Anti-Bangladesh cabals inside US State Department


Back in 2019, The New York Times and The Atlantic published a report about how fake news and misinformation were posing direct threat to India’s democracy, and how biased elements within the US State Department were working against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Now Bangladesh has become a victim of fake news and misinformation, while according to another source, there are anti-Bangladesh cabals inside the US State Department, who are currently extending secret cooperation to Islamist forces, including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami in their vicious vendetta against ruling Awami League and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

In its report, The Atlantic said: “India is facing information wars of an unprecedented nature and scale. Indians are bombarded with fake news and divisive propaganda on a near-constant basis from a wide range of sources, from television news to global platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp. But unlike in the United States, where the focus has been on foreign-backed misinformation campaigns shaping elections and public discourse, the fake news circulating here isn’t manufactured abroad.

“Many of India’s misinformation campaigns are developed and run by political parties with nationwide cyberarmies; they target not only political opponents, but also religious minorities and dissenting individuals, with propaganda rooted in domestic divisions and prejudices. The consequences of such targeted misinformation are extreme, from death threats to actual murders—in the past year, more than two dozen people have been lynched by mobs spurred by nothing more than rumors sent over WhatsApp”.

Few days ago, Mike Benz, a former senior diplomat with the US State Department in an exclusive interview to The Sunday Guardian has claimed that biased elements in the US foreign policy establishment waged a campaign against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the run-up to India’s 2019 general elections.

According to Mike Benz, despite PM Modi sharing excellent relations with then then US President Donald Trump, these elements within the administration, along with social media tech giants, influential think tanks and officials of the State Department were working together to paint PM Modi’s electoral success as the result of a “misinformation campaign”.

Mike Benz was Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Communications and Information Technology at the US State Department from Fall 2020 through January 2021. He is currently the Executive Director of the Foundation for Freedom Online (FFO), a non-profit watchdog dedicated to protecting digital liberties and restoring the free and open Internet.

Previously, Benz was in charge of the cyber and “Big Tech” portfolios for the US State Department, where I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Communications and Information Technology. That role included formulating and negotiating US policy on cyber issues as well as interfacing with private industry and civil society in the Big Tech space.

Prior to this, he served as a White House speechwriter for President Donald Trump and advised on tech matters. Before that, Benz served as speechwriter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr Ben Carson and was a policy adviser on economic development.

While according to Mike Benz, in late 2018 and early 2019, the US-UK foreign policy establishment began a campaign to paint Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political success as being the result of “misinformation” online, similar patterned notoriety is now continuing against Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

When the US foreign policy establishment says a foreign country has a “misinformation crisis”, that is a cue to US tech companies to work with entities like the State Department’s Global Engagement Center or cut-out think tanks like the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab or counter-misinformation USAID funds to censor the “misinformation” in that foreign country.

In Bangladesh’s case, the National Endowment for Democracy (NDA), an organization in the United States that was founded in 1983 for promoting democracy in other countries by promoting political and economic institutions such as political groups, trade unions, free markets and business groups has been providing millions of dollars to an entity named ‘Netra News’ that enthusiastically promotes Islamist groups and even militancy groups in Bangladesh, while it has been spreading fake news, misinformation and lies against ruling Awami League and leaders of this party, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The US foreign policy establishment leaned on Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, very heavily to limit the amount of WhatsApp messages that could be shared, which would therefore limit the amount of pro-Bangladesh or pro-Sheikh Hasina content that could circulate in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

The State Department keeps close tabs on social media influence of political parties and when they are hostile to a foreign leader, they tend to let US tech companies know early and often.

Anti-Bangladesh cabals inside the US State Department

While BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami have been spending millions of dollars towards lobbyist activities with the agenda of misleading key policymakers and departments in the US, several lawmakers in the United Kingdom and the US with heavy inclination towards Pakistan, Turkey and Qatar in particular are exerting influence on the UK Foreign Office as well as the US State Department in implementing anti-Bangladesh, anti-Awami League and anti-Sheikh Hasina agendas. Their common goal is to unseat the secularist government in Bangladesh and replace it with Islamist forces such as Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami.

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