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Bellingcat is a Western intelligence front, right?

It's mostly "British journalist Eliot Higgins" "who was operating out of his living room in Leicester" https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45665380

Though they've expanded now:

>"Up until about a year ago, we were mostly volunteers and I had three or four people working with me," he says. "Over the last year we have expanded to 10 members of staff plus a translation team and our volunteers. So we've expanded quite significantly."

After a stint working in a related industry I see red flags every time I read "citizen journalist", and Higgins is no exception, his day job is closely tied to US government. That's not to say he's some government shill, his investigative output is excellent, but put in context I personally can't believe there isn't some reputational blemish to be noted. People rarely achieve anything working alone, and these investigations are achieving a lot.

Although I won't link to it, you may be entertained by the paranoid ramblings RT.com shares about him. Higgins is most certainly neither an altruistic white knight (western view) or amateur propagandist (Russian view), the truth as usual is a bit more complex and lies buried somewhere in between.

My take was that he was fed by a Dutch source. Retribution for MH17.

But does it matter? The point of the story is humor, i.e. the collective stupidity of the entire unit! Appearantly none of these cyber-geniuses realized that if their personal car was registered to the base, then maybe everyone else’s was too, and that might not be a good idea.

I’m not sure how the fact that this wasn’t some random youtube “citizen journalism” makes it any less funny.

As I understand it it is in a big part crowsourced. It is easy for an agency to hide their leaks in that crowsourced stream.

His TED talk is quite interesting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mozxTk3Brqw

At the time of that he was mostly analysing internet footage though the latest stuff seems a bit more like Wikileaks type tips from insiders.

Curious, can you provide reasons or pointers for the suspicion other than the obvious (that they they do focused OS intelligence on specific targets)?

I'm not claiming they're not - I have no idea. Thus the question.

It's a weirdly common 'critique' of Bellingcat and as far as I can tell, has absolutely no basis in reality. They mostly target Ukraine/Russia/Syria/Iraq, etc so I get the suspicion but they're very public around sources and methods and since they're an open-source intel group, anyone can verify everything they've found. Is it only "western intelligence" that can be critical of Assad and Putin?

> since they're an open-source intel group, anyone can verify everything they've found

This is a common misconception; to properly verify their investigative work (not just the specific findings), you also have to know what they possibly found and didn't show. That basically means replicating their work, and being more informed about their subjects than themselves.

Meh.. That would impact things they didn't publish -- But for the work they publish, the contra findings aren't really relevant.

E.g. for the MH17 investigation where they disprove many of the lies from the Kremlin and decisively identify the specific BUK system used, the route it took, who was at command and their specific role within the Russian MoD all via open sources, social media, etc: https://www.bellingcat.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/mh17-3...

The Russian government made many claims after MH17 was shot down, some attributing the anti-aircraft attack to Ukraine and some categorically denying their involvement. Bellingcat with their supporters gathered tons of evidence that shows dispositive proof which contradicts both sides of the Russian story. It's common knowledge now that the Russians carried out the attack and Bellingcat is largely to thank for that being public -- I'm sure various security services were performing their own attribution work, but it's nice to have plain reading material to prove so.

Any media organization that doesn’t repeat the kremlin’s propaganda is, by default, a western intelligence operation. I remember Assange tried to label the Panama papers as a CIA operation because it found some of Putin’s accounts.

it was started by a mod in the something awful forums

A ton of intelligence officers used to hang out in something awful too back in the day. Like not in the 'navy seal copypasta' keyboard warrior sense, but people I knew personally and knew they were actual intelligence officers.

Sean Smith aka Vilerat was a mod in the SomethingAwful forums for years before his untimely passing. He banned me for making fun of Hamid Karzai.

i think i got banned by either vilerat or brown moses for shitting up dnd, years ago

If I were in charge of an intelligence agency front organization, I'd have a civilian cutout head it.

Regardless, they are widely respected though.

They were the leading grass-roots org that covered the eastern Ukrainian conflict really well.

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