The Alternative Skripal Narrative

February 17, 2019

by Michael Antony for The Saker Blog

The Alternative Skripal Narrative

The recent titbit fed to us by Bellingcat (reputedly close to MI6) that a third Russian agent was booked on the flight from Heathrow to Moscow on the night of 4th March 2018 — the flight taken by the two alleged GRU officers filmed in Salisbury — but didn’t show up for it, has pointed to a possible solution to the baffling Skripal puzzle. What if the third man, or perhaps the man who was supposed to take his place, was by then lying in Salisbury Hospital in a coma from opiate poisoning? What if Sergei Skripal was a triple agent trying to escape back to Russia to tell the world the truth about the Steele Dossier, which he had helped to concoct as a scurrilous, obscene joke and which had unexpectedly become the new bible of the insane war party in Washington?

This is the alternative narrative I will set out in detail here so that the reader can judge whether it forms a more plausible and coherent story than the mishmash of improbabilities, absurdities and contradictions served up by the British police and MI6. Of course in the absence of all the facts we must sometimes use imaginative reconstruction to fill in the gaps, but the point is to see how many thorny problems, raised by the facts we do have, can be solved by this narrative and cannot be solved by the official one.

It is not necessary to decide whether Skripal was a triple agent from the start (that is, a plant sent across in a spy swap, a classic Cold War way of infiltrating the enemy) or whether he became a triple agent when he realized how important this grotesque Steele Dossier had become and how much the Russians would pay him to come back and demolish it. What evidence there is (his phone call in 2012 to his old school friend, Vladimir Timoshkov, whose account of it three weeks after the poisoning gained widespread UK media coverage) suggests he started out as a purely mercenary traitor. Disillusioned by the collapse of the USSR into a gangster capitalist state run by Yeltsin’s mafia cronies, he decided he might as well profit from it by selling the corpse of what had once been his country to the highest bidder. The Russians didn’t seem to think of him as much more than a common criminal (only worth a moderate 13-year sentence, instead of the death penalty he would have got in the USA for betraying 300 agents) or they wouldn’t have let him survive six years in their prison. Perhaps when they exchanged him in the spy swap they gave him a wink and said: “Since you’re just a money-grubbing whore, any time you want to come back with some interesting stuff learned from working for MI6, let us know and we’ll discuss the price.”

He soon got to learn that interesting stuff when he was sent to Salisbury, the home town of his MI6 recruiter and handler, Pablo Miller. Miller had recruited him in Spain in 1995 and later handled him from Estonia, when he was posted there as a diplomat. It is a little too much to believe Skripal’s move to Salisbury was a coincidence. The two men became friends again, met regularly in the pub, and there is every reason to think Miller resumed his role as handler. Miller was now working for Christopher Steele, his old boss at MI6, in his private intelligence firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, based in Mayfair. This is one of the private intelligence-gathering outfits run by ex-spies of the kind Litvinenko used to work for. Just as Litvinenko got Lugovoy (his accused assassin) to help him out with due diligence reports on Russian businessmen because of his more up-to-date information, so Miller would have used Skripal in the same way. His help became vital when Steele got the commission from the Democratic Party to dig up Russian dirt on Donald Trump, and they had to invent some GRU set-up of the Donald with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. Miller, the old Russia hand, would have done a good part of the work on this dossier and would have needed all the authentic detail his Russian agent could provide. Perhaps it was Skripal who came up with the scenario of Trump getting prostitutes to urinate on the bed the Obamas had slept in, which hidden cameras filmed. He must at least have given it his imprimatur as a typical GRU blackmail ploy to turn somebody into an asset. And that obscene fiction, the core of the Steele Dossier, became the basis of the neo-con legend that Trump was a Russian stooge — the insane underpinning of the whole mad Mueller probe into “Russian collusion”.

When Sergei the mercenary realized the vast importance this farcical, obscene Steele Dossier had taken on, that it was gospel truth for the whole anti-Trump, anti-Russia war party in Washington, he began to see how much it might be worth to the Russian state to blow it sky-high. If he were to describe on a prime-time Russian talk-show how he invented these obscene details over a beer with Miller and Steele in a pub, it would not only have all of Russia rolling on the floor with laughter. Heads would roll in Washington. The neo-con war party would become a laughing-stock. MI6 would be run out of town. Steele might face FBI perjury charges. The CIA might have its budget cut. Trump would be able to talk to Putin again. And the rewards for Sergei might be considerable. Not only seeing his 90-year old mother again, but perhaps even a swanky villa with a sea-view in Crimea or Sochi instead of that dank, shabby row-house in darkest Salisbury.

Was it Sergei who broached this subject to Yulia on one of her visits to Britain, or was she recruited by the GRU to put it to him? My bet is the latter, since after the poisoning her cousin Viktoria claimed Yulia’s new boyfriend and his mother both worked for the Russian secret services (before disappearing from view.) With all of Sergei’s communications monitored by MI6, the only way he had of talking to the GRU was through his daughter, living back in Russia again but able to visit Britain. Through her he must have managed to negotiate a deal for his return. Somehow MI6 got wind of their plans — perhaps Yulia, not a trained spy, was a bit naive or careless about listening devices. Steele became convinced they had made an escape plan for Sergei, to be carried out next time she visited Salisbury.

The thing that proves this was a British crime not a Russian one is the fact that Yulia was a prime target. The Russians had no motive to eliminate her, but if they had, they could have done it in Russia with a simple road accident with no questions asked. Only the British had to do it in Britain, since they didn’t have the resources in place to do it in Russia. And if she was not a prime target but collateral damage, why was Sergei not attacked when he was alone? Why wait for her to visit him? The fact they were both targeted the day after she arrived in Britain puts MI6’s signature all over it. She was a danger to MI6 because she knew of Sergei’s plan to return to Russia and trash the Steele Dossier, and she had to be stopped from revealing this to the world when he was killed. Silencing her at the same time was just as important to MI6 as silencing him.

To imagine that Putin would have ordered the assassination of an old double agent whom he had held for six years in prison (with ample opportunities to arrange his death) and then pardoned and swapped in a spy swap (part of the rules of the spying game on which his own life had been based), a week before the Russian elections and three months before the Football World Cup in Russia, which he hoped would lead to Russia’s re-acceptance into the community of nations, makes no sense. It carried only huge risks for a negligible benefit, and Putin does not take pointless risks, as his consistent prudence in Syria, even when his forces have been attacked, has shown. Compare the enormous gains this crime brought Britain. This assassination (as it was meant to be) gave MI6 a perfect opportunity to frame the Russians and incite a new anti-Russia frenzy to sabotage their celebratory Football World Cup (compared by the British Foreign Secretary to Hitler’s Olympics.) It would also show the EU Britain’s value as an anti-Putin cheerleader, bringing Europe and Britain together in an anti-Russia hate-week to distract from their Brexit quarrel, and uniting a fractious parliament behind a floundering leader. With any luck it would derail the Nordstream2 gas pipeline, a priority target for the US neo-con plan to ruin Russia’s economy, overthrow the regime and break up the country — goals MI6 fully shared, as their propaganda wing, the Integrity Initiative, has since made clear. In fact MI6’s plans to work for the total isolation and economic ruin of Russia, including sporting bans and ending cultural exchanges, date from 2015 and were leaked recently by Anonymous. The enormous preponderance of motivation on the British side, as well as the low risk in carrying out such a crime on their own turf with a grovelling press, a brainwashed public and tame police, point clearly to MI6 as the perpetrators.

Steele probably turned to his CIA friends for suggestions on how to frame Russia. They came up with novichok. This nerve agent invented by a Soviet chemist who later moved to the US and published the formula could be pinned on Russia as a uniquely Russian “chemical weapon.” Never mind that any decent laboratory could produce it, as a chemistry professor at Cornell has testified. Never mind that the British-invented nerve agent VX had been used to assassinate Kim Yong-Un’s half-brother in Kuala Lumpur Airport without Malaysia screaming that Britain must have done it. Russia is different. Hysterical hatred can be instantly incited against Russia by the MI6-controlled media and MI6-brainwashed politicians. Anyone who doubts Russia’s guilt can be vilified as a Putin stooge. Whether the novichok was sent over from the US by courier or produced at Porton Down is not important. What is important is that MI6’s attempt to kill the Skripals with novichok failed disastrously.

Let’s take the famous Nina Ricci perfume bottle, laced with novichok, which was found in a rubbish bin or charity bin by a homeless man and given weeks later to his woman friend, who tragically died after spraying it on her wrist. The police/MI6 narrative is that this perfume bottle was used to transport the novichok from Russia in the baggage of one of the alleged GRU men caught on CCTV in Salisbury. The novichok was then sprayed on the door handle of the Skripals’ house. The assassins then callously threw away the bottle (which they knew contained enough novichok to kill more people) in a dustbin or charity bin, demonstrating their indifference to loss of life as well as their indifference to leaving clues all over the place. There are problems with this narrative.

The homeless man claimed he had found the perfume bottle still in its box sealed in cellophane, proof it was not reopened after it had been laced with novichok and professionally repackaged. The bottle could not therefore have been used (as claimed) to spray the novichok on the doorknob, or the cellophane seal would have been broken. Assassins far from home don’t usually carry around cellophane-wrapping machines to repackage opened perfume bottles, especially when they are just going to chuck them in the bin. Nor would they take the risk, having fitted the separate spray nozzle onto the bottle and sprayed the doorknob, of disassembling it again to put it back in the box, knowing that a drop on their skin would kill them. And where would they perform this delicate operation? On the street? This poisoned perfume bottle was therefore never reopened, never used and it affected nobody until it ended up in the hands of the homeless man. So who or what was it intended for?

Ladies’ perfume bottles are normally intended for women. How many women are there in this story? Only one. The only possible explanation for the existence of this unopened, unused bottle of perfume laced with novichok is that it was a poisoned gift meant for Yulia Skripal. Why didn’t she open it? Because she had a spy father who took one look at it and said: “Don’t touch it!”

So here is the alternative narrative. MI6 had the bright idea of putting novichok in a Nina Ricci perfume bottle and sending it as a birthday present to Yulia Skripal at her father’s house. Her birthday was on 17th March, but the present was probably delivered on the 3rd, the day she arrived, so as to nip their escape plan in the bud. It was meant to seem like a present from her family or boyfriend. No doubt the parcel had Russian stamps on it, designed to frame the Russian state when the Skripals were found dead in their house with an open perfume bottle in Yulia’s hands. Unfortunately for MI6, Sergei took one look at this Nina Ricci perfume bottle and his spy instincts smelled danger. He refused to open it, but instead went for a long walk with it and put it in a rubbish bin or charity bin half-way across town. There it was found by the homeless man and given to his woman friend, a victim of MI6’s murderous callousness. Even after MI6 knew it had gone missing, they did not warn the public to beware of picking up a Nina Ricci perfume bottle because they didn’t want to give themselves away as the assassins.

The failure of the perfume bottle to kill the Skripals must have alarmed MI6. They followed the pair around Salisbury the next day. Where did they go? We can’t be sure since we have not been given all the CCTV footage. But let us engage in some more imaginative reconstruction to cover the gaps. The Skripals’ car made some unexplained journeys towards the outskirts of the town. The two alleged GRU men caught on Salisbury’s CCTV walked in some unexplained directions, with not a scrap of evidence they came within half a kilometre of the Skripals’ home. What if the two unexplained journeys intersected? Not necessarily in time but in place. What if they met at that hoary cliché of spy stories, the dead drop, the discreet delivery point for a package? The hole-in-a-garden-wall just big enough to hide something? A Mossad spy, commenting on the British police narrative, said that no GRU assassination team would ever have flown direct from Russia using Russian passports. But a support team delivering a package? Why not? What did they risk?

Now what would the GRU need to deliver to Sergei Skripal to help him escape from Britain back to Russia? Clearly, a passport. MI6, once they suspected his loyalty, would have put him on an airport watch list. He would need a passport in a false name to get out, and perhaps a flight ticket to Moscow in the same name so he wouldn’t need to make an internet booking, easily spied on. But the passport could not be blank. It needed a UK visa and entry stamp. So the third Russian agent who Bellingcat now tells us didn’t show up for the flight back to Moscow must have intended his seat to be taken by Sergei Skripal, who would use the passport and visa which he had flown in with a few days before (delivered to Sergei by his two colleagues at the dead drop that day.) Either Sergei and the third man bore a sufficient physical resemblance or passport photos were switched by an expert forger in London. Unfortunately, though Sergei now had a usable passport, he was hit before he made it to the flight.

MI6, after the failure of the perfume bottle attempt, knew they had to act fast to stop the Skripals driving to the airport. Once they observed the package delivery at the dead drop, they would have guessed it was a passport. There was now no chance of using novichok. The Skripals were unlikely to return home and pack a bag, so they had to be knocked out in a public place. Using novichok and risking the lives of dozens of other people was too much even for MI6. So they decided to spray them in the street with an opiate like Fentanyl, and later on to add novichok to the blood samples they sent to Porton Down for analysis (without of course any controlled chain of custody except their own.)

We know that the Skipals were knocked out with an opiate and not a nerve agent because of a simple incident — in fact, a slip-up. The first person on the scene when the Skripals collapsed on their bench was an army nurse, the Chief Nursing Officer of the British Army, Colonel Alison McCourt, accompanied by her teenage daughter, Abigail. Does anyone believe she was there by chance and was not part of the MI6 team following the Skripals about and looking for an opportunity to drug them discreetly? Now Colonel McCourt had long experience both with Ebola in Sierra Leone and with the danger of chemical weapons during her service in Iraq, where protection against nerve agents was a priority. She knew the enormous precautions required in approaching a victim of a nerve agent attack. Yet Colonel McCourt encouraged her daughter to rush over to the collapsed Skripals and begin administering first aid to them, something very dangerous if a nerve agent had been used. She later even recommended Abigail for a medal for heroism for her action, which is why it got into the papers. How did Colonel McCourt know that a nerve agent had not been used on the Skripals, unless she was part of the team that had sprayed them with an opiate? Would she have allowed her daughter to touch the Skipals unless she was sure there was no nerve agent present? This is what is known as a smoking gun.

There has been extraordinary silence in the mainstream media about the fact that none of the first responders or the Salisbury Hospital staff were in any way affected by the deadliest nerve agent known to man, even though no precautions were taken against it for at least two days. The nurses assumed they were dealing with an opiate overdose. When the blood test results came back from Porton Down showing novichok present in the blood samples, the hazmat suits were donned and the hospital allegedly went into panic mode. We can assume most of this was a charade. Sergeant Bailey, allegedly contaminated with novichok though the police can’t decide where, recounts in the Panorama BBC film shown in November that the nurses who cared for him wore full hazmat suits, but his wife and children wandered in to see him wearing no protection at all. Clearly the nurses were engaging in an MI6-mandated charade but couldn’t bear to impose it on his family because they knew there was no novichok present. Bailey, no doubt also drugged by an opiate, had been selected as a fake British victim to stir up more indignation against Russia, and to add further fake proof that novichok had been used, which the total absence of contamination of first responders might cast doubt on. As part of this charade, all the poor man’s furniture and belongings were destroyed by the heartless brutes of MI6, which he recounts in tears, in order to incite more irrational hatred of Russia — which the British public, the most brainwashed on earth, came up with on cue.

Of course the failure of the perfume bottle assassination attempt, and the need to switch drugs and use an opiate instead of novichok, left MI6 and the police with the task of explaining how the phantom novichok was administered. The farcical story they finally came up with, that it was sprayed on the Skripals’ front door handle with the perfume bottle, has convinced nobody except the brainwashed masses. Even the clownish Foreign Secretary’s story that MI6 had shown him a Russian spy handbook which described how their spies had recently been practising putting novichok on door handles (a technical skill obviously requiring weeks of training and about to be unleashed en masse against Britain’s unsuspecting doorknobs) but unfortunately he couldn’t produce this handbook as it was classified, left people howling with laughter. It was worthy of a Monty Python sketch, something the Russians, who are great fans of British comedy, must have appreciated.

The idea that assassins could walk up to the front door of a terraced house in broad daylight, a door with clear glass panels in the middle and on both sides of it, so that anyone outside is visible from the hallway, and spray the doorknob with novichok while the Skripals were inside and their car was in the driveway, is simply not believable. These professional assassins did not even have a car or even bicycles to make a getaway if seen. And the two police versions of what time the attackers did this, first of all at 9.15 before the Skripals left home and then at 1.30 (after the police revised their timeline to fit the train schedule of the two Russians caught on CCTV) would both have left many hours’ delay before this deadly nerve agent took effect at 4.15 that afternoon.

We are asked to believe that two people of very different size, a man of 66 and a girl half that age, fell unconscious at the exact same moment either seven hours or three hours after being poisoned with a deadly “military grade” nerve agent. Why this delayed effect? Would this be useful in a battlefield chemical weapon — let’s leave the enemy active for several hours? And how to get a simultaneous collapse many hours later? No explanation. And if novichok was used to attack the Skripals, why was Abigail McCourt not affected when she gave them first aid and why did her highly trained army nurse mother allow her to touch victims of a deadly nerve agent?

The intelligent people who work in Salisbury Hospital cannot possibly be dupes to this grotesque deception, riddled with impossibilities. They are therefore accomplices and criminally responsible. I believe many of the hospital staff suspected MI6 was staging this whole thing but went along with it because of the high level of Cold War, anti-Russian brainwashing of the British population. They saw it as an exciting spy game they were taking part in with their wonderful secret services who had Won the War and Saved the World. It was a question of loyalty to Britain to defend this criminal lie. They must have suspected the Skripals’ blood samples had been laced afterwards with novichok. Perhaps the OPCW did too, since they claimed the traces of novichok were “very pure”. Was that a hint it had never been through any human body? One can sympathize with the Russians for trying to hack the laboratory computers to find out if any of the experts had expressed doubts to each other or suspicions the OPCW had set this up. Since they knew they were victims of a shameless NATO conspiracy to frame them, all they could do was try to expose it by any means they had.

The Russians’ patience and calm in the face of this campaign of lies and hate have been almost saint-like. If the West is not wiped out by the nuclear war they are constantly pushing for with Russia, then one day Britain and all the other NATO vassal states which wrongfully expelled droves of Russian diplomats will have to make Russia an abject apology and pay compensation for the misery caused the Russian people by their illegal sanctions. Is it too much to hope that some people at Salisbury Hospital or in the local police who know the truth will have the courage sooner or later to come forward and expose this vile warmongering deception, and the totalitarian media manipulation by the sinister forces that secretly govern Britain? Do they spare a thought for the Skripals and the state they are in right now — held incommunicado without any charge against them, not represented by any lawyer, and unable to communicate with their family or the public? Surely they are not fooled by that scripted video? Where are the human rights campaigners protesting against this totalitarian sequestration? What world are they living in? Has it not occurred to them that in the era of MI6’s proven involvement in torture, whether in Guantanamo, Abu Graib, black sites or extraordinary rendition to places where people can be tortured to death, Yulia Skripal might be listening every night to her father whimpering in the next cell as the voice goes on repeating: “You Ruskie bastard, tell us when you started lying to us.”

The official narrative about the Skripals has been shot full of holes by various dissident commentators in the alternative media. That always begs the question: well, so what really happened? The above alternative narrative, combining both the known facts and speculations to cover the gaps where the facts are still missing, should allow the reader to judge its overall plausibility, compared to the official one. To prove an alternative narrative to the criminal’s story, a prosecutor does not need to establish every single event in the chain, many of which will remain unknown. He only needs to prove that certain key events in the criminal’s narrative are contrary to the known facts, and that these facts are compatible with the alternative narrative. The key facts in this case are the state of the Nina Ricci perfume bottle, clearly never opened after it was laced with novichok and repackaged, and therefore never used to spray novichok anywhere; the impossibility of a deadly nerve agent having a three hour delay in its effects and then affecting two very different people at the same moment; the unlikelihood of a senior army nurse allowing her daughter to touch victims of a nerve agent; the unlikelihood novichok was used (rather than an opiate), given the lack of any effect on the first responders, and the fact Sergeant Bailey’s children were allowed to approach him without wearing hazmat suits, which the nurses, however, wore.

Put those basic problems in the official narrative together with the speed with which the UK government blamed Russia for this event, when there was no more link between Russia and novichok than between Britain and the use of British-invented VX nerve agent to assassinate Kim Yong Un’s half-brother in Kuala Lumpur airport. No nerve agent whose formula has been published is the monopoly of any nation, nor does its use incriminate any nation. This rush to judgment reveals a premeditated plan by Britain to use this event to sabotage Russia’s Football World Cup (which they compared to Hitler’s Olympics) as part of a long-term British goal to isolate, discredit and economically ruin Russia. The need for MI6 to prevent Skripal exposing the Steele Dossier, produced by Skripal’s MI6 handlers, since it would show the degree of Britain’s cynical interference in the American election to discredit Trump and destroy any rapprochement with Russia, formed the motive for MI6 to commit murder, for which it has a considerable reputation. Combining the two things, killing the Skripals and crucifying Russia for it, was no doubt seen as a great coup by MI6. It was seen as even more ingenious to follow up this alleged “chemical weapons” attack on British soil with the fake chemical attack at Douma staged by the White Helmets, founded and financed by MI6. This was aimed at relaunching the war to overthrow Assad and dismantle Syria, giving the Americans and the Israelis its oil fields, and allowing Qatari gas to be piped to Europe to replace Russian gas. All of these fit Britain’s and NATO’s known strategic goals. The speed of the knee-jerk response of NATO countries in expelling Russian diplomats, without any debate or demand for evidence in any parliament, raises the suspicion that this was planned not by MI6 alone but jointly with the CIA and other NATO secret services, which largely control supposedly democratic governments.

The continued NATO harassment, sanctions and campaigns of lies and false accusations against Russia, including the blatant war rhetoric of the British Defence Secretary, do not bode well for the future. For the US to tear up nuclear arms treaties and then blame Russia is beyond shameful: it is destroying all possibility of negotiations to avert war. The Kerch Strait incident staged by the puppet regime in Kiev, sending gunboats into the Kerch Strait without observing the 2003 Protocol requiring them to notify in advance the Port of Kerch (a protocol observed by the dozens of ships that go through the Strait peacefully every day) was clearly part of a NATO plan to set up a major naval clash in the Black Sea. That clash (followed by an attempt to recapture Crimea or at least blow up its magnificent bridge, a reproach to a man who cannot even build a wall) may be expected in coming months, perhaps as a distraction from Brexit or a way of derailing it. NATO, in short, is on a clear trajectory towards war with Russia, which their deluded worldview convinces them they can win. Their initial use of Russia as a scapegoat and bogeyman to unite the NATO vassals against a common threat, keeping Europe in subjection to America, has got out of hand, and is heading, under the impetus of hysterical rhetoric, towards actual war. Unless decent people unite to stop this escalation then the nuclear catastrophe will occur. Exposing the barefaced lie of the Skripal false flag attack may be a step towards averting that global cataclysm.

Michael Antony is a writer based in Switzerland, and his next book, about the coming nuclear war, is called Requiem for America. He has a blog, michaelantonyblog@wordpress.com

Uri Geller and Roseanne Barr to Use ‘Telepathic Powers’ to Stop Corbyn

February 01, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

corbyn geller.jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

Those who have appointed themselves to speak in the name of British Jews are determined to use any means to stop Corbyn. And they are not alone. Now, we learn from the rabid Zionist Jewish Chronicle that Israeli born psychic and spoon bender Uri Geller is firmly committed to stopping the Labour leader from becoming our PM.

Geller spoke in Jerusalem on a panel with Roseanne Barr at an event chaired by American rabbi, Shmuley Boteach. In answer to a question about the Labour Party leader, Mr. Geller told the Jerusalem audience:

“I have no problem in saying he is an antisemite. God forbid if he takes control.”

Rabbi Boteach asked Geller if he thought his celebrity status might be harmed by speaking out and calling Mr. Corbyn an antisemite.

“With all my telepathic powers I am not going to let that happen,” Geller said. “I have charisma, if I said it, I would say it in the right way. I would have to say it live on TV in Britain and feel the Jewish people looking at me.”

Ms Barr, could not resist. She said she too would support Mr Geller with her own “telepathic powers.”

This peculiar public exchange among three Jewish celebrities about Britain’s political future was reported by the Jewish Chronicle as a ‘news item.’  Apparently it was the most read article on the JC yesterday. Personally, I do not believe that Corbyn is on his way to 10 Downing Street nor do I think that his party, in its current state, is able to lead a country: it can’t even lead itself. I do wonder, however, whether the Brits are prepared for this crude supernatural interference with what is left of their crumbling democracy. Perhaps the MOD together with MI6 should begin immediate consideration of countermeasures. My guess is that saturating Britain with a high velocity magnetic field might suppress the powers of the spoon. Apparently no one has ever found an effective remedy for Barr’s ‘telepathic powers.’

Geller explained his support for Theresa May and the Tories to his Jerusalem audience. “It is important that she [Theresa May] stays in power because god forbid Corbyn should take her place,”  Do I detect a hint of self-doubt in Geller’s statement? It sounds like the psychic doesn’t fully trust his own supernatural powers, nor does he seem assured by Roseanne Barr’s telepathic assistance. In the end, it is God that he asks to save the chosen people from the Amalekite Labour leader.

As an avid reader of Jewish history, I would advise Geller not to put his trust in his creator. For some peculiar reason the Jewish God tends to take a holiday when his favourite people are in desperate need of divine intervention.


My battle for truth and freedom involves  some expensive legal services. I hope that you will consider committing to a monthly donation in whatever amount you can give. Regular contributions will enable me to avoid being pushed against a wall and to stay on top of the endless harassment by Zionist operators attempting to silence me.

ATB

Gilad

UK Was Aware of Saudi Plot Against Khashoggi Weeks in Advance

Jamal Khashoggi was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen when he was killed.

An activist dressed as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman holds a prop bonesaw during a demonstration calling for sanctions against Saudi Arabia outside the White House in Washington, U.S., Oct. 19, 2018.

UK Was Aware of Saudi Plot Against Khashoggi Weeks in Advance: Report
By TeleSur

Saudi Arabia told the U.K. about their plan of abducting Khashoggi three weeks before the incident took place. The MI6 warned them against carrying out the said operation.

The murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen when he was killed, as reported by the Sunday Express, a source close to him told the media outlet Friday.

This revelation was made as different intelligence sources disclosed that the U.K. was made aware of the entire plot by Saudi Arabia three weeks before the incident took place on Oct. 2.

Intercepts by GCHQ of internal communications by the kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate revealed orders by a “member of the royal circle” to abduct the troublesome journalist and take him back to Saudi Arabia. The report does not confirm or deny whether the order came from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They were supposed to abduct Khashoggi and take him back to Riyadh but could take other actions, if the journalist created problems.

“We were initially made aware that something was going in the first week of September, around three weeks before Mr. Khashoggi walked into the consulate on October 2, though it took more time for other details to emerge,” the intelligence source told the Sunday Express Friday.

“These details included primary orders to capture Mr. Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for questioning. However, the door seemed to be left open for alternative remedies to what was seen as a big problem. We know the orders came from a member of the royal circle but have no direct information to link them to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Whether this meant he was not the original issuer we cannot say.”

The MI6 had warned their Saudi counterparts to cancel the mission. “On October 1 we became aware of the movement of a group, which included members of Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-‘Āmah (GID) to Istanbul, and it was pretty clear what their aim was.

“Through channels, we warned that this was not a good idea. Subsequent events show that our warning was ignored.”

Sunday Express also obtained an anonymous interview from a close friend of Khashoggi’s who revealed that the journalist was about to obtain “documentary evidence” of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapon in its proxy war in Yemen.

Iran has previously claimed that the kingdom had been supplying ingredients that can be used to make the nerve agent Sarin in Yemen but Khashoggi was possibly referring to phosphorus which can be used to burn bones. Last month it was claimed that Saudi Arabia had been using U.S.-supplied white phosphorus munitions against troops and even civilians in Yemen.

Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist who left Saudi Arabia a year ago due to the widespread crackdown on dissent by the crown prince which saw imprisoning of a large number of dissenters and activists in Saudi Arabia.

The journalist went to Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 .to get papers for his marriage and never seen after that. Turkey maintained that he was killed inside the consulate by Saudi authorities but the latter denied any allegations against them for almost three weeks before finally accepting that he indeed was murdered but alleged it to be a rogue operation about which the crown prince had no knowledge.

The case of Khashoggi created an international uproar and diplomatic scandals where many countries are deciding to impose sanctions on the country and many companies severed their ties with Saudi Arabia.

According to the latest updates, the European Union is considering a ban on arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other sanctions. The EU will make a joint decision on how to punish the kingdom, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday in Istanbul after Russia-Turkey-France-Germany summit on Syria. A similar sentiment was expressed by France’s Emmanuel Macron.

This article was originally published by TeleSur” –

Donald Trump to the Rescue of the Same Al Qaeda “Freedom Fighters” Who Attacked America on 9/11?

Global Research, September 08, 2018

President Donald Trump is coming to the rescue of Al Qaeda freedom fighters in Northern Syria:

“President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province,

The Russians and Iranians  would be  making a grave humanitarian mistake …

Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed,…

Don’t let that happen!” (Donald Trump)

“Humanitarian mistake”?  Since when has Trump expressed concern for saving lives?

 

 

Both the media and the US government are accusing Bashar al Assad of attacking a region which encompasses three million people. That’s more than the population of Damascus.   The latest figures, from Russian sources (acknowledged by the UN) is that the Al Nusrah group has 16,000 militants. All in all there are between 40-45 armed groups representing some 50,000 rebels (according to the Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia (AFP, September 7, 2008)

The unspoken truth is that the Syrian government is intent upon liberating a region of the country where civilians are being held hostage by Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists supported by the US and its allies.

Trump’s special envoy, Brett McGurk, admits that Idlib  has become “the largest al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” What he fails to mention is that these “jihadist” mercenaries entered Syria with the support of US-NATO-Israel-Turkey, not to mention the Gulf States.  Until recently we called them “moderate rebels”.

Idlib is Al Qaeda’s de facto capital in Syria. According to Tony Cartalucci,  “Idlib remains one of the last remaining strongholds of Al Qaeda in Syria”.

Western Special Forces in Idlib within Al Qaeda Ranks?

The Al Qaeda rebels are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance (with US and allied special forces, intelligence, weapons and logistics experts within their ranks). With an estimated 50,000 rebels, the number of embedded (covert) Western paramilitary (Arab speaking) mercenary forces is significant (e.g. from private security companies in liaison with US-NATO-Israel-Turkey).

While there are no reliable figures regarding the number of US-allied sponsored mercenary special forces in the Idlib Region working with Al Qaeda rebel groups,  earlier reports confirm the presence of Western special forces, covert intelligence agents including British SAS, French Parachutistes, CIA, MI6  and Mossad embedded within rebel ranks. “Their activities are not limited to training. They are routinely involved in overseeing the conduct of terrorist operations on the ground together with thousands of mercenaries recruited from Muslim countries”.

From the outset of the insurgency in 2011, Al Qaeda affiliated rebel forces including al Nusrah were “infiltrated” by Western military and intelligence  operatives.

“MI6 and the CIA are in Syria to infiltrate and get at the truth,” said the well-placed source. “We have SAS and SBS not far away who want to know what is happening … ” (Syria will be bloodiest yet, Daily Star, January 2012). (emphasis added)

Screenshot of a 2012 report

With covert intel operatives, special forces and mercenaries (on contract to the Pentagon-NATO) within Al Qaeda ranks, the Idlib terrorist stronghold is therefore of strategic importance to the US.  It constitutes a means to maintaining US and allied military presence in Northern Syria.

And that is precisely why the US and its allies (including France, Britain, Israel) are planning to intervene militarily in liaison with their covert special forces and intel. operatives embedded within Al Qaeda.

But they need a pretext and justification: And that is where the False Flag Chemical Weapons Attack scenario comes in: i.e. with a view to providing a pretext for military intervention on “humanitarian grounds”, “coming to the rescue” of 3 million Syrian civilians who are allegedly threatened by President Assad and Syrian government forces.

While many Al Qaeda fighters have surrendered and have left Syria via the “humanitarian corridors”,  there are indications that the jihadist fighters are being threatened not to abandon combat:

“[they] would never lay down their weapons or surrender. By Allah, we have taken a vow about this, and we shall crucify anyone who surrenders his weapon.” (Testimony of a foreign Al Qaeda mercenary).

Recent reports suggest that 13,000 rebels of the Al Nusra group (out of a total of 16,000) are prepared to negotiate a truce. (AFP, September 7, 2018, quoting Russia’s Ambassador to the UN).

The target of military intervention on the part of Syrian and Russian forces would be limited to the hardcore jihadist fighters, who have taken over Idlib city and the Idlib “De-escalation Zones” and who refuse to engage in truce and reconciliation.

What is at stake is an intricate and complex counterterrorism operation directed against Al Qaeda fighters. And these are the Al Qaeda “freedom fighters” who just so happen to be supported by Donald Trump. 

Needless to say the US-NATO objective is to sabotage the Liberation of Idlib

“Lethal Aid”: Weapons and Ammo to the Terrorists

“The Americans are on Our side”, says rebel Al Nusra commander in an interview with the Koelner Stadt Anzeiger (September 26, 2016).

Jabhat al-Nusra unit commander Abu Al Ezz confirmed that the US is sending weapons to Al Nusrah through “third countries”. 

“Yes, the US supports the opposition [in Syria], but not directly. They support the countries that support us. But we are not yet satisfied with this support,”

The above statement pertains to weapons deliveries by America’s allies including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar and Turkey.

Shipments of Weapons to Al Qaeda 

There is a vast literature which documents covert support to Al Qaeda as well the shipment of weapons and ammo to rebel forces in Syria.

One example: according to Jane’s Defence Weekly, quoting documents released by the U.S. Government’s Federal Business Opportunities (FBO), the US –as part of its “counterterrorism campaign”– has provided Syrian rebels [aka moderate Al Qaeda] with large amounts of weapons and ammunition.

US military aid to the rebels channeled (unofficially) through the illicit market, is routine and ongoing. In December 2015, a major US sponsored shipment of a staggering 995 tons of weapons was conducted in blatant violation of the ceasefire. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the U.S.   “is providing [the weapons] to Syrian rebel groups as part of a programme that continues despite the widely respected ceasefire in that country [in December 2015].” (Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, May 27, 2017)

Aid and Financial Support Channelled to Al Qaeda in Idlib

According to a study by the Century Foundation (quoted by Cartalucci) Al Qaeda has established a network of services and local institutions which are funded by the US, UK, and European Union: 

Screenshot of Century Foundation report

What Relationship to September 11, 2001? 

The Trump administration’s (unofficial) objective is ultimately to protect Al Qaeda and sabotage the Syrian government’s anti-terrorism campaign, which consists in dismantling the Al Qaeda terror stronghold and restoring civilian  government. 

America’s continued support of Al Qaeda is the fundamental issue. 

If that support (which includes supplies from Turkey and military logistics in support of the terrorists) were to cease and US-NATO were to recall its jihadist foot-soldiers, the conflict would be over.

In a bitter irony and unknown to the broader public, the Trump Administration is supporting in Syria the same network of Al Qaeda fighters which allegedly attacked America on September 11, 2001.

Sounds contradictory?

You cannot wage “a war on terrorism” and at the same time “come to the rescue of the terrorists”. Or can you?

In fact, that is what the US has being doing since the onslaught of the Soviet-Afgan war in 1979.

Image right: Al Nusra Brigade in Syria

As we might recall,  on the evening of September 11, 2001, President Bush in a televised address to the Nation said that he would:

“make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”.

How does that relate to Donald Trump and Washington’s role in Syria?

Al Qaeda in Syria has been “harbored” by the US government (and its allies) since the outset of the war in March 2011. That’s the forbidden truth.

Applying GWB’s 9/11 concept: America is the State Sponsor of Terrorism.  Q.E.D.

Revisions and updates on September 8, 2018

Britain Should Be in the Dock Over #Skripal Saga, Not Russia

Britain Should Be in the Dock Over Skripal Saga, Not Russia

Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.09.2018

Britain Should Be in the Dock Over Skripal Saga, Not Russia

The latest announcement by British authorities of two named Russian suspects in connection with the alleged poison assassination of a former Russian spy and his daughter is more absurd drama in a long-running tawdry saga.

No verifiable evidence is ever presented, just more lurid innuendo and more refusal by the British authorities to abide by any due process and international norms of diplomacy. It is all scurrilous sound and fury aimed at smearing Russia.

This week, Britain’s Metropolitan Police released video shots of two alleged Russian men purporting to show them arriving at London’s Gatwick airport on March 2. Other video shots purport to show the same men walking the streets of Salisbury on March 3, the day before former Russian Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were apparently stricken with a powerful nerve agent. The two would-be assassins then allegedly flew back to Moscow from London late on March 4.

One preposterous claim, among several by the British authorities, is that traces of the putative nerve poison Novichok were found in the London hotel room where the alleged Kremlin agents stayed. The incompetence of the two supposed super assassins beggars belief. More realistically clumsy, however, is the attempt by the British to lay an incriminating trail.

The day after the Met police announcement implicating the two Russian culprits, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May stood up in front of her parliament and claimed that the two individuals were members of Russian military intelligence, the GRU. Another British minister, Ben Wallace, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having personal responsibility for ordering the alleged assassination plot.

Then on Thursday Britain summoned the United Nations Security Council to hash over the lurid claims against Russia without providing any further substantiating details to back up the sensational accusations.

This is nothing other than more trial-by-media, a process of railroading allegations against Russia, not on any basis of legal due process, but simply by bluster and prejudice. The credulous British news media play a dutiful secondary role in giving the claims a semblance of credibility, instead of asking the gaping questions that are warranted.

As Vasily Nebenzia, Russia’s envoy to the UN, remarked, the whole aim of the British claims is to whip up more international anti-Russia frenzy and hysteria. No sooner had Britain unleashed its latest allegations, a joint statement was released by the United States, Canada, Germany and France supporting the British claims.

Britain is now calling for more punitive sanctions against Moscow just as it had triggered earlier this year when the Skripals apparently fell ill on a park bench in the southern English town of Salisbury. Some 28 countries have expelled Russian diplomats over those earlier and as-yet unfounded claims. More expulsions can thus be expected, with the intended effect of framing Russia as a pariah state.

The timing of this week’s twist in the Skripal saga seems pertinent. The US, Britain and France are threatening to launch military strikes on Syria just as the Syrian army and its Russian ally move to defeat the last-remaining stronghold of NATO-backed terror groups in that country, potentially bringing an end to the Western-backed criminal war for regime change against the Assad government in Damascus.

Last month, too, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel held a productive, cordial summit with President Putin near Berlin, where the two leaders appeared to solidify a rapprochement over a crucial energy project between Russia the European Union.

The British government is also teetering on political implosion from the Brexit debacle and growing public contempt.

As Russia’s UN envoy Nebenzia further pointed out, how is it possible that the British prime minister can make the categorical claim that the two alleged Russian men in the video shots released this week are members of the GRU? Typically, she made the claim without providing any substantiating information.

This was the same kind of plucking from thin air that Theresa May performed only days after the Skripals were apparently poisoned in Salisbury on March 4. Again, back then, May stood in front of parliament and dramatically accused Russia of a state-sponsored assassination attempt. The British authorities have cast, and continue to cast, a verdict without any legal case. That verdict relies entirely on Russophobia and prejudice of Russian malfeasance.

Former British ambassador Craig Murray and other astute observers have noted that the latest video shots released by Britain’s counter-terrorism police are highly questionable. The images could have been easily fabricated with modern digital methods. They are not evidence of anything. Yet, suspiciously, the British authorities are in unseemly haste to make their sensational charges of Russian state culpability.

Moscow has condemned the reprehensible rhetoric used by the British prime minister and senior members of her cabinet in throwing grave allegations against the Russian leadership. Britain’s trashing of diplomatic norms is deplorable, befitting a rogue state that is itching for conflict.

The fact is that the British have spurned any normal legal attempt by Russia to access the supposed investigation in order to ascertain the nature of the alleged information incriminating Moscow. If Britain had a case, then why doesn’t it permit an independent assessment? Russia is being denigrated with foul accusations, and yet Moscow is denied the right to defend itself by being able to ascertain the information. The British technique is that of an inquisition making a mockery of legal standards.

Another salient fact is that the whereabouts of the Skripals is not known – six months after the alleged poisoning incident. Russia has been repeatedly denied consular contact with one of its citizens, Yulia Skripal, whose bizarre one-off appearance in a video, released by the British authorities three months ago, conveyed her wish to return to her homeland of Russia. Britain is violating the legal principle of habeas corpus.

Far from any evidence implicating Russia in a crime, the evidence so far points to the British authorities illegally detaining the Skripals for propaganda purpose. That nefarious purpose is clear: to demonize and delegitimize Russia as a sovereign state.

The Skripal saga and official British clowning around would be laughable if the consequences for international relations were not so dire.

The British authorities should be the ones in the dock, not Russia, to answer a case of forced abduction and incitement of international conflict.

#Skripal Time to Invite Russian Diplomats Back with an Apology

Time to Invite Russian Diplomats Back with an Apology

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By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 16.07.2018

On 4th of March 2018 former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were discovered on a park bench in Salisbury England in a distressed state. They were treated by passers-by, including a doctor, before being taken to Salisbury General Hospital.

The hospital initially treated the Skripals for a suspected drug overdose as the symptoms they exhibited were consistent with poisoning by fentanyl, a substance 10 times stronger than heroin, and with which the hospital had prior experience. The hospital’s initial diagnosis was confirmed in an article that appeared in the Clinical Services Journal on 27 April 2018. After the journal’s online article was publicized on social media, references to “fentanyl” were changed to “a substance.”

It was not the first or last time that the official story about what happened to the Skripals was changed.

Three days after the Skripals were found, the British government issued a “D” Notice. The ‘Notice”, officially a “request” but in effect a demand, forbade mention of Mr Skripal’s friend Pablo Miller. Why publicity about Mr Miller was to be suppressed is one of the features of this case, and apart from the initial report in the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph, which led to the ‘D’ Notice, he has not been referred to again in the mainstream media.

On 12 March 2018 the British Prime Minister Theresa May made her first statement to the House of Commons in which she alleged that the Skripals had been poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russia,” and that it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible.

The British government subsequently circulated a memorandum and power point presentation to 80 embassies setting out the argument that Russia was responsible for what happened to the Skripals, and seeking support for their intention to expel Russian diplomats as a punishment. The various allegations made in the PowerPoint presentation were at best contentious and some were demonstrably untrue. It is suffice for present purposes however to focus only on the claims of alleged Russian responsibility for the Skripal attacks.

A number of countries, including Australia, acceded to the British demand and expelled diplomats. The statement made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announcing that two Russian diplomats would be expelled made no attempt to establish the truth of the matter or indicate any desire to do so. His statement simply echoed the allegations made in the British document.

Turnbull said that the use of a chemical weapon to try to murder Sergei and Yulia Skripal reflected a “pattern of recklessness and aggression” by the Russian government that had to be stopped. Russia, he said was threatening no less than “the democratic world” in deliberately undermining the international rules based order. He went on to list a series of other alleged transgressions that echoed the claims made by the United Kingdom government.

One of the interesting features of this case is that not only was it a rush to judgement before the evidence could possibly have been gathered and analysed, but that the mainstream media and the politicians have not deviated from their initial claims, despite the wealth of evidence that has subsequently emerged.

Like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, they demanded the sentence before the evidence had been presented, and also like Alice in the eponymous story, asked us to believe six impossible things before breakfast.

The diligent reader is able to readily ascertain just how lengthy that list of impossible things is. It is suffice for present purposes to mention only a few to demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s entire story is a fabrication that would be funny were its potential consequences not so serious.

The United Kingdom government claimed that the Skripals had been poisoned by “a military grade nerve agent” that they see it was a Novichok “of a type of developed by Russia.” From that combination of alleged facts, we were expected to infer that only the Russians could have been responsible.

”Novichok” is a sufficiently Russian sounding nomenclature to give superficial credence to at least part of the claim. The first difficulty however is that there is no “Novichok” nerve agent. The term simply refers to a class of organophosphate chemical weapons. It is true that this class of chemical weapon was developed in the former Soviet Union, as described in a book published by a former employee of the chemical centre, readily available on Amazon.

That manufacturing and research development centre was demolished pursuant to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1999, as was described as the time in an article in the New York Times. Material from the demolition process was taken back to the United States. All of this information is readily available and politicians and journalists prior to their making claims about nerve agents “of a type developed by Russia” should have known it

The Novichok class of nerve agents may or may not have been initially developed by the Soviet Union, but that is a far cry from linking the substance allegedly used in Salisbury with that original program. A number of European governments have acknowledged that they possess the Novichok class of nerve agents.

A search of the United States Patent Office records however, reveals that between 2002 and November 2017 81 patents were applied for using the name “Novichok”. A patent filed in April 2013 includes a description of a delivery method, including bullet like projectiles that can target a single person.

Secondly, the former United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom on 12 March 2018 that the nerve agent used on the Skripals was an A234. You are a number of problems with this claim quite apart from Mr Johnson’s general difficulty with the truth. The consulting surgeon at Salisbury Hospital, Dr Steven Davies had a letter to The Times newspaper published on 14 March 2018 in which he stated that “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury.” In contradistinction to unsubstantiated claims that as many as 40 people had been affected, Dr Davies referred to only three patients receiving treatment in this context. This was presumably a reference to the two Skripals and a police officer.

A234 is a highly toxic substance, 8 to 10 times more powerful then VX (of a type developed by the UK) that had been used to kill a relative of North Korean leader Kim at the Kuala Lumpur airport. VX will kill within a few minutes, yet the A234 allegedly used on the Skripals failed to kill or even severely disable them or the third alleged victim, detective Sergeant Bailey.

A further and likely conclusive reason to reject A234 as the substance used, was that the report by the OPCW based on samples collected from Salisbury 17 to 18 days after the incident said that the substance in the samples was of “high purity”.

The scientific evidence, again readily ascertainable by a reasonably diligent journalist is that A234 and similar substances degrade rapidly. It is literally impossible for samples collected 17 to 18 days after the event to be of “high purity.” The purity also makes it impossible to identify the specific source of the manufacture, and furthermore guarantees that it originated in a properly equipped laboratory. That OPCW report effectively destroyed the last shreds of the UK government’s claims.

Given that Bailey and the Skripals have both made complete recoveries, it could not have been a “military grade” nerve agent that caused their plight. There is also the indisputable fact that whatever was used on the Skripals could not have come from Yulia’s suitcase, the air vents of their motor vehicle, or the front door knob of Mr Skripal’s house, or any of the other fantastical claims made at various times by the UK government for the simple reason that they were alive and well approximately six hours after leaving the house.

During that time the Skripals visited the cemetery, had a meal at Zizzi’s restaurant, and had an untroubled walk through the centre of Salisbury, captured by the CCTV camera. The fact that they both took ill, at the same time and in the same specific location, leads to the almost irresistible inference that they were attacked at or near the park bench where they were found in a distressed state.

For these various reasons, and a great deal of the others in the now considerable body of literature on this topic, we do not know with what they were attacked, nor by whom. At best we know approximately where and at approximately what time. A proper inquiry, as opposed to the wild and unjustified accusations and premature conclusions constantly reiterated in the mainstream media, would approach this question with an open mind. It has been abundantly clear that a proper enquiry is the furthest thing from the minds of the British government or their acolytes such as Australia.

A proper inquiry would also consider the relevance of motive. There has been no plausible suggestion, much less evidence, as to why the Russian government would wish to do the Skripals harm, and some solid reasons why the Russian government would be the least likely candidate to wish ill upon the Skripals.

This brings us back to Sergei Skripal, his history and the aforementioned D notices. One of those D notices inhibited publication of the details relating to Pablo Miller. That raises the obvious question, not pursued by the mainstream media unfettered by the D notice, as to why the British government would wish to protect Mr Miller’s identity and his links to Mr Skripal.

Miller and Skripal are friends, both living in Salisbury and known to socialize together. Their history goes rather deeper. Miller is a former MI6 officer and during the time that Skripal was a double agent in the employ of the Russian GRU Agency and selling Russian secrets to the British, Miller was his ‘handler.’

Miller worked in Moscow in conjunction with Christopher Steele, the assumed author of the infamous Trump dossier that collected together various allegations about Trump’s Russian activities, both business and personal.

That dossier was commissioned by the Democratic National Committee on behalf of Trump’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Hilary Clinton. The DNC commissioned Fusion GPS who in turn contracted with Orbis Business Intelligence. Christopher Steele was the principal of Orbis and Miller was one of his associates.

The American outlet Buzzfeed released the complete dossier on 10 January 2017 and on the same day the May government issued a D notice prohibiting the British press from revealing Steele to be the author. The Wall Street Journal however, published his name the following day.

According to the Czech magazine Respekt, Skripal had recent links to Czech intelligence and he travelled to both the Czech Republic and Estonia in 2016 and had met with intelligence officers from both countries.

This evidence strongly supports the inference that Skripal was still an active agent on behalf of the British who were known to be strongly opposed to the election of Donald Trump. Given Skripal’s knowledge of Russian intelligence, his links with the intelligence community in at least four countries, his close ties to both Miller and Steele going back to his GRU days, and at least according to one textual analysis of the dossier, it is entirely possible that Skripal was in fact one of the authors of the dossier.

These facts are now well established. At the very least it raises serious questions about who else might have a motive to give Mr Skripal a “message.” Whoever was responsible, the incident was certainly used by the UK government as part of a wider campaign to discredit the Russian government in general and President Putin in particular. In this endeavour, they have been willingly aided and abetted by the Australian government and mainstream media.

The failure of either to acknowledge the manifold flaws in the original allegations and to accept that the UK government’s version has been comprehensively discredited is an enduring disgrace.

At the very least the Russian government is owed an apology. That would go at least some way to acknowledging that the premature judgement and intemperate response has damaged Australia’s international image and its foreign relations

Time to apologise to Russia over Novichok accusations? #skripal

Amesbury poisoning: Source of novichok found in bottle in victim’s house

Introduction — July 13, 2018

Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess. Click to enlarge

Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess. Click to enlarge

Charlie Rowley, the sole survivor of the latest novichok poisoning was a registered heroin addict. We can’t help wondering if Rowley’s addiction didn’t play a part in his poisoning?
Did British intelligence single him out as a likely fall guy? Someone with few if any reputable connections? Someone who could be killed without too many questions being asked as to precisely how or why?
A potential victim to target in their efforts to blame Russia in a staged killing?
If novichok is as deadly as claimed what was it doing in a bottle in a registered heroin addict’s flat? Was it presented to him concealed in the various pharmaceuticals used to treat his addiction?
Or was it placed there by search teams AFTER he was poisoned? After all, novichok is purportedly more lethal than Sarin. So what the hell was a deadly nerve agent doing in the flat of a registered drug addict? Like the original Skripal’s poisoning this doesn’t make sense — unless one factors in the involvement of British intelligence.

Amesbury poisoning: Source of novichok found in bottle in victim’s house

David Mercer — Sky News July 13, 2018

The nerve agent that killed a woman in Wiltshire and left her boyfriend critically ill has been found in his house, police say.

Officers recovered a small bottle on Wednesday from the Amesbury home of Charlie Rowley, who is in a serious condition in hospital.

Tests at Porton Down have confirmed that the substance in the bottle is novichok, Scotland Yard said.

An investigation is now underway to establish whether it is from the same batch that poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March.

Mr Rowley’s partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, died on Sunday after falling ill on 30 June following exposure to the nerve agent.

Continues …

The Stain of Britain’s Part in Torture and Rendition Will Never Wash Away

Written by Sam Raphael & Ruth Blakeley

In more than 70 cases British intelligence knew of, suggested, planned, agreed to, or paid for others to conduct rendition operations

Jack Straw David Manning Jonathan Sinclair 031113 D 9880W 020

“As we have argued for years now – and as we told the ISC – British complicity in torture was deep, wide and sustained. Government ministers have always denied this – the former foreign secretary, Jack Straw famously stated that only conspiracy theorists should believe the UK was involved in rendition. That position is now more untenable than ever.”


The long-awaited reports of the investigation by the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) into Detainee Mistreatment and Rendition between 2001 and 2010 have finally been published. We ourselves have been researching the UK’s part in rendition and torture for years and gave evidence to the committee – and these reports are much harder hitting than we had expected.

Chaired by MP and QC Dominic Grieve, the ISC’s investigation has revealed that the extent of UK involvement in prisoner abuse was even greater than we had previously documented. The reports also highlight serious weaknesses relating to the training of security personnel, and governance and oversight of their conduct. Many of the ISC’s conclusions corroborate our own research findings, and we were pleased to see a number of issues we raised when we gave evidence to the ISC in January 2017.

As we have argued for years now – and as we told the ISC – British complicity in torture was deep, wide and sustained. Government ministers have always denied this – the former foreign secretary, Jack Straw famously stated that only conspiracy theorists should believe the UK was involved in rendition. That position is now more untenable than ever. It is clear from the ISC reports that UK officials knew about the US programme immediately after 9/11 and worked to support their allies in ways which enabled continued “plausible deniability”.

The report’s findings are unambiguous. In more than 70 cases – far more than have ever been identified before now – British intelligence knew of, suggested, planned, agreed to, or paid for others to conduct rendition operations. Some of the details are excruciating – one MI6 officer was present while a prisoner was transferred in a coffin-sized box. In literally hundreds of further cases, UK officials were aware of detainees being mistreated by their allies, continued to supply questions to be asked of detainees under torture, and received intelligence from those who had been tortured.

While names and locations have been redacted in these reports, our own years of investigation enable us to fit new facts into our broader picture of post-9/11 torture. It is likely that we will be able to identify some of the important detail left out by the reports. In many cases, these omissions resulted from the government refusing to allow the ISC to interview intelligence officers with knowledge of British involvement. In the absence of a full judge-led inquiry, our fact-finding work remains crucial, and we are committed to doing what we can.

We also know enough from the victims themselves, in their own words, about the human toll of this form of state violence. If you are being beaten up, electrocuted, raped, or subjected to mock execution, you tend to say whatever it takes to make it stop. Small wonder that intelligence received under torture is notoriously of limited value.

The fact that the UK attempted to keep its hands clean by involvement from afar makes the situation no better. When the reports were released, Theresa May stated that “intelligence and Armed Forces personnel are now much better placed” to deal with detainee-related work and that the necessary lessons have been learned. But in our evidence to the ISC, we also raised a number of concerns about the adequacy of today’s training and the strength of current guidance, which ostensibly prevents a return to the early years of the “War on Terror” – and we are not convinced.

No stone unturned

In our testimony to the ISC, we pointed to flaws in the so-called “Consolidated Guidance” issued to all security agencies and the military from 2010. The ISC has taken this seriously. In their conclusions, it concludes that the guidance is by no means “consolidated”, and that “it is misleading to present it as such”. The ISC points to “dangerous ambiguities in the guidance”, noting that “individual ministers have entirely different understandings of what they can and cannot, and would and would not, authorise”.

We encouraged the ISC to examine how frequently agency or Ministry of Defence personnel had followed the guidance, and to establish how frequently concerns about prisoner abuse were reported up the chain of command. This the ISC has done. Frustratingly, corresponding data is redacted from the final release. Nevertheless, the ISC’s conclusions indicate that record keeping on these matters is weak, and that there are considerable risks that cases which should be reported upwards are not.

This is exacerbated by the fact that “there is no clear policy and not even agreement as to who has responsibility for preventing UK complicity in unlawful rendition”. And as the ISC reports, the government “has failed to introduce any policy or process that will ensure that allies will not use UK territory for rendition purposes”.

We have long argued that the Consolidated Guidance does little more than provide a rhetorical, legal and policy scaffold, enabling the UK government to demonstrate a minimum procedural adherence to human rights commitments. As the ISC quite rightly concludes, there is an urgent need for review and fundamental reform of the Consolidated Guidance. The government must also establish much more robust oversight, training and accountability mechanisms.

We would also argue, in the strongest possible terms, that only a judge-led inquiry with full powers of subpoena will enable the public to know what was done in their name. Without this it will be even harder to achieve full accountability and to identify current forms of UK complicity in human rights abuses. With the anti-torture norm being eroded at the very top of the US government once again, these risks are very present and real.

Source: The Conversation

The Salisbury Poisoning: A Plausible Explanation: #Skripal

The Salisbury Poisoning: A Plausible Explanation

by John Bull, England for The Saker Blog

I’m an ordinary member of the British public concerned about the consequences of the Salisbury poisoning. My contribution to the debate is modest and mainly in the public domain, but I do have some personal snippets which may be relevant. Where I have indulged in conjecture, I have made this obvious.

I am not a ‘conspiracy theorist’ nor a Kremlin stooge. I have no axe to grind, politically or personally, against any state, organisation or individual. Initially, I accepted the Government’s view that it was ‘highly likely’ the attack on the Skripals was the responsibility of the Russian Federation. This conclusion was based on the facts available to the public at the time, at a very early stage of the investigation.

Nearly four months have passed since the incident, and while we have been told almost nothing about the on-going investigation (for ‘security reasons’), much information has come to light.

And it is in the light of this new information that I now believe the probability of Russian involvement is significantly lower. There are now more ‘plausible explanations’ which need to be considered.

While this article focuses on just one of them, this does not mean I believe it the correct one, or even the most likely one; just one that needs to be looked at.

Theresa May Statement to the House of Commons, 12th March 2018

The Prime Minister said there are only two plausible explanations for the poisoning: either it was a direct act by the Russian state against the UK; or the Russian Government lost control of their potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others. She based this judgement on two assumptions:-

That the poison was Novichok.

That it could only have come from Russia.

We now know that the second assumption is incorrect. There are several labs in the world – including Porton Down – where the substance could have been synthesised. Indeed it is within their remit to do so in order to research antidotes, and Porton Down should certainly have done this if Russia has been secretly manufacturing the deadly stuff over the last ten years, as claimed by Boris Johnson. To identify it, as Porton Down did a few days after the incident, one must either have the formula or a sample.

Novichok

Theresa May’s first assumption was based on early sample testing, all of which must have been carried out at Porton Down. Yet there is much evidence to suggest that Novichok was not the poison used:-

  1. Passers-by saw the pair slouched on the bench, slipping in and out of consciousness. One of them, a female doctor, put Yulia in the recovery position. I have seen a film of a goat being killed by a nerve agent. The body convulses and goes rigid as all the muscles tighten before death occurs. If Yulia and her father had been poisoned by a nerve agent, they would not be slouched on a bench. And nobody could have put Yulia’s body in the recovery position.
  2. Stephen Davies, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, wrote to The Times on 16th March as follows:- “Sir, Further to your report (“Poison Exposure Leaves Almost 40 Needing Treatment”, Mar 14), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.” He seems to be saying that no patients – including the Skripals – had experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning. Perhaps he lied to reduce alarm among The Times readers living in and around Salisbury, but I doubt it.
  3. The targets survived, despite the extreme lethality of the agent and there being no antidote, as explained by the CEO of Porton Down; and despite the training Russian assassins receive in its use – another claim by Boris Johnson.
    Perhaps the poison failed because the dose was too small, in which case one must wonder why they fell ill at the same time, some three hours after they left the house where the alleged Novichok had been smeared on the front door handle. And if there was insufficient Novichok on the door handle to do the job, how did they have enough on their hands to distribute it around Salisbury, and how was there was enough left on the door handle to poison Nick Bailey?
  4. According to the hospital consultant, no member of the public had symptoms or needed treatment. Yet apparently traces of Novichok were found in a number places in the city, including a pub and a restaurant which would have been busy on a Sunday afternoon. Furthermore, it must have taken the police some time to establish the movements of the Skripals after leaving the house and before arriving on the park bench.
    It would be interesting to know when the public was barred from the pub and the restaurant and how many people visited those establishments following the Skripals visit and before the police cordons were established. Surely some customers and staff would have been affected if Novichok had been present. And traces of Novichok were subsequently found in both places.
    (It was also be interesting to know how the police found out where the Skripals had been, as they were in no fit state to provide that information themselves. Were they with someone? Did they have a minder? Was it by any chance Detective Sergeant Bailey?)
  5. Novichok acts within a few minutes, yet the Skripals were able to drive to the town centre, park, walk to the pub and have drinks, then walk to the restaurant and have lunch before it took any effect at all.
  6. When the Skripals survived – contrary to the early assessments of the medical staff treating them – we were told they would probably need to remain on life support for the rest of their lives. After they were taken off life support – thanks to the brilliant specialised treatment they received – we were told they may suffer permanent brain damage. Yulia’s video statement read out by her on 23rd May showed her to be in radiant health, apart from the tracheotomy scar.
  7. We are told Russia continued to develop Novichok in the last ten years as an assassin’s weapon, an attribute of which one would assume to be non-detectability. This would require the substance to break down rapidly in the target’s body after use. It therefore seems strange that the OPCW were able to confirm the presence of Novichok from blood samples taken from the victims so long after the attack (nearly three weeks), particularly as the dose was sub-lethal.
  8. OPCW’s unclassified report on the poisoning did not name the substance they found.

Perpetrators

If the poison wasn’t Novichok, the case against the Russian Federation would be significantly weakened. Anyone could have carried out the attack: the Russian state, the Russian Mafia, aggrieved colleagues, paid assassins or the CIA/MI6/MI5/Mossad, The probability of one or more of those intelligence services bungling what should have been a straightforward wet-job is low, not just because the attempt failed, but also because the operation was so badly planned and its aftermath amateurishly handled.

An anonymous comment:-

“The entire mess wouldn’t have been penned even by the laziest of Hollywood screen writers. It is so bad that it could only come from the minds of politicians. At least even lazy Hollywood screen writers can keep a plot together, this is just embarrassing in its stupidity. Deadly nerve agent where everyone recovers, and only three people exposed.”

Motive

Although it’s possible to dream up all sorts of motives for a hit against Mr. Skripal, one that includes killing his daughter makes little sense. Perhaps the perpetrators did not wish to kill the couple; the job wasn’t bungled after all.

Perhaps it achieved its aim which could have been simply to sour relations between the UK and Russia and rally international support against Putin. Or was there a cunning plan to induce the Government to accuse Russia of a war-like act on British soil, then discredit them six months later by showing the world the Brits had got it all wrong? Or rather the British government, which would lead to their defeat in a no-confidence vote and possibly the end of Brexit.

Means of Delivery

If the door handle wasn’t the means of delivery, the poison could have been put in their car, their drinks or more likely their restaurant meal. A possibility is that it was in their food and was put there by nature, i.e. they suffered food poisoning. I understand the onset time can vary from as little as 30 minutes up to days, depending on the type of poison of which there are many. So it could have been in their Sunday lunch at Zizzi’s, or in their meal the evening before, following the arrival from Moscow of the daughter. I am no expert on the subject, but I do have some memorable experiences of food poisoning.

The first was when I was six years old. I was on holiday in France with my parents. My mother ate a bad mussel and was very ill. I remember her propped up on a sloping sea wall, rocking her head from side to side and groaning, slipping in and out of consciousness. It was frightening. I can’t remember if she went to hospital, but she did survive with no lasting effects (except an intolerance of shell-fish). She was 33 at the time. I guess we all ate the mussels, but my mother just happened to eat a bad one.

My second experience happened a few months ago. Following a dinner party, I was struck down by a suspect scallop. I had all the usual symptoms of food poisoning, and in addition a loss of balance and shivering. I am fortunate in being healthy and able to cope with such things, so I did not seek medical advice. I remained ill for over a week until I finally took antibiotics. I was the only diner affected, which suggests to me that in a restaurant like Zizzi’s it’s possible, despite the bulk cooking, for some unlucky individuals to be poisoned and others not.

Poison in their food would account for it taking effect at the same time, despite the difference in their body weight, as women tend to eat less.

An Alternative ‘Plausible Explanation’

Perhaps Sergei and Yulia were just unlucky (about 20,000 people per year in the UK are hospitalised because of food poisoning and about 500 die). Perhaps there are no assassins to be hunted down and brought to justice: no perpetrators, no motives. All three victims have now recovered, so this particular ‘plausible explanation’ has a happy ending.

Or at least it would have done, had it not been for the possibility that someone, somewhere, succumbed to the temptation of using the incident for political purposes when they found out the victims happened to be an ex-Russian spy and his daughter.

Perhaps it was too good to miss. An opportunity to turn us, and our allies, against the enemy: the evil Putin, who continues to grow in popularity in his own country and is well on the way to making Russia a superpower again, reclaiming the Crimea without firing a single shot and thwarting the West’s attempt at regime change in Syria (see Timber Sycamore). And winning – by hook or more likely by crook – its bid to host the football World Cup.

And why not use a bit of trickery ourselves? Isn’t that how foreign policy works and always has done? The great game? In this case, such a strategy would have significant risks. The obvious one is harming the relations between the West and Russia and taking us all one step nearer to WWIII.

Next is the possibility of our government and our nation becoming the laughing stock of the world if the truth were ever revealed. In that case, our allies would realised we had cried wolf and would no longer trust us.

Finally, there would be the damage done to the reputation of our own intelligence services, police force and policy-making machinery – so soon after the dodgy dossier which took us into Iraq with such dreadful consequences.

While the investigation of this alternative ‘plausible explanation’ might not lead to a prosecution for attempted murder, other crimes may have been committed such as abduction and assault (for example, the ‘invasive and painful’ treatment inflicted on Yulia, no doubt under the instructions of the experts from Porton Down). On the political side, there could be a case of malfeasance, or grounds for impeachment for misleading Parliament.

A good starting point is the session in the House of Commons on 12th March. The PM stressed not only her two plausible options but also the need to “proceed in the right way, led not by speculation but by the evidence”. In the highly charged session, most members who spoke ignored her second explanation and also her words of caution, accusing the Russian Federation for the attack.

Who can blame those MPs? On the face of it, the crime was horrific with potentially appalling consequences, and Russia does has a dreadful record of such deeds. And to make matters worse, party politics played its part.

Jeremy Corbyn’s contribution was interesting for two reasons. Firstly, he was the only person apart from the PM urging caution – which encouraged many Tory MPs to do the opposite and abandon caution and demand direct, decisive action; predictably, the word ‘appeasement’ was mentioned. Secondly, Corbyn referred to a meeting that morning of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, stating that the chairman, Tom Tugendhat, said he would be “surprised” if the Prime Minister “did not point the finger at the Kremlin”.

Tom Tugendhat’s own contribution to the debate ignored the PM’s second plausible explanation completely, and flouted her plea for caution, He did not even speculate but did what he had thought his leader would do. He ‘pointed the finger’. He said the attack:-

“… was certainly a warlike act by the Russian Federation, and it is not the first that we have seen. Some in this House have stayed silent or decided to join the information warfare that that state is conducting against us and our allies, but we have seen it invade countries in the east, attack allies and attempt to kill Prime Ministers. Even now, it is backing the murderous Assad regime which thinks nothing of gassing its own people, yet the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition stays silent. Does my right hon. Friend agree that now is the time for us to call on our allies—the European Union, which has worked with us so well on sanctions, NATO and particularly the United States—and ask what they will do to assist us in this moment when we are in need?”

There was no question of him waiting for the Russian response to the PM’s two plausible explanations. He had already rejected the second one, and he was certain about the first.

Following Russia’s negative response the following evening, the PM updated the House on 14th March with a further statement in which she declared:-

“There is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter, and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.”

While she chose her words carefully, she had clearly dropped her second plausible explanation. There was no logical reason for her to do that. She’d changed her mind. Why?

During the weeks following, Boris Johnson said on German TV that the CEO of Porton Down had assured him the Novichok was from Russia. Then we found out the CEO had said nothing of the sort. The denial from Porton Down was quickly followed by the deleting of the FCO tweet which read:-

“Analysis by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology laboratory at Porton Down made clear that this was a military grade nerve agent produced in Russia.”

Der Spiegel came up with an interesting observation:-

“The Foreign Office had ignored a fundamental rule of the digital battlefield: Only amateurs delete problematic tweets,”

The German TV interviewer also asked Boris several times if Porton Down held any Novichok samples. He ducked the question, over and over again. I wanted to know the answer too, so I wrote to my MP, who happens to be Tom Tugendhat. I asked him if he could find out for me. He replied with what appeared to be a standard letter, ignoring my question and saying, amongst other things:-

“This was an attack on British soil by Russia, as confirmed by the OPCW.”

The OPCW had not confirmed this. When I pointed this out to him, he replied:-

“You are of course quite right but I think it fair for me to draw the implication I did…”

Thus both Boris Johnson and Tom Tugendhat had lied. Perhaps they both felt the need to beef up the Government narrative. If so, was it because they both knew it was fabricated? If this were the case, did either of them, or both, play a part in its fabrication?

Being chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Tom Tugendhat is in a very powerful position. His committee holds the Foreign Office to account, so in some ways Boris Johnson answers to him and his committee. On the other hand, Boris outranks him. Could the two of them together have exploited the poisoning incident to bring to bear some much needed pressure on Putin?

The pair of them had the means, in that the Director of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service answers directly to the Foreign Secretary. ‘C’ would have done what he was told, perhaps using the facilities and expertise of his I-Ops and ‘Jolly Fun Tricks’ departments. Despite the rush, that organisation has the ability to handle the theatre, press releases, sleight of hand and all the other shenanigans required to pull off such a scam – and the willingness to do so if they were persuaded, perhaps by their ultimate boss the Foreign Secretary, that it were in the best interests of the Nation.

No doubt elements within Porton Down could have likewise been persuaded to co-operate, perhaps by their overall boss, our new Secretary of State for Defence. In a speech he gave on 12th March 2018, eight days after the poisoning, he said:-

“And today I can announce we are building on our world class expertise at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down. We are investing £48 million in a new Chemical Weapons Defence Centre to maintain our cutting edge in chemical analysis and defence.”

I guess that no hand-held detector has yet been developed and produced which detects Novichok in the field, so I assume the thousands of swabs taken around Salisbury, and the blood samples from the victims, would have gone the labs at Porton for testing. It would not have been difficult, once they were there, to lace them with Novichok before testing, or fiddle the results, or provide the testers with a comparator which wasn’t Novichok, or simply file a false report. No Novichok would have left the buildings and no-one would have been hurt.

When the CEO of Porton Down was interviewed for Sky TV, following Boris’s gaff on German TV, he was asked if the Novichok allegedly used in the attack could have come from his establishment. He could have simply said ‘we don’t have any’, but instead he explained in some detail and with conviction that there was no way a substance like that could have left the buildings. Perhaps it didn’t need to.

The culture at Porton Down is of interest. They unlawfully killed a serviceman with nerve agent in 1953, and during the early 70s they did call for service volunteers to help find ‘a cure for the common cold’, when they really wanted them for NBC research. This is no myth. I saw the appeals myself. They probably thought it acceptable to take risks and be deceitful, if it were in the interests of the Nation. It was strange that the CEO emphasised at the end of his Sky interview that the Novichok was ‘military grade’. Surely that’s true of any Novichok. I can’t imagine there is a civilian grade.

Having worked at a similar UK research establishment, I have some knowledge of security procedures. The Official Secrets Act and the ‘need to know’ culture does a good job in keeping our secrets secret, and not only from our enemies. Operation Grapple in the 1950s provides a fine example of how a government establishment was allegedly able keep from the Nation and our allies – and from most of their staff – the dark secret of Britain’s non-H-bomb (Hansard 4 Dec 2002 : Column 252WH).

Was Boris Johnson impetuous enough to initiate such a hoax? Was this some Machiavellian plan made in haste by inexperienced politicians with little thought about how it might develop? Probably not. But to both him and Tugendhat, such a plan would have had great attraction. Not only would it give their leader a big stick to hit Putin with, but it would also distract from the debacle of Brexit, enhance the standing of the PM and the Conservative party, secure the support of our allies, and provide an opportunity to skewer Corbyn, allegedly one of Putin’s useful idiots. And nobody would be killed, so the Intelligence Services Act of 1994 would not be breached. But would those involved have risked their political careers with such a harebrained scheme?

Or did they brainwash themselves – or each other – into believing the Putin was definitely the culprit, and they felt the Government needed to take swift and decisive action against the Nation’s arch-enemy, rather than wait for confirmatory evidence which would – they wrongly assumed – soon come to light? In other words, did they start out having any plan at all? Had they any idea of what they were getting into? Were they driven by arrogance, patriotism, ambition or plain stupidity?

It’s worth noting their outspoken loathing of Russian media – RT and Sputnik in particular. They accuse them of pumping out nothing but propaganda and conspiracy theories to manipulate the minds of the Great British public; they cry out for their broadcasting licences to be revoked; and they urge their parliamentary colleagues not to take part in any of those Russian programmes as it would give credibility to their lies.

These TV stations have been offering alternative theories about the poisoning, but if Britain had been accused – in the absence of any credible evidence – of attacking a British double agent and his daughter in Moscow, would not the BBC be doing the same? The situation is made far worse, because we, the British public, are being told absolutely nothing. The media are eerily quiet. RT and others are filling the vacuum.

Perhaps Tugendhat thought the OPCW would confirm the attack was by Russia. Perhaps Johnson assumed the CEO of Porton Down would back up his claim that the Novichok used came from that state. When the evidence to support their accusations did not materialise, did Johnson seek help from within that secret organisation of which he is the ultimate boss, MI6?

It is strange that Tugendhat should be such a champion of English Common Law (see his address to the RUSI, 29th May 2018), yet in this case he abandoned the concept of a presumption of innocence, leaping to a verdict of guilty and demanding a heavy sentence before the crime had been properly investigated.

Conclusion

If indeed there are no Russian assassins to hunt down, a quiet word with Tugendhat and Johnson might be appropriate, if only to eliminate this particular ‘plausible explanation’. But if it was food poisoning, or another explanation which lets Russia off the hook, someone will have to decide on how we get out of the mess. The options would be:-

  1. Come clean and confess we got it wrong.
    .
  2. Stick to the story, make sure the police investigation takes ages and hope the whole thing gets forgotten about.
  3. Find a couple of patsies and stage a shoot-out in a Swindon suburb as a result of a tip-off (can’t reveal sources). Russian passports found at the scene along with two pairs of Marigolds and a handbook on how to smear Novichok on doorknobs. Usual stuff.

The trouble with 2 and 3 is that they would rely on the continued silence of the many parties involved. My fear is that what might have started out as a fairly straightforward but hastily planned psy-ops operation ends up with the premature demise of some innocent people. Cover-ups are usually more drastic than the actions they try to hide.

The economist John Maynard Keynes was once challenged for altering his position on some economic issue. His alleged reply was:-

“When my information changes, I change my mind. What do you do?”

Having made the accusations and found Putin to be guilty and passed sentence, Tugendhat, Johnson and certain other MPs don’t have the luxury of changing their minds without consequence. Unless the early conclusion they jumped to is the correct one, they and the government are in a very, very difficult position.

The world is watching

Joining Some Dots on the #Skripal Case: Part 6 – Tying up the Loose Ends

Joining Some Dots on the Skripal Case: Part 6 – Tying up the Loose Ends

Over the last five pieces (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5) I have, slowly but surely, advanced a theory of what happened in the Skripal case. I must confess to having done so with a fair amount of unease. I don’t want to believe that my Government has been stating a case that is false. I don’t want to believe that the public have been lied to. I don’t want to have to think that there has been a lot of effort made to present an explanation that hides the truth.

And yet, given the fact that the Government story contains self-evident fallacies, and cannot be made to add up, I don’t think that there’s much alternative than to be hugely sceptical about their claims. I stated the two main fallacies in Part 1, which are the claims that three people were poisoned by the nerve agent A-234, which is 5-8 times more toxic than VX, and that because A-234 was developed in the Soviet Union, the Russian State is responsible for what happened. The first claim cannot be true, because the three people are alive and well and have suffered no irreparable damage. The second claim is palpably untrue, because A-234 has been synthesised in a number of countries.

Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg of the absurdities and anomalies. I don’t intend to go through all of them, but would simply point anyone who does believe the official story to concentrate on three words: The Door Handle. This was apparently where the poison was poured, so allow me to pose five questions about this claim to those who believe it to be true:

  1. During the “clean-up” operation, there were lots of military chaps wearing HazMat suits, which are designed to protect against exposure to toxic chemicals. How, then, did the assassin apparently manage to pour this same lethal, military grade nerve agent on a door handle, without wearing a HazMat suit?
  2. On the other hand, if he or she was wearing a HazMat suit when performing the operation, wouldn’t someone in Christie Miller Road have noticed and found it – shall we say – a bit odd?
  3. If the poison was administered to the door handle, how exactly did both Sergei and Yulia Skripal manage to touch it (people don’t normally both touch the door handle if they go in the house together), and how did they manage to get exactly the right quantities on their skin so that they collapsed at exactly the same time, some four hours later?
  4. The door handle theory only reared its head some three weeks after the poisoning, at which point the substance was said to have been still present in a “highly pure” form. During this three weeks, many people went in and out of Mr Skripal’s house using the front door. How did they manage to do so without using the door handle, or if they did, how did they manage not to succumb to poisoning?
  5. Part of the Government’s alleged evidence pointing at the high likelihood of Russian involvement in the case, is an FSB instruction manual showing – amongst other things – how to assassinate someone by pouring Novichok on a door handle. Suspending our disbelief on this claim for a moment (and admittedly that is hard), did the Government have the manual when they made their accusations against the Russian Government on 12th and 14th March, and if so, why did the door handle theory not surface for more than a week after this?

Of course, a few moments consideration about the door handle theory will show that – like the rest of the official story – it is simply wrong. And because it is so plainly wrong, that is why we can safely say that the real explanation lies elsewhere.

Nevertheless, I am aware that in advancing another explanation, there are likely to be many holes in it too. Whilst much of what I have said throughout this series has been based on facts and eyewitness statements, the theory I have advanced from those facts and witness statements remains unproven. And so I would ask that where I have got things wrong, you would forgive me, and where things don’t make sense, you would point them out.

Having said that, what I want to do in this final piece it to tie up a few loose ends and – most particularly – attempt to demonstrate how the theory I have advanced explains some of the other anomalies in the case in a far more cogent and rational way than does the official story. So here goes.

The Deafening Silence of Sergei Skripal

One of the least talked about points in the official story, yet one that really is very important, is that if it were a true account, Mr Skripal would almost certainly have no more clue about who poisoned him than the average person in the street. If it were true that an unknown assassin, appointed by the Russian Government, poured military-grade nerve agent onto his front door on 4th March, before fleeing back to the Motherland, Mr Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, would be as much in the dark as to who did it than you or I.

Now, if that were the case, two things would naturally follow. The first is that Mr Skripal would almost certainly be inclined to believe the version of events given to him by the Metropolitan Police. Think about it. He wakes up one morning in a strange hospital bed, and has absolutely no clue why he is there or what happened to him. Then a kindly policeman comes and explains that he was the target of an assassination attempt using a lethal nerve agent, and that the British Government believes that it was ordered by the Russian Government. What is he going to believe? Fairly obvious I would think. At least he would have no reason to disbelieve them.

The second thing that would naturally follow is that, as soon as he was able, he would want to release a statement, either on paper, or in an interview, where he not only pledges his support for the Metropolitan Police and their ongoing investigation, and no doubt hints at involvement of the Russian State, but also – and this is crucial – where he also gives the public some information about what actually happened to him on 4th March: where he went, when he first started to feel ill, and what he last remembers.

Again, think about it. If you were in his shoes, wouldn’t you want to catch the people who did it? And wouldn’t you assume that the more information you could give to the public, perhaps even clearing up some of the anomalies (such as the reason for the agitation in Zizzis), the more chance there would be that someone’s memory might be jogged and vital information given to the police?

Of course you would. And yet so far, Mr Skripal has released no such statement. Why?

It isn’t that he is physically or mentally incapacitated. We know from Yulia Skripal’s brief call to her cousin on April 5th (which almost certainly wasn’t “meant” to happen), that Sergei was by that time fine. In response to Viktoria’s question about her father, she said this:

“Everything is ok. He is resting now, having a nap. Everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things. I will be discharged soon. Everything is ok.”

That was nearly three months ago, and yet the Sergei Skripal who was fine on 5th April, having suffered no irreparable damage from apparently being poisoned by the world’s most deadly nerve agent, and who was discharged on 18th May, still has not spoken.

I put it that the theory I have advanced (see Part 5 in particular), suggests an obvious reason for his silence. Were he in the dark about the identity of those who poisoned him, as the official story implies, his silence would be inexplicable. Don’t you want to catch the perpetrators of this crime upon you and your daughter, Sergei?

Yet, if we assume that actually he knows exactly who poisoned him and why they poisoned him – as would be the case according to the theory I have advanced – then his silence is very easily explained. He cannot be allowed to be interviewed about what happened, because he would blow the whole wretched business clean out of the water. He cannot be allowed to make an open statement, with the press there to ask free questions, because it would come out that he had been meeting someone at the bench in The Maltings, and that this someone whom he met was the person who poisoned him.

In addition, his (highly likely) authorship of the Trump Dossier would be revealed. And if this were to happen, not only would it be seen that the foundations upon which the whole Trump/Russia collusion hoax was based was made of straw, but it would become clear that the interference in the 2016 US Presidential election was never really about Russian interference to get Trump elected; but rather about British interference to stop Trump getting elected.

The deafening silence of Mr Skripal is therefore strong evidence of a number of things:

  • That the Government story, in which he was the unsuspecting victim of a Kremlin plot, is without foundation.
  • That he well knows who his poisoners were and why they poisoned him.
  • That he cannot be allowed to speak freely because if he was, a scandal of monumental proportions would be revealed.

The Deafening Silence of Yulia Skripal

Deafening silence of Yulia? What am I talking about? She has released a number of statements through the Metropolitan Police, and in the statement (not interview) she made to Reuters. So what do I mean?

Many have pointed out a number of remarkable things about her Reuters statement. For one, she herself looked remarkably well. For another, the language of the statement she read was highly suggestive that it was first written in English – not by her – and then translated into Russian (statements like “I do not wish to avail myself of their services” don’t normally trip off the tongue of native English speakers, let alone those who speak it as a second language).

But for me the most remarkable thing about all of these statements are not what they do say, but rather what they don’t say. As with Sergei’s silence, Yulia has nothing whatsoever to say about the day of the poisoning. She notes that she and her father survived an “attempted assassination”. She notes that a nerve agent was used to do it. But she says nothing about her and her father’s movements that day. Nothing about what they did and where they went. Nothing about when they first succumbed to the effects of the poisoning. Nothing to suggest that her father’s agitation in Zizzis may have been caused by poisoning.

In short, she says nothing whatsoever about the poisoning itself. Zero. Diddly squat. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Why?

As with Sergei’s non-statements, this doesn’t compute. If you happened to wake up in a hospital to be told that you had been the victim of a nerve agent poisoning, you would almost certainly want to tell people as much as possible about your movements up to the point of the poisoning. Wouldn’t you? Of course. Especially if they had not only poisoned you, but your dad too. You’d at least want to sound a bit more interested in actually catching the perpetrators than Yulia, who didn’t so much as mention it, and instead sounded like she just wanted to move on and forget it ever happened.

Once again, this total silence on something so crucial just doesn’t fit at all with the official story. That narrative suggests that Sergei and Yulia were innocent victims of a Kremlin-hired assassin. That narrative suggests they don’t know who that Kremlin-hired assassin was. But it also suggests that they of all people have a huge interest in giving details of what happened to them that day. And yet there is silence.

Does it fit better with the theory I have proposed? You bet it does. If what I have suggested is anywhere close to the truth, just like Sergei, Yulia cannot be allowed the freedom to give a proper interview where any question is allowed. She cannot be given consular access by the Russian Embassy. Why not? Because she knows what her dad was up to; she knows why he was meeting people at a park bench on Sunday 4th March; and she knows that the two of them were poisoned by the people who they were meeting.

Why did she agree to an interview? No doubt she realises what a difficult and vulnerable position she is in. Despite claims to the contrary, she clearly has no contact with her family back in Russia, or indeed any contact with the outside world. She was almost certainly pressured into making a statement, and yet — as Tony Kevin convincingly argues here — it has many signs of being a compromise statement. And so she agreed to making a fairly nebulous statement — one which is almost inconceivable from the point of view of the official narrative, but which fits perfectly with the narrative I have advanced.

The Deafening Silence of Nick Bailey

One final deafening silence that doesn’t exactly do wonders for the official narrative, is the silence of Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey. He has always been a big puzzle in this case, for a number of reasons. It was first said that he was poisoned at The Maltings. However, the problem with this explanation is that there was absolutely no reason for him to have been there. The case was treated by Salisbury District Hospital as a case of Fentanyl poisoning. Why would a member of the Criminal Intelligence Department (CID) be called to a bench to an apparent opioid overdose?

It was then said by none other than Lord Ian Blair that DS Bailey was actually poisoned at Mr Skripal’s house. But again, the same question arises. Why would a member of CID be sent to the home of a person in a what looked like a case of opioid poisoning?

The story then swung backwards and forwards a number of times between a poisoning at the Maltings and a poisoning at Mr Skripal’s house. These anomalies are very important, but even more important is that they could have been put straight by DS Bailey himself. If the official story was correct, not only would it have been super easy to have verified where DS Bailey was poisoned, but he himself could have testified to it. And yet like the Skripals, there has been nothing!

Given the absurd changes to this particular part of the story – and it is perhaps the easiest of all parts to verify – my assumption is that he was poisoned at neither The Maltings or Mr Skripal’s house. Instead, just as I wrote in Part 5 that I believe it likely the Skripals were poisoned by an incapacitating nerve agent in the red bag that was then seen next to the bench, I think it highly likely that DS Bailey was poisoned from the same source.

But where? The red bag was removed from the scene by a police officer and placed in an evidence bag. Why would this have been done? Because the pair on the bench were suspected of overdosing on an opioid, and the bag would naturally be removed by police so that its contents could be examined. And whereas I think it unlikely that someone from CID would be called to the scene of a drug overdose, it seems quite likely that they might receive and handle evidence taken from such a scene. Therefore my guess – and I stress that it is only a guess – is that DS Bailey was the man who received the bag, and whilst looking inside to see its contents, was poisoned by the same incapacitating agent as the Skripals (possibly something like 3-Quinuclidinyl Benzilate (BZ), but definitely not A-234).

Again, if the official story were true, what would prevent DS Bailey from giving a brief statement or interview, confirming exactly what happened to him? But if the red bag theory is close to the mark, then it becomes plainly obvious why this hasn’t yet happened.

Smokes and Mirrors

Which actually brings me on to the penultimate point I want to make in this piece, and indeed in this 6-part series. Everything in the official story, no matter how absurd, seems designed to point our attention away from the most probable source, place and type of poisoning: The red bag, at the bench, and an incapacitating nerve agent. And it does so because if those our attention is focused on them, then a very different story begins to emerge. Which cannot be allowed to happen.

As stated above, claims about A-234 being used just don’t add up. Neither the time delay, nor the symptoms, nor the recovery of the Skripals with no irreparable damage match up to what this deadly, military grade, high purity, lethal nerve agent that is so much more toxic than VX, is meant to do. What the claim does, however, is points our attention away from what is far more likely – an incapacitating agent administered to the Skripals between 3:45 and 4:00pm on 4th March.

As stated above, claims about the door handle just don’t add up. Neither the fact that both Sergei and Yulia were poisoned, not the fact that others went in and out of the house before the door handle theory was put forward and didn’t succumb, nor the fact that the substance on it apparently remained of “high purity” weeks later – none of these things make any sense. What the claim does, however, is directs our thoughts away from what is far more likely – that the substance used to poison the Skripals was administered at the bench, and probably via the red bag.

The apparent motive put forward in the official narrative doesn’t add up either. There is a general agreement among countries that you do not target spies who have been part of a swap. Why? Because if you do, you can kiss goodbye to ever getting any other spies swapped in the future. It’s called shooting yourself in the foot big time! But what this frankly risible explanation for the apparent motive behind the poisoning does, however, is to point our attention away from what Mr Skripal was really up to. And as I set out in Part 4, this was very likely something to do with authoring the Trump Dossier.

Nothing about the official story makes sense. None of it adds up. It is riddled with holes. But I would submit that the only thing that does make sense about it, is that the parts that go to make up the sum are all desperate attempts to divert attention. They are smokes and mirrors, designed to stop us from considering some of the more obvious aspects of the case, and some of the more startling aspects of the case – Mr Skripal’s involvement with MI6; his likely involvement in or authorship of the Trump Dossier; the likelihood that he was due to meet people at the bench in The Maltings; the probability that this is why he was agitated and in a hurry in Zizzis; the likelihood that he knows who poisoned him and why.

And of course the reason that these things are not supposed to be considered is that if – and I acknowledge it is a big if – the alternative explanation I have advanced is true, and if it became generally known, then it would cause just about the biggest political crisis in British political history.

And Finally…

Having said that, I have to say that I don’t believe it at all likely that the British Government knew about any of this before it occurred. I get the impression that the intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic are a law unto themselves, and I think it likely that some of their number wanted to send Mr Skripal a message, one which would look like an opioid overdose, one which he would recover from reasonably quickly, and one which would be forgotten very soon.

However, I don’t think that the poisoning of DS Bailey was meant to happen, but when it did, it set off a series of events that quickly got out of control. I don’t think the identity of Sergei Skripal as a Russian involved in a spy swap was ever meant to make it into the press, but it did and very soon what looked like some kind of opioid poisoning quickly became an international spy saga.

The British Government’s reckless and extraordinarily quick reaction to the case was, apart from being a travesty of the rule of law, one of the big clues that the official narrative was not true. If it were true, they could have took their time, acted calmly, and let the investigation run its course. Instead, what we got was a lawless, irrational and absurd response. It all smacked of a panicked reaction, and whilst it made no sense in terms of the story they sold us, it makes perfect sense if the truth was that they were desperate to prevent news getting out about who Skripal really was, what he had been up to, and how the poisoning might well be connected with that work. And indeed the D-notices they slapped on the reporting of that stuff, and of Mr Skripal’s connections to Christopher Steele and Pablo Miller, are further evidence that it is so.

And so they very quickly decided to turn attention away from the big clues of the case, by invoking the scary sounding “Novichok” and pinning the blame – without any evidence – on the Russian State. To this date, they have given us no evidence to back up their claim, much less a suspect, but have unwittingly given us a bunch of absurdities that can be blown out of the water through the use of simple reason and logic.

They should have remembered this:

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7)

But I have a feeling they don’t believe it applies to them. I have a feeling that it does.

And so there’s my case. As I say, there are bound to be a good many holes and no doubt many errors and inconsistencies in it. Please do forgive me for those. As for the rest of it — Make of it what you will.

I hope to leave this case for now and write about other stuff. But I will of course return to it if there are any new and interesting developments. Many thanks for your patience whilst I have written these pieces, and for the many thought-provoking comments under each piece

The Parallel Universe of BBC Panorama @BBCPanorama

The Parallel Universe of BBC Panorama

By Kit | OffGuardian | June 21, 2018

The BBC flag-ship documentary series “Panorama” has long been a stalwart of state-funded television propaganda. They can always be relied upon to tell us what we’re supposed to think. In 2013, just days before the Commons vote on military intervention in Syria, BBC aired “Panorama: Saving Syria’s Children”, a shambolic piece of fiction designed to outrage the public into war.

Robert Stuart has done truly exceptional work in deconstructing the fakery and propaganda on which the BBC sees fit to spend taxpayer’s money.

In just the last year they’ve had two documentaries about North Korea being evil (“North Korea’s Secret Slave Camps” and “North Korea’s Nuclear Trump Card”).

And it’s not just foreign “enemies” that end up in Panorama’s crosshairs either – it’s also domestic ones.

In 2015, just a few days before Jeremy Corbyn’s first Labour leadership victory, the BBC aired “Panorama: Jeremy Corbyn – Labour’s Earthquake”, a documentary which prompted Corbyn’s team to file an official complaint, labelling it a “hatchet job”.

Then in 2016, on the eve of Corbyns second (larger) Labour leadership victory, the BBC aired “Panorama: Labour – Is the Party over?”, a documentary full of doom and gloom, featuring anecdotes about abuse, and various (predictable) Blairite MPs bemoaning the “unelectability” of their leader.

In the 2017 General Election, Jeremy Corbyn’s resurgent Labour defied the polls, the pundits and the BBC to knock-off the Tory majority and come within 2% of winning. Could the BBC’s, and Panorama’s, relentlessly negative slanted coverage be responsible for keeping Corbyn out of No.10? It would be foolish to deny the possibility.

And there, neatly demonstrated in those three paragraphs, you see the value and purpose of state-sponsored propaganda. Panorama is the spirit of the BBC, a pretense of faux objectivity, shrouded in cuddly familiarity, employed exclusively and decisively against anything the establishment sees as a threat.

*

Enter Vladimir Putin

The folks at Panorama LOVE Putin, or at least love to hate him. In the last two years there have been no less than five (five!) episodes devoted to the man, and indeed the myth.

January 2016 brought us “Putin’s Secret Riches”, January 2017 “Trump: The Kremlin Candidate”, March of this year brought us two inside a week, “Putin: The New Tsar” and “Taking On Putin!”. As the titles suggest, none of them were especially objective or open-minded. That’s not in the BBC’s remit.

The most recent Putin-hit piece aired just last week – in the run up to the World Cup – its rather more mundane title simply: “Putin’s Russia with David Dimbleby”. The documentary, for want of a better word, opens on David Dimbleby wandering through a Moscow market looking at sigh Russian nesting dolls, and it doesn’t get less predictable from there on in.

A long time ago, I was taught you construct an argument in three steps – “Statement, Evidence, Conclusion”. Instead Panorama opted to go for the unorthodox “Conclusion, Anecdote, Stock Footage of Nesting Dolls” approach.

The first problem, and perhaps the biggest, is David’s hat… but it never really goes up-hill from there.

The second problem, is the smugness. Forget the factual inaccuracies re: the Russian economy, forget the totally evidence-free assertions, and just focus on the smugness.

The smugness of an English man who went to Charterhouse School, and then on to Oxford, is possibly one of the most toxic things in the world. So much evil has been done by men who are taught their own effortless superiority. Blood has been spilled by such men, oceans of it, evils done beyond imagining, all with a soft chuckle and clear conscience, because they come from a system that tells them their very existence MAKES them RIGHT. They do the “right thing” as a matter of course because of who they are and what they think. They are right, and the vast swamps of Other are wrong, and that’s just the way it is.

These are the people who spread the British Empire over a quarter of the globe, all the time telling themselves that they were doing the savages a favour by giving them civilisation. The same men, the same minds, in suits that change with time and with methods that shift with the ages, have run the country for centuries… and run the BBC since its inception. Men who believe morality is a function of their very existence. A path that rises up to meet their feet.

This is the British version of what the Americans call “exceptionalism”. It’s less brash, and less obvious, but no less poisonous for that.

The worst actions of mankind flow from minds who never question their own moral position, and this documentary can be counted as small, septic, addition to that list.

And so we begin…

I’ve come to see how Putin has managed to hold on to power for so long, and what the Russians see in the Putin that We, in the West, don’t.

Dimbleby’s introduction is immediately partisan and dishonest – referring to “we” in the West as if there is a consensus, when clearly that is not the case, is a variation on the argumentum ad populum, the argument to common knowledge. “Everybody knows that”, or “We all agree on this”. It is deceptive language, being used to paint a false picture.

Likewise, saying Putin “held on” to power for so long, makes it seem like his Presidency was an act of force, when all the evidence is to the contrary. Dimbleby says so himself just a few minutes later.

(SIDEBAR: When Dimbleby says “so long”, he means 18 years. The classic mainstream media trick of ignoring Medvedev’s term as president is employed here. As is every other, long discredited, anti-Putin rhetorical device.)

In a democracy if you failed to deliver on your economic promises, if you surrounded yourself with cronies, and if you used the law to oppress opposition, well you’d be thrown out on your ear… but this is Russia, and they do things differently here.

Dimbleby lays out, in one broad stroke, that Russia is backwards, and silly, and he’s going to come along and point out to us sensible Westerners just how they went wrong.

Leaving aside the hypocrisy (this is, let’s be honest, a pretty accurate summary of what every single British government has done since Margaret Thatcher), it’s also simply insulting. I find it insulting, and I’m British. If I was Russian and heard that? I would vomit blood.

It’s sickening… and we’re only 2 minutes in.

*

David on… the Russian Birthrate

Our first port of call on David’s whistle-stop tour of everything that’s shit about Russia is the birth rate. He tells us that it fell sharply in the years following the collapse of the USSR, and this is true, he doesn’t say WHY this happened. As a matter of policy this programme avoids, at all costs, mentioning what Russia was like in the 1990s.

Anyway, when Putin came to power the birth rate was declining, and what did he do about this? Well, in a masterstroke, decided to encourage people to have babies.

Mrs Cherenkova’s medals

How? Well by increasing state benefits to mothers with more than 2 children, and further increasing them for families with more than 3 children. Families with multiple children are also entitled to free school meals, tax breaks and get discounts on family holidays. Medvedev also introduced a medal in 2008 – “The Order of Glorious Motherhood” – for mothers with 7 or more children, based on the “Mother Heroine” medal from World War 2.

(SIDEBAR: It’s worth noting here that we, in lovely hugs-and-flowers Britain with our nice fluffy democracy, DON’T have free school meals… for anyone. At all. Ever. The government that proposed this bill was not “thrown out on their ear”, but DID have to spend £1.4 BILLION pounds bribing a minority party to vote it through.)

The measures worked, and under Putin/Medvedev the birthrate has increased almost every year since 2000. In 2011 the birthrate moved ahead of the death rate for the first time since 1992, and Russia’s population started growing.

Now, if this is all sounding very sensible and not at all bad to you, then well done for paying attention.

It’s here the film reaches its first hurdle… and goes into it face first. Russia is supposed to be backwards and Putin is supposed to be a brutal corrupt dictator with no concern for the country he runs… but the facts on the ground don’t jive with this at all, at least in the birthrate example. Not only did he try to improve his country, but he did via perfectly reasonable methods, and they worked.

The film makers decide to simply leave an ellipsis on this one, just a long pause that’s obviously designed to make us ruminate on how bad Russia is, but it doesn’t really work. Partly because it doesn’t make any sense, but mostly because – for some reason – David thinks the best way to hammer this point home is show us the Cherenkovas. A very happy family with lots of healthy children. He refers to them as “Putin’s ideal family”, as if the term itself is insulting.

Mrs Cherenkova proudly displays her medals for motherhood in a leather case, explaining she wears them on public holidays. The family sing as they sit down for dinner, talk about the Church and how life has improved under Putin compared to the 1990s. (David, staying true to his brief, doesn’t ask how bad things were in the 1990s. In 58 minutes it’s not mentioned once.)

*

David on… the Russian Orthodox Church

The Cherenkovas praying as they sit down to dinner provides a neat segue for David to discuss something really terrible – the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

You see, the ROC was suppressed under Communism, which was bad, and now it’s not… which is apparently, also bad. I don’t fully understand the point David is trying to make, but that’s OK since I’m pretty sure he doesn’t either.

We are presented with a Bishop, who tells us that it’s now easier for the Church to interface with the state than it was during the 1990s. We don’t know what he means by that, because he’s cut off and David never asks.

The implication, backed by stock footage of Putin lighting candles in a church and David’s narration about “conservative values”, is that Russia is becoming a kind of quasi-theocracy. It’s never stated out-loud, because the position is so ridiculous as to be indefensible, but it is quite clearly the implication.

*

David on… Russian Opinion Polls

Curious to see “how widely [the Cherenkovas’] views are shared”, David goes in search of a broad opinion, but meets an apparent problem:

It’s all very well to say “I’ve come to Russia to find out what the Russians really think”, but it’s not actually that easy in a country where the press, radio and television are all strictly controlled by an authoritarian government.

1) He hasn’t gone there to find out what Russians think. He knows what Russians “really think”. He’s there to tell US why THEY are wrong. He’s there, at our expense, to make sure we hate who we’re told to hate.

2) The press, radio and television are not all “strictly controlled”, that’s a lie, and he knows it’s a lie because he proves it himself less than 10 minutes later.

But that’s beside the point. How does David get around the problem of finding out what Russian’s “really think” under such an authoritarian regime? Well, he goes to the one of the biggest public opinion polling companies in Russia, the Levada Centre.

The irony of rambling on about Russia’s repressive controlling government as you take a gentle stroll down to the partly-American funded NGO, just minutes from Red Square, is apparently lost on David.

Imagine, if you can, a Russian-funded “polling centre” operating within walking distance of Westminster or Pennsylvania Avenue. That not only calls the government-run polls inaccurate, but claims that the CIA forces people to vote and that the President is corrupt.

It would never be allowed to happen, but in “authoritarian” Russia, with its “strictly controlled” media, this is the current reality.

In the Levada Centre (Russia’s only “independent” polling centre), David finds out that around 80% of Russian’s support Putin as President. Which everyone in the world already knew.

The fact the “independent” Levada’s centre polls almost perfectly align with the apparently unreliable government polls doesn’t cause anyone to question their assertions about corruption or dishonesty. It’s one of the many inconvenient truths the Panorama team feel the need to brush over as quickly as possible.

When the head of the Levada Centre claims a President with an 80% approval rating had to “force” people to vote, David doesn’t ask why, or state that it doesn’t make any sense. No, he just makes concerned faces at the camera.

They discuss the “annexation” of Crimea as Russia “taking back” what is theirs, with no reference to the polls that show huge Crimean support for the move, going all the way back to 1992, including those done by both the American and German governments.

*

David on… Propaganda

From Crimea it’s a steady flow to “propaganda” – theirs, not ours – Dimbleby narrates in solemn tones:

For most Russians, state-run television remains the main source of television news.”

… blithely passing over that this statement is being made on a state-run television station, that is the main source of television news for most people in Britain.

He goes from Russian domestic television to RT, saying they are “accused of spreading conspiracy theories”, he doesn’t say who accuses them, or ask his audience to consider the possible reason behind such accusations. He doesn’t even throw the weight of conviction behind it enough to make a declarative statement. No, just sends out the little accusation, evidence free and with no reply or counter, and hopes the implication does its job.

He interviews a British anchor for RT, who says that they aren’t told what to say, and he’s “answerable to no one but his own conscience”. To which David replies, “And that’s clear is it?” The anchor explains the structure of RT, but David isn’t listening. He’s too busy making a documentary demonising a designated “enemy” for a state-funded broadcaster.

He doesn’t pose the same questions about his own conscience.

It’s always worth remembering that the BBC, formerly the British Broadcasting Corporation, is not “independent”, even though they’ve spent decades pretending otherwise. We’re encouraged to think of the BBC as a friendly presence, our shared “Auntie Beeb”, cosy and reassuring and honest. It’s none of those things, it’s a state backed broadcaster with a history of launching pro-government, pro-war propaganda, for which it never faces censure or punishment. It’s a much a less “friendly auntie”, more a threatening “big brother”.

With truly Orwellian posters intimidating us into paying for it.

Imagine this poster was in cyrillic and about RT.

That Dimbleby can stand under the banner of one of the biggest state-funded media organizations in the world, and pontificate about “media control” from an “authoritarian government” demands levels of cognitive dissonance few would think possible. It’s marvelously without irony.

*

Next David seeks out a human rights lawyer to discuss Russia’s legal system. David tells us that Russian judges convict in 99% of cases. This is apparently shockingly high. It does sound high, but deliberately left without context to make it seem worse than it is.

Firstly, the 99% refers only to Judge cases. Jury trials are relatively new to Russian law – in fact Putin, in one of his desperate power grabs, introduced them nationwide in 2003 – and they have a conviction rate of roughly 80%, right in line with the UK’s own courts.

A high conviction rate is not unheard of, especially in systems that run “special procedure court hearings”, a slightly complex system of what amounts to plea bargaining.

Japan runs a similar system and has a conviction rate of nearly 100%, as does Israel. The US federal courts had a conviction rate of 93% in 2012. Will we be seeing documentaries about that? No.

I’m not a lawyer, I’m in no position to launch a full defense of the Russian legal system – for all I know it is corrupt and/or unfair. But there’s no evidence in this film that shows it to be the case, outside of some anecdotal evidence from one lawyer.

Then they move on to Putin’s “online crackdown”.

Apparently Russia is starting to try to censor the internet. How? We don’t know, they don’t tell us. They cite no laws and name no Acts. It is just anecdote after anecdote. There’s no body to any part of it. We’re told Putin wants more control of the internet, as if this is shockingly tyrannical and when Dimbleby says there is…

… a crackdown on what the security services call “online extremism”.

He thinks his scare quotes show some desperately dystopian alternative universe, but doesn’t seem to know, or at least acknowledge, that WE call it that too, or that our very own dear Theresa May called for a “crackdown in online extremism” in a speech just last year.

Or that she put having an entirely government controlled internet in her manifesto last year.

Or that she passed an act in 2016 which Edward Snowden described as:

The most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.

Is Panorama asking questions about that? Of course not.

Does the BBC call our government authoritarian? Not once.

Instead they offer just a talking-head, making a scary statement that “thousands” of innocent Russians could be in prison, with again no evidence to back it up at all.

When you actually dig into the numbers they tell a completely different story.

The New York Post, not known for its pro-Russia bias, reported that 233 Russians were convicted of “hate speech” in 2015, “most of them for online activity.”

Meanwhile, in happy bunny funland Britain, 2015 saw 857 people arrested for “offensive” tweets or Facebook posts… in London alone.

It sounds like we’re more “authoritarian” than the Russians on the internet front at least. A fact which takes maybe 30 seconds of research to find.

*

David on… Russia’s Controlled Media

Next David goes to Echo of Moscow Radio to talk to one of the completely non-existent members of the independent media in Russia. She claims that the entire country is actually run by the KGB. As per usual, she produces no evidence for this statement, she just says it. But that’s good enough for David who asks her to “explain how the KGB dominates society”, underlining that the KGB and MI6 are not at all similar:

Explain to our UK viewers, who might think of the KGB as just like our MI5 or MI6… how the KGB dominates society?”

Got that everyone? There’s their spies, and our spies, and they are completely different. This attitude was ridiculous enough to be used as satire in Blackadder, but now is being seriously repeated by one the BBC’s most respected personalities.

Her “explanation” involves simply repeating the same sentiment she already expressed, only in slightly different words, and David is too polite to press for more, or too lazy to be bothered, or too smug to notice. It’s really getting hard to say at this point.

(SIDEBAR: Of course one of the most prominent ways that MI6 and the KGB differ is that the KGB doesn’t exist anymore, whereas MI6 are very much still going.)

It’s at this point the documentary seems to realise the rather confusing contradiction of its own existence. They are there to talk about how autocratic and terrible Russia is, and yet they seem to talk to human rights lawyers, anti-government television hosts and the head of anti-Putin radio stations. If Putin has all dissidents and protestors locked up and/or murdered… how do these people exist?

They get around this in one, short sentence:

By allowing a few independent outlets, a few dissident voices, Putin can claim freedom of expression.

Brilliant logic. Unfailing reason. Yes there’s SOME freedom of speech, but only so Putin can say there’s freedom of speech, it’s not REAL freedom of expression.

It just looks like it.

Much like that old expression:

“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s not really a duck because Putin doesn’t allow ducks. He’s just letting that duck exist so he can pretend he’s got a duck.”

*

The Russian Orthodox Church seems to be a real bugbear of David’s, because fresh from announcing that “there IS free-speech in Russia, it just doesn’t count”, David goes back to talk to a member of the Church… and asks him if he approves of the lack of free speech in Russia. David narrates:

When it comes to political repression, the one place not to look for support is the Orthodox Church.”

This sentence implies we’re about to hear a Church spokesman defending political repression… which is not the case. Instead we see the same bemused Bishop as before, being asked:

You know there’s a lot of criticism of Putin’s encroachment on human rights: People in prison for speaking out against the state, internet communications closed down, the state spying on people’s communications, do you approve of all that?”

Note he’s asking “do you approve of…”, not “is this the case…”. Leading questions predicated upon unproven assumptions have no place in honest discourse… but if you took them out the documentary there would only be 3 or 4 minutes of stock footage of nesting dolls and onion domes.

The bishop, who seems slightly perturbed by the rudeness of the question, evidently wasn’t provided with a script because he doesn’t launch into a fascistic diatribe about values, or verbal attacks on traitors and dissidents… he simply says:

This is your point of view, and we do not always agree. With all due respect.

You can see his Russian politeness straining, but not breaking. And that’s it.

So much for Russia the conservative theocracy.

*

David on… Russians’ Right to Protest

The documentary just gets less coherent and more confusing from here on in. The facts they present never align with the spin they try to put on them. They point out eminently reasonable realities of Russian life, with a weight of sinister implication that defies all reason. (In the trade, we refer to this maneuver as “The Harding”).

The perfect example is the story of a women’s rights campaigner Alena Popova, protesting about the allegations of sexual harassment made against the Russian MP Leonid Slutsky.

We see her standing outside the State Duma with cardboard cut-out of Slutsky. I don’t read Russian, but I can’t imagine the slogans on the cut-out are especially complimentary. She is briefly detained by the police who ask her who she is and what she’s doing… she explains and is released. Then she returns to the Duma, and does her protest unmolested.

All this seems perfectly fine, despite David’s chuntering narration.

This is just one example of brutal oppression of dissent, ever present in Putin’s Russia.

Alena is standing literally right outside the door of the parliament building, with a cut-out of Slutsky covered in protest slogans. She requires no permit to do this under Russian law, which states that solo protests are allowed anywhere at any time without a permit. You do need permission to hold group protests.

By way of comparison, let’s imagine Alena were British, not Russian: If she attempted the same exact protest in the UK… she would not be allowed to. At all. Ever.

Firstly, you would never get to stand within inches of the doors of Parliament without getting halted by armed police. Secondly, you’re not allowed to protest in Parliament Square – even alone – without getting prior permission. This law was passed by Blair’s government in 2006, in order to shift anti-war protester Brian Haw.

At one point a young man approaches David and Alena and asks what’s going on, David’s voice-over claims the young man works for state security, and intones the words with foreboding. We have no way of knowing if this is true, if it even matters. I’m fairly sure a Russian camera crew standing outside the Houses of Parliament would attract the attention of special branch. He asks them two questions and then leaves.

Later, there’s a counter-protest. Four people appear with signs in support of Slutsky. David claims they’re there to cause trouble for Alena, and even implies they are working for the state. A claim which is rather shot-down when the counter-protest group – who support the government – are escorted away by the police because they don’t have permission for their group protest.

The pro-government protesters are gone, the anti-government protester remains. David doesn’t see this as, in any way, challenging his position on government oppression of dissent. He asks Alena:

If they control protest, if they’re against protest, why do they let it happen at all?”

A fantastic question, the only really cogent thing he’s said for the last half an hour. She replies:

Because we have a constitution.”

(SIDEBAR: Britain, of course, has no written constitution at all.)

*

David on… Russian Paranoia

The next episode in this bizarre saga opens with the director of the Levada Centre claiming the Kremlin is “paranoid” about a revolution, referencing the 2012 protests (the aborted “Snow Revolution”). To which David adds some rather incongruous narration:

Putin prepares to go to almost any lengths to prevent a popular uprising against him.”

He never says what these “lengths” are. In fact, we have no idea what the Russian government has done to prevent a Revolution. If anything. But breaking away from the specific facts, which the documentary forces us to do, maybe we should ask a simple question.

Why would the Russian government be paranoid about revolution?

Maybe we should look at other countries that have had “revolutions” recently for an answer to this question.

Ukraine is a disaster. Libya is possibly the only country in the world worse off than Ukraine and the only reason Syria isn’t just as bad those two is that Russia stepped in to help. David talks about revolutions as if they are organic, almost accidental, occurrences. But we all know that’s not true, we’ve all seen “Colour Revolutions” be fomented by the Western powers to overthrow governments that the USA has deemed to not have “American interests” at heart.

“Revolutions”, in recent years, are Imperial acts of aggression carried out by proxy armies with the aim of removing an “enemy” of the West. And they have left nothing in their wake but blood and destruction. The Kremlin has every right to be concerned about possible Western attempts at a coup against their government. Such a move could destroy everything they have built.

Do you think a Western-backed coup government will keep up free school meals and medals for motherhood? Do they have a constitutional right to protest in Libya right now? How about the birthrate vs death rate in Syria, is that going up?

Shouldn’t all governments fear revolution and hope for stability?

How would David feel about a revolution in Britain? Would it be welcomed? Would Theresa May like seeing violent unrest in the streets of London? Or being replaced by a Russian-backed, unelected leader?

Despite the chaos that has been left in the wake of “revolutions” the world over in recent years, the documentary gives no credence to Russian fears. Russia is never “afraid”, and always “paranoid”.

David talks to an Sergei Markov, a “political consultant who has worked with Putin”. We have no way of knowing if this is true, and this being Panorama taking it in faith is an unearned act of trust, but let’s assume that they’re telling the truth.

Markov highlights that Russia has good reason to fear Western aggression. Pointing out, reasonably enough, that no Russian soldier has ever set foot on British soil in the name of conquest, whereas Britain has invaded Russia every several times since the 19th Century:

Now, you are preparing to invade Russian territory again, to establish your control of Russian political, social and economic constitution, for us it is absolutely clear.”

We are encouraged to see Markov as a crazy-eyed lunatic, and David’s response is to laugh in his face:

You don’t seriously think an invasion of Russia is planned by the West? I mean, you’ll have me laughing in a moment.”

A rather patronising rebuttal, that would hold more water if Russia weren’t practically encircled by NATO airbases. Or if the US hadn’t unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002. Or if they hadn’t positioned their missile defense shield in Eastern Europe under clearly false pretences, granting them theoretical first-strike capability.

David doesn’t mention these facts.

Just as he doesn’t go into any recent history of Western military interventions. How America has, in the last 20 years alone, carried out coups in Venezuela, Ukraine and Honduras. Or how, when covert means did not work, they simply declared all out war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Any impartial viewing of world history – especially recent history – would explain every country in the world having a fear of falling into NATO’s crosshairs.

Rather than acknowledging this, the documentary remains resolutely in its own little world. Insisting, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that Russia has nothing to fear from the West.

*

David on… Russia’s “Orchestrated” Democracy

Fresh from telling us that Putin’s Russia is a “paranoid place”, where the leader with 80% approval is constantly worried about revolution and is prepared to go any lengths to stop it – even so far as having laws regulating protests that are almost identical to our own – David goes to talk to all the young people about their views on Putin.

They all like him, apparently:

One of the most fascinating aspects of today’s Russia, is that the under 25s, who might be expected to rebel, are Putin’s strongest supporters.

He’s talking to a group called Set (Russian for Network), a collection of “young artists, writers and designers” who consider Putin a role-model. David asks them a series of questions.

What do you like about Putin?

One of the young men says that before Putin it was “uncomfortable”, even “shameful”, to be associated with Russia. David doesn’t ask a follow-up question, putting paid to his earlier claims about wanting to know what Russians “really think” and staying true to the programme’s aim of never, ever mentioning the 1990s. Instead he skips back to leading questions based on false assumptions:

You feel happy with one person controlling the whole country?

We don’t know what they say to that, because it cuts off before anyone answers.

Do you agree that he’s quite ruthless when it comes to opposition?

They say they don’t agree. In fact they say quite the opposite. Which cues in a snide narration:

This generation of Russians are internet savvy, globally connected, but they prefer Putin’s authoritarian rule to democracy.

None of the people on camera ever express this opinion. Which makes this one of the most egregious lies in the whole 58 minutes. To appreciate what a statement that is, you really need to watch the film.

None of these young people “prefer authoritarianism to democracy”, they make it quite clear – in their opinion, they live in a democracy. Is there an effort to understand their position? None whatsoever. Instead we get treated to the head of the Levada Centre (again), this time dismissing all the young people who like Putin as being either stupid or brainwashed:

They are very different to Western youth, their minds were formed at the same time Putin’s regime was established, and for them the rhetoric of a great power is a very important part of their collective identity.

This is, as far as we know, another unsupported statement. Not one of the half-dozen young people David talked to said anything about Russia being a great power. Not one thing. They talked about Putin personally being relatable and they talked about improving conditions from the Yeltsin era.

When confronted with Dimbleby asking yet another offensively phrased question…

People in Britain look at Russia and say “this is a powerful autocrat who stops opposition, prevents anyone, if necessary puts them in jail to stop them opposing him” is that not how you see it?

… one young man, far from claiming to “prefer authoritarian rule” or praising the “rhetoric of a great power”, launches into a defense of Russian democracy. Pointing out the sheer number of different political parties (48), and that they had 8 different Presidential candidates running against Putin.

David isn’t listening. He’s nailed his colours to the mast on this one, Russia isn’t a democracy. It doesn’t matter how popular the leader is. It doesn’t matter how many elections they have, how many candidates are on the ballots, or how much public support they have. Russia is NOT a democracy, because David says so.

The film even references Navalny as “Putin’s biggest political opponent”, without mentioning that his party has ZERO seats in the Duma, and that he polls at less than 2% public support. Dimbleby doesn’t know these numbers, because his “researchers” either didn’t look them up, or pretended not to know them. Instead David solemnly declares:

Putin had him convicted of fraud.

Not “he was found guilty”, no, “Putin HAD him convicted”. Is there evidence produced that shows Navalny was framed? Nope. Is there evidence produced that shows any corruption on behalf of the judiciary? None. Is there any mention of Navalny being a right-wing ultra-nationalist who referred to Caucasians as “cockroaches”? Not even a little.

“Russia isn’t a democracy”, and “Putin’s main political opponent” is an unpopular convicted criminal with a history of racism, who was forbidden by the constitution from running in a Presidential election in which he would have come ninth.

Cut to:- Skyline of Moscow. Night. Synthy music plays, and the David lets fly with this beauty:

As many autocrats have shown, just holding an election doesn’t make a democracy.”

Boom. Just as a free press doesn’t mean Russia has freedom of expression, elections don’t mean they are a democracy. The documentary is slowly becoming less an attack on Putin and Russia, than an attack on the English language, and indeed logic itself.

David doesn’t tell us what DOES make a democracy, but it certainly isn’t elections. Following this logic, of course, you could have a democracy without elections. And if that sounds absurd, then remember that Margaret Thatcher praised Pinochet for bringing “democratic order” to Chile.

Elections that return the “wrong” result? They aren’t democratic. Rounding up dissidents in soccer stadiums and gunning them down? That is democratic.

“Democracy” means whatever the establishment wants it to mean.

Putin uses carefully orchestrated elections to legitimise his rule.”

Who “orchestrates” the elections? How do they do it? How does David know this? We’re not told. We’re now 40 minutes in, and we’ve yet to have any single accusation or anecdote backed up with anything even approaching evidence. We’re not even provided basic logical reason.

Perhaps more pressing is: Why would a President with 80% popularity NEED to “orchestrate” elections?

They never explain.

*

David on… Russia’s “small” economy

David’s next port-of-call on his tour of Bizzarro World is the Russian economy. Having been told that the Russian economy is “struggling” we get some more stock footage – this time of factories and oil wells – with David narrating:

Russia is one of the largest countries on Earth, with a population of 144 million, but its economy is much smaller – not even two-thirds the size of Britain, and even smaller than Italy.”

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, it’s absolutely hilarious that dear little David can’t even bring himself to acknowledge the simple fact that Russia is not “one of the largest countries on Earth”, it is the largest. It’s nearly double the size of China. It’s European portion is the largest country in Europe, its Asian portion is the largest country in Asia and if you cut it evenly in half the two new countries would still be 4th and 5th largest countries in the world.

Russia is very big.

Nobody would ever dispute that, so why not just say it? It goes to show the pettiness of the mindset behind this programme. They simply cannot give Russia any credit, even so far as acknowledging its size.

Second, the language is again very deceptive. When he says “much smaller than Britain” and “EVEN smaller than Italy”, he’s painting a picture of small economy. He doesn’t mention that the UK has the 4th largest economy in the world, and Italy the 7th. Russia is 10th, just behind Canada. He also doesn’t mention that those figures don’t include the economy of Crimea, which the World Bank refuses to count as Russian.

Nobody would seriously claim that the 10th biggest economy in the world is “small”.

David sits down with Russia’s former deputy-Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich who says, when asked about the size of Russia’s economy:

If you look at other European economies, they have a long tradition of private entrepreneurship, we started this tradition only in the 1990s and need to accumulate experience.”

It’s a fair point, considering they’ve only been capitalist for 28 years or so, the 10th biggest economy in the world isn’t bad at all. David is unmoved. We don’t see his answer to that point, I would suggest because he couldn’t make one.

Instead he changes the subject, in voice-over, to corruption. Calling it a “tradition” in Russia.

He talks to Vladimir Pozner, a member of the allegedly “strictly controlled” Russian media, who apparently feels free to say corruption is endemic, giving yet more anecdotal evidence. This time about entirely hypothetical traffic policeman being bribed. A (strictly controlled?) anti-corruption campaigner points at a flat and says a politician lives there and shouldn’t be able to afford it. And David mentions an (unnamed) survey which ranks Russia 135th in the world in terms of corruption.

Thus is it established that Russia has a terrible corruption problem.

At this point the documentary devolves into a series of complete lies. Not mistakes, not exaggerations, lies. Lies so simple and so easy to refute with only a few google searches, that we’ll just go ahead and work through them one at a time:

Corruption is widespread, according to one survey it’s one of the worst countries in the world – it ranks 135 out of 180.”

He’s almost certainly referring to the famous “corruption perception index”, which is NOT a measure of corruption, but a measure of how corrupt some (unnamed) people THINK something MIGHT BE. It is a nonsense stat, discussed in more detail here.

“Russia has one of the most unequal economies in the world…. 20 million people live in poverty.”

This is technically true, there are 20 million people living under the poverty line in Russia, or 13.8% of the population. Before the sanctions it was less than 12%.

In the US, there are 45 million people living under the poverty line, or 13.8% of the population.

In the UK, there are 14 million people living under the poverty line, or 20.6% of the population.

Of course, where these numbers differ is that Russia’s number is coming down from 35%, and ours is going up. The makers of this programme know this, because the numbers were published on the BBC’s own website.

Putin’s failure to diversify the economy means that half the Russian budget comes from oil and gas, so when the price of oil fell after the annexation of Crimea, Russia was plunged into crisis.”

The price of oil did not “fall”, it was deliberately sabotaged by the gulf monarchies flooding the market. This was done to try to hurt the Russian economy, we can tell David knows this because he references the “annexation of Crimea” as the cause, he just doesn’t explain the details.

Putin’s aggressive foreign policy, along with the West’s sanctions, made the situation worse.”

Putin’s foreign policy – “aggressive” or otherwise – has no bearing on the Russian economy. This is all about the sanctions. Sanctions imposed by the West are not any reflection on the economic competence of the Russian government, especially when they are put in place over entirely false accusations, such as the Skripal poisoning or “hacking” the US Presidential election.

It is one of the oldest tricks in the US Imperial playbook, create a pretext for action against a country which they see as an “enemy”. Use this pretext to sanction a country with the aim of crippling their economy, and then use the fact the economy is struggling to criticise the government of the target country. The US has been doing it to Cuba and North Korea for decades, to Venezuela for years and Russia since 2014.

The deliberate destruction of their economy by powers beyond their control has no bearing on the competence or corruption of the Russian government.

In fact, by any standards, the Russian government under both Putin and Medvedev has been exceptionally competent.

… this list could go on and on.

Russian GDP under Yeltsin, Putin and Medvedev

Russia’s economy – under both Putin and Medvedev – has gone largely in the right direction.Of course, part of that is that there was only one direction to go.

All of this comes back to the 1990s. When Russia, as a country, was possibly within only months of ceasing to exist, collapsing into Balkanisation and chaos.

Average salary in Russia since 1998

Putin’s government prevented that, and turned things around for ordinary Russians in a quasi-miraculous fashion. That is why 80% of Russians support the man.

It’s the most basic rule of governance, but its one we in the West are encouraged to ignore – the first priority of government is to make the country better. Do that, and the people will support you.

To discuss the Russian economy, or the living standards of Russian people, or popularity of Putin, without acknowledging these facts, is just incredibly dishonest. Sickeningly so.

*

Conclusion

This is a bad documentary. It’s not simply ethically bankrupt, it’s also badly made. It’s badly paced, badly edited and incoherent. It’s so dedicated to its agenda that it sacrifices all else.

There is a relentless war being waged here, not just at the BBC and not just against Russia, but throughout the Western world… and against reality itself.

Consider the implications of this situation: One of the largest media organizations in the world spent license fee-payers money to send a man half-way around the globe, to convince their captive audience of tax-payers that elections don’t equal democracy, that independent media doesn’t equal free speech and that a $15bn trade surplus means your economy is struggling.

It recycles lies that have become terribly dull to refute, so must be simply exhausting to repeat. It routinely accidentally steps on its own argument, realises it has done so, and then performs logical gymnastics to try to prove it knows what it’s talking about. It makes no sense, and you can tell that they know it.

The list of contradictions and unanswered questions goes on and on, creating a world that cannot exist under the laws of reason. We’re told that Putin is popular, but that people are forced to vote for him. We’re told by Russian independent media organizations, critical of the government, that Russia has no independent media organizations critical of the government, and we’re told by a protester standing right outside the Russian parliament, that protests are practically illegal.

All of this irrationality combines to put together a patchwork-Picasso portrait of “Vladimir Putin”, the corrupt communist idealist, KGB hardliner and devout christian ideologue, who forces all the devoted members of his cult of personality to vote for him in elections he rigs anyway. A man who stole all the money he also spent on rebuilding Russia’s military, schools and hospitals, is best-buddies with all the oligarchs he sent to jail for tax evasion, and who – despite the size of the country – has “only” got the 10th biggest economy in the world.

It’s a documentary made by people at war with themselves, unable to understand that their delusions are absurd and incomprehensible to those of us struggling to live a reality-based life.

There’s desperation in this film, a hysterical repetition of proven lies and shrill fake news, screamed out by people who feel they’re losing control of the narrative.

They don’t know what they think except that Russia is bad and Putin is worse, they don’t know why they think it except that they’ve got to because they were told to, and they’re aghast. Unable to understand why no one’s listening when they’re making so much sense!

This documentary, like so much of the MSM’s recent output, is a wail of outrage at a world that refuses to listen to their nonsense. As well-reasoned as a toddler’s tantrum, as well sourced as “Trevor from the pub” and as well researched as toilet stall graffiti. A limping, heaving, slime-ridden pile of self-defeating, self-contradictory garbage that has no place in people’s hearts, minds or homes.

And I watched it five times to write this.

I need a shower.

One Year On – The Truth About The Manchester Bombing Scorpion

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The Saker

May 22, 2018

 

by Nick for The Saker Blog

“Terrorism is like a scorpion; it can unexpectedly sting you at any time”. Among the Western nations to discover the bitter truth of Bashar al Assad’s 2013 warning was Britain, when a Libyan suicide bomber killed 22 people attending a pop concert in Manchester. But while the UK media covered the May 22nd first anniversary of the massacre, not a single mainstream outlet so much as hinted at the fact that the attack was intimately linked to the attempt by the Cameron regime to use Jihadi terror as a weapon of foreign policy.

The truth emerged during the trial last December of Mohammed Abdullah, a Libyan national living in Manchester who was jailed for ten years for belonging to ISIS/Daesh.

Press coverage of the trial confirmed that Abdullah and his friends joined the terror group after fighting in Libya in 2011. But the same mainstream media carefully avoided the fact that the Manchester terror cell to which Abdullah, and his close friend Manchester bomber Salman Abedi, belonged was formed as a direct result of the British government and security services trying to use radical Muslims as weapons to achieve ‘regime change’ in Libya.

The Daily Mail was among the media outlets that reported on the conviction of Mohammed Abdallah:

“Footage has emerged of the jihadi linked to the Manchester Arena bomber fighting with militants in Libya before he tried to become an ISIS sniper.

“Mohammed Abdallah and his brother Abdalraouf were at the centre of a Manchester-based terror network which included Salman Abedi, who killed 22 at the Ariana Grande concert earlier this year.

“As unemployed former drug dealer Abdallah was jailed for 10 years today, footage showed him and his brother during a spell they spent in Libya fighting along militants in the country’s civil war.

“The brothers, who grew up in Manchester had dual Libyan nationality, joined the ‘Tripoli Brigade’ when the North African country fell apart in 2011.”

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Hold it right there! Because the Tripoli Brigade was not some random bunch of Jihadi crazies. It was a part of the so-called National Liberation Army, the umbrella force organised to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. The NLA was the ground-force backed by none other than David Cameron, who turned the RAF into the air arm of the Islamist rebellion.

It was founded, organised and led by Mahdi al-Harati, a Libyan-Irish citizen. It was armed by the CIA, through the American puppet regime in Qatar. The brigade included officers who had lived most of their lives in English speaking countries including Ireland, Canada, UK and the US.

An article in Ireland’s Sunday World drew attention to relations between Mahdi al-Harati and an unnamed US intelligence agency.

According to the article on November 6, 2011, €200,000 in cash was stolen from al-Harati’s Dublin house a month previously.

The Sunday World reported that a criminal gang working the area found two envelopes stuffed with €500 notes during a raid on the al-Harati’s family home, October 6.

The article, apparently relying on police sources, stated that al-Harati, who has been a Dublin resident employed as an Arabic teacher for 20 years, claimed, when contacted by police, that the stolen cash was “given to him by an American intelligence agency.”

Image result for mahdi al harati cia

The article continued, “Astonished officers made contact with Mahdi al-Harati who told them that he had travelled to France, the United States and Qatar the previous month and that representatives of an American intelligence agency had given him a significant amount of money to help in the efforts to defeat Gaddafi. He said he left two envelopes with his wife in case he was killed and took the rest of the cash with him when he went back to Libya.”

When Abdallah’s brother was shot and paralysed from the waist down, he was flown back to Britain to get NHS treatment. But the UK’s aid for the rebels went far beyond the ‘health tourism’ we’ve all come to expect in Soft Touch Britain.

Middle Eastern Eye blew the whistle on what really happened on 25th May 2017, in a major investigation entitled ‘Sorted’ by MI5: How UK government sent British-Libyans to fight Gadaffi. This included the following revelations:

“One British citizen with a Libyan background who was placed on a control order – effectively house arrest – because of fears that he would join militant groups in Iraq said he was “shocked” that he was able to travel to Libya in 2011 shortly after his control order was lifted.

“‘I was allowed to go, no questions asked,’ said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.

“He said he had met several other British-Libyans in London who also had control orders lifted in 2011 as the war against Gaddafi intensified, with the UK, France and the US carrying out air strikes and deploying special forces soldiers in support of the rebels.

“‘They didn’t have passports, they were looking for fakes or a way to smuggle themselves across,’ said the source.

“But within days of their control orders being lifted, British authorities returned their passports, he said.

“‘These were old school LIFG guys, they [the British authorities] knew what they were doing,’ he said, referring to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an anti-Gaddafi Islamist militant group formed in 1990 by Libyan veterans of the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

“Belal Younis, another British citizen who went to Libya, described how he was stopped under ‘Schedule 7’ counter-terrorism powers on his return to the UK after a visit to the country in early 2011. Schedule 7 allows police and immigration officials to detain and question any person passing through border controls at ports and airports to determine whether they are involved in terrorism.He said he was subsequently asked by an intelligence officer from MI5, the UK’s domestic security agency: “Are you willing to go into battle?

“‘While I took time to find an answer he turned and told me the British government have no problem with people fighting against Gaddafi,’ he told MEE.

As he was travelling back to Libya in May 2011 he was approached by two counter-terrorism police officers in the departure lounge who told him that if he was going to fight he would be committing a crime.

But after providing them with the name and phone number of the MI5 officer he had spoken to previously, and following a quick phone call to him, he was waved through.

“As he waited to board the plane, he said the same MI5 officer called him to tell him that he had ‘sorted it out’.”

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The victims of David Cameron’s scorpion nest in Manchester

The Manchester Bomber’s own father first came to Britain with the help of the security services as a leading member of the LIFG. And the December 2017 trial confirmed that his close friend Mohammed Abdallah was a fighter with the Tripoli Brigade – David Cameron’s allies and “boots on the ground” in the war on Libya.

So we see that the terrorist cell which murdered 22 innocent people in Manchester were not a group who slipped in and out of Britain to wage terrorist war without anyone noticing. Rather, they were part of a terror gang deliberately encouraged and aided and abetted by the British political elite and intelligence services.

They were yet another example of the way in which Britain and key allies, including the USA, Israel and France, have continually treated Wahhabi-inspired terrorists as pet scorpions which they can drop down other people’s shirts in the hope that they will do their dirty work for them.

The Manchester bombing was a terrible and classic example of the accuracy of President Assad’s warning against this wickedly cynical policy. One year on, with defeated Daesh fighters using every possible route to try to escape final annihilation by the Syrian Army by slipping into Western Europe, the resulting danger is now worse than ever.

The West no longer even knows where its scorpions are. Its short-sighted political and media elites need to check their own boots!

 

TAKE TWO MINUTES TO LISTEN TO ROGER WATERS ON THE WHITE HELMETS AND DOUMA CW HOAX

In Gaza

Salisbury hospital becomes secret rendition center for Yulia #Skripal

Source

By John Helmer, Moscow

Salisbury Hospital’s chief administrator and chief doctor refuse to say they are holding consent forms signed by Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal. Without those forms, and proof the hospital has obtained them from the Skripals since they regained consciousness last week, the hospital is making claims about their privacy which are improper, according to the practice rules of the British National Health Service, and unlawful violations of their human rights, according to British and European law.

Late on April 4, Cara Charles-Barks, the Salisbury Hospital chief executive, said by email: “Due to patient confidentiality, the [Salisbury Hospital] Trust is not able to enter into further correspondence about the clinical care of patients.” This was her reply to the request that she confirm her hospital’s standard practice for communication between patients and their next of kin; and the particular next-of-kin arrangements which the Skripals have agreed with Salisbury Hospital.  For details of that story, read this.


Left – Cara Charles-Barks; right – Dr Christine Blanshard.

On Friday afternoon, April 6, following Yulia Skripal’s telephone call to her cousin in Moscow, Victoria Skripal, the Salisbury Hospital’s medical director and chief doctor, Christine Blanshard,  issued a new claim about the medical care and condition of the Skripals. Click to open.

Blanshard reported that both Skripals remained under her supervision in the hospital. As of Friday afternoon, they had not left for the US, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, as the Rupert Murdoch media began reporting on Saturday evening.

That report  cited “a senior Whitehall figure” for the claim that “intelligence officials at MI6 have had discussions with their counterparts in the CIA about resettling the victims of the Salisbury poisoning. ‘They will be offered new identities’…. ‘There’s a preference for them to be resettled in a five-eyes nation [US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand] because their case would have huge security implications’.”

This claim has not been repeated by British state radio or any other publication. Reuters said it had tried to verify the claim, but “Britain’s Foreign Office had no immediate comment on the report.”

The hospital director corroborated Yulia Skripal’s remark in her telephone conversation with Victoria Skripal that her father was “recovering…He’s resting now, having a sleep. Everyone’s health is fine.” Blanshard also confirmed that Yulia Skripal had recovered her power of speech. “Yulia has asked for privacy,” Blanshard added in her statement, “while she continues to get better – something I’d like to urge the media to respect.”

Yulia had told her cousin the day before: “I’ll be discharged soon.” On Friday afternoon, according to the hospital medical director,  “she can look forward to the day when she is well enough to leave the hospital. Any speculation on when that date will be is just that – speculation.”

On the same day, the UK Home Office in London issued a statement that Victoria Skripal’s visa application to visit Salisbury Hospital was rejected on the ground that “ it did not comply with the immigration rules.” This confirmed Yulia’s remark in the telephone call: “Vika, no-one will give you a visa.”

The hospital statement by Blanshard did not claim that Yulia Skripal was medically incapable of making the telephone-call to her cousin, nor is the hospital denying the call took place from its premises.   According to the hospital website, Blanshard is “the [Salisbury Hospital] Trust’s Caldicott Guardian and is responsible for protecting the confidentiality of patient information, allowing it to be shared with other organisations or individuals only when it is lawful and ethical to do so.”

The British law which applies to patients in hospitals, as well to their communication with next of kin, is the Human Rights Act of 1998. Here it is in full.  This statute gives legal effect in the British courts to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.  When Blanshard made her claims about Yulia Skripal’s privacy and consent, she is required to comply with Article 8(1) and (2).

If she is falsifying what Yulia Skripal has said, or if she has failed to get Skripal’s consent “in accordance with the law”, Blanshard can be called to account for her actions in court, according to this statute.

She is also required to comply with the rules of the “Caldicott Guardian”, as referred to in the hospital website’s description of Blanshard’s duties.  The Caldicott Guardian is the official role required to be assigned at every hospital by the British Health Ministry and the National Health Service since the adoption of the Report on the Review of Patient-Identifiable Information; that was issued in December 1997 by a committee of officials chaired by Dame Fiona Caldicott; for the full report, click. The report’s intention was to protect patient confidentiality;  and also to ensure that “the sharing of some types of very sensitive personal information is strictly controlled by law.” Blanshard was, still is, the Salisbury Hospital’s official responsible for the lawfulness of patient information and consent.

This is how the Caldicott Committee set down Blanshard’s duties in general, and the Skripal case in particular:

For a brief summary of the Caldicott principles, read this.

To verify what the Salisbury Hospital authorities are claiming about Yulia Skripal’s wishes and the lawfulness of her reported consent, Chief Executive Charles-Barks and Medical Director Blanshard (along with their spokesmen Patrick Butler and Paul Russell) were asked by email on Saturday morning two questions.

________________________________________

To: “Patrick Butler” <Patrick.Butler@salisbury.nhs.uk>

Cc: “Cara Charles-Barks” <Cara.Charles-Barks@salisbury.nhs.uk>; “Paul Russell (PP Manager)” <Paul.Russell@salisbury.nhs.uk>; “Christine Blanshard” <Christine.Blanshard@salisbury.nhs.uk>

Sent: 07/04/2018 11:20:25

Subject: Request for proof of Yulia Skripal’s consent

Dear Ms Charles-Barks and Dr Blanshard:

Your last line in your email to me of April 4 was changed by Dr Blanshard’s sudden decision to issue a statement on Friday afternoon confirming that Mr Sergei Skripal is no longer unconscious.  I refer to this release: https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/2018/04/06/updates-on-the-salisbury-incident-6/

Ms Yulia Skripal had confirmed this, as you know, a day and a half earlier in her Thursday morning conversation with her cousin, Ms Victoria Skripal. You have added to the evidence dispelling media speculation that the call was not a genuine one, and I am most grateful for your contribution.

May I refer you to Dr Blanshard’s  claim in the Friday  statement — “Yulia has asked for privacy while she continues to get better”. The Metropolitan Police statement quotes Ms Skripal as saying “I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.”

Two requests, please:

— it is universal hospital policy that patients sign consent forms relating to care, to contact with next of kin, and to privacy. You were referring to this when you said in your statement — “Yulia has asked”.  Do you have these signed consents from Ms Skripal, and if you do, I request you prove it.

— I have highlighted two word forms in the Metropolitan Police quotation of Ms Skripal’s remarks. These cannot be translations from the Russian language we know Ms Skripal uses. They are also English idioms which she cannot form herself. Do you as the responsible physician have evidence that Ms Skripal’s exposure to the purported nerve agent has improved her English beyond the level she exercised prior to March 4.

I invite you to respond promptly.

In the event that you do not answer the questions, I am obliged to remind you, as before, that you will be reported as refusing to answer.

Yours sincerely,

Dr John Helmer

_______________________________________________________________________________

By press time, Salisbury Hospital refuses to produce evidence of lawful consent.

Was the Alleged #Skripal Poisoning Incident an Elaborate Hoax?

Was the Alleged Skripal Poisoning Incident an Elaborate Hoax?

By Stephen Lendman,

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Was whatever happened on March 4 to father and daughter Skripal something other than what the official narrative reported?

Did anything at all happen? Were the Skripals poisoned or ill for another reason? Did Britain conceal the truth about the whole ugly business – a scheme to frame Russia for what it had nothing to do with?

When inflammatory headlines unquestionably support the official narrative, bet on disinformation and Big Lies substituting for truth-telling.

Russia was framed for perhaps what never happened – at least not as officially claimed.

On March 31, Fort Russ reported that Yulia Skripal, Sergey’s daughter, “visited her ‘Vkontakte’ (social media) page…on the morning of March 7” – three days after the alleged poisoning incident.

The official narrative claimed she and her father were in a coma, poisoned by a deadly military-grade nerve agent.

It’s possible someone else hacked into her site, but for what reason, surely not UK or US operatives, wanting no information conflicting with the official narrative getting out.

If hacking occurred, forensic analysis could determine it, nothing suggesting it so far.

On March 29, Salisbury District Hospital Dr. Christine Blanshard explained Yulia’s condition improved markedly. She’s “conscious and talking,” no longer in critical condition.

Was she ever as ill as officially reported, or if so, what is the hospital’s diagnosis? Will Sergey Skripal’s condition be reported improved ahead, recovering steadily?

Clearly, whatever may have affected them wasn’t a military-grade nerve agent.

They and other Salisbury residents they had contact with would have been dead in minutes if poisoned by something this deadly.

A few obvious lessons can be drawn from the above information.

Never accept official narratives at face value on most everything – including major media reports. Most often they’re meant to deceive, not accurately explain things.

The alleged Skripal incident is the latest US/UK political assault on Russia – public enemy number one in Washington and London.

Almost surely more provocative shoes will drop ahead, likely more serious, the trend heading in this direction.

If Washington could pull off the elaborate mother of all 9/11 false flags, most Americans still believing the official Big Lie, staging the Skripal affair by the US and Britain would be simple by comparison.

Escalating US/UK-led hostility toward Russia heads things perilously toward East/West confrontation – the ominous risk of nuclear war.

That’s the scary reality ahead if madness defining US policy isn’t curbed.

We Can Actively Assume That #Skripal Was Poisoned by The British Government

We Can Actively Assume That Skripal Was Poisoned by The British Government – Joe Quinn

uk media skripal

 By now anyone with an opinion on the Skripal poisoning has already decided if they believe the official narrative or not. Still, the event and the ongoing media coverage around it presents an opportunity to understand more than we might think.

The British government claim is that a “military-grade nerve agent”, one of a group of nerve agents supposedly called ‘novichok’ (which simply means ‘newcomer’), was used by Russia on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. They reach the conclusion that Russia is to blame because, they claim, the nerve agent used is “of a type developed by Russia.”

Russian daily newspaper Kommersant recently released a 6-page document they claim constitutes the British government’s official case against Russia. They summed up the ‘evidence’ as follows:

UK briefing Novichok

  • Military-grade Novichok nerve agent positively identified at the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, an OPCW-accredited and designated laboratory
  • Novichok is a group of agents developed only by Russia and not declared under the CWC
  • A violation of the fundamental prohibition on the use of chemical weapons (Art. 1 CWC)
  • First offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War
  • We are without doubt that Russia is responsible. No country bar Russia has combined capability, intent and motive. There is no plausible alternative explanation
  • As of Sunday 18 March, we count over thirty parallel lines of Russian disinformation

Note the 2nd point, that “Novichok is a group of agents developed only by Russia and not declared under the CWC.”

In 2016, Iranian scientists synthesized five ‘Novichok’ agents and the data was added to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Central Analytical Database (OCAD).

In an interview with AFP, the former Russian scientist who participated in the development of “Novichok” in Russia in the 70s and 80s, Vil Mirzayanov, stated that if Russia was not responsible for the poisoning:

“The only other possibility would be that someone used the formulas in my book to make such a weapon.

Mirzayanov’s book, published in 2008, contains the formulas he alleges can be used to create “Novichoks”. In 1995, he explained that “the chemical components or precursors” of Novichok are “ordinary organophosphates that can be made at commercial chemical companies that manufacture such products as fertilizers and pesticides.”

So the British government claim that this type of nerve agent can only be Russian, and was only developed by Russia, is demonstrably false. In fact, in her statement to the House of Commons on 12th March 2018, British Prime Minister Theresa May contradicted that claim when she said:

“It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. This is part of a group of nerve agents known as ‘Novichok’. Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down.

In the world of nerve agents, in order to positively identify a sample, you must have your own sample for comparison and positive identification.

In a judgement at the British High Court on 22nd March on whether to allow blood samples to be taken from Sergei and Yulia Skripal for examination by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), evidence submitted by the Porton Down laboratory to the court (Section 17 i) stated:

“Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent.

Again, Porton Down must have had a sample of the alleged nerve agent used to poison Skripal and his daughter. That can mean only one of two things: that Porton Down obtained the nerve agent from some other party, or manufactured it on site. Porton Down is, after all, in the business of producing chemical weapons (ostensibly to test them on anti-chemical weapon equipment).

Note also that the wording used in the quote above includes the possibility that the agent used on Skripal was not even ‘Novichok’ but rather a “related compound” or something “closely related.” So even Theresa May’s statement that the British MoD had “positively identified” ‘Novichok’ seems false.

In an interview with German Deutsch Welle, bumbling UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was directly asked if scientists at Porton Down had samples of ‘Novichok’, to which he replied:

They do. And they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said there’s no doubt.”

So the only thing we can presume to be 100% certain of in the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter is that the nerve agent used was in stock at Porton Down, 8 miles from the site of the poisoning.

In the 5th point in the British government 6-page ‘dossier’, the British establishment claims:

“We are without doubt that Russia is responsible. No country bar Russia has combined capability, intent and motive. There is no plausible alternative.”

We know that other countries have the capability. Claiming to have no doubt about someone’s intent is nonsense. So we’re left with motive. Did Russia have a motive to poison Skripal and his daughter? Motives for a course of action are intrinsically linked to the result of the action. The obvious and predictable result of using a nerve agent that was originally developed in Russia in the 1970s to poison a former Russian spy living in the UK and working for British intelligence is that Russia would be blamed and universally condemned for it. So if Russia was motivated to further downgrade its reputation on the international stage, then sure, Russia had motivation to poison Skripal and his daughter.

The problem is that there is no evidence that Russia desires to damage its own reputation in this way. Is there evidence that anyone else has such motivation? For those that have been paying attention to world affairs over the past 6 or 7 years, I’ll presume that you don’t need me to answer that one.

So when we remove the unfounded and contradictory claims around the Skripal poisoning, the actual facts of the case are rather limited:

  • Skripal lived in Salisbury, England, and had been working for MI5 for 8 years. It is reasonable to assume that he may, therefore, have had access to sensitive material, possibly useful to foreign governments, including Russia. As such, he may have posed an ‘intelligence threat’ if he returned to Russia.
  • According to a close friend, Skripal had recently decided that he wanted to go back to live in Russia and petitioned the Russian government to that end.
  • Not long thereafter, Skripal was poisoned with a substance that was in stock at a British Ministry of Defense facility, 8 miles from where he was living.
  • The British government blamed Russia for his poisoning. This accusation must be seen in the context of a years-long anglo-American black propaganda campaign designed to marginalize Russia and thereby limit its ability to effectively assert itself as a globally influential player.

I’ve heard people make the argument that any investigations of what really happened in Salisbury can only ever be guesswork, that we can never be 100% sure. Of course, that’s true to a degree, especially when dealing with evidence which may be held back from public disclosure because of reasons of “national security”. But such people tend to use this line of thinking simply to avoid taking a position, because taking a position scares some people, especially if it is not the official position. It’s also not very realistic or practical. If we were to hold all statements and claims to the same level of proof, our court systems would become obsolete. Rarely is there enough evidence to find a criminal guilty with a 100% degree of certainty. That’s why courts hold the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” and allow for circumstantial evidence.

Insistence on absolute proof fails to recognize that, as humans, we don’t navigate our lives and make decisions on the basis of 100% proof. Instead, we use something akin to ‘past form’. For example, if I intend to take the train at 9.15am from platform 1 in the morning, I cannot be 100% certain that the train will be there at 9.15am, or that it will be there at all that day. Instead, I actively assume that it will be there based on the circumstantial evidence I have accrued through repeated observations that when I go there at that time the train is there. You could even say that the train is very likely to be there because it has the means, motive and opportunity.

That’s how we go about our daily lives, at least. But in cases of guilt and innocence we probably need a higher standard. Many suspects may have means, motive and opportunity at the same time. That doesn’t mean they’re all guilty. And a history of similar crimes does not necessarily mean that a suspect is guilty of one particular crime. So what to do in a case like the Skripal poisoning? The only thing we can do is compare competing hypotheses and the degrees to which they are consistent with all the facts available. In other words, which scenario is more likely given the known facts?

In answering the question of who poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter, we lack 100% proof that the British government (or some element thereof) was responsible for the attack, just as we lack 100% proof that the Russian government was responsible. In fact, the evidence and reasoning provided by the British government does not actually support the Russian hypothesis over competing hypotheses, because we would see the same evidence if the attack were carried out in order to frame Russia. If evidence applies equally to two or more competing hypotheses, naturally that evidence cannot be used to support one hypothesis over the other, which is precisely what the British government is doing.

In contrast, the British government’s apparent access to the precise nerve agents in question, close to where Skripal lives, their full access to Skripal himself, their past form in fabricating evidence of chemical weapons usage by other states, and their clear intent to wage a vicious and underhanded demonization campaign against Russia, all combine to allow us to actively assume that the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter was the work of the British government itself. Is it beyond a reasonable doubt? Perhaps not, but it is currently the only hypothesis that makes sense given the evidence available. And until more evidence is made available, it is the only reasonable conclusion to make.

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Joe Quinn (Profile)

Joe Quinn is the co-author of 9/11: The Ultimate Truth (with Laura Knight-Jadczyk, 2006) and Manufactured Terror: The Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, Aurora Shooting and Other False Flag Terror Attacks (with Niall Bradley, 2014), and the host of Sott.net’s The Sott Report Videos and co-host of the ‘Behind the Headlines’ radio show on the Sott Radio Network.

An established web-based essayist and print author, Quinn has been writing incisive editorials for Sott.net for over 10 years. His articles have appeared on many alternative news sites and he has been interviewed on several internet radio shows and has also appeared on Iranian Press TV. His articles can also be found on his personal blog JoeQuinn.net.

May’s #Skripal nonsense

 

A Curious Incident Part IV

by Sushi for the Saker Blog — March 26, 2018

Part I may be found here: https://thesaker.is/a-curious-incident/
Part II may be found here: https://thesaker.is/a-curious-incident-part-ii/
Part III may be found here: https://thesaker.is/a-curious-incident-part-iii/
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
Sherlock Holmes

Theresa May and the Dodgy Statement to Parliament

On Monday March 12th 2018 Theresa May rose in the House of Commons and made the following statement:
“It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.”
How did May know this to be true?
On March 14th, the Times published a letter from Stephen Davies, Consultant in emergency medicine with the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust. Davies asserted “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury” and directly contradicted the assertion the Prime Minister made to the House of Commons.
Davies is a clinician directly involved in the treatment of the 3 poisoning victims. These three are understood to be Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Detective Bailey. As a physician, Davies has a duty of care imposed upon him in law. This duty requires him to at all time act in the best interests of a patient under his care.
If you deliver medical treatment, you have the responsibility to ensure the injury diagnosis is correct, that the treatment delivered is appropriate to the diagnosis, and that you do no harm to your patient.
On Monday, May tells the world the poison was a nerve agent.
On Wednesday, the treating physician publicly states: “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury.”
How is it possible for May to know more than the treating physician?
On March 20th, 2018 the Russian web publication “The Bell” published an interview with Vladimir Uglev, one of the Russian scientists who was actively engaged in the research and development of the nerve agent May named as “Novichok.”
Uglev states the nerve agents were not known by the name “Novichok” but were part of a nerve agent research program called “FOLIANT.”
Uglev also declares that the nerve agents researched as part of “FOLIANT” actually bore the following names: “B-1976,” “C-1976,” or “D-1980.”
Where did May learn the name “Novichok” when this was not a name used by the scientists who were actively engaged in the Soviet research upon these nerve agents?
“Novichok” is the name of the nerve agent used in an episode of the television show “Strike Back.” This episode was televised one month before the Skripal attack. Uglev worked on the “FOLIANT” program “from 1972 until 1988.” The USSR was formally dissolved by the The Belavezha Accords on December 8th, 1991. Russia, was not therefore a party to the FOLIANT program.
The implication is that May and Johnson are accusing Russia of undertaking an attack using chemical nerve agents named and popularized by a TV show, a show which provides a plot line for an attack similar to the Skripal attack.
On February 13 2017 the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was assassinated in Kuala Lumpur International Airport using a nerve agent of a type developed by the UK. Under International law nerve agents are classed as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). When will May take responsibility for this indiscriminate and reckless attack? It is well known this nerve agent was first produced in the UK in 1952 and it was later militarized at DSTL Porton Down.
There exist only two plausible explanations: 1) Either this was a direct act by the UK against North Korea, or 2) the UK government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to fall into the hands of others. May has 24 hours to deliver an explanation to the world.
The question of how it is possible for May to demonstrate such absolute confidence with regards to the identification of the toxin becomes more acute when one learns the background to the USSR chemical weapons program and its research into nerve agents.
In 1959 the US successfully initiated a deception program. This program employed a fake double agent who was used to feed false and misleading “chickenfeed” to the USSR.
This deception program continued up until 1982. When running such a deception operation you must provide some genuine information to establish the validity of the false agent. Once you have gained the trust of the very suspicious opposition, you can then start to feed the opponent a mix of true and false information. The goal is to cause the opponent to waste scarce resources in creating a defence for a weapons system that does not exist, or to devote even more resources in an attempt to duplicate a weapon, or a process, known to be a technical dead end. Operation Shocker sought to convince the USSR of US advances in nerve agent research culminating in the US development of an entirely new, and highly lethal, agent named “GJ.”
In a twist worthy of John le Carré, the USSR accepted the truth of the deception program and commenced research intended to duplicate the presumed American advance in nerve agents. This Soviet research program was named “FOLIANT” and, unknown to the Americans, the USSR was able to make technical advances which resulted in a new class of nerve agents. These new agents were named “B-1976,” “C-1976,” or “D-1980.” The Soviet scientists were convinced they were mirroring US advances.
The USSR then turned around and commenced their own deception program against the Americans. The human conduit for this deceptive information is believed to be Vil Mirzayanov.
Mirzayanov was arrested for treason but the case collapsed when it was discovered “the real state secret revealed by Fyodorov and Mirzayanov was that generals had lied — and were still lying — to both the international community and their fellow citizens.”
Mirzayanov later migrated to the US where he wrote a book, available on Amazon, in which he described what he knew of the USSR nerve agent research program. Mirzayanov’s book included a large number of formulas for Novichok nerve agents. According to Uglev the formulas published by Mirzayanov are inaccurate and do not represent the work in FOLIANT.
This assertion by Uglev makes some degree of sense. Few states are able to master all the technologies required to construct a competitive jet fighter, or main battle tank. But almost anyone with a basic chemical knowledge can attempt the synthesis of a highly lethal nerve agent (it is highly unlikely they would be able to do so safely).
Proof of this thesis is found in the sarin attacks conducted in the Tokyo subway system, and the assassination of the brother in law of Kim Jong-Un by a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by the UK.
We are left with a question – Given this wilderness of mirrors, of endless deception, ruse, and counter deception, how is it possible for May to be certain of the toxin used in the Skripal attack? And how can May be so sure of who actually produced that toxic agent?

Methods of Detection

There are two primary methods of detecting a chemical agent. The first method is to locate chemical residue from the attack such as the VX of a type developed by the UK found contaminating the clothing of one of the Kim Jong-Un attackers.
This trace evidence is then subject to CGMS analysis which produces a “signature” or “fingerprint” of the agent used. Once this is obtained it may be matched against a database of known chemical agents to determine its provenance.
Problems may arise. VX and other organophosphates are subject to degradation. Weather conditions may accelerate this degradation. VX is a persistent agent meaning it is intended to remain active for a period of 2 to 3 days after application. Other nerve agents are much more volatile and will evaporate, or degrade, within a period of hours. High volatility may be of military significance as it permits a nerve agent attack on a position that your own troops can then storm and occupy with limited risk of exposure to any residual nerve agent.
Another fingerprint problem arises. The FOLIATE program agents were only produced in the amounts required for research. Mirzayanov, and others, report the destruction of these research stocks via incineration around the time of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. If the research materials were destroyed then there would be no sample available for fingerprinting.
Nerve agents degrade over time at approximately 2% a year with this rate of degradation accelerating as the decomposition by-products accumulate. So even if a sample of Soviet agent from 1988 was obtained, the chemical signature may be inaccurate, incomplete, or incorrect. How then can May be so definite about the nerve agent used in the Skripal attack?
As Uglev reports, the FOLIANT research resulted in the creation of hundreds of toxic agents and derivatives of those agents. Most had no military value and were therefore discarded. So how can May be so definite about the nerve agent used against Skripal?
The OPCW signature for the “Novichok” agents was produced by Iran under OPCW supervision for the express purpose of adding this agent to the OPCW database of agent signatures. But what formula did the Iranians follow? And was it an Uglev formula, a Mirzayanov formula, or some other formula? This is not a frivolous question as the following graphic illustrates:

Curious incident1

The question therefore remains – how can May be so certain of the identification of the agent used in the Skripal attack?

curious incident2

Click to enlarge

 Which one is correct Ms May? Apologies if I begin to sound like a broken record. But I think somebody needs to ask May how she knows what she claims to know. The Guardian has not asked. The BBC has not asked. Jeff Bezo’s paper has not asked. More problems arise because the OPCW signature was derived from the Iranian synthesis of the Novichok nerve agent and the Iranian formula for Novichoc looks like this:

curious incident3

All I can remember of organic chemistry was Laurel. She was intoxicating. But somebody needs to ask May which is the correct formula. After all, May is the one attempting to invoke NATO article 5. It is May who has described the Skripal incident as an unlawful attack on the territory of the UK. In International law that is grounds for war. So it is not just the citizens of the UK who should demand an answer. The global public should also demand May explain how she knows the VX used in the Malaysia attack was of a type developed in the UK. Oops. Wrong agent. Wrong incident. After a while they all look the same. Who you gonna call? Bill Murray?
The second method of identification is through the analysis of blood serum, or other human tissue, in search of the metabolites of the agent. At present the Skripals are being kept under heavy sedation. The medical reason for this is to permit their bodies time to complete the metabolic removal of the agent (given the toxin’s mode of operation this may prove to be impossible).
This mode of analysis can be extremely accurate. But there are still problems. Imagine the following.
A person eats an apple. You want to know where it came from. You analyse blood, or other human tissue, for the metabolic byproducts produced by an apple. You find what you are looking for. Aha! Now you know! Apple!!!
But was this apple a Fuji? A McIntosh? Gala, Granny Smith, or Red Delicious? These are all apples but they vary in their taste and chemical composition. And, once you determine the exact genus of apple, you are faced with a further problem. Did this apple originate in the Yakima Valley, or the Annapolis Valley? Did it come from Shandong? Maule in Chile? Or from Trentino in Italy? If you are going to invoke NATO Article 5 do you not think it imperative to determine the precise provenance of the apple. Maybe it came from Islington North?

The Skripal Attack Setting

The Image A is an overhead view of the Market walk area. The Market Walk is a covered passageway that leads from Castle Street, though a shopping arcade to a bridge over a portion of the Avon River. Once across the bridge, a small jog to the right will take you to the bench on which the Skripals were found incapacitated at 1600 on Sunday March 4th, 2018.

Salisbury. Click to enlarge

Salisbury. Click to enlarge

The Zizzi restaurant, the place of the Skripals last meal, is contained inside a rectangular red frame. The couple would have walked south along Castle and then entered the Market Walk shopping arcade. This passageway is highlighted in grey.

curious incident5 cctv

The Skripals captured on CCTC. Click to enlarge

Image B

Image B was taken by a CCTV camera within the arcade. The Skripals are shown walking west along the north wall of the arcade. They both look up toward the camera location. The time stamp shows that in less than 13 minutes their life will be dramatically altered.

curious incident6

Image C

Google street-view contains imagery taken from within the arcade. At the approximate position of the small red circle superimposed on the Market Walk in Image A, there is a shop entrance. Adjacent to the door is what appears to be the image of a Hasselblad camera. The other shops on the South side are a fitness studio, and a stationary store. The only store stocked with high value products, items easy to carry and sell, appears to be the camera store. Immediately above the camera store entrance is a black fixture. This black fixture is believed to contain the CCTV camera used to capture the image of the Skripals shown in Image B.
Image C is an interior image of the arcade. The camera store would be hard left. The Skripals walked on the right along the line of coloured pavers. Ahead is the arcade exit and a footbridge over the Avon. Image D shows the view after exiting the arcade. The route taken by the Skripals bends to the right around the G&T store toward what appear to be tent canopies just past the large tree.

curious incident7

Image D

curious incident8

Image E

Image E shows the G&T store on the left and the open park area to the North. The red vertical arrow points down toward the approximate position of the bench upon which the Skripals were found at 1600. The young woman who first discovered them reported they were so incapacitated that she did not feel she could do anything to help them.
Thirteen minutes earlier, the CCTV capture shows the Skripals striding purposefully forward. They both appear to be alert and untroubled, sufficiently alert that they notice, and look up toward, the CCTV camera location. By the time they reached the area of the park bench they were incapacitated and on the verge of death.
What occurred in those 13 minutes?

Skripal Attack Conjecture

The Market Walk is a pedestrian tunnel. This presents four problems for an attacker. If you attack within the tunnel, you have only two available exits. If someone wants to stop you, it is possible for them to trap you by closing off one, or both ends.
Second, the tunnel blocks visibility to the area beyond the exit on each end. The attacker has no way of knowing if a police cruiser has just stopped adjacent on Castle Street.
The third problem is critical. Go buy an aerosol can of orange spray paint, change into a clean white shirt, stand three feet from a wall, hold up the aerosol can and spray an imagined target. When you later examine your shirt sleeve and shirt front you will find it speckled with orange pigment. If you laid out sheets of white paper and returned a few hours after spraying you will find the white sheets also exhibit trace amounts of orange pigment. If the orange pigment was actually a military grade toxin like VX then congratulations – you have just killed yourself.
An attack within the still air of the arcade presents a similar problem. Any sprayed powder, or liquid, creates a toxic cloud of blowback which endangers the attacker.
To safely conduct the attack would necessitate the attacker(s) wearing breathing apparatus. You may have noticed from the news coverage that people wearing breathing apparatus have a distinct look about them. It is extremely difficult to run for any distance wearing BA gear; believe me, I have tested this fact. Blowback contamination requires the attackers to quickly change their clothing. If they do not they will be poisoned by the same toxin applied to the Skripals.
The fourth and final problem is the fact the arcade contains a CCTV camera. Image B shows distortion. This distortion is due to the fact the image was created using a fisheye lens, one which covers a field of view of 180 degrees and therefore shows both the east and west approaches to the store entrance. Any attacker would survey potential attack sites in advance and identify the presence of CCTV equipment. Such sites would either be avoided, or the CCTV disabled.
May makes the claim the Skripals were attacked with a military grade nerve agent of a type developed in Russia. This is the same as declaring the death of Kim Jong-nam on 13 February 2017 was due to a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by the UK. According to May’s logic the world should impose sanctions on the UK and withdraw all diplomatic representation.
It is believed the Skripals exited the arcade tunnel and crossed the bridge before the attack. Whereas the arcade tunnel previously presented obstacles to the attackers, it now offers benefits. The bridge and tunnel combination serves to channel and restrict all foot traffic coming from the East. The jog turn past the G&T shop obscures visibility from the South. Images taken on the day of attack show a light rain appears to be falling. This would ensure few pedestrians in the park to the North.
It is suspected that two attackers approached from the West walking toward the Skripals. As they came within range they pulled out aerosol guns and sprayed their victims. The toxic spray would have flooded the Skripals eyes. Unable to see, they made for the nearest seating, which was the park bench. The eyes represent a point of entry into the body. The mucous around the eye, and they eye itself, is an immediate conduit to the bloodstream.
The attackers continued on, walking as if nothing at all had happened. Only a few seconds would have been required to make the attack and, if you find yourself suddenly blinded, you put your hands to your eyes and try to move yourself to a place of refuge such as the adjacent park bench. You don’t cry out. You are too busy tending to your eyes. You are in cognitive shock with no true understanding of what just occurred.
In the first media reports of the attack, when the incident was still under local police control, there was a request for public assistance to locate a couple seen walking in the area at the time of the attack. Once control of the case passed to the Met Terrorist Investigation team, this request was no longer made.
There has been limited coverage of the people who first responded to the scene. The first person to discover the Skripals was a woman who reportedly found them to be so incapacitated she believed herself unable to render any assistance. This women is believed to be the person who first notified the police. Detective Bailey was likely nearby on patrol. He heard the police radio broadcast and he immediately responded. There were other persons reported to be present on scene but no names, or identification, or interviews, can be found. MSM reporting does indicate that a passing physician placed Yulia Skripal in the recovery position.

Further Conjecture

What follows is further conjecture. It is likely the toxin utilized was a liquid agent based on organophosphate chemistry. It was discharged as a stream, or jet, from an engineered applicator something like a very sophisticated water pistol. Two targets, two applicators, two streams. The streams splashed against the face of each target and washed into his and her eyes blinding the victim. The toxin is fast acting. Ten times more lethal than VX. Within the space of scant seconds you are vomiting and experiencing muscle seizures. You lose control of your faculties. You are no longer able to cry out. Your muscles cease to operate under voluntary control. You are unable to rise from the bench and stand, your chest muscles are beginning to experience tightness and seizure activity and you are beginning to have great difficulty breathing. You defecate and urinate but are completely unaware of this. You have not had sufficient time to come to a conscious understanding of what has befallen you before all of your cognitive functions are impaired. Unconsciousness quickly follows.
The ideal toxic agent would be highly volatile in addition to being fast acting. Target knock down occurs within seconds of toxin application as opposed to the minutes available under a VX attack. This high degree of volatility means the excess agent would immediately begin to degrade and disperse, eliminating any trace evidence of the applied toxin. The intent is to ensure the knockdown and immediate incapacitation of the target, with a lessened possibility of secondary collateral attacks such as affected first responder Detective Bailey. It is likely some of the persons who first responded to the scene were confederates to the attackers, persons with the responsibility to clean up the incident site, prevent injury to others, and ensure any residual trace evidence was wiped away, or otherwise neutralized. These good Samaritans vanished and have never been interviewed by the Guardian, or the BBC, or any other major “news” outlet. Which is a little surprising considering the British press is known to pay top dollar for stories which can be headlined “I was present at the opening shot of WWIII.”
And Theresa May knows exactly the toxic agent utilized in the attack.
What else does she know?
And why does no one ask her the question?
How does she know what she claims to know?
In memory of David Christopher Kelly, CMG (14 May 1944 – 17 July 2003)
-30-

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The ‘#Skripal poisoning’: Lies Can Lead To War

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The ‘Skripal poisoning’: Lies Can Lead To War

Both US and UK experts do not think that the alleged Russian nerve agent used in the alleged Skripal poisoning even exists. Perhaps this is why the British government will not agree to any tests and can supply no evidence.

Notice that the governments of the US, UK, France, and Germany did not require any evidence to decide that the Russian government used military-grade nerve gas to attack two people on an English park bench and a UK policeman. It makes no sense. There is no Russian motive.

The motive lies in the West. It is the latest orchestration in the ongoing demonization of Russia. The demonization is a huge boost to the power and profit of the military/security complex and prevents President Trump from normalizing relations. The military/security’s budget and power require a major enemy, and Russia is the designated enemy and will not be allowed to escape that assigned role.

The false accusations against Russia are damaging the Western countries that make and support the accusations. There has never any evidence provided for any of the accusations. Consider them: the Malaysian airliner, Crimea, the polonium poisoning of a Russian in the UK, Putin’s alleged intention to restore the Soviet Empire, Russiagate and the stealing of the US presidential election, other charges of election theft or interference. The current Skripal poisoning. Accusations abound, but never any evidence. Eventually even insouciant Western peoples begin to wonder about the transformation of evidence-free accusations into truth.

What do leaders and peoples of the few independent and sovereign countries think when they see a signed condemnation of Russia for poisoning a long-retired UK double-agent without a scrap of evidence by the political heads of the four major Western countries? What do the Chinese think? The Iranians? The Indians? We know that the Russians are beginning to think that they are being set up by demonization for invasion, as was Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Assad, Yemen, and the attempt on Iran. It is finally dawning on Russia that all these accusations are not some kind of mistake that diplomacy can straighten out, but, instead, the setting up of Russia for military attack.

This is a reckless, irresponsible, and dangerous impression for the West to give Russia. Some commentators, who understand the falsity of the Skripal accusation, explain, in my view incorrectly, that UK prime minister May orchestrated the charge in order to divert attention from her Brexit difficulties. Others say, incorrectly, that it is an effort to turn the Russian election against Putin. Some have concluded that Skripal was involved in the fake “Steele dossier,” and was silenced by Western intelligence, whether UK or US.

Even an astute observer such as Moon of Alabama has been confused by these explanations. Nevertheless I recommend his article “Are ‘Novichok’ Poisons Real? – May’s Claims Fall Apart”, which obviously was written prior to the French President, German Chancellor, and President Trump’s endorsement of UK prime minister May’s unsupported charges. The article shows that both US and UK experts do not think that the alleged Russian nerve agent used in the alleged poisoning even exists.

Perhaps this is why the British government will not agree to any tests and can supply no evidence.

This article was originally published at PaulCraigRoberts.org on March 15, 2018

The Fist of Zion

Darko Lazar

19-03-2018 | 08:18

Headquartered in Tel Aviv, “Israel’s” Mossad is tasked with gathering and analyzing intelligence, as well as carrying out special clandestine operations beyond “Israel’s” borders.

Israeli Forces

With an average annual budget of USD 2 billion, the agency’s work is shrouded in mystery, and as a rule, details about its operations emerge years after the fact. Until 1990, even the identity of the head of the Mossad was kept highly secret.

Today, the agency continues to be the guarantor of ‘security’ for Jews – regardless of whether they live in or outside of “Israel.”

And even though it is estimated to employ only between 1,200 and 2,000 people – including just a few dozen active officers – the Mossad is still able to conduct operations worldwide by relying on a vast network of foreign nationals of Jewish dissent.

Projections put the number of foreigners willing to assist “Israel’s” clandestine services in the tens of thousands.

Working strictly as unregistered operatives, these individuals offer financial assistance, put their properties at the disposal of the agency, and spread propaganda. Most are judges, journalists, and members of the security services.

The Russian Web

Initial reports of more recent Mossad operations in Russia came in 2012, when geopolitical analyst Arayik Sargasyan claimed that the “Israelis” stood behind the music band ‘P…. Riot’.

The conclusion was that Tel Aviv was ‘unhappy’ with the government of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Today, “Israel’s” disapproval of the Kremlin’s alliance with Tehran, its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and its backing for the Palestinians manifest themselves in far more dangerous ways than bad lyrics.

Moscow has also been stepping up prosecutions against Russian Jews on criminal and espionage charges, which includes prominent figures like the former head of the powerful Russian Jewish Congress, as well as the former chief of the Yukos oil empire, Mikhail Khodorkovsky – also said to be “Israel’s” man.

All of this has only increased the degree of hostility toward Moscow by “Israel’s” Mossad, the UK’s MI6, and the American CIA, as their agents begin to feel less at home in Russia.

Perhaps it is not all surprising then that the “Israelis” have become vastly entangled in conflict zones regarded as having the utmost strategic importance for Russia, including its neighbor Ukraine.

In 2014, rebels in eastern Ukraine discovered the body of Michael Falkov following heavy clashes with battalions loyal to the Kiev government. Falkov was identified through his “Israeli” passport, which was also found on the corpse. The news itself is hardly groundbreaking given the high numbers of ‘former’ “Israeli” soldiers fighting in Ukraine every day.

But Falkov wasn’t just any “Israeli.” He also happened to be the former advisor to both “Israel’s” Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman.

Alternative Russian media outlets that accuse the “Israelis” of attempting to recreate the Palestine scenario by suppressing the local population and resettling a growing number of Jews in countries like Ukraine, also asserted that Falkov was in fact working for the Mossad.

Meanwhile, in Russia itself, there is no shortage of local talent for the Mossad to recruit from.

Particular areas of interest for Russian counterintelligence operatives include social Jewish organizations, especially in Russia’s far east. These groups, which number in the hundreds, are reportedly saturated with “Israeli” spies that select the most skilled and talented youths and organize their departure to “Israel.”

In fact, Moscow believes that “Israeli” advances in the military, economic and scientific fields are made possible partly thanks to Russian emigrants.

During the good old days of the Cold War, the “Israeli” war machine enjoyed considerable benefits from Mossad agents and collaborators in the former Soviet Union.

Both KGB and GRU operatives passed on highly classified information to Tel Aviv about the supply of advanced weapons to Arab states. They also provided full lists of Soviet advisors stationed in Egypt and Syria, as well as information about planned military offensives.

Moreover, a considerable number of Russian Jews trained by the KGB and GRU are reported to have ended up in “Israel” and in the service of the Mossad.

By the 1970s, “Israel’s” intelligence and defense community had been receiving a sizable injection of expertise with the arrival of tens of thousands of Jews from the USSR.

Among them were Red Army officers and Russians who worked in secret military facilities.

In the decades that followed, “Israel’s” knowledge of Russian weapons programs became so intimate that by the time a Russian general began upgrading Syria’s chemical weapons program, Tel Aviv was immediately alerted.

The late General Anatoly Kuntsevich also happens to be the former head of the Novichok project – the deadly nerve agent reportedly used in an attempted murder of a retired Russian double agent on UK soil last week.

In April 2002, in circumstances that remain unknown, Kuntsevich died during a flight from Aleppo to Moscow. The Syrian security services maintain that the Mossad managed to reach and poison the Russian general.

Whatever the truth may be, the Kuntsevich affair appears to underscore the Mossad’s familiarity with both Novichok and its chief architect.

And according to the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment, “Israel” possesses a sizeable weapons of mass destruction program, which includes chemical warfare capabilities and an offensive biological warfare program.

These facts become even more significant when one takes the emblem of the Mossad, enshrined with the words of an old proverb, into consideration; “where there is no guidance, a nation falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Source: Al-Ahed

The British Spy #Skripal hoax

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The British Spy Skripal hoax

by Scott Humor

In regards to the British government-staged hoax around the persona of retired British spy Sergey Skripal: If TV police dramas told us anything it’s the principle of Corpus delicti, or “no body, no crime.” It’s the principle that a crime must be proved to have occurred before a person can be convicted of committing that crime.

Since February, the British government has been staging a bizarre theater employing dozens of actors dressed in police and firefighters uniforms and colorful hazmat suits, all to make the appearance of a crime being investigated.

Just one fact is enough to understand that an entire “the Skripals poison crime” has never took place. This so called “nerve agent” has never been placed on the OPCW list of banned chemical weapons because it has never existed.

It’s non-existence was confirmed by Dr Robin Black, until recently he was a head of the detection laboratory at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Porton Down). He wrote in his review: “… emphasizes that there is no independent confirmation of Mirzayanov’s claims about the chemical properties of these compounds: Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published. (Black, 2016)

Just like “Novichok” has never existed, no one was poisoned, nothing has happened. It’s a staged provocation and a hoax.

It is a typical war game scenario, in which the game “viruses,” or bits of fake information, were planted years ago, and now being used as “evidence” in a staged “crime.” They tell us that nothing proves today crime as a thirty-year-old newspaper article.

Just accept that everything the British government says is a lie.

For those who want to understand methods and techniques involved in staging these sort of augmented reality war game operations, I refer to my war games illustrated manual, “Pokemon in Ukraine.” The aim of any war game is to engage non-players in it. First step is to con people into accepting that staged events as real, or as Zakharova names this process “a legitimization of previously fabricated information.”

It’s been a month since the hoax around the British spy Skripal started. We still have no hard evidence that an alleged attack ever took place. We don’t have the victims. No third party medical tests, no CC footage of the victims, no official meetings with the victims, no samples of alleged poison; the list goes on and on.

During the briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, March 15, 2018, she said:  “Britain has not provided any data to anyone,” The truth is obviously being concealed. No one is providing information about the incident to anyone.”

In her interview to the newspaper Argumenti (Arguments), Zakharova said that either the British disclose all the facts, or “it’s all lies, from the beginning to the end.”

This stance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs demonstrates a tectonic shift from a willingness of Russia’s government to play along and accept war games as real, as it was in case of a staged war in Ukraine in 2014.

On Sunday, I received an email from a famous military defense attorney, Christopher Black, which I am posting here with his permission.

Chris wrote to me a few questions from a defense lawyer.

“Questions to the British Prime Minster from a citizen:

You state Skripal and daughter were poisoned – then where are they? Where are photos of them? Where are the medical reports stating what is wrong with them and their present condition?

You state Russians did this – fine then, where are the persons that administered it, how did they do it, where did they do it and when did they do it?

You state Russians are involved – but you have not put out any profile of any suspects nor have you put out a dragnet for any likely suspects who, if you are right and they did do this, are still then roaming around the country doing who knows what.

You state this is a national emergency and have police and army in strange suits on some streets but you have not put police and army elements at the airports and ports to try to catch the culprits to prevent them leaving the country.

Having failed to do these obvious things the only conclusion to be drawn is that you are lying to the British people.

We reject Russia was involved for obvious reasons. Therefore we cannot accept the rest of their claims either without evidence. All we know is that two people are claimed to have been poisoned. that is all we know – a claim.”  Chris

He also added: “Where is the evidence that an nerve agent was used at all aside from there say so? Now, they have people chasing their tails arguing whether it is this agent or that agent, the various affects of them etc. etc, when we have no evidence that a nerve agent was used.”

“We have no evidence anything ever took place. Litvinenko – photos of him in a hospital bed every week for months. As for these two – we don’t even know if they exist, or were eliminated, or who knows what.”

“Again, I think this line of inquiry is pointless unless and until we see evidence of a nerve agent was used at all.

We should not accept any element of their story. We have to question every element of their story – for once you accept one part of it you will be stuck with the rest.”

I only want to add that at the end of this SITREP you can find a list of articles and research papers conducted by extremely smart and knowledgeable people and directed to the government of the UK, all telling them what they did and said wrong. I have to say with my deepest regret that what all these wonderful people have done is to provide the British government with free research and resources to stage another chemical attack hoax, only on much larger scale. 

It’s nothing new for the British government to make similar accusations against Russia. Actually the United Kingdom has a long history of using its chemical weapons against Russians, while there is NO evidence that Russians had even used chemical weapons against the British Crown subjects.

Boris Johnson walks in Churchill’s footsteps by accusing Russia in using and stockpiling chemical weapons.

The British Chemical Warfare against the Russians

One of the earliest used chemical weapon in human history was cacodyl oxide. It was proposed as a chemical weapon by the British Empire during the Crimean War against Russia, along with the significantly more potent blood agent, cacodyl cyanide.

During the invasion of Russia by the British Empire and its allies, France, Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire, in 1853-1856 known as the Crimean war,  the British army used sulfur dioxide during the siege of Sevastopol in August 1855. In May 1854 the British and French fleets bombarded Odessa with some “stinky bombs” containing some kind of poisonous substances.

During the invasion of Russia in 1918-1922, the Allied troops of the British, American, Canadian and French armies under the British command used the chemical weapons in Archangelsk in February 1919, and in August 27, 1919, near the village of Yemtsa, 120 miles South of Arkhangelsk, British artillery opened fire on the positions of the Red Army fighting with the foreign invaders. After the explosions green cloud covered the position of the Russian troops, Russian soldiers trapped in a cloud vomited blood and then fell unconscious and died. The British forces used CW called adamsite (dihydrophenarsazine).

“The strongest case for Churchill as chemical warfare enthusiast involves Russia, and was made by Giles Milton in The Guardian on 1 September 2013. Milton wrote that in 1919, scientists at the governmental laboratories at Porton in Wiltshire developed a far more devastating weapon: the top secret “M Device,” an exploding shell containing a highly toxic gas called diphenylaminechloroarsine [DM]. The man in charge of developing it, Major General Charles Foulkes, called it “the most effective chemical weapon ever devised.” Trials at Porton suggested that it was indeed a terrible new weapon. Uncontrollable vomiting, coughing up blood and instant, crippling fatigue were the most common reactions. The overall head of chemical warfare production, Sir Keith Price, was convinced its use would lead to the rapid collapse of the Bolshevik regime. “If you got home only once with the gas you would find no more Bolshies this side of Vologda.”

According to Giles Milton, the author of Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Global Plot (2013): “Trials at Porton suggested that the M Device was indeed a terrible new weapon. The active ingredient in the M Device was diphenylaminechloroarsine, a highly toxic chemical. A thermogenerator was used to convert this chemical into a dense smoke that would incapacitate any soldier unfortunate enough to inhale it… The symptoms were violent and deeply unpleasant. Uncontrollable vomiting, coughing up blood and instant and crippling fatigue were the most common features…. Victims who were not killed outright were struck down by lassitude and left depressed for long periods.”

The use of chemical weapons against Russians was supported in this by Sir Keith Price, the head of the chemical warfare, at Porton Down.

A staggering 50,000 M Devices were shipped to Russia: British aerial attacks using them began on 27 August 1919. Bolshevik soldiers were seen fleeing in panic as the green chemical gas drifted towards them. Those caught in the cloud vomited blood, then collapsed unconscious. The attacks continued throughout September on many Bolshevik-held villages. But the weapons proved less effective than Churchill had hoped, partly because of the damp autumn weather. By September, the attacks were halted then stopped.

Because an enemy who has perpetrated every conceivable barbarity is at present unable, through his ignorance, to manufacture poisoned gas, is that any reason why our troops should be prevented from taking full advantage of their weapons? The use of these gas shell[s] having become universal during the great war, I consider that we are fully entitled to use them against anyone pending the general review of the laws of war which no doubt will follow the Peace Conference.”

This was how Churchill justified the use of the chemical weapons during the Atlanta invasion of Russia in 1919, claiming that it was Russians, who “perpetrated every conceivable barbarity,” despite the fact that it was Russia who was invaded by the Allied armies and Russian people who were killed in millions.

How is the invasion of 1919 similar to what the British government is doing today? How did the British government justify its use of the chemical weapons against Russian villages? What exactly Russians did to deserve this?

Churchill ordered General Ironside, in command of the Allied forces, to make “fullest use” of the chemical weapon because:  “Bolsheviks have been using gas shells against Allied troops at Archangel.”

But where would Russians get those weapons?

John Simkin in Winston Churchill and Chemical Weapons writes:

“Someone leaked this information and Churchill was forced to answer questions on the subject in the House of Commons on 29th May 1919. Churchill insisted that it was the Red Army who was using chemical warfare: “I do not understand why, if they use poison gas, they should object to having it used against them. It is a very right and proper thing to employ poison gas against them.” His statement was untrue. There is no evidence of Bolshevik forces using gas against British troops and it was Churchill himself who had authorised its initial use some six weeks earlier.”

The British repeated their use of chemical weapons against Russians on 27th August, 1919. when British Airco DH.9 bombers dropped gas bombs on the Russian village of Emtsa. According to one source: “Bolsheviks soldiers fled as the green gas spread. Those who could not escape, vomited blood before losing consciousness.” Other villages targeted included Chunova, Vikhtova, Pocha, Chorga, Tavoigor and Zapolki. During this period 506 gas bombs were dropped on the Russians. [John Simkin ]

But that wasn’t the end of the war crimes of the British Crown against Russia. After withdrawal of the British troops in October 1919,  the remaining chemical weapons were considered to be too dangerous to be sent back to Britain and therefore they were dumped into the White Sea. The last time someone in Russia came across the British chemical weapons was in 2017 a man from Archangelsk found several British shells with iprit, which remains potent after one hundred years.

So, the British government has a proven historical record of laying false accusations on Russia accusing Russia in using chemical weapons anagst the British subjects, while using it against Russians. .

How was the 1919 false flag operation organized?

Excerpt from a book Churchill’s Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia, 1918-1920 By Clifford Kinvig, page 128

“On January 27,  major Gilmore, a forward commander there, reported that “the enemy used a certain percentage of gas shells with no effect.” Ironside realized that this was a significant development, if only small in scale, and immediately notified the War Office: “Reports that 3 gas shells fired by enemy; my 1 gas officer has gone up to investigate.  This is first suggestion of enemy using gas in any form, but if it is verified I shall ask for some gas officers and means of repair for masks.  There is a plentiful supply of latter here.”

Three gas shells were hardly a major event, and Ironside’s reaction, it will noted, was entirely defensive. Not so the response from Churchill. The same day, without waiting for confirmation, he made this “first use” clear to the nation at large in a formal press statement and at the same time notified Ironside that the ship would be sailing in the middle of the month, loaded with gas shells for his various artillery pieces.  Ironside still demurred, asking for instructions, since he had not yet verified the report that the Bolsheviks had indeed used the weapon.  Plainly, the general had residual inhibitions. The clearest of directives from the War Office, however, soon followed. On 7 February the COGs at Archangel, Murmansk and Constantinople received a message in cipher from the Director of Military Operations: “Fullest use is now to be made of gas shell with your forces, or supply by us to Russian forces, as Bolsheviks have been using gas shells against Allied troops in Archangel.” The Secretary of State had wasted no time.

“Some critics have claimed that Churchill, in his keenness to use gas, falsely charged the Bolsheviks with using it first.”

The false flag attack was very simple. There were two unconfirmed reports that poisonous gas shells were used against the British forces. The press carried the reports, prompted by the War Office. Same day, the Director of Military Operations issued the order to  use the chemical weapons.

When it became known, and people started accusing Churchill and the Allied forces command in using chemical weapons against Russians under false pretence,  Churchill issued a memorandum

Churchill’s 1919 War Office Memorandum May 12, 1919

“I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas.

I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”

Before the WWII the Britain also used chemical weapons in Afghanistan, India, and Mesopotamia.

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