by James F. Tracy
May 01, 2014
False flag operations and
assassinations are a central component of the elaborate
psychological warfare campaign waged on the American
public to justify the so-called "global war on
the events of September 11, 2001 are
this project's cornerstone.
Major US news outlets turn a blind eye to a wide
array of evidence "that Western covert operators were behind" events such
"Bali, Madrid, London 7/7, mosque bombings
in Iraq and elsewhere and, of course, 9/11. Because the mainstream media
are integral to the Industrial Military Academic Intelligence Media
complex," journalist Barrie Zwicker observes, "the cold-blooded
technicians of death face no journalistic scrutiny. Without moral,
legal, technical or financial constraints, the black operators range
freely, executing the orders of the global oligarchies."
An undeniable effect of the Boston Marathon
bombing was that the term "false flag" - meaning a typically illegal act
carried out by a government against itself that is often blamed on another
entity to justify its own policies - became a recognizable expression among
a broader swath of the American public.
For example, web-based searches for the phrase
spiked in the wake of the April 15 event after a correspondent for the
alternative news site Infowars questioned Massachusetts Governor Duval
Patrick on the suspicious circumstances surrounding the bombing.
Some news outlets predictably moved to condemn
any cogitation along these lines as "conspiracy theorizing."
In the United States the citizenry is especially
well-indoctrinated through an overwhelming dependence
on such corporate
media. Yet for the peoples of many countries "false flag" has become a
This is particularly so in the Middle East,
where journalists and the broader public routinely witness inexplicable
terror attacks on civilian populations.
Placed in a broader historical context there is
a concurrent understanding of such tactics as emblematic of military and
intelligence-related meddling from Western nations.
For example, in the early 2000s waves of car
bombings throughout Iraq were rumored to have been carried out by British or
"The word on the street in Baghdad is that
the cessation of suicide car bombings is proof that the CIA was behind
them," independent journalist Dahr Jamail wrote in 2004.
"Why? Because as one man states, '[CIA
agents are] too busy fighting now, and the unrest they wanted to cause
by the bombings is now upon them.' True or not, it doesn't bode well for
the occupiers' image in Iraq."
Along these lines, in September 2005 Iraqi
police arrested two British soldiers disguised in conventional Iraqi
jallabahs [loose cloaks] and Arab headscarves after the costumed pair
reportedly drove a car equipped with explosives while opening fire on Iraqi
British armed forces then used several tanks and
helicopters to liberate the masquerading combatants from the police barracks
where they were detained.
NATO's Operation Gladio, or the FBI's
more recent efforts at generating newsworthy terrorist incidents in the US,
such black operations designed to cultivate terrorism were in fact
authorized by the United States in 2002 to further perpetuate its "war on
At that time military officials established the
"Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)."
P2OG's overall strategy combined "CIA and
military covert action, information warfare, intelligence and cover and
deception" to execute terrorist acts on civilian populations in order to
provoke and respond to such consequent indigenous terrorism.
In other words, this was an elaborate and deadly
"make work" program by and for the military and intelligence communities.
With the above in mind, it is perhaps little
wonder that "false flag" has become a standard term in the discourse of
non-Western and especially Middle Eastern news outlets. Conversely, the
expression is either absent from US-based news media, or carefully
neutralized in editorial commentary and lighter entertainment or
LexisNexis news searches for the dates April 15,
2004 to April 15, 2014 yields 1,012 newspaper items and more than 100
broadcast transcripts where "false flag" is used in the headline or text.
An overwhelming majority of references appear in
Pakistani and Iranian newspaper coverage and commentary, where the term is
almost uniformly intended to denote instances of terrorist violence.
News Outlets and instances of "false
flag" referenced in news and opinion articles or broadcast transcriptions,
April 15, 2004 to April 15, 2014
BBC Monitoring International Reports - 52
Press TV (Iran) - 51
Pakistan Observer - 42
The Frontier Post (Pakistan) - 28
The Nation (Thailand) - 24
The Washington Post - 20
Mail Online - 19
The New York Times - 18
McClatchey Tribune Syndicate - 17
International New York Times - 16
Mehr News Agency (Iran) - 15
National Post (Canada) - 15
The Washington Times - 15
Daily News (Sri Lanka) - 14
The Jerusalem Post - 14
Daily Times (Pakistan) - 13
Gold Coast Publications (Australia) - 13
Sunday Times (Islamabad) - 13
The Augusta Chronicle - 12
FARS News Agency (Iran) - 11
The Times (London) - 10
The Guardian (London) - 10
"The Mumbai attacks indeed have been used to
scuttle the composite dialogue bringing Pakistan under pressure,
accusing it of abetting terror" an opinion piece in Thailand's
"Simultaneously, only days after a warning
of an Israeli 'false flag' bombing against the US as being 'in the
works', a car bomb is discovered in Time[s] Square!"
Indeed, the false flag meme is routinely
deployed in a wide swath of global news discourse, the top ones of which are
A cross section of contextual usages from Middle
Eastern-based publications is presented below.
"The way [Osama bin Laden] was hastily
buried under mysterious circumstances gave rise to speculations that it
was a false flag operation to undermine Pak[istan's] Army, Air Force and
ISI and to defame Pakistan," states an analysis.
- Pakistan's Frontier Post.
False flag operations are covert operations
designed to deceive the public at large. During Algeria['s] civil war and struggle
for independence [the] French government had resorted to similar tactics
to crush the freedom movement.
Some investigating journalists and
organizations had also described [the] 9/11 attacks as false flag
operations conducted by the CIA, Mossad and the RAW to take on the
Israel is known for such operations, as it
deliberately attacked the USS Liberty with unmarked fighters and torpedo
boats causing 174 American casualties in an attempt to blame Egypt and
garner American support during [the] 1967 war.
- Pakistan Observer 
The news claiming that Iran has launched a
cyber attack on US banks is a sheer lie and an obvious false flag
operation. With US President Barack Obama ready to sign an executive
order to control the Internet in the name of cybersecurity, could it be
more obvious that this 'cyber attack' is a total setup?… US news
website Infowars reported.
- FARS News Agency (Iran) 
Whenever and wherever a blood-dimmed tide is
loosened in Pakistan, the government blames Al Qaeda or Taliban for it.
What the people have witnessed at Rawalpindi is yet another false flag
operation perpetrated by a group that has some ulterior motives for
creating such turmoil. For their personal benefits they are sowing the
wind without realizing that they would ultimately harvest a hurricane.
- The Nation (Thailand)
On January 13th 2012, Mark Perry broke a
story in Foreign Policy magazine, in which he laid bare a false flag
operation that Israel's Mossad ran for several years. It involved their
agents posing as CIA operatives in London and contracting the new
infamous Jundullah (Iran), to conduct cross-border terrorism from
Pakistan into Iran.
- Daily Times (Pakistan)
However, Damascus categorically rejected the
baseless claim, and announced later that the chemical attack had
actually been carried out by the militants themselves as a false flag
- PressTV (Iran) 
On the other hand, the degree and nature of the
idiom's usage in US news outlets is telling.
Indeed, to forthrightly discuss false flag
operations as the above items do is to render them useless as psychological
techniques. The term is thus almost entirely absent in US-based broadcast
(ABC, CBS NBC, Fox, NPR) and cable news programming transcripts (CNN, MSNBC,
It is invoked a total five times over the past
ten years on Fox News programs - three of which focus on University of
Wisconsin Arabic Studies instructor Kevin Barrett, who was subjected
to a relentless media frenzy for publicly questioning the US government's
explanation of September 11, 2001.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow references
"false flag," in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, focusing on
Infowars' coverage of the event.
The phrase also appears in an ABC transcript of
a 2011 George Stephanopoulos interview featuring former Minnesota Governor
and author Jesse Ventura.
As noted, the term's appearance in major print
news media is largely restricted to the editorial, entertainment, and
lifestyle sections, with exceptional framing in news coverage generally
proving the rule.
For example, over the past decade the term appears in 20
items published in the Washington Post, yet only five such usages
are in reference to primarily non-Western military or intelligence-related
concerns, with the remainder involving editorial comment on politics and
entertainment reviews or event listings, a few of which obliquely reference
the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath.
"But there are a few bold, determined
[Republican congresspersons] who may rescue Obamacare," Michael Gerson
"If I were prone to conspiracy theories, I'd
suspect a false-flag operation. Since I'm not, there must be
explanations that arise from within tea party ideology."
"[A] top [Iranian] Revolutionary Guard
officer named Brig. Gen. Ali Reza Asgari vanished in Istanbul," the
"The betting among spy buffs is that Asgari
was recruited in what's known as a 'false flag' operation. His handlers
may be Israelis posing as officers of another intelligence service,
perhaps even during the debriefing." 
Another reference to "false flag" is used in
describing the untimely demise of one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's
Before he died, [Alexander] Litvinenko
blamed his impending demise on Putin, whose enemies tend to meet
untimely deaths. Litvinenko was said to be on the verge of obtaining
documents - or maybe they were already in his possession. This part is unclear - proving that Putin
had staged attacks on Russian civilians and made it look as if Chechen
separatists were responsible so that Putin would then be free to wage a
brutal war of suppression against the Chechens.
In the secret world,
this sort of gambit is called a "false flag" operation.
As noted, only one deployment of the term in the
Washington Post since 2004 is in relation to US, British or Israeli covert
practices, and here the exception indeed proves the censorial rule, for it
is referenced in reportage describing sanctioned interrogation practices for
[US Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld
then asked a working group of lawyers, intelligence officials and
representatives of the Office of Special Operations and
Low-Intensity Conflict to come up with permanent interrogation
guidelines for Guantanamo, the Post reports.
They looked at 35 techniques, including
covering a suspect with wet towels to simulate drowning, and stripping
detainees. Only 24 techniques survived, the result of a
Seven of those approved techniques are not
included in U.S. military doctrine, and are listed as:
change of scenery up
change of scenery down
sleep adjustment (reversal)
isolation for 30 days
a technique known as "false flag,"
or deceiving a detainee into believing he is being interrogated
by someone from another country.
Usage of the term in the even more influential
New York Times follows a similar course.
Four of the eighteen Times articles
referencing "false flag" involve coverage of the episode in early 2010 when
cyber-attacks against Google and other US-based corporations were traced to
Chinese military and educational institutions.
Times reporters cited speculations by
western industry and government officials that Chinese,
"schools were cover for a 'false flag'
intelligence operation being run by a third country."
"Security experts caution that it is hard to
trace online attacks and that the digital footprints may be a 'false
flag,'" the Times instructs in a follow-up story, "a kind of
decoy intended to throw investigators off track."
Seven New York Times articles are found
in the editorial, entertainment, or style sections and deal with the term in
an expectedly playful and detached manner.
For example, one writer addressing the topic of
"conspiracy theories" remarks that,
"in recent years, it seems as if every
tragedy comes with a round of yarn-spinning, as the Web fills with
stories about 'false flag' attacks and crisis actors' - not mere
theorizing but arguments for the existence of a completely alternate
version of reality."
Aside from the episode involving China's
would-be involvement in cyber-terrorism, only once does the Times
employ the "false flag" phrase in the context of serious international news
coverage - a somewhat depreciative story profiling Mother Agnes Mariam
published in the wake of the 2013 chemical attacks on Syrian civilians.
"When Russia's foreign minister, Sergey V.
Lavrov, wanted to bolster his argument that rebels had carried out the
poison gas attacks near Damascus on Aug. 21," the Times
reports, "he pointed to the work of a 61-year-old Lebanese-born nun,
[Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross,] who had concluded that the
horrifying videos showing hundreds of dead and choking victims,
including many children, had been fabricated ahead of time to provide a
pretext for foreign intervention…
Through conversations with Syrians and
clergy throughout the country, she said, she uncovered [sic] 'the false
flag of the Arab Spring.' Instead of a popular uprising by citizens
enraged by economic stagnation and political oppression, she said, she
found a conspiracy cooked up by international powers to destroy Syria.
The UK Guardian and Times of
London each reference "false flag" ten times over the past decade, with
articles equally apportioned between editorials (four), news stories
(three), and entertainment or style pieces (three).
Only a few of these relate the term to the
methods of Anglo-American empire.
For instance, a Guardian article from
2006 sneeringly reviews a lecture on 9/11 by Professor David Ray Griffin
who, alongside other "conspiracy theorists," maintains,
"[t]he attacks… were not carried out by
al-Qaida [sic] but were a 'false flag' event used to justify the
invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq."
The Times notably includes a report
(buried on page 39 of the print edition) on Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan's March 2014 censorship of YouTube after a recorded conversation
between the NATO country's top government officials was posted on the site.
In the discussion,
"a false flag attack on Turkey" was
considered as a pretext to move against "an al-Qaeda splinter group that
controls sections of northern Syria bordering Turkey."
The above suggests how, much like the taboo
topic of "conspiracy theories," US
news media broadly reject the subject of
false flag terror as the stuff delusion or otherwise perceive it as being
mainly restricted to fictional narratives.
Indeed, within the acceptable parameters of
public discourse such things are, quite literally, unspeakable. If one
accepts the basis for reality established in corporate media outlets like
the Washington Post, the New York Times, or their
broadcast counterparts, the only strategies and policies deemed worthy of
notice almost entirely take place in the clear light of day.
This is because, the theory goes, we live in a
democratic society where the public is adequately represented and its
interests genuinely well-articulated.
Yet nations and peoples routinely impacted by
false flag terror unequivocally recognize the phenomenon as a legitimate
item of public knowledge and discussion.
Here western doctrinal institutions entrusted to
define acceptable discourse and opinion, not to mention forging the accepted
historical record, do so to expressly mislead those who unwittingly pay for
false flag terror and military aggression abroad - chiefly the American
Despite a series of momentous political
assassinations in the 1960s with proven government complicity alongside
unmistakable "false flag" events such as,
...the above suggests the conscious and
now-standard use of psychological warfare methods to contain most Americans'
political horizons and understandings, thereby perpetuating the broader
geopolitical status quo.
 Barrie Zwicker, Towers of Deception:
The Media Cover-up of 9/11, Gabriola Island, BC: New Society
Publishers, 2006, 2, 3.
 Adan Salazar, "'What's
a "False Flag"?' Google Trends Show Search Term Spike,"
Infowars.com, April 18, 2013.
 Meghan Keneally, "Conspiracy
Theorists Claim Boston Was 'False Flag' Attack Arranged by the
Government," Daily Mail, April 16, 2013; Rachel Maddow,
"The Rachel Maddow Show for April 24, 2013," MSNBC, April 24, 2013; "Infowars
Confrontation: Boston Resident Blasts Dan Bidondi Over Marathon Bombing
Conspiracy Theories," Huffington Post, April 30, 2013.
 Dahr Jamail, "Dahr Jamail Blog
From Baghdad," The New Standard, April 20, 2004. Retrieved
April 23, 2014 from
 Michel Chossudovsky, "British
Undercover Soldiers Caught Driving Booby Trapped Car," Global
Research, September 20, 2005.
 Daniele Ganser, NATO's Secret
Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, London
and New York: Frank Cass, 2005; Trevor Aaronson, The Terror Factory:
Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism, New York: Ig
Publishing, 2013. The American press has afforded almost no news
coverage or commentary to Gladio, even though the US has figured
centrally in subverting the political process in European countries
since 1948. See James F. Tracy, "False
Flag Terror and Conspiracies of Silence," Global Research,
August 10, 2012.
 David Isenberg, "'P2OG
Allows Pentagon to Fight Dirty," Asia Times, November 5,
 S. M. Hali, "Too Many Coincidences!"
The Nation (Thailand), May 11, 2010.
 Asif Haroon Raja, "Uproar Over Leaked
Abottabad Commission Report," The Frontier Post, August 7,
 Mohammad Jamil, "False Flag Operation &
Subterfuge," Pakistan Observer, January 12, 2010.
 "US Website: Iran's Cyber Attack on US
Banks Obvious False Flag," FARS News Agency, October 3, 2012.
 Ghulam Asghar Khan, "Rendezvous with
Death," The Nation (Thailand), January 1, 2008.
 Fundy Kasuri, "How Terrorists Fund
Their Activities," Daily Times, November 21. 2013.
Warns Against Military Intervention in Syria," PressTV, August 27,
 See, for example, Bill O'Reilly, "Impact:
Update on UW Professor," Fox News, October 11, 2006.
 Maddow, "The Rachel Maddow Show for
April 24, 2013."
 George Stephanopoulos, "Secret
Government Documents; Former Governor Speaks Out," ABC News
Transcript, April 4, 2011.
 Michael Gerson, "A
Custer for Our Time," Washington Post, August 2, 2013, A15.
 Michael Ignatius, "15 Britons in a Sea
of Intrigue," Washington Post, March 30, 2007, A17.
 Eugene Robinson, "The Case of the
Poisoned Spy," Washington Post, November 28, 2006, A19.
 Dana Priest and Bradley Graham, "Guantanamo
List Details Approved Interrogation Methods," Washington Post,
June 10, 2004, A13.
 John Markoff and David Barboza, "2
China Schools Said to Be Tied to Online Attacks," New York Times,
February 18, 2010.
 David Barboza, "Hacking
Inquiry Puts China's Elite in New Light," New York Times,
February 22, 2010, A1.
 Maggie Koerth-Baker, "Why
Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories," New York Times
Magazine, May 26, 2013, 15.
 Ben Hubbard, "A
Nun Lends a Voice of Skepticism on the Use of Poison Gas by Syria,"
New York Times, September 22, 2013, A11.
 Audrey Gillan, "Full
House as Leading 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Has His Say," Guardian
(London), September 9, 2006.
 Alexander Christie-Miller, "Erdogan
Blocks YouTube Over Leaked War Plans," Times (London), March
28, 2014, 39.