| Max Blumenthal Breach of Capitol Security Was Like a Military Operation | MR Online

Max Blumenthal: Breach of Capitol security was like a military operation

Originally published: Black Agenda Report on January 13, 2021 (more by Black Agenda Report)  |

The Grayzone founder notes that “such a disproportionate percentage” of the Capitol building attackers were former military, former law enforcement, or current law enforcement that began rappelling up the sides of the Capitol with ropes.”

Ann Garrison: Thanks for going down to the Capitol to actually watch, photograph, and stream what you saw on January 6 and then talking about it on your Grayzone webcast.

Max Blumenthal:  Yeah, absolutely.

AG: We saw various camera angles and focuses. Can you tell us about what was going on in front of the Capitol building, where you said on your webcast that there were 15,000 protestors.

MB: That was the “Stop the Steal” rally that Donald Trump and the sort of grassroots pro-Trump movement had organized. And they marched from the White House to the front of the Capitol, and rafters were set up and basically they just took over the front lawn of the Capitol and immediately charged through police barricades. Thousands of people then stayed on the lawn and several hundred burst inside the Capitol. And this was part of a plan that had been hatched at least several days before. I’ve confirmed that with some sources who were inside. And so the plan was always to break into the Capitol for whatever reason. I mean, this is pretty interesting, the failure of law enforcement agencies. I think there are 33 agencies in DC with the power to arrest, and they either had no intelligence on this, or chose to ignore these obvious plans to break into the Capitol because Capitol Police were completely overwhelmed.

There were very few Capitol Police surrounding the Capitol. There were very few of them inside. And once inside, the invading mob was easily able to just push them aside. In many cases, the police just kept falling back. They even tried to coax the crowd into leaving. And then when the rioters said, “We’re not leaving, this is our house,” the Capitol Police were just kind of pushed aside. Or they would stand aside down to the last moment when a woman named Ashli Babbitt was shot trying to break through some windows leading to congressional offices.

I suppose the Capitol Police had made a decision to use lethal force to prevent the mob from getting into this area where Hill staff and possibly members of Congress were barricaded in their offices.
There’s abundant footage of them breaking through some metal barriers, like three feet high that were erected by a sparse number of Capitol Police outside the perimeter of the Capitol. And then they just stormed inside. I mean, it was just open.

AG: Do you have a guess about how much of the crowd that gathered at the Ellipse were there to storm the Capitol building?

MB: A hundred percent of them were. Not all were participants, but this was openly celebrated. I mean, just being among the crowd, I got there right after they were pushed out, after the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, which kind of stopped them dead in their tracks. And I tried to get inside, but as I tried to go in, there were guys coming out with blood on their hands because they had touched her body or attempted to revive her. And then the police were pepper spraying everyone. Someone had actually finally mobilized some kind of riot police, but the whole crowd was supportive of what took place.

So it wasn’t as if there was some kind of special advanced force or like shock troops that had planned without anyone else knowing to break into the Capitol, but such a disproportionate percentage of this group was former military, former law enforcement, or current law enforcement that they began rappelling up the sides of the Capitol with ropes, and they made it up the side of the Capitol in seconds. It was like a military style operation, and Ashli Babbitt herself was in the U.S. Air Force. She had military experience, and for her, it seemed like it was just another mission.

AG: Do you think it’s plausible that the House and Senate terrorism committees and all of the 15 intelligence agencies that we heard about during Russiagate didn’t see this coming.

MB: I think you mean the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

AG: What did I say?

MB:  Terrorism. Yeah. I see the whole House and Senate kind of as a terrorism committee.

AG: Agreed.

MB: Well, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are basically just ciphers for the CIA and FBI. They have CIA and FBI staff attached to each party to provide them with their so-called intelligence. And I would assume that if they had confidential informants in these right-wing organizations, Three Percenters Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, the Traditional Workers Party, all of the fascistic white nationalists and even Neo-nazi groups that were spotted inside the Capitol, they would have known about these plans.

I assume that some of these plans were discussed on Reddit, on Subreddit forums, 4chan, 5chan, that kind of thing. And honestly, the reason I went down is because I kind of knew this was going to happen.

I was surprised they got in because I assumed there would be enough of a police presence to stop them, but I knew something insane was going to happen. That’s why I chose to go down because I hadn’t gone down to the previous Proud Boys incursions into DC, just because I considered it to be kind of like playacting. But this seemed to be something much more serious that I needed to cover. And there were calls to stay home from elite white liberals on Twitter and within the general white liberal community of DC, whose homes surround the Capitol and whose population far outnumbers those of the right who were able to get into DC. They said, “Stay home. All they want is to create chaos. And if you go out, it will create more chaos.” So the Biden voters avoided the Capitol, did not confront or try to talk to the rioters, and didn’t protect this building that they call the People’s House. That was, I think, an additional factor in why it was just so easy for the rioters to get in.

If there had been, let’s say 1000 Biden voters protesting with their silly, you know, “Hate Has No Home Here” signs and “Love Trumps Hate” or whatever, it would have mobilized police forces to protect them. And what I saw was that  took an hour or two after the invasion of the Capitol for DC Metro Police (MPD), the main force of the DC police—which has a riot squad—to actually mobilize and get to the scene. And that’s even though the MPD has a long history of dealing with violent riots. And when they did mobilize, they had riot shields and batons, but it took another I’d say 15 minutes to half hour for them to actually bring in the “less lethal weapons” that they used against Black Lives Matter, which was not trying to invade a federal building.

And I was part of that march on June 1st, 2019, when Black Lives Matter was simply marching down the street in DC. And there was no violence. There wasn’t even any breaking into stores, looting or damage to public property. And we were attacked by cops with beanbag rounds and rubber bullets, and the National Guard literally attacked us with helicopters, Black Hawk Helicopters. It was an extremely dangerous situation and it was amazing they didn’t kill anyone.

So it was preposterous the way that police handled the Capitol Riot, absolutely preposterous and revealing. It did suggest some kind of sympathy, which we’ve seen play out at previous Proud Boys rallies in DC, where the Proud Boys will come and give first aid to cops. And I don’t mean just any cops. I mean like commanders of the riot police who have been seen, again and again, attacking Black Lives Matter rallies.

I shared footage shot by a colleague, Wyatt Reed, who filmed Proud Boys administering first aid to Lieutenant Jason Bagshaw, one of the highest ranking officers in DC Metro Police DC. So you can just put two and two together.

But that’s a great point about the intelligence failure overall, the federal intelligence failure, because we heard so much about the 17 intelligence agencies that all found that Russia had hacked the DNC. Of course, that includes Coast Guard Intelligence, though I don’t know how Coast Guard Intelligence would have any special insight on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. Basically all 17 agencies just issue these consensus reports whenever the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who was at the time, James Clapper, and who became part of the kind of anti-Trump pseudo-“resistance.” They just always come around and consent to whatever the DNI wants, but the DNI didn’t have anything to say about this. The FBI didn’t have anything to say about this. And now the FBI has placed ads at bus stations around DC seeking intelligence information on some of the individuals who ran up into the Capitol, and they posted photographs of their faces, extracted from video, in bus stations. So that’s what the FBI has been reduced to, you know, bus station ads.

AG: It’s hard to tell what the left is these days, but people I identify as left or might have identified as left in the past seem to have a range of opinions, from “the whole thing was staged to justify the coming repression” to “they saw it coming and let it happen to justify the coming repression” to “these people should be convicted and sentenced to long prison terms and Trump should be off Twitter,” etcetera. Do you fall anywhere within that range? I know you don’t want the Twitter censorship.

MB:  Yeah, I probably don’t fall in that range, but I think one of the reasons that you get so many wildly varying opinions on what passes for the left in the United States is because of decades and decades of anti-communist campaigning in the United States and other attempts to undermine the left to the point where the political education level on the left is absolutely pathetic.

The left is completely atomized. It’s fractured even within left organizations. And it generally falls back on the ballast of the Democratic Party and clings to it for safety. It even falls back on the security state. You see people who identify as leftist howling that the Department of Homeland Security should have done more, but we shouldn’t even have a Department of Homeland Security. It’s a post-9/11 confection that represents this vast security state that has systematically de-democratized the U.S. and will be activated against any effective left if it ever existed. But it doesn’t exist.

I guess the comment I would want to make here is not about where I fall. I think that if you’re familiar with what I say on Twitter, where I share opinions or my reporting, you’ll know, but I was very supportive of the “Force the Vote” tactic that was being deployed in the week before this catastrophe at the U.S. Capitol. That was the grassroots left was gathering a lot of momentum and applying pressure on the so-called squad, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, all these characters who are portraying themselves as the true progressive wing of the Democratic Party, to withhold their votes for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker until she agreed to bring Medicare For All to a vote on the House floor. This would have been fantastically educational and instructive for everyone to see which Members of the House support healthcare during a pandemic and which don’t.

It wouldn’t have succeeded in bringing us Medicare For All, but it would have brought to the surface the real crisis in the Democratic Party, which is that it’s undemocratic. It doesn’t support the will of its own constituents, who at rates of over 80% support Medicare For All. It failed to gain consent from the Squad—the Squad rejected it. AOC forcefully condemned, Jimmy Dore, this comedian and pundit who is leading the charge. She accused him of violence for basically rhetoric that he was using that was not in any way violent or threatening. And they were exposed in a big way. And then they all cast their votes for Nancy Pelosi. I mean, you had Rashida Talib, one of the first Palestinians to serve in Congress, someone who is very vocal about their Palestinian identity and support for Palestinian sovereignty. And she cast her vote for Pelosi, who is one of the most Zionist pro-Israel house speakers in recent memory, someone who just supports every Israeli action.

So the hypocrisy was on bold display. And I think what this did was give the left a lot more momentum to say that the Democratic Party is not our vehicle. And we need to put pressure on them. Jimmy Dore was saying they need to be afraid of us, the people and start listening to us. And I think he was channeling a lot of the rage that exists in the authentic left grassroots and bringing people in who were not, who maybe even didn’t identify as left before into a more socialist mind set. And then I would say two days before the Capitol was stormed Alexandria Ocasio Cortez issued a very telling statement that foreshadowed what was to come and suggested some kind of knowledge or understanding of the looming right-wing menace, and a desire to exploit it to guard her left flank. She said, “We need to unite and unite against right-wing violence and extremism, and that’s why I cast my vote for Pelosi.”

Then, two days later, the Capitol is invaded. Some members of Congress had to barricade themselves into their offices. I’m not sure to what extent they were threatened, but I wouldn’t doubt that they were.

There was an evacuation. I witnessed part of it. Buses were brought up to evacuate members after they were basically taken to the basement and AOC tweeted that she was threatened and barricaded in her office. And so on. And now the Squad is focused on forcing the resignation of Senator Ted Cruz. One of the Republicans who supported Trump “Stop the Steal” demonstrations and the general narrative that the election had been stolen, but they’re not talking about healthcare. This is the perfect deflection for the Squad, just to focus on the right- wing and invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump. And the whole discussion about forcing a Medicare For All vote has been taken off the table.

In addition, the concept of actually making legislators feel the force of the people is now close to forbidden—the very tactic of going into the U.S. Capitol and staging a sit-in at a member’s office or some kind of protest or wider occupation that doesn’t threaten their lives or threaten them with physical violence. That’s something that has been taken off the table, but it’s traditional. It’s a traditional part of American politics. And we’re going to see new laws put into place like this domestic anti-terrorism legislation that Joe Biden’s proposing to beef up the Patriot Act. I assume it will be focused largely on the far right, but you know how mission creep happens. So I think this is a terrible moment for the grassroots left in the US. For the international left, however, it exposed the United States on the world stage in a way that was, you could say, useful. It exposed a lot of the hypocrisy of the United States that claims to promote democracy abroad through regime change wars. But the domestic left is in in a deeper state of crisis than it was before.

AG: Yeah. I’m astonished by people who were in shock and pearl clutching at the site of the Capitol Riot, but who just shrugged when the U.S. started bombing Iraq, despite how horrifying it was. Same with Libya, Syria. This seems to be a characteristic of the liberal class.

MB: Absolutely. I remember when I wrote, in 2014, about the presence, not just the presence, but the essential presence, the overwhelming presence of armed Neo-nazis in Maidan Square in Ukraine and the general right-wing direction of that “Revolution of Dignity,” which was really a coup and a regime change operation by the United States. It was celebrated in Washington where you not only had John McCain come to my Maidan Square and celebrate with the crowd alongside the extreme right legislators from a party called the Social National Party, which was modeled after the National Socialist Party or Nazi Party of Germany. But Chris Murphy, who is a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, and considered a liberal from Connecticut, he was standing there as well.

So I actually tweeted with my freezing hands. I could barely type because my hands were so cold on January 6th, but I tweeted that the scene that I’m witnessing outside the U.S. Capitol reminds me of Maidan Square filled with all this far right muscle.

The only missing ingredient was Democrats chirping that this is “a Revolution of Dignity” filled with pro-democracy protestors. So the hypocrisy was just readily apparent. These clowns actually attempted to kind of declare a shadow government inside the Capitol. The QAnon shaman, who is dressed like a Viking, stood at the Speaker’s podium in the middle of the House and was photographed there doing a sort of Mel Gibson freedom salute. Another guy was photographed just kicking back at the Speaker’s table, looking at his phone. The moment after I saw these photos on my phone, I was watching the evacuation plan take place across the street at the Longworth Building. And I thought, imagine if a foreign power recognized these clowns as the rightful rulers of the United States, or recognized one of them as the interim President of the United States, and you’ll know how Venezuelans feel with Juan Guaido because that’s precisely what the United States did with him in Venezuela.

And of course, they’ve just been using Guiado to delegitimize an elected government and steal all of its assets, sanction the country, and destroy a society. So I think that this was all very instructive, and I hope it was educational for people who identify themselves as left wing but who tend to think every protest is good and supported what happened in Hong Kong when violent right-wing rioters stormed into the parliament, attacked parliamentarians, destroyed historical artifacts inside the parliament, smashed the windows, tried to set it on fire and rampaged across the city. These were people who actually supported Donald Trump in Hong Kong, who held their version of MAGA symbols and waved U.S. flags. I mean, these people were celebrated by elements of what passes for the U.S. left. So maybe Americans—particularly people on the left who support these regime change operations—can start thinking about how people in the rest of the world feel.

This was a right-wing protest that turned into a right-wing riot. And it was supported by the President of the United States and elements of the U.S. power structure, just like so many right-wing riots and right-wing protests across the world. Those are the coup attempts that the U.S. supports, and they’re sold and marketed back to the U.S. left as people’s uprisings. And anarchists and Trotskyists who believe in permanent revolution and burning it all down reflexively support a right-wing agenda on the global stage when they throw their weight behind these operations.

AG: I agree with all that. You suggested that DC liberals with “We Stand Against Hate” or some such signs in their yards should have gone down and talked to people. I think that you were saying that they should have gone down and tried to talk to the protestors or simply that they should have gone down in support of their legislators.

MB:  I think either one, but if they had done that and they had planned to do it in advance, there’s absolutely no way that there would not have been adequate security forces or law enforcement to prevent an incursion into the Capitol.

AG: I think you said you actually talked to people and that you were hearing incoherent rage, and that they even switched to rage at the police when police took any action to stop them.

Do you have an idea of how any kind of dialogue can take place? I mean, now the Trump supporters and Trump himself are being censored. Trump has already been banned on most every social media platform that we know about except Bitchute. He’ll probably go to Bitchute or there’ll be another platform. And pretty soon the meme about what an echo chamber social media is will become even more real. Do you see any context in which people in these far extremes might talk to each other?

MX:  No, I actually don’t. I think there are contexts where people who are attracted to the more extreme currents of U.S. politics, who are interested in basically burning it all down as a way of playing out their own personal psychodrama, can get mental health support. That could be possible if we actually had a medical system in this country that was public and that supported people, but we don’t. I think mental health is a huge issue here. I’m actually working on a piece about it, about someone who participated in a very central way in the riot in the Capitol. I interviewed him and his family, and he was clearly suffering from some psychological trauma and mental health issues and playing it out through extreme politics.

And there were a number of people I met there who had apparent mental health issues. I could tell just speaking to them.

But most of the people there that I met had a fairly coherent worldview that made it absolutely impossible for them to shift. That worldview helped them to maybe resolve some of their own issues living in a decaying capitalist society that has prevented them from having a critique of the sources of their problems. A classic example would be Ashli Babbitt or any of the veterans there who feel listless in the suburban, ex-urban or rural lives they’ve gone back to, and are looking for action, looking for operations. And they’ve been trained, programmed in a way that may make them insensitive to violence and often insensitive to human life, and they just need to get amped up. And this is what this provided them.

There’s an extreme barrier to actually talking to these people. And I tried, I mean, after Ashli Babbitt was shot and the word was getting around, I would engage larger, not large groups, but groups of like 5 to 10, mostly men, all different ages. And I would say, “Can you understand why people in my city would protest police brutality?” Because these are people who declare Antifa and Black Lives Matter to be their ultimate enemy. Obviously, if they would drop that barrier and start standing with Black Lives Matter against the repressive security services, that would be a massive threat to the capitalist system, but they won’t do it.

They’re programmed by the online media that they consume, by the QAnon conspiracy theory, which is this anti-establishment narrative that leads generally white people with lower education levels into a kind of political cul-de-sac where they’re actually advancing the really cynical designs of one wing of the establishment, the Trumpist way. So I don’t see any hope for deprogramming the kind of people that swarmed the Capitol on January 6th.

I do see hope for engaging people who are politically unaffiliated, politically uninterested, young people who are stuck at home during a pandemic with sparse work in a gig economy who become addicted to video games, get drawn

into the kind of simulacrum where you just experience life through screens. And I think we’ve managed to engage some of those people through The Gray Zone, the news investigative journalism outlet that I run, because they understand that we’re not trying to manipulate them and push them into the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. We’re just trying to educate them about what’s happening in the world and how the corporate media is deceiving them about it. That’s attractive to people who don’t want to fall into the two-party system. And I think there’s just this palpable rage about the two-party system and the crisis that has been brought on much of America by the elites who benefit from empire. So we’re speaking to that at T he G ray Z one , but we’re only to a small segment of those feeling it.

And something I’d like to say to ultra-conservatives and right-wingers today, as they howl about Donald Trump being banned from Twitter, is that I oppose him being banned from Twitter too, just because I oppose social media censorship and the intelligence services role in it, but they seem to have no critique of monopoly capitalism, the system behind it.

And that’s the issue here. Many of them celebrate monopoly capitalism. And then when it affects them in the slightest way, they go into complete meltdowns. And I don’t think that they would be able to square that circle or answer that contradiction just because of the way they consume media and the way it’s affected their brains, their psyches over the course of decades. We’re really looking at two decades of digital media and really one decade of digital media bifurcating, being exploited by political parties and elite factions to essentially brainwash large sectors of the American public.

AG: Okay. Can you comment on the rapidly increasing censorship?

MB:  Well, the censorship that we’re seeing on social media is heavily influenced by the national security state, which Silicon Valley depends on for contracts. I mean, there’s no coincidence that Amazon is moving its national headquarters to Northern Virginia, which is the home of Langley, the CIA, and the Pentagon. Yeah. And down the road in Northern Virginia, there’s the NSA. So the national security state and his representatives can go to a Silicon Valley CEO and say, you don’t want to do what we want, then no contracts for you. It’s very similar to what John F. Kennedy did when he asked Robert McNamara, his defense secretary, to suspend steel contracts for the steel barons who refused to lower prices and were thereby hurting the American economy as he was starting to move towards an election.

And I really wonder why there’s so little reporting on how social media companies are so easily manipulated by the national security state and why they form partnerships with organizations like the Atlantic Council, which is NATO’s unofficial think tank in Washington. It’s funded by the arms industry, the State Department, the Gulf States, and NATO, as I mentioned, and they play a role in fact verification for Facebook.

So, you know, let’s say they see someone “echoing the Kremlin’s narrative,” which could mean that you oppose the dirty war in Eastern Ukraine, or you oppose the U.S. dirty war in Syria. You could have your algorithm shifted on you to the point where you’re no longer able to pick up likes or followers. I can’t say for certain that that’s taken place, but we published an article that contained sort of an interview—conducted in a private forum—with Jamie Fly, who is a neoconservative leader and a fellow at the Atlantic Council and who is also connected with another initiative sponsored by the U S government to censor social media. And he promised that there would be much more social media censorship coming down the pike.

So the point is these aren’t billionaires just deciding to be responsible by banning Trump after a riot that he helped inspire. These are billionaires who are carrying out a very deliberate long-term agenda, advanced by the national security state, to buttress the center, the corporate wings of the Democratic and Republican Parties, and to shave off the left and right.

And the right is of course experiencing it much more harshly because they’re more forceful than what passes for the left in the US, as we saw at the Capitol. The right is actually willing to put their principles on the line, and they are horrible principles. They are fascistic ideals, but they’re willing to put them on the line. They speak in a much more direct way on social media, and therefore they’re being prosecuted and banned. What passes for the left in the US? Well, when George W. Bush stole the 2000 election in broad daylight, were there any protests? Was there anything? I remember going to a protest in Los Angeles, and there were like a hundred older hippies there. It was pathetic.

So the left will face maybe some kind of marginalization, but to the extent that it remains neutered and ineffective, it won’t face the same kind of censorship. I can tell you, however, that we at The Gray Zone are disproportionately effective for a small organization. I think we’ve changed the U.S. left in many ways since we’ve come into being, and we’ve faced a sophisticated form of censorship. For example, on Wikipedia  we were declared a deprecated source in violation of Wikipedia rules, and that means that our factual reporting can’t be cited by anyone on the site. This was part of an operation, and we’ve documented it clearly. It was an operation by neoconservative forces and right-wing forces to basically work the system of Wikipedia, which is supposedly the people’s encyclopedia and rig it against us and Telos, which is one of the few international socialist broadcasters, based out of Caracas and Cuba, and other outlets that were contravening, contradicting the narrative of the U.S. national security state. So we’re not entering a very encouraging era for those who want to present counter-hegemonic narratives or reporting. But what’s needed is a resistance movement against Big Tech censorship and behind it against the national security state, which operates in secret, without transparency, without oversight by the public. We need to demand that at the very least some kind of reform so that we have a say in what takes place in the digital commons that are totally privatized.

AG: Well, it’s not just social media. The Gray Zone could be disappeared by all the search engines or some of them.

MB:  In the past, we were disappeared by Google. We were blacklisted by Google so that it was impossible to search for our articles. And we began documenting this and writing to Google, and that algorithm has been changed, or we’ve been removed from whatever lists they were trying to disappear. We did an experiment where we went on a reporting trip to Honduras and started searching for our articles. And they came right up. You put Gray Zone and the headline in the search bar and it would come up.

And then we would ask a friend in the US, “Can you perform this search on Google?” And they would not be able to find the article on any page. You could put quotation marks around the headline title, enter it in the Google search bar, and it simply would not come up. So it was obvious what was taking place. We’ve been throttled on YouTube in the past, and I think we still are; we were demonetized for months on YouTube so that we couldn’t reap any revenue from ads that YouTube put in our videos. And that was inexplicably reversed. And I’ve lost something like 6,000 Twitter followers in the last 48 hours since January 6th, an event I documented and I’m pretty much on the record opposing what took place, but I haven’t received any explanation.

AG: Black Agenda Report can be difficult to find as well. It’s possible almost only if you search for an exact headline and even then it won’t necessarily come up.

Okay, with regard to another censorship issue, I want to say, thanks again because you and other people involved with Gray Zone are almost the only prominent left outlet I’ve heard speak to censorship around the dominant technocratic narrative about COVID. Glenn Greenwald is the other.

MB: We have not done much reporting on COVID-19.

AG: It’s dangerous. “COVID, Race, and Democracy” could get thrown off Pacifica for broadcasting controversial narratives, and more importantly, one has to be careful because people’s lives may be at stake. The show’s producers haven’t really worked out a consensus about how we’re going to deal with the scientific controversies, if we do. We deal with the economic consequences, the oligarchs taking advantage of the pandemic to fabulously enrich themselves, and the coming wave of evictions. But we haven’t tried to discuss disagreements about the science, and I don’t think you have either. I think you’ve just noted how tightly any alternative narratives about COVID are being censored.

MB:  Yeah. We haven’t done any reporting to challenge the science on COVID because that’s really not our bag, and I try to stick to what we know. People ask us, “Why, why don’t you do that?” And I say because I can’t be sure that we’re not falling down a rabbit hole and coming out with something that deceives people during a pandemic. And we’re already under attack from many sides for the factual journalism we do. Why open up another battlefront? That’s just not what we’re focused on at The Gray Zone.

I did publish an article by Jeremy Loffredo and Michele Greenstein on the role of Bill Gates as Oligarch-Number-One in exploiting the pandemic for personal gain and on his own record of doing harm to people in the Global South to advance profitable vaccinations and other quick fixes to infectious disease.

It was shocking to read, and no one has produced anything to contend with what we put forward. But what I’d like to do to cover the pandemic is, as I think you know, to report on the surveillance mechanisms that are being put into place. There are a lot of people who do perceive the World Economic Forum’s discussions of a “Great Reset” in a conspiratorial way, but the World Economic Forum is calling for a “Great Reset.” It is using the pandemic as a kind of shock doctrine moment. And we, the public, don’t have much of a say in what this organization and its agenda are, or in how their agenda is implemented. So it’s important to at least look at what they’re putting forward as a kind of blueprint or proposal of a sector of the technocratic elite, and they help produce the crisis that we’re currently in.

So COVID should be looked at with enormous scrutiny, and alternative narratives should not just be dismissed. There’s definitely more room to do reporting. And I would say, personally, I’m disturbed that Anthony Fauci has been built up as this kind of savior in the same way that some people have built up AOC or Barack Obama as a savior. It’s a really telltale sign of failing liberalism, which has failed to produce material change for its own constituents, that they can even conjure up these celebrities and then spend their time sort of defending them or upholding them as  good-doing totems against evil-doing Trump.

Fauci has received so much undue political support and celebrity worship that he’s felt comfortable admitting that he lied twice to the American public in order to manipulate them to enact behaviors that he thought were productive during the pandemic. He admitted that he lied or he lied about masks and their effectiveness. And he admitted that he lied about the level of herd immunity that the public would need to achieve in order for these kind of lockdown measures to end. And that’s really disturbing, but because of the nature of the corporate media and how it’s pushing an agenda, it really doesn’t scrutinize people who have credentials. They’re given undue credibility. Fauci has escaped any criticism except from the right. That’s one of the most dangerous ways that

the public has reacted to the pandemic in the US, at least politically. All criticism and skepticism has been attributed to right-wing conspiracists, including even criticism or skepticism about Bill Gates. So I think it’s important for a skeptical left to exist and to not be afraid of being branded as conspiracists, to the extent that they do respect science and respect the danger of putting forward disinformation about the pandemic.

AG: Well, Bill Gates’ “Green Revolution” has been a disaster in Africa, and that makes me wonder why we should trust him about this.

MB:  Well, he’s also not even credentialed. He didn’t even graduate from college. He does not have a medical degree, but he’s looked at as a scientific expert. And, as Michele and Jeremy reported in The Gray Zone, the New York Times has a reporter, Sheri Fink, who’s been covering the pandemic since at least March, going inside hospitals and reporting from the front lines, and she has worked for a who’s-who of Gates funded organizations and produced this top Netflix documentary “Pandemic,” which foreshadowed what was about to take place with COVID-19. And Bill Gates was a central protagonist in “Pandemic.”

Bill Gates has so many paid propagandists in the media. He’s funding the U.S. media to like the tune of $70 million a year. And that deserves an enormous amount of scrutiny. Bill Gates is not our friend.

AG: He has huge influence on the Global South because he funds a section of The Guardian about development and the developing world.

MB:  Yes, he does.

AG: Singapore has already acknowledged that it’s handed over data derived from contact tracing for COVID to the police there. And, of course, this is a danger here, and a lot of people just assume that they don’t have any privacy anymore. Have you addressed this at all at the Gray Zone?

MB: We haven’t addressed it yet, and as I said, there’s a lot of room for reporting on the growth of the surveillance-industrial complex and the latitude it’s been granted because of the pandemic. I don’t think we’ve done the seminal report that I would like to do yet, but we’re definitely gathering information.

I didn’t know about Singapore. That’s troubling, but Singapore is a society where you can be caned for bad behavior, and drug use is punishable by death. So it’s not exactly a bastion of democracy, even though it’s a country that’s friendly to the US, which of course really loves these Pinochet-style dictatorships that protect capitalism.

AG: OK, Max Blumenthal, thank you for taking time to speak to Pacifica’s “COVID Race, and Democracy.”

MB: Thanks for having me on.