Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

The League of Assad-Loving Conspiracy Theorists

By C.J. Hopkins • Unz Review • April 26, 2018

So the global capitalist ruling classes’ War on Dissent is now in full swing. With their new and improved official narrative, “Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis,” successfully implanted in the public consciousness, the corporatocracy have been focusing their efforts on delegitimizing any and all forms of deviation from their utterly absurd and increasingly paranoid version of reality.

The Democratic Party is suing Russia, the Trump campaign, and Wikileaks (seriously … they’ve filed an actual lawsuit in an actual court of law an everything) for launching “an all-out assault on democracy” by publishing the DNC’s emails, “an act of unprecedented treachery,” according to Party Chairman Tom Perez. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, having already spent the last six years in a room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid being arrested by the British authorities, extradited to the United States, and imprisoned for the remainder of his natural life, has been cut off from the outside world in order to prevent him from further “interfering” with democracy by expressing his opinions.

In Syria, where the “international community” has been battling the “global terrorist threat” by supporting moderate jihadist militias intent on overthrowing the government and establishing a fundamentalist theocracy, the corporate media have been hard at work sanctifying the official story of the “chemical weapons attack” in Douma. According to this story, Bashar al-Assad, an uncooperative brutal dictator whom the corporatocracy has been trying to replace with a more cooperative brutal dictator, dropped a lot of chlorine gas bombs (and possibly sarin, the deadly nerve agent), onto a house full of innocent babies. He did this on the eve of victory over those moderate jihadist militias the “international community” has been supporting in their eight-year attempt to take over his country, slaughter him and his entire family, mount their severed heads on spikes, implement nationwide Sharia law, and then go out hunting homosexuals and heretics to gruesomely behead on YouTube. The evacuation of these freedom fighters was already being negotiated, but Assad didn’t want to miss his last chance to sadistically gas a lot of women and children and have the Western corporate media broadcast his war crimes throughout the world, or something more or less along those lines.

This gratuitous baby-gassing massacre could not be allowed to go unpunished, so Emmanuel Macron and other senior members of the “international community” hauled Trump in off a golf course somewhere (or wrestled him away from the Gorilla Channel) and ordered him to order a completely pointless one hundred fifty million dollar series of “retaliatory” missile strikes on assorted uninhabited buildings containing zero chemical weapons and of absolutely no strategic value. The corporate media and their paid menagerie of military experts and other talking heads took to the airwaves to celebrate this demonstration of international “resolve,” as did investors in Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics.

The celebrations were short-lived, however, as the corporate media needed to immediately turn their attention to aggressively countering the malicious disinformation campaign being waged by the infamous International Putin-Nazi Propaganda Network (i.e., anyone capable of critical thinking). Reports by journalists actually in Syria, like Robert Fisk of The Independent, casting doubt on the official story needed to be strenuously ignored, ridiculed, and delegitimized. Fisk, a respected, award-winning journalist who has covered the Middle East for over four decades, had clearly been duped by his Putin-Nazi minders into publishing pro-Assad propaganda. Just as clearly, any actual Syrians contradicting the official story (which the corporate media had scrupulously fact-checked with the US military and intelligence agencies) had been intimidated into doing so by Putin-Nazi-Assadist death squads.

But Fisk and the Syrians are small potatoes compared to the discord-sowing threat posed by the International League of Assad-Loving Twitter Conspiracy Theorists, a decentralized network of “anti-Western,” “pro-Assad,” extremist traitors led by people like Sarah Abdallah, a shadowy figure whose current whereabouts the BBC is still trying to pinpoint (and presumably report to MI6), and Vanessa Beeley, an independent journalist who writes about Syria for an “extreme right” website, speaks to “fringe groups,” and has appeared on RT, which the BBC is at pains to remind us is a “state-owned” media organization.

This nefarious network of dissension-sowers is also responsible for the “4000 percent increase” in Putin-Nazi propaganda in the wake of the Poisoned Porridge Attack that “Russia” carried out in Salisbury in March, in which operatives allegedly smeared the doorknob of a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter with oatmeal laced with Novichok, “the deadliest nerve agent ever devised,” instead of, well, you know, just shooting the guy, or throwing him out of an upper-floor window. Despite the potency of this lethal nerve agent, which, for some reason, “can only be made in Russia,” both victims are expected to completely recover. Tragically, their cat and guinea pigs, having also managed to survive the attack, were slowly starved to death by the police, presumably out of an abundance of caution.

In any event, according to the diligent, authoritative investigative journalists at The Guardian, following this brazen porridge attack, “automated bots” “based in Russia,” like @Partisangirl and @Ian56789, spread Putin-Nazi disinformation to millions of unknowing Twitter users in an attempt to “undermine the international system” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). As it turns out, @Partisangirl is just a human being and not a robot at all, and @Ian56789 is just a feisty British pensioner who is tired of being routinely lied to by the government and the corporate media … unless, of course, he’s a sleeper agent just posing as a feisty pensioner, which he hasn’t been able to conclusively disprove to the satisfaction of the corporate media. (Watch Ian being interrogated by a Sky News Russian Bot-Hunting Team and judge his loyalties for yourself!)

These are just a few examples of how the global capitalist ruling classes and their mouthpieces in the corporate media have been generating an atmosphere of mindless hysteria and paranoia in the service of drawing “a line in the sand” between neoliberalism (i.e., global capitalism) and any and all forms of dissent therefrom. They’ve been at this, relentlessly, for almost two years now, since they recognized they were being confronted with a bona fide widespread “populist” insurgency against the hegemony of global capitalism, not just in the Greater Middle East, but right in the heart of the Western empire.

I’ve been writing about this since 2016, so I’m not going to try to rehash all that here. The short version is, Western societies are being divided into two opposing camps … two extremely broad ideological camps, both of which encompass the traditional political division into left and right. Let’s call camp number one “the Normals” (i.e., those who support and conform to the values and ideology of global capitalism, regardless of whether they identify as conservatives, liberals, neoliberals, neoconservatives, or anything else). Let’s call camp number two “the Extremists” (i.e., those opposing global capitalism, or not conforming to its ideology, regardless of whether they identify as socialists, communists, anarchists, fascists, anti-fascists, jihadists, or whatever).

While, of course, real political conflict still takes place within each of these two broad camps, the global capitalist ruling classes are less concerned with the “left/right” equation than they are with “Normal/Extremist” equation. This is the battle they are fighting currently. Short some sort of miraculous event, it is a battle they are going to win. They are going to win it by demonizing anyone opposing global capitalism as one or another form of “extremist” … an Islamic terrorist, an Antifa terrorist, a white supremacist, a Black identity extremist, an anti-Semite, a conspiracy theorist, an Assad apologist, a Russian bot, a Putin-Nazi propagandist … or whatever. It doesn’t really matter which labels they use. The point is, anyone not conforming to the global capitalist version of reality is an enemy of all that is normal and good.

In an atmosphere of mass hysteria and paranoia (like the one we’re living in at the moment), the authorities’ narratives do not have to make sense, or stand up to any type of real scrutiny. Their primary purpose is not to deceive, but rather, to demarcate an ideological territory of acceptable belief, expression, and emotion to which “normal” people are expected to conform. Beyond the boundaries of that territory lies the outer darkness of “abnormality” and “extremism,” which no “normal” person wants anything to do with. To avoid being cast into this outer darkness, people will conform to the most absurd and paranoid nonsense you can possibly imagine. The global capitalist ruling classes know this, which is why they don’t care if you disprove their narratives on Twitter or some “disreputable” website they’ve rendered virtually invisible anyway. They are not debating the facts or the truth … they are marking the boundaries of that “normal” territory, and herding frightened people into it.

This article in Haaretz by Alexander Reid Ross, a lecturer at Portland State University who has been publishing (or attempting to publish) a series of rather paranoid pieces smearing people he disagrees with as neo-Strasserist sleeper agents, provides an extreme but clear example of what Western governments and the corporate media have been doing, albeit on a much subtler level. Read the piece through if you can possibly stand it. You will be told how people like Michael Savage, Rania Khalek, Alex Jones, Breitbart’s entire UK office, Cenk Ugyur, Max Blumenthal, Caitlin Johnstone, Glenn Greenwald, The Nation‘s Stephen F. Cohen, Tucker Carlson, Vanessa Beeley (again), various British fascists, Jeremy Corbyn, and that modern-day Rasputin, Lyndon LaRouche, are all parts of the insidious Putin-Nazi plot to … well, I’m not sure, exactly, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with killing Jews and gassing babies.

Would you like to be associated with people like that … Assad-loving, Putin-supporting Nazis? No? Then stop and think very carefully before sharing, “liking,” or commenting on this essay.

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org.

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Whether it’s Russiagate, Skripal or Syria, the Media Have Lost Their Grip on Reality

Despite a series of collapsing mainstream narratives, the establishment can’t help but doubling (and tripling) down on their official conspiracy theories.

By Paul Mansfield | 21st Century Wire | April 26, 2018

The “Blame Russia” for absolutely everything world we currently occupy has reached a point almost beyond return and is scaling heights that would turn Joseph McCarthy green with envy. Whether it is internally produced political turmoil and scandal, or because of generally reckless and failed foreign policy endeavours, the US and UK governments are more wiling than ever to pin the blame on Russia without fail.

The instant blame on Russia for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, or “highly likely it was Russia”, as Theresa May put it, proved grossly premature, graduating onto maybe not so likely at all – thanks to dedicated alt media and social media researchers and activists uncovering the development of Novichoks in multiple countries, making it entirely plausible that some country other than Russia may be responsible for the improbable Salisbury event.

No sooner did the Skripal Affair wind up, than another supposed ‘chemical attack’ unfolded, this time in Syria, where an alleged chemical weapons airstrike was said to have taken place in Douma on 7 April. Accounts of this incident were reliant entirely for its evidence on two dubious sources, the US and UK-backed White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). It didn’t take long before the official story started springing leaks though. The hilarity of seeing chlorine cylinders laying on a bed, rather than smashing through it, numerous witness statements there was no chemical attack, the testimony of over a dozen medical personnel at the medical centre concerned that the White Helmets caused a panic by shouting chemical attack when there was none and the interview of 11 year old Hassan Diab, who was not a chemical weapon victim, but certainly was a victim of an unwarranted drenching as part of a staged event, have all demolished yet another false flag instigated by western intelligence agencies and their White Helmets operatives. All this was irrelevant however to the criminal Troika, the US, UK and France, who bypassed the United Nations and bombed Syria in the early hours of 14 April, provoking Russia into an instant reaction which never came.

Some are of the opinion that the Troika and Russia reached an agreement beforehand and so therefore there was never the threat of outbreak of conflict which could escalate to a catastrophic WWIII.

Here is the White Helmets ‘hose-down’ video which triggered a western military intervention:

Faced with rapidly dwindling legitimacy and credibility, the UK government in particular set their attack dogs in the mainstream media on to alt media and social media activists. The result is a coordinated and intensive smear campaign against independent journalists, academics and social media activists with large followings. The gutter press of the UK have demonstrated that in terms of propaganda and disinformation, they are without peer. US media Russophobes almost look like babes in the woods in comparison.

What we are witnessing is a war on truth, vicious intimidation of dissenting voices, the negating of fierce independent voices as Russian puppets and bots and Assad apologists, and ad hominem attacks all designed to shut down a powerful narrative which shines a light on the warmongering narrative propagated by the mainstream media.

The campaign reached a level of absurdity beyond comprehension when Twitter activist @Ian56789 was asked by Sky News hosts if he was a bot as he was being interviewed live on air!

As disinformation against Russia soars off the fake news Richter Scale and independent journalists and activists are being personally targeted, one only has to revisit the recent Devon Nunes Memo story as an example of a real domestic US political scandal which the derelict US mainstream media attempted to transform into yet another Russian disinformation campaign.

You would have to be living under a rock to not know of the salacious, but unverified dossier on US President Donald Trump, which purportedly started out as a piece of opposition research during the 2016 election campaign, but quickly became the driving force behind allegations that Trump colluded with the Russian government in order to win the presidential election. In the mind of many a deep state adoring Democrat and mainstream media journalist, it is beyond dispute that Trump colluded with Russia. The major questions are how extensive the collusion was and does it amount to having committed federal crimes. To answer these questions, the Mueller investigation must continue expanding as far and wide as necessary.

Many Republicans believe the widely ridiculed and discredited dossier prepared by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, was the catalyst for the FBI decision to investigate allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia. A mocked and debunked dossier, which looked like it was concocted in a teenagers bedroom bought down on CNN and Buzzfeed a truck load of embarrassment when they decided to run with a story other media outlets balked at.

So how did it transform into such a vital document that initiated the Mueller probe into suspected Trump collusion with Russia?

We have had the mainstream media pumping this story 24/7. They will not let it go, determined that it bring about the downfall of Donald Trump. By gleefully accepting any lead from their highly coveted ‘sources’, the MSM begs to be subverted by the intelligence community, thereby subverting any prospect of a properly functioning US democracy and informed citizenry.

However, the revelations of #ReleaseTheMemo which alleged shocking FISA abuses by the FBI has raised the spectre of another alleged collusion; the FBI and the Obama DOJ colluding against Trump. The major accusation is that the FBI hid from the FISA court judge the fact that it was heavily relying on the dodgy Trump Dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant to spy on Trump, the man who was to become the future President. What is even more explosive is that it was not revealed to the judge that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign paid for the dossier. Dirty partisan politics has gone a step too far in this sordid affair, with the DNC and FBI duping the FISA court into unwittingly assisting them in their campaign against Trump.

And let’s be clear here; this is the work of the Obama administration and any rigorous investigation would pursue whether or not the collusion against Trump went all the way to former president Obama himself.

Republicans were outraged and demanded the release of the memo.

This is hardly a surprise, being shocked and alarmed at possible internal interference in the election by US intelligence agencies, the very agencies that told us it was Russia that undermined US democracy by its electoral interference.

It is crucial to grasp the fact that this affair is a case of internal interference in the election campaign and has generated intense reaction within the US political establishment and among many in the general public.

One may question then the spin the Hamilton 68 propaganda organ placed on the interest whipped up by the memo. It attempted to reframe calls to release the memo as yet another so-called Russian influence operation, using trolls and bots to amplify the message across cyberspace.

Hamilton 68, a banal and comical operation, is projecting on to Russia the very thing it is doing itself; spreading disinformation aimed at undermining and destabilizing Russia, but also the US political system. On the strength of CNN’s dumpster diving, Hamilton 68 likes to tell us all about how the cryptic ‘Internet Research Agency’ in St. Petersburg is one big giant troll factory. Sorry, Hamilton 68, but you are one big NATO/Deep state cyberspace troll factory yourselves.

The Democratic Party Russophobia icons, Dianne Feinstein and Adam Schiff, quickly took the opportunity to deflect from the emerging memo scandal, pulling out the playbook of Russian subversion through social media for the umpteenth time. Quite comfortable with the fact that they have secured the social media giants as appendages of the US deep state, Feinstein and Schiff wrote to Twitter and Facebook asking them to investigate what they claimed are Russian bots spreading the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag. The letter reads in part:

“… Several Twitter hashtags, including #ReleaseTheMemo, calling for release of these talking points attacking the Mueller investigation were born in the hours after the Committee vote. According to the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, this effort gained the immediate attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations. By Friday, January 19, 2018, the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag was “the top trending hashtag among Twitter accounts believed to be operated by Kremlin-linked groups.” Its use had “increased by 286,700 percent” and was being used “100 times more than any other hashtag” by accounts linked to Russian influence campaigns. These accounts are also promoting an offer by WikiLeaks to pay up to $1 million to anyone who leaks this classified partisan memo.

If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors…”

Nice sleight of hand Hamilton 68, Schiff and Feinstein, but this is a scandal that whipped Republicans, not Russians into a frenzy. It is a stand-alone scandal that raised questions about the ethics, partiality and possible illegal acts of the US intelligence community and the Obama DOJ. It does not need any Russian trolls to inflate the gravity of the situation.

Florida Republican Rep. Ron Desantis tweeted, “Yesterday, I viewed a deeply troubling report compiled by House Intelligence that raises questions about Obama DOJ & the so-called collusion investigation.”

Desantis said it right there: collusion between the Obama DOJ and the FBI. If true, it is a shocking indictment on deep state interference in US politics, going all the way to the top in attempting to subvert the US presidential election.

So we have at least 2 allegations of collusion; the longstanding and tiresome Russiagate story, which the mainstream media will not give a moments rest and the newer, but equally shocking FBI/DOJ collusion emerging from the woodworks with the news of the classified memo.

You can read and watch RussiaGate stories in both US/Western MSM and Russian media. Fair enough, it was a big story, newsworthy and deeply concerning if it was true (the US media has overplayed their hand though to put it mildly). As time goes on and without a shred of evidence produced, it is time to put the whole issue to bed and move on. It is only the absurdity of the MSM insistence that collusion has been proved beyond doubt and any who question it are conspiracy theorists, that maintains the interest of the reasonable person, even if only to mock media figures and politicians who are the true conspiracy theorists.

The calls to release the Devon Nunes compiled memo also attracted huge coverage in both US and Russian media. However, US media framed it in terms of a partisan struggle between Democrats and Republicans; detracting from the implications of the abuse of the FISA system and placing the scandal into the realm of normal everyday, if somewhat dirty party politics.

There is nothing everyday about the possibility that this whole Russia investigation is in reality a conspiracy by top FBI officials and the DOJ to sabotage Trump and install Hillary Clinton (remember her?) as president. Look at Peter Strzok and Lisa Page as examples, whose texts made no secret of their contempt for Trump and their desire to see him lose the election.

So why did CNN, the New York Times and the supposedly reputable Business Insider deem it newsworthy to claim Russian influence networks were spreading the release the memo hashtag like wildfire across the social media landscape. Business Insider even implied the Nunes memo has been given wings by being amplified by Russian trolls and bots across the social media landscape.

The compiling of the memo by Republican aides on the House Intelligence Committee that led to the unfolding scandal was not initiated by Russia. The angry calls for action came from Republicans, not Russians.

We can’t even be sure if these so-called Russian networks of trolls are Russian at all. But let’s assume for a minute they are. Big deal if they spread the story. It is fascinating, very interesting and could have huge consequences of DOJ and FBI heads rolling. It also serves to relieve some of the pressure on Russia, so why wouldn’t they promote it heavily. They are merely acting in the interests of Russia, which no reasonable person could complain about.

Many people believe Americans are simply apathetic victims and that these supposed Russian trolls or bots are drowning them in disinformation, and that western media figures and politicians are powerless to stop it. That’s the mainstream’s moderate narrative. However, a look at the number of followers of some US media celebrities on Twitter should dispel that misinformation in a heartbeat. Rachel Maddow, with 9 million followers, retweeted a tweet by NBC reporter Ken Dilanian, a tweet which itself got 6K retweets and 19K likes. His tweet, included, “your #ReleaseTheMemo is the top trending hashtag among the Russian bots and trolls over the last 48 hours, and you might want to ask yourself why.”

So a media figure from NBC is clearly muddying the waters, throwing us a red herring in implying the nefarious hand of Russia is at play. Maddow gave Dilanian huge impetus in his attempt to try to flip the story to turn it into yet another opportunity to attack Russia. Deeply troubling allegations which could rock the foundations of the intelligence and justice communities are made a mockery of by a disreputable journalist who sees it as another chance to Russia bait. Before you know it, they will be telling us the #Memo was a joint venture put together by the FSB and Republicans, thus proving the collusion is still going as strong as ever. This level of hysteria is way beyond Cold War McCarthyism.

And when Rachel Maddow retweets something, how many likes and retweets does that generate. Enough to turn the Russian bots and trolls green (or should that be red) with envy.

Maddow herself is capitalizing very nicely on the Russophobia being generated by the whole Russiagate affair to boost her own ratings and affection within the political establishment. She has not got a single progressive bone in her body and epitomizes the dumbed down, hyped up claims about Russian interference in American political and social life. The spectacle is the theatre of the absurd, as Americans are subjected to Hollywood type entertainment to titillate and shock with the never ending “revelations” which roll out like clockwork. And, true to Hollywood style fiction, the more outrageous and sensational the better.

This is why Maddow is able to get away with calling Jill Stein a Kremlin puppet, and to feign seriousness and solemnity as she continues to call Trump a Putin puppet, putty in his hands, even as Trump has clearly embarked on a path which has plummeted US/Russian relations to their lowest point since the darkest days of the Cold War.

Maddow uses a technique for these claims which may enthrall Never-Trumpers and fill Le Resistance with fear, but it is straight from the neocon playbook. It is that any sign of Trump not being totally committed to overt and outright hostility to Russia proves that he is a Russian puppet. He must adopt the neocon attitude of Russia being the eternal enemy, the biggest threat the US faces and that it must be confronted and made to pay a price for its aggression, expansionist ambitions and meddling in US affairs.

Putin has Trump in a vice like grip with the “compromat” on him, using it to blackmail him in to doing Russia’s bidding according to Maddow. Putin is forcing Trump to declare war on the intelligence community, fomenting chaos in a crowning glory of undermining US national security. How better to leave the US vulnerable to the rapacious desires of Russia than by shattering the institutions of US national security.

Maddow believes Putin blackmailed Trump with the Golden showers tape to hire Paul Manafort as his campaign manager, to hire Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and to pressure him to withdraw US forces in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, (which hasn’t happened).

“Is the new President gonna take those troops out? After all the speculation, after all the worry, we are actually about to find out if Russia maybe has something on the new President? We’re about to find out if the new President of our country is going to do what Russia wants once he’s Commander-in-Chief of the US military starting noon on Friday. What is he gonna do with those deployments? Watch this space.”

In Maddows demented mind, anything less than the Trump administration universally standing poised to unsheathe their swords and land a mortal blow on Russia is proof of collusion with the Kremlin. Any conciliatory overtures are met by howls of derision by the Maddow/Hillary Clinton led “resistance.” Amid this red hot rhetoric and witch hunt for internal traitors, Maddow and her ilk are the ones to claim it is Russia sowing discord and discontent.

“This is international warfare against our country,” Maddow said on her show.

Maddow says she goes to bed every night wondering what new Russia scandal awaits the country the next morning, propelling the Russia hysteria all the way to election 2020 and bankrolling her show and career almost exclusively on one issue threadbare of any evidence. The McCarthy of the modern mainstream media some say. It’s Clickbait applied to cable TV you could also say:

“If the presidency is effectively a Russian op, if the American presidency right now is the product of collusion between the Russian intelligence services and an American campaign — I mean, that is so profoundly big, we not only need to stay focused on figuring it out. We need to start preparing for what the consequences are going to be if it proves to be true.”

‘If it proves to be true.’  That’s right, and we’re still waiting for the evidence.

Maddow and her fellow military industrial complex media mouthpieces don’t need evidence to believe Russia interfered in the election, as she spreads her poison to millions of viewers night after night. She sees Vladimir Putin as pure evil, the embodiment of the terrifying KGB and tells her viewers this repeatedly. She has become the torchbearer for an ever wilder conspiracy theory, whipping her audience into a frenzy, baying for Russian blood.

It is extraordinary that anyone listens to a word Maddow says after she produced her only evidence on Trump; his tax return which revealed he paid $38million in federal taxes on more than $150 million in income in 2005. Bombing out big time on alleged Trump tax cheating has clearly not stopped Maddow proceeding full steam ahead in accusing him of being a Kremlin installed puppet.

So who is running an influence campaign here, Moscow, or the US military industrial complex media?

What is never discussed outside of alt-media circles is how far were the FBI, the DOJ, and the Hillary Clinton campaign involved in what is increasingly looking every day more like FBIgate than Russiagate? What about the roles of powerful deep state actors like John Brennan and James Clapper, who are bound to have played a hand in concocting and promoting the official conspiracy theory? Clapper, who thinks it is in Russian DNA to hack things and Brennan who sees Russia as a long term threat intent on attacking US democracy, sternly warning the incoming President Trump not to ignore the huge threat Russia poses.

What was also not overtly acknowledged is that by pressuring for the release of the memo, Devon Nunes and other Republicans actually carried out a duty they were elected to perform; holding the intelligence community accountable. As former CIA analyst Ray McGovern of Consortium News said:

At this point, the $64 question is whether the various congressional oversight committees will remain ensconced in their customarily cozy role as “overlook” committees, or whether they will have the courage to attempt to carry out their Constitutional duty. The latter course would mean confronting a powerful Deep State and its large toolbox of well-practiced retaliatory techniques, including J. Edgar Hoover-style blackmail on steroids, enabled by electronic surveillance of just about everything and everyone. Yes, today’s technology permits blanket collection, and “Collect Everything” has become the motto.

The take-away from all of this is that no sin is too great, and no scandal can’t be flipped to pin the blame on Russia.

Meanwhile, any criminal or unethical conduct of Democrats and deep staters will not be plastered across the newspapers and cyberspace.

Don’t worry about it. Just say its Russian disinformation. Works every time.

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Douma: Part 1 – Deception In Plain Sight

Media Lens | April 25, 2018

UK corporate media are under a curious kind of military occupation. Almost all print and broadcast media now employ a number of reporters and commentators who are relentless and determined warmongers. Despite the long, unarguable history of US-UK lying on war, and the catastrophic results, these journalists instantly confirm the veracity of atrocity claims made against Official Enemies, while having little or nothing to say about the proven crimes of the US, UK, Israel and their allies. They shriek with a level of moral outrage from which their own government is forever spared. They laud even the most obviously biased, tinpot sources blaming the ‘Enemy’, while dismissing out of hand the best scientific researchers, investigative journalists and academic sceptics who disagree.

Anyone who challenges this strange bias is branded a ‘denier’, ‘pro-Saddam’, ‘pro-Gaddafi, ‘pro-Assad’. Above all, one robotically repeated word is generated again and again: ‘Apologist… Apologist… Apologist’.

Claims of a chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria on April 7, offered yet another textbook example of this reflexive warmongering. Remarkably, the alleged attack came just days after US president Donald Trump had declared of Syria:

I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.

The ‘mainstream’ responded as one, with instant certainty, exactly as they had in response to atrocity and other casus belli claims in Houla, Ghouta, Khan Sheikhoun and many other cases in Iraq (1990), Iraq (1998), Iraq (2002-2003), Libya and Kosovo.

Once again, the Guardian editors were sure: there was no question of a repetition of the fake justifications for war to secure non-existent Iraqi WMDs, or to prevent a fictional Libyan massacre in Benghazi. Instead, this was ‘a chemical gas attack, orchestrated by Bashar al-Assad, that left dead children foaming at the mouth’.

Simon Tisdall, the Guardian’s assistant editor, had clearly decided that enough was enough:

It’s time for Britain and its allies to take concerted, sustained military action to curb Bashar al-Assad’s ability to murder Syria’s citizens at will.

This sounded like more than another cruise missile strike. But presumably Tisdall meant something cautious and restrained to avoid the terrifying risk of nuclear confrontation with Russia:

It means destroying Assad’s combat planes, bombers, helicopters and ground facilities from the air. It means challenging Assad’s and Russia’s control of Syrian airspace. It means taking out Iranian military bases and batteries in Syria if they are used to prosecute the war.

But surely after Iraq – when UN weapons inspectors under Hans Blix were prevented from completing the work that would have shown that Saddam Hussein possessed no WMD – ‘we’ should wait for the intergovernmental Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inspectors to investigate. After all, as journalist Peter Oborne noted of Trump’s air raids:

When the bombing started the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was actually in Damascus and preparing to travel to the area where the alleged chemical attacks took place.

Oborne added:

Had we wanted independent verification on this occasion in Syria surely we ourselves would have demanded the OPCW send a mission to Douma. Yet we conspicuously omitted to ask for it.

Tisdall was having none of it:

Calls to wait for yet another UN investigation amount to irresponsible obfuscation. Only the Syrian regime and its Russian backers have the assets and the motivation to launch such merciless attacks on civilian targets. Or did all those writhing children imagine the gas?

The idea that only Assad and the Russians had ‘the motivation’ to launch a gas attack simply defied all common sense. And, as we will see, it was not certain that children had been filmed ‘writhing’ under gas attack. Tisdall’s pro-war position was supported by just 22% of British people.

Equally gung-ho, the oligarch-owned Evening Standard, edited by veteran newspaperman and politically impartial former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, headlined this plea on the front page:

HIT SYRIA WITHOUT A VOTE, MAY URGED

Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, formerly the paper’s comment editor, also poured scorn on the need for further evidence:

Besides, how much evidence do we need?… To all but the most committed denialists and conspiracists, Assad’s guilt is clear.

Freedland could argue that the case for blaming Assad was clear, if he liked, but he absolutely could not argue that disagreeing was a sign of denialist delusion.

Time and again, we encounter these jaw-dropping efforts to browbeat the reader with fake certainty and selective moral outrage. In his piece, Freedland linked to the widely broadcast social media video footage from a hospital in Douma, which showed that Assad was guilty of ‘inflicting a death so painful the footage is unbearable to watch’. But when we actually click Freedland’s link and watch the video, we do not see anyone dying, let alone in agony, and the video is not, in fact, unbearable to watch. Like Tisdall’s claim on motivation, Freedland was simply declaring that black is white.

But many people are so intimidated by this cocktail of certainty and indignation – by the fear that they will be shamed as ‘denialists’ and ‘apologists’ – that they doubt the evidence of their own eyes. In ‘mainstream’ journalism, expressions of moral outrage are offered as evidence of a fiery conviction burning within. In reality, the shrieks are mostly hot air.

In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley also deceived in plain sight by blaming the Syrian catastrophe on Western inaction:

Syria has paid a terrible price for the west’s disastrous policy of doing nothing.

However terrible media reporting on the 2003 Iraq war, commentators did at least recognise that the US and Britain were involved. We wrote to Rawnsley, asking how he could possibly not know about the CIA’s billion dollar per annum campaign to train and arm fighters, or about the 15,000 high-tech, US anti-tank missiles sent to Syrian ‘rebels’ via Saudi Arabia.

Rawnsley ignored us, as ever.

Just three days after the alleged attack, the Guardian’s George Monbiot was asked about Douma:

Don’t you smell a set up here though? Craig Murray doesn’t think Assad did it.

Monbiot replied:

Then he’s a fool.

Craig Murray responded rather more graciously:

I continue to attract attacks from the “respectable” corporate and state media. I shared a platform with Monbiot once, and liked him. They plainly find the spirit of intellectual inquiry to be a personal affront.

Monbiot tweeted back:

I’m sorry Craig but, while you have done excellent work on some issues, your efforts to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes, despite the weight of evidence, are foolish in the extreme.

The idea that Murray’s effort has been ‘to exonerate Russia and Syria of a long list of crimes’ is again so completely false, so obviously not what Murray has been doing. But it fits perfectly with the corporate media theme of Cold War-style browbeating: anyone challenging the case for US-UK policy on Syria is an ‘apologist’ for ‘the enemy’.

If Britain was facing imminent invasion across the channel from some malignant superpower, or was on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the term ‘apologist’ might have some merit as an emotive term attacking free speech – understandable in the circumstances. But Syria is not at war with Britain; it offers no threat whatsoever. If challenging evidence of Assad’s responsibility is ‘apologism’, then why can we not describe people accepting that evidence as ‘Trump apologists’, or ‘May apologists’, or ‘Jaysh al-Islam apologists’? The term really means little more than, ‘I disagree with you’ – a much more reasonable formulation.

As Jonathan Cook has previously commented:

Monbiot has repeatedly denied that he wants a military attack on Syria. But if he then weakly accepts whatever narratives are crafted by those who do – and refuses to subject them to any meaningful scrutiny – he is decisively helping to promote such an attack.

Why Are These Academics Allowed?

The cynical, apologetic absurdity of questioning the official narrative has been a theme across the corporate media. In a Sky News discussion, Piers Robinson of Sheffield University urged caution in blaming the Syrian government in the absence of verifiable evidence. In a remarkable response, Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society, screeched at him:

Who do you think did it? Was it your mother who did it?

Again, exact truth reversal – given the lack of credible, verified evidence, it was absurd to declare Robinson’s scepticism absurd.
Mendoza later linked to an article attacking Robinson, and asked:

Why are UK universities allowing such “academics” – and I use the term advisedly because they are not adhering to any recognised standard when promoting material with no credible sourcing, and often with no citation at all – to work in their institutions?

In 2011, Mendoza wrote in The Times of Nato’s ‘intervention’ in Libya:

The action in Libya is a sign that the world has overcome the false lessons [sic] of Iraq or of “realism” in foreign policy.

The UN had ‘endorsed military action to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding’.

In fact, the unfolding ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ was fake news; Mendoza’s mother needed no alibi. A September 9, 2016 report on the war from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons commented:

Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence….

The Times launched a shameful, front-page attack on Robinson and other academics who are not willing to accept US-UK government claims on trust. The Times cited Professor Scott Lucas of Birmingham University:

Clearly we can all disagree about the war in Syria, but to deny an event like a chemical attack even occurred, by claiming they were “staged”, is to fall into an Orwellian world.

In similar vein, in a second Guardian comment piece on Douma, Jonathan Freedland lamented: ‘we are now in an era when the argument is no longer over our response to events, but the very existence of those events’. Echoing Soviet propaganda under Stalin, Freedland warned that this was indicative of an intellectual and moral sickness:

These are symptoms of a post-truth disease that’s come to be known as “tribal epistemology”, in which the truth or falsity of a statement depends on whether the person making it is deemed one of us or one of them.

And this was, once again, truth reversal – given recent history in Iraq and Libya, it was Lucas and Freedland who were falling into an Orwellian fantasy world. Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens made the obvious point:

Given the folly of the British government over Iraq and Libya, and its undoubted misleading of the public over Iraq, it is perfectly reasonable to suspect it of doing the same thing again. Some of us also do not forget the blatant lying over Suez, and indeed the Gulf of Tonkin.

Hitchens clearly shares our concern at media performance, particularly that of the Guardian, commenting:

Has Invasion of the Bodysnatchers been re-enacted at Guardian HQ? Whatever the dear old thing’s faults it was never a Pentagon patsy until recently. Rumours of relaunch as The Warmonger’s Gazette, free toy soldier with every issue.

Hitchens questioned Guardian certainty on Douma:

But if facts are sacred, how can the Guardian be so sure, given that it is relying on a report from one correspondent 70 miles away, and another one 900 miles away.. and some anonymous quotes from people whose stories it has no way of checking?

He added:

The behaviour of The Guardian is very strange & illustrates just what a deep, poorly-understood change in our politics took place during the Blair years. We now have the curious spectacle of the liberal warmonger, banging his or her jingo fist on the table, demanding airstrikes.

Indeed, in discussing the prospects for ‘intervention’ in the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff, former political editor of the Observer, described the 2013 vote that prevented Britain from bombing Syria in August 2013 as ‘that shameful night in 2013’. Shameful? After previous ‘interventions’ had completely wrecked Iraq and Libya on false pretexts, and after the US regime had been told the evidence was no ‘slam dunk’ by military advisers?

In the New Statesman, Paul Mason offered a typically nonsensical argument, linking to the anti-Assad website, Bellingcat:

Despite the availability of public sources showing it is likely that a regime Mi-8 helicopter dropped a gas container onto a specific building, there are well-meaning people prepared to share the opinion that this was a “false flag”, staged by jihadis, to pull the West into the war. The fact that so many people are prepared to clutch at false flag theories is, for Western democracies, a sign of how effective Vladimir Putin’s global strategy has been.

Thus, echoing Freedland’s reference to ‘denialists and conspiracists’, sceptics can only be idiot victims of Putin’s propaganda. US media analyst Adam Johnson of FAIR accurately described Mason’s piece as a ‘mess’, adding:

I love this thing where nominal leftists run the propaganda ball for bombing a country 99 yards then stop at the one yard and insist they don’t support scoring goals, that they in fact oppose war.

Surprisingly, the Bellingcat website, which publishes the findings of ‘citizen journalist’ investigations, appears to be taken seriously by some very high-profile progressives.

In the Independent, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas also mentioned the Syrian army ‘Mi-8’ helicopters. Why? Because she had read the same Bellingcat blog as Mason, to which she linked:

From the evidence we’ve seen so far it appears that the latest chemical attack was likely by Mi-8 helicopters, probably from the forces of Syria’s murderous President Assad.

On Democracy Now!, journalist Glenn Greenwald said of Douma:

I think that it’s—the evidence is quite overwhelming that the perpetrators of this chemical weapons attack, as well as previous ones, is the Assad government…

This was an astonishing comment. After receiving fierce challenges (not from us), Greenwald partially retracted, tweeting:

It’s live TV. Something [sic – sometimes] you say things less than ideally. I think the most likely perpetrator of this attack is Syrian Govt.

We wrote to Greenwald asking what had persuaded him of Assad’s ‘likely’ responsibility for Douma. (Twitter, April 10, direct message)

The first piece of evidence he sent us (April 12) was the Bellingcat blog mentioning Syrian government helicopters cited by Mason and Lucas. Greenwald also sent us a report from Reuters, as well as a piece from 2017, obviously prior to the alleged Douma event.

This was thin evidence indeed for the claim made. In our discussion with him, Greenwald then completely retracted his claim (Twitter, April 12, direct message) that there was evidence of Syrian government involvement in the alleged attack. Yes, it’s true that people ‘say things less than ideally’ on TV, but to move from ‘quite overwhelming’ to ‘likely’, to declaring mistaken the claim that there is evidence of Assad involvement, was bizarre.

Political analyst Ben Norton noted on Twitter:

Reminder that Bellingcat is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is funded by the US government and is a notorious vehicle for US soft power.

Norton added:

It acts like an unofficial NATO propagandist, obsessively focusing on Western enemies.

And:

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins is a fellow at the Atlantic Council, which is funded by NATO, US, Saudi, UAE, etc.

And:

According to Meedan, which helps fund Bellingcat — along with the US government-funded NED — Bellingcat also works with the group Syrian Archive, which is funded by the German government, to jointly produce pro-opposition “research”.

And:

The board of the directors for Meedan, which funds Bellingcat, includes Muna AbuSulayman—who led the Saudi oligarch’s Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation—and Wael Fakharany—who was the regional director of Google in Egypt & North Africa (US gov. contractor Google also funds Bellingcat)

And:

Bellingcat—which gets money from the US gov-funded NED and fixates obsessively on Western enemies—claims to be nonpartisan and impartial, committed to exposing all sides, but a website search shows it hasn’t published anything on Yemen since February 2017.

Although Bellingcat is widely referenced by corporate journalists, we are unaware of any ‘mainstream’ outlet that has seriously investigated the significance of these issues for the organisation’s credibility as a source of impartial information. As we will see in Part 2, corporate journalism is very much more interested in challenging the credibility of journalists and academics holding power to account.

April 25, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Western Media Shorthand on Venezuela Conveys and Conceals So Much

By Joe Emersberger | FAIR | April 23, 2018

A Reuters article (4/18/18) reports that the European Union “could impose further sanctions on Venezuela if it believes democracy is being undermined there.”

The line nicely illustrates the kind of journalistic shorthand Western media have developed, over years of repetition, for conveying distortions and whitewashing gross imperial hypocrisy about Venezuela.  A passing remark can convey and conceal so much.

The EU’s sincerity in acting on what it “believes” about Venezuelan democracy is unquestioned by the London-based Reuters. Meanwhile Spain, an EU member, is pursuing the democratically elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, for the crime of organizing an illegal independence referendum last year. Weeks ago, he was arrested in Germany at Spain’s request, and other elected representatives have been arrested in Catalonia, where Spain’s federal government deposed the elected regional government after the referendum.

In July 2017, a few months before the referendum in Catalonia, Venezuela’s opposition also organized an illegal referendum. One of the questions asked if the military should obey the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which was an extremely provocative question, given the opposition’s various efforts to overthrow the government by force since 2002.  The referendum required an extremely high level of political expression, organization and participation. It allegedly involved 7 million voters. The Venezuelan government disregarded the results—as Spain disregarded the Catalan referendum results—but unlike Spain, did not jail people for organizing it, or send police to brutally repress voters. In fact, two weeks later, Venezuelan voters (overwhelmingly government supporters, since the opposition boycotted and did not field candidates) were violently attacked by opposition militants when they elected a constituent assembly.  The attacks resulted in several deaths.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has hardly failed to call attention to the hypocrisy of both the EU and Spain, but the Reuters article made no mention of it.

Reuters also reported that “the country’s two most popular opposition leaders have been banned from competing” from Venezuela’s presidential election on May 20. Reuters didn’t name the two supposedly “most popular opposition leaders,” but in the past (e.g., 4/12/18, 2/28/18, 2/19/18) the wire service has identified them as Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles. As it happens, according to the opposition-aligned pollster Datanalisis, whose results have been uncritically reported by Western media like Reuters for years, opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcón has been significantly more popular than Capriles in recent months, and barely less so than Lopez.

Approval Ratings of Main Venezuelan Political Leaders

Mark Weisbrot (in an opinion piece for US News, 3/3/18) broke the news that US government officials had been secretly pressuring Falcón not to run, so that the election could be discredited as including no viable opposition candidate. Two weeks later, Reuters (3/19/18) discreetly reported Weisbrot’s scoop.

However, by far the most important thing Reuters neglects telling readers about the “two most popular opposition leaders” is that had they done in the EU what they’ve done in Venezuela since April 2002, Lopez and Capriles would both be serving long jail terms.

Capriles and Lopez together led the kidnapping of a government minister during a briefly successful US-backed military coup in 2002 that ousted Venezuela’s democratically elected president, the late Hugo Chávez, for two days. Lopez boasted to local TV that the dictator installed by the coup (whom Lopez called “President Carmona”) was “updated” on the kidnapping.

Imagine what Carles Puigdemont’s predicament would be if, rather than organizing a peaceful referendum, he had participated in a foreign-backed, ultimately unsuccessful military coup against the Spanish government. Needless to say, running for public office would not be on the table. That would be the least of his worries.

In Venezuela, Capriles eventually served a few months in prison for participating in the coup, while Lopez avoided doing any time, thanks to a general amnesty granted by Chávez. Lopez was finally arrested in 2014 for leading another violent effort to overthrow the government.

I’ve reviewed before (teleSUR, 1/9/18) violent efforts to overthrow the government that Lopez, Capriles and other prominent opposition leaders have been involved with since the 2002 coup. I also described how Julio Borges and Henry Ramos (two other prominent opposition leaders) have openly sought to starve the Venezuelan government of foreign loans as it struggles with a severe economic crisis.

In August, Trump’s administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s entire economy that will cost Maduro’s government billions of dollars this year (FAIR.org, 3/22/18). It has threatened to go even further, brandishing an oil embargo or even a military attack. With sufficiently compliant media (and the collusion of big human rights NGOs like Amnesty International), such depravity becomes possible.

The Reuters article also says that Venezuela’s economic “collapse has driven an estimated 3 million people to flee the country.” No need to tell readers when the economic “collapse” began—2014—much less who made the estimates or if other sources contradict them. In fact, the UN’s 2017 population division numbers estimate Venezuela’s total expat population as of 2017 at about 650,000—only about 300,000 higher than it was when Chávez first took office in 1999. Even a group of fiercely anti-government Venezuelan academics estimated less than 1 million have left since the economic crisis began. (See FAIR.org, 2/18/18.)

Cherry-picked statistics aside, when Western powers want a democratically elected government overthrown, the approach is clear. Complete tolerance for violent foreign-backed subversion—which the powerful states and their allies would never be expected to tolerate—becomes the test for whether or not a state is a democracy. The targeted government fails the test, is depicted as a dictatorship, and all is permitted. Only the tactics required to bring it down need be debated.


Messages to Reuters can be sent here (or via Twitter: @Reuters). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

A Shocking Lack of Intelligence in Our Missile Strike on Syria

By Scott Ritter | TruthDig | April 20, 2018

It was a scene that has played out before the American public on multiple occasions in recent history: Representatives of the American defense establishment walked out onto a stage backed by light-blue drapery sporting an oval-shaped sign containing the words “Pentagon” and, below it in smaller letters: “Washington,” along with an image of the unique five-sided building of the same name. With an American flag standing in the background, and standing on a wooden podium emblazoned with the seal of the Department of Defense, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a former Marine general, accompanied by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, a current Marine general, briefed the American public on the details surrounding a U.S.-led missile attack against targets inside Syria, carried out with the United Kingdom and France, that had transpired the night of April 13, 2018, a little more than an hour before Mattis and Dunford took the stage at 10 p.m. (making the timing of the attack around 4 a.m. on April 14, Syrian time).

“As the world knows,” Mattis announced, “the Syrian people have suffered terribly under the prolonged brutality of the Assad regime. On April 7, the regime decided to again defy the norms of civilized people, showing callous disregard for international law by using chemical weapons to murder women, children and other innocents. We and our allies find these atrocities inexcusable. As our commander in chief, the president has the authority under Article II of the Constitution to use military force overseas to defend important United States national interests. The United States has vital national interests in averting a worsening catastrophe in Syria, and specifically deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons.”

Mattis continued: “Earlier today, President Trump directed the U.S. military to conduct operations in consonance with our allies to destroy the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons research development and production capability. Tonight, France, the United Kingdom and the United States took decisive action to strike the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure.”

Gen. Dunford spelled out the scope of this attack. “The targets that were struck and destroyed were specifically associated with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program … [t]he first target was a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area. This military facility was a Syrian center for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology. The second target was a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs. We assessed that this was the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment. The third target, which was in the vicinity of the second target, contained both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and an important command post.”

The specificity of language used by Secretary Mattis and Gen. Dunford, declaring Syria to have a chemical weapons program inclusive of a research facility where chemical weapons were produced, a storage facility containing sarin nerve agent precursor production equipment and another that contained chemical weapons equipment and an associated command post, implied a degree of certainty backed by intelligence information sufficient to justify the use of American and allied military force.

Secretary Mattis asserted as much. “I am confident,” he said, “the Syrian regime conducted a chemical attack on innocent people in this last week, yes. Absolutely confident of it. And we have the intelligence level of confidence that we needed to conduct the attack.” When pressed for details about the actual chemical used, Mattis noted, “We are very much aware of one of the agents. There may have been more than one agent used. We are not clear on that yet. We know at least one chemical agent was used.” Later he clarified this statement, declaring, “We’re very confident that chlorine was used. We are not ruling out sarin right now.”

Mattis was asked about a statement he had made the previous day, April 12, when he appeared before the House Armed Services Committee. Then, Mattis put forward a theory that chlorine gas or sarin nerve agent—or a combination of the two—had been used by the Syrian government. He noted, however, that at the time of his presentation, the U.S. and its allies “[didn’t] have evidence” that the Syrian regime carried out the attack on April 7 in the Damascus suburb of Douma. “I believe there was a chemical attack,” Mattis said, “and we’re looking for the evidence.” In response, Mattis noted that his confidence level that the Syrian regime had carried out a chemical attack had increased sometime after he had made that statement.

The next day, April 14, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Dana W. White (a former Fox News publicist and professional staff member for the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as a foreign policy adviser to John McCain during his 2008 presidential campaign), together with Director of the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (a 1979 graduate of The Citadel who commanded Marines in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan before being promoted to flag rank and assuming various joint service staff assignments), gave a second briefing where more details about the attack were provided.

In terms of the specificity of the intelligence used to justify the attack, White indicated that she had nothing to add to the statement made by Secretary Mattis the previous night. However, in answering questions, Lt. Gen. McKenzie noted that the U.S. military assessed “that there were probably some chemical and nerve agents in that target.” He also noted that by striking the three targets in question “We are confident that we’ve significantly degraded his [Assad’s] ability to ever use chemical weapons again.” White seconded this assessment. “The strikes went to the very heart of the enterprise, to the research, to development, to storage. So we are very confident that we have significantly crippled Assad’s ability to produce these weapons,” she said.

According to the information contained in these two briefings, the United States had a high degree of confidence in the fact that Syria continued to retain a viable chemical weapons capability despite the elimination of such weapons having been certified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), created under the auspices of the United Nations to implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international treaty banning the production, retention and use of chemical weapons (keeping in mind that the Syrians have been accused of using sarin nerve agent, a Schedule 1 chemical, the category of which includes the agent itself, as well as its unique-use precursors).

Moreover, the implication of the statements made by Secretary Mattis, Gen. Dunford, Lt. Gen. McKenzie and Dana White was that the United States possessed intelligence information of such specificity as to permit military planners to assess the level of force necessary to ensure that specific quantities of nerve agent assessed as being present in a facility inside the city of Damascus would be destroyed by the weapons employed. The same holds true for the two chemical storage facilities located near Homs, especially the one assessed as containing sarin nerve agent and its precursors. Moreover, the statements implied that United States was in possession of intelligence information of such quality to permit assessments pertaining to having “crippled” Syria’s ability to produce chemical weapons.

There is one major problem with the information provided by these briefings: It is exclusively drawn from assessments, not fact. When one examines the basis for these assessments, it becomes clear that there was a shocking lack of intelligence available to sustain the predicate used to justify the U.S.-led attack on Syria—that the Syrian government possessed, let alone used, chemical weapons in the city of Douma on April 7.

There is a dearth of information about the specific intelligence information used by the United States, France or the United Kingdom to back up their collective claim that Syria used chemical weapons against Douma on April 7. According to The Guardian, intelligence agencies from all three countries “studied videos” from Douma. American officials in particular noted similarities between the Douma images and those from two previously reported sarin incidents in Syria—East Ghouta, in August 2013, and Khan Shaykhun, in April 2017. The first incident set in motion the events that led to Syria signing the CWC and acceding to the supervised elimination of its chemical weapons capabilities; the second has been used to sustain the premise that Syria had retained, in contravention of its obligations under the CWC, a sarin nerve agent capability. This latter finding underpins the totality of the assessments made in support of the American case for attacking Syria: If Syria possesses sarin nerve agent (as the events in Khan Shaykhun would suggest), then logic dictates that there would be an associated research and development facility complete with on-hand stocks of nerve agent (target one), and chemical weapons storage facilities containing sarin nerve agent and precursors as well as associated manufacturing equipment (targets two and three). No actual proof was required, or offered, to sustain these assessments.

Two issues flow from this line of thinking. First, the Khan Shaykhun incident is not without significant controversy, with its conclusions questioned by numerous experts, journalists and governments. Second, even if one accepts the findings that sarin nerve agent was used in Khan Shaykhun, that fact does not automatically sustain any allegations of sarin use in Douma, especially when there is no evidence to sustain that allegation.

One of the major problems confronting those who contend that both sarin and chlorine were used in the alleged Douma incident is the absolute incompatibility of the two substances. A U.S. Army study from the 1950s found that chlorine serves as a catalyst that promotes the decomposition of sarin nerve agent, meaning that if both substances were either combined or released together, the sarin would rapidly decompose. This reality seemed to escape American officials evaluating the Douma incident, who postulated to The Guardian that chlorine and sarin were stored separately in the same cylinder, ignoring how this would be achieved in a gas cylinder of the type alleged to have been used in Douma.

Only after the U.S.-French-U.K. attack of April 13 did one of the nations involved—in this case, France—provide an assessment outlining the intelligence case behind the Douma allegations. “On the intelligence collected by our services,” the report noted, “and in the absence to date of chemical samples analyzed by our own laboratories, France considers, beyond possible doubt, a chemical attack was carried out against civilians at Douma.” The basis of this conclusion was similar to that which underpinned the American assessment: “After examining the videos and images of victims published online, they (intelligence services) were able to conclude with a high degree of confidence that the vast majority are recent and not fabricated.” Without providing any further information or analysis, the French report concluded that “[r]eliable intelligence indicates that Syrian military officials have coordinated what appears to be the use of chemical weapons containing chlorine on Douma, on April 7.”

In short, the French case for war—and by extension, that of its allies, the United States and the United Kingdom—rested solely on “open source” information provided by opponents of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, for whom military intervention by the West was a long-standing objective. The illogic behind the Syrian government employing chemical weapons in a manner that would invite Western military intervention at a time when the battle for Douma was all but over seems never to have been probed in a meaningful fashion by the intelligence agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom—or France.

Ground Zero

As far as “objective news sources” go, the Abkhazian Network News Agency, or ANNA, would not logically top any list. Based out of the breakaway Georgian territory of Abkhazia, the ANNA is an unabashed pro-Russian online news outlet known for its gritty front-line reporting from inside Syria, where its reporters, at great risk (many have been wounded while doing their jobs), accompany the Syrian army on combat operations against Islamist militants. Their reporting combines hand-held cameras, running alongside infantry and monitoring tactical command posts, GoPro-type cameras attached to tank turrets and cameras mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles hovering overhead, to provide a full-spectrum look at the ground war inside Syria unmatched by any other news source.

On April 5, 2018, the Syrian army’s vaunted Tiger Force, an elite assault unit of around 1,000 men, captured the village of al-Rayyan, on the western approaches to Douma, from fighters of the Army of Islam, a pro-Saudi jihadist group that had occupied Douma since 2013. The advance of the Tiger Force was the latest in a series of offensives carried out by Syria against rebel-held positions in the district of Eastern Ghouta, in which the city of Douma was located, since the beginning of the year. In March 2018 the Syrian army managed to break the rebel-held territory into three separate pockets, prompting thousands of fighters from groups other than the Army of Islam to agree to surrender their heavy weapons and evacuate Eastern Ghouta, together with their families to the northern Syrian town of Jarablus, adjacent to the Turkish border, which was under the control of the Turkish military and opposition forces belonging to the Free Syrian Army.

Only the area in and around Douma, under the control of the Army of Islam and the remnants of other defeated militant groups, held out. By early April, however, the relentless attacks by the Syrian army pushed even the hardened fighters of the Army of Islam to falter, and negotiations were opened with the Russians, leading to a series of temporary humanitarian cease-fires that quickly broke down amid mutual accusations of violations. The capture of al-Rayyan by the Tiger Force took place after the collapse of one such cease-fire and led to the resumption of negotiations between the Syrian government and the Army of Islam for the evacuation of the Islamists and their families from Douma. Earlier evacuations from Douma, involving thousands of militants and their families, had been conducted by the Russian military, which provided security. The negotiations, however, broke down as factions within the Army of Islam balked at having to leave Douma without their weapons.

On the morning of April 7, the Syrian army, supported by the Syrian and Russian air forces, renewed its assault on Douma. ANNA reporters accompanied Syrian troops from the Tiger Force as they overwhelmed the defenses of the Army of Islam, capturing a swath of open ground known as the Douma Farms, penetrating nearly three kilometers into the Army of Islam positions along a 10-kilometer front. The Tiger Force offensive represented the death knell of the Army of Islam; denied the buffer provided by the Douma Farms, the Army of Islam was trapped in the kind of urban terrain the Tiger Force thrived in, having perfected its house-to-house fighting tactics during the battle for Aleppo in 2017. Faced with inevitable defeat, the Army of Islam reached out to the Russians to renew negotiations that would lead to surrendering Douma to Syrian government control.

As the Army of Islam defenses crumbled in the face of the Tiger Force offensive, and the inevitability of defeat settled in among the leadership of the Army of Islam, a coordinated series of messages from various humanitarian organizations with a long history of opposition to the regime of Bashar Assad began to come out from within Douma about a series of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian air force against the civilian population of Douma.

Among the first, a tweet from the Ghouta Media Center, a well-known outlet for anti-Assad information, was illustrative of what was to follow: “A new #Chemical massacre in #Syria was committed, this time in #Douma_city, 75 civilians were suffocated till death & 1000 suffocation cases, by a barrel was dropped by #Assad helicopters around 9:00pm contains the toxic #Sarin gas, some activists reached bodies in some basements.” Another group, known as the Douma Revolution, published a series of videos on its Facebook page on April 7 that would later be shown repeatedly on Western television channels as evidence of a chemical weapons attack.

By the morning of April 8, news of the alleged chemical weapons attack reached the front lines, where they were dismissed by the officers and men of the Tiger Force. “[Militants] claim we shelled them with chemical weapons,” a senior Tiger Force officer told ANNA reporters during a lull in the fighting on the morning of April 8, as the initial reports of a chemical attack in Douma became public, “but that is a lie, because at the same time we were advancing forward, not one of our soldiers has a gas mask.” Another Tiger Force officer made a similar argument. “We have no protection against the chemical weapons,” he told ANNA. “Those dogs used the chemical weapons themselves and said we did it. If we had that kind of weapon, we would have to carry gas masks. Go to the front and see for yourselves—what are you going to see? We are all here preparing to advance.” A third Tiger Force officer emphasized this point. “We do not have chemical weapons. We breathe the same air. If we had used chemical weapons, we would have suffered ourselves. There are only 20 meters between us. This is just a publicity stunt.”

The “publicity stunt,” however, had served its purpose. By April 8, the White Helmets, the nongovernmental organization lionized by many as a vaunted search-and-rescue organization credited with saving thousands of lives in the face of Syrian and Russian aerial bombardment, and demonized by others as a vehicle for generating anti-regime propaganda and promoting Western military intervention to topple Assad, and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), another NGO possessing a similarly controversial pedigree, had published a joint statement on the Douma attack, the contents of which would be repeated verbatim (and seemingly without question) by Western media outlets and government agencies.

On Saturday, 07/04/2019 at 7:45 PM local time, amidst continuous bombardment of residential neighborhoods in the city of Douma, more than 500 cases—the majority of whom are women and children—were brought to local medical centers with symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent. Patients have shown signs of respiratory distress, central cyanosis, excessive oral foaming, corneal burns, and the emission of chlorine-like odor.

During clinical examination, medical staff observed bradycardia, wheezing and coarse bronchial sounds. One of the injured was declared dead on arrival. Other patients were treated with humidified oxygen and bronchodilators, after which their condition improved. In several cases involving more severe exposure to the chemical agents, medical staff put patients on a ventilator, including four children. Six casualties were reported at the center, one of whom was a woman who had convulsions and pinpoint pupils.

SAMS has documented 43 casualties with similar clinical symptoms of excessive oral foaming, cyanosis, and corneal burns. Civil Defense [White Helmet] volunteers were unable to evacuate the bodies due to the intensity of the odor and the lack of protective equipment. The reported symptoms indicate that the victims suffocated from the exposure to toxic chemicals, most likely an organophosphate element.

These reports succeeded in generating the desired results—the United States was joined by the United Kingdom and France in condemning the alleged chemical weapons attack as a violation of international law that demanded an international response. President Trump tweeted out his own response, replete with ominously threatening language: “Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price … to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”

By April 9, the U.N. Security Council was meeting in emergency session, leading to the inevitable rhetorical clash between the ambassadors from the United States and Russia. “The Russian regime, whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be ashamed by pictures of its victims,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council. She also took aim at Syria’s president, noting, “Only a monster does this.” For its part, Russia’s ambassador stated: “There was no chemical weapons attack,” adding that “[t]he boorishness against my country is unacceptable and exceeds Cold War standards.”

While a war of words transpired in New York, on the ground in Syria the situation was evolving in a manner which began to threaten the narrative marketed by the White Helmets, SAMS and other sources that had peddled the information used by Washington, London and Paris to build a case sustaining the allegation of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government. The Army of Islam, having been thoroughly defeated on the field of battle by the Syrian army, abandoned Douma for refuge in rebel-held Idlib province. As the probability of unfettered access to the actual sites of the alleged chemical attacks became reality, the locations and people captured on film at what had become Ground Zero in Douma were about to be placed under a microscope of scrutiny where fact would ultimately triumph over fiction.

The Inspectors

 At the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Netherlands, the inspectors maintain a situation center responsible for monitoring news reports from around the world, looking for any initial indication of an event that would fall under the purview. As soon as reports started coming out of Syria of an alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, the OPCW Situation Center kicked into action, briefing the director-general, Ahmet Üzümcü, on the developments. After years of experience in Syria investigating similar allegations, the situation center had developed significant contacts with various NGOs on the ground inside Syria, including the White Helmets and SAMS, and contact was established between the OPCW and these entities to learn more about what was transpiring on the ground inside Douma. Using the preliminary assessment of the situation center, derived solely from the images provided by anti-regime activists, that an incident had actually occurred inside Syria, the director-general ordered the Fact Finding Mission (FFM), a standing body of inspectors tasked with investigating chemical incidents in Syria, to assemble and prepare for deployment into Syria. By April 9 a team of nine personnel, all volunteers, including several who were pulled out of training courses, were gathered, and preparations were made for the FFM to travel to Syria under protocols associated with what the OPCW called an “Investigation of Alleged Use” (IAU) inspection under Article X of the CWC, where a state party to the CWC requests assistance in investigating an alleged use of chemical weapons. (The Syrian government had formally requested that the OPCW dispatch a team to Syria on April 10.)

A Title X IAU inspection is limited in scope to simply ascertaining whether a chemical agent was used—there would be no attribution of responsibility. By inviting the OPCW to investigate the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma, the Syrian government (together with its Russian allies, who had joined with Syria in pressing for the OPCW to investigate the Douma allegations) was creating a diplomatic crisis of sorts over the role and function of the inspectors. For the United States, the United Kingdom and France, simply ascertaining whether a chemical agent was used was not enough—they wanted blame attached, and preferably to the Syrian government. The OPCW was not mandated to assign attribution for any alleged chemical incident; as such, the United States pushed a resolution in the Security Council to stand up an investigation team that would be able to assign blame. This resolution was promptly vetoed by Russia.

In the case of Syria, the Security Council had set up an entity, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which worked hand-in-glove with the OPCW to investigate incidents of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria. The only difference was that the JIM was specifically mandated to assign blame for an attack, something it did with no small amount of controversy. In the aftermath of the joint OPCW/JIM investigation and report of an alleged use of chemical agent in Khan Shaykhun in April 2017, where blame was assigned to the Syrian government despite evidentiary issues related to a lack of chain of custody for samples used in the investigation, a failure to inspect the site of the alleged incident, and other investigatory shortfalls, Russia vetoed the extension of the mandate for the JIM, terminating it.

Without a specifically mandated investigatory mechanism to accompany the OPCW into Syria, any report issued by the OPCW would not be able to ascertain the blame needed by the United States, the United Kingdom and France to justify taking military action against Syria, something all three nations were speaking openly about in the days following the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma. Indeed, the existence of the OPCW team was viewed by many in the West, including James Mattis, as being irrelevant to the fact-finding process. “We’re trying to get inspectors in,” Mattis told Congress on April 12. “We will not know from this investigating team” who was responsible, Mattis said. “We will not know who did it. Only that it happened.” For Mattis and the other decision makers, who had already reached the conclusion that Syria had employed both chlorine gas and sarin nerve agent in Douma, this wasn’t good enough.

New videos had emerged from within Douma in the days following the alleged chemical attack, provided by the White Helmets, which claimed to show yellow 150-pound chlorine gas cylinders dropped by the Syrian military on targets inside Douma, including one site where numerous deaths were reported. These videos were picked up by the Western media and promoted by anti-regime social media activists such as Elliot Higgins, who posted a detailed assessment of the canisters and their relevance on his Bellingcat website. However, questions soon emerged about the legitimacy of the White Helmet video as proof of a chlorine attack, namely around the lack of damage to the cylinders involved, the lack of any indication that the cylinders contained chlorine gas, or, if they did, any chlorine gas leaked from the cylinders (the regulator valves on both canisters appeared to be undamaged and closed, and the physical integrity of both canisters seemed intact, prompting the question as to how any gas was alleged to have originated from either). Complicating matters further was the fact that, on April 9, a Russian military unit had arrived at the scene of the alleged gas attack to investigate and found no evidence of any chemical attack.

Suddenly, the OPCW fact-finding mission had new relevance. It no longer mattered that it could not assign blame for an alleged chemical weapons incident; the Russians and the Syrians had said that no such attack had taken place, and that no evidence of chemical weapons use existed at a site where numerous casualties from a chemical attack were alleged to have occurred. If the OPCW team confirmed the findings of the Russian reconnaissance team, there would be no case for military action. If, on the other hand, the OPCW team found that a chemical agent had been used in the face of Russian claims that none existed, the United States, the United Kingdom and France would have a stronger case for intervention.

The OPCW advance party deployed to Beirut on Thursday, April 12, and was joined by the rest of the team on Friday, April 13. Their plan was to deploy to Damascus on Saturday, April 14, and begin their work shortly thereafter. If chlorine had been used in Douma, as the White Helmets, SAMS and others claimed, inspectors would be able to find evidence of such in the form of various chloride salts, produced by the hydrochloric acid that was in turn produced through the reaction of chlorine gas with any substance it encountered upon release. The Russian military experts who visited Douma on April 9 were no doubt aware of this. If the OPCW team was able to detect significant traces of chloride salts, then the Russian findings would be debunked, and the claims of the White Helmets, SAMS and others bolstered.

The American-led military attack on Syria took place while the OPCW fact-finding mission assembled in Beirut; on Saturday, April 14, while the team drove to Damascus, Syria was dealing with consequences of this act. Despite this new reality, the Syrian government met with the fact-finding mission to discuss the arrangements needed for the team to travel to Douma to carry out its tasks. Problems soon arose regarding the security of the OPCW team; Russia and Syria claimed that, in the aftermath of the missile strike on Douma, the security environment in Douma had deteriorated when militants, emboldened by the attack, began shooting at Syrian military patrols. This prompted the need for Russia and Syria to find alternative routes into and out of the areas in Douma that needed to be inspected and to clear these routes of debris and mines. On Tuesday, April 17, the OPCW fact-finding mission sent a reconnaissance team to Douma but withdrew after coming under fire, further delaying the arrival of the main body of inspectors and their ability to carry out their assigned tasks.

While the OPCW inspectors waited in Damascus, the Syrian government provided them with access to 22 medical personnel it claimed had treated the alleged victims of the chemical attack, and who could provide testimony that no such attack took place. While the OPCW has not indicated whether these interviews actually took place, or what the findings of any such interviews were, insight into their probable content could be found via Russian media, which aired interviews with two Syrian medical personnel who appeared in the White Helmet video showing victims of the alleged chemical attack being treated in Douma.

In one such interview, a person identified as Khalil Azizah, claiming to be a medical student who works in the emergency room of the central hospital of Douma, declared that “a house in the city was bombed. The upper floors of the building were destroyed and a fire broke out on the first several floors. All those who were injured in this building were brought to us. The residents of the upper floors had signs of smoke inhalation from the fire’s smoke. We provided assistance based upon the symptoms of smoke inhalation. During this time an unknown person came in. I don’t know him. He said that this was an attack using poisonous substances. People were frightened, there was a struggle; the relatives of the wounded began to spray each other with water. Other people without medical training began putting anti-asthma inhalers in children’s mouths. We didn’t see a single patient with signs of chemical poisoning.”

Khalil Azizah claimed that the incident in question took place on April 8, one day after the alleged attack of April 7. However, he referred to the same video shot by the White Helmets and pointed to his image in the video as one of the personnel providing medical treatment. As such, there is no doubt that the incident Khalil Azizah refers to is the same one recorded by the White Helmets. Moreover, Azizah’s narrative of smoke inhalation is consistent with the finding of the French intelligence report on the Douma chemical attack, which noted that, based upon an examination of the images of the alleged victims, one of the possible explanations behind the symptoms produced was “hydrocyanic acid” (the solution of hydrogen cyanide in water). Hydrogen cyanide is something not found in either chlorine or sarin exposure, but prevalent in the smoke produced by structure fires. The presence of hydrogen cyanide would be explained by a structure fire, and as such, Azizah’s testimony provides a viable alternative explanation for the victims being treated by the Douma hospital, as well as those filmed dead at the scene of the alleged chemical attack.

The Western media aired its own recorded interviews of alleged victims who had fled from Douma to refugee camps along the Turkish border. Complicating the story further, reporters from a variety of news outlets had made their way to the actual site of the alleged Douma chemical attack while the OPCW inspectors were stranded in Damascus. A CBS crew was shown the chlorine canister on the roof of the building where the victims of the chemical attack were claimed to have died and interviewed eyewitnesses who claimed to have been present during the attack. Other journalists visited the same location and interviewed eyewitnesses who claimed no chemical attack had taken place.

Meanwhile, the delay for getting the OPCW inspectors into Douma prompted the United States, the United Kingdom and France to speculate that Russia was sanitizing the site of the attack of any evidence that would show chemicals were used, a charge Russia vehemently denied (and something the various news reports conducted at the scene would suggest was not, in fact, the case). Not to be outdone, the head of the White Helmets claims to have provided the OPCW fact-finding mission the locations of “mass graves” containing the victims of the alleged chemical attack. The forensic viability of these bodies (for which no documentation exists and no chain of custody has been provided linking them to the chemical incident in question, if they in fact exist) is virtually nil, and it is unlikely the OPCW would seek to have them exhumed in any event. The allegations of their existence, however, represents the latest in a series of roadblocks that have been placed in the way of the OPCW inspectors.

The truth is out there, waiting on the ground in Douma. There is no doubt that the OPCW fact-finding mission has the forensic investigatory capability to detect the presence of chemical agents at the scene of the alleged chemical attack of April 7. The amount of chlorine necessary to have produced the number of casualties claimed is significant, and as such the chemical residue unique to such an event would be present in large quantities, and easily detected; no amount of “sanitation” by Russia or any other party could eliminate these traces.

This is the truth of the Douma chemical allegations—they can be readily proved or disproved almost immediately upon arrival at the scene by qualified inspectors from the OPCW. The fact that the United States, the United Kingdom and France opted to attack Syria without allowing the OPCW inspectors to first accomplish their mission provides the clearest indication possible that all three nations knew they possessed a shocking lack of intelligence to sustain their allegations surrounding the use of chemical agents by the Syrian government, and that the missile attack of April 13, was little more than a propaganda exercise designed to promote larger policy objectives regarding U.S., U.K. and French policy in Syria. This conclusion holds regardless of what the ultimate finding is by the OPCW inspectors as to what transpired on the ground in Douma the evening of April 7, 2018.

April 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Index on Disgrace

By Craig Murray | April 22, 2018

The second half of my life has been a continual process of disillusionment with the institutions I used to respect. I suppose it started with the FCO, where I went from being Britain’s youngest ambassador to being sacked for opposing the use of intelligence from torture, at the same time having an insider view of the knowing lies about Iraqi WMD being used as a pretext for invasion and resource grab.

I still had some residual respect for the BBC, which respect disappeared during the Scottish independence referendum where BBC propaganda and disregard for the truth were truly shameless. My love of the universities was severely tested during my period as Rector of Dundee University, when I saw how far the corporate model had turned them from academic communities developing people and pursuing knowledge, to relentless churners out of unconsidered graduates and financially profitable research, with nearly all sense of community gone. My respect for charities vanished when I discovered Save the Children was paying its chief executive £370,000 and had become a haven for New Labour politicos on huge salaries, which was why it was so involved in pushing a pro-war narrative in Syria. When Justin Forsyth and Brendan Cox – both massively salaried employees who came into Save the Children from the revolving door of Gordon Brown’s office – were outed over sexual predation, that seemed a natural result of “charities” being headed by rich party hacks rather than by simple people trying to do good. As for respect for parliament, well the massive troughing expenses scandal and all those protected paedophiles…

It has become difficult to hang on to respect for any institution, and that is unsettling.

Which brings me to last week’s annual awards from Index on Censorship. The winners of the awards – from Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Honduras and Egypt – all seem worthy enough, and there is even some departure from the neo-con narrative in recognising a human rights problem in Egypt.

But the Chairman of Index on Censorship is, incredibly, Rupert Murdoch lead hack David Aaronovitch, and he presided over the awards, in the very week in which the newspaper for which he writes produced this appalling attack on freedom of expression:

Inside there was a further two page attack on named academics who have the temerity to ask for evidence of government claims over Syria, including distinguished Professors Tim Hayward, Paul McKeigue and Piers Robinson. The Times also attacked named journalists and bloggers and, to top it off, finished with a column alleging collusion between Scottish nationalists and the Russian state.

That the Chairman of “Index on Censorship” is associated with this kind of attack on freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of research is sadly unsurprising. The guest list of the Index ceremony had a distinct right wing tinge including A C Grayling and Sara Khan, as well as a good smattering of the BBC, which was also represented on the judging panel. The irony of the state broadcaster being part of a panel on freedom of expression is plainly lost.

I realised something was very wrong with Index on Censorship when I contacted them over a decade ago, when Jack Straw attempted to ban the publication of my book Murder in Samarkand, after it had passed successfully through the exhaustive FCO clearance process over a time-consuming year. I tried to interest them again when my second book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo was dropped by my publisher following libel threats from mercenary commander Tim Spicer of Aegis/Executive Outcomes/Sandline. On both occasions I was told that then Chief Executive of Index, John Kampfner, did not regard these attempted book bannings as incidents of censorship. Presumably because they weren’t somewhere like Cuba or Zimbabwe…

The truly appalling Times attack on academics was part of a coordinated and government-led campaign to delegitimise anybody doubting the official narrative on Salisbury and Syria. The BBC weighed in with this horrible effort:

The government then issued a ridiculous press release branding decent people as “Russian bots” just for opposing British policy in Syria. In a piece of McCarthyism so macabre I cannot believe this is really happening, an apparently pleasant and normal man called Ian was grilled live on Murdoch’s Sky News, having been named by his own government as a Russian bot.

The Guardian uncritically published the government’s accusations in full, and astonishingly seemed proud that it had made no attempt to investigate their veracity but had merely published what the government wished them to publish:

The Guardian naturally was just as reliable as the BBC in driving home the message that anybody who doubted the government’s word on Syria was a flat-earth denier of the truth:

Mr Freedland is of course a perfect representation of an interesting fact. Those who are most active in telling us that we must attack Syria, and that anybody who questions the government’s pretexts is insane or evil, are precisely the same individuals who supported the war in Iraq and attacked those who doubted the existence of Iraqi WMD. Indeed these people – Jonathan Freedland, David Aaronovitch, Oliver Kamm, Alan Mendoza, Andrew Rawnsley, John Rentoul, Nick Cohen – are the leaders of the tiny, insignificant number of people who still believe that the invasion of Iraq was both justified and beneficial in its result.

Yet these people of proven terrible judgement, they and others of their media class, are the arbiters who are allowed to dictate the terms of what is and what is not an acceptable public utterance on the situation in Syria.

When Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the opposition, one of two things had to happen. Either the Overton window had to shift to allow for the reflection of views held by the leader of the official opposition and his myriad supporters, or the leader of the opposition had to be castigated and humiliated as an unreasonable lunatic. Corbyn’s rational scepticism on British involvement in the conflict in Syria is a key moment in this process. Despite the fact Corbyn’s scepticism is supported by a wide swathe of diplomatic and military opinion within the UK, it has to be portrayed as fringe, extreme and irrational.

We thus have the extraordinary spectacle of a coordinated government and media onslaught on anybody who doubts their entirely fact free narratives. Those who were demonstrably completely wrong over Iraq are held up as infallible, and given full control of all state and corporate media platforms, where they deride those who were right over Iraq as crackpots and Russian bots.

Meanwhile public trust in the state and corporate media hits new lows, which is the happy part of this story.

Support Craig Murray’s continued writing.

April 22, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Useful Idiots? New Yorker Magazine Fails Litmus Test for Media Impartiality on Syrian War

By Robert BRIDGE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.04.2018

When America’s top thinking man’s journal fails to consider at least one possible alternative as to who may have been responsible for the latest alleged chemical attack in Syria, aside from the ‘Assad regime,’ then we may conclude that the entire mainstream media complex is receiving its marching orders from above.

In an April 14 article in the erstwhile prestigious New Yorker magazine (“Russia’s ‘Madman’ Routine in Syria May Have Averted Direct Confrontation with the U.S., For Now”), author Joshua Yaffa singlehandedly proves there is absolutely no straying from the government-approved narrative that Syrian President Bashar Assad is guilty of carrying out an alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7. He also manages to pull Russia into the elaborate conspiracy theory, which is now accepted as bona-fide truth in the Western world.

“Moscow welcomes Assad’s defeat of the rebels, and has little concern for how he achieves it, but the use of chemical weapons is an embarrassment and source of unwelcome consequences for the Kremlin,” Yaffa writes with breathtaking arrogance, refusing to entertain the much more likely scenario that the rebel terrorists were responsible for the purported attack. “One unresolved question is whether Russia … got assurances from Syria that it would refrain from using chemical weapons in the future.”

For any person with even a limited amount of critical thinking skills, this cannot be considered objective and impartial journalism in any sense of the word. Yet it is a prime example of what Western readers are being force-fed on a daily basis: Assad is guilty of carrying out a chemical attack on innocent civilians, nothing else to look at here, please move along [Thus far, there has been one notable exception to this rule, which has not been picked up by the US media, and never will be. Robert Fisk, a veteran British reporter of the Middle East, traveled to Douma for a first-hand account of the alleged attack for The Independent. After a lengthy fact-finding trip, which included interviews with numerous witnesses and medical staff, Fisk revealed what so many people had suspected: there was no chemical attack. The event was entirely staged by the notorious White Helmets ‘rescue group’].

Consider the way UK broadcaster Sky News cut short Major-General Jonathan Shaw, a formerly high-ranking British Army officer, as he attempted to question what motive Bashar Assad would have had in carrying out a gas attack at this crucial juncture.

“The debate that seems to be missing from this is… What possible motive could have triggered Syria to launch this chemical attack at this time in this place?” Shaw ventured to ask. “The Syrians are winning, don’t take my word for it, take the American military’s word for it.”

At that point, the interview was quickly terminated for a commercial break. Needless to say, Sky News and other Western media won’t be inviting Shaw back for his expert analysis anytime in the near future.

As if this even needs to be said, the function of the media is not to parrot the government line, but to challenge it every step of the way – and even more so when the consequences of failing to do so could result in the outbreak of a major conflict, possibly even World War III. Apparently that is a risk the useful idiots of the Western mainstream media are willing to take.

In reality, to call these journalists ‘useful’ would be an exaggeration, because they are actually not being very useful at all. By dutifully refusing to consider, even in passing, other alternatives in Syria they have betrayed their allegiances, which is obviously not to the pursuit of truth. To assume your audience is so blissfully ignorant that they cannot imagine other scenarios regarding the chemical attack in Syria for themselves only serves to further alienate the mainstream media monsters from their subscribers. Thus, Western journalists are not ‘useful idiots’ per se; they are simply being idiots.

Incidentally, this explains in a nutshell why the masters of the mainstream media universe are so terribly anxious to silence alternative media voices from the Internet. The existence of dissenting, unscripted voices throws into stark contrast just how biased, prejudiced and undemocratic the Western press has become. Better to manipulate the Internet algorithms than to risk Western audiences hearing voices that challenge the official narrative.

Once again, the ridiculously obvious question needs to be asked since the Western mainstream media refuses to: Why would Assad, who was defeating the rebels on every military front with modern military technologies, resort to the most primitive and egregious form of military methods imaginable, that of chemical weapons? Why would he commit the one act that would undoubtedly bring NATO members into the fray, thereby destroying the results of an 8-year struggle? The short answer is he would not. Not in a million years. However, even if the Western media stubbornly refuses to consider that line of reasoning, it fails to explain why they were unanimously blaming Assad for the attack when experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had not yet arrived in Douma to conduct their forensics work. Instead, they cast aside their journalistic duties in favor of serving as mindless cheerleaders for war.

Yaffa took the hysteria a notch higher, however, when he suggested that it was Russia that was behaving like a “madman” in Syria:

“Whether thanks to their successful “madman” routine, or the success of arguments for restraint by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Putin and his generals must be pleased,” Yaffa wrote, apparently disheartened that something worked to put the brakes on full-blown military action in Syria.

“The Russian effort to preemptively terrify the West into limiting its military operations in Syria began last month, when Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s top military officer, warned that Moscow would shoot down missiles fired at Syrian territory—and, what’s more, if Russian forces came under threat, would strike back by targeting launch facilities and platforms,” Yaffa wrote.

Strange that even the prospect of Russia actually proclaiming it would defend itself from an outright attack is deemed the delusional ranting of a “madman.” Such is the position of the Western media as it continues to perpetuate the myth of a Russian bogeyman as it works to undermine peace in favor of yet another regime change operation.

Clearly, alternative voices in the deeply compromised mainstream media jungle are needed now more than ever.

April 21, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

US still paying White Helmets despite $200mn-aid freeze for Syria recovery, State Dept confirms

RT | April 20, 2018

As the US is reviewing funding aimed at helping war-ravaged Syria rebuild, it’s not neglecting the White Helmets – a controversial militant-linked group instrumental to the media campaign against Assad and Russia.

At a Thursday press briefing, journalists asked US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert for an update on the late-March freeze of $200 million earmarked for the recovery of Syria – and if that means Washington will be withholding payments to the White Helmets.

Nauert opened her response with a gushing comment about the organization. “We recognize and appreciate and are very grateful for all the work that the White Helmets continues to do on behalf of the people of their country and on behalf of the US Government and all the coalition forces. They’re doing incredible work in rescuing in some cases, and in other cases it’s recovery efforts. They’re an incredible group of individuals,” she said.

Moreover, she said she “just exchanged emails with them the other day.” Finally cornered into giving a direct answer, she said “As far as I’m aware, all of the work still continues. Peoples’ bills are still being paid.”

The White Helmets (officially called the Syria Civil Defense), a supposedly impartial humanitarian NGO, make no secret of who pays those bills, listing the governments of the UK, Germany, and the US among others on their website. Time and again their reports from the scenes of supposed crimes against civilians by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad – who Washington has wanted toppled for years – have been used to justify accusations against Assad and his ally Russia. This includes the latest alleged chemical incident in Douma near Damascus, which led to a series of missile strikes by the US, UK, and France.

These allegations have now been contradicted by multiple sources, including witnesses from the scene, and even people featured in the White Helmets’ video of the “aftermath” of the “attack.”

The White Helmets rely heavily on positive publicity. They have been featured in two documentaries, one of which won an Oscar in the heavily politicized 2017 ceremony.

A recent attempt at gaining publicity and support for their cause, however, fizzled spectacularly. English singer Roger Waters, a founder of Pink Floyd, stopped his Barcelona gig for a minute last week to mention that a representative of the White Helmets wanted to come up on stage and make a statement. However, Waters had a few words of his own to say.

“The White Helmets is a fake organization that exists only to create propaganda for jihadists and terrorists,” he said.

It later turned out that in 2016, the NGO emailed Waters, trying to entice him into a dinner honoring the White Helmets, paid for by a Saudi billionaire. And just days before last week’s concert, a journalist describing himself as “a militant with the Syrian White Helmets” asked Waters for stage time to “send a message to the children of Syria.”

Waters replied to neither email, instead choosing to make his beliefs heard publicly.

“If we were to listen to the propaganda of the White Helmets and others, we would be encouraged to encourage our governments to start dropping bombs on people in Syria,” he said.

Which is exactly what happened a few hours later.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

The Guardian, “Russian bots” and the dehumanisation of dissent

By Kit | OffGuardian | April 20, 2018

Heather Stewart, The Guardian’s chief stenographer political editor, has copied and pasted a press release written a new article all about “Russian bots”. The trouble is she doesn’t seem to know what either of these words actually means.

The article – headlined “Russia spread fake news via Twitter bots after Salisbury poisoning – analysis” – is a direct lie from the outset, as it offers absolutely no “analysis”.

Instead she does this:

Russia used trolls and bots to unleash disinformation on to social media in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning, according to fresh Whitehall analysis. Government sources said experts had uncovered an increase of up to 4,000% in the spread of propaganda from Russia-based accounts since the attack,– many of which were identifiable as automated bots.

She simply directly quotes Whitehall via anonymous “sources”. Does she interrogate the veracity of these claims? No. Does she offer evidence to support them? Of course not. Does she question the agenda behind them? I doubt she even remembers how.

Ctrl-C, ctrl-V. It must be true the government says so.

This is modern media in a nutshell. This new take on the meaning of “journalism” has hurt the world in general and press in the specific. Refusal to abide by its rules has pushed important voices out of the mainstream – the careers of many decent people of principle – John Pilger and Seymour Hersh for example – are forced out into alternate sources.

Kowtowing to the government line has its own cost though – the unquestioning acceptance of government authority has a price – and very often it’s looking incredibly foolish.

Heather seems happy to pay this price.

She cites only two examples of “Russian bots” in her article, a revelation tainted only by the fact that neither of them are Russian and neither of them are bots.

Now, before we refute the specifics Ms Stewart’s bizarre claims, let’s take a look at the definition of a bot, from wikipedia:

An Internet Bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone.

Simply put – bots are automated, internet based software programs that do simple repetitive tasks faster and more efficiently than humans. It’s not a difficult concept.

Spamming ads? Bots.
Automatic likes/retweets? Bots.
Writing tweets that reflect complex political realities? NOT bots.

Heather clearly doesn’t know exactly what a “bot” is, and perhaps even worse, can’t even be bothered to do some incredibly easy research to familiarise herself with the term. The government says so, so it must be true. Copy. Paste.

So, who are these non-bots, you ask? Well… apparently there’s millions of them, but Heather only mentions two:

One bot, @Ian56789, was sending 100 posts a day during a 12-day period from 7 April, and reached 23 million users, before the account was suspended. It focused on claims that the chemical weapons attack on Douma had been falsified, using the hashtag #falseflag. Another, @Partisangirl, reached 61 million users with 2,300 posts over the same 12-day period.

Now, anybody who follows alt-news sites on twitter – or who pays attention to the Syria situation – is probably more than familiar with these two names.

Ian56789 is not a bot. Anybody who follows him can see that. Is he Russian? There’s nothing to indicate that, he claims to be a Brit living in the US, and his English is perfect. Take a look at this completely randomly chosen tweet as an example:

There is nothing whatsoever to indicate he is “Russian”… except his opinions. Still, his account was suspended, because saying the wrong things has you branded an enemy in the land of the free. Thankfully he has since been reinstated.

However that pales in comparison to the absurdity of listing Partisangirl as a “Russian bot”. Partisangirl – or Maram Susli – is a real person. There can be no disagreement on that front. She gives interviews, she makes videos, there are hundreds of photographs of her. Only slightly less ridiculous than the idea she’s a “bot”, is the idea she’s “Russian”. She’s a Syrian-Australian woman. She has a Syrian name, and a Syrian flag in her bio and talks – almost exclusively – about Syria.

Disregarding these established facts is bizarre, dishonest and incredibly insulting.

So why label these people “Russian” – when they’re probably not – and “bots”, when that’s patently absurd? Is it simply ignorance? Perhaps.

But in this age of focus groups and media relations and public image, words and language are carefully chosen. Is it not more likely that this is a buzz-phrase selected to make a point? It at once dehumanizes dissent and makes breaking the consensus a partisan act, rather than a rational one.

An angry citizen is awake, alert and thinking. Much, MUCH more of a threat than a “Russian bot”. A being with no humanity, no objectivity, who is aligned with our “enemy”. It’s the othering of unacceptable opinions. It’s simple, dishonest, and dangerous.

… and people like Heather do it without a second thought. Copy, paste, repeat.

It must be right, the government says so.

In that way it is the ultimate irony, people who have thrown away their individuality and sacrificed their analytical mind to the government backed “truth”, labelling those who disagree as “bots”. There’s only one party in this situation who “performs simple repetitive tasks” to order, there’s only one group of people who automatically believe their programming and follow it without question. There’s only one automaton here.

If anyone is a “bot”… it’s them, not us.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

CNN reporter inhales deadly ‘chemical weapons’ on camera: ‘Yeah that stings’

The global Fake News leader’s Arwa Damon sampled a little sarin in the course of her humanitarian propaganda piece on Syria

By Ricky Twisdale | The Duran | April 20, 2018

CNN, the world leader in hard hitting, real news (do you sense any irony?), has produced this stupendous report from a refugee camp in Northern Syria, with people it says “survived” the “chemical attack” in Douma earlier this month.

The US, Britain and France alleged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pointlessly attacked his own people in Douma with sarin nerve agent, prompting the three nations to launch air strikes on Syria on the night of April 13-14th.

CNN correspondent Arwa Damon was at the camp to interview the “survivors” – as well as sample a little sarin herself.

The report (below) shows Damon and others, handling backpacks, clothing and toys allegedly exposed to Syrian government chemical weapons.

Damon plunges her face into one backpack, reacting, “There’s definitely something that stings” after taking her first whiff of sarin.

Neither Damon nor anyone else in the video, uses gloves or any form of protection when handling the articles allegedly contaminated with deadly chemicals.

As a reminder, here are the effects of sarin exposure according to the US government’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • A person’s clothing can release sarin after it has come in contact with sarin vapor, which can lead to exposure of other people.
  • Sarin is the most volatile of the nerve agentsPeople can be exposed to the vapor even if they do not come in contact with the liquid form of sarin.
  • Symptoms likely will appear within a few seconds after exposure to the vapor form of sarin
  • People may not know that they were exposed because sarin has no odor.
  • Even a small drop of sarin on the skin can cause sweating and muscle twitching where sarin touched the skin
  • People exposed to a low or moderate dose of sarin by breathing contaminated air…or touching contaminated surfaces may experience some or all of the following symptoms within seconds to hours of exposure:
    • Runny nose
    • Watery eyes
    • Small, pinpoint pupils
    • Eye pain
    • Blurred vision
    • Drooling and excessive sweating
    • Cough
    • Chest tightness
    • Rapid breathing
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain
    • Increased urination
    • Confusion
    • Drowsiness
    • Weakness
    • Headache
    • Slow or fast heart rate
    • Low or high blood pressure

Those are the symptoms of a low to moderate dose. The CDC webpage goes on to note a large dose immediately leads to convulsions and death.

There’s definitely something that stings” – yeah that about sums up the symptoms of exposure to the deadly nerve agent.

The CNN fake news report goes on to interview others in the camp, without any proof of where they in fact came from, or more importantly, the political allegiance of the alleged witnesses.

All in a day’s work for the network that now prides itself on promotion of salacious gossip, unverified atrocity claims, and warmongering hysteria.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Video | , | 1 Comment

The Neocons Are Selling Koolaid Again!

By W. Patrick Lang • Unz Review • April 19, 2018

In 2004 I published an article in the journal, Middle East Policy that was entitled “Drinking the Koolaid.” The article reviewed the process by which the neocon element in the Bush Administration seized control of the process of policy formation and drove the United States in the direction of invasion of Iraq and the destruction of the apparatus of the Iraqi state. They did this through manipulation of the collective mental image Americans had of Iraq and the supposed menace posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Not all the people who participated in this process were neocon in their allegiance but there were enough of them in the Bush Administration to dominate the process. Neoconism as it has evolved in American politics is a close approximation of the imperialist political faction that existed in the time of President William McKinley and the Spanish-American War. Barbara Tuchman described this faction well in “The Proud Tower.”

Such people, then and now, fervently believe in the Manifest Destiny of the United States as mankind’s best hope of a utopian future and concomitantly in the responsibility of the United States to lead mankind toward that future. Neocons believe that inside every Iraqi, Filipino or Syrian there is an American waiting to be freed from the bonds of tradition, local culture and general backwardness. For people with this mindset the explanation for the continuance of old ways lies in the oppressive and exploitative nature of rulers who block the “progress” that is needed. The solution for the imperialists and neocons is simple. Local rulers must be removed as the principal obstacle to popular emulation of Western and especially American culture and political forms. In the run up to the invasion of Iraq I was often told by leading neocon figures that the Muslims and particularly the Iraqis had no culture worth keeping and that once we had created new facts, (a Karl Rove quote) these people would quickly abandon their old ways and beliefs as they sought to become something like Americans. This notion has one major flaw. It is not necessarily correct. Often the natives are willing to fight you long and hard to retain their own ways. In the aftermath of the Spanish-American War the US acquired the Philippine Islands and sought to make the islands American in all things. The result was a terrible war against Filipino nationalists who did not want to follow the example of the “shining city on a hill.” No, the “poor fools” wanted to go their own way in their own way. The same thing happened in Iraq after 2003. The Iraqis rejected occupation and American “reform” of their country and a long and bloody war ensued.

The neocons believe so strongly that America must lead the world and mankind forward that they accept the idea that the achievement of human progress justifies any means needed to advance that goal. In the case of the Iraq invasion the American people were lectured endlessly about the bestialities of Saddam’s government. The bestialities were impressive but the constant media display of these horrors was not enough to persuade the American people to accept war. From the bestialities meme the neocons moved on to the WMD meme. The Iraqi government had a nuclear weapons program before the First Gulf War but that program had been thoroughly destroyed in the inspection regime that followed Iraq’s defeat and surrender. This was widely known in the US government because US intelligence agencies had cooperated fully with the international inspectors in Iraq and in fact had sent the inspectors to a long list of locations at which the inspectors destroyed the program. I was instrumental in that process.

After 9/11 the US government knew without any doubt that the Iraqi government did not have a nuclear weapons program, but that mattered not at all to the neocons. As Paul Wolfowitz infamously told the US Senate “we chose to use the fear of nuclear weapons because we knew that would sell.” Once that decision was made an endless parade of administration shills appeared on television hyping the supposed menace of Iraqi nuclear weapons. Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were merely the most elevated in position of the many vendors of the image of the “mushroom shaped cloud.”

And now we have the case of Syria and its supposed chemical weapons and attacks. After the putative East Gouta chemical attack of 2013, an OPCW program removed all the chemical weapons to be found in Syria and stated its belief that there were no more in the country. In April of 2017 the US-Russian de-confliction process was used to reach agreement on a Syrian Air Force strike in the area of Khan Sheikoon in southern Idlib Province. This was a conventional weapons attack and the USAF had an unarmed reconnaissance drone in the area to watch the strike go in against a storage area. The rebel run media in the area then claimed the government had attacked with the nerve gas Sarin, but no proof was ever offered except film clips broadcast on social media. Some of the film clips from the scene were ludicrous. Municipal public health people were filmed at the supposed scene standing around what was said to be a bomb crater from the “sarin attack.” Two public health men were filmed sitting on the lip of the crater with their feet in the hole. If there had been sarin residue in the hole they would have quickly succumbed to the gas. No impartial inspection of the site was ever done, but the Khan Sheikoon “gas attack” has become through endless repetition a “given” in the lore of the “constant Syrian government gas attacks against their own civilians.”

On the 4th of April it is claimed that the Syrian Government, then in the process of capturing the town of Douma caused chlorine gas to be dropped on the town killing and wounding many. Chlorine is not much of a war gas. It is usually thought of as an industrial chemical, so evidently to make the story more potent it is now suggested that perhaps sarin was also used.

No proof that such an attack occurred has been made public. None! The Syrian and Russian governments state that they want the site inspected. On the 15th of April US Senator Angus King (I) of Maine told Jake Tapper on SOTU that as of that date the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had not been given any proof by the IC or Trump Administration that such an attack had occurred. “They have asserted that it did” he said.

The US, France and the UK struck Syria with over a hundred cruise missiles in retaliation for this supposed attack but the Administration has not yet provided any proof that the Syrian attack took place.

I am told that the old neocon crew argued as hard as possible for a disabling massive air and missile campaign intended to destroy the Syrian government’s ability to fight the mostly jihadi rebels. John Bolton, General (ret.) Jack Keane and many other neocons argued strongly for this campaign as a way to reverse the outcome of the civil war. James Mattis managed to obtain President Trump’s approval for a much more limited and largely symbolic strike but Trump was clearly inclined to the neocon side of the argument. What will happen next time?

Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years

April 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 2 Comments

Russia’s OPCW envoy exposes ‘eight UK lies’ in Skripal case

RT | April 19, 2018

The UK’s narrative in the Skripal case is a “story woven with lies,” with London continuously trying to “deceive” the international community, Russia’s OPCW envoy said, highlighting eight examples of such misinformation.

“We’ve tried to show that everything our British colleagues produce is a story woven with lies,” Russia’s permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Aleksandr Shulgin told reporters on Wednesday, following the organization’s meeting on the Skripal case.

“And, unlike the British, who aren’t used to taking responsibility for their words and unfounded accusations, we showed specific facts why we believe our British partners, to put it mildly, are ‘deceiving’ everyone.” The official provided eight examples of UK-pushed misinformation, surrounding the March 4 events, when the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in the town of Salisbury.

#1. Russia refuses to answer UK ‘questions’

“In reality, they’ve asked us only two ‘questions’… And both were worded in such way that the existence of an undocumented arsenal of chemical weaponry at Russia’s disposal was presented as an established fact, beyond any doubt.”

It was effectively an ultimatum, pressing Moscow to either confess that it “attacked the UK with chemical weapons,” or to admit that it had “lost control over the chemical warfare arsenal.”

Moscow answered both of these ‘questions’ immediately, stating that it had nothing to do with the Salisbury incident. Apart from that, the official emphasized, it is an established fact that Russia destroyed all its chemical weaponry stockpile ahead of schedule last year.

#2. UK abides by Chemical Weapons Convention rulebook

The OPCW procedures clearly state that if one member state has issues with another, it should send an official request, and thus the other party would be obliged to respond within 10 days, Shulgin said. However, instead, the UK allegedly “instigated by their colleagues from across the pond,” disregarded the established mechanism and came up with a dubious “independent verification” scheme, which violates those very OPCW rules.

#3. Russia refuses to cooperate

While the UK and a number of its allies accuse Russia of “refusing to cooperate to establish the truth,” the situation is exactly the opposite, Shulgin insists. Moscow is interested in a thorough investigation of the incident – especially since the victims are Russian citizens. Moscow repeatedly insisted on a joint probe and urged London to release data on the Skripal case, but all efforts were in vain. Many requests went unanswered by the UK, while others received only a formal reply.

#4. Russia invents versions to distract attention

Despite numerous speculations and allegations by questionable sources, cited by the UK’s own domestic media, it was Moscow that was eventually accused of coming up with some “30 versions” of the Salisbury events, allegedly to “disrupt the investigation,” Shulgin said.

“In reality, the picture is different. In fact, it’s the British tabloids, the so-called independent media, which is multiplying those versions,” the official stated, recalling some of the narratives, most of which entirely contradict each other.

#5. Exterminating traitors is Russia’s official state policy

“They claim that the Russian leadership has, on multiple occasions, stated that extermination of traitors abroad is a state policy of Russia,” Shulgin said. “This is slander, of course. The British cannot produce a single example of such statements, since the Russian leadership has never said anything of the kind.”

#6. Experts pin the blame on Russia

The head of the OPCW mission has clearly said that it was impossible to determine in which country the toxic substance used in Salisbury had originated. Yet the OPCW findings were once again used by the UK officials to claim Moscow was “highly likely” responsible. “Look, the head said it was impossible and they, abandoning all common sense, said ‘They’ve confirmed our evaluations that it was Russia.’ How else can you evaluate this but as a lie?” Shulgin wondered.

#7. ‘Novichok’ is a Soviet invention, so it has to be Russia

The development of the so-called Novichok family of toxic agents more than 30 years ago in the Soviet Union was one of the main cornerstones in the UK narrative, pinning blame for the Skripal incident on Russia. Publicly available sources, however, indicate that “the West has been and still is conducting research and development into such substances,” Shulgin said, giving a fresh example of such activities.

“Not long ago, namely on 1 December 2015, the US Patent and Trademark Office filed a request to its Russian colleagues asking to check patentability … of a chemical weaponry-filled bullet, which could be equipped with Tabun, Sarin or the Novichok family of agents,” the official stated.

#8. Yulia Skripal avoids contact with relatives & refuses Russian consular support

While such a statement was indeed produced by the UK authorities “on behalf” of Yulia, Moscow believes it to be false. According to Shulgin, the situation with Yulia is starting to look like a Russian citizen is effectively being “held hostage” by the UK authorities.

April 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment