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Fake News by Omission — The Mass Media’s Cowardly Distortion Tool

By Caitlin Johnstone | American Herald Tribune | December 6, 2019

Western mass media have continued their conspiracy of silence on the OPCW scandal, making no significant mention yet this month of the leaks which have been emerging from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons indicating that the US, France and UK bombed Syria last year in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack which probably never occurred, and that OPCW leadership helped cover it up.

If you haven’t been following the still-unfolding OPCW scandal, you can catch up quickly by watching this seven-minute video.

Mass media’s silence on this hugely important story is noteworthy not just because it has far-reaching consequences for the future of the Syrian regime change agenda and for public trust in US-led war narratives, not just because the leaks have already been independently authenticated by the mainstream press, and not just because scandalous revelations about powerful entities are normally the sort of incendiary click fodder that makes a mainstream news editor hasten behind his desk to hide his arousal. It is also noteworthy because we’re being told by people in the know that even more leaks are coming.

“Much more to come about the censoring of the facts on Douma at the Poison Gas Watchdog OPCW,” tweeted journalist Peter Hitchens earlier today. “It really is time that the Grand Unpopular Press and the BBC, realised this is a major story. Are they too proud to admit they might have been wrong?”

Hitchens, who was among the very first to publish the leaked internal OPCW email last month revealing multiple glaring plot holes in the official narrative about the alleged chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, has been saying this for a while now.

“More is known by the whistleblowers of the OPCW than has yet been released, but verification procedures have slowed down its release,” Hitchens wrote in his blog last week. “More documents will, I expect, shortly come to light.”

So this is still an unfolding story that is only going to get more scandalous in the coming days. Yet rather than reporting on an important news story (which it may surprise you to learn is actually supposed to be the literal job description of the news media), the mainstream press has been silent. The only times the mass media have commented on this major story has been to spin it as Russian disinformation, and Tucker Carlson’s segment on it last week which was also falsely spun as disinfo by establishment narrative managers like David Brock’s Media Matters for America.

The blog Left I on the News uses the term “fake news by omission” to describe this obnoxious yet ubiquitous propaganda tactic, where imperial media outlets deliberately distort people’s understanding of what’s going on in the world by simply declining to cover news stories which are inconvenient to the establishment narrative.

Refusing to tell people about things that did happen distorts their worldview just as much as telling them things that did not happen, yet mass media will never be held accountable for engaging in the former, while engaging in the latter forces them to print embarrassing retractions and lose credibility with the public. For this reason, fake news by omission is their preferred tactic of deceit.

People sometimes think of the mainstream media as always straight-up lying all the time, just fabricating stories whole cloth about what’s going on, but that isn’t generally how it works. A good liar doesn’t lie all the time, and they don’t even tell full lies unless absolutely necessary. What they do is far more cowardly and far more effective: they spin, they distort, they tell half-truths, they emphasize insignificant details and marginalize significant ones, they uncritically report what government officials are telling them, and they lie by omission.

However, the total disappearance of the OPCW leaks is unusual for the legacy media. The imperial press have had their ways of hiding inconvenient stories since newspapers began. Running stories late on a Friday, running them on the “graveyard page” of page 2 (so-called because stories go there to die), holding on to them until another big story breaks so they can be published relatively unnoticed, waiting for them to be broken in a disreputable publication so people will be skeptical of it (sometimes known as “fixing” a story), or running an oppositional op-ed at the same time to spin the uncomfortable facts in a more salubrious way. But in the end, they normally run the story, in one way or another, so they can be seen not to be censoring.

Not this time though. The exceptional silence on the OPCW scandal from imperial news media discredits them completely, but people won’t know about it unless they are told. Spread the word.

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 2 Comments

A Second Whistle Blown on the OPCW’s Doctored Report

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | December 3, 2019

Another whistleblower leak has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report on the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma, close to Damascus, on April 7 last year.

The first leak came from the Fact-Finding Mission’s engineering sub-group. After investigating the two sites where industrial gas cylinders were found in Douma and taking into account the possibility that the cylinders had been dropped from the air it concluded that there was a “higher probability” that both cylinders were placed at both sites by hand. This finding was entirely suppressed in the final report.

The engineering sub-group prepared its draft report “for internal review” between February 1-27, 2018. By March 1 the OPCW final report had been approved, published and released, indicating that the engineers’ findings had not been properly evaluated, if evaluated at all. In its final report the OPCW, referring to the findings of independent experts in mechanical engineering, ballistics and metallurgy, claimed that the structural damage had been caused at one location by an “impacting object” (i.e. the cylinder) and that at the second location the cylinder had passed through the ceiling, fallen to the floor and somehow bounced back up on to the bed where it was found.

None of this was even suggested by the engineers. Instead, the OPCW issued a falsified report intended to keep alive the accusation that the cylinders had been dropped by the Syrian Air Force.

Now there is a second leak, this time an internal email sent by a member of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on June 22, 2018, to Robert Fairweather, the British career diplomat who was at the time Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, and copied to his deputy, Aamir Shouket. The writer claims to have been the only FFM member to have read the redacted report before its release. He says it misrepresents the facts: “Some crucial facts that have remained in the redacted version have morphed into something quite different from what was originally drafted.”

The email says the final version statement that the team “has sufficent evidence to determine that chlorine or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical was likely released from the cylinders is highly misleading and not supported by the facts.” The writer states that the only evidence is that some samples collected at locations 2 and 4 (where the gas cylinders were found) had been in contact with one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom.

“Such chemicals,” he continues, “could include molecular chlorine, phosgene, cyanogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen chloride or sodium hypochlorite (the major element in household chlorine-based bleach.”  Purposely singling out chlorine as one of the possibilities was disingenuous and demonstrated “partiality” that negatively affected the final report’s credibility.

The writer says the final report’s reference to “high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples” overstates the draft report’s findings. “In most cases” these derivatives were present only in part per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace qualitiea.” In such microscopic quantities, detected inside apartment buildings, it would seem, although the writer only hints at the likelihood, that the chlorine trace elements could have come from household bleach stored in the kitchen or bathroom.

The writer notes that the original draft discussed in detail the inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms after the alleged attack as reported by witnesses and seen on video recordings.  This section of the draft, including the epidemiology, was removed from the final version in its entirety. As it was inextricably linked to the chemical agent as identified, the impact on the final report was “seriously negative.” The writer says the draft report was “modified” at the behest of the office of Director-General, a post held at the time by a Turkish diplomat, Ahmet Uzumcu.

The OPCW has made no attempt to deny the substance of these claims. After the engineers’ report made its way to Wikileaks its priority was to hunt down the leaker. Following the leaking of the recent email, the Director-General, Fernando Arias, simply defended the final report as it stood.

These two exposures are triply devastating for the OPCW.  Its Douma report is completely discredited but all its findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria must now be regarded as suspect even by those who did not regard them as suspect in the first place. The same shadow hangs over all UN agencies that have relied on the OPCW for evidence, especially the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, an arm of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).

This body is closely linked to the OPCW and while both mostly hide the sources of their information it is evident that where chemical weapons allegations have been made, the commission of inquiry has drawn on the OPCW.

As of January 2018, the commission reported on 34 “documented incidents” of chemical weapons use by various parties in Syria. It held the Syrian government responsible for 23 of them and, remarkably, did not hold the armed groups responsible even for one, despite the weight of evidence showing their preparation and use of such weapons over a long period of time.

The commission has made repeated accusations of chlorine barrel bombs being dropped by government forces. On the worst of the alleged chemical weapons attacks, on August 21, 2013, in the eastern Ghouta district just outside Damascus, it refers to sarin being used in a “well-planned indiscriminate attack targetting residential areas [and] causing mass casualties. The perpetrators likely had access to the Syrian military chemical weapons stockpile and expertise and equipment to manipulate large amounts of chemical weapons.”

This is such a travesty of the best evidence that no report by this body can be regarded as impartial, objective and neutral.   No chemical weapons or nerve agents were moved from Syrian stocks, according to the findings of renowned journalist Seymour Hersh. The best evidence, including a report by Hersh (‘The Red Line and the Rat Line,’ London Review of Books, April 17, 2014), suggests a staged attack by terrorist groups, including Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham, who at the time were being routed in a government offensive. The military would have had no reason to use chemical weapons: furthermore, the ‘attack’ was launched just as UN chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in the Syrian capital and it is not even remotely credible that the Syrian government would have authorized a chemical weapons attack at such a time.

Even the CIA warned Barack Obama that the Syrian government may not have been/probably was not responsible for the attack and that he was being lured into launching an air attack in Syria now that his self-declared ‘red line’ had been crossed. At the last moment, Obama backed off.

It remains possible that the victims of this ‘attack’ were killed for propaganda purposes. Certainly, no cruelty involving the takfiri groups, the most brutal people on the face of the planet, can be ruled out. Having used the occasion to blame the Syrian government, the media quickly moved on. The identities of the dead, many of them children, who they were, where they might have been buried – if in fact they had been killed and not just used as props – were immediately tossed into the memory hole. Eastern Ghouta remains one of the darkest unexplained episodes in the war on Syria.

The UN’s Syria commission of inquiry’s modus operandi is much the same as the OPCW’s. Witnesses are not identified; there is no indication of how their claims were substantiated; the countries outside Syria where many have been interviewed are not identified, although Turkey is clearly one; and where samples have had to be tested, the chain of custody is not transparent.

It is worth stepping back a little bit to consider early responses to the OPCW report on Douma. The Syrian government raised a number of questions, all of them fobbed off by the OPCW.  Russia entered the picture by arranging a press conference for alleged victims of the ‘attack’ at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague.  They included an 11-year-old boy, Hassan Diab, who said he did not know why he was suddenly hosed down in the hospital clinic, as shown in the White Helmets propaganda video.

All the witnesses dismissed claims of a chemical weapons attack. Seventeen countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the US) then put out a joint statement (April 26, 2018) expressing their full support for the OPCW report and dismissing the “so-called” information session at the Hague as a Russian propaganda exercise. Their statement claimed the authenticity of the information in the OPCW report was “unassailable.”

Russia followed up with a series of questions directed at the OPCW’s technical secretariat. It noted that the OPCW report did not mention that samples taken from Douma were “split” in the OPCW’s central laboratory in the Netherlands and not in the Syrian Arab republic. Fractions of samples were handed to Syria only after six months of insistent pressure (OPCW response: its terms of reference provided for Syria to be provided with samples “to the extent possible” but do not specify when or where samples should be ‘split’).

Russia also referred to the collection of 129 samples and their transfer to OPCW-designated laboratories. 31 were selected for the first round of analysis and an additional batch of 13 sent later. Of the 129 samples 39 were obtained from individuals living outside territory controlled by the Syrian army. Of 44 samples analyzed 33 were environmental and 11 biomedical: of the 44, 11 (four environmental and seven biomedical) were obtained from alleged witnesses.

As remarked by the Russian Federation, the OPCW report does not explain the circumstances in which these samples were obtained. Neither is there any information on the individuals from whom they were taken; neither is there any evidence demonstrating compliance with the chain of custody (OPCW response: there was respect for the chain of custody, without this being explained; the “standard methodology” in collecting samples was applied, without details being given.  It stressed the need for privacy and the protection of witness identities).

Russia observed that the samples were analyzed in two unnamed OPCW laboratories and on the evidence of techniques and results, it raised the question of whether the same laboratories had been used to investigate earlier ‘incidents’ involving the alleged use of chlorine. Of the 13 laboratories that had technical agreements with the OPCW, why were samples analyzed at only two, apparently the same two as used before?  Russia also observed that of the 33 environmental samples tested for chlorinated products, there was a match (bornyl chloride) in only one case.

Samples taken from location 4, where a gas cylinder was allegedly dropped from the air, showed the presence of the explosive trinitrotoluene, leading to the conclusion that the hole in the roof was made by an explosion and not by a cylinder falling through it (OPCW response: the Fact-Finding Mission did not select the labs and information about them is confidential. As there had been intense warfare for weeks around location four, the presence of explosive material in a broad range of samples was to be expected but this did not – in the OPCW view –  lead to the conclusion that an explosion caused the hole in the roof).

Russia pointed out that the FFM interviewed 39 people but did not interview the actual witnesses of the ‘incident’ inside the Douma hospital who appeared and were easily identifiable in the staged videos (OPCW response: the secretariat neither confirms nor denies whether it interviewed any of the witnesses presented by Russia at the OPCW headquarters “as any statement to that effect would be contrary to the witness protection principles applied by the secretariat”).

Russia also pointed out the contradictions in the report on the number of alleged dead. In one paragraph the FFM says it could not establish a precise figure for casualties which “some sources” said ranged between 70 and 500. Yet elsewhere “witnesses” give the number of dead as 43 (OPCW response: the specific figure of 43 was based on the evidence of “witnesses” who claimed to have seen bodies at different locations).

Russia also pointed out that no victims were found at locations 2 and 4, where the ventilation was good because of the holes in the roof/ceiling. Referring to location 2, it asked how could chlorine released in a small hole from a cylinder in a well-ventilated room on the fourth floor have had such a strong effect on people living on the first or second floors? (OPCW response: the FFM did not establish a correlation between the number of dead and the quantity of the toxic chemical. In order to establish such a correlation, factors unknown to the FFM – condition of the building, air circulation and so on – would have had to be taken into account.  It does not explain why this was not attempted and how it could reach its conclusions without taking these “unknown factors” into account).

Finally, Russia raised the question of the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. It referred to the lack of specific calculations in the OPCW report. The ‘experts’ who did the simulation did not indicate the drop height. The charts and diagrams indicated a drop height of 45-180 meters. However, Syrian Air Force helicopters do not fly at altitudes of less than 2000 meters when cruising over towns because they would come under small arms fire “at least” and would inevitably be shot down.

Furthermore, if the cylinders had been dropped from 2000 meters,  both the roof and the cylinders would have been more seriously damaged (OPCW response: there were no statements or assumptions in the FFM report on the use of helicopters or the use of other aircraft “or the height of the flight. The FFM did not base its modeling on the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. “In accordance with its mandate,” the FFM did not comment on the possible altitude of aircraft.  The OPCW did not explain why these crucial factors were not taken into account).

In its conclusion, Russia said there was a “high probability” that the cylinders were placed manually at locations 2 and 4 and that the factual material in the OPCW report did not allow it to draw the conclusion that a toxic chemical had been used as a weapon. These conclusions have now been confirmed in the release of information deliberately suppressed by the OPCW secretariat.

As the leaked material proves, its report was doctored: by suppressing, ignoring or distorting the findings of its own investigators to make it appear that the Syrian government was responsible for the Douma ‘attack’ the OPCW can be justly accused of giving aid and comfort to terrorists and their White Helmet auxiliaries whom – the evidence overwhelmingly shows – set this staged ‘attack ’up.

Critical evidence ignored by the OPCW included the videoed discovery of an underground facility set up by Jaysh al Islam for the production of chemical weapons.   All the OPCW said was that the FFM inspectors paid on-site visits to the warehouse and “facility” suspected of producing chemical weapons and found no evidence of their manufacture.  There is no reference to the makeshift facility found underground and shown in several minutes of video evidence.

Since the release of the report, the three senior figures in the OPCW secretariat have moved/been moved on. The Director-General at the time, Hasan Uzumlu, a Turkish career diplomat, stepped out of the office in July 2018: Sir Robert Fairweather, a British career diplomat and Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, was appointed the UK’s special representative to Sudan and South Sudan on March 11, 2019: his deputy, Aamir Shouket,  left the OPCW in August 2018, to return to Pakistan as Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe division. The governments which signed the statement that the evidence in the OPCW report was “unassailable” remain in place.

Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East.  His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WikiLeaks Proved the OPCW Cannot Be Trusted In Syria

By Paul Antonopoulos | November 26, 2019

The “Syrian regime” and chemical weapons has become a constant mantra in the Western World and has become synonymous with the Syrian War since it began in 2011. One of the most famous cases was the April 2018 chemical weapon attack in the Damascene satellite city of Douma that led to the U.S., UK and France conducting airstrikes against Syrian Army positions, despite the lack of evidence that the Syrian government was responsible for the incident.

The April 7, 2018 chemical incident killed between 40 and 50 people and was followed up by the Western Powers attack against Syria exactly a week later. Strangely though, the attack took place just mere hours before the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors arrived in Syria to investigate the attack. The U.S., UK and France knew that the eventual OPCW report would not match their claims and allegations against the Syrian government, and were quick to act in wasting their people’s tax dollars by dropping bombs on the Arab country.

The final OPCW report would not match the first report made by the Fact-Finding mission that were actually on the ground in Syria. An email released by whistleblowing Wikileaks on the weekend found that the final OPCW report on the Douma incident had been manipulated and changed by the Office of the Director-General of the OPCW, then held by Turkish diplomat Ahmet Üzümcü. This is an extremely disturbing discovery as the OPCW claims to have a “neutral role” by not assigning blame for chemical weapon use, but to find out the details of how the attack was conducted. This however was reversed last year with the OPCW being given permission to investigate perpetrators – but they still kept the mythology that they are “neutral.”

Although the report did not assign blame, the e-mail claims that the report “morphed into something quite different to what was originally drafted” and that “a bias has been introduced into the report, undermining its credibility” and that it “is disingenuous.” This was of course to bring the illusion that Syria was responsible for the attack, despite no tangible evidence.

In March, the OPCW report claimed that chlorine was the likely agent used in last year’s attack, but the newly released email explains that this claim “is highly misleading and not supported by the facts.”

“Omitting this section of the report has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified… In this case, the confidence in the identity of chlorine or any other choking agent is drawn into question precisely because of the inconsistency with the reported and observed symptoms. The inconsistency was not only noted by the fact-finding mission team, but strongly supported by three toxicologists with expertise in exposure to chemical warfare agents”, the e-mail revealed.

The email then makes a final request that the original report be released in “its entirety” as the author fears that the manipulated report does not “reflect the work of the team” and “would negatively impact on the perceived credibility of the report, and by extension that of the Organisation.”

It must be remembered that when the OPCW report was released in March 2019, nearly a whole year after the incident. The released report ignored evidence provided by the Russian Foreign Ministry that the Al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets were responsible for the attack, and that rather the report was attempting to justify the U.S.-led attack against Syria.

However, the release by WikiLeaks was only the final nail in the coffin confirming that the OPCW is not “neutral” and rather highly politicized. It was revealed only last week by the Grayzone that a second whistleblower from the OPCW came forward to accuse the top leadership of the organisation of suppressing critical evidence because of pressure from the U.S.

This demonstrates that there is a major rift between the actual inspectors on the ground and the higher-level officials of the organization who are willingly submitting to U.S. pressures despite trying to maintain their credibility of being neutral. The very appointment of Üzümcü, a former Turkish ambassador to Israel and a former Permanent Representative of Turkey to NATO, demonstrates that his very appointment had political motivations knowing Ankara’s aggressive foreign policy towards Syria since the beginning of the war.

There can be little doubt now that the claim of neutrality is far from reality and rather the top leadership of the OPCW are willing to omit, manipulate and change facts that were on the ground and discovered by their own Mission at the behest of the U.S. so it could pressure Syria and legitimize the illegal U.S.-led attack. This can only bring into question now the legitimacy of all the other chemical weapon attacks blamed on the Syrian government over the course of many years.

In addition, the OPCW should be the center of wide condemnation from the international community and the United Nations, who once shared a Joint Mission with the OPCW to remove Syria’s chemical weapons from October 2013 to September 2014. The OPCW has now lost all credibility and should be replaced by a new organization that does not appoint controversial Director-Generals or submit to pressure from external forces, like the U.S., and perhaps even Turkey.

However, the most telling of the politicization of the OPCW occurred at yesterday’s annual OPCW forum in the Hague, where the organization vehemently defended themselves against the well-timed Wikileaks expose. Fernando Arias, the current OPCW Director-General, defended the manipulated report, saying: “the nature of any thorough inquiry for individuals in a team is to express subjective views. While some of these diverse views continue to circulate in some public discussion forums, I would like to reiterate that I stand by the independent, professional conclusion [of the investigation].”

Simply put, WikiLeaks has helped prove that the OPCW can no longer be trusted and certainly is not neutral. Britain and France unsurprisingly at yesterday’s OPCW forum also defended the initial report and rejected the allegations of doctoring. But this of course was always to be expected.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | 1 Comment

OPCW report on Douma chemical incident omitted & misrepresented key facts, leaked email by dissenting inspector shows

RT | November 24, 2019

An internal OPCW email indicates that the chemical weapons watchdog’s leadership doctored a report on the 2018 Douma incident to bring it in line with West-favored claim that it was an attack by the Syrian government.

A newly published internal email seriously undermines the justification for the show of force conducted by the US, Britain and France in response to the alleged attack. The three NATO allies unleashed barrages of cruise missiles at targets in Syria, which they claimed to be involved in producing chemical weapons.

In April 2018, a chemical weapons attack was reported in Douma, Syria, with dozens of civilians allegedly killed. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) sent a fact-finding mission to the site, although the inspection was stalled by fighting between radical jihadists, who controlled Douma at the time of the incident, and the Syrian government forces. Nevertheless, evidence was eventually collected and the OPCW produced a report that all but pinned the blame for the attack on Damascus.

An internal email sent by one of the inspectors in that team indicates that the management of the organization seriously modified the document, totally omitting facts that didn’t fit the anti-Damascus narrative and misreporting others to fit it. The email was released by whistleblower site WikiLeaks and covered by several leading European publications, including La Repubblica in Italy, Stundin in Iceland, Der Spiegel in Germany, and the Mail on Sunday in the UK.

The email sent by the inspector, whose name was redacted, outlines several instances, in which facts discovered by the team had been distorted or suppressed in a draft OPCW report, resulting in “an unintended bias” of the resulting text.

One objection related to saying that the team discovered sufficient evidence that chlorine gas was likely released from two cylinders found at two locations in Douma. The actual evidence pointed to the presence of one or several chlorine-containing chemicals. It might have been the gas, but it could as well be something other like chlorine-based bleach.

Another complaint was about overstating the levels of chlorinated organic derivatives found in the environment. “They were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities,” the email states.

The compounds in question are a tell-tale sign of reactive chlorine that can be found long after the toxic chemical itself has dissipated, which was relevant in this case because the fact-finding mission reached Douma weeks after the incident.

The changes made in the report also point to the cylinders as the likely source of the chlorine gas. The inspectors who wrote the original report “purposely emphasized” that though it may be the case that they found insufficient evidence to affirm the theory. “It is possible the error was simply a typo. This is a major deviation from the original report,” the inspector wrote.

One of the major omissions deals with inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms as reported by witnesses or shown in footage of the purported attack and those that people affected by chlorine gas are supposed to have. Dropping that section “has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified,” the email said.

Another objection refers to parts of the original report describing the placement of the cylinders and the damage found on them and in the area, which were “are essentially absent from the redacted report.” The prevailing narrative was that the cylinders were dropped from the air by government forces. An engineering assessment penned by OPCW inspector Ian Henderson, which was leaked earlier in May, said the evidence could not support this scenario and had been suppressed by the OPCW.

The email is consistent with what an OPCW whistleblower earlier told an expert panel by the Courage Foundation last month. It also gives credence to a scolding story in CounterPunch, which said Robert Fairweather, the chief of cabinet of then-Inspector General Ahmet Uzumcu, of being the driving force behind the alterations.

CounterPunch apparently cites the same internal email as well as claims by a whistleblower, who said Fairweather allowed three US officials to have an impact on the drafting process. The Americans pressured the OPCW into blaming the Syrian government. The organization leadership then decided it needed to include a ‘smoking gun’ in the final report the whistleblower said.

Fairweather is the recipient of the email, though interestingly his name was redacted by the Mail on Sunday for unclear reasons. The British newspaper, however, provided some additional details into how the preparation of the report happened. It said four increasingly censored versions of the document had been produced as OPCW management fought off dissenting voices among the scientists. The final version was released in March this year.

Also on rt.com:

Leaked OPCW memo casts doubt on watchdog’s Douma ‘chemical attack’ conclusions

OPCW put lid on key evidence in Douma chemical incident – watchdog whistleblower

‘Highly likely’ is the new evidence: Five times Western officials had no proof but media fell for it

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

OPCW put lid on key evidence in Douma chemical incident – watchdog whistleblower

RT | October 23, 2019

The international chemical weapons watchdog likely skewed its own investigation of the 2018 chemical weapons incident in Douma, Syria to come to a predetermined decision, a damning conclusion based on whistleblower testimony said.

The April 2018 incident in the Damascus suburb was quickly blamed on the Syrian government by the West. Within days, the US, the UK and France launched barrages of cruise missiles in retaliation. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international chemical weapons watchdog, later backed the justification, all but pointing the finger at Syria in its final report, which was released in March.

Now a panel of experts says the report was based on a flawed conclusion and likely deliberately steered toward the West-favored outcome. The accusation is based on evidence and testimony of an OPCW investigator, who came forward with damning evidence that his own organization had breached its mission.

After talking to the whistleblower and examining internal reports, text exchanges and other evidence, the panel was convinced that “key information about chemical analyses, toxicology consultations, ballistics studies, and witness testimonies was suppressed, ostensibly to favor a preordained conclusion,” it said in a statement.

The statement said the OPCW took effort to exclude dissenting investigators and silence their attempts to raise concerns about the report, which is “a right explicitly conferred on inspectors in the Chemical Weapons Convention.” The experts called on the organization to revisit its investigation and allow those not agreeing with the conclusion put in the final report to voice their concerns without fear of reprisal.

The panel convened by the Courage Foundation, which accepts donations for the legal defense of whistleblowers and journalists that report on leaks, includes several prominent specialists and public figures, including José Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat who served as the OPCW’s first Director General before being strong-armed from the office by US superhawk John Bolton.

Bustani said the whistleblower confirmed his doubts about the report, which “seemed incoherent at best” right from the start.

“My hope is that the concerns expressed publicly by the Panel, in its joint consensus statement, will catalyze a process by which the Organization can be resurrected to become the independent and non-discriminatory body it used to be.”

The panel did not make public the name of the whistleblower or any previously unpublished evidence of the OPCW’s alleged misconduct. WikiLeaks, whose editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson was a member of the panel, re-printed a draft engineering assessment penned by an OPCW investigator, which was leaked in May. The document rejects the claim that chlorine cylinders, which were used for delivery of the toxic gas in Douma, had been dropped from the air, which was used as a key argument in accusing the Syrian army for the attack.

The OPCW did not challenge the authenticity of the document, but stood by its conclusions on the Douma incident.

October 23, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Leaked OPCW report finds Douma chemical attack likely staged

TomoNews | May 29, 2019

A leaked document is casting doubt on the official narrative of the 2018 Douma gas attacks which were later used to justify American, British and French airstrikes on Syria.

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 9 Comments

Alleged Chemical Weapons Use in Syria Needs to be Investigated – Moscow

Sputnik – May 22, 2019

MOSCOW – Russia stands for investigating all reported cases of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday, adding that this investigation should aim to find the truth rather than bring new accusations against Damascus.

“We have the information that provocations using chemical substances are constantly being prepared by militants and terrorists. Our US colleagues and their allies remain unresponsive to this information. In the OPCW [the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons], a so-called attributive mechanism has been created in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which now has to act, apparently, taking into account the principles that are politically formulated by Western countries in this field. We advocate the investigation of all cases with the use of poisonous weapons, but this must be an investigation and not just the pinning of labels,” Ryabkov told reporters.

He noted that the investigation should entail visits to the scene of the incident, interviews with witnesses and collection of uncontaminated evidence.

Previous such incidents only resulted in accusations against Damascus and no probes of this kind, the diplomat stressed.

“As a result, trust in the OPCW, once the most effective, successful international organization, which is universal in this area, has been undermined”, Ryabkov added.

US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Tuesday that Washington was collecting information regarding an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria over the weekend and warned the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad that it would quickly respond if Damascus’ involvement was confirmed.The Russian Defence Ministry said earlier in May that militants of al-Nusra Front terror group were preparing to stage a false-flag provocation in Syria’s Idlib province to frame the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian army for allegedly attacking civilians with chemical weapons.

Last year, the United States, United Kingdom and France used claims of chemical attacks in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun, Duma and Eastern Ghouta to justify missile strikes on Syria, without waiting for the results of an independent investigation. The Syrian government has denied any role in the attacks.

May 22, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , | 1 Comment

Establishment Narrative Managers Struggle With New Syria Plot Holes

By Caitlin Johnstone | May 20, 2019

It has been about a week since the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM) published a leaked internal document from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation into an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria last year. The document, whose authenticity the OPCW has confirmed, contends that the official story which was used to justify an air strike by the US, UK and France about poison gas being dropped on civilians from Syrian government helicopters is scientifically implausible, saying “In summary, observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft.”

The document, titled “Engineering Assessment of Two Cylinders Observed at the Douma Incident”, was signed by a man named Ian Henderson, whose name is seen listed in expert leadership positions on OPCW documents from as far back as 1998 and as recently as 2018. The OPCW hid this information from the public, for reasons it has yet to attempt to justify.

The fact that a longtime OPCW-trained investigator wildly dissented with the OPCW’s official conclusions within the OPCW’s own investigation should obviously have been made public knowledge, and this revelation should obviously have made headline news throughout the western media. Instead, it’s been completely ignored. Only a few alternative media outlets and the usual Russian publications have covered it.

“According to ProQuest database, [Peter] Hitchens’ piece is the only mention in any UK corporate newspaper so far,” tweeted media analysis site Media Lens yesterday.

So there’s a total media blackout on this story from the usual plutocratic news outlets, which is a huge story in and of itself. Just as significantly, the less well-known propagandists who are typically the first to attack any argument which casts doubt on the “Assad is a child-gassing monster who must be stopped at all cost” imperial narrative have been incredibly feeble in their attempts to dispute this new revelation.

Bellingcat is a pro-NATO narrative management firm which has defended ridiculous Syria regime change propaganda like the Bana Alabed psyop, and is consistently elevated with fawning puff pieces and collaborative reports from major mass media outlets like the Guardian and the New York Times. As of this writing it has published absolutely nothing on the Engineering Assessment. Nothing for, nothing against. Nothing. The outlet’s incredibly shady founder, Eliot Higgins, has responded to this new revelation by pinning a tweet citing a completely baseless theory that the WGSPM “got played by a disgruntled OPCW employee.”

“This reporting by @Brian_Whit on the leaked Douma report that the conspiracy theorists and chemical weapon denialists are so excited about is consistent with what I’m hearing. Looks like they all got played by a disgruntled OPCW employee,” Higgins tweeted with a link to a Medium article by UK reporter and virulent Syria regime change cheerleader Brian Whitaker, adding, “This is why the Syrian Propaganda Group needs to work on verifying things it decides to republish, even if it fits with their attempts to deny chemical weapon use in Syria, otherwise they just get played by people with their own agenda.”

The silliness of this argument was pointed out by journalist Aaron Maté, who responded, “What ‘reporting’? He’s citing rumors that he acknowledges are ‘not confirmed.’ Regardless, the document comes from OPCW, as Whitaker’s update notes. The question now is whose findings are accurate — and there’s nothing in this article that challenges the leaked findings.”

Maté highlighted portions of the text that Higgins shared from Whitaker’s article, which I will put in bold here:

“One story circulating in the chemical weapons community (though not confirmed) is that Henderson had wanted to join the FFM and got rebuffed but was then given permission to do some investigating on the sidelines of the FFM. The suggestion (again, not confirmed) is that this was a way of extending his contract at the OPCW. If true, it might explain how he appeared to be working with the FFM while not (according to the OPCW press office) actually being part of it.”

Even if all of the completely unconfirmed things Whitaker is speculating are true, it wouldn’t actually negate the importance of the Engineering Assessment; this is merely an attempt to divert attention from the message to the messenger. And, again, this was a post that Higgins pinned to the top of his Twitter profile. It was his very best argument.

It is not terribly surprising that Higgins has struggled to address this new revelation, partly because there’s not much ground upon which for him to do so, and partly because in the midst of an online debate in the wake of the alleged Douma attacks he already conceded that one of the gas cylinders may have been manually placed where it was photographed.

“Again, you’re assuming it was photographed in its original resting place and not moved. Keep up,” Higgins tweeted following the April 2018 incident in response to someone questioning the strange placement and circumstances of one of the cylinders. It was lying on an unbroken bed in relatively good condition and people were rightly perplexed as to why it hadn’t shattered the bed base upon impact.

Idrees Ahmad, a particularly loathsome anti-Assad regime change propagandist who has smoothly transitioned into an anti-Maduro regime change propagandist as well when the US empire focused its crosshairs on Venezuela, has had similar difficulty in addressing the leaked document. Ahmad flipped out and posted dozens of tweets in response to Susan Sarandon sharing my article about the OPCW’s admission that the Henderson report is legitimate. His arguments range in brilliance from falsely claiming that I am an “Australian fascist”, to repeatedly arguing that Henderson’s conclusions differ from the official OPCW report (duh), to repeatedly regurgitating Higgins’ aforementioned baseless argument about Henderson being a “disgruntled OPCW employee”.

So they’ve really got nothing. There is no actual argument to be made that the OPCW had any business keeping the public in the dark about a dissenting assessment about the Douma incident signed by a longtime OPCW investigator. Or if there is I haven’t seen it, and I’ve been looking in all the usual places one might expect such an argument to appear.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions about the Douma incident. The leaked document doesn’t by itself prove that the Engineering Assessment is correct and the official OPCW findings are incorrect, it just proves that there were other analyses which differed sharply with the official conclusions we’ve been permitted to see, and that we weren’t permitted to see those analyses. In a post-Iraq invasion world, this by itself is entirely unacceptable. And, rather than pushing for answers and accountability, the so-called journalists of the largest media outlets in the west are completely ignoring it.

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

OPCW, Douma and the Post Truth World

By James O’Neill – New Eastern Outlook – 21.05.2019

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) came into effect on 29 April 1997. 193 Member States of the United Nations have ratified it. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is the United Nations body charged with the task of monitoring compliance with the CWC. It is based in The Hague. Among its powers are the powers to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons, and (since June 2018) the power to assign blame.

The investigations are carried out by a Fact Finding Mission, which compromises a team of experts from the relevant scientific disciplines. Additional technical assistance is frequently sought from bodies external to the OPCW, typically university departments.

The use of chemical weapons, apart from being banned under the CWC, can constitute war crimes and/or crimes under the civil jurisdiction of the country where they are used. As with any forensic examination of a crime scene, the integrity of the investigation process and any conclusions reached must accord with the highest standards of professional practice.

The work of the OPCW has had a high profile in the past two years because of three well-publicized incidents. The first of these was the alleged use of sarin gas in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykun on 4th of April 2017.

Less than one week after the alleged attack, the United States government released his own intelligence report in which they expressed their “confidence” that the Syrian ‘regime’ had used sarin against its own people. On this unsourced and uninvestigated, much less forensically examined incident, the United States launched a barrage of cruise missiles against Syrian targets. That this response was itself a gross violation of international law was barely considered by the mainstream media at the time, so content were (and are) they in demonizing the Syrian government and in particular its President Bashar al Assad.

The OPCW report of the incident was no better than the US intelligence estimate. Without having visited the site, and without meeting minimum forensic standards such as determining a proper chain of custody, the OPCW in its October 2017 report nonetheless attributed the release of sarin gas to the Syrian government.

The second incident to receive wide publicity, expressions of outrage from western governments and large-scale expulsion of Russian diplomats, was the alleged nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, United Kingdom, in March 2018.

The UK government, again before any scientific investigation and a proper conclusion could be reached, announced in parliament the first of its many versions or what they alleged had happened. The manifold absurdities of the U.K. Governments explanation as to what happened to the Skripals is outside the scope of this article. They are usefully summarised by British researcher Rob Slane.

In the Salisbury case, the OPCW investigators arrived at the scene nearly three weeks after the incident and then produced a report that is a masterpiece of obfuscation. Without actually rebutting the UK government’s version, they also failed to confirm it. They would only refer to the “toxic chemical compound which displays the properties of a nerve agent” as being found in the biomedical and environmental samples provided to them by the UK government.

One clue as to the reason for this caution is that the samples analysed by the OPCW were said to be of “high purity”, something that is literally impossible if examined weeks after the event. As with Khan Shaykun, evidence and logic did not feature in the responses of either the western governments who expelled Russian diplomats, or the western mainstream media that blamed the Russians. Then as now, the official government version is the least likely scenario of several possible versions.

Had the OPCW properly investigated the incident, and perhaps more importantly released the full details of its investigation, including the real cause of the Skripal’s illness, the Russian blame game would not have travelled the distance that it has.

Only a month after the Salisbury events, and perhaps coincidentally, there was another alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on civilians in the city of Douma.

Douma was an area held by the Al Qaeda linked terrorist group, Jaysh-al-Islam. The Syrian army was on the verge of recapturing the city. Jaysh-al-Islam had a powerful motive to try and enlist the support of the US led “Coalition” that has been illegally occupying Syrian territory since 2015. Australia is a member of that coalition, and the only justification given for that participation (by then Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in November 2015) is simply nonsense from the viewpoint of international law.

At the time of the alleged attack, the western media were full of images of dead persons including children, the claimed activities of the so-called humanitarian White Helmets personnel, and pictures of two cylindrical objects purportedly used to spread the chemical agents that caused the death of the pictured victims.

The OPCW team began its on-site investigations in April-May 2018. It obtained expert assistance from two European universities as well as its own internal experts. The final report was issued on 1st of March 2019, long after western media and politicians had not only taken the view that the Syrian government was responsible, but that it ought to be punished. Part of that response was a missile attack by United States, United Kingdom and French forces long before the OPCW team had commenced, let alone concluded, their investigation. As with the Khan Shaykun missile attack a year earlier, this latest attack was also a breach of international law.

What the OPCW report failed to disclose were the conclusions of an internal report by its own experts of their assessment as to what had actually happened. That suppressed report has now been leaked. Its findings are devastating, not only to the credibility of the OPCW, already damaged by the Khan Shaykun and Salisbury reports, but also to the credibility of the western mainstream media and western politicians.

Both of these groups had sought to blame the Syrian government and its principal backers, Russia Iran and Hezbollah, in the most extreme terms, and utterly without regard to the most basic principles of international law, forensic methodology, and the need to establish an evidential foundation before taking precipitate action which in this case could have had catastrophic consequences.

The suppressed report was signed by Ian Henderson, a senior OPCW staffer since 1998. Dr Henderson’s team applied the laws of physics and engineering to the results of their empirical observations. A detailed analysis of the Henderson report can be found in Paul McKeigue et al Briefing Note on the Final Report of the OPCW Fact-finding Mission on the Alleged Chemical Attack in Douma in April 2018.

The OPCW team led by Dr Henderson inspected the locations where the aforementioned cylinders were found (and widely photographed) as well as the alleged associated damage to the buildings. They concluded that the dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders and the surrounding scenes were inconsistent with those cylinders having been dropped from an aircraft. That they were manually placed where they were photographed “is the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene”.

McKeigue et al referred to the findings set out in their earlier Briefing Note and concluded “these findings, taken together, establish beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018 was staged”.

Those conclusions raised a number of obvious questions. The first is, how did the victims, so graphically displayed, actually die? The forensic evidence clearly shows that these victims were undoubtedly hung upside down, their eyes blindfolded, and then murdered with exposure to a toxic chemical. Their bodies were then transported to the location where they were photographed, to form the pictorial backdrop to the allegations of a chemical attack by Syrian government forces.

The terrorists were the only ones with the means, motive and opportunity to murder these victims and then arrange the scenes for their propaganda purposes. It is an irresistible inference that in these staged scenes they were aided and abetted by the White Helmets. Far from being a neutral humanitarian group, the White Helmets, trained by the British, are not part of the solution; they are part of the problem.

The second question Dr Henderson’s report raises is in two parts: why did the OPCW suppress this report and not include its findings in the OPCW final report released in March 2019; and why have the western media, including Australia, completely failed to report both the fact of the suppression of the crucial evidence in Dr Henderson’s report, and the substance of the fact-finding missions conclusions?

It is a measure of the disgraceful state that the western mainstream media have fallen into, that they refuse to report, much less analyse, vital information that could easily have led to a major war between the United States and its allies (including Australia) and Russia.

At the time that the United States, United Kingdom and France were announcing their intention to attack Syria in retaliation for the Douma incident, the Russian military warned that if the missiles targeted their serviceman they would not only destroy the missiles but the carriers from which they were fired. There is no doubting their capacity to do so (Martyanov Losing Military Supremacy 2018). A full-scale war could easily have eventuated.

The final point is that any future OPCW reports must inevitably be treated with a degree of skepticism. The international community, and undoubtedly the overwhelming majority of the member states that signed the CWC are concerned that such an important body has been compromised in this way. It is not too difficult to infer that political pressure had been applied to all three of the investigations noted here.

It is too much to expect that our mainstream media and the politicians will issue a mea culpa after this latest exposure of their duplicity and sacrifice of principle and probity in pursuit of US geopolitical aims. Perhaps in the future however, they will be less quick to condemn and take actions that could so very easily lead to another war based on lies and imperial hubris.

James O’Neill is an Australian-based Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst.

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Has OPCW Become a Four-Letter Word?

By Martin Jay | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 21, 2019

The information war between those who believe that OPCW investigations in Syria over the chemical attack of Douma in 2018 was staged – verses those who choose to believe the West’s blithe claim that Assad poisoned his own people – is more or less over.

In recent months a number of curious elements of the investigation have been questioned by cynics who don’t swallow the West’s assertion that President Assad was dropping chemicals – sarin or chlorine – on his own people, such as the delay in the reaction of the OPCW itself in getting investigators there on the ground, through to the obvious bias of the way the investigation was handled. There was always a whiff of something quite unsavoury about the probe into the Douma chemical attack, which we should not forget resulted in air strikes being carried out in April of 2018 by France, the US and the UK.

And now we know what it is and a great deal of the mystery around the OPCW and its investigation can now be revealed.

The report was doctored.

Evidence which has emerged this week shows how, critically, engineers who were commissioned to carry out studies more or less immediately after the attack, had their findings blocked from making it into the final report, which was an opaque dossier which failed to really nail Assad, but also carefully avoided any suggestion that the West had set up the whole thing, using its Al Qaeda mercenaries in the region, which had been actually seen a couple of weeks earlier being trained by UK special forces in how to go about using chlorine.

Originally many skeptics such as myself were astounded that so much time had passed before the OPCW seemed to move – given that western figures like the then UK foreign minister Boris Johnson spoke about “evidence” and being “certain” that Assad had carried out the attack.

We now know though why it appeared that they hadn’t sent investigators there on the ground immediately. They had. But their findings proved controversial and didn’t support the West’s narrative that Assad had done the deed.

According to an incendiary report just published by a mostly British academic Assad-leaning group, the engineers’ findings – that the cylinder tanks were almost certainly not dropped from the air – were completely left out of the final report. Crucially, if this element had been put into it, the West would have had to admit that it had really got it wrong on Assad and that its own governments were faking the theatre of war, not to mention the fake news which is fed to MSM outlets in the days after. Who could, after all, forget the BBC report from the hospital showing the victims in agony, which finally was revealed to be staged video footage handed to the BBC who took it hook, line and sinker.

But now the cat is fully out of the bag. The OCPW report itself was also heavily redacted.

“It is hard to overstate the significance of this revelation. The war-machine has now been caught red-handed in a staged chemical weapons attack for the purposes of deceiving our democracies into what could have turned into a full-scale war amongst the great-powers” says firebrand maverick politico George Galloway on twitter.

But if this report is correct in its assertions, then we can be sure that most of what is being reported by western media is entirely false and part of a longer term strategy to build the case against Iran to carry out a strike “defending” the West. Just in the last few days there are reports of John Bolton planning to send 120,000 US troops to the region to intimidate Iran into accepting the demands of Trump over its weapons program. This coincides with an elaborate series of minor fake news stories over Iran presenting itself as a “threat” to the US, justifying a US aircraft carrier being sent to the Persian Gulf amidst tensions from reports of Iran moving troops to prepare itself to be on the receiving end of a strike. And then the oil tankers attacked off the UAE shores which the same fake news machine is hinting was done by Iran – which most seasoned hacks know could have easily been staged by the Saudis or Emiratis [or Mossad]. It’s interesting how no one was hurt in the so-called attacks.

But if the OPCW can get away with this report and its false assertion, then it’s hard to see how we can expect to understand what is really happening in the middle east if we are to rely on reporters working for western agencies who are happy to play their role in this nefarious ruse of Trump’s. If the truth about Douma is as ghastly as we are led to believe – i.e staged by the West so as to build the case against Iran and its proxies – then we shouldn’t be remotely surprised by the histrionics of tankers being attacked in the same region, with no casualties and Iran being accused, with no evidence. It’s hard to not be shocked by the implications of the doctored report and harder to understand how biased and poor western newsrooms have become over reporting on the region, with the BBC continuing to plummet in terms of standards of fact checking. The lack of on air corrections is also hardly edifying. We’re living in a new era, with a new syndrome. And it’s called O.P.C.W.

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

OPCW Confirm Leaked Report is Genuine

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | May 16, 2019

The leaked OPCW report appears to have been confirmed genuine.

The report, titled “Engineering Assessment of Two Cylinders Observed at Douma Incident”, came to public prominence a few days ago after The Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media released their analysis of the text.

Since then it has gotten a lot of play all across the alternate media (you can read our original report here, but there were many others too).

It has received virtually zero coverage in the mainstream media, of course. And that doesn’t appear likely to change any time soon.

The report spells out, in unambiguous language, that the two chlorine gas canisters were likely planted, rather than dropped from a helicopter.

In summary, observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being dropped.”

This finding adds to the pile of evidence which makes it appear very likely the whole event was staged.

The only question was whether or not the document could be confirmed genuine. And now it has been.

Peter Hitchens, for a long time the only mainstream voice to express any doubts about the “official narrative” on Douma, wrote to the OPCW to ask about the leaked report.

He wrote a column about it. We suggest you read it, but the most important passage, taken directly from an OPCW statement, is this:

Pursuant to its established policies and practices, the OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.

Note the language. Nowhere is it disputing either the findings of the document, nor the veracity. Instead, they are “conducting an investigation” into its “unauthorised release”.

That is as close to an admission as makes no difference. For now, we can safely conclude the document is real, and the findings genuine.

That means, not only that the Douma “chemical attack” was likely staged, but that the OPCW knew this and chose to cover it up.

A very distressing series of events, and one that could easily have lead to an all-out war between Syria, Russia and NATO.

We welcome the OPCW’s admission that this document is genuine. However, we would suggest the question is not “How was it leaked?”, but rather “Why was it suppressed in the first place?”

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , | Leave a comment

Assessment by the engineering sub-team of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission investigating the alleged chemical attack in Douma in April 2018

1 Introduction

In our Briefing note on the Final Report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission on the Douma incident, we noted that the FFM had sought assessments in October 2018 from unidentified engineering experts on the “the trajectory and damage to the cylinders found at Locations 2 and 4”. The Final Report provided no explanation for why the FFM had not sought engineering assessments in April 2018, when the experts could have inspected the sites with cylinders in position, rather than six months later when inspection of the sites with cylinders in position was no longer possible and the assessments had to rely on images and measurements obtained by others. We raised this as an obvious anomaly.

OPCW staff members have communicated with the Working Group. We have learned that an investigation was undertaken by an engineering sub-team of the FFM, beginning with on-site inspections in April-May 2018, followed by a detailed engineering analysis including collaboration on computer modelling studies with two European universities. The report of this investigation was excluded from the published Final Report of the Fact-Finding Mission, which referred only to assessments sought from unidentified “engineering experts” commissioned in October 2018 and obtained in December 2018.

A copy of a 15-page Executive Summary of this report with the title “Engineering Assessment of two cylinders observed at the Douma incident” has been passed to us and we have posted it here. Please download and share this document via your own server if you link to it, so as not to overload our server.

We are studying this document, and encourage others with relevant expertise to contribute. We provide some initial comments below:

2 Commentary on the Engineering Assessment

The report is signed by Ian Henderson, who is listed as one of the first P-5 level inspection team leaders trained at OPCW in a report dated 1998. We have confirmed that as the engineering expert on the FFM, Henderson was assigned to lead the investigation of the cylinders and alleged impact sites at Locations 2 and 4. We understand that “TM” in the handwritten annotation denotes Team Members of the FFM.

In response to an enquiry on 11 May 2019, the OPCW press office stated that “the individual mentioned in the document has never been a member of the FFM”. This statement is false. The engineering sub-team could not have been carrying out studies in Douma at Locations 2 and 4 unless they had been notified by OPCW to the Syrian National Authority (the body that oversees compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention) as FFM inspectors: it is unlikely that Henderson arrived on a tourist visa.

The OPCW press office also attempted to suggest that the report of the engineering sub-team was not part of the FFM’s investigation. This statement also is false. The sub-team report refers to external collaborators and consultants: we understand that this included two European universities. This external collaboration on such a sensitive matter could not have gone ahead unless it had been authorised: otherwise Henderson would have been dismissed instantly for breach of confidentiality. We can therefore be confident that the preparation of the report had received the necessary authorisation within OPCW. What happened after the report was written is another matter.

2.1 Methodology

As we have repeatedly emphasized, evidence can be evaluated only by comparison of competing hypotheses. This is a corollary of the likelihood principle, which can be derived from simple rules of logical consistency.

We noted that a key weakness of the published Final Report was that no competing hypotheses were considered. Thus the Final Report stated that engineering experts were asked to provide assessments of the “trajectory” of each of the two cylinders found: implying that they were not asked to assess whether the holes in the roof and the positions of the cylinders could be accounted for by anything other than cylinders being dropped from the sky.

The FFM’s Engineering Assessment does not make this error: competing hypotheses are clearly set out in advance.

  • For Location 2 (cylinder on roof terrace lying over a hole), the alternative hypotheses are stated as:
    • (2-1) the cylinder containing liquid chlorine was dropped from an aircraft, pierced the roof to form the hole and the impact fractured the valve causing release of chlorine.
    • (2-2) the cylinder was placed on the terrace next to a pre-existing crater
  • For Location 4 (cylinder on bed), the alternative hypothesis are stated as:
    • (4-1) the cylinder fitted with frame and fins was dropped from an aircraft, pierced the roof to form the hole, fell through the hole and was deflected laterally to end up on the bed, while the valve remained intact
    • (4-2) the cylinder fitted with frame and fins pierced the roof as for hypothesis (1), landed on the floor below the hole and was placed on the bed
    • (4-3) the cylinder fitted with frame and fins was placed on the bed, and the hole in the roof was created (by unspecified means) either before or after the cylinder was placed on the bed

2.2 Results: Location 2

  • An impact angle of approximately 20 degrees from the vertical “was found to be required for results to bear any resemblance to observations”
  • A concrete slab could not have stopped a cylinder falling at such an angle from a height of at least 500 metres. The front of the cylinder showed no sign of interaction with the concrete slab.
  • If the cylinder had been stopped by the steel reinforcing bars (rebars), this would have left indents on the cylinder, but no such indents were observed.
  • Modelling the impact of a falling cylinder could not reproduce the bending of the rebars to an angle of more than 90 degrees to point away from the impact. This was more consistent with an explosive blast.

The results of the modelling studies were summarized with the following sentence:

All the elements listed above point to the conclusion that the alleged impact event or events leading to observed vessel deformation and concrete damage were not compatible.

A criss-cross pattern on the paintwork of the cylinder body, that had been attributed by some observers to the cylinder falling through the wire mesh, was inconsistent with the near-vertical angle of incidence that would have been required to create the crater.

Experts consulted to assess the appearance of the crater took the view that it was more consistent with a blast (from a mortar round or rocket artillery) than with an impact from the falling object. Similar craters were present in concrete slabs on top of nearby buildings.

The mangled remains of the steel frame and fins found on the terrace were not consistent with the appearance of the cylinder, which showed no signs of having been fitted with such a frame or of the frame having been stripped from the cylinder as a result of impact.

2.3 Results: Location 4

  • The analysis of Location 4, where a cylinder was found on a bed, showed that the cylinder with intact valve and fins attached could not have fitted through the hole in the roof:

it was not possible to establish a set of circumstances where the post-deformation cylinder could fit through the crater with the valve still intact (whether or not an end-cap was assumed to have been fitted at the front end of the cylinder), and the fins deformed in the manner observed.

2.4 Conclusions of the Engineering Assessment

In summary:

  • The analysis at Location 4 showed simply that the cylinder with fins and valve attached could not have fitted through the hole.
  • The analysis at Location 2, using finite element analysis and computer simulation, was more complicated. This showed that the concrete slab could not have stopped the cylinder, that if the cylinder had been stopped by the rebars there would have been indents on the cylinder, and that an impact could not have bent the rebars through more than 90 degrees to point away from the impact location.

We note that several of the anomalies reported by the Engineering Assessment have been identified independently from open source images by members of the Working Group: these include the inability to fit the cylinder through the hole at Location 4, the presence of similar craters on nearby buildings at Location 2, and the incompatibility of the criss-cross pattern on the paintwork of the cylinder with a fall through wire mesh.

The results from both locations are summarized in paragraph 32:

The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft. In each case the alternative hypothesis produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.

3 Implications of the Engineering Assessment combined with other findings

The conclusion of the Engineering Assessment is unequivocal: the alternative hypothesis that the cylinders were manually placed in position is “the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene”.

Our last Briefing Note listed two other key findings:

  • It is no longer seriously disputed that the hospital scene was staged: there are multiple eyewitness reports supported by video evidence
  • The case fatality rate of 100%, with no attempt by the victims to escape, is unlike any recorded chlorine attack.

Taken together, these findings establish beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018 was staged.

This raises the question of where and how did the 35 victims seen in the images recorded at location 2 die? The images show signs of acute inhalation injury with blood and mucus flowing from the nose and mouth of most victims. Even though faces had apparently been washed to remove most of the mucus, yellow staining of the skin remained.

A few weeks before the release of the Final Report, two journalists appeared to suggest that there had been an earlier chemical attack somewhere else in Douma, perhaps attempting to prepare a fallback position in case the Final Report were to indicate that the scenes at Location 2 and 4 had been staged. This is to say the least an implausible explanation of the staging at Locations 2 and 4 – why move the bodies of the victims to Location 2 for a staged scene, rather than show the real chemical attack scene if there was one?

As emphasized above, in a real chemical attack with chlorine or any other irritant gas, most victims would try to escape and non-fatal cases requiring prolonged hospital treatment would far outnumber fatal cases. The images of the victims seen at Location 2 show that they were evidently exposed to an irritant gas but were unable to escape. A careful examination of these images leaves little doubt that the victims were murdered as captives. The staining of the victims’ faces by mucus flowing from their noses and mouths shows in at least some cases the mucus flowed up their faces towards the eyes. This implies that they were hung upside down while exposed to the agent. Bizarrely, the eyes of most victims appear to have been masked so that the eyes were not affected by gas or mucus. In a few victims there are visible strap marks suggesting that the eyes were protected by something like swimming goggles. A possible motive for masking the eyes may have been to make it less obvious that the victims had suffered prolonged exposure to an irritant gas.

We conclude that the staging of the Douma incident entailed mass murder of at least 35 civilians to provide the bodies at Location 2. It follows from this that people dressed as White Helmets and endorsed by the leadership of that organization had a key role in this murder.

We note that the Douma incident was the first alleged chemical attack in Syria where OPCW investigators were able to carry out an unimpeded on-site inspection. Since 2014, OPCW Fact-Finding Missions investigating alleged chemical attacks in opposition-held territory have relied for evidence on witnesses and materials collected by opposition-linked NGOs of doubtful provenance, including the CBRN Task Force, the Chemical Violations Documentation Centre Syria, and the White Helmets. Even for the investigation of the Ghouta incident in 2013, the OPCW-WHO mission was able to visit the the alleged attack sites for only a few hours, and was under the close supervision of the armed opposition. For those who until now have been prepared to accept the findings of OPCW Fact-Finding Missions that did not include on-site inspections, the finding that the Douma incident was staged, based on a careful on-site inspection, should cast doubt on the findings of these earlier Missions.

4 The hijacking of OPCW

In our last Briefing Note, we concluded by asserting that “It is doubtful whether [OPCW’s] reputation as an impartial monitor of compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention can be restored without radical reform of its governance and working practices”. The new information we have removes all doubt that the organization has been hijacked at the top by France, UK and the US. We have no doubt that most OPCW staff continue to do their jobs professionally, and that some who are uneasy about the direction that the organization has taken nevertheless wish to protect its reputation. However what is at stake here is more than the reputation of the organization: the staged incident in Douma provoked a missile attack by the US, UK and France on 14 April 2018 that could have led to all-out war.

The cover-up of evidence that the Douma incident was staged is not merely misconduct. As the staging of the Douma incident entailed mass murder of civilians, those in OPCW who have suppressed the evidence of staging are, unwittingly or otherwise, colluding with mass murder. We think that in most jurisdictions the legal duty to disclose the cover-up of such a crime would override any confidentiality agreement with an employer. We would welcome legal opinions on this, given publicly, by those with relevant expertise. OPCW employees have to sign a strict confidentiality agreement, and face instant dismissal and loss of pension rights if they breach this agreement. We would welcome any initiative to set up a legal defence fund for OPCW staff members who come forward publicly as whistleblowers.

5 Acknowledgements

We thank the OPCW staff members who have communicated with us at considerable personal risk. We undertake to protect the identities of any sources who communicate with us. Emails to our protonmail addresses, if sent from another protonmail account (free to set up), are secure. We thank also the other open-source investigators and journalists who publicly questioned the official line on the Douma incident and thus created the climate for OPCW staff members to come forward.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , | Leave a comment