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vox_mundi

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #651 on: January 08, 2020, 02:06:24 AM »
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/31762/iran-strikes-back-missiles-rain-down-on-american-forces-in-iraq

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Iran’s Tasnim news agency is now quoting Iranian officials warning that if the US retaliates to these strikes in Iraq, Hezbollah will fire rockets at Israel — a threat to widen the conflict and bring Iran’s regional allies into play.

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Fighter jets have taken off from Iranian air bases, according to state media.

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CENTCOM is reporting 15 total missiles launched. 10 struck Al Asad Airbase, 1 struck Erbil, 4 failed.

There are also now unconfirmed reports that U.S. combat jets have departed Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates and that the Iranian Air Force has scrambled aircraft. American aircraft appear to be patrolling across Iraq, while Iranian jets are remaining their own airspace, though.

State media reporting Iranian fighter jets have entered Iraq airspace

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has now issued a prohibition on all U.S. commercial and civilian air operations over Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman due to the heightened risks of military activity and potential for misidentification.

M.A.G.A. -- Morons Are Governing America

Required reading for tonight: Alas Babylon.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2020, 03:18:09 AM by vox_mundi »
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Neven

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #652 on: January 20, 2020, 12:46:04 PM »
Since Neven does not let any MSM articles critical of Russia, or Syria, go through, here is an article from the "alternative" media, which investigates the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict :

Quote
Banned chemical weapons have been used repeatedly during the Syrian conflict and in most cases, if not quite all of them, the Assad regime is the obvious suspect. By its own admission the regime had stockpiles of chemical weapons, and almost all the reported attacks struck rebel-held areas.

Nevertheless, President Assad insists his regime has never used such weapons and is vigorously supported in his denial by Syria's chief ally, Russia, along with various elements on social media. They accuse rebel fighters of staging "provocations" – faked or false flag attacks – and making them look like the work of the regime in the hope that western powers would then respond militarily by toppling Assad.

But if rebels have expended so much effort over the last eight-or-so years fabricating chemical attacks in order to falsely accuse the regime, we might ask why no concrete evidence of these activities has so far come to light.....

https://al-bab.com/blog/2020/01/false-flags-and-fakery-battle-narratives-syria

A very one-sided opinion piece that follows establishment narratives to a T. It reminds me of the way I thought when I was still in high school.

Fortunately, the first and only comment to this article provides necessary nuance:

Quote
Brian,
Are you seriously suggesting Syrian rebels would not want the western allies to impose a 'no-fly zone' a la Libya or that there are not hawks within the US foreign policy establishment who wish for one? Hillary Clinton planned to introduce a no-fly zone in Syria if elected, and even the supposedly neutral and independent White Helmets have campaigned for one.

Have you considered how much damage the allegations of c/w attacks in 2013, 2017 and 2018 caused the regime? And is it really any surprise that Russia and Syria did not have total faith in the neutrality of the OPCW when its D-G was a Turkish diplomat and its Chief of Cabinet was British, then French, particularly given the ousting of Jose Bustani, allegedly at the behest of John Bolton?

Of course, each case has to be judged on its merits, but there really is no motive for the Syrian regime to carry out chemical attacks when the the gains are so tiny and the potential losses so huge, perhaps existentially so - the reverse being the case for the rebels.

Some of Assad's bases that stored chemical weapons were almost certainly captured during 2012-2013, so it is not unreasonable to suppose the rebels (particularly al Nusra) possessed Syrian government stocks of sarin. There are credible reports of this having happened. We also know of an al Qaeda sarin factory being discovered in Iraq in 2013. The only factory in Syria to produce chlorine gas was taken by al-Nusra in 2012. al-Nusra also captured an airbase with working helicopters in early 2013.

Most importantly, many al-Qaeda affiliated Jihadi groups exercise ruthless control over areas they occupy and their reputation for the kidnapping and murder of western journalists means there has been almost no independent media coverage on the ground. They could put out what they liked. Even the OPCW did not dare to send its FFM teams to the scene of alleged chemical attacks, so the most violent rebels had complete oversight of the chain of custody.

Not until the alleged sarin and chlorine attack at Douma was an OPCW-FFM able to take its own samples, look for evidence at the alleged attack sites and take control of the chain of custody. In the event, no sarin was found and, now, inspectors from the OPCW-FFM that visited Douma are saying that the evidence did not support claims of a chlorine attack either.

Concerns about political bias within the OPCW management structure are real and they need to be addressed. It is a vital organisation, but to be effective, there needs to be trust on all sides. It was not Russia or Syria, but western diplomats seconded to the OPCW who are alleged to have obstructed the Douma investigation, according to whistleblowers from the investigation team itself. These allegations need to be taken seriously, and widely reported. Ultimately, there has to be a public inquiry and the OPCW can no longer afford to be so secretive.

It isn't good enough to pretend that it is madly conspiratorial or the result of an unthinking Iraq reflex to be sceptical about some of the claims made by the likes of Jaish al-Islam and al-Nusra. Are the inspectors who investigated Douma crazy conspiracy theorists?

Famously, the first casualty of war is truth, and being sceptical about what vicious terrorist organisations with a powerful motive (and those they dominate) are telling us is surely an obligation for any journalist?

Perhaps some or all of the claims are true, I don't know. What I do know is that there are good reasons for doubt, and I really don't understand why you feel the need to take the line you are taking, which seems to be to want to inhibit dissent and to undermine the kind of genuine investigative journalism we have seen from Peter Hitchens, Jonathan Steele and Robert Fisk.

Having said that, you are one of the few prepared to put the information out there and to offer an opinion. For that we should be grateful. It would be lovely to see you change your mind a little, though. There would be no shame in it. Please think again.
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Rob Dekker

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #653 on: January 21, 2020, 04:54:11 AM »
A very one-sided opinion piece that follows establishment narratives to a T.

Did it ever occur to you that that "establishment narrative" may actually be pretty close to the truth, since, just like this article, most MSM news networks and research organizations and the UN and the OPCW and fact-checkers like Bellingcat use facts and evidence-based reasoning to find the truth about the war in Syria, and chemical weapons used there ?

Quote
Fortunately, the first and only comment to this article provides necessary nuance:

Quote
Brian,
Are you seriously suggesting Syrian rebels would not want the western allies to impose a 'no-fly zone' a la Libya...

The author of the article did not suggest anything like that, and in fact did not even mention a 'no-fly zone' anywhere.
 
Neven, if you are going to highlight an argument against all of MSM and against the many reports of chemical weapon use by Assad against his own people by reputable organizations including the UN, then please pick one that actually uses evidence to counter the points made, not some fact-free comment under a blog post that starts off with a false statement and gets worse after that.

Meanwhile, here is the result of a detailed investigation of chemical weapon use in Syria.
All 336 confirmed cases of them :

Quote
Nowhere to Hide: The Logic of Chemical Weapons Use in Syria

https://www.gppi.net/media/GPPi_Schneider_Luetkefend_2019_Nowhere_to_Hide_Web.pdf
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 05:00:12 AM by Rob Dekker »
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Neven

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #654 on: January 21, 2020, 11:05:11 AM »
Quote
Did it ever occur to you that that "establishment narrative" may actually be pretty close to the truth,

Yes, but never the whole truth. Douma is a point in case. The narrative was established from day 1, turns out that was a bit too fast, and alternative viewpoints (from experts/scientists no less) needed to be supressed. This is what happens when enough people immediately and uncritically believe establishment narratives.

Truth is not something that can be created by sheer will power, Rob. But faith can, obviously. Just believe hard enough and then it must be true. It just has to.
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blumenkraft

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #655 on: January 21, 2020, 11:41:52 AM »
Did it ever occur to you that that "establishment narrative" may actually be pretty close to the truth

Well, not in the last 30 years or so.

Objective reporting is not a thing! Even if the framework is ideal, you will never get a coherent reflection of the truth.

But the frameworks are not ideal. You have inherently biased for-profit monopolists dictating the narrative.

It would be endlessly naive to believe these machines would produce something close to the truth.
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Florifulgurator

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #656 on: January 21, 2020, 08:35:31 PM »
please pick one that actually uses evidence to counter the points made
Hahaha... evidence?
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Neven

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #657 on: January 21, 2020, 10:18:10 PM »
Did it ever occur to you that that "establishment narrative" may actually be pretty close to the truth

Well, not in the last 30 years or so.

Objective reporting is not a thing! Even if the framework is ideal, you will never get a coherent reflection of the truth.

But the frameworks are not ideal. You have inherently biased for-profit monopolists dictating the narrative.

It would be endlessly naive to believe these machines would produce something close to the truth.

Thank you, but we want evidence here, not logical thinking.
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Florifulgurator

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #658 on: January 21, 2020, 10:46:42 PM »
Logic alone doesn't cut it. Especially gut logic. Particularly pernicious is applying either/or black/white (tertium non datur) logic to the vagaries of real life.
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Neven

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #659 on: January 21, 2020, 11:35:06 PM »
Particularly pernicious is applying either/or black/white (tertium non datur) logic to the vagaries of real life.

You mean like Rob is doing?
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sidd

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #660 on: January 22, 2020, 01:29:11 AM »
OPCW inspector testimony to UN Security Council: what chemical attack

"dismissal of all the inspectors who had been on the team deployed to locations in Douma and had been following up with their findings and analysis."

"The findings of the final FFM report were contradictory, were a complete turn-around, with what the team had understood collectively. During and after the Douma deployments and by the time of release of the interim report in July 2018 our understanding was that we had serious misgivings that a chemical attack had occurred."

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/01/un-security-council-hears-opcw-inspector-testimony-about-the-manipulation-of-chemical-attack-reports.html

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Rob Dekker

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #661 on: January 22, 2020, 09:42:33 AM »
Did it ever occur to you that that "establishment narrative" may actually be pretty close to the truth

Well, not in the last 30 years or so.

I meant for this particular chemical attack on Douma, April 7, 2018, in which at least 43 people were killed.
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blumenkraft

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #662 on: January 22, 2020, 09:49:34 AM »
No, Rob, that was a statement meant generally.

But it applies to this case too. I don't know what happened there and there is a lot to question about the narratives spread.


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sidd

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #663 on: February 04, 2020, 01:06:18 AM »
Duffelblog (warning; satire): USA and Taliban make a deal

"The United States has agreed to sign a peace deal with the Taliban so long as the Taliban agrees to maintain a permanent state of war with the United States, officials from both sides announced today."

“We will continue to bomb the Taliban until they agree to let us bomb them forever.”

https://www.duffelblog.com/2020/01/pretzel-logic-of-the-forever-war/

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Neven

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #664 on: July 31, 2020, 01:06:28 AM »
Yet another excellent overview by Aaron Maté of the fake gas attack in Douma, The Nation:

Quote
Did Trump Bomb Syria on False Grounds?

The American media is ignoring leaks from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that suggest a whitewash.

A series of leaked documents from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) raise the possibility that the Trump administration bombed Syria on false grounds and pressured officials at the world’s top chemical weapons watchdog to cover it up. Two OPCW officials, highly regarded scientists with more than 25 years of combined experience at the organization, challenged the whitewash from inside. Yet unlike many whistle-blowers of the Trump era, they have found no champion, or even an audience, within establishment circles in the United States.

The Trump administration’s April 13, 2018, bombing of Syria came days after it accused Syrian forces of killing nearly 50 people in a chemical weapons attack on Douma, a Damascus suburb. Widely circulated video footage showed scores of dead bodies inside an apartment complex and another group of alleged gas attack victims treated at a hospital. Although the White House did not provide evidence for its allegations against Syria, the harrowing images convinced Congress and the media to cheer on military strikes (as they did under similar circumstances the year prior).

Yet there were early grounds for skepticism. The Syrian government was on the verge of retaking the last Douma holdouts of Jaysh-al-Islam, a Saudi-backed militia that was relentlessly shelling the Syrian capital. To suddenly deploy chemical weapons would mean that Syrian forces knowingly crossed the “red line” that would trigger US military intervention. Subsequent reporting from British journalists Robert Fisk of The Independent, BBC producer Riam Dalati, and James Harkin’s investigation for The Intercept found evidence that the civilians filmed in the hospital were not exposed to toxic gas.

The US government narrative received a boost in March 2019 when the OPCW issued a long-awaited final report. It concluded that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that a chemical weapons attack occurred in Douma and that “the toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

The report, however, was not the OPCW’s last word. Since May 2019, internal OPCW documents, including a trove published by WikiLeaks, reveal that the Douma investigators’ initial report reached different conclusions than their organization’s published version. They were overruled by senior officials who kept evidence from the public.

The leaks’ key revelations include:

- Senior OPCW officials reedited the Douma investigators’ initial report to produce a version that sharply deviated from the original. Key facts were removed or misrepresented and conclusions were rewritten to support the allegation that a chlorine gas attack had occurred in Douma. Yet the team’s initial report did not conclude that a chemical attack occurred, and left open the possibility that victims were killed in a “non-chemical related” incident.
- Four experts from a OPCW and NATO-member state conducted a toxicology review at the OPCW team’s request. They concluded that observed symptoms of the civilians in Douma, particularly the rapid onset of excessive frothing, as well as the concentration of victims filmed in the apartment building so close to fresh air, “were inconsistent with exposure to chlorine, and no other obvious candidate chemical causing the symptoms could be identified.”
- Chemical tests of the samples collected in Douma showed that chlorine compounds were, in most cases, detected at what amounted to trace quantities in the parts-per-billion range. Yet this finding was not disclosed publicly. Furthermore, it later emerged that the chemicals themselves did not stand out as unique: According to the author of the initial report, the OPCW’s top expert in chemical weapons chemistry, they could have resulted from contact with household products such as bleach or come from chlorinated water or wood preservatives.
- The author of the initial report protested the revisions in an e-mail expressing his “gravest concern.” The altered version “misrepresents the facts,” he wrote, thereby “undermining its credibility.”
- Following the e-mail of protest over the manipulation of the team’s findings, the OPCW published a watered-down interim report in July 2018. Around that time, OPCW executives decreed that the probe would be handled by a so-called “core team,” which excluded all of the Douma investigators who had traveled to Syria, except for one paramedic. It was this core team—not the inspectors who had been deployed to Douma and signed off on the original document—that produced the final report of March 2019.
- After the e-mail of protest, and just days before the interim report was published on July 6, a US government delegation met with members of the investigation team to try to convince them that the Syrian government had committed a chemical attack with chlorine. According to veteran reporter Jonathan Steele, who interviewed one of the whistle-blowers, the Douma team saw the meeting as “unacceptable pressure and a violation of the OPCW’s declared principles of independence and impartiality.” Interference by state parties is explicitly prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
- The inference drawn from the OPCW’s final report—widely disseminated, including by the Trump administration—was that gas cylinders found in Douma likely came from Syrian military aircraft. An unpublished engineering study reached the opposite conclusion. The study evaluated competing hypotheses: Either the cylinders were dropped from the sky or they were manually placed. There is “a higher probability,” it concluded, “that both cylinders were manually placed…rather than being delivered from aircraft.” At “Location 4,” where a cylinder was found on a bed, the study determined that the cylinder was too large to have penetrated the hole in the roof above; at the other site, “Location 2,” the observed damage to the cylinder and to the roof it allegedly penetrated were incompatible with an aircraft bombing. Ballistics experts also said it was more likely that the crater had been made by an explosion, probably from an artillery round, a rocket, or a mortar. With both cylinders, the study concluded, “the alternative hypothesis”—that the cylinders were manually placed and that the craters were caused by other means—”produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”

The OPCW leadership has yet to offer a substantive explanation for why they excluded critical findings and radically altered the original report. Instead, it has denigrated the two members of the Douma fact-finding mission team who challenged the manipulation of their investigation.

The first dissenting inspector is known only as Inspector B (his identity is publicly unconfirmed). B was the Douma mission’s scientific coordinator, the primary author of the draft report, and subsequent author of the e-mail of protest about the unwelcome editing.

The second inspector, described by the OPCW as Inspector A, is Ian Henderson, a chemical engineering and ballistics expert who authored the study that concluded that the cylinders were likely manually placed. Henderson went to Douma and took detailed measurements at one of the cylinder locations.

In public comments, OPCW Director General Fernando Arias has claimed that the pair committed “deliberate and premeditated breaches of confidentiality,” but has not accused them of leaking the OPCW material. Arias maintains that Inspector B’s “concerns were taken seriously,” without meaningfully accounting for why findings in B’s original report were left out of the final version. He has also dismissed the pair as minor players who refused to accept that their conclusions were “erroneous, uninformed, and wrong.”

Yet the two inspectors are unlikely candidates to go rogue. Henderson and Inspector B had served with the OPCW for 11 and 16 years, respectively. Internal OPCW appraisals of their job performance offer effusive praise. In 2005, a senior OPCW official wrote that Henderson has consistently received “the highest rating possible.… I consider [him] one of the best of our Inspection Team Leaders.” Inspector B, an OPCW superior wrote in 2018, “has contributed the most to the knowledge and understanding of CW [Chemical Weapons] chemistry applied to inspections.” In a different evaluation, another manager described B as “one of the most well regarded” team leaders, whose “experience of the organisation, its verification regime, and judgment are unmatched.”

The internal praise for the inspectors contrasts with what the OPCW leadership now says about them in public. This includes making untrue statements. Arias has said that Henderson “was not a member of the FFM [fact-finding mission]” in Douma, but leaks that I obtained show that claim to be false. Contemporaneous OPCW documents describe Henderson as an FFM member and list him among the “Mission Personnel” and the group of inspectors on the Douma mission.

The two inspectors are also not the only ones to raise concerns. Earlier this year, another OPCW official told me, on the condition of anonymity, that they were “horrified” by the “abhorrent…mistreatment” of the pair. “I fully support their endeavours,” the official wrote. “They are in fact trying to protect the integrity of the organisation which has been hijacked and brought into shameful disrepute.”


The treatment of the whistle-blowers by Western media is also due for criticism. Despite the story’s explosive nature, it has elicited a collective yawn. Whereas previous WikiLeaks disclosures fueled entire news cycles, no major US media outlets have reported on the organization’s Douma archive. CNN and MSNBC, which both supported Trump’s decision to bomb Syria, have ignored the OPCW story. The only time a New York Times reporter has mentioned the Douma scandal was in passing. The Times downgraded the extensive OPCW leaks into a mere “email from an investigator.” (It also deferred to assurances of Syria’s culpability from Bellingcat, an open source investigative outlet, without mentioning its Western government funding, including from the United States via the National Endowment for Democracy.) Even progressive, adversarial outlets that have traditionally defended whistle-blowers and challenged US wars have shunned this story. The Guardian described the whistle-blowers’ claims as “a Russia-led campaign,” rather than as an effort by two veteran inspectors to defend their investigation.

What explains the prevailing silence? It is certainly true that the Syrian government and its Russian ally have vigorously denied allegations of chemical weapons use, including in Douma. But just as was the case when Iraq was falsely accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction, skepticism of Western claims should not be equated with support for the targeted regime. If anything, the Iraq case reminds us that such allegations should not be politicized and are worthy of scrutiny, especially if used to justify military action and other aggressive measures, including crippling sanctions.

The possibility that the United States may have bombed Syria based on falsehoods—and pressured a global investigative body to grant that intervention legitimacy after the fact—should break the media blockade. So too should the fact that it was exposed by whistle-blowers who face risk for speaking out.

The US government’s own recent past with the OPCW offers a stark reminder. In 2002, the Bush administration forced out the organization’s first director general, José Bustani. The veteran Brazilian diplomat was negotiating weapons inspections with Baghdad that potentially impeded the Bush administration’s drive to launch a war. Bustani has since revealed that John Bolton, then serving as an undersecretary of state, personally threatened him and his family to force him to resign.

Bustani once again finds himself on Bolton’s opposing side. In his new memoir about his tenure as Trump’s national security adviser, Bolton recounts that he oversaw the US strikes on Syria over the Douma allegations, lamenting only that Trump did not authorize a larger attack. Bustani, meanwhile, took part in an October 2019 panel that heard an extensive presentation from one of the Douma whistle-blowers.

“The convincing evidence of irregular behaviour in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirms doubts and suspicions I already had,” Bustani wrote. “The picture is certainly clearer now, although very disturbing.” His hope, he added, is that the outcry over the Douma leaks “will catalyse a process by which the [OPCW] can be resurrected to become the independent and non-discriminatory body it used to be.”

Bustani is among the prominent signatories of a letter urging the OPCW to let the Douma inspectors discuss their investigation freely. Henderson delivered a statement at a UN session in January, but the United States has thwarted other attempts. (According to Russia’s envoy to the OPCW, a US representative objected on the grounds that a Douma hearing “would encourage the Russian [side] to replicate Stalinist trials, with cross-examinations and intimidations of witnesses.”)

The inspectors just want to be heard. In statements this year to Arias, both whistle-blowers requested an opportunity to air the Douma evidence in a transparent, scientific manner. “Our sole duty is to be true to the facts and the science, and once that has been achieved, we will gladly accept the proven and agreed scientific outcomes,” Henderson wrote.

“Something had gone wrong inside the OPCW sir,” B told Arias. “And we wanted you to know. It’s that simple.”
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Florifulgurator

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Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« Reply #665 on: August 08, 2020, 03:55:23 PM »
Yet another excellent overview by Aaron Maté of the fake gas attack in Douma, The Nation:

Quote
Did Trump Bomb Syria on False Grounds?

The American media is ignoring leaks from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that suggest a whitewash.

Why now? That comes a bit late and AFAIK the stuff has been thoroughly discussed early this year.

Which leaks? I guess these from Oct-Dec 2019: https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/
The bombing also involved France and Britain. Deaths: 0 Injured: 9 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_missile_strikes_against_Syria

Why can't Maté mention that in such a long writeup?


Quote
Yet unlike many whistle-blowers of the Trump era, they have found no champion, or even an audience, within establishment circles in the United States.
I smell something :)

Quote
- Four experts from a OPCW and NATO-member state conducted a toxicology review at the OPCW team’s request. They concluded that observed symptoms of the civilians in Douma, particularly the rapid onset of excessive frothing, as well as the concentration of victims filmed in the apartment building so close to fresh air, “were inconsistent with exposure to chlorine, and no other obvious candidate chemical causing the symptoms could be identified.”
Rapid onset of excessive frothing is a well-known symptom from the WWI chlorine gas attacks and industry accidents.

Quote
- Chemical tests of the samples collected in Douma showed that chlorine compounds were, in most cases, detected at what amounted to trace quantities in the parts-per-billion range. Yet this finding was not disclosed publicly. Furthermore, it later emerged that the chemicals themselves did not stand out as unique: According to the author of the initial report, the OPCW’s top expert in chemical weapons chemistry, they could have resulted from contact with household products such as bleach or come from chlorinated water or wood preservatives.
There is photographic evidence of highly corroded metal items. I bet they haven's dipped their ceiling chandelier in chlorine bleach.

Quote
There is “a higher probability,” it concluded, “that both cylinders were manually placed…rather than being delivered from aircraft.”
This has been discussed ad nauseam.

Quote
The treatment of the whistle-blowers by Western media is also due for criticism. Despite the story’s explosive nature, it has elicited a collective yawn.
Indeed :) Despite efforts by Russian media.

Quote
Whereas previous WikiLeaks disclosures fueled entire news cycles, no major US media outlets have reported on the organization’s Douma archive.
Except The Nation, belatedly :) Maybe the lesson from 2016?

« Last Edit: August 08, 2020, 04:15:35 PM by Florifulgurator »
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