By Julie Hyland
26 March 2018
The scandal surrounding Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, the election data company previously associated with former Trump campaign Chairman Steve Bannon, dominates the media in the US and Britain.
The serious privacy concerns involved in the harvesting of the personal information of some 50 million Facebook users was underscored by Britain’s Channel 4 News. An undercover investigation filmed Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix boasting of dirty tricks operations to ensnare politicians and subvert elections.
But while the disclosures are being used to bolster hysterical claims of “Russian meddling,” a closer examination reveals that the real and far more fundamental threat to democratic rights involves psy-ops programmes run by elements of the British and US deep state.
Cambridge Analytica’s parent company is British-based SCL. Formerly Strategic Communication Laboratories, it is a private behavioural research and strategic communication company, founded in 1993 by Nigel Oakes. The son of Major John Waddington Oakes and a former boyfriend of Lady Helen Windsor, Oakes was formerly employed by Margaret Thatcher’s favourite advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, before establishing SCL.
As with Oakes, SCL’s board members include scions of the British ruling class, from former military officers and defence contractors to major Conservative Party donors.
Lord Ivar Mountbatten, third cousin to Queen Elizabeth, is on the board, while CEO Roger Gabb is a millionaire wine merchant, a former British special forces officer and major contributor to the Tory Party. SCL President Sir Geoffrey Pattie was a defence minister under Thatcher. SCL chairman is the venture capitalist Julian Wheatland, also chairman of Oxfordshire Conservatives Association. Former Conservative Party Treasurer Jonathan Marland, trade envoy under Prime Minister David Cameron, is a shareholder.
Others associated, past or present, with SCL include property billionaire and Tory Party donor Vincent Tchenguiz; Sir James Allen Mitchell, privy counsellor since 1985; Rear Admiral John Tolhurst, a former assistant director of naval warfare in the Ministry of Defence and aide de camp to the Queen; and Gavin McNicoll, creator of the Eden Intelligence firm, which has run projects for the British government.
SCL boasts of providing “data, analytics and strategy to governments and military organizations worldwide,” notably the British Ministry of Defence, the US State Department and NATO. It states that it has carried out “behavioural change programs” in more than 60 countries. One of its first contracts in 1999 was promoting Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid. It has worked to influence elections in Afghanistan, Latvia, Ukraine, Nigeria and Kenya among others.
Cambridge Analytica was launched in 2012 by SCL to extend its operations to the US. In partnership with hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, this included the Republican primaries for the 2016 election, where it worked to support Ted Cruz and then Donald Trump.