Skip to main content

US govt-linked PR firm ran fake news networks for right-wing Latin American regimes

A Washington, DC-based PR firm linked to the US government and Democratic Party, CLS Strategies, ran a fake news network on Facebook and Instagram, spreading propaganda for Bolivia’s coup regime and the right-wing opposition in Venezuela and Mexico.

by Ben Norton

Part 9 - CLS Strategies’ deep ties to the US government

CLS Strategies boasts on its website that it has a “team of veteran political operatives, former journalists and corporate communications experts” who are employed as “strategists, counselors and problem solvers.” Among those veteran political operatives are some prominent former US government officials.

A senior advisor to CLS is Mark Feierstein, a longtime Democratic Party operative who has spent decades overseeing regime-change policies in Latin America.

Feierstein played a key role in the Obama administration’s foreign policy team as the president’s top advisor on Latin America, and served as senior director for Western hemisphere affairs on the National Security Council.

While working in the Obama administration, Feierstein helped oversee a 2012 soft coup against elected left-wing President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, as first reported by Spanish researcher Julián Macías Tovar.

In his CLS Strategies professional bio, Mark Feierstein boasted that he “also oversaw the United States Agency for International Development’s programming in the Americas as assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, a Senate-confirmed position, and later took on a global portfolio as USAID’s deputy administrator for two years.

USAID is a regime-change arm of the US government, and has been used to support coup attempts against leftist governments in Latin America.

Feierstein’s CLS profile also trumpeted that he “was a principal strategist for winning national campaigns in Austria, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Honduras, and designed communications strategies for major multinational companies, including Boeing, BP and Monsanto.

Feierstein previously served in the Bill Clinton administration, and advised the US ambassador to the OAS. He also worked at another US government regime-change entity, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In his CLS bio, Feierstein boasted that he spent his time at the NDI helping the right-wing Nicaraguan opposition challenge the Sandinista government.

Feierstein is also a close associate and friend of US regime-change operative Roger Noriega, a neoconservative Washington insider who crafted Latin America policy in the George W. Bush administration’s State Department and Ronald Reagan’s USAID, where Noriega oversaw support for far-right Contra death squads in Nicaragua.

Mark Feierstein’s political background was included in a bio he had on the CLS Strategies website. But the PR firm removed Feierstein’s page, apparently in response to the backlash over its fake news ring. Feierstein’s significant role in CLS drew the attention of the Bolivian media.

Another senior advisor for the influential firm is David Romley, who previously filled senior positions in the Department of Defense. In his official CLS bio, Romley boasts:

David served 20 years in the United States Marine Corps as a public affairs officer where he was a press attaché to the Secretary of Defense and a Pentagon spokesman. While there, he developed the department’s response to interagency communication efforts following the capture of Saddam Hussein and during operation Phantom Fury, the battle for Fallajuh, Iraq. He was senior Marine spokesman during combat operations in Afghanistan for General Jim Mattis and Task Force-58, and in Iraq he authored the combined Marine Corps and British Royal Commando communications plan to integrate more than 340 news media representatives into combat operations. As Director of Community Relations for the United States Marine Corps he established its trademark and license office and created the Corps’ signature public outreach and community relations campaign, Marine Week.

After leaving the US military, Romley went on to serve as vice president for communications at the Washington, DC-based German Marshall Fund, a hawkish think tank created during the first cold war to turn up the heat on the former Soviet Union. Flush with funding from the US and German governments, NATO, European Union, and Western weapons corporations, the German Marshall Fund has in the Trump era become a major home for neoconservative operatives.

The German Marshall Fund sponsors a neo-McCarthyite organization called the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which has worked to fuel the new cold war on Russia and China. Its slogan is, “Putin knocked. We answered.” And the outfit devotes an increasing amount of resources to attacking independent Western journalists who report critically on US foreign policy.

After leaving the German Marshall Fund, CLS senior advisor David Romley found cushy positions at other bellicose DC think tanks, including the neoconservative Hudson Institute and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which was closely linked to the Obama administration and was used to fill his State Department and Pentagon with experienced hawks.

But Feierstein and Romely are by no means the only powerful figures involved with CLS Strategies. The PR firm is also deeply tied to the Washington juggernaut the Atlantic Council, NATO’s de facto think tank.

This is ironic, given that Facebook — which took down the CLS fake news ring on its platform — is itself a major financial sponsor of the Atlantic Council. Other donors to the think tank include the governments of the United States, Britain, and the United Arab Emirates, NATO, and the European Union, along with corporate arms manufacturers and fossil fuel companies.

Before rebranding as CLS Strategies in 2014, the PR firm was called Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates. The S in CLS comes from its co-founder Peter Schechter.

Schechter is one of the most influential operatives in Washington, DC working on Latin America related issues, and has extensive experience representing powerful right-wing heads of state.

In 2013, Schechter was the founding director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, which has pushed a hawkish line against the leftist governments in the region, advancing the interests of right-wing regimes and pushing neoliberal economic policies.

In 2017, Schechter left the Atlantic Council to found Altamar, a political communications consulting firm that has been hired by Colombia’s former right-wing President Juan Manuel Santos and Peru’s former neoliberal President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who was forced to resign during impeachment proceedings over major corruption charges.

As The Grayzone contributor Alexander Rubinstein reported, Schechter went on to co-found a DC restaurant in 2019, called Immigrant Food. Located blocks from the White House, Immigrant Food sought to capitalize on liberal opposition to President Donald Trump and his xenophobic rhetoric.


Popular posts from this blog

The main reason corporate Dems want so desperately to beat Trump in this election cycle

globinfo freexchange
As we explained previously, what we see now in the United States with Trump, is a counter-attack by the part of the American capital against the globalist faction. The faction that is primarily consisted by the liberal plutocracy. Therefore, as the capitalist class splits, the capitalists around Trump are now taking with them the most conservative part of the American society, as they need electoral power. They have the money and their own media network. Their first big victory was Trump in the US presidency and this explains why the liberal media attack him so hard and so frequently. The COVID-19 pandemic added more chaos in the ongoing civil war between capitalists and (as always), the working class is paying the price for the additional mess.  
The DNC establishment fought hard, one more time, to get rid of Bernie Sanders in order to impose its own - fully controllable and fully dedicated to the neoliberal status quo - Joe Biden/Kamala Harris duo. Obvious…

Neoliberal centrists and phony fascists as political tools of the capitalist classes in an escalating war

globinfo freexchange  The progressive movement has lost recently one of its pioneers. David Grabber was an American anthropologist, anarchist activist, leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is sometimes credited with having coined the slogan "We are the 99%".
In the following short analysis, Grabber describes almost perfectly the nature of the neoliberal centrism and how its carriers manipulate the masses. He also unveils the role of those to the right, which in the US is played politically by the Republican Party.
As he points out:                          There's a symbiotic relationship between these centrists, who are just sort of sneering elitists and these guys who are the scam artists, who pretend to be locals, who pretend to be idiots, or pretend to be fascists. They're not even real fascists, they're kind of phoney fascists. They are trying to set up a situation where those are the only two viable political choices because they both feed off…

A DARPA-funded implantable biochip to detect COVID-19 could hit markets by 2021

An experimental new vaccine developed jointly with the US government claims to be able to change human DNA and could be deployed as early as next year through a DARPA-funded, injectable biochip. by Raul Diego  
Part 3 - A wholly-owned subsidiary

In July, a preliminary report funded by Fauci’s NIAID and the NIH on an mRNA Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, concluding that mRNA-1273 vaccine. provided by Moderna for the study, “induced anti–SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in all participants, and no trial-limiting safety concerns were identified,” and supported “further development of this vaccine.
A month earlier, the NIH had claimed a joint stake in Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, citing a contract signed in December, 2019, stipulating that the “mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidates [are] developed and jointly owned” by both parties. Moderna disputes the federal government’s position, stating that the company “has a broad owned and licensed IP esta…

How Amazon raised prices to profit from the pandemic

 by Alex Harman

Part 4 - Background on Price Gouging During the COVID-19 Pandemic As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold through the early months of 2020, first in China and then across the world, demand increased for respirators and surgical masks. By the time the first U.S. death from COVID-19 had been reported on February 29, 2020, reports of price gouging on sales of protective masks on Amazon had already resulted in a warning from Amazon to third-party sellers against engaging in price gouging. 
Soon, brick and mortar retail stores such as Target, Costco, and Kroger began to impose limits on the quantity of certain products each customer could purchase because of shortages and hoarding of products such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants. Increased demand for essential products on online marketplaces didn’t manifest in empty shelves – it meant sellers charging excessive prices. As the pandemic worsened, so too did the price gouging on Amazon.
States Declare Emergencies and…

US govt-linked PR firm ran fake news networks for right-wing Latin American regimes

A Washington, DC-based PR firm linked to the US government and Democratic Party, CLS Strategies, ran a fake news network on Facebook and Instagram, spreading propaganda for Bolivia’s coup regime and the right-wing opposition in Venezuela and Mexico.
by Ben Norton
Part 7 - CLS Strategies signs PR contract with corrupt Colombian President Uribe
The Honduran coup regime is by no means the only connection between CLS Strategies and corrupt, drug-linked Latin American leaders. The shadowy PR firm has also worked with a notorious demagogue who may have the dubious honor of being the most corrupt and violent president in modern Colombian history.
On its website, CLS boasts of having represented both the government of Colombia and the presidential campaign of far-right former leader Álvaro Uribe. Uribe is infamous for working closely with drug cartels and death squads.
In August, Colombia’s Supreme Court put Uribe under house arrest, accusing him of bribery and officially investigating his involve…

How Amazon raised prices to profit from the pandemic

 by Alex Harman

Part 3 - A Note on Methodology The purpose of this report is to examine the ongoing price gouging on, both by third-party sellers as well as by Amazon itself. This involved tracking specific products through direct observation on, as well as through tracking websites and Where possible, an effort was made to identify a contemporaneous price online at another national retailer of a similar or identical item. Despite reports of all manner of products experiencing significant price increases, including inflatable swimming pools and hand golf carts, products tracked in this report were limited to essential items to stick closely to items that would be covered under existing and proposed price gouging statutes.
While there certainly have been reports of price gouging on other retail platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, most public reports have been about price gouging on Amazon.
Further, from the beginning of the public hea…

The war on you: How the Pentagon is militarizing social control

Neoliberalism benefits the few and makes life for the many increasingly impossible. Big data and blanket surveillance give state and corporate intelligence confidence that they can pre-empt and manage mass, social reactions to neoliberalism. This article is an excerpt from my new book, The War on You.
by T.J. Coles
Part 5 - CONCLUSION The seeds of resistance are taking root. The Progressive International has been established to counter the global political shift to the far-right. Extinction Rebellion activists risk prison and hefty fines to halt the climate emergency.  Black Lives Matter activists are taking direct action to make both sides of the political establishment bend to their demands for justice and dignity.  Thanks to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party in the UK has been dragged kicking and screaming to the left.   In the Fifth république, the pro-immigrant, anti-climate change, La France insoumise (France Unbowed) has 500,000 members, despite being just four years old.  In the U.S.,…

The war on you: How the Pentagon is militarizing social control

Neoliberalism benefits the few and makes life for the many increasingly impossible. Big data and blanket surveillance give state and corporate intelligence confidence that they can pre-empt and manage mass, social reactions to neoliberalism. This article is an excerpt from my new book, The War on You.
by T.J. Coles
The lines between law enforcement and militarism are blurred, as are the lines between military technology and civilian technology. Some police forces carry military-grade weapons. The same satellites that enable us to use smartphones enable the armed forces to operate.
In a projection out to the year 2036, the British Ministry of Defence says that “[t]he clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants will be increasingly difficult to discern,” as “the urban poor will be employed in the informal sector and will be highly vulnerable to externally-derived economic shocks and illicit exploitation” (emphasize in original). This comes as Bo…

Venezuela captures 'US spy' allegedly plotting to sabotage oil refineries

The Grayzone
Red Lines host Anya Parampil speaks with Caracas-based journalist Diego Sequera, a columnist with Mision Verdad, about recent developments in Venezuela. They discuss Venezuela's recent arrest of a US spy which the government claims was plotting to sabotage oil refineries in the country, as well as upcoming parliamentary elections in December. They explore the impact the vote could have on US-backed politician Juan Guaidó as well as the fractured state of Venezuela's political opposition. They close by taking a look at a recent report out of Miami which accuses Guaidó officials of engaging in federal crimes, including extortion, in the United States. 

Why is the World going to Hell?

by Jonathan Cook Part 2 - Children as guinea pigs
Although not flagged as such, The Social Dilemma divides into three chapters. The first, dealing with the argument we are already most familiar with, is that social media is a global experiment in altering our psychology and social interactions, and our children are the main guinea pigs. Millennials (those who came of age in the 2000s) are the first generation that spent their formative years with Facebook and MySpace as best friends. Their successors, Generation Z, barely know a world without social media at its forefront.  The film makes a relatively easy case forcefully: that our children are not only addicted to their shiny phones and what lies inside the packaging, but that their minds are being aggressively rewired to hold their attention and then make them pliable for corporations to sell things.       
Each child is not just locked in a solitary battle to stay in control of his or her mind against the skills of hundreds of the world…