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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘OPCW’

Attacking The Source: The Establishment Loyalist’s Favorite Online Tactic – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on December 4, 2019

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/11/28/attacking-the-source-the-establishment-loyalists-favorite-online-tactic/

If you’re skeptical of western power structures and you’ve ever engaged in online political debate for any length of time, the following has definitely happened to you.

You find yourself going back and forth with one of those high-confidence, low-information establishment types who’s promulgating a dubious mainstream narrative, whether that be about politics, war, Julian Assange, or whatever. At some point they make an assertion which you know to be false–publicly available information invalidates the claim they’re making.

“I’ve got them now!” you think to yourself, if you’re new to this sort of thing. Then you share a link to an article or video which makes a well-sourced, independently verifiable case for the point you are trying to make.

Then, the inevitable happens.

“LMAO! That outlet!” they scoff in response. “That outlet is propaganda/fake news/conspiracy theory trash!”

Or something to that effect. You’ll encounter this tactic over and over and over again if you continually engage in online political discourse with people who don’t agree with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re literally just linking to an interview featuring some public figure saying a thing you’d claimed they said. It doesn’t matter if you’re linking to a WikiLeaks publication of a verified authentic document. Unless you’re linking to CNN/Fox News (whichever fits the preferred ideology of the establishment loyalist you’re debating), they’ll bleat “fake news!” or “propaganda!” or “Russia!” as though that in and of itself magically invalidates the point you’re trying to make.

And of course it doesn’t. What they are doing is called attacking the source, also known as an ad hominem, and it’s a very basic logical fallacy.

Most people are familiar with the term “ad hominem”, but they usually think about it in terms of merely hurling verbal insults at people. What it actually means is attacking the source of the argument rather than attacking the argument itself in a way that avoids dealing with the question of whether or not the argument itself is true. It’s a logical fallacy because it’s used to deliberately obfuscate the goal of a logical conclusion to the debate.

“An ad hominem is more than just an insult,” explains David Ferrer for The Quad. “It’s an insult used as if it were an argument or evidence in support of a conclusion. Verbally attacking people proves nothing about the truth or falsity of their claims.”

This can take the form of saying “Claim X is false because the person making it is an idiot.” But it can also take the form of “Claim X is false because the person making it is a propagandist,” or “Claim X is false because the person making it is a conspiracy theorist.”

Someone being an idiot, a propagandist or a conspiracy theorist is irrelevant to the question of whether or not what they’re saying is true. In my last article debunking a spin job on the OPCW scandal by the narrative management firm Bellingcat, I pointed out that Bellingcat is funded by imperialist regime change operations like the National Endowment for Democracy, which was worth highlighting because it shows the readers where that organization is coming from. But if I’d left my argument there it would still be an ad hominem attack, because it wouldn’t address whether or not what Bellingcat wrote about the OPCW scandal is true. It would be a logical fallacy; proving that they are propagandists doesn’t prove that what they are saying in this particular instance is false.

What I had to do in order to actually refute Bellingcat’s spin job was show that they were making a bad argument using bad logic, which I did by highlighting the way they used pedantic wordplay to make it seem as though the explosive leaks which have been emerging from the OPCW’s investigation of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria were insignificant. I had to show how Bellingcat actually never came anywhere close to addressing the actual concerns about a leaked internal OPCW email, such as extremely low chlorinated organic chemical levels on the scene and patients’ symptoms not matching up with chlorine gas poisoning, as well as the fact that the OPCW investigators plainly don’t feel as though their concerns were met since they’re blowing the whistle on the organisation now.

And, for the record, Bellingcat’s lead trainer/researcher guy responded to my arguments by saying I’m a conspiracy theorist. I personally count that as a win.

The correct response to someone who attacks the outlet or individual you’re citing instead of attacking the actual argument being made is, “You’re attacking the source instead of the argument. That’s a logical fallacy, and it’s only ever employed by people who can’t attack the argument.”

The demand that you only ever use mainstream establishment media when arguing against establishment narratives is itself an inherently contradictory position, because establishment media by their very nature do not report facts against the establishment. It’s saying “You’re only allowed to criticise establishment power using outlets which never criticize establishment power.”

Good luck finding a compilation of Trump’s dangerous escalations against Moscow like the one I wrote the other day anywhere in the mainstream media, for example. Neither mainstream liberals nor mainstream conservatives are interested in promoting that narrative, so it simply doesn’t exist in the mainstream information bubble. Every item I listed in that article is independently verifiable and sourced from separate mainstream media reports, yet if you share that article in a debate with an establishment loyalist and they know who I am, nine times out of ten they’ll say something like “LOL Caitlin Johnstone?? She’s nuts!” With “nuts” of course meaning “Says things my TV doesn’t say”.

It’s possible to just click on all the hyperlinks in my article and share them separately to make your point, but you can also simply point out that they are committing a logical fallacy, and that they are doing so because they can’t actually attack the argument.

This will make them very upset, because for the last few years establishment loyalists have been told that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to attack the source instead of the argument. The mass hysteria about “fake news” and “Russian propaganda” has left consumers of mainstream media with the unquestioned assumption that if they ever so much as glance at an RT article their faces will begin to melt like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. They’ve been trained to believe that it’s perfectly logical and acceptable to simply shriek “propaganda!” at a rational argument or well-sourced article which invalidates their position, or even to proactively go around calling people Russian agents who dissent from mainstream western power-serving narratives.

But it isn’t logical, and it isn’t acceptable. The best way to oppose their favorite logically fallacious tactic is to call it like it is, and let them deal with the cognitive dissonance that that brings up for them.

Of course some nuance is needed here. Remember that alternative media is just like anything else: there’s good and bad, even within the same outlet, so make sure what you’re sharing is solid and not just some schmuck making a baseless claim. You can’t just post a link to some Youtuber making an unsubstantiated assertion and then accuse the person you’re debating of attacking the source when they dismiss it. That which has been presented without evidence may be dismissed without evidence, and if the link you’re citing consists of nothing other than unproven assertions by someone they’ve got no reason to take at their word, they can rightly dismiss it.

If however the claims in the link you’re citing are logically coherent arguments or well-documented facts presented in a way that people can independently fact-check, it doesn’t matter if you’re citing CNN or Sputnik. The only advantage to using CNN when possible would be that it allows you to skip the part where they perform the online equivalent of putting their fingers in their ears and humming.

Don’t allow those who are still sleeping bully those who are not into silence. Insist on facts, evidence, and intellectually honest arguments, and if they refuse to provide them call it what it is: an admission that they have lost the debate.

__________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemitthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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MoA – OPCW Manufactured A Pretext For War By Suppressing Its Own Scientists’ Research

Posted by M. C. on December 2, 2019

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/11/opcw-manufactured-a-pretext-for-war-by-suppressing-its-own-scientists-research.html

Moon of Alabama

OPCW Manufactured A Pretext For War By Suppressing Its Own Scientists’ Research

Leaks from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) prove that the OPCW management ignored or manipulated reports its Fact Finding Mission had written about the April 2018 Douma incident in Syria.

The history of the Douma incident and the OPCW and media manipulation around it is available from the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media under the headline: How the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident was nobbled. Our own posts around the incident are linked below.

The OPCW management ignored that the technical, chemical and medical analysis of its own specialists exculpated the Syrian government from the allegation that it poisoned some 40 people in Douma by dropping Chlorine canisters from a helicopter.

The OPCW scientific staff found that dropping the canisters could not have created the damage that was found. Those canisters must have been placed by hand. The amount of chlorinated organic chemicals found at the two scenes was very low and it is very unlikely that they are the result of a reaction with chlorine gas. The medical symptoms of the casualties as was seen in various videos at the time of the incident were inconsistent with death by chlorine inhalation.

The OPCW management twisted the interim and the final OPCW report on the incident to make it look as if the Syrian government was guilty of dropping chlorine canisters. The detailed internal technical analysis was ignored. It was replaced by external analysis from unknown sources who claimed the opposite of what the OPCW engineers and chemists had found. The wording of the report suggests that high levels of chlorinated organic chemicals were found without giving the very low concentrations (in parts per billions) that were actually found. The internal medical analysis was eliminated from the official report.

OPCW emails and documents were leaked and whistleblowers came forward to speak with journalists and international lawyers. Veteran journalist Jonathan Steele, who has spoken with the whistleblowers, wrote an excellent piece on the issues. In the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens picked up the issue and moved it forward:

New sexed-up dossier furore: Explosive leaked email claims that UN watchdog’s report into alleged poison gas attack by Assad was doctored – so was it to justify British and American missile strikes on Syria?.

The ‘citizen journalists’ of the U.S. government financed Bellingcat propaganda shop made a laughable attempt to refute the claims the whistleblower made. Caitlin Johnstone took it apart.

Hitchens also responded to the Bellingcat scam: Bellingcat or Guard Dog for the Establishment?.

Quoting Bellingcat Peter Hitchens (PH) writes:

Bellingcat:
However, a comparison of the points raised in the letter against the final Douma report makes it amply clear that the OPCW not only addressed these points, but even changed the conclusion of an earlier report to reflect the concerns of said employee.PH:
Apart from the words ‘a’, and ‘the’, everything in the above paragraph is, to put it politely, mistaken. Bellingcat have been so anxious to trash the leak from the OPCW that they have (as many did when the attack was first released) rushed to judgment without waiting for the facts. More is known by the whistleblowers of the OPCW than has yet been released, but verification procedures have slowed down its release. More documents will, I expect, shortly come to light.

One, which I have seen, is very interesting. It is a memorandum of protest, written many months after the e-mail of protest published at the weekend. This was sent to the OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias (there is some doubt about whether it ever reached him) by an OPCW investigator (one of those who actually visited Douma), on 14th March 2019. It has reached me through hitherto reliable sources. This is nearly two weeks *after* the release of the ‘final’ report (on Friday 1st March 2019) which is supposed to have resolved the doubts of the dissenters.

In his discussion of the issue Hitchens also mentions this blog:

[The OPCW report claim] ‘Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and 4, along with residues of explosive. These results are reported in Annex 3. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is ongoing.’ resulted in some quite remarkable media reports. These are explored here:https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/07/syria-many-media-lie-about-watchdog-report-on-the-chemical-attack-in-douma.html

Bellingcat and its supporters may not like the source, and I do not much like it myself, but it is a unique record, as far as I know, of the initial media response to the issue of the July 6 report. I have in fact checked its claims with Reuters and the BBC and they do not dispute what it says, though they say they later corrected the output.

It is sad, Peter, that you don’t like this blog much but I am afraid I can do nothing about it.

A few hours ago Hitchens published another piece: In defense of journalism – ‘Citizen journalists’ are no such thing. In it he again takes on Bellingcat and other such ‘citizen journalists’ and ‘researchers’ to then reveal that he himself has now talked to an OPCW whistleblower:

Luckily for me I have had the backing of people who know deep down that journalism must take risks to be any good. Someone had to say ‘yes’ to me when I headed off at short notice a few days ago, on my complicated way to a safe house somewhere in a major city on the European continent.Someone had to fork out for my train fares and my cheap station hotels. Someone had to have the guts to let me tell my story about what I found when I got there — which was an honest man in turmoil. His job was to tell the truth and he was being prevented from doing so. So I could help him. In four decades of journalism, I have seldom felt closer to the Holy Grail, truth that had to be told, and truth that would shake power. Here it was. A pretext for war had been manufactured by suppression of research.

The “pretext for war” can not refer to the missile strike F-UK-US launched on April 16 2018, 8 days after the Douma incident and before any OPCW inspectors had visited the site.

Hitchens must refer to an upcoming war that was supposed to be based on the now disgraced OPCW report.

There is indeed a possible path to war…

The OPCW scientists found serious evidence that the Syrian government can NOT be guilty of the Douma incident. Under U.S. pressure the OPCW management suppressed its scientists’ technical reports or replaced them with those from “external experts” to make it look as if the Syrian government caused the incident. The new attribution group at the OPCW will use that manipulated report to find Syria guilty of causing the incident. The U.S. and others could then use that guilty verdict as pretext to launch a war.

We only learned of this plan because courageous scientists and engineers at the OPCW do not want to see their organization abused to find pretexts to wage wars on the innocent. They came forward and told the public what it needs to know. They deserve our gratitude.

Be seeing you

Syria Probe: Signs of Sarin Gas Exposure Found | Al ...

No Gloves! Didn’t need them!

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Narrative Managers Faceplant In Hilarious OPCW Scandal Spin Job – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on November 28, 2019

Before we begin I should highlight that Bellingcat is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, which according to its own cofounder was set up to do overtly what the CIA had previously been doing covertly, namely orchestrating narrative management geared toward the elimination of governments which refuse to comply with US interests.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/11/27/narrative-managers-faceplant-in-hilarious-opcw-scandal-spin-job/

Imperialist propaganda firm Bellingcat has published a response to the ever-expanding OPCW scandal, and it’s got to be seen to be believed.

Before we begin I should highlight that Bellingcat is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, which according to its own cofounder was set up to do overtly what the CIA had previously been doing covertly, namely orchestrating narrative management geared toward the elimination of governments which refuse to comply with US interests. NED is funded directly by the US government, which means that Bellingcat is funded by the US government via an organization set up to promote imperialist regime change agendas. Bellingcat is also funded by Open Society Foundations, another imperialist narrative management operation.

Syria has been the target of what may be the most sophisticated propaganda campaign in history, and Bellingcat has been consistently rallying behind even the most transparently ridiculous tools of this campaign. This includes the notorious Bana Alabed psyop which at its height saw CNN staging a fake, scripted interview featuring a seven year-old girl assigning blame to Bashar al-Assad for an alleged sarin gas attack in Khan Shaykhun. Bellingcat’s stellar investigative work (which has been praised in fawning puff pieces by mainstream outlets like The Guardian and The New Yorker) concluded that this obvious propaganda construct was in fact nothing other than a little girl and her mother independently composing viral tweets, giving interviews and authoring books about how the Syrian government must be toppled via western interventionism.

Bellingcat’s latest phenomenal report on how you’re supposed to think about important geopolitical disputes, titled “Emails And Reading Comprehension: OPCW Douma Coverage Misses Crucial Facts“, addresses the leaked OPCW email which was recently published by WikiLeaks and various other outlets revealing that the OPCW omitted crucial information from its Douma report which indicated that a chemical weapons attack was unlikely to have occurred. I encourage you to go and check out Bellingcat’s new masterpiece for yourself. Don’t worry about giving them clicks; that’s not where they get their money.

The first thing you’ll notice about Bellingcat’s article is that at no point does it even attempt to address the actual inflammatory comments within it, such as the OPCW whistleblower’s assertion that the samples tested where a chlorine gas attack is alleged to have occurred in April 2018 contained levels of chlorinated organic compounds which were so low that it would be unreasonable to claim with any confidence that a chlorine gas attack had occurred at all. The whistleblower writes in the leaked email to the OPCW cabinet chief that the levels “were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities.”

As we discussed previously, early skeptics of the establishment Douma narrative highlighted the bizarre fact that when the OPCW published its Interim Report in July of last year its report contained no information about the levels at which the chlorinated organic chemicals occurred. Chlorinated organic chemicals occur at trace levels in any industrialized area, so they are only indicative of a chlorine gas attack when samples test at high levels. The email said they didn’t. The OPCW omitted this in both its Interim and Final Reports.

The whistleblower told journalist Jonathan Steele that the levels found “were comparable to and even lower than those given in the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on recommended permitted levels of trichlorophenol and other COCs in drinking water.”

“Had they been included, the public would have seen that the levels of COCs found were no higher than you would expect in any household environment”, the whistleblower said.

In a new Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson, Steele explained the significance of this revelation.

“The main point is that Chlorine gas degrades rapidly in the air,” Steele said. “So coming in two weeks later, you wouldn’t find anything. What you would find is that the gas contaminates or affects other chemicals in the natural environment. So-called ‘chlorinated organic chemicals.’ The difficulty is they exist anyway in the natural environment and water. So the crucial thing is the levels, were there higher levels of chlorinated organic chemicals found after the alleged gas attack than there would have been in the normal environment?”

“When they got back to the Netherlands, to The Hague where the OPCW has its headquarters, samples were sent off to designated laboratories, then there was a weird silence developed,” Steele continued. “Nobody told the inspectors what the results of the analysis was. It was only by chance that the inspector found out through accident earlier the results would come in and there were no differences at all. There were no higher levels of Chlorinated organic chemicals in the areas where the alleged attack had happened where there is some suspicious cylinders had been found by opposition activists. So it didn’t seem possible that there could have been a gas attack because the levels were just the same as in the natural environment.”

Bellingcat simply ignores this absolutely central aspect of the email, as well as the whistleblower’s point about the symptoms of victims not matching chlorine gas poisoning.

“In this case the confidence in the identity of chlorine or any choking agent is drawn into question precisely because of the inconsistency with the reported and observed symptoms,” the whistleblower writes in the email. “The inconsistency was not only noted by the FFM team but strongly noted by three toxicologists with expertise in exposure to CW [Chemical Weapons] agents.”

Bellingcat says nothing about these revelations in the email, and says nothing about the fact that the OPCW excluded them from both its Interim Report in July 2018 and its Final Report in March 2019, the latter of which actually asserted the exact opposite saying there was “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

Bellingcat completely ignores all of these points, which are literally the only reason any of this is in the news at all, instead opting to make silly, pedantic arguments that the text of the email and the Interim and Final Reports indicate that some of the whistleblower’s concerns appear to have been partially addressed by OPCW leadership in its publications. To make this argument, Bellingcat highlights how some of the wording in the reports was changed to appear a bit less conclusive, such as changing “likely” to “possible” and changing “reactive chlorine containing chemical” to “chemical containing reactive chlorine”.

By highlighting these barely-significant changes Bellingcat attempts to spin the narrative that there was no internal OPCW coverup of its investigators’ findings at all, which is of course invalidated by the fact that its Final Report concluded that a chlorine gas attack had taken place despite the whistleblower clearly stating that there is no basis upon which to conclude this. It’s also obviously invalidated by the fact that not one but two whistleblowers have come forward, meaning they plainly do not feel as though their concerns were met.

“Ian and I wanted to have this issue investigated and hopefully resolved internally, rather than exposing the failings of the Organisation in public, so we exhausted every internal avenue possible including submission of all the evidence of irregular behaviour to the Office of Internal Oversight,” the whistleblower told Steele. “The request for an internal investigation was refused and every other attempt to raise our concerns was stone walled. Our failed efforts to get management to listen went on over a period of nearly nine months. It was only after we realised the internal route was impossible that we decided to go public”.

“Ian” is Ian Henderson, the OPCW ballistics expert whose Engineering Assessment was leaked this past May. Henderson concluded that, contrary to what the OPCW’s Final Report strongly implies, the cylinders found at the scene in Douma were more likely to have been manually placed there, i.e. staged. The anonymous whistleblower informed Steele that all but one of the OPCW’s investigative team agreed with Henderson’s assessment. This too was left out of all OPCW reports, and Bellingcat’s piece completely ignores it, instead writing only that “Three independent analyses by experts in three different countries were carried out, and all reached complimentary conclusions: the damage at the impact sites is consistent with the cylinders having fallen from height.”

With the temerity only an NED paycheck can get you, Bellingcat argues that this vapid pedantry which has no bearing on the actual story whatsoever completely invalidates all reporting on the OPCW scandal.

“Although this letter appears to be at least superficially damaging to the OPCW, after reading the actual reports published by the OPCW it is clear that this letter is outdated and inapplicable to the final Douma report,” Bellingcat concludes. “If the people covering this story had actually taken the time to read the letter and the FFM reports, they may well have chosen to publicize it in a very different manner.”

Google has helpfully made sure to place Bellingcat’s assertive-sounding gibberish at the very top of news results which come up if you do a search for “OPCW” today:

Empire apologists have taken this ridiculous, nonsensical line of argumentation as gospel and run with it on social media, sharing Bellingcat’s embarrassing faceplant with triumphant, chest-thumping captions.

“Just so all my followers are clear, Tucker Carlson and the merry band of alt left grifter idiots trying to convince you that 1 of the 257 chemical attacks in Syria was a false flag are wrong, again, and never even bothered to read the report they say is wrong,” tweeted Newshour‘s Danny Gold.

“So the letter written by the dissenting OPCW employee on Douma investigation was sent two weeks before the interim report was released and nine months before the final one. In the final one, the employee’s concerns were addressed. Where’s the cover up?” tweeted Telegraph‘s Josie Ensor.

“WikiLeaks et al are lying to you in defence of the Assad regime,” tweeted odious Syria narrative manager Oz Katerji.

Media Matters For America, another narrative management firm founded by troll army commander David Brock, has also picked up Bellingcat’s ridiculous arguments and run with them in an even dumber article titled “Tucker Carlson spreads disinformation about a deadly chemical attack in Syria“.

“Despite the seemingly scandalous accusation in the leak, Carlson is misrepresenting the nature of the WikiLeaks documents and their significance,” MMFA claims. “Investigative journalists at Bellingcat found that the leaked letter was in fact referring to an ‘interim report’ issued in July of 2018, before the OPCW released its final conclusions. A side-by-side comparison shows that the concerns addressed in the letter ‘are present, or else are in modified form, in the final report.’”

Which is of course false, as explained above.

MMFA’s other claims are nothing other than simple regurgitation of the very reports that are now being invalidated by the leaks that Tucker Carlson highlighted on his show. Their entire argument boils down to “This old information is in contradiction to that new information,” which is of course the entire bloody point.

“These claims contradict and misrepresent the available evidence regarding the attack, the conclusions of multiple governments, and they are based on a Syrian and Russian misinformation campaign seeking to discredit investigators and absolve Assad of responsibility for the atrocity,” MMFA argues, linking to a 2018 BBC article saying Assad was responsible for the Douma incident, a 2018 Guardian article about the US government’s unsubstantiated claim to have secret proof of Assad’s guilt, and a 2018 Guardian article claiming that Russia is wrong about its skepticism of the western Douma narrative, respectfully.

Which is the same as saying “You’re wrong because we disagree with you. Here is evidence of our disagreeing with you last year.”

This is the best the spin masters can do, and the OPCW scandal is only going to unfold more. Should be fun.

_________________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemitthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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The Hugely Important OPCW Scandal Keeps Unfolding. Here’s Why No One’s Talking About It. – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on November 18, 2019

Investigators experienced pressures against saying anything about their mounting findings that no chemical attack occurred, with Alex calling it “the elephant in the room which no-one dared mention explicitly”.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/11/17/the-hugely-important-opcw-scandal-keeps-unfolding-heres-why-no-ones-talking-about-it/

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is now hemorrhaging evidence that the US and its allies deceived the world once again about yet another military intervention, which should be a front-page story all over the world. Yet if you looked at American news media headlines you’d think the only thing that matters right now is indulging the childish fantasy that Donald Trump might somehow magically be removed from office via supermajority consensus in a majority-Republican Senate.

CounterPunch has published an actual bombshell of a report by journalist Jonathan Steele containing many revelations about the OPCW scandal which were previously unknown to the public. Steele is an award-winning reporter who worked as a senior foreign correspondent for The Guardian back before that outlet was purged of all critical thinkers on western imperialism; he first waded into the OPCW controversy last month with a statement made on the BBC revealing the existence of a second whistleblower on the organisation’s investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria.

If you haven’t been following this story you can click here for a timeline of events to fully appreciate the significance of these new revelations about the Douma incident, but just to quickly recap, in April of last year reports surfaced that dozens of civilians had been killed in that city by chemical weapons used by the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad. This immediately drew skepticism from people who’ve been paying attention to the narrative manipulation campaign against Syria, since Assad had already won the battle for Douma and had no strategic reason to employ banned weapons there knowing that there would be a military strike in retaliation from western powers. True to form, a few days later the US, France and the UK launched airstrikes on the Syrian government.

The OPCW released its final report on Douma in March of this year, but that report has been contradicted by two separate whistleblowers from the Douma investigation. The first surfaced in May of this year with a leaked Engineering Assessment claiming the chlorine cylinders found at the crime scene were unlikely to have been dropped from the air, and that it was far more likely that they were manually placed there, i.e. staged, by the occupying opposition forces in Douma. The second whistleblower came forward last month with a day-long presentation in Brussels before a panel of experts assembled by the whistleblowing defense group Courage Foundation, the findings of which were published by WikiLeaks.

This new report by Steele focuses on information provided to him by the second whistleblower, who is going by the pseudonym “Alex” out of fear for his safety. The information provided by Alex has turned out to be far more incendiary even than the leaked Engineering Assessment. Here are seven major highlights (hyperlinks go to the relevant article text they reference):

1- US government officials attempted to pressure OPCW investigators into believing that the Assad government was responsible for the Douma incident. The officials were placed in the same room as the investigators by the OPCW’s then-cabinet chief Bob Fairweather, which the investigators of course felt was a grossly inappropriate breach of the OPCW’s commitment to impartiality. For the record the US government already has a known history of bullying the OPCW, an ostensibly independent and international body, to force it to allow the advancement of pre-existing regime change agendas.

2- Alex reports that internal dissent on the OPCW’s official publications on the Douma incident was far more ubiquitous than previously known, saying “Most of the Douma team felt the two reports on the incident, the Interim Report and the Final Report, were scientifically impoverished, procedurally irregular and possibly fraudulent.”

3- All but one member of the team agreed with the Engineering Assessment that it was far more likely that the chlorine cylinders were manually placed on the scene by people on the ground.

4- Ian Henderson, the South African ballistics expert whose name was signed on the leaked Engineering Assessment, seems to have been responsible for leaking it. The identity of the leaker was not previously known to the public.

5- Investigators experienced pressures against saying anything about their mounting findings that no chemical attack occurred, with Alex calling it “the elephant in the room which no-one dared mention explicitly”.

6- The OPCW’s Final Report on the Douma incident explicitly claimed the investigation found “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.” Yet according to Alex the levels of chlorinated organic chemicals found on the scene “were no higher than you would expect in any household environment” and were in fact “much lower than what would be expected in environmental samples”, comparable to or even lower than the World Health Organisation’s recommended chlorine levels for drinking water. This extremely crucial fact was actively and repeatedly omitted from the OPCW’s public reporting in a way Alex describes as “deliberate and irregular”.

7- Steele mentioned last month that he’d unsuccessfully reached out to the OPCW for comment on the second OPCW whistleblower’s revelations, and in his new article he confirms that the organisation is still dodging him, with both Fairweather and the OPCW’s media office refusing to respond. La Repubblica‘s Stefania Maurizi has also been reporting that the OPCW is dodging the press on this important matter. The OPCW did respond to press inquiries after the first whistleblower surfaced in May, but it appears that someone has given the order to cease doing so with the claims of this second whistleblower.

If there were any correlation between newsworthiness and actual news coverage, the OPCW scandal would be making front-page international headlines today. Instead, the mounting evidence that the US and its allies committed a war crime based on false information and that a supposedly independent watchdog organisation helped them cover it up barely registers. Why is that?

If you ask Syria narrative managers like The Guardian‘s George Monbiot or The Intercept‘s Mehdi Hasan, this isn’t a big story because even if Assad wasn’t responsible for the Douma incident, it doesn’t matter because he’s still a very bad man. But this is an extremely intellectually dishonest obfuscation on their part, because this has nothing to do with whether or not Bashar al-Assad is a nice person. The OPCW covering up its findings exculpating the Syrian government on Douma wouldn’t be significant because it would mean that Assad is a good person, it would be significant because it would mean the US deceived the world about yet another military intervention. And it would make it much harder for the US to manufacture public support for other military interventions in the future.

Which is of course the real reason the political/media class is ignoring the OPCW scandal. Military violence is the glue that holds the US-centralized empire together, which means it is of utmost strategic importance that that empire retain the ability to manufacture consent for military violence going forward. Because plutocrat-controlled news media outlets are set up in such a way that their employees know their careers depend on protecting the empire upon which the plutocratic class is built, the OPCW scandal is an obvious no-go for anyone who wishes to remain in the business.

The only way this story will get mainstream coverage is if it goes viral without the assistance of the mainstream media, at which point the propagandists will be forced to report on it to save face and begin the near-impossible task of trying to regain control of the narrative. This will only happen if enough of us work together to shove the OPCW scandal into mainstream attention. I think this would end up being a very good thing for the world.

_____________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemitthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Media Silent As Nobel Prize Winning OPCW Found “Fixing” Its Own Findings On Syria – Collective Evolution

Posted by M. C. on November 11, 2019

The U.S. also previously forced Bustani from the OPCW in 2002 for contradicting their claims on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration under Secretary of State John Bolton seemingly threatened to kill his family if he did not resign: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you. We know where your kids live,” John Bolton told him.

https://www.collective-evolution.com/2019/11/09/media-silent-as-nobel-prize-winning-opcw-found-fixing-its-own-findings-on-syria/

This article was written by Alan-Macleod for mintpressnews.com where it was originally published.  Posted here with permission. 

In Brief

  • The Facts:Evidence suggests that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) deliberately suppressed evidence and testimony that contradicted the U.S. and mainstream media narratives regarding chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
  • Reflect On:Why is there so much information manipulation by mainstream media? How much of a stranglehold does mainstream media have on the perception of the masses with regards to various global events?

Douma, Syria, April 2018. Dozens of people die in a suspected chemical weapons attack in the eastern suburb of the capital Damascus. The United States and many European countries immediately identify President Bashar al-Assad as responsible for the attacks, and respond with deadly violence of their own, starting a bombing campaign against his forces. Yet new evidence leaked from whistleblowers suggests that not only is the Western story on shaky ground, but the report into the incident from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) deliberately suppressed evidence and testimony that contradicted the U.S. narrative.

Founded in 1997 to represent the collective position of its 193 member states, the OPCW oversees and verifies adherence to the strict rules that regulate the use of chemical weapons, which it hopes to eliminate.

After its fact-finding mission was complete, the OPCW issued a report on the alleged Douma attack. While far from conclusive or damning (it refused even to speculate on who was responsible for the attacks), it did suggest there was “likely” a chlorine attack carried out by dropping gas canisters from the air. This seems to contradict its interim findings that stated, “No organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties.” Nevertheless, some insinuated that the new report implicated government forces, the only groups likely to possess both the chemicals and the helicopters necessary to carry out such an attack.

But others criticized the findings. Piers Robinson, Co-Director for the Organization for Propaganda Studies and formerly Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at Sheffield University claimed the OPCW report contained “significant anomalies” and was “unpersuasive, to put it mildly”, noting contradictions on analysis of chemicals used, the method of delivery, and more.

Robinson’s fears appear to have been confirmed and on October 15 an OPCW whistleblower met in secret with a panel of international experts, including the first Director-General of the organization, Dr. Jose Bustani. After seeing the evidence provided by the whistleblower, the panel came to the conclusion that the OPCW had suppressed and distorted its data, analysis and conclusions, noting that “key information” about chemical analysis, toxicology, ballistics investigations and witness statements were suppressed, “ostensibly to favor a preordained conclusion.” The panel also expressed alarm at efforts to exclude certain inspectors from the investigation or from allowing them to express differing opinions and observations. Dissenting assessments that concluded that the gas canisters were probably placed in Douma, rather than dropped from aircraft – suggesting an altogether different scenario to the one the U.S. government was presenting – were suppressed

The U.S. also previously forced Bustani from the OPCW in 2002 for contradicting their claims on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration under Secretary of State John Bolton seemingly threatened to kill his family if he did not resign: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you. We know where your kids live,” John Bolton told him

The Media Demands War

The whistleblower’s testimony goes directly against the way in which corporate media presented the Douma attack. Unquestioningly accepting the Trump administration’s line, media claiming to be the custodians of truth and defenders of democracy, immediately began to clamor for a military response.

Even as the dust in Douma was still settling, the Washington Post’s editorial board claimed that “President Trump will deal another blow to US global leadership if he does not follow through” on bombing the country. The New York Times’ editorial team appeared to be trying to goad him into action, noting, “The president should know by now that tough talk without a coherent strategy or follow-through is dangerous.” In other words, “talk is cheap, it is time for action.” For the Guardian, considered at the left extreme of the mainstream spectrum, even waiting for a report to ascertain what truly happened was “irresponsible obfuscation”; its top foreign affairs commentator and former foreign and U.S. editor, Simon Tisdall insisting that, “After Douma, the West’s response to Syria’s regime must be military…there can be no more excuses.” He also condemned Obama’s hesitance to commit to more U.S. involvement in Syria as “a blot on his record.”

This article was written by Alan-Macleod for mintpressnews.com where it was originally published.  Posted here with permission. 

 

 

 

 

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The USA’s History Of Controlling The OPCW To Promote Regime Change – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on November 1, 2019

Think of this the next time you hear the lamestream media say Assad gassed his people.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/10/29/the-usas-history-of-controlling-the-opcw-to-promote-regime-change/

You wouldn’t know it from today’s news headlines, but there’s a major scandal unfolding with potentially far-reaching consequences for the entire international community. The political/media class has been dead silent about the fact that there are now two whistleblowers whose revelations have cast serious doubts on a chemical weapons watchdog group that is widely regarded as authoritative, despite the fact that this same political/media class has been crowing all month about how important whistleblowers are and how they need to be protected ever since a CIA spook exposed some dirt on the Trump administration.

When the Courage Foundation and WikiLeaks published the findings of an interdisciplinary panel which received an extensive presentation from a whistleblower from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation of an alleged 2018 chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, it was left unclear (perhaps intentionally) whether this was the same whistleblower who leaked a dissenting Engineering Assessment to the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media this past May or a different one. Subsequent comments from British journalist Jonathan Steele assert that there are indeed two separate whistleblowers from within the OPCW’s Douma investigation, both of whom claim that their investigative findings differed widely from the final OPCW Douma report and were suppressed from the public by the organization.

The official final report aligned with the mainstream narrative promulgated by America’s political/media class that the Syrian government killed dozens of civilians in Douma using cylinders of chlorine gas dropped from the air, while the two whistleblowers found that this is unlikely to have been the case. The official report did not explicitly assign blame to Assad, but it said its findings were in alignment with a chlorine gas attack and included a ballistics report which strongly implied an air strike (opposition fighters in Syria have no air force). The whistleblowers dispute both of these conclusions.

At the very least we can conclude from these revelations that the OPCW hid information from the public that an international watchdog organization has no business hiding about an event which led to an act of war in the form of an airstrike by the US, UK and France. We may also conclude that skepticism of their entire body of work around the world is perfectly legitimate until some very serious questions are answered. Right now no attempt is being made by the organization to bring about the kind of transparency which would help restore trust, with multiple journalists now reporting that the OPCW is refusing to answer their questions.

It is also not at all unreasonable to question whether the OPCW could have been influenced in some way by the United States behind the scenes, given how its now-dubious final report aligns so nicely with the narratives promoted by the CIA and US State Department, and given how we know for a fact that the US has aggressively manipulated the OPCW before in order to advance its regime change agendas.

In June of 2002, as the United States was preparing to invade Iraq, Mother Jones published an article titled “A Coup in The Hague” about the US government’s campaign to oust the OPCW’s very first Director General, José Bustani. If you’ve been following the recent OPCW revelations you will recall that Bustani was one of the panelists at the Courage Foundation whistleblower presentation in Brussels on October 15, after which he wrote the following: “The convincing evidence of irregular behavior in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirms doubts and suspicions I already had. I could make no sense of what I was reading in the international press. Even official reports of investigations seemed incoherent at best. The picture is certainly clearer now, although very disturbing.”

Mother Jones (which used to be a decent outlet for the record) breaks down how the US government was able to successfully bully the OPCW into ousting the very popular Bustani from his position as Director General in April 2002 by threatening to withdraw funding from the organization. This was done because Bustani was having an uncomfortable amount of success bringing the Saddam Hussein government to the negotiating table, and his efforts were perceived as a threat to the war agenda.

“Indeed, US officials have offered little reason for its opposition to Bustani, saying only that they questioned his ‘management style’ and differed with several of Bustani’s decisions,” Mother Jones reports. “Despite this, Washington waged an unusually public and vocal campaign to unseat Bustani, who had been unanimously reelected to lead the 145-nation body in May, 2000. Finally, at a ‘special session’ called after the US had threatened to cut off all funding for the organization, Bustani was sent packing.”

This happened despite broad international support for Bustani, including from then-Secretary of State Colin Powell who’d written to the renowned Brazilian diplomat praising his work in February 2001. According to the report’s author Hannah Wallace, the US was able to oust a unanimously re-elected Director General due to the disproportionate amount of financial influence America had over the OPCW.

“[I]n March of 2002, Bustani survived a US-led motion calling for a vote of no confidence in his leadership,” Wallace writes. “Having failed in that effort, Washington increased the pressure, threatening to cut off funding for the organization — a significant threat given that the US underwrites 22 percent of the total budget. A little more than a month later, Bustani was out.”

“Bustani suggests US officials were particularly displeased with his attempts to persuade Iraq to sign the chemical weapons treaty, which would have provided for routine and unannounced inspections of Iraqi weapons plants,” Wallace reported. “Of course, the Bush White House has recently cited Iraq’s refusal to allow such inspections as one justification for a new attack on Saddam Hussein’s regime.”

“Of course, had Iraq [joined the OPCW], a door would be opened towards the return of inspectors to Bagdad and consequently a viable, peaceful solution to the impasse,” Bustani told Mother Jones. “Is that what Washington wants these days?”

Bustani told Mother Jones that he was already seeing a shift in the OPCW into alignment with US interests. Again, this was back in 2002.

“The new OPCW, after my ousting, is already undergoing radical structural changes, along the lines of the US recipe, which will strike a definitive blow to the post of the Director General, making it once and for all a mere figurehead of a sham international regime,” he said.

“Bustani traces the shift to the influence of several hawkish officials in the Bush State Department, particularly Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton,” Wallace wrote.

Indeed, we’ve learned since that Bolton took it much further than that. Bustani reported to The Intercept last year that Bolton literally threatened to harm his children if he didn’t resign from his position as Director General.

“You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you,” Bolton reportedly told him, adding after a pause, “We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.”

The Intercept reports that Bolton’s office did not deny Bustani’s claim when asked for comment.

It is worth noting here that John Bolton was serving in the Trump administration as National Security Advisor throughout the entire time of the OPCW’s Douma investigation. Bolton held that position from April 9, 2018 to September 10, 2019. The OPCW’s Fact-Finding mission didn’t arrive in Syria until April 14 2018 and didn’t begin its investigation in Douma until several days after that, with its final report being released in March of 2019.

It is perfectly reasonable, given all this, to suspect that the US government may have exerted some influence over the OPCW’s Douma investigation. If they were depraved enough to not only threaten to withdraw funding from a chemical weapons watchdog in order to attain their warmongering agendas but actually threaten a diplomat’s family, they’re certainly depraved enough to manipulate an investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack. This would explain the highly suspicious omissions and discrepancies in its report.

It is a well-established fact that the US government has long sought regime change in Syria, not just in 2012 with Timber Sycamore and the official position of “Assad must go”, but even before the violence began in 2011. I’ve compiled multiple primary source pieces of evidence in an article you can read by clicking here that the US government and its allies have been planning to orchestrate an uprising in Syria exactly as it occurred with the goal of toppling Assad, and a former Qatari Prime Minister revealed on television in 2017 that the US and its allies were involved in that conflict from the very moment it first started.

So to recap, we know that the US government has manipulated the OPCW in order to advance regime change agendas in the past, and we know that the US government has long had a regime change agenda against Syria. Many questions will need to be answered before we can rule out the possibility that these two facts converged in an ugly way upon the OPCW’s Douma investigation.

________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemitthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Expert Panel Finds Gaping Plot Holes In OPCW Report On Alleged Syrian Chemical Attack – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on October 25, 2019

Seymour Hersh blew the lid off this years ago. You still heart the media say Assad gassed his people.

Hersh says other thing too.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/10/24/expert-panel-finds-gaping-plot-holes-in-opcw-report-on-alleged-syrian-chemical-attack/

The Courage Foundation, an international protection and advocacy group for whistleblowers, has published the findings of a panel it convened last week on the extremely suspicious behavior of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its investigation of an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria last year. After hearing an extensive presentation from a member of the OPCW’s Douma investigation team, the panel’s members (including a world-renowned former OPCW Director General) report that they are “unanimous in expressing our alarm over unacceptable practices in the investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus on 7 April 2018.”

I’ll get to the panel and its findings in a moment, but first I should provide some historical background so that readers who aren’t intimately familiar with this ongoing scandal can fully appreciate the significance of this new development.

In late March of last year, President Trump publicly stated that the US military would soon be withdrawing troops from Syria, causing some with an ear to the ground like independent US congressional candidate Steve Cox to predict that there would shortly be a false flag chemical weapons attack in that nation. This was because the public had already been shown that highly suspicious chemical attacks tended to happen when the Trump administration begins pushing for a reversal of standing US Syria policy, as I noted in April 2017 immediately following the alleged attack in Khan Shaykhun.

“I was able to predict Douma in 2018 because it happened already almost exactly 1 year prior, at Khan Shaykhun, April 4, 2017,” Cox told me on Twitter earlier today. “Khan Shaykhun also occurred within days of the Trump Admin saying we’re leaving Syria.”

And, like clockwork, on April 7 2018 dozens of civilians in Douma were killed in an incident which was quickly reported as a Syrian government chemical attack by all the usual establishment narrative managers on Syria, with everyone from the White Helmets to Charles Lister to Eliot Higgins to Julian Röpcke loudly flagging it on social media to draw the attention of mainstream news outlets who were slower to pick up the story.

There was immediate skepticism, partly because acclaimed journalists like Sy Hersh have been highlighting plot holes in the official story about chemical weapons in Syria since 2013, partly because Assad would stand nothing to gain and everything to lose by using a banned yet highly ineffective weapon in a battle he’d already essentially won in that region, and partly because the people controlling things on the ground in Douma were the Al Qaeda-linked extremist group Jaysh-al Islam and the incredibly shady narrative management operation known as the White Helmets. Those groups, unlike the Assad government, most certainly would stand everything to gain by staging a chemical attack in the desperate hope that it would draw NATO powers into attacking the Syrian government and perhaps saving their necks.

Long before any investigation into this suspicious incident could even be begun, much less completed, the US State Department declared it to have been a chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the Syrian government, saying “the Assad regime must be held accountable”, and that Russia “ultimately bears responsibility” for the attack. Which was of course mighty convenient for US geostrategic interests.

On the 14th of April 2018, the US, UK and France launched an airstrike on the Syrian government as punishment for using chemical weapons, citing secret “intelligence” which the US government claimed gave them “very high confidence that Syria was responsible.” The public has to this day never been permitted to see this intelligence. This all happened before any formal international investigation could take place.

The OPCW conducted their investigation, and in July 2018 published an interim report saying that “no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties.” This ruled out sarin gas, invalidating earlier reports by Syria war pundits like Charles Lister who claimed that sarin had been used, but it didn’t rule out chlorine gas. In March of this year the OPCW issued its final report saying forensics were consistent with chlorine gas use and advancing a ballistics report which strongly implicated the Assad government by implying it was an aerial drop (Syrian opposition militias have no air force). The official Twitter account for the UK Delegation to the OPCW tweeted at the time that the report “confirms chemical weapons used, demonstrating the vital importance of OPCW’s work. This confirmed chlorine attack was only the latest example of Asad regime’s CW attacks on its own population.”

In May of this year, a leaked internal document from the OPCW investigation was published by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media which completely contradicts the findings of the official report published in March. The leaked Engineering Assessment said that “observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest there is a higher probability both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft,” which would implicate the forces on the ground in the incident rather than the Assad government.

The OPCW indirectly confirmed the document’s authenticity by telling the press that its release had been “unauthorised”. Climate Audit’s Stephen McIntyre published an excellent thread breaking down how the document invalidates the OPCW’s claims which you can read by clicking here. Establishment narrative managers had a very difficult time spinning the fact that the OPCW had taken it upon itself to hide findings from the public which dissented from its official report on an incident which preceded an international act of war upon a sovereign nation, and all the implications that necessarily has for the legitimacy of the organization’s other work.

Throughout this time, critical thinkers like myself have been aggressively smeared as deranged conspiracy theorists, war crimes deniers and genocide deniers for expressing skepticism of the establishment-authorized narrative on Douma. Which takes us to today.

The Courage Foundation panel who met with the OPCW whistleblower consists of former OPCW Director General José Bustani (whose highly successful peacemongering once saw the lives of his children threatened by John Bolton during the lead-up to the Iraq invasion in an attempt to remove him from his position), WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, Professor of International Law Richard Falk, former British Army Major General John Holmes, Dr Helmut Lohrer of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, German professor Dr Guenter Meyer of the Centre for Research on the Arab World, and former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East Elizabeth Murray of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

So these are not scrubs. These are not “conspiracy theorists” or “Russian propagandists”. These are highly qualified and reputable professionals expressing deep concerns in the opaque and manipulative way the OPCW appears to have conducted its investigation into the Douma incident. Some highlights from their joint statement and analytical points are quoted below, with my own emphasis added in bold:

“Based on the whistleblower’s extensive presentation, including internal emails, text exchanges and suppressed draft reports, we are unanimous in expressing our alarm over unacceptable practices in the investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus on 7 April 2018.  We became convinced by the testimony that key information about chemical analyses, toxicology consultations, ballistics studies, and witness testimonies was suppressed, ostensibly to favor a preordained conclusion.”

“The convincing evidence of irregular behaviour in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirms doubts and suspicions I already had. I could make no sense of what I was reading in the international press. Even official reports of investigations seemed incoherent at best. The picture is certainly clearer now, although very disturbing.
~ Bustani

“A critical analysis of the final report of the Douma investigation left the panel in little doubt that conclusions drawn from each of the key evidentiary pillars of the investigation (chemical analysis, toxicology, ballistics and witness testimonies,) are flawed and bear little relation to the facts.

From the section on Chemical Analysis:

“The interpretation of the environmental analysis results is equally questionable. Many, if not all, of the so-called ‘smoking gun’ chlorinated organic chemicals claimed to be not naturally present in the environment’ (para 2.6) are in fact ubiquitous in the background, either naturally or anthropogenically (wood preservatives, chlorinated water supplies etc). The report, in fact, acknowledges this in Annex 4 para 7, even stating the importance of gathering control samples to measure the background for such chlorinated organic derivatives. Yet, no analysis results for these same control samples (Annex 5), which inspectors on the ground would have gone to great lengths to gather, were reported.”

“Although the report stresses the ‘levels’ of the chlorinated organic chemicals as a basis for its conclusions (para 2.6), it never mentions what those levels were —high, low, trace, sub-trace? Without providing data on the levels of these so-called ‘smoking-gun’ chemicals either for background or test samples, it is impossible to know if they were not simply due to background presence. In this regard, the panel is disturbed to learn that quantitative results for the levels of ‘smoking gun’ chemicals in specific samples were available to the investigators but this decisive information was withheld from the report.”

“The final report also acknowledges that the tell-tale chemicals supposedly indicating chlorine use, can also be generated by contact of samples with sodium hypochlorite, the principal ingredient of household bleaching agent (para 8.15). This game-changing hypothesis is, however, dismissed (and as it transpires, incorrectly) by stating no bleaching was observed at the site of investigation. (‘At both locations, there were no visible signs of a bleach agent or discoloration due to contact with a bleach agent’). The panel has been informed that no such observation was recorded during the on-site inspection and in any case dismissing the hypothesis simply by claiming the non-observation of discoloration in an already dusty and scorched environment seems tenuous and unscientific.”

From the section on Toxicology:

“The toxicological studies also reveal inconsistencies, incoherence and possible scientific irregularities. Consultations with toxicologists are reported to have taken place in September and October 2018 (para 8.87 and Annex 3), but no mention is made of what those same experts opined or concluded. Whilst the final toxicological assessment of the authors states ‘it is not possible to precisely link the cause of the signs and symptoms to a specific chemical‘ (para 9.6) the report nonetheless concludes there were reasonable grounds to believe chlorine gas was the chemical (used as a weapon).”

“More worrying is the fact that the panel viewed documented evidence that showed other toxicologists had been consulted in June 2018 prior to the release of the interim report. Expert opinions on that occasion were that the signs and symptoms observed in videos and from witness accounts were not consistent with exposure to molecular chlorine or any reactive-chlorine-containing chemical. Why no mention of this critical assessment, which contradicts that implied in the final report, was made is unclear and of concern.

From the section on Ballistic Studies:

“One alternative ascribing the origin of the crater to an explosive device was considered briefly but, despite an almost identical crater (understood to have resulted from a mortar penetrating the roof) being observed on an adjacent rooftop, was dismissed because of ‘the absence of primary and secondary fragmentation characteristics’. In contrast, explosive fragmentation characteristics were noted in the leaked study.”

From the section titled “Exclusion of inspectors and attempts to obfuscate”:

“Contrary to what has been publicly stated by the Director General of the OPCW it was evident to the panel that many of the inspectors in the Douma investigation were not involved or consulted in the post-deployment phase or had any contribution to, or knowledge of the content of the final report until it was made public. The panel is particularly troubled by organisational efforts to obfuscate and prevent inspectors from raising legitimate concerns about possible malpractices surrounding the Douma investigation.”

I’ll leave it there for now.

__________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemitthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

Be seeing you

 

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US Accuses Syria Of More Chemical Attacks Just As Chemical Weapons Narrative Crumbles – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on May 23, 2019

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/05/22/us-accuses-syria-of-more-chemical-attacks-just-as-chemical-weapons-narrative-crumbles/

The Institute for Public Accuracy published a report today about the leaked engineering assessment from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigation into an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria which directly contradicts the findings of the official OPCW report on the matter. Until the unauthorized release of this internal document the public was kept entirely uninformed of its existence, despite the serious military consequences of the questions it raises; the official story that the Syrian government had dropped chemical weapons in Douma was used to justify an airstrike on Syria days later.

MIT professor Theodore Postol provided IPA with a basic analysis of some of the data in the engineering assessment, adding that he “will have a much more detailed summary of the engineering report later this week.”

“A second issue that is raised by the character of the OPCW engineering report on Douma is that it is entirely unmentioned in the report that went to the UN Security Council,” Postol concludes after his analysis. “This omission is very serious, as the findings of that report are critical to the process of determining attribution. There is absolutely no reason to justify the omission of the engineering report in the OPCW account to the UN Security Council as its policy implications are of extreme importance.”

“A leaked OPCW document challenges claim that Assad used chemical weapons in Douma in April 2018, the basis for US military strikes,” tweeted journalist Aaron Maté of the new IPA report. “So far, Western media has ignored it, w/ only exceptions at the margins. Ted Postol is a leading expert; this should be impossible to ignore now.”

Hours later, the US State Department issued a statement once again accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons, and now when you search Google for information on chemical weapons in Syria, the results you get look like this:

So that’s convenient.

The State Department’s release actually reads like a government trying to regain control of an important narrative. It begins with an unsubstantiated allegation of a chlorine gas attack by the Syrian government this past Sunday, and warns that the US and its allies will respond militarily if chemical weapons have been used. It condemns the Syrian government’s offensive to recapture the Al Qaeda-occupied Idlib province, then veers off into sheer narrative management, accusing the Russian government of lying about the White Helmets and citing the OPCW as a trustworthy source of authority:

Russia’s recent allegations against the White Helmets and others are part of a continuing disinformation campaign by the Assad regime and Russia to create the false narrative that others are to blame for chemical weapons attacks that the Assad regime itself is conducting. Similarly, on November 24, 2018, the Assad regime and Russia attempted to fabricate a chemical weapons attack near Aleppo and blame it on opposition forces. At times, Russia and the Assad regime have made these false allegations as a pretext in advance of the Assad regime’s own barbaric chemical weapons attacks.

 

The facts, however, are clear: the Assad regime itself has conducted almost all verified chemical weapons attacks that have taken place in Syria—a conclusion the United Nations has reached over and over again. The former Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Investigation Mechanism repeatedly verified and reported the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons. The Assad regime’s culpability in horrific chemical weapons attacks is undeniable.

As I wrote the other day, the fact that the OPCW kept the engineering report from receiving not a whisper of attention severely undermines the organization’s credibility, not just with regard to Douma but with regard to everything, including the establishment Syria narrative as a whole and the Skripal case in the UK. Everything the OPCW has ever concluded about alleged chemical usage around the world is now subject to very legitimate skepticism, and now the State Department is trying to use this same dubious source in its narrative control campaign against a government long targeted by the US empire for regime change.

 

“Assad once again proving he’s either a total fool or just the biggest troll in history,” Off-Guardian tweeted sarcastically in response to the State Department’s allegations. “In the midst of the scandal over the OPCW repressing evidence that the Douma chemical attack was staged, Bashar just goes and does another one.”

“The US can’t attack Iran so it’s going to unleash its impotent rage on Syria,” tweeted journalist Sharmine Narwani. “One false flag CW attack by US-trained terrorists coming up.”

The notion that the Syrian government would use chemical weapons at this stage in the game is even more nonsensical than it was at the time of the Douma allegations in April 2018. President Bashar al-Assad has recaptured far more territory from the western-backed extremist factions, the eventual full recapture of the nation by Syria and its allies is a foregone conclusion barring direct military intervention by the US empire, and now the western imperialists are even beginning to lose the narrative war as well. There’s no reason to believe Assad would use chemical weapons at this point in the game unless you sincerely believe that he gains some sort of sexual gratification from committing war crimes that is so powerful it overwhelms his most basic survival instincts.

Chemical weapons, particularly chlorine gas, are not an efficient way of killing people. As Moon of Alabama once put it, “Chemical warfare is ineffective. That is why everyone agreed to ban it.” There is nothing about chemical weapons that is inherently more horrific than, say, nuclear weapons; the difference is that they’re just not a very efficient way of killing a large number of people, whereas nuclear weapons are. The Syrian government and its allies have been securing military victory after military victory over the occupying militias which had taken over large territories, and they have been doing so using far more effective conventional munitions. Assad would stand absolutely nothing to gain and absolutely everything to lose by using chemical warfare now.

At this point you almost wish America would just pick a target and stick with it. The US war machine is like a belligerent drunk at a pub with a broken bottle in his hand, menacing customer after customer while everyone silently prays he has a few more drinks and passes out on the floor. From Iran to Venezuela to Syria and more, the agenda to bully all the world’s nations into allowing themselves to be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized empire is causing conflict after conflict all around the globe, with devastating consequences for the civilians caught in the crossfire.

You may be certain that Syria remains a geostrategically crucial location for the empire because they keep working on manufacturing consent for interventionism there. They work to manufacture that consent because they need that consent; if everyone saw their government doing horrific things they widely disapproved of, the illusion of freedom and democracy would be shattered, and they’d lose their ability to propagandize the masses. Without the ability to propagandize the masses, they could not rule.

So the good news is that we can slow them down by using truth to disrupt their use of their narrative control arsenal. The bad news is that they’re as depraved and determined as ever.

____________________

Everyone has my unconditional permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitterthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

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CONFIRMED: Chemical Weapons Assessment Contradicting Official Syria Narrative Is Authentic – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on May 20, 2019

We now have confirmation that, for whatever the reason may be, this assessment was hidden from the public by the OPCW.

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/17/confirmed-chemical-weapons-assessment-contradicting-official-syria-narrative-is-authentic/

By Caitlin Johnstone

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has begun responding to queries by the press about a leaked document that contradicts official OPCW findings on an alleged chemical weapons attack last year in Douma, Syria. The prepared statement they’ve been using in response to these queries confirms the authenticity of the document.

To recap, a few days ago the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM) published a document signed by a man named Ian Henderson, whose name is seen listed in expert leadership positions on OPCW documents from as far back as 1998 and as recently as 2018. It’s unknown who leaked the document and what other media organizations may have received it.

The report picks apart the extremely shaky physics and narratives of the official OPCW analysis on the gas cylinders allegedly dropped from Syrian government aircraft in the Douma attack, and concludes that “The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft,” saying instead that manual placement of the cylinders in the locations investigators found them in is “the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”

Cylinders Did Not Arrive by Air 

To be clear, this means that according to the assessment signed by an OPCW-trained expert, the cylinders alleged to have dispensed poison gas which killed dozens of people in Douma did not arrive in the locations that they were alleged to have arrived at via aircraft dropped by the Syrian government, but via manual placement by people on the ground, where photographs were then taken and circulated around the world as evidence against the Syrian government which was used to justify air strikes by the U.S., U.K. and France. There were swift military consequences meted out on what appears now to be a lie. At the time, the people on the ground were the Al Qaeda-linked Jaysh Al-Islam, who had at that point nothing to lose and everything to gain by staging a false flag attack in a last-ditch attempt to get NATO powers to function as their air force, since they’d already effectively lost the battle against the Syrian government.

We now have confirmation that, for whatever the reason may be, this assessment was hidden from the public by the OPCW.

British journalists Peter Hitchens and Brian Whitaker have both published matching statements from the OPCW on this report. Hitchens has been an outspoken critic of the establishment Syria narrative; Whittaker has been a virulent promulgator of it. The statement begins as a very mundane and obvious assertion that it takes information from numerous sources and then publishes its conclusions, but concludes with an admission that it is “conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.” This constitutes an admission that the document is authentic.

Text of Statement

I strongly encourage readers to check out the 15-page document for themselves to understand its claims and make up their own minds,…

Be seeing you

Assange

 

 

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The west closes its ears to Douma testimony

Posted by M. C. on April 30, 2018

The first strange thing to note is that the US, UK and France boycotted the meeting, denouncing Russia for producing the witnesses and calling the event an “obscene masquerade” and “theatre”.

https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2018-04-28/the-west-closes-its-ears-to-douma-testimony/

The response from the US, UK and France to a briefing on Thursday at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague was perverse, to say the least. Russia had brought 17 witnesses from Douma who stated that there had been no chemical weapons attack there earlier this month – the pretext for an illegal air strike on Syria by the three western states.

The witnesses, a mix of victims and the doctors who treated them, told accounts that confirmed a report provided last week from Douma by British reporter Robert Fisk – a report, it should be noted, that has been almost entirely blanked by the western media. According to the testimony provided at the OPCW, the victims shown in a video from the site of the alleged attack were actually suffering from the effects of inhaling dust after a bombing raid, not gas. Read the rest of this entry »

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