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Summing up: Official Claims in the Salisbury Poisonings Weighed and Found Wanting

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | January 9, 2019

As promised, I want to round off my pieces on the Salisbury case by looking at what I consider to be the major issues and flaws with the case presented to the public by the British Government and the Metropolitan Police, as well as the role played by the mainstream media. I have chosen 10 major points (not in any particular order), although there are many more issues than these.

This is a necessarily lengthy piece and I wouldn’t blame you if you gave up half way through to go and do something more profitable with your time, such as reading a decent book, cooking a good meal, or horsing around with your children. But on the offchance that you are of a mind to stick it out to the end (or even to split it up in between slices of something more profitable), consider this my attempt to show why any person endowed with powers of reason, logic and a commitment to facts and truth should not believe the case that has been put to the general public as to what happened in Salisbury on 4th March, 2018.

1. Verdict First; Investigation Afterwards

I was bound to be interested in this case from the off, since it took place in the city where I reside, just a few hundred yards from my home. But what really sparked my interest into writing about the case for so long, was the response of the British Government. Within 48 hours of the incident, before the investigation had properly begun, and before any of the facts of the matter had been established, certain Government ministers were already pointing the finger of blame at the Russian state. Too quick. Something’s up.

Then on 12th and 14th March, little more than a week after the incident, and still with almost no facts of what actually happened having been established by investigators, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, not only formally accused the Russian Government in the House of Commons, but also announced a series of responsive measures. Much too quick. Something’s definitely up.

So quick were the accusations and verdict, that anyone interested in understanding the truth of what happened, rather than making blithe, fact-free assumptions, could not fail to have had their suspicions aroused.

There are three things to note about this.

The first is that the idea of reaching a verdict before an investigation puts the British Government firmly in Alice in Wonderland territory. Quite apart from being plainly ludicrous, it also meant that the investigation was both politicised and prejudiced right from the start. The possibility of an impartial investigation was dead in the water just a week or so after the incident, and it was the British Government that killed it off. One can’t help but wonder whether that was the very point they were hoping to achieve.

The second issue with their reckless accusations is seen in their paltry response to what they say happened. You might think that this is a ridiculous statement to make, given that the response included the expulsion of diplomats, not only in Britain but also in a number of other countries. But it absolutely is not. What is alleged is that a chemical weapon was used, by a foreign Government, on the territory of Britain. Moreover, it is also alleged that the two suspects allegedly left at least one of their two bottles of “Novichok” lying around in the city (yes two bottles – see point 5 below), the contents of which was apparently enough to kill thousands, if not tens of thousands of people.

If this is what really happened, I would expect a rather more robust response than the expulsion of a few diplomats. I would expect the expulsion of all diplomats, the closure of the Embassy, and pretty much any and every measure possible short of a declaration of war. Basically, I would expect everything those folks at the “Integrity Initiative” were calling for back in 2015!

As it was, the actual response was pathetically inadequate to the charge being made, namely that the Russian Government was responsible for the use of a chemical weapon on the streets of a British city, which was left there to potentially kill thousands of innocent people. The feeble nature of the “response” to what could have been considered an act of war is, in my view, a big clue that those making the accusations and taking the responsive measures do not really believe the story they have told, and that there was an awful lot of theatre going on.

But the third, and by far the most important point about the British Government’s initial accusations, is this: the accusation and verdict came over two weeks before the door handle theory was first mooted, and over three weeks before it was officially confirmed as the place of poisoning (on 28th March). This is VERY important.

In his only interview on the subject, the CEO of Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead, stated that the organisation he heads was not able to identify the origin of the substance used. To do so, he said, required “other inputs,” some of them intelligence-based, that the Government had access to.

So what were these intelligence-based inputs? We have no need to speculate. This is what a Foreign Office spokesperson said of the reasoning behind the accusations:

“As the Prime Minister has set out in a number of statements to the Commons since 12 March, this includes our knowledge that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents — probably for assassination — and as part of this programme has produced and stockpiled small quantities of novichoks.”

As an aside, if this were really the case, then the British Government had an obligation to inform the OPCW of their intelligence, especially since the OPCW had declared in November 2017 that Russia had eliminated its entire stock of chemical weapons. So why did they not?

But the claim made by the spokesperson presents a glaring problem. What was this knowledge that “Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents”? The answer was of course subsequently given to us: the infamous alleged FSB manual, which apparently included details of how to deliver nerve agents via door handles. Yet if this is the case, it gives rise to the following question:

If the British Government came to the conclusion that the Russian Government was behind the attack by 14th March, and if this was based in part on the existence of intelligence showing the delivery of nerve agents via door handles, why was the door handle not identified as a possible place of poisoning until more than a week later, and only officially confirmed on 28th March?

That question will never be answered, of course, because to do so would … all together now … “compromise national security.” There is, however, a quite plausible explanation, but you can probably work that out for yourselves.

2. CCTV, CCTV everywhere, but not a clip to see

It is a curious fact about what was almost certainly the biggest police investigation in British history, that the amount of CCTV footage shown to the public by the police of events on 4th March totals less than one minute. However, it should be noted that even this footage was only aired in November — more than eight months after the event —, and was very obviously highly selective in terms of fixing certain thoughts in people’s minds and excluding others. Let’s just say that it was more interesting for what it didn’t show than for what it did.

It is an even more curious fact that not one second of footage has ever been shown of the Skripals on that day, unless you include a few seconds of a car driving along a couple of roads.

Curiouser still, the only bit of CCTV footage of “the Skripals” that was released, showing them walking through Market Walk at 15:47, turned out not to be the Skripals at all. You might say that it turned out not to be anyone at all, since the footage was ridiculously grainy, the couple impossible to identify, and the pair in question, who the media and the police said were the Skripals, have been quietly forgotten about, as if they never were, even though they are almost certainly persons of interest in the case. Remember, you never saw them.

What should we make of this?

The response I have sometimes received when pointing this out is that the police have no obligation to show any CCTV footage in public. They are the ones investigating, and they need not do anything for the benefit of armchair sleuths. Fair enough. But then nor does any reasonable person have any obligation whatsoever to believe that they have been carrying out a genuine and impartial investigation. Why so?

Simply because on numerous occasions, the Metropolitan Police appealed for members of the public to come forth with information about what they may have seen on that day, and yet they steadfastly refused to let the public see any images of the two main people involved in the case, Sergei and Yulia Skripal. The public still don’t know what they were wearing on that day, or the colour of Yulia’s hair.

Ordinarily, when a police force appeals for members of the public to come forward with information, if there is CCTV footage that is relevant to the case, and which might help to jog people’s memories, it will be shown. Obviously. But not in this case. Instead, the Salisbury public were asked to wrack their brains to try and remember whether they may or may not have seen anything of interest, but without so much as being allowed to see a single second of what Mr Skripal and his daughter were wearing that day.

Yet such footage does exist. For example, there exists what has been described to me personally as “real clear footage” of Mr Skripal feeding ducks near the Avon Playground with some local boys at 13:45, with Yulia Skripal standing nearby carrying a red bag. Why has this not been aired? Remember, the Metropolitan Police allege that the pair were poisoned almost an hour before this, at his home, and so there can be no “reasons of national security” for not showing it, can there? Oh but there is. You see, that particular piece of footage blows a gaping hole in the poisoning by door handle explanation, which would immediately become obvious to all if it were ever aired in public (see point 6 below for more details). Which is why you will probably never see it.

3. Don’t ask any hard questions — you’re a journalist

The Salisbury poisonings show that the idea that Britain has a properly free press is dead. When I say free press, I am not talking about the ability and willingness of the media to print salacious gossip and pointless tittle tattle about celebrities, which they seem to excel at. No, I’m talking about the will and ability to hold the authorities to account on issues which those authorities would rather they were not challenged on. That, in my understanding, is the essence of a free press and one of the things that marks out free countries from tyrannies.

Right from the beginning of this case, three things were very apparent about the media response:

Firstly, despite the fact that there was deep scepticism in the public about the narrative that was being touted (this could be seen by scrolling to the bottom of articles on the case, where you would find comment after comment often ridiculing the official line), not one mainstream media organisation was prepared to ask the obvious and most basic questions that needed to be asked. True, there were some notable and noble individual exceptions, such as Mary Dejevsky writing in the Independent and Simon Jenkins in the Guardian. But other than the faint glimmer of light here and there, no media organisation in Britain was either able or willing to question the claims being made by public officials, even when they were nonsensical and riddled with holes.

Secondly, no media organisation was prepared to defy the Government when DSMA notices were slapped on the case, especially in relation to Mr Skripal’s Salisbury handler, and the connection he had to Christopher Steele, author of the “Trump Dossier”. And in case anyone is inclined to defend them by saying that it would have been a huge risk for them to defy the Government, well that is one thing, but it certainly does not excuse the fact that they all then fell into line, refusing to ask any of the sorts of questions that proper journalists should have been asking.

Thirdly, many of these organisations were prepared to report one set of “facts” on one day, only to report an entirely contradictory set of “facts” on another, without so much as an acknowledgement that this is what they had done. Many of them simply ignored their own reporting, even on the occasions when it was accurate, and instead went with the “new reality” put forward by officials. Memory Holes are clearly a fundamental part of the office equipment in these so-called news organisations! Here are three such examples:

Firstly, all media organisations reporting on the case in the first week or so stated that the Skripals went to Zizzis restaurant followed by the Mill pub. This was based on their own interviews with numerous witnesses, and such is the number of people who corroborated this order of things that there can be no doubt that it is correct (this is more fully discussed in point 7 below). Yet when the Metropolitan Police published its timeline on 13th March, updated on 17th March (and since disappeared from its website), it had the order the other way around. What did those same media organisations do when they saw their own interviews and reports summarily dismissed with no evidence presented as to why this was so? Why, they completely ignored it and duly began reporting the new reality. Of course. That’s just what journalists do, isn’t it?

Secondly, it was reported in a number of places on 25th March, such as (The Mirror, The Mail and Metro for instance), that Sergei Skripal had been feeding ducks next to the Avon Playground (this is in The Maltings, about 50 yards from the bench). Crucially, these reports said that he had given bread to some local boys. The Sun then followed this up on 28th March, with an interview with the parents of one of the boys. This is one of the most significant occurrences of that day, and yet after The Sun piece appeared, to my knowledge no mainstream media organisation has reported on it, and the Metropolitan Police have never mentioned it in their timeline. Perhaps there’s a DSMA Notice — Duck’s Shan’t be Mentioned Again — on the incident, but regardless of the lack of reporting, the fact is it DID happen, and IT IS one of the most compelling pieces of evidence that the Skripals were not poisoned at the place and the time that officials claim (see point 6 below for more details).

Thirdly, no media organisation has bothered to seriously question what Detective Sergeant Nicholas Bailey was doing, where he went, and at what time, even though official accounts have contradicted one another on this on numerous occasions. Mr Bailey has been a first responder at the bench (according to a number of officials, including Theresa May and Amber Rudd). Yet he was never even at the bench when the Skripals were there (according to Mr Bailey). He entered Mr Skripal’s house at around 5pm. Yet he didn’t enter it until around midnight. He was wearing a body camera with his uniform. He was plainclothes. He was wearing a forensic suit. He was admitted to hospital on the Sunday. He was admitted to hospital on the Monday. He was admitted to hospital on the Tuesday. Perhaps all three. He entered the house by the front door. He entered the house by the back door because he couldn’t get in the front.

In short, almost no two accounts of Mr Bailey’s actions and movements can be reconciled with one another, and yet the media either hasn’t noticed, or doesn’t care. Is there a DSMA Notice on him as well as the ducks (Detective Sergeant Movement Anomalies)?

All in all, it seems that although our vaunted “free press” is able and willing to comment on the attire and habits of irrelevant celebrities, it is neither able or willing to ask serious questions of officialdom when officialdom has decided that a certain issue can’t be questioned or is something to do with “National Security”. There’s a word for a press like that, but it ain’t “free”. And in terms of this case, it raises obvious questions about the veracity of the claims being made, since truth isn’t usually afraid of being held up to scrutiny.

4. Petrov and Boshirov — Spetsnaz-trained muppets?

Much was made of Petrov and Boshirov’s interview with RT’s Margarita Simonyan, and how their account somehow proved their guilt. What I find strange about this reaction is why those who pronounced case closed after the interview don’t apply the same level of critical analysis when it comes to the claims made against the men. For the record, I have little doubt that the account given by the pair was by no means the whole truth of what they were doing that day, but I also have little doubt that the claims made against them are also far from the truth.

Why do I not believe their account? Nothing to do with the snow and the slush, which was apparently enough to prove their guilt in the minds of many. On that point, their account was indeed correct. There was loads of snow in Salisbury on Saturday 3rd March, and I have photographs dating from that day which prove it. No, my incredulity at their story is primarily due to the fact that they arrived in Salisbury on 3rd March at 2:25pm, apparently expecting to go to Stonehenge. Well, unless they are particularly dense, this claim is absurd. In the winter, last admittance to the site is at 3pm. Anyone travelling from London to see the monument would surely have checked this out beforehand, which means that according to the two men, they gave themselves 35 minutes after departing from the train to wait for a bus, board it, and be driven there before closing time. No chance, regardless of whether it was or wasn’t open.

That being said, what of the case against them? Just as I find their “we were only tourists” line to be risible, I find the “they were deadly assassins” line to be even more absurd. Nothing about their movements on the two days in question indicate that they were carrying out an assassination attempt using the world’s most lethal nerve agent:

Firstly, they flew in on the same plane from Moscow, not from different locations as you would expect intelligence agents carrying out an assassination to do

Secondly, they then travelled, walked and stayed together at all times, not separately, which is again contrary to how we would expect people involved in such a mission to act

Thirdly, they apparently left their two bottles of “Novichok” unguarded in a dingy hotel all day on the Saturday, whilst they took themselves off to Salisbury

Fourthly, they drew attention to themselves on the Saturday evening by cavorting with a prostitute and smoking dope (which could have seen the police called in)

Fifthly, they made absolutely no effort whatsoever to hide themselves from CCTV

Sixthly, they were in Salisbury in daylight and allegedly carried out their crime in the middle of the day

Seventhly, they apparently did their deed with the Skripals in the house and the car parked outside in the drive (why not dose the car door handle?)

Eighthly, they did not get the first available train back to London after the alleged poisoning, but apparently decided to hang around, strolling across town after their alleged deed was done, taking pictures and looking in coin shops, at a time when — according to the allegations against them — they could well have expected a major police manhunt to begin

This may be many things, but it is absolutely not the actions of Spetsnaz trained GU assassins. But what of The Metropolitan Police’s specific claims against the two men?

Firstly, it should be noted that in The Met’s description of what the men did in Salisbury on 3rd and 4th March (now disappeared from their website), there was astonishingly little detail. There was in fact more detail about their movements in London than in Salisbury.

Secondly, The Met states that the two men were in Salisbury on Saturday 3rd March for what it calls reconnaissance. I find this laughable. Reconnaissance of what? Salisbury? There’s always Google maps. Mr Skripal’s house? Of course! So where is the evidence that they went there that day, and if they did, why didn’t they poison the door handle then, since Mr Skripal was out of the house at the time and it would have been far less risky to do it then, rather than when he was in the house. Besides, the men stated that they spent most of the time in the station café, a quite specific claim that could easily be debunked if false.

But the biggest claim made by The Met, and in my view the most misleading of all, is this:

“CCTV shows them in the vicinity of Mr Skripal’s house.”

This was confirmed by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, who stated on the BBC Panorama programme, Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack: The Inside Story:

“What the CCTV shows is the two suspects on the way to Christie Miller Road. On the way to the Skripals home.”

Oh no it doesn’t. The CCTV referred to (of the two men on the Wilton Road at 11:58 on Sunday 4th March) does not in fact show them in the vicinity of the Mr Skripal’s house, and nor does it show them on the way to Christie Miller Road. What it actually shows is the two men around 500-600 yards from Mr Skripal’s house, on a completely different road, and not looking at all as if they are interested in crossing the road to get to Christie Miller Road, either via Montgomery Gardens or Canadian Avenue (I’m very grateful to Brendan, one of the commentators on this site, who has put together a fuller explanation of this which you can see here).

For all I know, they may have gone to Christie Miller Road after being seen on the Shell garage CCTV. But this particular piece of footage of them in no way indicates this, and to suggest to the public that it does is simply misleading and disingenuous. Indeed, if this is the best evidence The Met has against the pair, it is worse than flimsy and would convince no jury with its wits intact.

So if not tourists and not assassins, what were they? Here is the one part of this piece when I indulge in a little speculation. To me it seems that the best explanation for their actions and movements is that they were couriers of some sort. That they were either taking something to Mr Skripal, or receiving something from him, or perhaps both. Their pattern of behaviour is far more in keeping with such a mission. I can well imagine the Russian intelligence services instructing two people involved in such a venture to act like tourists, to keep together, look normal, take pictures, don’t try to hide. What I can’t imagine is them instructing two people sent on an assassination mission with a deadly nerve agent to act in this way. That’d be really, really dumb, wouldn’t it?

5. The other bottle of “Novichok”

According to the explanation given by The Metropolitan Police (who incidentally still have not confirmed the “real names” of the two suspects as unearthed by the Atlantic Council-linked organisation, Bellingcat), Petrov and Boshirov brought two bottles of “Novichok” with them on a plane, left those two bottles of “Novichok” in their hotel room on Saturday 4th March whilst they travelled to and from Salisbury, had those two bottles of “Novichok” in their hotel room when smoking dope and using the services of a prostitute, took those two bottles of “Novichok” with them on a train on Sunday 4th March, used one of those bottles of “Novichok” to spray the oily substance on Mr Skripal’s door handle. And then what? Why, they marched across to the other side of Salisbury, dumped the other bottle of “Novichok” — the one they hadn’t used — in a bin, and either took the one they had used in their bag back to Moscow, or dumped it elsewhere.

Come on, come on, you say. The Met has never said all that.

Absolutely they haven’t. But it is the inescapable conclusion of their case. They never talk about the “other” bottle, because it is inconvenient to do so. It kind of messes things up. And yet, according to their own case, there must have been another bottle. How so? Because in one of his interviews, Charlie Rowley explicitly said that the box he found had a cellophane wrapping on it, which he had to cut open. Which means that it can’t have been the bottle that Petrov and Boshirov are alleged to have used on the door handle of 47 Christie Miller Road, can it? They can’t have taken the bottle apart, put it back in its box, cellophane wrapped it, and then dumped it in a bin over the other side of town, can they? Did you notice a cellophane-wrapping-machine-sized-lump sticking out of their backpack? No, me neither.

So what does The Met think? Can they explain why two men, apparently on a mission to kill Mr Skripal at the door handle of his house, brought two bottles with them (especially since they tell us there was enough in one bottle to kill thousands of people)? Can they explain why, after using one of the bottles, they then went over to the other side of town and dumped the fresh, unopened bottle of Novichok in a bin? And can they explain whether they think the men took the opened bottle with them back to Moscow, or left that in Salisbury too? I very much doubt whether The Met can explain these things, or that the British media is ever going to ask them.

And so we must apparently be satisfied with the explanation — implied by The Met’s claims — that the men inexplicably dumped an unopened bottle of “Novichok” in a bin, in cellophane wrapping, and did who knows what with the other.

Oh and something else that bothers me: can they tell us whether they ever found the gloves the two men used when allegedly doing their deed? I mean, they did use gloves, didn’t they? They must have done. Well, wouldn’t these have been dumped somewhere in a bush near Mr Skripal’s house? It’s unlikely that they would want to risk putting these potentially nerve agent-contaminated items back into their backpack. So where are the gloves, and where is the other bottle? Or is that a case of asking people who know what really happened to tell us how the thing that didn’t happen, happened?

6. Duck’s are still a’ dabbling, up tails all (and the boys are okay too)

I’ve mentioned the duck feed above, and I want to emphasise here just how crucial it is to the whole case. The Metropolitan Police allege that Mr Skripal and Yulia became contaminated with “Novichok” by touching the handle of his front door. This would have been sometime around 13:30, a few moments before his car was seen on CCTV in India Avenue and Devizes Road, driving towards Salisbury City Centre.

According to the official timeline (which has now conveniently disappeared from The Met’s website), they are said to have parked the car on the top floor of the Sainsbury’s car park at 13:40 and:

“At some time after this, they go to the Bishops Mill Pub in the town centre.”

At some time after? Bit woolly isn’t it? Yes it is, and that may be because there’s something missing. After parking his car, Mr Skripal and his daughter did not go to the pub or restaurant, but took a little detour, across The Maltings, to the Avon Playground, where they fed ducks for a while.

As I mentioned in point 3, this incident was first reported on 25th March, and then subsequently in The Sun on 28th March. In those pieces, it was stated that during the duck feed, Mr Skripal shared his bread with some local boys, with one of them even eating a piece. The purpose of these articles was clearly to show just how callous those behind the poisoning were, since it could have led to the poisoning of these boys. But because none of the boys became ill in the slightest, inadvertently what these articles actually ended up showing is something else entirely.

When I first read those pieces, my assumption was that the incident had taken place after the Skripals had left Zizzis, and that they may even have taken some garlic bread from the restaurant with them. However, a parent of one of the boys confirmed to me that they had been shown “real clear” CCTV of the incident, and that the timestamp on the footage was 13:45. In other words, the incident was before the visit to either Zizzis or The Mill.

This is extremely significant. The table at Zizzis was taken away to be destroyed (destruction of evidence?) apparently because it was contaminated with nerve agent (although somehow the pair managed to enter through the door without contaminating it). And yet prior to this, Mr Skripal took pieces of bread in his hand, fed ducks with some, and gave other pieces to a group of young boys, one of whom ate a piece, but suffered no ill effects.

Three simple questions:

1. If Mr Skirpal was so contaminated that the table at Zizzis had to be destroyed, how come none of those boys were poisoned, particularly the one who ate the bread, since the duck feed happened before the visit to the restaurant?

2. Why is this incident absent from the Metropolitan Police timeline, despite the fact that they know it happened and when it happened?

3. Why have the media organisations that reported it not followed it up, especially given that it took over two weeks after the incident for the police to inform the parents of the boys?

The duck incident alone casts huge doubt on the idea that Mr Skripal’s hand was contaminated with “Novichok” prior to 13:45. As such, it calls into question the whole official narrative. Perhaps this is why it, along with many other events, has been disappeared down the Memory Hole.

7. It’s the wrong timeline

I mentioned above the timeline of events in Salisbury that day. There is a simple rule of thumb here, and it is this: if investigators cannot get the timeline right, you have every right to doubt that they have got other things right. If you were sitting on a jury, and the defence lawyers were able to show you that the police had not only missed important parts of the timeline out, but had in fact got the order of events wrong, you would be unlikely to convict, wouldn’t you? In fact, you would have a duty to not convict, since the prevalence of errors in the investigation would leave you with reasonable doubt about the case for the prosecution.

There are four basic problems with the Met’s timeline. Let’s look at them in ascending order of importance.

The first is that some of their timings are just plain wrong and — frankly — rather silly. For instance, according to The Met’s caption above the pictures of the two men coming into Gatwick Airport, they entered at 3pm. This is impossible, however, since the airplane they were on did not land until nearly 4pm.

The second is that some of their timings are inexplicably vague. For instance, in the timelines they released on 13th and 17th March (no longer on their website), the following was stated regarding Mr Skripal’s car on the morning of Sunday 4th March:

09.15hrs on Sunday, 4 March: Sergei’s car is seen in the area of London Road, Churchill Way North and Wilton Road.

So it was in three places at once? Why were they unable to be more specific, since the CCTV cameras would all have had timestamps?

I believe there was a reason for this, and once again it gives little confidence in the investigation. At the time that the initial timelines were issued, The Met issued appeals for information on the whereabouts of the Skripals that morning. The impression given was that the Skripals drove to the cemetery at around 9:15, and were then out for most of the morning, but their whereabouts was unknown.

Yet if you read the timeline carefully, and this order was also stated verbally by Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, and if you couple this with a little local geographical knowledge, a quite different picture emerges. Both in Mr Basu’s statement and in the timeline, the order given was this: London Road, Churchill Way, Wilton Road. But this is not travel from the home to the cemetery; rather it is the opposite: from the cemetery towards the house.

In other words, the Skripals did not go to the cemetery at 9:15 or thereabouts; they actually came back home from the cemetery at that time. But if that’s the case — and it is strongly implied by The Met’s order of roads — why were they appealing for information about what the pair were doing on that morning? I submit that it was known all along that they were in the house from about 9:15 onwards, yet the reason it was not cleared up is that it presented something of a problem in terms of the allegations against Petrov and Boshirov. If those allegations were true, the Skripals would have been at home at the time, with the car in the drive. If it seems absurd that the assassination should be carried out in broad daylight, then this scenario makes it all the more so.

The third problem with the timeline is one I have mentioned above — the missing Duck Feed — and so there is no need to repeat the details of that here.

The final error in the timeline, and in my opinion the most egregious of all, is the order of events regarding the Skripals’ visit to the Zizzis restaurant and The Mill Pub. As I mentioned above, all of the early media reports, which were compiled after interviewing witnesses, agree that the Skripals first visited the restaurant, then went on to the pub. Here is a selection of those reports:

“Sergei Skripal went for a drink with his daughter at 3pm at The Mill in Salisbury after eating at a Zizzi Italian restaurant. In the pub, they ordered two glasses of wine before Mr Skripal went to use the toilet. The witness, who did not want to be named, said that when he returned he appeared as if he was drunk. He said Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia then left immediately without finishing their drinks.”

“It is not clear when the Skripals were confronted, having left a branch of Italian restaurant chain Zizzi between 2pm and 3pm. After leaving the restaurant, they are thought to have gone to a nearby a pub called The Mill. They were then seen walking through a shopping precinct and found on a bench overlooking the Avon shortly after 4pm.”

“The Skripals had eaten lunch in Italian restaurant chain Zizzi in the centre of Salisbury on Sunday. They are believed to have left between 2pm and 3pm and gone to a nearby pub called The Mill before being found later on a bench overlooking the Avon.”

“A witness told detectives he saw a man with a black mask covering his nose and mouth acting suspiciously around 3pm last Sunday. At the time Mr Skripal and Yulia were thought to be in the Mill pub a few yards away.”

“Witnesses have said that after eating at Zizzi’s restaurant they went to the Mill pub where Mr Skripal appeared unsteady on his feet, as if “drunk” – even though he had only ordered a single glass of white wine – suggesting the effects of the nerve agent were rapidly taking effect.”

“Officers yesterday took CCTV from inside The Mill. They had gone into The Mill pub following a meal in a Zizzi restaurant.”

“Steve Cooper, who was at the Mill pub with his wife and dog for a couple of hours last Sunday afternoon, told the BBC he was outraged. Some of his friends, who had been in the pub at the same time and seen Mr Skripal head to the toilet, could not remember what they had been wearing that day, he added.

When was Mr Cooper in The Mill? Here’s what he said in an interview with ITV:
‘We’d been sitting on the very bench at around 3pm and then moved onto The Mill Pub and left there at 4:45pm where we saw the air ambulance.’”

“Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia were believed to have been in Salisbury city centre from 13:30 GMT on 4 March. A witness told the BBC that he saw the pair in the Zizzi restaurant at about 14:00 GMT.”

There were other reports, but I trust you get the picture. Zizzis first, from about 2pm onwards; Mill second.

And yet for some inexplicable reason, the timeline released by The Met on 13th March, updated on 17th (no longer available on their website), reversed this order. Here is what it said:

13:40hrs: Sergei and Yulia arrive in Sainsbury’s upper level car park at the Maltings. At some time after this, they go to the Bishops Mill Pub in the town centre.

14.20hrs: They dine at Zizzi Restaurant.

15:35hrs: They leave Zizzi Restaurant.

On what basis has the cloud of witnesses been dismissed? What evidence does The Met have that those witnesses were wrong?

This is very serious stuff. An investigation that not only ignores the testimony of multiple witnesses, but without explanation gives an official version of reality that completely contradicts what these members of the public stated in all honesty is … oh what shall we call it? Orwellian? Yes, Orwellian will do, since in that great man’s dystopias, officialdom is always right — even when it is wrong and distorts and dismisses reality.

Quite simply, if investigators are prepared to leave crucial events out of their timeline, and mess with reality in others, as has been done, reasonable people not only have a right to disbelieve their conclusions, I would say they have a duty. Anything else is to invite the very future that Orwell taught us to fear.

8. The Impossible Door Handle 

The theory that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned at the handle of his front door is impossible. I do not use that word lightly, and nor do I use it because of any fancy of my own. Rather, I do it because the official version of events, which tries to establish the door handle as the place of poisoning, actually refutes itself.

Much of what I’m about to say is a summary of what I have set out in more detail back here. But the basic points are as follows.

In the BBC Panorama programme, Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack: The Inside Story, much was made about the toxicity of the substance that has been called “Novichok”, and the minuscule amount needed to kill a person that comes into contact with it (As an aside, albeit an important one, there is in fact no such substance called “Novichok”. This is merely the name used by Western Governments for the group of chemicals that the Soviet Union was trying to create back in the 1970s and 80s. The reason this is important is that neither the UK Government or Porton Down have ever, to my knowledge, officially named the substance they say was used. Instead, they keep referring to “Novichok”, which as a definition is as broad and as loose as they want it to be). Here are the claims made in the programme:

“It’s very unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations.” – Porton Down Professor Tim speaking about Novichok.

“The Russians called it Novichok. Thought to be 10X more toxic than any nerve agent created before or since.” – Jane Corbin.

“To kill a person, you need only 1mg. To be sure, 2mg.” – Vil Mirzyanov, who worked on the Foliant project.

“The Russians weaponised Novichok for the battlefield. The tiniest dose can be fatal.”– Jane Corbin.

“It’s difficult to say, you know, possibly into the thousands.” – Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon when asked how many people could have been killed by the substance in the bottle.

This programme, which was clearly endorsed by The Met, since it featured the likes of Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Dean Haydon, wanted its viewers to know three things about “Novichok”: That it is extraordinarily deadly; that a dose of just 2mg is enough to produce certain death in a person; and that the two suspects had enough of the substance in their two bottles to kill 1,000s of people.

But the problem with this, of course, is that the people who allegedly became contaminated at the door handle, did not die. In fact, not only did they not die, but they spent the next few hours feeding ducks, eating a meal and going for a drink.

To square this particular circle, the BBC invited Mr Mirzyanov to give it his best shot. Here was his explanation:

“Maybe the dose was not high enough. Salisbury was rainy and muggy. Novichok breaks down in damp conditions, reducing its toxicity. It’s the Achilles Heel of Novichok.”

The first part of his answer is obvious nonsense. This is the same person who on the same programme claimed that just 2mg of “Novichok” is enough to be sure of killing a person. And given that Mr Skripal allegedly contaminated a number of places around Salisbury, including the table in Zizzis that apparently needed to be destroyed, we can be sure that had he been contaminated at the door handle, as the official line has it, the dose must have been far in excess of 2mg.

So it must be the damp conditions then? Er no. Not possible. Why? Well, I could point out that the “Novichok” would have been on the door handle for a maximum of 80 minutes (between 12:10pm and 13:30pm), and that during this time the weather was fine. The only thing it would have come into contact with would have therefore been the air, and it barely seems worth pointing out that it is beyond unlikely that a nerve agent apparently designed for the battlefield would degrade so quickly. And if it did, how likely is it that the chosen method of assassination would have been to spray such a substance on an exposed door handle in a country that is notoriously damp?

But there is something far more fundamental than this. Something that, as I say, makes the claim impossible. It is this: According to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in a statement on 4th May:

“The samples collected by the OPCW Technical Assistance Visit team concluded that the chemical substance found was of high purity, persistent and resistant to weather conditions.”

So the BBC, backed up by officialdom, puts forth an explanation as to why the Skripals did not die, which is that the substance, of which 2mg is enough to surely kill someone, degraded so much in just 80 minutes due to the damp conditions that a dose far in excess of 2mg wasn’t enough to kill them. But cometh the OPCW, over 25,000 minutes later (on 22nd March), and what they apparently found was the same substance, but in a state of high purity and totally unaffected by weather conditions.

Do you now see the impossibility of this? The dose wasn’t too low. Mr Mirzyanov tells us just 2mg of the substance will surely kill. And it can’t have been degraded by the weather, because the OPCW found a substance that hadn’t been degraded by the weather.

There is no way of squaring this circle. No way of getting 2 + 2 to = 5 no matter how hard you try. It is impossible. Let me say that again, it is impossible. Let me repeat it one more time, just to make sure the point is made: The idea that Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned by “Novichok” on the handle of his front door is IMPOSSIBLE.

9. The Silence of the Skripals

Yulia Skripal has been heard from a number of times. There were statements made in her name, there was the “interview” she did with Reuters, and there were the calls she made to her cousin, Viktoria. But all that stopped in late July, and in the last known contact she had with her cousin at that time, she apologised for having previously accused her of messing up her plans to return to Russia, saying that she now had access to the internet, and now understood everything.

Just pause there for a moment and think. Yulia Skripal wants to return to Russia? To the place where the people who ordered the attack on her father are in Government? Does she not understand what they did, and what they might do to her again if she were to go back?

Actually, one of my contentions is that she did not have any idea about what the British Government and Metropolitan Police were saying about the case in public until July. You can read a more detailed piece on why this is so here, suffice it to say that the only way to make sense of her rant at her cousin in early July, that she had messed up her chances of going back to Moscow by going on TV talk shows, and her subsequent apology later in July together with the comment that she had seen the internet and now understood everything, is that she wasn’t actually aware of what was being said in public before. Think about it: if the British authorities had told her she and her father had been poisoned by the Russian state, and that this had led to a huge international outcry, she can hardly have wanted to go back to Russia, and she can hardly have thought that her cousin was the reason she couldn’t return.

Anyway, since Yulia has not been seen or heard of since she “got the internet”, and since on many occasions she expressed the desire to return to her home, I’m afraid that until we hear otherwise, it is reasonable to conclude that she is not a free person.

But what about Sergei? Here, we have something even more interesting and obvious. When was the last time you saw Sergei? When was the last time you heard him? When was the last time you read a statement put out in his name? The answer to all three questions is you haven’t. He hasn’t been seen, nor heard from, nor so much as a statement put out on his behalf at any time since 4th March.

Isn’t this a tad strange? Yulia was allowed to speak. She was allowed to read out a pre-prepared statement to Reuters back in May. But not a peep from Sergei. Why not?

A big clue may well come from the BBC reporter, Mark Urban. In his book, he claimed that Mr Skripal was initially reluctant to accept that the Russian Government was behind the poisoning. He never got around to telling us whether Mr Skripal did eventually accept it, but I suspect not, since had he done so, I am quite sure that the authorities would have had him in front of the cameras, testifying to what had happened to him, essentially backing up the official story. But so far he has been silent.

But much more ominous, he has not been in contact with his ailing mother since before 4th March. We are talking about a man who was apparently in the habit of speaking to her once a week, and yet since March 2018, according to his niece, Viktoria, he has not contacted his mother even once. Why is this? If what happened to Mr Skripal is as the British authorities allege, what possible reason could there be for his not being in contact with his mother? It isn’t because his health won’t allow it. In a call to her cousin back in July, Yulia stated that although his voice was too weak to speak on the phone, he would be able to in a matter of days. And yet since then, nothing. Silence.

By itself, this of course proves nothing. Yet it is not by itself. It must be seen in the light of the other points made above. When we put it together with all those oddities, anomalies and impossibilities, I’m afraid that it looks suspiciously like the reason Mr Skripal hasn’t spoken to his mother, is that he is not allowed to. Like Yulia, until shown otherwise, it is reasonable to conclude that his silence is not a voluntary silence.

10. The lethal substance that can be treated with baby wipes

All the pre-2018 literature about the “Novichok” nerve agents leave us in no doubt about their toxicity. For instance:

“In 1982, the Soviets began a secret CW development program codenamed Foliant. The program had the apparent goal of developing new binary nerve agent weapons. Novichok has been described as a new toxic agent and it is very difficult to treat the poisoning (practically impossible; the toxicity was about ten times greater than VX agent).”

We even have the testimony of one of the substance’s creators, Vladimir Uglev (who is no friend of the current Russian Government, by the way), who gave the following account of what happened after he got a tiny amount of this agent on his hand:

“‘I rinsed my hands with sulfuric acid and then put them under tap water,’ he said, adding it was the only way to survive. Another researcher who was contaminated in 1987 died of multiple illnesses five years later [my emphasis].”

So the only way to survive is by taking action as drastic as rinsing your hands with sulphuric acid?

Now, remember in their report of 4th May, the OPCW said that the substance they found on the door handle of Mr Skripal’s house, which was apparently the same substance Mr Uglev got on his hands, was of “high purity”. When Mr Uglev got it on his hands, he knew he only had seconds or at the most minutes to wash it off — with acid — otherwise face certain death. And yet when Sergei and Yulia Skripal apparently got the same substance on their hands, nothing happened to them for hours and they went to feed ducks, eat a meal and go for a drink.

Can a rational person really believe that the substance Mr Uglev describes is the same one that apparently affected the Skripals? I don’t think so. And yet this is what those investigating the case want you to believe. This is odd, however, since Public Health England’s advice to Salisbury residents in March this year kind of gave the game away that it was not the same substance at all:

“Wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes and dispose of the wipes in the bin (ordinary domestic waste disposal) … Please thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after cleaning any items.”

So the substance that one of its creators says needed to be washed off very quickly with sulphuric acid, and which another of its creators (Vil Mirzyanov) tells us that 2mg is enough to lead to certain death, can be dealt with by using baby wipes?

I’m sorry, but this is just bonkers. Imagine going back in time to pre-March 2018, and hearing an announcement that the armed forces were being protected against possible nerve agent attacks by being supplied with baby wipes. What would you have thought? You’d have thought that someone somewhere had lost the plot, wouldn’t you? And you’d have been right. Whatever those who were hospitalised on 4th March this year were poisoned with, it cannot have been the same substance that Mr Uglev describes, can it? And yet the official narrative says it was. Draw your own conclusions.


You will have noticed from the above that what I have not attempted to do, is to advance a theory of what happened on 4th March 2018. The reason for this is that I simply don’t know, and whilst I may have certain speculative ideas, I don’t know nearly enough to be certain of writing them down.

What I have done, is simply to take the claims made by the authorities, and subject them to the kind of scrutiny that I would have hoped our so-called free press might have done. And I believe that when a light is shone on these claims, the inescapable conclusion is that they are found wanting. They are full of holes, they don’t add up, and despite much trying, they can’t be made to make sense.

Even as I was finishing this piece off, yet another round of nonsense was unleashed; this time, the news that the roof of 47 Christie Miller Road (including the roof of the study) is to be taken off and replaced. Remember, we’re talking about a substance that can be cleansed with baby wipes. Remember, we’re talking about a substance that apparently breaks down after 80 minutes of exposure to the air. But 11 months later, it is again so deadly, that a whole roof needs replacing!

Of course the media is not bothering to ask the obvious questions about this action, such as:

How exactly could the roof timbers have become contaminated?
Who could have contaminated them? D.S. Bailey?
But why would he have been in the attic?
Why is the ceiling / roof in Zizzis not being replaced?
Why has the roof in The Mill not been dismantled?
What was really in the attic?

Obvious questions, yet none of them will be asked.

In conclusion, I think it abundantly clear that what we have been told about what took place on 4th March in the beautiful city of Salisbury is not, in fact, true. It is clear that something else happened, and much of what we have seen since then has been theatre and an attempt to cover up what actually took place. It is my earnest hope and prayer that the truth will soon be revealed.

“Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away;
for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.
Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.”
(Isaiah 59:14-15)

Postscript: Some of the commenters on this site are setting up a new forum to continue sharing information on the case in the future. When that site is up and running, I will post a short piece pointing people towards it.

As I have said, it is my intention that this will be my last piece on the case. However, that comes with the caveat that if there are any other major developments, I may well decide to write about them. Amongst other things, I will probably also be writing from time to time about events and issues that may well be connected to the Salisbury case, such as the so-called Integrity Initiative, which the British media doesn’t seem to have heard about yet. But for now, That’s All Folks.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Kristol a Kremlin agent? Shady outfit claims term ‘neocon’ is Russian propaganda

RT | January 9, 2019

Anyone using the term ‘neocon’ is doing the Kremlin’s bidding, according to PropOrNot, a shadowy outfit that sees Russian agents everywhere, in its quest to police social media on behalf of the ruling US establishment.

The anonymous and self-appointed guardians of democracy declared this week that terms such as “neocon,” “corporatist”, “imperialist”, “Zionist” or “establishment” – among others – are “tropes/slurs primarily used by Russian propaganda.” To illustrate this, they tweeted a chart by someone called “Northern Conspirator,” another anonymous Twitter thought-police account.

Reactions to PropOrNot’s claim have been swift and satirical, with outspoken critics of the corporatist imperial warmongering neocon-neoliberal establishment declaring themselves totally convinced.

“PropOrNot ID Service,” as its full name goes, first made headlines in late 2016, as one of the outfits cited by the Washington Post claiming Russian meddling in US politics. The Post described them as “an independent team of concerned American citizens.”

Hiding behind anonymity, the outfit compiled a list of websites and people it declared “Russian” agents. After protests from multiple people who found themselves on the blacklist, the Post had to publish an editor’s note, saying it could not “vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet.”

Its influence continued, however, with multiple outlets on its blacklist finding themselves banned by Facebook in October 2018 as “Russian propaganda.”

The efforts of anonymous outfits to police speech in the US is problematic, given the recent revelations that another self-appointed guardian of democracy, New Knowledge, actually spearheaded a “false flag” social media operation in 2017 – one of the four such operations identified so far, all on behalf of Democrats in a hotly contested Senate race in Alabama. New Knowledge was later commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee to write a report on social media meddling, in which they attributed their own methods and tactics to the Russian government.

In addition to its malice in declaring all criticism of US establishment “Russian propaganda,” PropOrNot is factually wrong: neoconservatism is very much an American thing, as argued by its “godfather” Irving Kristol.

The “historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy,” Kristol wrote in an essay titled The Neoconservative Persuasion, published in 2003 by the Weekly Standard. That was also the title of Kristol’s collected writings, which came out after his death in 2009.

Kristol’s son Bill now sits on the advisory council of ‘Alliance for Securing Democracy,’ the parent organization of the Hamilton68 dashboard, a brainchild of New Knowledge’s co-founder Jonathon Morgan that purports to track “Russian bots” on Twitter.

The burning question now in everyone’s mind is how such luminaries of neoconservatism – from Irving and Bill Kristol to Norman and John Podhoretz – have managed to be undetected Kremlin agents for so long.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Russian to Conclusions? NYT Misreports Manafort’s Ukraine Ties as Russian

Sputnik – 10.01.2019

The New York Times is so eager to find proof that Paul Manafort was the definitive go-between for the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian actors that it tweeted out a claim a court filing unsealed Tuesday proved the connection, when the connections named were Ukrainians, not Russians.

The Times article on Tuesday is based on information from a court filing unsealed that day showing that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, asked his associate in Ukraine, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, to pass information about Trump’s polling numbers to Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, two Ukrainians connected to the Ukrainian Party of Regions, the party of deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

However, when one of the story authors, Kenneth P. Vogel, tweeted about the story Tuesday, he accidentally said that Manafort asked Kilimnik to pass that information not to Lyovochkin and Akhmetov, their Ukrainian business associates, but to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire sanctioned by the US government following his rejection of FBI attempts to “flip” him into an agent of theirs, as Sputnik has reported.

If that were true, it would indeed be quite the story. It still wouldn’t vindicate the Russiagate narrative, since Deripaska is a man who despises Russian President Vladimir Putin and Manafort, both of whom have caused him no shortage of bad business, but in entirely different ways. The corrected Times article only says that Manafort might have hoped to curry personal favor with Deripaska, who he owed millions at the time, by offering him “private briefings,” but never polling data.

​The newspaper’s Twitter account later redacted the statement and tweeted a correction, but the eagerness to jump to conclusions that fit their preconceived narrative is worrisome. It’s also far from the first incident of carelessly biased reporting by the mainstream media regarding Russiagate topics.

Let’s take a moment to recall some of them.

On December 1, 2017, ABC’s Brian Ross reported that Trump had directed former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to make contact with Russian officials before the November 2016 election, when really Flynn was only asked to make such contact after the election. What a difference a single word makes!

Ross earned himself four weeks of suspension without pay for that mishap, after being forced to recant his error.

Only days later, CNN was forced to correct several dates in a story that made it sound as if the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., had played a role in the supplying of hacked Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks.

An exclusive story December 8 reported that Don Jr., along with his father and other key Trump campaign officials, received a mysterious email on September 4, 2016, offering a website and decryption key for the hacked WikiLeaks documents. This heavily suggested that someone in the campaign was responsible for leaking a trove of stolen DNC emails to WikiLeaks, since that website published the emails on September 13.

However, CNN was soon forced to correct this story: It wasn’t September 4, but September 14 — the day after the leak — that the campaign officials in question received the email. The network was also forced to change the date it reported Don Jr. had first tweeted about Hillary Clinton and WikiLeaks, which also happened on September 14, and not on September 4 as originally reported.

Pretty remarkable, considering that every network that reported it claimed they’d corroborated the information from “multiple sources.” All those sources got the date wrong in the same way?

Only six months prior, CNN had been forced to correct another major report about Trump and Russia. In June 2017, the network retracted a story about ties between Trump officials and a Russian investment fund, a faux pas that caused three of the news agency’s journalists to weigh anchor.

In September 2017 (wow, 2017 was a bad year for reporting on Trump and Russia!), almost every major US news outlet reported that Russian-government-backed hackers targeted the voting systems of 21 states during the 2016 presidential election. However, a senior Department of Homeland Security official corrected this before Congress, telling a House of Representatives panel that November that no attack had happened. Virtually no network reported this whatsoever, except for Sputnik.

Can you guess how many issued retractions? One less than the Times on Tuesday. At least we’ll give NYT that. But it probably won’t be the last time a major news outlet trips over their preconceived narrative of Russian collusion or interference.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Fake News of Trump’s Volte-face on Syria Exit Strategy

By Nauman Sadiq | Blacklisted News | January 8, 2019

Quoting Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was recently on a visit to Israel and told reporters in Jerusalem that American forces would remain in Syria until the last remnants of the Islamic State were defeated and Turkey provided guarantees that it would not strike Kurdish forces allied with the United States, fake news have been circulating on the mainstream media that Trump has made a turnaround by delaying his planned Syria withdrawal.

Quoting the corporate media’s preferred, though highly partisan and dubious source of information on Syria, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Al-Jazeera’s sister news outlet The New Arab in particular is reporting [1] the Syrian Observatory’s purportedly “extensive network of on-ground activists and reporters” has seen American military convoys of hundreds of trucks and vehicles headed to the US military bases in Raqqa in eastern Syria, and Manbij and Tal Abyad in northern Syria from the Iraq border.

The policy decision to withdraw American forces from Syria, however, has already been taken in principle by the Trump administration, and whether the complete exit of the US troops from Syria would take a few weeks or several months is simply a matter of modalities to be worked out by operational commanders of the American forces.

Taking notice of the fake news, even Donald Trump was compelled to clarify his intentions on the Syria exit strategy in a tweet on Monday, January 7, saying: “The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements, we will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary.”

Regarding the American military convoys headed to Raqqa, Manbij and Tal Abyad, the US commanders planning for the withdrawal of the American troops from Syria have recommended that the Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State be allowed to keep the US-supplied weapons, a move that would likely anger NATO-ally Turkey, according to an exclusive report [1] by Reuters.

The report further adds: “The proposal to leave the US-supplied weapons with the Kurdish YPG militia, which could include anti-tank missiles, armored vehicles and mortars, would reassure Kurdish allies that they were not being abandoned.”

Thus, the convoys carrying surplus weapons of the American forces in Iraq to the US military bases in Syria were actually meant to distribute the weapons among Washington’s Kurdish allies in order to compensate the Kurds for their loyalty, despite objections from Washington’s NATO-ally Ankara.

Regarding inveterate neoconservative hawk John Bolton’s reassurance to the Israelis on Washington’s Syria withdrawal in Jerusalem, it should be looked at in the backdrop that over the years, Israel not only provided medical aid and material support to militant groups battling Damascus – particularly to various factions of the Free Syria Army (FSA) and al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front in Daraa and Quneitra bordering the Israel-occupied Golan Heights – but Israel’s air force virtually played the role of the air force of the Syrian jihadists and conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Syria during the eight-year conflict.

Though after Russia provided the S-300 missile system to the Syrian military after a Russian surveillance plane was shot down in Syria on September 18, killing 15 Russians onboard, Israel has conducted only a couple of airstrikes in Syria, one on the Christmas Day in which Israeli F-16s took cover [2] of civilian airliners flying to Damascus and Beirut airports. The purpose of the airstrike was to locate the precise location of the S-300 air defense system installed in Syria by the Russians in order to target it on a later date, or to keep the Israeli air force out of its reach.

Notwithstanding, on December 28, the Syrian army said it entered Manbij for the first time in years, after the Syrian Kurds urged Damascus to protect the town from the threat of impending Turkish military offensive, though Turkish President Erdogan has termed the handover a “psyops” by the Kurds.

According to a report by RT: [3] “A high-ranking Turkish delegation arrived in Moscow on Saturday, December 29, only a day after international media broke news on Kurdish militias inviting Syrian forces to enter Manbij before the Turks do. Syria’s military proclaimed they ‘raised the flag’ over Manbij, but there have been no independent reports confirming the moving of troops into the city.”

The report notes: “The Saturday Moscow meeting was key to preventing all actors of the Syrian war from locking horns over the Kurdish enclave. Obviously, Turkey will insist that it is their forces that should enter Manbij, Russia will of course insist the city should be handed over to Assad’s forces, Kirill Semenov, an Islamic studies expert with Russia’s Institute for Innovative Development, told RT.”

The report further adds: “Realpolitik, of course, plays a role here as various locations across Syria might be used as a bargaining chip by all parties to the conflict. Semenov suggested the Turks may agree on Syrian forces taking some parts of Idlib province in exchange for Damascus’ consent for a Turkish offensive toward Manbij or Kobani.”

It becomes abundantly clear after reading the RT report that a land swap agreement between Ankara and Damascus under the auspices of Moscow is in the offing to avoid standoff over Manbij.

The agreement would likely stipulate that Damascus would give Ankara a free hand to mount offensives in the Kurdish-occupied Arab-majority towns Manbij and Kobani in northern Syria in return for Ankara withdrawing its militant proxies from Maarat al-Numan, Khan Sheikhoun and Jisr al-Shughour, all of which are strategically located in the south of Idlib governorate.

Just as Ankara cannot tolerate the presence of the Kurds in northern Syria along Turkey’s southern border in line with its “east of Euphrates” military doctrine, similarly even Ankara would acknowledge the fact that Damascus cannot possibly conceive the long-term presence of Ankara’s jihadist proxies in the aforementioned strategic locations in the south of Idlib governorate threatening the Alawite heartland of coastal Latakia.

If such a land swap agreement is concluded between Ankara and Damascus, it would be a win-win for all parties to the Syrian conflict, excluding the Kurds, of course. But the response of Damascus and Moscow to the concerns of the Kurds has been tepid of late.

Not only have the Kurds committed the perfidy of playing the proxies of Washington during the Syrian conflict which abandoned them after Trump’s announcement of withdrawal of American troops from Syria, but we must also recall another momentous event that took place in Deir al-Zor governorate in February 2018.

On February 7, the US B-52 bombers and Apache helicopters struck a contingent of Syrian government troops and allied forces in Deir al-Zor that reportedly [4] killed and wounded scores of Russian military contractors working for the Russian private security firm, the Wagner group.

The survivors described the bombing as an absolute massacre, and Kremlin lost more Russian citizens in one day than it had lost throughout its more than three-year-long military campaign in support of the Syrian government since September 2015.

The reason why Washington struck Russian contractors working in Syria was that the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which is mainly comprised of Kurdish YPG militias – had reportedly handed over the control of some areas east of Euphrates River to Deir al-Zor Military Council (DMC), which is the Arab-led component of SDF, and had relocated several battalions of Kurdish YPG militias to Afrin and along Syria’s northern border with Turkey in order to defend the Kurdish-held areas against the onslaught of the Turkish armed forces and allied Syrian militant proxies during Ankara’s “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s northwest that lasted from January to March 2018.

Syrian forces with the backing of Russian contractors took advantage of the opportunity and crossed the Euphrates River to capture an oil refinery located to the east of Euphrates River in the Kurdish-held area of Deir al-Zor.

The US Air Force responded with full force, knowing well the ragtag Arab component of SDF – mainly comprised of local Arab tribesmen and mercenaries to make the Kurdish-led SDF appear more representative and inclusive – was simply not a match for the superior training and arms of Syrian troops and Russian military contractors, consequently causing a carnage in which scores of Russian citizens lost their lives.

Clearly, Moscow and Damascus hold the Kurds responsible for the atrocity along with Washington, and hence it is unlikely that the Syrian military would come to the rescue of the Kurds in the event of a Turkish military offensive east of Euphrates.

Sources and links:

[1] US weapons rushed to SDF signaling possible U-turn over Syria:

[2] Israel Used Civilian Airliners as Cover in Christmas Day Airstrikes in Syria:

[3] Land swap between Turkey and Syria – an option to avoid standoff over Manbij:

[4] Russian toll in Syria battle was 300 killed and wounded:

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Integrity Initiative Infiltrated Bernie 2016 Campaign, Attacks Corbyn

goingunderground | January 9, 2019

Chris Williamson MP discusses the new Integrity Initiative leaks revelations including the organisation infiltrating Bernie Sanders’ campaign, it’s efforts to influence the entertainment industry and it’s attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

The Palestinian Children Killed by Israel in 2018 Have Been Forgotten by the World

By Ramona Wadi | Palestine Chronicle | January 9, 2019

Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP) paints a bleak prospect for Palestinian children in revealing that in 2018, at least 56 were killed by Israel. Individuals who witnessed some of the murders have insisted that the targeted children were unarmed and posed no threat to the state or its citizens.

Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli army snipers, drones and security forces across the occupied Palestinian territories. Five of the murdered children were under 12 years of age. In Gaza, 49 children were murdered by Israel in activities pertaining to the Great March of Return protests.

Live ammunition was used by Israel in 73 percent of the fatalities documented by DCIP, which also recorded “140 cases of Palestinian children who were detained by Palestinian forces.” Israeli forces also arrested 120 children within the occupied West Bank. In both groups, the detained children suffered abuse at the hands of the security forces holding them, whether the PA or the Israeli military.

These tactics show that Israel’s colonial collaboration with the Palestinian Authority is targeting a very vulnerable segment of Palestinian society. What’s more, the killing and wounding of Palestinian children by Israeli snipers at the Great March of Return is a direct maiming of the generation which can carry on the anti-colonial struggle.

Citing international law is pointless when Israel, and even the Palestinian Authority, have extended the parameters for an ongoing cycle of abuse against Palestinian children. International law is only relevant when used to point out that violations are taking place and the Palestinians are facing a UN member state which treats international law with contempt, while the international community gives its tacit agreement to the abuse and is, in some cases, complicit.

DCIP’s research establishes the fact that Israel killed an average of more than one child per week in 2018. Earlier shocking official statistics revealed that between 2000 and 2014 Israel killed a Palestinian child every three days on average, for fourteen years. Throughout the year there was ongoing discussion about Israel’s genocidal intent and actions which were mostly discarded due to the monopoly over the term in reference to the Holocaust. Yet, Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines the term as “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” What else is Israel doing to the people of Palestine, “in whole or in part”?

The international community’s responses are so predictable that Israel finds no obstacles in maneuvering beyond the limits set by international law; it is allowed to act with impunity. The “drip, drip” rate of the killing of Palestinian children and the almost routine nature of their detention sneaks under the radar of human rights violations. As the international community fails to respond to Israeli violations within its established framework, Israel succeeds in bridging the gap between violations and rights.

To speak of Israel’s violations now is, in fact, also to speak of the international community’s irresponsibility. Yet neither are scrutinized and held to account; the result is the regular yet somewhat reluctant citing of what should happen according to international law being juxtaposed against Israeli breaches of the law. Accountability, however, has long since absconded from the scene of the crime. If Israel wants to kill Palestinian children (or women and men, come to that), it will kill because it has decided, quite deliberately, to do so.

Meanwhile, the international community will steer clear from ever associating Israeli actions with genocide, preferring instead to rely on “alleged war crimes”, the perpetrators of which will never be brought to justice. Palestinian children killed by Israel over many years, last year included, have been forgotten by the world.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Australian Jewish Association urges boycott of Palestine football team

MEMO | January 9, 2019

The Australian Jewish Association (AJA) has urged the Australian national football team to boycott their Asian Cup group match against Palestine scheduled for this Friday.

According to reports, the AJA believes “Palestine is not a country recognised by the international community and that soccer has been ‘blatantly politicised’ by the Asian Football Confederation admitting the Arab state as a member.”

On Friday, “Australia will take on Palestine in a crucial Group B clash in Dubai, needing to bounce back from their opening game loss to Jordan.” Palestine, meanwhile, picked up their first point in a major tournament on Sunday, “when they held Syria to a 0-0 draw in Sharjah”.

Palestine was admitted to FIFA in 1998 and qualified for their first Asian Cup in 2015 in Australia.

As the report notes, “despite having diplomatic relations, Australia is one of several countries globally which do not recognise Palestinian statehood.”

The AJA said Australia playing Palestine “legitimises the politicisation of the tournament” and has called on the Football Federation Australia to not take part in Friday’s match.

“The FFA board should not allow the Socceroos to play Palestine,” AJA president David Adler said yesterday. “If compelled to do so, then at the very least it must do so under protest.”

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 2 Comments

Assassination Is Not Justice

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | January 9, 2019

President Trump and his national-security establishment are celebrating the Pentagon’s latest assassination, this one killing Jamel Ahmed Ali Al-Badawi, who was accused of having participated in the terrorist attack on the USS Cole, during a refueling stop in Yemen, in October 2000. The attack killed 17 sailors and wounded 39 others. Referring to the assassination, Trump tweeted:

Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole. We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi. Our work against al Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism!

The Pentagon confirmed the kill, and an unnamed U.S. official told CNN that that the assassination was the result of a joint U.S. military and intelligence operation. That, of course, means that it was likely that the CIA was involved, especially since it has long been the premier assassination organization in the world, at least since the 1960s.

According to the Daily Caller, Navy Commander Kirk Lippold, who was commanding the USS Cole during the attack, told Fox News that he felt “extremely gratified” for the killing. He stated:

It sends a strong signal the U.S. government is still willing to invest the time, intelligence assets, and, most importantly, the ordinance that if you kill or harm Americans, we’re going to find you, and we’re going to hold you accountable. We wait for the moment — patiently, thoughtfully, deliberately—and then when the opportunity presents itself, like it evidently did in this case when he was along outside the capital, we got him with a drone strike.

Trump and the U.S. national-security establishment are wrong, however. Al Badawi’s assassination does that reflect that justice was done. Instead, it reflects how the national-security establishment and its interventionist foreign policy and perpetual war on terrorism have nullified the U.S. Constitution and fundamentally altered the criminal-justice principles on which America was founded.

The first thing to keep in mind is that as a terrorist act, the bombing of the USS Cole was a criminal act, not an act of war. How do we know this? Several ways:

  1. Terrorism is listed in the U.S. Code as a federal criminal offense.
  2. In 2003, the U.S. Justice Department secured a federal criminal indictment against al-Badawi, charging him with the federal criminal offense of having participated in the bombing of the Cole.
  3. The Justice Department offered a $5 million reward for information leading to al-Badawi’s arrest.
  4. U.S. military prosecutors have charged another man, Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, with murder for allegedly having planned the attack on the Cole. The Pentagon has kept him incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay for 12 years without a trial but with the ostensible aim of ultimately providing him with a criminal trial before a military tribunal.

To put things in a historical context, the U.S. Constitution brought into existence a limited-government republic, a type of governmental system that is the opposite of the type of governmental system under which Americans today live, which is a “national-security state.”

At the time the Constitution was being proposed to the American people, Americans were extremely leery, especially since then had been operating under the Articles of Confederation for some 13 years, which provided for a federal government with very weak and few powers. Americans were concerned about calling into existence a government that might end up wielding vastly new and dangerous powers.

Among people’s concerns was that this new government might start killing people who were suspected of criminal offenses without first giving the victims due process of law, a procedural protection that stretched all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215. Due process requires the government to provide a person with notice of the charges against him, such as with a grand-jury indictment, and then the opportunity to defend himself against such charges, such as with a trial by jury.

That’s why Americans demanded the enactment of the Bill of Rights, specifically the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. They wanted to be sure that federal officials clearly understood that before they could kill anyone, including foreign citizens, they would have to comply with the restrictions and requirements in those amendments, including the right to be notified of the charges (e.g., through grand-jury indictment) and the right of trial by jury.

That’s the way things stood for more than 150 years, until the U.S. government was converted after World War II from a constitutionally limited-government republic to a national-security state, which is a type of governmental structure that is inherent to totalitarian regimes. A national-security state consists of a vast, powerful military-intelligence establishment that wields omnipotent powers, including the power to assassinate people without due process of law.

Practically from its beginning in 1947, the CIA began specializing in the art of assassination as well as the cover-up of its role in state-sponsored assassinations. In fact, in the 1990s, during the term of the Assassination Records Review Board, which was charged with enforcing the release of official records relating to the assassination of President Kennedy, people discovered a top-secret assassination manual that the CIA was developing and using as far back as 1953, in the run-up to its Guatemala regime-change operation, which targeted Guatemalan officials with assassination.

Under our system of government, the only way to legally change the Constitution is through constitutional amendment. An act of Congress won’t do it. Neither will a decree of the president. That’s because the Constitution is the higher law that controls the actions of Congress and the president.

Yet, as a practical matter, that’s precisely what the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state did. It effectively amended the Constitution by empowering the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA to nullify the Bill of Rights, so long as their actions related to protecting “national security.”

No better example of this phenomenon could be found than Al-Badawi’s assassination. Here you have a criminal defendant, one charged by a civilian federal grand jury with terrorism and murder. Under our system of government, Al-Badawi is presumed innocent. The federal government bore the burden of bringing him to trial and proving his guilt with competent evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. He had the right of trial by jury and the right to defend himself.

Yet, the Pentagon and the CIA short-circuited that process by simply deciding to use military force to snuff the man’s life out. Damn that federal indictment. It’s just a technicality. We know he’s guilty. We don’t need no stinking jury trial and no pesky criminal-defense attorneys. We know what’s best for national security. Fire the missile and kill the bastard. That’s the mindset of Trump and the national-security establishment. That’s the way things now operate in the United States of America.

And make no mistake about it: The federal judiciary will do nothing about it except confirm and support it. Ever since the Kennedy assassination and maybe even before, the federal judiciary has shown an extreme deference to the supremacy and authority of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. When it comes to issues of national security, the federal courts have effectively held, the national-security establishment trumps the Constitution, especially when it comes to actions like coups, assassinations, torture, indefinite detention, and assassination.

Trump and the national-security establishment are clearly viewing the killing of Al-Badawi as vengeance for what he supposedly did in the bombing of the USS Cole. But let’s not confuse vengeance for justice. Moreover, a dark irony in all this is that the terrorists who attacked the Cole did so in vengeance for what the U.S. national-security establishment had been doing in the Middle East prior to that time, including killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with sanctions as well, no doubt, U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright’s infamous public line in 1996 that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.”

What will happen if people in the Middle East seek vengeance for Al-Badawi’s assassination by, say, attacking another U.S. warship thousands of miles away from American shores? That act of vengeance will be blamed on hatred for America’s “freedom and values,” and more extra-judicial assassinations will be carried out in vengeance by the US. national security establishment. And the perpetual war on terrorism will continues onward, along with the ever-increasing taxpayer-funded largess to pay for it all.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

How Mainstream Media Join the US Government Offensive Against Iran: Case Study of Reuters

By Ivan KESIĆ | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.01.2019

Summary: A 2013 news investigation of Iranian corruption by Reuters news service has been cited by at least four books published one after another, the most recently in 2018. 

It has also been cited by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018 speech. Given the article’s ongoing influence, this article will scrutinize flaws in the reporting techniques and raise reasonable questions about several of its findings. The article will also mention, a piece of important historical context, that was long assumed, but made official in 2013 – the same year the story was published – when the US government released classified documents about its involvement in the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected leader in 1953 and the establishment of the Shah. The purpose of this article is not to stain the reputation of an entire news agency – but to simply lay out an alternative context for interpreting a single, influential story. 

Ever since the beginning of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the United States has been leading a propaganda campaign against Iran, minimizing own harmful role in key historical events, justifying an ousted monarchist regime, and demonizing the new political system. Frequently it is done in lighter forms, for example by claiming that new government is far from perfect or even the same as a previous one, but the methods can sometimes be so radical that the characteristics of the two systems are completely inverted.

While the Reuters claims Iran is active in spreading disinformation online, the history of the agency’s reports about Iran shows the opposite. The latest of such reports is a false report about Iran’s missile program. The falsehood of the article has been dissected here. The case which I have dissected is a 2013 article authored by Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Yeganeh Torbati. The article represents a perfect example of such radicalism and disinformation reporting about Iran.

The Reuters report has been cited by at least four books published one after another, the most recently in 2018. The books are Iran’s Political Economy since the Revolution by Suzanne Maloney (2015); Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed by Misagh Parsa (2016); Challenging Theocracy: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics by David Tabachnick, Toivo Koivukoski, and Herminio Meireles Teixeira (2018); and Losing Legitimacy: The End of Khomeini’s Charismatic Shadow and Regional Security by Clifton W. Sherrill (2018).

The chorus doesn’t stop there and it’s not limited to academic publishing or book industry. The 2013 report lays the ground for an ongoing war of words and decisions to impose more sanctions on Iran. Speaking at Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in July 22, 2018, Secretary of State Mark Pompeo used the ­2013 Reuters report to attack Iran; he said:

“And not many people know this, but the Ayatollah Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion, with a B. That wealth is untaxed, it is ill-gotten, and it is used as a slush fund for the IRGC. The ayatollah fills his coffers by devouring whatever he wants. In 2013 the Setad’s agents banished an 82-year-old Baha’i woman from her apartment and confiscated the property after a long campaign of harassment. Seizing land from religious minorities and political rivals is just another day at the office for this juggernaut that has interests in everything from real estate to telecoms to ostrich farming. All of it is done with the blessing of Ayatollah Khamenei.”

The speech applauded by Iran hawks in Washington.

The year 2013 was the year of big news about Iran. Four months before the release of the Reuters’­ ­article, CIA finally admitted its role in 1953 Iranian coup. “Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States’ role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.” Disinformation is dangerous. It used once to oust democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, and has been leveraged again to bring back the Shah of Iran, William David Pear writes. He continues, “Since Iran was a developing democracy, an excuse had to be found for a US intervention. Churchill accused Mossadegh of being a communist. There was no evidence that he was. Mossadegh was an anti-colonial nationalist who cared about the welfare of the Iranian people, and that was all the evidence that Eisenhower needed. Mossadegh had to be punished for standing up to the British and demanding Iran’s natural resources for the benefit of the Iranian people.” The 2013 article of Reuters reminds us of the same pattern of disinformation about Iran.

The ­2013 Reuters story claims that the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), also known as Setad, a little-known organization created to help the poor, morphed into the $95 billion financial empire controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. More precisely, they uncovered something unknown to Western intelligence services, economists and most prominent scholars of Iranian studies, even to the Iranian leadership themselves. In fact, much to the contrary, among ordinary Iranians the organization is known for their social programs, helping the poor families and doing charity works.

According to the Reuters article, the Iranian president’s office and the Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment. Iran’s embassy in the UAE issued a statement calling their findings “scattered and disparate” and said that “none has any basis,” but it didn’t elaborate. Hamid Vaezi, the Setad’s then director general of public relations, said that the information presented is “far from realities and is not correct,” but he also didn’t go into specifics. Their short denials are understandable, considering that the same response would be received from a scientist if asked to make a serious review of a fantasy book. For the same reason, there is no scientific review of Reuters‘ article. Fortunately, this review will go deeply into the details, focusing on personal testimonies and claims of several groups of informers, thus developing a linear counter-story.

Baha’i personal testimonies

First, there’s the story of Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, an 82-year-old Baha’i woman living in Europe, who claims that she lost family’s property, more precisely three apartments in a multi-story building in Tehran, allegedly “built with the blood of herself and her husband.” She further claims that her husband Hussein was imprisoned in 1981 because he began working for a gas company that had been set up to assist unemployed members of the Baha’i faith, and finally executed a year later. All of this happened, as the article claims, just because they were Baha’i.

The article does not mention the fact that her husband, alleged philanthropist, was actually a lieutenant in Pahlavi regime’s military. It neither mentions the conditions for obtaining such amount of property in Iran’s capital city center at that time. Ordinary military personnel were provided with an apartment, but not three apartments, nor was it possible to earn such vast properties with a salary of a lieutenant and teacher, no matter how hard you work. Miss Vahdat-e-Hagh explicitly stated that all had been obtained by herself and her husband, so it’s very easy to exclude the possibility of inheritance.

The only way of being awarded with three apartments was, in fact, an extraordinary and obedient service to the Pahlavi’s regime, and taking into account that Hussein Vahdat-e-Hagh’s career was military as well as the only war that Shah led was one against his own people, his merits to the dictatorship become crystal clear. This also perfectly explains why Hussein Vahdat-e-Hagh was imprisoned and executed, while tens of thousands of other Baha’is and hundreds of ordinary lieutenants, those without ‘special merits’ and three apartments, were not. In other words, the only blood that Vahdat-e-Hagh mentioned can be the blood of the people and the blood on her husband’s hands. Fake philanthropy and contradictions do not stop here.

Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, also known as Paridokht Khaze, lives in Berlin where she earns a living by giving interviews and selling memoirs about the Baha’i victimhood. In the preface of her 2014 book titled In Search of Justice, Vahdat-e-Hagh claimed that before the 1979 revolution she had hoped to one day fulfill her dream of serving the needy in Africa. Before selling fictitious biographies, according to her own personal testimony to Reuters, during the 1980s she was living in one of the above-mentioned three apartments and was earning by renting other two. During these years of war the country was full of orphans and the poor, but giving any free accommodation was obviously out of the question for a self-proclaimed philanthropist.

Her lucrative rental business continued in the 1990s when she was living in Germany, taking the rental income out of all three apartments. According to the Reuters article, she left Iran in 1993 and it took six years before Iranian authorities realized she was no longer living in the country. This information contradicts her other statement that government representatives came to her apartment and threatened to beat her if she did not leave, while she bravely opposed them and yelled: “You can come and kill me.” So this old lady, allegedly under constant pressure and control, indeed left her apartment and was further able to leave the country, and the government, allegedly so greedy for her properties that it sent thugs at her doors, did not even notice that she’s out of the country and renting the same properties for six years. Makes perfect sense, isn’t it?

In both the Reuters article and the Vahdat-e-Hagh’s memoirs, her departure from Iran is described as some sort of “courageous escape” typical for a dissident genre, from books to Hollywood movies. In reality, she was free to leave the country and there was no any ban, no control, no chase at the airport. In the Reuters article, her false courage and principles are additionally enhanced by claims that government finally discovered her absence and demanded to pay rent on the unit, but she refused. The reality is again quite the opposite: she was actually refusing to pay tax on the rental income profit for six years, and in the meantime, she did not even report the change of address i.e. living abroad. Putting aside the controversial origin of properties, the consequences of such long-term lawbreaking are pretty much identical all over the world.

The Reuters‘ caricature story of courage and injustice ends with a claim that Vahdat-e-Hagh’s “stolen” building appears to be vacant, most of the windows are broken, and property’s ownership isn’t clear. This rumors allegedly came from merchants in the neighborhood, but how three Reuters journalists based in New York, London and Dubai managed to obtain the information in the streets of Tehran, also isn’t clear. Even less clear is their message, which may imply either that the building remains unused since Vahdat-e-Hagh stopped renting it, or it is basically worthless. Both possibilities make the whole story even less credible than it already is. Most likely, it is only a dystopian allegory or their own fantasy conception of post-revolutionary Iran.

Besides the story of Vahdat-e-Haghs, the Reuters article also offers the story of Katirais, yet another Baha’i family, whose narrative is similar in terms of structure. Again, there’s a rented three-story building in central Tehran, owner’s emigration to Canada, controversial ties to the Pahlavi regime, and of course, “just because they’re Baha’i” cliche. Apart from the building, there’re also 750 hectares of land around the city of Hamedan in northwest Iran. The Iranian official version says that owner had left the country and had abandoned properties, as well as that prior to 1979 he collaborated with the Pahlavi government, while owner’s daughter Heideh Katirai claims that he was being targeted solely because of his religion and never had any ties to the Shah’s government. Now, who to trust?

Making a choice on this question is much easier if we consider there was the Shah’s White Revolution of 1963 which its purpose was to weaken those classes that supported the traditional system, primarily landed elites. Virtually all landlords lost their possessions, with only a few exceptions, i.e. just those with close ties to the government were spared. Taking also into account that the general status of Baha’is during the Pahlavi period was far from thriving, the claim that a Baha’i person without any connections to the Shah’s regime could keep 750 hectares of land and stay intact by land reforms, is clearly an insolent lie.

Instead of sticking to the facts known to every historian and Iranian, Reuters journalists use logically fallacious methods like appeals to emotion through empathy, false dilemmas, and good ol’ victimhood. For example, an article quotes Katirai’s daughter saying “I took my kids there every Friday to see the family” and “each corner of that house is a memory for us.” One may wonder whether these trite phrases can be applied in the same way to their former land holdings, perhaps “every single square meter is a memory for them” also, out of 7,500,000 square meters in total. Such colossal amount of land was highly uncommon even for the richest landlords, and since Katirais weren’t historically attested among noble or wealthy merchant families prior to the Pahlavi period, it is clear that they did not just keep the property due to the ties with the Shah’s regime, but they also gained it.

Other statements are less subtle and bear aggressive religious and political messages. “We know that Islam is a religion of peace, but how can a government that claims to be an Islamic government allow this to happen?” Katirai’s daughter had asked, and thus offered the false dilemma: either the Iranian government is not Islamic, or Islam is not a religion of peace. The third option, unoffered in the article but the most realistic one, is that she is a liar and demagogue. Additional evidence for it is yet another claim of hers that legal representatives refused to consider her father’s case solely because he did not belong to any of three constitutive minorities: Zoroastrians, Jews or Christians. This implies that all others, from Iranian Hindus to foreign-born East Asian communities, have no any legal rights. Utterly bizarre.

Legal and human rights “experts”

Another group of people used as a reference in the Reuters article are self-proclaimed human rights “experts” and lawyers, all Iranian-born and living abroad. The first one is Naghi Mahmoudi who in the introduction claimed that Khamenei as the Supreme leader oversaw the creation of a body of legal rulings and executive orders that enabled and safeguarded asset acquisitions, as well as that no supervisory organization can question its property. The article represents him as a “lawyer” and uncritically accepts his allegations which serve as the basis for further elaboration.

In reality, Naghi Mahmoudi is only a petty political activist who has a history of lying and manipulating. Back in mid-2010, Mahmoudi and his colleague Javid Hustan Kian claimed to be defectors and “lawyers” of an Iranian woman sentenced to lapidation, but the whole case turned out to be a well-organized hoax, while they were disclosed as impostors and members of the MEK terrorist cult. In the meantime, he almost completely vanished from the media, held several pro-MEK speeches in Germany, and sometimes shared a propaganda material on Twitter, including ridiculous pan-Turkist claims that “40% of Iranians are Azeri Turks deprived of basic human rights.” Ironically, even Ali Khamenei was born into an Azeri family, as the Reuters article correctly mentions.

The biographical details of other informers are no less controversial. Ottawa-based Hossein Raeesi is a legal advisor to the IHRDC, a US government-sponsored organization blacklisted as subversive by the Iranian Interior Ministry, and London-based Mohammad Nayyeri is a close associate of Shadi Sadr, an anti-Iranian activist who publicly advocated Arab separatism in Iran. It is interesting that both of them, along with certain Beverly Hills-based Reghabi couple, complain about legal complications over the return of property, but at the same time, they confirm it is actually possible and feasible. It only takes time, and money, as everywhere.

However, the informers could not agree on a precise legal fee, some of them claiming it is 20% while others even over 50%. Since both amounts are obviously extremely exaggerated and hardly provable, for this purpose two anonymous sources jump into the story and Reuters journalists use their testimonies as evidence. The first is an Iranian Shi’ite Muslim businessman now living abroad who put fee at 55%, and the second is alleged Nayyeri’s client who recovered the house but had to pay 20% of the property’s assessed value, a religious payment called “khoms” mandated under Islamic law. No names, no documents, and no sense. To fill such logical gaps and inconsistent claims, journalists also used orientalist cliché of ubiquitous corruption.

Political circles

Finally, the last group of informers consists of individuals more deeply involved in politics, comparing to the previous activists who operate under the guise of human rights. The Reuters article intentionally conceals the organizations they represent and introduces them as respectable scholars and politicians, allegedly authoritative on the subject. For example, three journalists first claim that they had identified “about $95 billion in property and corporate assets controlled by Setad” and that amount “surpasses independent historians’ estimates of the late shah’s wealth,” and as an evidence for such comparison they further used statements by Abbas Milani who believes the estimate of the Shah’s fortune was “extremely exaggerated” and stood at “a billion dollars.” In other words, about $3 billion in today’s money, or only a fraction of the worth of Setad’s holdings, Reuters concluded.

It is hard to enumerate how many manipulations this escapade contains. First of all, there are no “historians” here, but only one, namely Abbas Milani, who is far from “independent” because he is a member of the neoconservative Hoover Institution, an advocate of multilateral crippling sanctions against Iran in the US Congress. His books are full of revisionist portrayal of the US role in the 1953 coup, support of the Pahlavi regime’s oppression, the 1979 Revolution and afterward, and he offers other contorted interpretations like a claim that “Iran went from politically moderate Monarchy to totalitarian Islamic Republic.” Milani’s statement about the Pahlavi fortune does not represent a historical consensus, nor a serious scholarly assessment, only utter whitewashing of the Shah’s financial crime.

Already in January 1979, the New York Times reported that the Pahlavi wealth is rivaled in the Middle East only by the holdings of the Sauds of Saudi Arabia and the al‐Sabah dynasty in Kuwait, and according to bankers, the Shah’s personal portfolio is worth “well over $1 billion.” New York bankers told journalists that “a substantial part of the $2 billion to $4 billion belongs to the Pahlavi family,” speaking only of the sums that have been “transferred from Iran to the United States during last two years” [1977 and 1978]. The NYT article further states that “the accumulation of immense sums was made possible through the blurring of state funds and royal funds in Iran,” primarily the Pahlavi Foundation which the Shah controlled absolutely.

In 1958, the Shah formed the Pahlavi Foundation, declaring at the time that he was transferring 90% of his holding to the new institution, a combination of charitable organization and family trust. Documents proved the royal family’s penetration of almost every corner of the nation’s economy, including among other things 17 banks and insurance companies, an 80% ownership in the nation’s third-largest insurance company, 25 metal enterprises, 8 mining companies, 10 building materials companies, 45 construction companies, 43 food companies, and 26 enterprises in trade or commerce, and a share of ownership in almost every major hotel in Iran, or 70% of the hotel capacity. Some of these holdings are joint ventures with American corporations.

Behind a facade of charitable activities, the NYT article continues, “the foundation is apparently used in three ways: as a source of funds for the royal family, as a means of exerting control over the economy through the foundation’s holdings in key sectors, and as a conduit for rewards to supporters of the regime.” The transfer of billions of dollars out of Iran had started already in 1974, partly in the form of loans to members of his family that were never repaid, and numerous transactions from Iran were made through American corporations and banks as well as some New York investment houses. The additional uncounted resources were deposited in banks in Switzerland and other countries with strictly enforced bank-secrecy laws.

In the autumn of 1978, during the revolutionary turmoil, 64 members of the Pahlavi family have gone abroad. Like other wealthy Iranians, they all have made substantial deposits in Swiss bank accounts and bought luxury residences in Europe and North America. Of course, the court never revealed the true extent of its wealth, but Iranian and Western estimates place the fortune accumulated by the royal family, both inside and outside Iran, far above Abbas Milani’s “a billion dollars” claim. As New York bankers, Ervand Abrahamian and Michael Axworthy, both highly critical of the Islamic Republic but still regarded as authoritative historians of modern Iran in the West, offer a completely different picture.

According to Abrahamian’s monographies, the royal family’s total assets were estimated “anywhere between five and twenty billion dollars” (1982:437) or “in excess of $20 billion” (2008:131). With inflation, that would equal up to $60 billion by today’s currency. In Axworthy’s book, the capital that had been sent out of the country was “estimated around $120 billion” (2013:297). This figure includes the comprehensive wealth of all Iranian emigrants, but there is no doubt that the majority was concentrated in hands of the ruling family.

In January 1981, the Iranian government filed a $36 billion lawsuit in New York against 65 defendants, most of them relatives of the Shah, in an attempt to recover stolen wealth. Reuters journalists mentioned this fact but in the context of denying figures. “The suit was dismissed,” their paragraph ends, and therefore imply that “claimed” figure must be false. It is again a gross manipulation because the New York courts did not deny the amount of money, they dismissed the proceedings on the ground of ‘forum non conveniens’ though they admitted that there was no alternative forum. According to the book by Trevor C. Hartley, Emeritus Professor of Law at the LSE, this was an abuse of the doctrine, for political reasons, the courts were determinated to shield the Shah, and ‘forum non conveniens’ was the tool they chose (2009:238). After all, those are the same courts which recently ordered Iran to pay billions to relatives of 9/11 victims.

In addition to Abbas Milani, the Reuters article also quotes Mohsen Sazegara, introduced as a co-founder of the Revolutionary Guards who is now in exile in the United States, and David S. Cohen, then undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence who also served as deputy director of the CIA. The former is a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a subsidiary of the notorious American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), while the latter is a member of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a hawkish and neoconservative organization led by Mark Dubowitz that was intensively lobbying for the anti-Iranian and anti-Setad sanctions for years.

Agenda unveiled

All of the above-mentioned lobbyists and their advocacy groups, along with three Reuters journalists, have the same agenda and are trying to convince the world that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the same as Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, while Setad is no different than the Pahlavi Foundation. There is, however, a serious problem with this picture. More precisely, there are no Khamenei’s jewels, crowns or designer clothes, no luxury cars or art collections, no luxurious villas or expensive estates, either in Iran or abroad. There are no rich members of the family, no foreign bank accounts, no documents, no independent experts, no New Yorker or Swiss bankers. There is absolutely nothing which proves their claim.

There is, indeed, the Reuters “investigative” article with fancy charts and listed properties. Only a few months before the publication of Reuters‘ article, Washington imposed sanctions on Setad and some of its alleged corporate holdings, and the Treasury Department issued a press release containing boring numbers, hard charts, Persian-named properties and other dull text, incomprehensible for wider audiences. And that’s why the Reuters article jumped out.

Investigative journalism is when a report is built on the basis of the collected data, but here is an opposite case, all the details serve as buttress or decoration of the central point. In other words, when you take off all worthless tree charts, personal testimonies, stories of poor old ladies, allegations by fake human rights activists and lobbyists, and numerous other cliches, the only thing left standing is the official US press release and accompanying political rampage against the Iranian leadership. Nothing more.

Regarding Setad itself, as seen through the eyes of the US government, it serves as a useful bogeyman and has multiple purposes. Its first dimension is political-ideological because it follows the old discourse of bashing Iranian leaders and veterans, equalizing them with corrupt royal elites. Second, the economy of Iran is now being discussed under the guise of “Setad” name, a sort of trade name which sounds less offensive in public debates and official documents. Third and most important, it is a perfect tool for further targeting Iran’s economy and expanding sanctions, because any new emerging company can easily be declared as a Setad holding.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Islamophobia, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

France Moves To Ban All Protests As PM Announces Major Crackdown On Yellow Vests

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 01/09/2019

France is signaling it’s making preparations for a massive new crackdown on the gilets jaunes or “yellow vests” anti-government protests that have gripped the country for seven weeks. A new law under consideration could make any demonstration illegal to begin with if not previously approved by authorities, in an initiative already being compared to the pre-Maiden so-called “dictatorship law” in Ukraine.

In the name of reigning in the violence that has recently included torching structures along the prestigious Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, and smashing through the gates of government ministry buildings, the French government appears set to enact something close to a martial law scenario prohibiting almost any protest and curtailing freedom of speech.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented the new initiative to curtail the violence and unrest while targeting “troublemakers” and banning anonymity through wearing masks on French TV channel TF1 on Monday. He said the law would give police authority crack down on “unauthorized demonstrations” at a moment when police are already arresting citizens for merely wearing a yellow vest, even if they are not directly engaged in protests in some cases.

PM Philippe said the government would support a “new law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare [protests], those who take part in unauthorized demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks”.

Philippe’s tone during the statements was one of the proverbial “the gloves are off” as he described the onus would be on “the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused” to businesses and property.

“Those who question our institutions will not have the last word,” he added.

However, if anything the protests have grown fiercer in response to any police crackdown or violence against demonstrators. Should all protests be banned under the new law, it could be the start of more violent riots gaining steam, as what began Nov. 17 as anger over fuel tax hikes has now turned into rage at President Emmanuel Macron and policies that seem to favor the urban elite.

Other yellow vest inspired protests previously broke out across Europe, and in perhaps a sign of things to come a video from The Netherlands of a woman pushing her baby in a stroller being arrested by police apparently for merely wearing a yellow vest is going viral.

In the video, police confront the woman in what appears a quiet neighborhood far away from any visible protest. Police were photographed alongside the baby on the street as the mother was dragged away.

Image via journalist Sotiri Dimpinoudis

With the French prime minister now announcing coming draconian measures banning all protest, this is precisely the horrific scene that could begin to be repeated across France and the EU.

In total at least six people have died and over 1,400 people injured during the French protests, with thousands arrested weekly, according to international reports. Over the weekend some 50,000 protesters continued demonstrating in multiple cities, leading to significant clashes in Paris, Bordeaux and Rouen. A number of commentators have noted that though there appear fewer demonstrators compared to December, there appears a serious uptick in violent acts on the part of both demonstrators and police response.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 1 Comment

The UK Government Manufacture of False Sexual Allegations

By Craig Murray | January 9, 2019

I want to give you a concrete example of how the UK government deliberately sets out to manufacture false sexual allegations against people it considers a threat. I do so to educate those who view this concept as an unthinkable “conspiracy theory”. I write of a case of which I have expert knowledge; it is my own case.

I became an “enemy of the state” when, as British Ambassador, I protested against UK and US complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition in Uzbekistan. As detailed in Murder in Samarkand, I very quickly found myself suspended and subject to civil service investigation of disciplinary allegations against me, the worst of which was that I extorted sex from visa applicants. Blair’s No. 10 quickly leaked this allegation against me to the Daily Mail.

I was in a state of complete shock. I had no idea at all what could have led to such allegations. The Kafkaesque nightmare deepened when I was presented with the evidence against me.

The case was of a young woman named Albina Safarova. I was shown her visa application documents by the investigating officer. These included her passport photo, and she was a strikingly beautiful young woman. On the back of her visa application the Visa Officer had written “HMA (Her Majesty’s Ambassador, i.e. me) authorises issue”. The investigation had obtained a statement from the Visa Officer, in which she stated that she had issued the Visa after being informed by two British diplomats that Ms Safarova was a friend of mine. To complete the evidence, the original application was supported a letter by Ms Safarova’s sponsor, a Mr Dermot Hassett, who stated in the application that the circumstances of the application were known to the British Ambassador, Mr Craig Murray.

All of which seems firm and damning evidence of, at the least, unwarranted interference in visa issues.

Except for this. Not only had I never had any form of sexual encounter with Ms Albina Safarova, I had never met her or even heard of her. The same was true of Mr Dermot Hassett. Not only were they not my friends, I had no idea they existed.

After I left the FCO, I gave the papers to a veteran investigative reporter, Bob Graham, who contacted Dermot Hassett. Graham told me that Hassett explained that a British diplomat – one of the two who had told the Visa Officer Ms Safarova was my friend – had instructed him to write my name into the visa application, with the assurance that the visa would be granted.

So the British government had put substantial effort into the preparation of fake documents connecting me to Ms Safarova and Mr Hassett and this visa application. Yet the whole thing was entirely fake. Those British diplomats had lied, and convinced Mr Hassett and the Visa Officer to produce “independent” documents corroborating those lies.

Interestingly, they never produced any allegation from Ms Safarova that a sexual relationship was involved. In the absence of this and of any evidence that I had ever met Safarova, and in view of the fact the Visa Officer’s evidence crucially stated it was other British diplomats, not me, who told her Safarova was my friend, I was acquitted. No other incident was ever alleged. But mud sticks, and the smear was used to discredit my evidence on torture and extraordinary rendition, and has been so used ever since.

Alex Salmond is far more of a threat to the British establishment than I ever was. So is Julian Assange and so is Tommy Sheridan. Anybody who looks at any of these examples, and does not understand that the state will actually fabricate allegations and fabricate evidence to back them, is a fool.

I know. It happened to me.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment