Rejoinder to George Monbiot on Syria

In my previous post I urged George Monbiot to check the basis of his assumptions about the narrative he accepts regarding Syria.

In a tweeted response, he repeated his opinion that people like me, who question it, are denying a mountain of evidence.

So to state a point that should not need stating: to question is not to deny – although nor is it to affirm. It is to seek knowledge and understanding. Being less impressed than George by the quantity of data presented as evidence, I have only ever commented on its quality.

As can be seen from my earlier blogs on Syria, I was shocked to discover – and only very belatedly – how we have been systematically misled by organisations that many of us assume can be trusted implicitly.

George still trusts the Syria testimony of organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Far be it for me to tell him who to trust, but I did urge him to look more closely at what they present for evidence.

Instead of doing that, he has entrenched more deeply his defence of the NATO narrative. He also appears to believe he has satisfactorily responded to my concerns (via twitter).

I don’t think he has, so I shall just record how the exchange went, from the perspective of my twitter feed. My aim is to ensure that this important question for serious public debate is not just shut down.

Our exchange centred on a set of six questions George tweeted:

Monbiot4

As can be seen, the first five questions all invite me to speculate about the facts of the recent chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun. These are good questions in themselves, but given that the very point of my open letter to him was that we are not in a position to know the facts, I was surprised he solicited conjectures from me. So I just answered his sixth, more general, question.

Still, he pressed me on the rest, and we had this exchange:

Monbiot1For the record, my beliefs had not changed in the 10 days since that previous post, and I shared it because I think it makes plain why I would not join him in speculation about the facts.  (Since his response is a little dismissive, let me add: Who I believe is independent of who I like. My article was about the former. While I do find it generally harder to like people that I don’t believe, unless they are especially charming, I don’t necessarily like everyone I believe. As pointed out in the paper, I believe some of the claims made by ISIS and Al Qaeda spokesmen.)

Monbiot2b

Today, George has updated the blog I challenged:

Further Update, 1st May 2017: Human Rights Watch has now published a report on the gas attack at Khan Sheikhoun, and a further 19 chemical weapons attacks in Syria that appear to have been perpetrated by the government. Already, HRW is being denounced as part of the conspiracy by some of my correspondents on the left, using a meme developed by the paranoid right as their excuse for not reading or crediting its report: namely funding for HRW by the evil mastermind of the new world order, George Soros.

I very much regret that George has mistaken HRW for an independent source of verification. I also regret his departure from the canons of reasonable public debate. I engaged with his views in the first place because I regarded him as someone who – unlike a great many in journalism – would respect them. I hate to think I could have been wrong about that.

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Amnesty International, disinformation, journalism, media, propaganda, Syria, Uncategorized, war. Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Rejoinder to George Monbiot on Syria

  1. Adrian D. says:

    When @georgemonbiot replied to my tweeting him a link to your post he said this:
    “Interestingly, he [i.e you Tim] has flatly refused to answer the simple questions I sent him in response to his post. Telling me as much as I need to know.”

    I was expecting something considerably more substantial than those 6 – especially from someone who is 99% certain Assad was responsible and anyone who doubts it are ‘troofers’. The framing of his questions and the tenuousness of the evidence tells me as much as I need to know. Thanks for compiling the list.

  2. Norman Pilon says:

    Just a couple of links for dear old George:

    Since — I believe (but do correct me if I am mistaken) — George leans on the Bellingcat crew as authorities in matters of ‘sarin,’ an interview with Theodore Postol (which I’m not sure you’ve already referenced, Tim): “here”, with the relevant bit beginning some 12 minutes and 17 seconds into the conversation.

    The upshot is that Postol declares Dan Kaszeta, the Bellingcat “expert” on all things CWs, to be an out-and-out ‘fraud,’ you know, of the kind who concoct their ‘credentials’ and ‘evidence.’

    On the off-chance that you haven’t gleaned it, here is a .pdf document in which Postol exposes Kaszeta for the fraud that he is:

    A Brief Assessment of the Veracity of Published Statements in the Press and Elsewhere Made by Dan Kaszeta, A Self-Described Expert on the Science and Technology of Chemical Weapons

    Indeed, in matters of ‘evidence,’ quality always trumps quantity. Until the matter is properly investigated by competent and disinterested forensic experts, no one ‘knows’ anything one way or the other. That’s the niggling but crucial part that Monbiot doesn’t want to understand, blinded as he is by his ideological commitments.

    Also, speaking of evidence, there is this preliminary ‘bullet point’ analysis by Denis O’Brien, PhD/Esq: The Apr04|17 incident at Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. A series of inquiries.

    And related to that, is this piece: Murder In The SunMorgue: A Pharmacological/Cyber Investigation of the Ghouta Massacre, Damascus, Aug21.2013, by Denis R. O’Brien, PhD

    • DDTea says:

      This is the sort of sophistry that I find infuriating. It gets propagated and muddies the clear waters, introducing confusion where it need not exist. And the origin of this is utter laziness and arrogance–the belief that, “my expertise and experience is enough.” Denis O’Brien cannot be bothered to cite case studies on Sarin poisoning to support his claims, when there are an abundance of such studies [1]. He disregards alternative explanations, or he is unaware that they may exist. I e-mailed him over a week ago and he has chosen to ignore my criticisms of his claim that sarin was not used. So I will present some of them here.

      Denis O’Brien comments repeatedly on the color of the victims[2]. For example:

      “his facial color is excellent and his eyes are bloodshot, which are strongly exculpatory.”
      ” infant; good color; kicking and crying”
      “very good face color; no beard; face flushed red”
      “Moreover, the positive clinical features of these people, particularly their bright red skin color, virtually guarantees this was not sarin.”

      I will counter that last point in particular. The cherry red color he’s referring, known in the medical literature as “hyperaemia,” was also observed in victims of the Tokyo and Matsumoto sarin gas attacks [3]. These are well-known case studies of confirmed sarin usage. Taken together with miosis, dyspnea, foaming at the mouth, noisy breathing (bronchorrhea) and the apparent postictal states of the victims in the video, I’d call that convincing evidence of organophosphorus poisoning.

      Dr. O’Brien further states[2]:

      “More specifically, the lack of the 5 primary clinical signs of organophosphate poisoning — hyper-salivation, hyper-lacrimation, uncontrolled micturation, uncontrolled defecation, violent vomiting — presents more than a reasonable doubt that sarin was in anyway responsible for these patients’ problems. ”

      And again this represents a superficial understanding of organophosphorus poisoning, an ignorance of case studies, or an unwillingness to research them. From the 2013 OPCW report into the Ghouta incident [4], the major symptoms of victims were as follows (N = 36): loss of consciousness (78%); blurred vision (42%); disorientation (39%); Labored breathing/dyspnea (36%); eye irritation (22%); vomiting (22%); excessive salivation (22%); convulsions (19%); miosis (14%); coughing (11%); excessive lacrimation/tearing (8%); nausea (3%). Once again, Sarin was confirmed to have been present, but uncontrolled micturation and defecation were not reported by survivors.

      From the Tokyo subway attack, the following symptoms were reported [4]: “dim-
      ness of vision, headache, dyspnea, constricted visual field, rhinorrhea, cough, blurred vision, nausea, eye pain, generalized, weakness, increased lacrimation, sore throat, dizziness, gait disturbance, insomnia, anorexia, subfever, double vision, difficulty
      standing, numbness of extremities, vomiting, increased sweating, sneezing, slurred speech, diarrhea or tenesumus, dysphagia, nasal speech, disturbed mouth movement, muscular twitching or cramps,muscle pain, abdominal pain, cutaneous sign, frequent or
      involuntary micturition, dysosmia, nasal bleeding, and increased salivation ”

      Not many of these are dramatic or even observable except by self-reporting of the patient. I have noticed an obsession in various circles with involuntary urination and defecation, to the point that I’ve heard claims that, “Sarin causes you to piss and shit yourself to death!” And while these are known symptoms, they aren’t necessarily the characteristic symptoms either. Could it be that, while these symptoms are *known,* they are not the definitive characteristic symptoms of Sarin poisoning? I will also note that people are physically incapable of vomiting, urinating, or defecating indefinitely. These symptoms have time courses, and there are several variables associated with their appearance. Without going into detail, I’ll simply refer you to Ref. [1].

      TOPIC CHANGE–PROF POSTOL’S E-MAILS

      The core of this rather dramatic exchange is the following assertion on the part of Prof. Postol:

      “If you think you can point me to a scientific paper that lists the solubility of hexamine in isopropanol, the matter would be completely settled that hexamine cannot possibly be used in the manufacture of sarin unless hexamine has a drastically higher solubility in isopropanol.”

      Once again, I’ll defer to Dan’s recent post on Bellingcat (which I contributed to, along with a handful of other chemists and EOD folks) that addresses this point. Most of his arguments are, once again, refuted by peer-reviewed literature. That hexamine can bind up to 4 equivalents of hydrogen fluoride is not “a heroic assumption,” as he rights–it’s an established fact. But take-home message is that the solubility of hexamine is irrelevant and a red herring. I read these e-mails maybe 2 years ago, and was dumbfounded by how nobody had called Prof. Postol out on the specious notion that all reaction components MUST be dissolved.

      CLOSING THOUGHTS:

      I’m getting sick of people who cannot be bothered to use norms of technical and scientific communication to support their claims. Provide citations. I do not mind alternative theories, but what irritates me is having to dissect which parts of these “theories” are scientifically sound before I can even begin to consider their arguments. Being at an academic institution, I am fortunate to have access to libraries and databases; and to have the technical literacy to comprehend them. The average citizen does not. Yet, many average citizens put their blind trust in experts as they retweet and echo their claims. This is deeply irresponsible. The onus should be on people like Dr. O’Brien or Prof. Postol to provide quality control for their writing.

      I really should start my own blog to create a nice repository for these comments.

      [1] Sidell, Frederick. Chapter 5: Nerve Agents in “The Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare” http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/Portlet.aspx?id=d3d11f5a-f2ef-4b4e-b75b-6ba4b64e4fb2

      [2] O’Brien, Denis. “The Apr04|17 incident at Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. A series of inquiries. KS Post #1: Analysis of the Shajul Islam video .
      ” April 5, 2017. http://logophere.com/Topics2017/17-04/17_015-BLA-ShajulIslam.htm

      [3] Seto, Yasuo. “The Sarin Gas Attack in Japan and the Related Forensic Investigation” June 1, 2001. https://www.opcw.org/news/article/the-sarin-gas-attack-in-japan-and-the-related-forensic-investigation/

      [4] Tu, Anthony. “Toxicological and chemical aspects of sarin terrorism in Japan in 1994 and 1995” Toxin Reviews, 26:231–274, 2007 DOI: 10.1080/15569540701496321

      • Norman Pilon says:

        Sophistry. Yeah, right. You are becoming increasingly entertaining, DDTea.

        By the way, I must have been half asleep yesterday when I tried to reply to you in the other thread. I badly garbled it. I’ll re-write it and post it for you to read “here”. Once I’m done with that, I’ll return to this gem of yours to give your remarks the consideration they perhaps deserve.

        Regards,

        –N

      • timhayward says:

        Although the substance of this debate has left me way behind, I certainly endorse the suggestion that academics should apply full rigorous expertise to these matters. I think it would be excellent for DDTea to set up his or her own blog. I think all these claims should be properly reviewed by peers. I personally also think that people writing from a university should make their identity and affiliation public, unless there is some exceptional reason to maintain secrecy. It would be normal, I believe, for approved scientific publications to append a declaration of interests, a requirement generally regarded as a reasonable one, but one that is not feasibly to be relied upon for anonymised work.

      • Norman Pilon says:

        Dear sick-and-tired-and-infuriated Team DDTea,

        You write:

        “Denis O’Brien cannot be bothered to cite case studies on Sarin poisoning to support his claims, when there are an abundance of such studies [1]. He disregards alternative explanations, or he is unaware that they may exist. I e-mailed him over a week ago and he has chosen to ignore my criticisms of his claim that sarin was not used.”

        Ah, the cheek of him. I can’t imagine how slighted you must feel.

        On the other hand, I don’t know — I’m only speculating, here — but could it be that your so-called criticisms are simply beneath his contempt?

        You know, once someone has shown him- or her-self to be either insufficiently informed to debate, or incapable of sustained logical thinking, or is less than honest in making attributions – well, that kind of works as a disincentive to engage him or her. Just sayin’.

        Of course, I’m not suggesting for a moment that you are that sort of person, although I do believe I myself have already caught you out on a wee tad of bullshit together with some rather endearing incoherence in your thinking, of the kind that harkens back to when my sons were but children, and that you wittingly or unwittingly committed to the comment section of this blog and that for a while will certainly be here memorialized, perhaps even by the Waybak Machine of fame. (I myself may make that submission.)

        Oh, do protest as much as your heart desires, Team DDTea, but a fact is a fact until it changes, eh, and only then is it time to change one’s mind.

        All I’m saying, based on my personal experience of only a few brief exchanges with you, is that Dr. Denis O’Brien might have a well-founded disinclination to engage you in debate. Not everyone is really worth the time and trouble, eh. For example, I know that I’m now less and less inclined to debate with you, to believe that you are worth any of my time, and I’m no Dr. Denis O’Brien. But enough with the small talk and friendly banter.

        You write:

        “I will counter that last point in particular. The cherry red color he’s referring, known in the medical literature as “hyperaemia,” was also observed in victims of the Tokyo and Matsumoto sarin gas attacks [3].”

        See, there you go again. You want me to take you seriously, but you insist on writing something as stupid as “hyperaemia” being the underlying cause of the “cherry red color” he’s referring to.

        Are you claiming that someone who has died or is dying from sarin toxicity will present a “cherry red color?” Sounds like you are. But then you’d simply be wrong, eh.

        Let me help you sort this out: sarin poisoning, among other nasty things, suffocates you by making it impossible for you to breath; if you can’t draw breath, you can’t oxygenate your blood; and if you can’t oxygenate your blood, you might come down with a tad of cyanosis, eh.

        Here is a link to an example of a cyanotic appearance:

        https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQBsJ_1f5lZY_DtrVa31JmAIUgZSL2ijBPN6fvpGQaIsw5VkWk9

        And it doesn’t matter how dilated your blood vessels may be, that is to say, how hyperaemic you may be, a blue appearance is a blue appearance, with or without hyperaemia.

        Now in the absence of cyanosis, that doesn’t mean that presenting a bright “cheery red color” can’t be an indication of having been poisoned by something. You at least got that right. Here are a couple of images of what cannot possibly be of cases presenting sarin poisoning, but which are definitely indicative of poisoning:

        So, if in the catalogue of “images” that are being presented to the world to prove that sarin poisoning has occurred in Khan Shaykhun, there are dying and dead people presenting with a skin color that is a birght pink or high cherry red, then they most definitively have not been poisoned by sarin. Okay.

        But cyanide poisoning or carbon monoxide poisoning would be highly consistent with that sort of thing. Maybe Assad poisoned the people of Khan Shaykhun with cyanide; maybe he gassed them with carbon monoxide. Who knows. (And that is the point, isn’t it? Who knows?!) But to suggest that corpses or people in the final throes of sarin poisoning will present with a skin color that is pink or bright cherry red is to be either uninformed or stupid or obfuscatory.

        Do you begin to understand why maybe Dr. O’Brien might have felt it a waste of his time dealing with your ‘criticisms?’

        Here is a challenge for you: go and find us actual pictures of people who have died of sarin poisoning, that is to say, confirmed cased, and who present a skin color like in the immediately two preceding photographs. Take your time. You will need it. If you manage it, do let me know. And I don’t need to remind you about references and all that because you are already pretty keen on that, aren’t you? Splendid.

        You write:

        TOPIC CHANGE–PROF POSTOL’S E-MAILS

        The core of this rather dramatic exchange is the following assertion on the part of Prof. Postol:

        “If you think you can point me to a scientific paper that lists the solubility of hexamine in isopropanol, the matter would be completely settled that hexamine cannot possibly be used in the manufacture of sarin unless hexamine has a drastically higher solubility in isopropanol.”

        No. Didn’t you read the title of the brief? The core of it is “Dan Kaszeta as bullshit artist,” as when he claims that “someone” said something, and it turns out the “someone” denies ever having said that; or he makes a reference to something to prove a point, and what he references is kind of, well, entirely beside the point.

        I myself recently came across something similar, something about someone having said something, but as it turned out, that wasn’t “exactly” what had been said. Seems as though a bit of Dan Kaszeta had possibly rubbed off in that instance. Collaboration will sometimes do that. Or maybe Team DDTea is Dan Kaszeta? How would I know?

        But ‘nuff said, because the document has been linked to and people can go and read it and make up their own minds, eh. They don’t need Team DDTea to interpret the document for them. Oh, I know, I know, DDTea: infuriating sophistry!

        CLOSING THOUGHTS:

        You write:

        “Being at an academic institution, I am fortunate to have access to libraries and databases; and to have the technical literacy to comprehend them. The average citizen does not. Yet, many average citizens put their blind trust in experts as they retweet and echo their claims. This is deeply irresponsible.”

        Yes and no, Team DDTea. You can trust people who have a proven track record of honesty and accuracy in what they write and say. You verify their claims. You follow up their references. You examine their reasoning. If it all passes muster over a reasonable period of probationary time, you most certainly can “trust” certain experts without having to check their every statements. This doesn’t mean that they will never be in error. But it does mean that they will not willfully deceive, that they possess an admirable level of intellectual integrity.

        You, on the other hand, are proving yourself less than reliable, and a person would indeed be remiss to trust anything you say or write.

        This doesn’t mean that you will always be wrong or untruthful in what you write and say, but you’ve already shown yourself to me to be an unreliable source of both information and analysis.

        It is unlikely, then, that I will ever again attend to any claim made by you, Team DDTea.

      • M Kavanagh says:

        thank you, Norman. As an ‘average citizen’..I was ‘thrown’ by DDTea. I simply hate that feeling of being confused about what is true and what isn’t. And, far from ‘sophistry’, my problem is more one of feeling ‘naive’ ..but I didn’t like what he presented..I ‘smelt a rat’..but as you say, the unknowns are part of the territory ..and I am heartened by your rejoinder here. I have experienced a growing ‘trust’ in what I find here on Tim Haywood’s blog. I am wary of becoming over confident in my hunches/semi-conclusions..and this makes me vulnerable to voices like that of DDTea, whom I find writing here on a website in which I have increasing confidence…is HE kind of a ‘sophisticated troll’ ? There is my dilemma in a nutshell. And your hitting back of the ball, squarely, to DDTea, has got my “rudder” working again…Phew.
        How dare he say ‘dramatic’ ..like a ‘put down’ to clear thinking which actually wants to find out about the injuries to Syrian people and who might really be culpable in this crime? If that isn’t ‘dramatic’..given all the lies that have been perpetrated, even though thoroughly disproved by excellent chemists, since 2013, and false accusation still dominating, even so…and used as ‘excuses’ /justifications – ‘noble’ ones!!!!!!! – for further hideous violence, then What Is?
        HUMPH!

      • Norman Pilon says:

        In my opinion, Tim is eminently trustworthy. He is careful in his assertions and doesn’t generalize beyond the available evidence.

        I also very much appreciate the tone of respect he deploys toward anyone he engages, friend or foe. There is something in that for me to emulate.

        I’m also inclined to think as you do, that behind this DDTea internet persona, stands a ‘sophisticated troll, ‘ and his or her purpose is precisely as you suggest, to confound, to leave us all feeling as though we have no recourse in ourselves to judge in matters of war and peace, that there is no choice for us but to acquiesce to the imperatives of the criminality of the ruling establishment(s).

        Clearly, you are more insightful than you seem to think. What we often clearly perceive isn’t always easy to verbalize or justify to ourselves, but for all that, the perception, the hunch, the insight, which often comes to us from “we know not where,” is sound. Trust yourself. Hold to what you ‘know’ for certain, however ‘intuitive’ it may strike you, while being careful to acknowledge to yourself the limits of what you do know.

        And I’m very much with you on hating the feeling of being confounded as to what is and isn’t true. For that distress, as with yourself, people like Prof. Hayward are my tonic.

        Best,

        –N

      • DDTea says:

        Hi Norman,

        I like the moniker “Team DDTea.” It’s amusing even if it’s inaccurate.

        [Everything you wrote from “Ah, the cheek of him…,” to, “…friendly banter,” in your recent post is detritus.]

        By all means, I invite you to follow up on my references. Use Sci-Hub if you’re blocked by a paywall. Then ask yourself: how much of reality and existing scientific knowledge are you prepared to dismiss in order to put blind-trust in Theodore Postol?

        The only way I can even write these detailed comments is because a) I’ve been reading about nerve agents since I was a kid (and if you spend time on Google, you will indeed find comments by “DDTea” dating back to 2003); and b) because I don’t have to devote any effort to telling lies. I’m just stating things as they are, citing references I’ve had on my hard drive for well over a decade.

        Note the nature of my comments—I’m not asking open-ended questions, searching for supposed inconsistencies. I’m explaining observations based on literature precedent. The conclusions I arrive at are all mutually confirmatory. Theodore Postol contradicts himself with every new report. In short: I’m trying to clarify, Postol is trying to confuse. I’m using deductive reasoning, Denis O’Brien is using inductive reasoning (i.e., “If x, we will see y”—very unscientific. The experiment makes the final call.).

        ###You ask: “Are you claiming that someone who has died or is dying from sarin toxicity will present a “cherry red color?’ ”

        No. I stated something more nuanced: that someone who has been moderately exposed to Sarin may present a cherry red color due to engorged blood vessels and excessive blood supply to their skin. This also results in nosebleeds, which were reported in Tokyo [See ref. 3 above] as well as in Khan Sheikhoun [5, 6]. If they’re still breathing, their blood will be oxygenated at this point. If they are being treated with medical oxygen and artificial respiration, their skin color will be fine. This is again supported by photographs of victims of the 1995 Tokyo subway attack [7]. This is additionally supported by Siddell’s chapter [See ref. 1 above]. Based on existing knowledge of nerve agent casualties, only the most severe cases (and the dead) will present cyanosis:

        “If the amount inhaled is large, the effects of the agent include severe dyspnea and observable signs of difficulty with air exchange, including cyanosis. If the amount of the inhaled agent is small, a casualty may begin to feel better within minutes after moving into an uncontaminated atmosphere, and may feel normal in 15 to 30 minutes.” [1]

        “A casualty who is severely exposed to a nerve agent will be unconscious. He may be apneic or gasping for air with marked cyanosis, and may be convulsing or postictal. The casualty will have copious secretions from the mouth and nose and will have generalized fasciculations in addition to convulsive or large-muscle twitching movements. If the casualty is postictal, he may be flaccid and apneic.” [1]

        Someone who has *died* from Sarin will, of course, be cyanotic. But according to Siddell [1], mild to moderately-severe casualties do not have notable cyanosis (“not notable” = he did not comment about it).

        ###You state: “But cyanide poisoning or carbon monoxide poisoning would be highly consistent with that sort of thing. Maybe Assad poisoned the people of Khan Shaykhun with cyanide; maybe he gassed them with carbon monoxide.”

        Both cyanide and carbon monoxide are poor chemical weapons and are unlikely to be stockpiled. Hydrogen cyanide is lighter than air. Carbon monoxide is corrosive to metals (i.e.: shell casings). Both are difficult to accumulate to lethal concentrations, are flammable gases, and are readily treated. [8] Neither causes miosis or foaming at the mouth. This hypothesis is therefore improbable.

        ###You state: “Here is a challenge for you: go and find us actual pictures of people who have died of sarin poisoning, that is to say, confirmed cased, and who present a skin color like in the immediately two preceding photographs. Take your time. You will need it. If you manage it, do let me know.”

        Nice try. You and I both know this is an impossible and arbitrary evidentiary standard: the only confirmed Sarin attacks (where Sarin was the sole chemical used) are Matsumoto, Tokyo, Khan Al-Assal, Saraqeb, Ghouta, and Khan Sheikhoun. For your own reasons, you reject that the latter four were Sarin attacks (in spite of confirmation from OPCW laboratories). So that leaves us with photos of victims from Tokyo and Matsumoto, which I’ve already referenced [7]. But I’m not going to play fetch: if this is unsatisfactory, then you do your own research to formulate your counter-arguments.

        [Everything from “I myself…,” to, “…sophistry,” is detritus]

        ###You ask, “Didn’t you read the title of the brief?”

        Yes, and I found that it (as well as the introduction) had no relation to the contents of the document. This is typical for Theodore Postol’s reports, and it’s by design. He understands how people skim documents and the limits of their attention span. So he writes his titles accordingly—very much like a tabloid. At no point did Dan lie in the document; nor did he attribute words to Dr. Sellstrom that Dr. Sellstrom did not make (and confirm having made). He even provided links.

        [Everything from “Yes and no…,” to, “…Team DDTea.” Is detritus]

        When you cut through the attempted insults and slights at me, you’ve really done nothing to rebut anything I’ve said. Theodore Postol is a charlatan, and you are willfully foolish if you choose to follow him in spite of his obvious falsehoods and irrational arguments. Read—actually read—what he’s written. You need not be a chemist to discredit him. Anyone with a brain can do it if they refuse to let themselves be dazzled by his affiliation with MIT.

        And Mr. Kavanagh, you’re only confused because you’re treating Postol as an authority. The truth is knowable and it shouldn’t leave your head spinning with complexity.

        Best regards,
        “Team” DDTea

        ###Additional references and notes:

        [5] Relevant quotes:
        “When I reached the neighbourhood, I was surrounded by a yellow mist. My nose started to bleed. I keep vomiting, even now, and have trouble breathing.”
        “When I got there I felt sick. My nose started bleeding. My eyes burned and my head was throbbing with pain. I looked around and saw people foaming from their mouths.”

        Gupta, Priyanka. “Khan Sheikhoun attack survivors recall horror.” Al-Jazeera, May 5, 2017. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/05/khan-sheikhoun-attack-survivors-recall-horror-170503130351120.html

        [6] Relevant quote: “The foam filled their mouths, their eyes were red, and they were bleeding from the nose,” he said, speaking from a town near Khan Sheikhoun.”

        “Survivors of Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack grapple with illness, grief” Chicago Tribune, April 7, 2017. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-syria-chemical-attack-20170407-story.html

        [7] See photographs of victims in following articles: a) http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/20/national/tokyo-marks-20th-anniversary-of-aums-deadly-sarin-attack-on-subway-system/#.WRHR2lXyvIU ; b) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/623801.stm ; c) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/20/tokyo-subway-sarin-attack_n_6896754.html ; d) http://www.nydailynews.com/news/remembering-deadly-sarin-attack-tokyo-subway-20th-anniversary-gallery-1.2157284?pmSlide=1.2157279 ; e) http://archive.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2009/03/dayintech_0320

        [8] Sartori, Mario. “The War Gasses: Chemistry and Analysis.” 1929. Online copy found at: http://sciencemadness.org/library/books/the_war_gases.pdf

      • M Kavanagh says:

        I don’t “trust Postol”. Not at all.

      • Norman Pilon says:

        @ DDTea,

        You write,

        “Both cyanide and carbon monoxide are poor chemical weapons and are unlikely to be stockpiled. Hydrogen cyanide is lighter than air. Carbon monoxide is corrosive to metals (i.e.: shell casings). Both are difficult to accumulate to lethal concentrations, are flammable gases, and are readily treated. [8] Neither causes miosis or foaming at the mouth. This hypothesis is therefore improbable.”

        You don’t say! So, if as Dr. O’Brien suggests, the people dead or dying in the PR videos “proving” the use of sarin have actually been poisoned by rubigenic toxins, where does that leave your thesis that “Assad” is the one that “done it?”

      • M Kavanagh says:

        “muddying the clear waters” – says DDTea.
        Might this be a case of that old – mechanical, rather than truthful- “slap-stick comedy” phenomenon, that of ‘projecting one’s own shadow?’

      • Norman Pilon says:

        Most certainly, he does wrestle with shadows, and they do indeed bear an uncanny resemblance to his own stratagems, don’t they? And such a clever fellow, too. You’d think he would get tired of trying to play a game for which he’s not exactly up to snuff.

      • M Kavanagh says:

        might be that ‘lens’ thing. ‘caught in his own lens’ and its intrinsic self-justifications and self-bolstering prejudices..not unusual at all..that ‘i think i am thinking’ thing..which isn’t thinking as such ..’the natural use of human reason is to support prejudices’..etc….and in this sense, the word ‘natural’ means ‘asleep within one’s own preformed biasses’…and picking fights with any challenges to that most subtle of slumbers…..

      • Norman Pilon says:

        Aye! Love the phrase,‘asleep within one’s own preformed biases’.

        To some necessary degree we all are, of course.

        Fortunately, we can learn to combat and overcome, if only to some modest degree, this cognitive somnolence that is inherent to our nature, and the trick consists in nothing more than being mindful that you are always in some respects ‘asleep,’ always the prisoner of unexamined beliefs and assumptions.

        This attitude toward oneself doesn’t guarantee that you will always be able to purge yourself of a prejudice in the face of some contending incontrovertible proof, but it does place better odds in your favor.

        Yup. We certainly are human, all too human – to echo one Friedrich of fame.

      • Norman Pilon says:

        @ DDTea,

        You write,

        “You ask: “Are you claiming that someone who has died or is dying from sarin toxicity will present a “cherry red color?’ ”

        No. I stated something more nuanced: that someone who has been moderately exposed to Sarin may present a cherry red color due to engorged blood vessels and excessive blood supply to their skin.”

        Bullshit. You stated, and I quote: “The cherry red color he’s referring, known in the medical literature as “hyperaemia” . . .” — my emphasis If I hadn’t challenged you on your “obfuscation,” naïve readers would have been left with the impression that a rubicund appearance ante- or post-mortem was consistent with sarin poisoning. There is no “cherry red color” in the medical literature “known as hyperaemia.” And you apparently knew that, and yet that is what you wrote. What I should have asked you to do in connection to your deliberately misleading statement was to provide us with the reference and the definition of hyperaemia that in the “medical literature” specifically states that “hyperaemia” is a “cherry red color or appearance,” as you unambiguously stated.

        And you accuse others of “sophistry?” What a comedian you are. You’d actually be funny if the matter at hand wasn’t so morally shocking and reprehensible.

      • Norman Pilon says:

        @ DDTea,

        You write of cyanide and carbon monoxide,

        “Neither causes miosis or foaming at the mouth.”

        If the dead and dying present no cyanosis, no sarin was used. If the dead and dying indicate rubigenic toxins, Assad didn’t poison them. Someone else with different motives did. Miosis can be induced easily enough by a fairly wide range of compounds. Foaming at the mouth only requires a bit of baking soda and an acidic beverage, eh. I mean, if you are going to try to be persuasive and are somewhat familiar with symptoms, you can arrange the latter for dramatic effect for the camera. But rubigenic toxicity is harder to hide, eh. As for poisoning people with cyanide or carbon monoxide, a room is all you need.

      • Norman Pilon says:

        Team DDTea,

        You write,

        From the 2013 OPCW report into the Ghouta incident [4], the major symptoms of victims were as follows . . .”

        But when I follow up your reference which you have numbered “[4],” what I find is this:

        [4] Tu, Anthony. “Toxicological and chemical aspects of sarin terrorism in Japan in 1994 and 1995” Toxin Reviews, 26:231–274, 2007 DOI: 10.1080/15569540701496321

        Surely it is an oversight on your part. Unless ‘Ghouta’ is a synonym for ‘Japan,’ and ‘1994 and 1995’ can substitute for ‘2013.’ Could you provide the correct reference and “page number,” if there is one, where “From the 2013 OPCW report into the Ghouta incident [4], the major symptoms of victims were as follows .
        . .”

        You wouldn’t by any chance be playing a game of lying-by-link, would you? Or a game of lying by not providing references. Or a game involving both strategies? Are you a charlatan like Theodore A. Postol?

      • Norman Pilon says:

        Team DDTea,

        You write,

        When you cut through the attempted insults and slights at me, you’ve really done nothing to rebut anything I’ve said.

        Insults and slights? Where? Have you no sense of humour, Team DDTea? I tease. I do not attempt to insult or slight. I’m just funning with you, is all. And you are quite right, “insults and slights” prove nothing, except perhaps as proofs or dis-proofs of “esteem.”

        You write,

        Theodore Postol is a charlatan, and you are willfully foolish if you choose to follow him in spite of his obvious falsehoods and irrational arguments.

        Does this fall into the category of “insults and slights” that don’t “rebut anything?” Or are you merely making an assertion without evidence? And if an assertion is offered without evidence, can it not equally and justifiably be dismissed without evidence?

        You write,

        Read—actually read—what he’s written.

        Now you commit plagiarism. Isn’t that what I already urged that people should do? I think I did. Well, at least on this point we agree, then.

        You write,

        “Theodore Postol contradicts himself with every new report.”

        Examples? References? Are these so called ‘contradictions’ admissions of error followed by corrections? Or are these ‘contradictions’ incoherencies of logic? Is his purported ‘evidence’ inconsistent? Nuances, eh.

        Here is an idea: why don’t you provide examples of the kinds of contradictions committed by Prof. Postol with every new report he produces, DDTea?

        Let me help you with the kind of thing that might help to persuade me that Theodore is a charlatan:

        Dan Kaszeta wrote to Dr. Postol and Dr. Lloyd[1] [at the bottom of Page 10 of 44 pages of [1]]:

        The scientific reference I found regarding hexamine and HF is here, citing that a mol of hexamine can bind up to 4 mols of who in turn (sic) cites a Russian source: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/6562/1/6562_3865.PDF?UkUDh:CyT [. . .]

        Dr. Postol and Dr. Lloyd replied [1][Page 13-14 of 44 pages of [1]]:

        Dear Mr. Kaszeta:

        Thank you for getting back to us. We accept your statement that as a sought after expert on chemical munitions you have many commitments that you need to balance.

        We have examined your response to us and are puzzled by essentially every technical point that you made. We list the issues that puzzle us, and explain why we are puzzled below:

        Your Reference Has No Relationship to the Question of Whether Hexamine Can Be Used As an Acid Scavenger in the Production of Sarin
        [. . .]

        The first line of the abstract describes the subject of the thesis as being on:

        “Mechanistic studies of the nitration (emphasis added) of hexamethylenetetramine and some derivatives (emphasis added) are reported and are compared with acetylation reactions.

        Studies of nitration and acetylation reactions have nothing to do with the subject we have been discussing with you.

        The only statement in the entire nearly 200 page document that refers to the possibility that hexamine could acquire four molecules of fluorine is the following:

        “The molecule possess full 3m symmetry, and is isostructural with C6H12N4-HBr, the monohydrobromide salt of hexamine. The monohydroiodide salt is also known. With hydrogen fluoride , complexes containing 1-4 molecules of HF per molecule of hexamine are formed.”

        This statement has nothing to do with the role that hexamine could play as an acid scavenger when dissolved in isopropanol.

        So, a meaningless reference is submitted to substantiate a point Kaszeta has been making. This ‘contradicts’ Kaszeta’s suggestion that the reference supports his original contention about hexamine. Furthermore, Kaszeta doesn’t even have the decency to reference the page of a 200 page document on which his purported the evidentiary basis of his point might be found. Sounds like a bullshitting tactic to me? Doesn’t that sound like a bullshitting tactic to you, DDTea? Isn’t this an example of what Prof. Postol means when he asserts that Kaszeta is a charlatan?

        Can you provide similar examples from the work of Dr. Postol?

        I’d hate to be willfully foolish in choosing to follow him over either Kaszeta or you.

        Reference:

        [1]

        A Brief Assessment of the Veracity of Published Statements in the Press and Elsewhere Made by Dan Kaszeta, A Self-Described Expert on the Science and Technology of Chemical Weapons

      • Norman Pilon says:

        Team DDTea,

        You write,

        “At no point did Dan lie in the document; nor did he attribute words to Dr. Sellstrom that Dr. Sellstrom did not make (and confirm having made). He even provided links.

        Do you mean like this link provided by Dan Kaszeta [1] [Page 16 of 44 pages of [1]]:

        Dr.Postol,

        With reference to your previous email, I beg to differ.

        Public statements were indeed made. I refer you to the following two sources:

        1. CSPAN13December2013.http://archive.org/details/CSPAN_20131213_210000_Key_Capitol_Hill_Hearings

        Please see the parts from approximately 4:53pm onward in this recording. This is a matter of public record and CSPAN is a credible source.

        And what do you think we find in that reference pertaining specifically to whether or not Dr. Åke Sellström ever said anything like, “”It [i.e. hexamine] is in their formula, it is their acid scavenger.” NOTHING. Not a word about “hexamine being in “their” formula.”

        When the question is put to Dr. Åke Sellström by a journalist as to the possible significance of hexamine, he, Sellström, immediately refers it to another panelist, who Sellström refers to as his chemist, who then says,

        “The significance of hexamine, which is a commercial chemical and can be found in a multitude of places. . .some [Norm’s emphasis] have alleged the hexamine is used as a (sic) acid scavenger, or stabilizer, for a completed sarin . . .”

        [see the mini video excerpts time-stamped 4:53 and 4:54, whith the emphasis on the latter, HERE]

        So, as it turns out, yet another meaningless reference, one that attempts to put words into Dr. Åke Sellström’s mouth and demonstrates yet again first class bullshit.

        And who might “some” be “who have alleged hexamine to be an acid scavenger,” I wonder? Dan Kaszeta-ses? Maybe a “some” of only “one” who was making the allegation at conferences and such, as a self-styled, self-described expert? So that the reference is “effectively” to a meme that he himself has “put out there?” So that the reference is self-referential?

        Do you see just how important is it is to verify every last one of your claims, DDTea? It’s mostly bullshit every time I bother to check something. It’s time consuming and annoying. Why would anyone believe anything that comes out your mouth? Why would anyone want to spend any time listening to your made up “evidence” and bullshit references? Do explain, Team DDTea. Or better yet, why don’t you do yourself a favor and just be quiet? Your silence would at least have the virtue of hiding both your obtuseness and mendacious intent, of saving yourself the trouble of being called out for being an inept impostor, although it’s true, only in your case we can’t really call you out on anything, now can we, given your anonymity. Yup. You really are a waste of time, aren’t you?

        Reference:

        [1]

        A Brief Assessment of the Veracity of Published Statements in the Press and Elsewhere Made by Dan Kaszeta, A Self-Described Expert on the Science and Technology of Chemical Weapons

      • Norman Pilon says:

        Team DDTea,
        You write,

        “Note the nature of my comments—I’m not asking open-ended questions, searching for supposed inconsistencies.”

        Yes, I’ve noticed. Inconvenient “facts” that do not lead straight to your pre-determined conclusion are conveniently ignored. Consequently, in your self-delusion, if we are to take you at face value as someone who is innocently unaware of the discrepancies between his assertions and reality, “[t]he conclusions [you] arrive at are all mutually confirmatory.” Isn’t “that” wonderful, how “that” works, eh?

        You write,

        “I’m using deductive reasoning, Denis O’Brien is using inductive reasoning (i.e., “If x, we will see y”—very unscientific. The experiment makes the final call.).”

        Are you sure you are three years deep into a Ph.D.? Let me give you an example of a “deduction.” But first, we must attend to the “induction” that later substantiates or furnished the ground for the “deduction” that is to follow: after many observations of people who have died and were dying of carbon monoxide or cyanide poisoning, the following invariant pattern was observed by the ‘medical community:’ a rubicundity of complexion. Always. On the threshold of death, and always in the minutes and hours immediately subsequent to the moment of death.

        The “induction” was then made, that carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning present a rubicund rather than a cyanotic post-mortem appearance. Knowing this then puts a person like Dr. O’Brien (and myself and many others) in the comfortable position to be able to assert “deductively” – ahem, this is the “deduction” part of our little story, so do pay attention DDTea, as this is for your benefit only, so that you may become a better liar – that “if someone dead or close to death is cyanotic in appearance, he or she has NOT been poisoned by Carbone monoxide or anything to do with cyanide;” that “if someone dead or close to death is rubicund in appearance, he or she most probably has been poisoned by Carbon monoxide or something to do with cyanide.”

        See how that works? First, induction, then, deduction. If induction, then deduction. If ‘A,’ then ‘B.’

        To recap in an easy to understand format, for your benefit, so that you “get” this:

        Inductive reasoning: a) an observed pattern; b) a tentative hypothesis (sometimes incorporating a detailed ‘causal’ explanation or battery of explanations for the pattern); and c) a theory (that is internally coherent as well as externally congruent with reality or ‘observation,’ eh).

        Deductive reasoning: a) an established theory; b) an observed instance of a phenomenon or cluster of phenomena; c) affirmation of a hypothesis as conclusion that the established theory “probably” fits the observed instance of the phenomenon as an “explanation” of sorts, exact or approximate.

        But perhaps I’m wrong, eh. For ‘some’ beg to disagree. ‘Some’ have asserted that ‘inductive reasoning’ is scientific, whereas ‘deductive reasoning’ is not.

        What do you think, DDTea? Or did you write something intending to mean something other than what you worte? I wouldn’t know, DDTea. I’m not three years deep into a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. I’m just a working class shmuck who can barely sort out the complexities of tying his shoes.

      • mohandeer says:

        A nice piece of “red herring” claptrap. How good of you to leave out the inconvenient truths and those facts which contradict your assertions. Clever also, are the evidence based reports showing the variance in the CW arsenal which relate directly to your own posit, making the distinctions you would rather were not mentioned, precisely because they do NOT support your own misinterpretation and representation of facts available as you have presented them. Cherry picking sources and manipulating data is nothing more than propaganda to fit a given agenda. Thanks for another lesson in doing just that!

      • mohandeer says:

        DDT’s
        “…… The cherry red color he’s referring, known in the medical literature as “hyperaemia,” was also observed in victims of the Tokyo and Matsumoto sarin gas attacks [3]. ….”
        Would that be the Functional Hyperaemia or the Reactive Hyperaemia. I ask because my neighbour suffers from Raynaud’s and I was just curious – her toes are always blue.

      • DDTea says:

        Mohandeer:

        I’m not a medical doctor. But referring the question to Dr. Google turns up the following:”

        “Symptoms of Hyperemia

        Symptoms of hyperemia depend on where the congestion of blood occurs. Common signs and symptoms include redness and warmth of affected area. Flushing or involuntary redness of the skin on the face is also present.”

        “Active Hyperemia

        This type of hyperemia is also known as functional hyperemia or exercise hyperemia. It is caused by muscle contraction. Active hyperemia may also result from increase in mental, gastrointestinal or cardiac activity. Collection of the blood in a certain organ results from increase in the blood flow due to increased body metabolism. Active hyperemia is caused by combination of the hypoxia tissue and the production of vasodilator metabolites. Hypoxia tissue is featured by reduced supply of oxygen to the blood vessel tissues which in turn cause increased demand for oxygen. That leads to vasodilation, characterized by widening of the blood vessels that occurs due to process of relaxing the smooth muscle inside the blood vessel walls. Vasodilators are substances that trigger vasodilation and they include ion, nitric oxide, carbon dioxide and adenosine.”

        Source: http://ic.steadyhealth.com/causes-of-hyperemia

      • "Team" DDTea says:

        Hi Norman,

        Sorry for the delay in responding. I was finalizing a manuscript for publication. Hooray!

        “Rubigenic toxin” appears to be a neologism invented by O’Brien. To be pedantic, “toxins” have biological origin by definition (e.g., botulinin toxin, aflatoxin, saxitoxin). Carbon monoxide and cyanide are properly called “toxicants” or simply “poisons.”

        ###Norman Pilon: May 10, 2017 at 3:08 pm
        “If I hadn’t challenged you on your “obfuscation,” naïve readers would have been left with the impression that a rubicund appearance ante- or post-mortem was consistent with sarin poisoning.”

        Calling “bullshit” on the basis of misunderstanding my statement, which I had already further clarified, is the equivalent of crying over spilled milk. There’s no obfuscation here.

        ###Normal Pilon May 10, 2017 at 5:27 pm:
        “But when I follow up your reference which you have numbered ‘[4],’…”

        Oops. This is an error in referencing. Correct citation to the OPCW report into Ghouta is as follows:

        “United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013” http://www.un.org/zh/focus/northafrica/cwinvestigation.pdf

        See PDF page 20 (#17 of the report). On the topic of hyperaemia, also see PDF page 16 (#14 of the report), the image of “inflammation of the eye.” Then run a Google image search of “hyperaemia of the eye.”

        I’m truly surprised that throughout his treatise, “Murder in the SunMorgue,” Denis O’Brien completely fails to consider hyperaemia. He even references the same article I did in a discussion of Sarin symptoms—the 2007 Anthony Tu paper on the forensic investigation into the Japanese sarin incidents. That paper specifically mentions hyperaemia among the Sarin victims. It’s odd that O’Brien would overlook this.

        A discussion of Theodore Postol’s perpetual state of confusion and self-contradiction is mentioned below by me on May 9, 2017 at 4:12 pm and by Adrian D. on May 8, 2017 at 1:09 pm—the Al-Araby article titled “Chomsky and the Syria revisionists: Regime whitewashing.”

        ###Norman Pilon May 10, 2017 at 7:11 pm / Postol-Kaszeta e-mail exchange

        “With hydrogen fluoride , complexes containing 1-4 molecules of HF per molecule of hexamine are formed.”
        This statement has nothing to do with the role that hexamine could play as an acid scavenger when dissolved in isopropanol”.

        “So, a meaningless reference is submitted to substantiate a point Kaszeta has been making. This ‘contradicts’ Kaszeta’s suggestion that the reference supports his original contention about hexamine”

        This just made me laugh. No, it isn’t meaningless. No contradiction. Kaszeta provides a peer-reviewed reference showing that hexamine can act as a base and can absorb up to 4 equivalents of HF. Postol doesn’t see the significance (he can’t be that thick, can he?). At least Postol has come around: he now concedes that, “Another chemical that is capable of scavenging fluorine from the hydrogen fluoride is hexamine.” (From his April 30, 2017 report titled, “The Flawed Chemical Analysis in the French Intelligence Report…).
        So why are you making so much noise about Ake Sellstrom, hexamine, etc.? There was never any dishonesty from Kaszeta (but maybe laziness). By the way, Kaszeta never argued that hexamine had to dissolve in isopropanol (quite the opposite, in fact). Postol was arguing against a strawman for the duration of the e-mail exchange.

        To be pedantic again, Postol’s still got his chemistry squirreled up (as of the April 30 report): hexamine is an acid scavenger, not a “fluorine” scavenger. Also, “fluorine” and “fluoride” are not interchangeable. This affects his conclusion that hexamine can degrade Sarin in the absence of water or alcohols. Wrong again, but what’s new.
        How’s this for inductive reasoning: Theodore Postol is a charlatan who will never present an accurate report about chemical warfare in Syria. Every sloppy, hair-brained report he publishes leads one to deduce that this is true.
        Additional references describing hexamine as an HF scavenger are as follows (Russian language, but it’s all SciFinder turns up):
        (A) Ennan, A. A.; Brazovskaya, O. M.; Chopotarev, A. N. Products of the reaction between hydrogen fluoride and hexamethylenetetramine. Zhurnal Obshchei Khimii, 1975, Vol. 45, Issue 3, p. 706; (B) Ennan, A. A.; Chobotarev, A. N.; Brazovskaya, O. M. “Hydrofluoric acid-hexamethylenetetramine-water system,” Zhurnal Neorganicheskoi Khimii, 1975, Vol 20, Issue 3, pp. 786-790; (C) Ennan, A. A.; Lapshin, V. A.; Brazovskaya, O. M.; Grishuk, N. S.; Mikhailovina, S. K. “Corrosion of steels in aqueous solutions of hydrogen fluoride containing urotropine,” Izvestiya Vysshikh Uchebnykh Zavedenii, Khimiya i Khimicheskaya Tekhnologiya, 1975, Vol.18, Issue 5, p. 840.

        ###“I’m just a working class shmuck who can barely sort out the complexities of tying his shoes.”

        Tying shoes can be tough. I recently discovered I’ve been tying Old Granny’s knots for 20 years. Tying square knots has changed my life.

        ###Norman Pilon on May 10, 2017 at 4:07 pm
        ”Miosis can be induced easily enough by a fairly wide range of compounds. Foaming at the mouth only requires a bit of baking soda and an acidic beverage, eh. I mean, if you are going to try to be persuasive and are somewhat familiar with symptoms, you can arrange the latter for dramatic effect for the camera. But rubigenic toxicity is harder to hide, eh. As for poisoning people with cyanide or carbon monoxide, a room is all you need.”

        May I ask what you think happened? I’ve shared my pet hypothesis that the Assad regime dropped a bomb containing ~60-100kg of Sarin on Khan Sheikhoun. But evidently a better theory (from what I gather) is as follows:

        The Syrian regime bombed an Al-Nusra warehouse full of sarin, which was being delivered to and used by ISIS in Iraq [1]. However, this sarin did not poison anybody: instead, a cloud of burning plastic may have disseminated in the air [2], which caused symptoms remarkably similar to Sarin poisoning—especially the foaming mouths. All of this, of course, happened hours before the Syrian plane ever took off. But simultaneous with this air bombardment on a warehouse, Al-Nusra detonated a bomb on top of a pipe full of Sarin [3] to create a crater, thus giving the illusion of an airstrike that didn’t actually happen. But this Sarin didn’t poison anyone either! It was just a distraction to create a site for the OPCW to find Sarin! Instead, Al-Nusra took a bunch of Christians and gassed them with carbon monoxide or cyanide or other “rubigenic toxin” [4] in a basement. They then drove their victims to the hospital, where they were drugged with something to cause miosis, and fed baking soda to create foamy mouths (even though they already had foaming mouths from plastic combustion products). Simultaneously, a bunch of collaborators were sent to Turkish hospitals to convey a false flag cover story about a regime airstrike with poison gas. The OPCW was in on it, and agreed to falsify evidence together with the Turks—providing false witness to compromised blood samples. Then the rebels went back and tampered [5] with the crater and Sarin tube. The crater has since been filled in so that nobody would find the evidence they planted to frame the regime.

        And everyone who disagrees with this version of the truth is a neoconservative imperialist who supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

        (For the record: Bhopal was caused by methyl isocyanate, not plastic combustion products)
        [1] https://www.rt.com/news/383522-syria-idlib-warehouse-strike-chemical/
        [2]http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/russian_explanation_of_the_mass_poisoning_in_syria_could_be_true_20170426
        [3] https://www.scribd.com/document/344995943/Report-by-White-House-Alleging-Proof-of-Syria-as-the-Perpetrator-of-the-Nerve-Agent-Attack-in-Khan-Shaykhun-on-April-4-2017#from_embed
        [4] O’Brien, Denis. “The Apr04|17 incident at Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. A series of inquiries. KS Post #1: Analysis of the Shajul Islam video .
        ” April 5, 2017. http://logophere.com/Topics2017/17-04/17_015-BLA-ShajulIslam.htm
        [5] http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/04/addendum-dr-theodore-postols-assessment-white-house-report-syria-chemical-attack.html

      • Adam Larson says:

        Late response to DDTea first poist, partial: The Tokyo comparison was good, and thanks – I’ve been needing to look into that. Real sarin, includes diarrhea, tearing eyes, sweating – SLUDGE syndrome – random weird effects, and as I’ve read at least some cyanosis. Ghouta, as you note, is not like that – it’s actually more complex than you know, with different poisons suggested in different areas, little if any of it looking like sarin, but sarin was found in provided people, etc. So, the book was re-written. No SLUDGE seen among hundreds of shown victims (probably 500+) is still sarin, now.

        Lucky break – those are your examples to show how this Ghouta II is clearly sarin too. No SLUDGE syndrome was always shady in half of your comparison models, and the subject drawing on that precedent seems to be a total repeat of it. And it’s really a bizarre and little-understood incident with LOTS of clues suggesting it was a terrorist-run chemical massacre of hostages, with gas chambers.
        http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-ghouta-massacres-sarin-myth.html

        No Turkish labs nearby to verify it, but luckily, UN-OPCW “inspectors” had just arrived a few miles away… exactly one year after Obama first offered the terrorists – fake an Assad CW attack and you might get a Libya style no-fly zone air force to help you take over Syria. Not those exact words, but…

        So, yeah … keep trotting out Ghouta as a valid precedent.

        Duh. I like your Tokyo citation and will be borrowing it.

  3. M Kavanagh says:

    lenses. so extremely difficult to grow conscious of our own ‘lens’, and thereby to ‘clean’ it. very rigorous perspicuity required, and GM probably has too much to lose! Ensconced, COUCHED in a certain vantage point, as he is, professionally, how to really look afresh? The footage concerning HRW is ‘hilarious’ ly exposing of its sham. He must have pre-decided what he will look at and what he won’t look at, and also How he looks.

  4. M Kavanagh says:

    once again, I love – and learn from- your words, and your TONE, Tim.
    Thank you. Just so appreciate your posts.
    They help me activate my compass. Did you see excellent talk by Stephen Gowers ..[Canadian] recommended by Eva Bartlett recently? Available on youtube, his recent book launch talk provides an invaluable perspective, and clarifies some questions that I, for one, had been mulling over for quite a long time. His calibre of research is impressive.

    • timhayward says:

      Thanks for these comments. I often worry that the lens thing could be affecting me too, but the longer I spend comparing testimony and witnesses, from more and more angles, I do get to appreciate others’ point of view more, but I also get still more persuaded by what I believe is the view of the vast majority of ordinary people living in Syria today. Add that to basic principles of international law! On your recommendation, thanks, and yes, I’ll be following up as soon as I can.

      • M Kavanagh says:

        “….but the longer I spend comparing testimony and witnesses, from more and more angles, I do get to appreciate others’ point of view more, but I also get still more persuaded by what I believe is the view of the vast majority of ordinary people living in Syria today. Add that to basic principles of international law! ”

        O, Exactly..yes, thanks,
        the angles..!
        like diffractions
        of light..
        like diamond facets
        with terrible edges..but eventually
        constancy
        accumulates
        from the angles..
        [drip, drip, drip…distillation, also a
        weighing, also ‘sleeping on it’ – it must be possible for initial bewilderment to- incrementally- become what my mother used to call ‘NOUS’ , or what are we here for? and without becoming arrogant, or myopic..] Peter Ford’s longish interview with an excellent, thoughtful interviewer, [21st Wire – really magnificent.] interviewed by so wonderful in this way, too, because he sees things in the cultural [and historical] Round. Common sense kicks in, and a sense for the ‘organic’, almost like ‘character assessment’, when the cultural context can be filled out.

  5. Ken W says:

    Quite right. The burden of proof is on those making a claim: not on those questioning it’s veracity..

  6. Whether George Monbiot, you, or even I believe in one thing or another makes not one bit of difference to the victims of the chemical attack. But what is important is that an independent international investigation team is set up to consider all the evidence.

    Though Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are quite entitled to present any, and all, evidence in their possession neither organisation is quailified to make judgements of this kind based on evidence of their choosing.

    What either organisation believes amounts to a matter of opinion at this point. More importantly, what they ‘believe’ or do not ‘believe’ is entirely irrelevant in a case where there are qualified scientists and forensic scientists that say the evidence points otherwise.

  7. Adrian D. says:

    Tim,

    I know you don’t want to get into a debate with George Monbiot on the basis of speculation, but for my ‘amusement’ over lunch I thought I’d do so myself, as an exercise to help me try to get my head around where Monbiot is coming from by writing just the answers that I could come up with off the top of my head, but that he seems able either to readily dismiss or not to have considered at all. (I’ve not added any links, but could if requested).

    So please imagine my responses below as being addressed to him – any use of the term ‘we’ does not imply that I expect you to endorse or agree with any of this.

    “1. Do you believe that the CW was dropped from planes? If not, how do you explain eyewitness test, footage and craters?”

    From Al Qaeda controlled areas eyewitness testimony must be treated with great caution – we have ample evidence of lurid claims not being supported by subsequent physical evidence (the numerous Al Quds hospital destructions being an obvious case). We should be especially sceptical here as it is they who are now refusing access to UN inspectors. In any case – some initial reports referred to a missile attack rather than dropped bombs – how do you explain those away?
    We can likewise not be absolutely sure that any footage was necessarily shot when and where it was provided.

    “2. If you do accept it was dropped from planes, whose do you believe they were, if not Assad’s (as the eyewitness testimony suggests)?”

    If we must accept the premise of the question then it could be Syrian, Russian, US, Israeli, Jordanian, Saudi, UK or any of the other air forces known to have flown sorties over Syria. How confident can you be in the aircraft identification abilities of any eyewitness?

    “3. Do you accept that the agent used was sarin? If so, who do you believe has the capacity to manufacture and deploy it?”

    On the premise of the question – why should WE be confident when the US, British and French governments remain so equivocal on the matter (‘sarin or sarin like’ substances, ‘our assessment that’). Why have they not provided the kind of definitive chemical profiling that could be applied to the samples they have received (as detailed in the post on Tim’s blog)?

    In any case, how sure can we be of the chain-of-custody of any of the samples tested given the nature of the groups who control the area.

    Why, if it was a sarin attack, are so many sarin symptoms clearly missing from the victims in the videos (blue-lips, absence of uncontrolled bowel evacuation etc.). Why too did early MSF and Turkish media reports talk of chlorine-like symptoms and smells? How do you explain away these eyewitness accounts and video evidence?

    The professional reports cited as confirmation of sarin in much of the media are actually very much more equivocal than the headlines suggest (the WHO report is a good example here).

    If we really must accept the premise, then the gas could indeed have been manufactured and deployed by Syrian government forces. However, amongst other sources, it could also have been part of stocks captured by rebels prior to the 2013 Russian brokered deal to destroy the Syrian stockpiles, or provided by Turkey as some evidence suggests was the case for the 2013 Ghota attack, or prepared thereafter from precursors similarly captured or provided.

    “4. If you believe that the Assad govt was not responsible, who do you believe was?”

    If it was not the assad government then of could have been an accidental or deliberate release of gas from rebel held supplies.

    Further, given that we are talking about actors who recently deliberately lured and massacred at least 80 children in a suicide bomb attack on a convoy of Syrian evacuees, the deliberate gassing of hostages cannot be ruled out. Victims being gassed deliberately on site or nearby and moved to an area to promote maximum outrage at an opportune time (which very much this was for the opposition).

    How else would you ‘explain away’ the number of victims with clear head and neck injuries, or the lack of proper field-protection and general casual nature of the (supposedly very well-funded and trained) first responders?)

    “5. If you believe the Assad govt was not responsible, how do you explain away the testimony of survivors and other witnesses?”

    This can be addressed in the same way as Question 1.

    We know that the organisations that Amnesty etc. use to identify their sources and contacts are themselves worthy of at least some scepticism – groups like the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), Independent Doctors Association (IDA), Violations Documentation Centre (VDC), Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), Hand-In-Hand, Doctors Under Fire and, of course, the White Helmets – all have issues with the independence of their funding (no, not just Soros), their provenance, the veracity of their previous reports and of that list – everyone has called for greater western invention – most for no-fly zones that worked so effing well in Libya.

    Curiously those organisations that did ot spring up magically in or around 2011 when the hostilities started, have made very much more definite and aggressive demands for western sanctions and military intervention than they have done in previous conflicts (compare, for example PHR’s demands for no-fly zones with their more ‘even-handed’ response to the Israeli flattening of Gaza). Indeed Amnesty have called for direct arming of rebel forces (albeit as long as they promise to play nicely with them).

    “6. Are you beginning to understand the size of the mountain that those who insist that Assad could not have done it must climb?”

    Are you beginning to understand why this scepticism might be just a little bit justified?
    Anyway, who, precisely, is claiming that Assad could not have done it? What we are saying is that the evidence so far presented is insufficient to state that he did – certainly not to anywhere near your 99% certainty.

    As for your update to your ‘Disavowal’ blog:
    “Further Update, 1st May 2017: Human Rights Watch has now published a report on the gas attack at Khan Sheikhoun, and a further 19 chemical weapons attacks in Syria that appear to have been perpetrated by the government. Already, HRW is being denounced as part of the conspiracy by some of my correspondents on the left, using a meme developed by the paranoid right as their excuse for not reading or crediting its report: namely funding for HRW by the evil mastermind of the new world order, George Soros.”

    It is precisely because WE HAVE read these reports that we do not credit them as fully or without caveat as you do. All the renowned and trusted agencies have produced incendiary, but evidentially weak, reports – often flouting their own guidelines in the process. MSF (Al Quds hospital ‘destruction’), Amnesty (rushed 2013 human rights assessments, ‘Death Everywhere’ Aleppo report, illogical accusations of simultaneously ‘indiscriminate’ but ‘deliberately targeted’ hospital attacks, the ‘Human Slaughterhouse’ wild extrapolations and CGI fakery), the UN (downplaying eyewitness reports of rebels faking chemical attacks) and, yes George, Human Rights Watch (the ‘Raising to the Ground’ report, their 2013 Ghota missile-path nonsense, their rapid (but flawed and illogical) verification of the pictures of the Caesar torture photographs hoax and Kenneth Roth’s fake news tweets) have all shown themselves to fall well short of the standards of objectivity and scepticism that we might have wished of them.

    • timhayward says:

      If I could be this productive over lunch I wouldn’t need the actual working day. I hope George sees this, but you’re right in thinking I personally don’t want to prolong an exchange that has too clearly got bogged down. Really, I think your thoughts are worth publishing links to.

      • Adrian D. says:

        I’ll see what I can do about the links over the weekend – like most people I suspect with any kind of academic experience I find writing to be the easy part – especially when using a laptop without wireless and a mobile phone. Although if I can use those to find obvious BS in the HRW report without too much trouble, then it doesn’t say much for the level of attention Monbiot et al have given the matter.

        There will be more on the HRW bullshit shortly by the way. It really is sickening.

    • Norman Pilon says:

      Hi Adrian,

      Tim writes,

      “If I could be this productive over lunch I wouldn’t need the actual working day. [. . .] Really, I think your thoughts are worth publishing links to.”

      Indeed! With your permission, might I make a post of your comment on my blog?

  8. Adrian D. says:

    How we were misled by HRW?….

    I’ve now read the full HRW website-report twice and followed up on some of the sources – and my early thoughts are that it suffers from many of the issues that you have raised with the reporting of both MSF and Amnesty. No site visits possible so a series of interviews were conducted either in Turkey, over the phone or, and this was a new one for me, text message.- all organised by, or conducted through “intermediaries” (which include SAMS and the Syrian Revolution Coordination Committee).

    One thing that does seriously concern, but not surprise, me – and which I need to have another look at is that there appears to be something of a slight-of-hand going on with the way HRW is presenting their non-interview based evidence.

    This involves the rather coy way in which they described what steps they took to externally validate the content of the videos and pictures. I was particularly interested in this as there have been a number of serious issues raised about the absence of certain symptoms in the images of the victims (see Dennis O’Brien’s work).

    Here’s how it’s introduced on the website:

    “To corroborate information from witnesses, Human Rights Watch reviewed photos and videos posted online and shared directly by witnesses, in particular to see whether clinical signs and symptoms were consistent with witness statements and exposure to chemicals. Keith Ward, an independent expert on the detection and effects of chemical warfare agents, reviewed and assess information about clinical signs and symptoms witness statements, videos, and photos.”

    At least on the website version (and at least as far as I can see) there then follows almost nothing at all of the results of any of Dr. Ward’s assessments – positive or negative. There are a couple of general remarks about symptoms (of pupil dilation for instance), none of which are attributed to Dr. Ward, but there is nothing at all comprehensive, systematic or definite regarding Dr Ward’s judgement as a whole. I may be missing something from the Appendices, but this surely must ask serious questions of the intention of the authors –
    what have they got to hide?

    There were also no obvious links to any of the credentials of the ‘independent’ Keith Ward. A quick google did show that a Keith Ward has worked with HRW before in a report in Sudan. I think it is almost certain that the Keith Ward in question is one who from 2005 to 2010 was the Chief of the R&D Section of the Chemical and Biological Division within the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate – and whose linkin profile states that his current position is as a ‘Science Advisor’ in Washington for the ‘Federal Government’.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/keith-ward-9a60b716

    Of course, I’ve no reason whatsoever to doubt Dr. Ward’s integrity, but to describe someone employed by the US government as ‘independent’ is something of a stretch.

  9. timhayward says:

    Thanks, Adrian. I love it that you can do a blog within a blog! Less cheerily, I do have to agree that you have pointed to potentially worrying questions of a kind my own blogs have not really touched on.

    • Adrian D. says:

      I managed to download the pdf version of the HRW report yesterday as well as the appendices and the more I read them, them more it becomes clear what slippery and cynical documents they are.

      The, completely un-referenced, description of the effects of sarin in the Appendix are written in such a way as to promote those medical effects that were reported by their interviewees and the ‘early reports’ HRW include, but it appears to gloss-over or completely ignore, those that were not.

      Even in this limited context, there is no case-by-case assessment of the reported symptoms presented – nothing at all to suggest the outcome of the analysis which was stated to have occurred in their Methodology.

      FWIW, I can now confidently state that HRW have offered NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that they have corroborated the symptoms exhibited by the victims in their videos as being due to sarin exposure.

      So I thought I’d have a look at their evidence from the bomb fragments, this must have been weighty given than in their Methodology they state:
      :

      “Human Rights Watch also obtained photos and videos of remnants of the munitions used in the attacks. Specialists in weapons identification and chemical weapons inside and outside the organization analyzed the remnants. “ (p.10)

      Guess what? In the context of the KS incident, HRW present NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER of the outcomes of these expert analyses. Nothing, nada, jack-shit, absolutely, positively, FUCK ALL.

      The evidence that they do bother to provide from images of bomb fragments is limited to a couple of tweets that identify a similarity with some Russian bombs (which they then cynically proceed to shoehorn in on this basis alone) and, surprise, surprise, a couple of links to Bellingcat.

      Of the KS incident in general they state “Human Rights Watch has reviewed dozens of photos and videos of the crater at Impact Site 1 posted online and provided directly to Human Rights Watch by people who took them.” (p28), but their references point only to those already available – either via social media from the ‘first responders’ or (you’ve guess it) Bellingcat. They make simiilar claims to have inspected other material elsewhere in the report – and in some cases have included references to videos or audio ‘held by Human Rights Watch’ – they do not, however, provide ANY links to these (so they could, you know, be bullshit)..

      [If you get the chance, I seriously recommend you read the introduction to the section “III. Warplane-Delivered Munitions’ – it’s a masterpiece of whatever the name is of the rhetorical device when arguments are made for two tenuous propositions – in this case that bombs were dropped from planes and that the bombs contained sarin – by jumbling them both together in such a way as to magically prove both. I thought it might be ‘begging the question’, but isn’t that a more appropriate term for calling all of these alleged incidents ‘attacks’? HRW seem happy to do so throughout].

      As for the list of the victims, here’s how they refer to them in the main body of the text: “Human Rights Watch
      has identified 159 people who reportedly died in the four attacks from chemical
      exposure. Hundreds were injured.” (p.20).

      And from the Appendix :”The fatality list was compiled by an activist from the Syrian Revolution Coordination Committee and many names were
      corroborated by local residents who spoke to Human Rights Watch.”

      So nothing other than interviews then – no matching of any of them with the autopsies for instance.

      Elsewhere the bullshit continues…

      On numerous occasions they report the UN OPCW report that concluded Syrian Government use of chlorine as corroborating their findings, but fail to mention that, despite the headlines, that report found a significant amount of evidence of CW attacks being staged by opposition forces.

      They repeatedly state that they (HRW) concluded that the Syrian Government were responsible for the 2013 Ghota massacre, but despite mentioning the UN report, fail to mention that the OPCW did not come to that conclusion – or that much of the evidence HRW themselves provided has since been shown to be codswallop.

      HRW also state that just 2 alternative theories for KS have been presented – that a Syrian/Russian bomb hit an ammunition depot releasing the gas, or that armed groups detonated a chemical munition on the ground. HRW say that they have not found any evidence for these – but they have offered no evidence that they actually considered or investigated the latter option.

      They also fail to consider a fourth option – that hostages and/or locals were gassed either on site or nearby and moved there to be filmed – and the the number of victims may not have been as numerous as reported by the ‘Civil Response’ or local groups (names provided or not). This alternative has been posited for the 2013 Ghota massacre (where there is still no evidence of the bodies of the hundreds reported killed) and has been for the KS incident too – it is highly unlikely that HRW were not aware of it.

      So what exactly is left of the HRW report? It’s the selective and mostly uncorroborated accounts of a number of opposition activists, ‘local journalists’, ‘first responders’ and a smattering of locals all arranged by, or piped through, the usual, hugely partisan sources – and we all know how accurate they can be.

      It is, as I think you would say Tim, bullshit.

      • timhayward says:

        The sheer shoddiness is insulting in its own right. On the intro to section 3 that you mention, one particular locution is of a kind familiar from Amnesty reports: “Human Rights Watch has identified 159 people who reportedly died”. This gives the writer endless latitude: if you insert the adjective “reportedly” you can then proceed to say all sorts of things that have no actual evidence but are literally true because someone – no matter who – has “reported” them. Reported incidents then get spoken of exactly as if they were confirmed and corroborated. That way you can pile up mountains of evidence. Steaming mountains!

  10. Adrian D. says:

    Shoddy is a word for it – but I think it’s more calculating than that. They can be assured that no one in the MSM will follow up on the lack of references or glaring omissions.

    As you know (but some of your readers may not) there was another ‘debunking’ piece promoted by Monbiot over the weekend – this time from Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, a lecturer of digital journalism at the University of Stirling.

    https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2017/5/5/chomsky-and-the-syria-revisionists-regime-whitewashing

    I tweeted him (Ahmad) a number of questions about the HRW report (which he sees as highly persuasive). I also asked specifically whether a ‘digital journalist’ could use on-line presence (Facebook etc) to corroborate lists of ‘victims’ from these kind of alleged attacks. You’d have thought that an FB account that was still active might give some kind of indication of the still-breathing or existed-in-the-first place status of the alleged victims, but this does not appear to have occurred to HRW etc.

    I’ll let you know if I get any reply, but I already know the answer as the questioners of the mainstream narrative had been using the method for a while – finding interesting links between western sources and Al Nuzra / Zinke activists.

    It seems that the father who was shown all over the media grieving after the death of his twins in the KS incident had an FB account – so it’s likely that other members of his ‘family’ did too. His brother – who ‘reportedly’ was killed in the attack did – but strangely his account may have shown some activity after the KS incident:

    https://clarityofsignal.com/2017/05/02/father-of-invention-media-portrayed-grief-stricken-dad-turns-out-to-be-al-nusra-front-terrorist/

    • DDTea says:

      Did you find anything in that Al-Araby article that you disagreed with? It was an accurate summary of Theodore Postol’s reports from April 4 – present.

      ” [Postol] said it was an on-the-ground detonation – before calling it an aerial attack; he said there was no chemical attack – before calling it plastic combustion “like Bhopal”; he said the attack happened early in the morning – before suggesting that the shape of its plumes proved a Russian theory about a bombing five hours later; he said the wind was blowing southeast, proving the attack “never occurred” – before conceding the wind was blowing northwest, which apparently also proved the attack never occurred; he said the French in their assessment had directly contradicted the White House – before admitting that the French had actually supported the White House in their report, which was now “irrational” and “unsound”. ”

      Postol’s facts and analyses appear to change from day to day; but his conviction about Assad’s innocence appeared unshakeable.

      Postol appeals to the denialists, not because his arguments are persuasive…they like him because he is a man with credentials giving their conspiracy theories a veneer of scientific plausibility with superfluous tables and diagrams… ”
      https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2017/5/5/chomsky-and-the-syria-revisionists-regime-whitewashing

      Who can explain why this guy is taken seriously? Oh, he’s an MIT professor? Do I have to point out he’s a professor of “Science, Technology, and Society?” This isn’t a core research program at MIT; it’s an auxiliary department to provide a well-rounded education to the brilliant, if monomaniacal, students at MIT. It doesn’t even offer a full, independent undergraduate major. It sounds interesting though. See: http://sts-program.mit.edu/

      • timhayward says:

        Hi DDTea, if your question is to me, I reiterate that nothing I have said depends on Postol. Everything I have said, by contrast, stands. I do understand that people involved in the business of narrative correction have to focus on the things they feel able to correct. But you’ll appreciate that a growing number of ordinary people, like myself, will continue to ask the questions that strike us as worth asking. The more outrageous the scenarios we’re presented with – and, let’s face it, they must sometimes even get the guys who have to work with them shaking their heads – so the more people will be asking more questions! Meanwhile, I personally tend to think this whole CW tack is just not going to be usable any more.

      • Adrian D. says:

        Hi DDTea – if your comment was directed to me (I’ve only just seen it) then I’m pretty much in agreement with Tim on this. Whether or not Prof. Postol has jumped the shark on this one does nothing to enhance the paucity of evidence that has so far been given to the public as far as the KS incident is concerned.

        FWIW I don’t find much in the Alaraby piece that I can agree with as the author provides no evidence for the KS narrative other than the governmental reports of France and UK – neither of whom are willing to account for the chain-of-custody of their samples – and the MSF, Guardian and HRW reports. As you’’ see from my comments, the HRW report is to say the least, contentious (I would say bullshit). Upon these limited grounds he flings a load of ad homs at Chomsky and Patrick Coburn that don’t bear much scrutiny.

        He (Ahmad) seems to think that the KS Assad-gassing narrative must be true as it is inconceivable that there could be coordination between the writers of those reports – but as ALL of them are subject to the control of the same ‘intermediaries’ there is no reason for any coordination for bullshit to be spread – just the lack of scepticism that has characterised the reaction of these agencies throughout the Syrian conflict.

        As the author has steadfastly refused to reply to my questions on the matter then you’ll have to forgive me for concluding that he’s not actually read the HRW report at all.

    • Adam Larson says:

      Noting: if the brother with Facebook activity is “Mohammad al-Yusef,  the brother of Abdel Hamid al-Yusef. (He is supposedly now deceased due to the April 4th chemical event according to the list above),” according to the list there were two Mohameds only – one age 10, one age 11. So this other guy being alive isn’t an issue that I see.

      Abdelhamid is shady though. My hunch is he was never th father of those fair-haired kids, as the visuals suggest. And I suspect as he was seen in all these videos and photos over a few days, he was in the middle of a long, drawn-out, voluntary exposure to low-dose sarin to fake the test in Turkey. That might be why he’s always sweaty and weak, and had reported vision problems and a “nervous breakdown” during these days. (that’s per Alaa al-Yousef, who also says he had vision problems, as they both visited Turkey and made these media rounds).

      • Adrian D. says:

        Thanks Adam,

        Have you come across any of the other KS ‘victims’ regarding their Facebook presences? I’m writing something on the HRW ‘Death By Chemicals’ report and want to know if any of the other names have been corroborated that way.

        Thanks – I do like you work.

      • Adam Larson says:

        No – the dead seem pretty anonymous, likely not even their real names – haven’t dug into survivors.

  11. Adam Larson says:

    Sorry I didn’t read the whole discussion, or the whole article, but for what it’s worth, I’d like to add my take on what happened. Two surveillance jets passed – about 2-3 km south of town, by US radar track – half-circled and left a 6:46. At the same time, 3 powerful rockets, maybe FAE, were fired, maybe from the north. And at least 2 spots, maybe 3 or even 4 spots, a vast outpouring of alleged sarin vapor begins then. In reality, it’s an unknown mist or smoke people SAY smelled horrible, was yellowish and caustic, and caused the symptoms described, and many instant deaths. That does seem partly possible to me.

    Anyway, it seems this unknown process went on for about 20-25 minutes before much of the town was coated. That’s some Assad bomb-missiles to do that. A few powerful smoke machines parked in each spot would make more sense. The fog spreads too widely to be a natural sarin plume. It almost cannot be that, in the 2 seen spots. The wind also is visibly to the northeast, 30-45 degrees. That’s interesting because all the victims that were reported dying downwind from the famous saring crater at the bakery were actually PERFECTLY UPWIND of that spot. That’s not just wrong, but 180 degrees wrong, and suggests rebels fabricated this story, and built in a Postol-like backwards wind reading at the core of the story. If so, oops! Also, probably 90% of the areas covered in this fog had no reports of casualties. Those were only in that narrow upwind area.

    No rescues are shown from the dozens or hundreds of affected hiomes. Bodies just appear on trucks dead and dying. Somehow, sarin or a sarin-like substance, along with caustically-damaged lungs, etc. would up in the people sampled in Turkey. If we can trust the OPCW as run by one of Erdogan’s thugs. If so, they were likely, gassed somewhere in a basement with just the right stuff to yield those results. It might be in just a handful that got sent, and not in the majority. Two or more poisons, or no poisons, might’ve been used to kill the rest. It takes a lot more work to get a better reading. As noted, those seen suffering symptoms on video do not feature the SLUDGE syndrome, nor cyanosis, etc. Irritation is reported and realistic – burning in the eyes and lungs. The dead goat has bloody, pink foam. I suspect something nasty and chemical did happen in the open space, but I still doubt that’s the main factor driving another magical triple-digits-killed “Assad CW massacre.”

    The sarin (to the extent it’s there) seemingly doesn’t match Syria’s stocks, and doesn’t sound like it – It does match the nasty kind allegedly used in Ghouta, etc. – which by implication, never did match Syria’s stocks, as we were assured at the time. Now we learn this was always Assad’s other, unknown, possibly terrorist-made sarin, which he kept using strategically to kill innocents only at just the right times, like when UN-OPCW “inspectors” were there to verify, apparently just to get himself in trouble and have to give up his deadlier sarin.

    Having parted with that, did he resume using the dirty kind to try and get rebels in trouble? A bit, against his own soldiers here and there, to no outside concern. Only now did he decide to again get the rebels in trouble. putting their nasty sarin into a KhAB sarin bomb, dropping it from 3 km south, and getting its nasty sarin to blow upwind and coat the whole town. This, I guess, was just to see what a president Trump does compared to Obama. The brilliance of these dictators, huh?

    Analysis:
    the sarin:
    http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-sarin-evidence.html

    The when and where – overview (bomb and home locales, wind, fog (basic), flight track, time questions, etc.
    http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/05/idlib-chemical-massacre-when-and-where.html

    wind direction (detail)
    http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/05/4-4-17-wind-direction-explainer.html

    white cloud-fog spread (detail)
    http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/05/idlib-chemical-massacre-white-fog.html

  12. Adrian D. says:

    Hi Tim,

    I’m just finishing off what will be my first (proper) blog which brings together some of the bits and pieces I’ve found out about the HRW Death By Chemical attack as I thought someone ought to do it. I thought you might be interested in a question I’ve just sent to Forensic Architecture of ‘Human Slaughterhouse’ fame…

    Hello,

    I have been reading the Human Rights Watch ‘Death By Chemicals’ report on the Khan Sheikhoun alleged chemical weapons attack. HRW refer to your organisation directly in their Methodology and in their report, but appear to have completely misrepresented your findings.

    With this in mind, I would be very grateful if you could answer the following questions as I am writing a piece on the HRW report:

    1. Who commissioned you to perform the analysis of the Khan Sheikoun crater?
    2. If it was not HRW, were you aware that they were using your work?

    3. Were you aware that HRW were referring to your organisation directly in their Methodology?
    4. Were you aware that HRW have been reporting that your analysis concluded that the crater was less than an inch wide and less than a quarter of an inch deep?

    Thank you for your help in this matter.

    Yours,

    Adrian D.

    For your information:

    From HRW’s Methodology:

    “Human Rights Watch also obtained photos and videos of remnants of the munitions used
    in the attacks. Specialists in weapons identification and chemical weapons inside and
    outside the organization analyzed the remnants. Forensic Architecture, a group
    specializing in spatial analysis, created a model of a crater related to the Khan Sheikhoun
    attack from videos and photos, allowing for exact measurement of its size.” (HRW ‘Death By Chemicals’ report, p.10)

    From the section of the HRW report dedicated to the KS incident (my emphasis):

    “Based on photos and videos, Forensic Architecture, an organization specializing in spatial
    analysis, created a three-dimensional model of the crater. Based on the model, the
    organization calculated that the crater was about 1.60 centimeters wide and 0.42
    centimeters deep. ” (HRW ‘Death By Chemicals’ report, p.30)

  13. timhayward says:

    Hi Adrian, great to hear you’ll be blogging this! (Hope you get a reply from the Forensic Architecture people, as I think they should be as clear as possible about what they do and do not endorse regarding the uses of their work and the sorts of claim it can support.)

  14. Pingback: Who Shall Debunk The Debunkers? | Tim Hayward

  15. Pingback: How to Weigh a Mountain of Evidence: Guest Blog by Professor Paul McKeigue (Part 1) | Tim Hayward

  16. Pingback: How to Weigh a Mountain of Evidence: Guest Blog by Professor Paul McKeigue (Part 1) « Human rights investigations

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s