The Atlantic Council and the Digital Forensic Research Lab, both organs of the Deep State, are doing their best to function as an internet censor, insisting that the narrative proposed by Washington is the only narrative that is valid.  It also acts as though the rest of the world is incapable of making decisions on important issues like Iran without its invaluable assistance.  Given that 46 percent of Americans have heard little about the nuclear deal with Iran and 26 percent have heard nothing at all, it would not be out of the realm of reality to suggest that Iran simply doesn’t matter to a very significant portion of Main Street America.

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