Newsnight on the Godson Approach to Political Warfare

Just watched last night’s Newsnight which is still available online and well worth a look for a very combative interview between Jeremy Paxman and Dean Godson about this report:

A rightwing thinktank which claimed to have uncovered extremist
literature on sale at dozens of British mosques was last night accused
of basing a report on fabricated evidence.

The report by Policy
Exchange alleged that books condoning violent jihad and encouraging
hatred of Christians, Jews and gays were being sold in a quarter of the
100 mosques visited.

But BBC2’s Newsnight said examination of
receipts provided by the researchers to verify their purchases showed
some had been written by the same person – even though they purported
to come from different mosques. (Guardian)

It’s a great piece of investigative journalism, and all the more interesting when considered in the light of Godson’s background in ‘political warfare’, something I’ve written about extensively at the links below:

It is worth noting that Dean Godson’s brother Roy has written about forgery in his book on US covert action and counterintelligence:

Good Research is not enough; good tradecraft is essential. Black radio broadcasts, leaflets and forgeries need to disguise their sponsor or the fact that the information they are conveying is false. In the 1980s the Soviets, neglecting their tradecraft, often made stupid mistakes in forgeries, so that the United States could easily prove to target governments that they were forgeries perpetrated by Moscow. By contrast, in Word War II the Western Allies took pains to ensure that black broadcasters had the right regional accents and that the German they used reflected the class and personality of internal leaders likely to oppose the Nazis. (Dirty Tricks or Trump Cards)

Apparently, one of the discrepancies that Newsnight found in Policy Exchange’s receipts was that Islamic Centre was misspelled as ‘center.’ Doh!

Update: Newsnight’s Peter Barron has a post on the report on the BBC’s The Editors blog.

Update 2: Policy Exchange has a statement on the controversy on its website.

Update 3, 16 Dec: Newsnight reporter Richard Watson has responded to Policy Exchange’s comments on the row.






3 responses to “Newsnight on the Godson Approach to Political Warfare”

  1. Yossri avatar

    The debate surrounding Policy Exchange’s controversial report goes far beyond a few suspicious reciepts right to the dubious intentions, malicious motives and audacious approach of a so-called research body for pushing their agenda by all means fair and foul. Rather than blaming Newsnight of sidetracking, Dean Godson should come up with verifiable proofs to establish why this and other Policy Exchange reports should be considered neutral and objective and how it is helpful for community cohesion?
    Godson’s underlying motives are clear from his article is The Times: “During the Cold War, organisations such as the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office would assert the superiority of the West over its totalitarian rivals. And magazines such as Encounter did hand-to-hand combat with Soviet fellow travellers. For any kind of truly moderate Islam to flourish, we need first to recapture our own self-confidence.”
    What Godson didn’t mention is that Encounter, is an Anglo-American magazine co-founded by Irving Kristol. Not until 1967 would it be revealed that Encounter and its parent organization, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, were funded by the CIA as part of the programme of covert action that has become known as the cultural cold war. In fact there is reason to believe that Cold War methods of psychological warfare are already shaping the debate about Islam and the war on terror in Britain. Dean Godson himself may be one the most successful practitioners. Certainly, he comes from a family with long experience of what the CIA calls ‘covert action’.
    There are good reasons to be concerned about Dean Godson’s role to influence public and private perceptions about Muslims in Britain. He has made no secret of his own advocacy of ‘political warfare.’ It is clear from the historical precedents that he cites, and the methodology that his brother describes, that deception and covert manipulation are an integral part of ‘political warfare.’
    Godson has worked as chief editorial writer at The Telegraph and Special Assistant to Conrad Black. Does this indicate a tendency to be in company of those working with fake receipts?
    Lastly, imagine writing a monograph on Islam in Australia: Democratic bipartisanship in action including interviews with prominent players in law enforcement and politics but without interviewing a single Muslim, and launching the monograph thousands of miles away in London with none other than Dean Godson!
    If anyone has ever wondered who would be more appropriate to talk about “community” and “cohesion” none could better disqualify himself from such a responsibility than Godson exemplifying an exact opposite of those terms.

  2. WorldbyStorm avatar

    Interestingly Godson also pokes an oar in in Prospect last month about the North. Magill picked him up on it. A most odd thesis about a sort of security solution to the Troubles. Which might well be explained by your contextualisation of his views…

  3. Tom Griffin avatar

    And guess which think tank hosted the launch of Lord Guthrie’s recent book.
    It’s a small world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *