Wikileaks Reveals Further Evidence of “Sexed-Up Dossier”: OPCW faces growing call for answers

As representatives of almost every state in the world gather this week in The Hague, all eyes should be on them. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – whose conference they are attending – was mandated by the people of the world to play a vital part in reducing the evils of war.

Instead, it seems, the OPCW has been manipulated to serve the ends of warmongers.

Critics and non-Western nations arrived at this understanding some time ago. Key investigators at the OPCW have known it for a fact. Their knowledge was brought to light first by the leak of a suppressed report, then by firsthand testimony heard by an international panel, and now by Wikileaks’ release of an email in which an OPCW inspector expresses the gravest concern about intentional bias introduced to a redacted version of the report he co-authored. Crucial facts about the 2018 Douma chemical claims, he writes, “have morphed into something quite different to what was originally drafted.”

The Western media has concealed the problem because – bluntly – it is part of the problem. Journalists in established news outlets do not have the investigative autonomy that they would need to fulfil their calling.

But the news is out. In the Mail on Sunday, Peter Hitchens writes that what’s been uncovered “appears to be the worst instance of ‘sexing-up’ in support of war since the invasion of Iraq and Tony Blair’s doctored dossiers.” In Italy’s leading broadsheet La Repubblica, Stefania Maurizi puts the critical question: “Will the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize winning organization shed light on the whistleblower’s serious charges after this email?”

Hopefully, the questions will now be firmly pressed, and this post will carry updates as and when they are covered in the media.

Further coverage and updates [most recent first]

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Posted in chemical weapons, disinformation, international institutions, journalism, media, OPCW, propaganda, Syria, UK Government, Uncategorized, war, White Helmets | 7 Comments

OPCW Must Come Clean: Open Letter To States’ Representatives

Following revelations of grave flaws in its Syria reporting, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons must allow whistleblowers’ evidence to be heard at the coming OPCW Conference of States Parties. That’s the message from the following public figures who have signed an Open Letter to OPCW permanent representatives.

José Bustani, Ambassador of Brazil, first Director General of the OPCW and former Ambassador to the United Kingdom and France.

William Binney, a former technical director at NSA

George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury

Noam Chomsky, Emeritus Professor, MIT

Alain Chouet, former chief of the Security Intelligence Service within the French external intelligence service (DGSE)

Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Professor Emeritus, former head Research group Cross-cultural Injury Epidemiology, Karolinska Institute. Chair Swedish Doctors for Human Rights – SWEDHR

Anne Gazeau-Secret, former French Ambassador, The Hague

Katharine Gun, former GCHQ (UKGOV), Whistleblower

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Officer and Former Senior Investigator, US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Annie Machon, former MI5 Officer, UK Security Services

Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and presidential briefer; co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) and of Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence; former Army Infantry/Intelligence officer.

John Pilger, Journalist and documentary film maker

Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and National Security, MIT

Scott Ritter, UNSCOM Weapons Inspector 1991-1998

Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel, 9-11 whistleblower and a 2002 Time Magazine Person of the Year

Hans von Sponeck, former UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator (Iraq)

Oliver Stone, Film Director, Producer and Writer.

Courage Foundation Panel Members:-

Richard Falk, Professor of International Law, Emeritus, Princeton University; Visiting Professor, Istinye University, Istanbul

Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief, Wikileaks

John Holmes, Maj Gen (retd) DSO OBE MC, former director of Special Forces, British Army

Dr. Helmut Lohrer, MD, Board member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and International Councilor of its German affiliate

Prof. Dr. Günter Meyer, Centre for Research on the Arab World (CERAW) at the University of Mainz

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence; member, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

And with support of members of the OPCW Douma Fact-Finding Mission

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Posted in chemical weapons, guest blog, OPCW, Syria, UK Government, Uncategorized, war, White Helmets | 9 Comments

“Major Revelation” from OPCW whistleblower: Jonathan Steele speaking to the BBC

The following is a transcription of an interview given by Jonathan Steele (former Senior Middle East Correspondent for the Guardian) to Paul Henley, on the BBC World Service programme, Weekend, on 27 October 2019 Continue reading

Posted in BBC, chemical weapons, disinformation, Guardian, guest blog, international institutions, media, OPCW, propaganda, Syria, UK Government, Uncategorized, war, White Helmets | 31 Comments

Media Coverage of OPCW Whistleblower Revelations

(For full links to sources scroll down past update notices)

Update 7 December 2021 Further emails published by Grayzone show that the OPCW inspection team’s recommendation that a forensic pathologist be consulted to determine cause of death of Douma victims, given that their appearance was inconsistent with chlorine poisoning, was actively resisted and suppressed by OPCW management

Update 16 November 2021 The UN Commission of Inquiry in Syria has confirmed that it does not regard the Douma incident as a proven chemical weapons attack: its dissatisfaction with the OPCW handling of the case is reported by Harald Neuber.

Update 5 September 2021 The BBC admits to ‘serious flaws’ in its reporting of Douma event and particularly concerning the OPCW whistleblowers, in the BBC’s Mayday podcast produced by Chloe Hadjimatheou. Padraic Flanagan reports in the Mail on Sunday, citing Peter Hitchens: ‘This is a major victory for the truth. The whistleblowers inside the OPCW were always motivated by a strict regard for scientific truth. Far from seeking rewards, they realised that their actions would damage their careers but went ahead anyway.’

Update 19 July 2021 The letter of concern written by OPCW Inspector Brendan Whelan to the Director General, on 25 April 2019, following publication of the FFM’s Final Report on the Douma incident, has been uploaded to the Grayzone website by Aaron Maté.

Update 16 April 2021 A further Arria Meeting of the UN Security Council today heard powerful addresses from Hans von Sponeck and Lawrence Wilkerson, along with a briefing from Aaron Maté. On 15 April, the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence was addressed by OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias: critical questions put to him by Irish MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, however, were evaded. Earlier this week, 14 April, the BBC issued an apology for a defamatory untruth about an OPCW inspector made in its recent Mayday podcast series.

Update 14 March 2021 Following the publication of the Statement of Concern, Britain’s most senior naval officer, Admiral Lord West of Spithead, who is one of the signatories, reports that he was denounced on the record by the Foreign Office for engaging in ‘disinformation and propaganda’. This is covered by Peter Hitchens.

Update 12 March 2021 This week sees the publication of a Statement of Concern signed by 5 former OPCW officials, including founding Director General José Bustani, as well former weapons inspectors, whistleblowers, senior military figures and many other distinguished figures from a variety of fields. It has been covered in Germany by Telepolis. Tulsi Gabbard and Aaron Maté were invited onto Tucker Carlson’s show to explain the concerns that the mainstream press are still generally evading.

Update 30 November 2020 This month saw the BBC break its silence on the matter. Its podcast series Mayday, about the late James Le Mesurier, devoted an extra episode entirely to the question of the OPCW Douma whistleblowers. (The ten prior episodes of the series were somewhat predictable, and provided little impetus for any revision of my preview.) The BBC’s treatment of the OPCW whistleblowers was severely criticised by those journalists who have followed the matter closely, notably Peter Hitchens and Aaron Maté.  Hitchens wrote that the BBC’s handling of ‘the biggest story I have handled in more than 40 years of journalism’ manifest a ‘failure of standards’. Maté highlights serious questions the BBC needs to answer.

Update 6 November 2020 Since the last update in July there have been several significant developments. The most recent coverage – from Brazil and Germany as well as Anglophone outlets (see links in list below) – has centred on the scandal within a scandal that was Bellingcat’s publication of a spurious document, originating from someone within OPCW, with the claim it was the draft of a letter to a whistleblower by OPCW’s Director General. A copy of the actual letter sent was entered in evidence via Aaron Maté of GrayzoneNews to reveal it was nothing like the document leaked. This desperate deception by Bellingcat followed the recent reading of testimony from the founding Director General of the OPCW, Jose Bustani, into the record of a meeting of the UN Security Council. (It had to be read into the record because the US, UK and French representatives to the UN – in other words, on behalf of the nations that had bombed Syria on the strength of claims about the Douma event – had taken the extraordinary step of blocking the invited distinguished speaker’s delivery of his testimony in person. He can be heard reading it here, however, thanks, again, to Aaron Maté and Grayzone. Maté had meanwhile also achieved a further publication success by getting the story into The Nation.

Update 10 July 2020 As OPCW’s Executive Council voted this week on whether to take action on the first IIT report, Frank Myers publishes a useful overview reminding the public of the ‘Western media’s Syrian shame’ concerning ‘chemical weapons and cover-ups’. OPCW’s management itself appears to be ashamed too, as on Twitter it hides replies to its tweeted announcement when these mention the whistleblowers and their testimony.

Update 28 April 2020 Following publication of the first report of OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), a withering critique of it from OPCW insiders is posted by The Grayzone. In light of such unequivocal implications of fraudulence, a glaring question that journalists ought to be asking is whether there is *any* serious scientist with a reputation to match the OPCW whistleblowers who would put their name to an endorsement of the organisation’s scientific and technical work as published.

Update 13 March 2020 This week a fourth whistleblower came forward to testify of a toxic climate of fear within OPCW, while at the 93rd session of its Executive Council, Western states parties doubled down on their position regarding Syria. By contrast, China stressed the requirement of OPCW to work in an objective, impartial and professional manner, and India emphasised the need for a consensual approach to reporting and for the integrity and credibility of the OPCW and its mechanisms to be preserved. The Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media issued a briefing note with an ‘Update on the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident‘.

Update 1 March 2020 This week Presidential Candidate and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard confirmed that she has sent several letters to OPCW about the whistleblowers’ allegations and will continue to follow up on the questions, having had no satisfactory response thus far. Meanwhile, Peter Hitchens published a detailed account (c15,000 words) of the OPCW whistleblowers’ point-by-point responses to the Director General’s recent statement about them.

Update 21 February 2020 Criticism of OPCW’s handling of whistleblowers continues to be heard from various quarters, including in articles from US, UK, Australia, Denmark, and Germany – (scroll down for links) – with Caitlin Johnstone’s critique of Huffington Post’s extended smear campaign against the Working Group being republished in Brazil. Also this week, OPCW’s Twitter account was found to be hiding critical replies to its tweets, compounding public perceptions of the organisation’s lack of candour. The wider Western campaign of perception management about Syria was further revealed with more disclosures from Ian Cobain and Alice Ross on The British government’s covert propaganda campaign in Syria.

Update 11 February 2020 The full text of Ian Henderson’s report to UN Security Council was published via Aaron Maté at Grayzone News, with their exposé including also a redacted email from a ‘Senior OPCW Official’ speaking of a climate of fear at the organisation.

Update 7 February 2020 This week saw the release of OPCW Director General’s response to the leaks. Unlike the leaks themselves, his message was instantly transmitted in the mainstream media, including via The Guardian and New York Times – which covered it twice in a day. Meanwhile, The National Interest published an article by Ted Galen Carpenter arguing that ‘The Media’s Coverage of the Syria April 2018 Chemical Weapons Attack is a Disgrace‘. This latter view is prevalent in independent media, such as OffGuardian. Also this week The Grayzone wrote a stinging response to HuffPost UK for its complicity in government censorship.

Update 31 January 2020 This week saw mainstream media apparently attempt to squash the story: following an earlier such item in The Times, Huffington Post published what Caitlin Johnstone counts as Chris York’s twelfth smear piece on dissident voices. The Daily Mail reproduces part of that piece but also includes salient information lower down the page. Meanwhile, The Canary follows other independent progressive outlets like The Grayzone in emphasising the story’s significance.

Update 27 January 2020 Former SAS chief John Holmes recounts his meeting with OPCW whistleblower on RT, while Peter Hitchens offers detailed response to Bellingcat’s attempt to discredit OPCW engineering/ballistics expert Ian Henderson.

Update 23 January 2020 UN briefing by Henderson was followed by House of Commons briefing by Major General John Holmes, journalist Jonathan Steele, and members of Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media. Peter Hitchens writes about the UN meeting in the Mail Online.

Update 20 January 2020 OPCW’s Douma investigator Ian Henderson addresses United Nations Security Council via videolink.

Update 8 January 2020 Tulsi Gabbard draws connection between OPCW report interference and Iraq WMD disinformation, thereby also counselling caution now regarding US intelligence claims relating to Iran. Meanwhile, pointed questions about integrity of OPCW report have been put in Dutch parliament.

Update 1 January 2020 Robert Fisk writing in The Independent mentions that NATO knew “OPCW are not going to admit all they know”. Meanwhile Tulsi Gabbard indicates she has been pressing OPCW to respond on the matter.

Update 27 December 2019 Wikileaks’ fourth release of leaked documents reveals more evidence of OPCW cover-up of its inspectors’ real findings.

Update 15 December 2019. Wikileaks’ third release of documents details malpractice in OPCW Douma reporting.

Update 10 December 2019. The most recent coverage has been rather indirect: first there was the tweeted announcement by Newsweek journalist, Tareq Haddad, of his resigning because his report on the scandal was spiked (a story in itself covered by Fox News and Consortium News). Then there was the mention of it in Monica Maggioni’s interview with the Syrian president for the Italian state broadcaster RAI that then did not get shown in Italy and was broadcast on Syrian TV instead (and these facts were reported by Associated Press and Al Jazeera).

Update 1 December 2019, OPCW Conference closes with consensus on other issues but with Syria reporting regarded as unfinished business by Non-Aligned States along with Russia and China. Meanwhile, Peter Hitchens meets whistleblower and intimates that there is much more is to come.

Update 26 November 2019. On the eve of the OPCW’s 24th Conference of States Parties, Wikileaks released an email revealing claims of what Peter Hitchens, writing in the Mail on Sunday, called a ‘sexed up dossier’. On the first day of the conference, the whistleblower revelations were referred to by the OPCW director general only to downplay their significance, a line uncritically followed by Reuters, AFP, CBS News, The Guardian, etc. In the evening, however, the story received prominent coverage from American TV on Tucker Carlson Tonight.  [The new leak reinforced the message of the earlier whistleblower revelations that this post began by noting, below.]

Original post: On 23 October 2019, the Courage Foundation and Wikileaks released a statement arising from a panel meeting with the OPCW whistleblower on irregular practices in the OPCW’s investigation of alleged chemical attack in Douma, on 7 April 2018. This was signed by seven figures of international standing, including the OPCW’s first director general, José Bustani.

Within hours of its release, this statement was reported in La Repubblica (Italy) and NachDenkSeiten (Germany), but no mainstream outlet in English-speaking countries mentioned it on the day. Meanwhile, though, alternative and non-Western outlets have been alive with discussion of the statement and its implications, as have social media.

This post will keep a note of significant media comment on the revelations and the issues they give rise to, being updated as and when items appear.

Links to coverage (most recent first)

Aaron Maté (6 December 2021) Corrupting science: Shunning forensic expertise, OPCW left Douma, Syria murders unsolved, Grayzone.

Aaron Maté (22 November 2021) Corrupting Science: in Syria probe, OPCW erased experts’ inconvenient findings, Grayzone

Harald Neuber (16 November 2021) UN Commission objects to OPCW report on Syria, Telepolis [in German]

Steve Sweeney (15 September 2021) BBC apology over Douma coverage, Al-Mayadeen Media Network

Harald Neuber (10 September 2021) Experts are calling for consequences following fake news from the BBC about poison gas in Syria, Telepolis [in German]

Harald Neuber (8 September 2021) Poison gas in Syria: BBC admits to fake news, Telepolis [in German]

Padraic Flanagan (5 September 2021) BBC admits Syria gas attack report had serious flaws, Mail on Sunday

Brendan Whelan (July 2021 [from 25 April 2019]) Letter to Fernando Arias, Director General OPCW, following the publication of FFM final report on Douma incident, Grayzone website (pdf)

Aaron Maté (2 July 2021) Pressed for answers on Syria cover-up, OPCW chief offers new lies and excuses, Grayzone

Ann Garrison (3 June 2021) Cover-up of a cover-up: US media ignore OPCW fraud to justify US/NATO missile strikes on Syria, Black Star News

Jimmy Dore with Aaron Maté (1 May 2021) Biggest Cover-Up Since Iraq Exposed By Journalist Aaron Maté, The Jimmy Dore Show (video)

Paul Hosford (26 April 2021) MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly reject claims they spread ‘fake news’ about Syria attack, Irish Examiner

Aaron Maté (24 April 2021) Facing Syria cover-up outcry, OPCW chief lies and US, UK, France evade, Pushback, Grayzone (video)

Clare Daly and Mick Wallace (23 April 2021) Some weeks are more trouble than others, I4C Trouble (podcast)

Robert Inlakesh (22 April 2021) OPCW ignores critics of its cover-up, imposes sanctions on Syria, Press TV

Karin Leukefeld (22 April 2021) Politisches Spektakel bei der OVCW-Staatenkonferenz in Den Haag, NachDenkSeiten (in German)

Berlin Group 21 (20 April 2021) Statement Regarding Newslines Magazine Article, (this was a response to one of the errors in hit pieces published by Michael Weiss and others in Newslines and Daily Beast on a story obliquely related to the OPCW leaks; see also Tim Hayward’s take on that story)

Lawrence Wilkerson (20 April 2021) At UN, ex-Colin Powell aide calls out ‘egregious’ OPCW Syria cover-up, (video)

Vanessa Beeley (19 April 2021) Protecting the OPCW against transparency – who is Nathalie Loiseau?, The Wall Will Fall

Aaron Maté with Hans von Sponeck (19 April 2021) Diplomat Blasts OPCW Cover-up, Grayzone (with video)

Devirupa Mitra (19 April 2021) UNSC Watch: India Joins Russia, China in Disputing OPCW’s Latest Report on Syria, The Wire [This article is not specifically on the Douma case, but marks a significant concern of India’s with related issues at OPCW]

Piers Robinson (18 April 2021) Further allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria buckle under scrutiny, Pressenza (video interview)

Aaron Maté (18 April 2021) At UN, Aaron Maté debunks OPCW’s Syria lies and confronts US, UK on cover-up, Grayzone (video)

Mick Wallace and Piers Robinson (16 April 2021) OPCW’s Syria cover-up, Press TV (video)

Hans von Sponeck, Lawrence Wilkerson, Aaron Maté (16 April 2021) addresses to UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting, United Nations Security Council

Berlin Group 21 (15 April 2021) ‘Leading International Voices Call on OPCW and its Scientific Advisors to Allow All Douma Investigators ‘To Be Heard’‘, EIN Presswire press release

Clare Daly and Mick Wallace (15 April 2021) questions to the OPCW General Director at the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, European Parliament

BBC (14 April 2021) Mayday: The Canister on the Bed, BBC Corrections and Clarifications

Karin Leukefeld (24 March 2021) Desinformation und Propaganda mit falscher Flagge zerstören das unbestechliche Gut der Glaubwürdigkeit von Politik, NachDenkSeiten

Hybah Sleman and Ruaa al-Jazaeri (16 March 2021) OPCW under pressure from Western states to change facts about Syria, former US diplomat affirms, Syrian Arab News Agency

Peter Hitchens (15 March 2021) Interview for Talk Radio, Youtube

Robinette Girard (14 March 2021) ‘PETER HITCHENS: Lord West, héros des Malouines, est «insulté» par le ministère des Affaires étrangères‘, News-24 France

Peter Hitchens (14 March 2021) ‘Falklands hero Lord West is ‘insulted’ by the Foreign Office after he casts doubt on UN’s ‘sexed-up’ Assad gas attack dossier‘, Mail on Sunday

Aaron Maté and Tulsi Gabbard interviewed by Tucker Carlson (12 March 2021) Washington framed Assad: OPCW whistleblowers call out fake chemical weapons scam in Syria, Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox News

Harald Neuber (12 March 2021) ‘Manipulation of Syria Report: Prominent Criticism of OPCW‘, Telepolis [in German]

Berlin Group 21 (12 March 2021) ‘Additional Background Information Regarding the OPCW FFM Investigation of the Alleged Chemical Attack in Douma, April 7, 2018‘ Courage Foundation

José Bustani, Noam Chomsky, and other signatories (12 March 2021) ‘Statement of Concern: The OPCW investigation of alleged chemical weapons use in Douma, Syria‘, Courage Foundation

Aaron Maté (7 December 2020) OPCW executives praised whistleblower and criticized Syria cover-up, leaks reveal, Grayzone

Aaron Maté (30 November 2020) Questions for BBC on new White Helmets podcast series attacking OPOCW whistleblowers, Grayzone

Peter Hitchens (28 November 2020) A Failure of Standards at the BBC, Mail On Sunday [scroll down his column for this item]

Chloe Hadjimatheou (20 November 2020) Extra Episode: The Canister on the Bed, BBC radio podcast

Alan Macleod (6 November 2020) Media Silence Marks Ongoing OPCW Cover-Up of Syria Chemical Weapons Scandal, Mintpress News

Harald Neuber (6 November 2020) Bellingcat blamiert sich mit Fake-Leak über OPCW, Telepolis

Bernardo Jurema (4 November 2020) O apagão da cobertura do escândalo da Opaq [The blackout of the coverage of the Opaq scandal], Le Monde Diplomatique Brasil

Aaron Maté (28 October 2020) Draft debacle: Bellingcat smears OPCW whistleblower, journalists with false letter, farcical claims, Grayzone

Bellingcat (26 October 2020) Unpublished OPCW Douma Correspondence Raises Doubts about Transparency of “OPCW Leaks” Promoters, Bellingcat website, via Wayback Machine

Noam Chomsky (20 October) Chomsky calls out OPCW cover-up, interview for Grayzone (video and transcript)

Aaron Maté (18 October 2020) Ex-OPCW chief defends Syria whistleblowers and reveals he was spied on before Iraq war, Grayzone

Katie Halper (15 October 2020) The REAL Trump Coverup-Scandal That the Media’s Ignoring As You Read This With Aaron Maté, Katie Halper Show (video)

Piers Robinson (13 October 2020) Syria – The war on truth, dissent and free speech, The Hague Times

Jimmy Dore (10 October 2020) CHAOS at the U.N. Security Council! US/UK Silence Whistle-Blowers!, The Jimmy Dore Show (video)

Harald Neuber (8 October 2020) Die OPCW hat noch die Möglichkeit, sich selbst zu korrigieren, Telepolis

Aaron Maté (7 October 2020) OPCW Syria whistleblower and ex-OPCW chief attacked by US, UK, France at UN, Pushback with Aaron Maté, Grayzone (video)

DemocracyNow (6 October 2020) Survivors of Chemical Attacks in Syria File Complaint as U.N. Blocks Testimony of Former Head of OPCW, DemocracyNow

Ceyda Karan (27 July 2020) OPCW, White Helmets and Syria’s ‘scams’, Birgun [in Turkish]

Aaron Maté (24 July 2020) Did Trump bomb Syria on false grounds? The Nation

Fraser Myers (10 July 2020) Chemical weapons and cover-ups: the Western media’s Syrian shame, Spiked

MJ (8 May 2020) Are the OPCW’s reports on Syria reliable?, Tehran Times

Aaron Maté (6 May 2020) OPCW chief made false claims to denigrate Douma whistleblower, documents reveal, The Grayzone

OPCW Insiders (28 April 2020) OPCW Insiders slam ‘compromised’ new Syria chemical weapons probe, The Grayzone

Paul McKeigue, David Miller and Piers Robinson (12 March 2020) Update on the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident, Working Group on Syrian, Propaganda and Media

Aaron Maté (12 March 2020) Exclusive: New OPCW whistleblower slams ‘abhorrent mistreatment’ of Douma investigators, The Grayzone

Piers Robinson (8 March 2020) “Journalists are humiliating themselves” over Douma, interviewed by Gordon Dimmack, Youtube

Marc Thörner (3 March 2020) Berichte über Giftgasangriff in Syrien: “Es gibt immer nur Freund und Feind in dieser Berichterstattung”, in conversation with Bettina Schmieding, DeutschlandFunk (text summary and audio of full interview, in German)

Piers Robinson (3 March 2020) OPCW & Peter Hitchens’ Influence, Stranahan (podcast)

Kurt Rohmert (2 March 2020) Was geschah wirlich in Syrien: Der undurchsichtige Krieg, StadtSpiegel

Peter Hitchens (1 March 2020) Today, I’m publishing the document that could save us from war, Mail On Sunday

Peter Hitchens (29 February 2020) Time to Hear Both Sides. A and B respond to the OPCW’s attacks on them – the Full Rebuttal, Mail Online

Dave DeCamp (26 February 2020) On the OPCW’s Efforts to Discredit Douma Whistleblowers, Scott Horton Show

Karin Leukefeld (25 February 2020) Syrien und Giftgas: Verleumdung statt Aufklärung, NachDenkSeiten

Dan Mygind (20 February 2020) Were chemical weapons actually used in Syria in 2018? Whistleblowers question OPCW report, RÆSON

(20 February 2020) Poison gas in Syria: Why the OPCW continues to make itself unbelievable, Telepolis

Piers Robinson (20 February 2020) The Truth on the Lies in the OPCW Story, Stranahan (podcast)

Tulsi Gabbard (18 February 2020) Will continue to seek answers from OPCW, speaking at Town Hall, Fairfax VA, Youtube

Caitlin Johnstone (18 February 2020) Scandal-Ridden OPCW Now Using Twitter’s “Hide Replies” Function, Medium

Jim W. Dean (19 February 2020) Should OPCW be criminally investigated for Douma fake gassing coverup? Veterans Today

Karin Leukefeld (18 February 2020) There is silence: Chemical Weapons Organization (OPCW) responds to whistleblower reports on Duma investigation, Junge Welt

Peter Hitchens (15 February 2020) Kafka comes to The Hague: The Show Trial of A and B – Why you should be worried, Mail on Sunday

Slava Zilber (14 February 2020) A journalist resigned from an establishment outlet, and we all need to hear his reasons for doing so, The Canary

Aaron Maté (11 February 2020) Exclusive: new leaks shatter OPCW’s attacks on Douma whistleblowers, The Grayzone, featuring also two previously unpublished documents:

Ian Henderson (written 18 Jan 2020; leaked 11 February 2020) Statement to a Meeting during the OPCW Conference of States Parties or to an Arriaformula Meeting of the UNSC

‘Senior OPCW Official’ (written 28 June 2019; leaked 11 Feburary 2020) Redacted email speaking of climate of fear at OPCW

Piers Robinson and Tareq Haddad (11 February 2020) When The Truth Bombs, Renegade Inc (video interview)

Peter Hitchens (9 February 2020) Two heroes they cannot silence, in his weekly column for Mail on Sunday [scroll down]

Florian Rötzer (9 February 2020) Der OPCW-Abschlussbericht und der angebliche Giftgasangriff in Duma, Telepolis

Steve Sweeney (7 February 2020) Chemical-weapons watchdog denies ‘sexing up’ dossier, Morning Star Online

Nebojsa Malic (7 February 2020) OPCW attack on whistleblowers only proves its own credibility is shot, RT

Patrick Wintour and Bethan McKernan (7 February 2020) Inquiry strikes blow to Russian denials of Syria chemical attack: UN watchdog’s investigation rebuts claims it manipulated evidence of Douma incident, The Guardian

Karin Leukefeld (6 February 2020) Wahrheit unterdrückt, Junge Welt

Anthony Deutsch (6 February 2020) Chemical weapons agency employees leaked information, inquiry finds, Reuters

Associated Press (6 February 2020) Chemical Weapons Watchdog Report Criticizes Leaks, New York Times

Reuters (6 February 2020) Chemical Weapons Agency Employees Leaked Information, New York Times

Ted Galen Carpenter (6 February 2020) ‘The Media’s Coverage of the Syria April 2018 Chemical Weapons Attack is a Disgrace‘, The National Interest

OPCW Director-General (6 February 2020) Independent Investigation into Possible Breaches of Confidentiality Report Released

Middle East Monitor (28 January 2020) Chemical weapons expert at the UN: Douma attack didn’t happen, Middle East Monitor

John Holmes (27 January 2020) Interview: Ex-British Special Forces director: OPCW could lose all credibility over Douma leaks! RT with video

Peter Hitchens (24 January 2020) A Response to Bellingcat from Sources Close to the veteran OPCW Chemical Weapons Inspector Ian Henderson, Mail Online

Peter Hitchens (23 January 2020) What governments learned from the Iraq War – to prevent independent media from questioning the pretexts for war, Mail Online

Ulrich Teusch (22 January 2020) The OPCW and the Silence Cartel (or automated translation from German), Multipolar

Ian Henderson (20 January 2020) Address to United Nations Security Council concerning OPCW report on Douma, Youtube

Tulsi Gabbard (8 January 2020) On the Wikileaks/OPCW release, Youtube

Dutch Parliament (3 January 2020) Written questions about Wikileaks’ OPCW Douma Docs, Tweede Kamer NL

Robert Fisk (1 January 2020) The Syrian conflict is awash with propaganda – chemical warfare bodies should not be caught up in it, The Independent

Wikileaks (27 December 2019) OPCW-DOUMA – Release Part 4, Wikileaks.

Tulsi Gabbard (20 December 2019) speaking about Syria and Afghanistan wars, on Jimmy Dore Show.

Wikileaks (15 December 2019) Wikileaks’ third release of documents details malpractice in OPCW Douma reporting, Wikileaks.

Peter Hitchens (15 December 2019) Fresh evidence that UN watchdog suppressed report casting doubt on Assad gas attack, Mail on Sunday

Tareq Haddad (14 December 2019) Lies, Newsweek and control of the media narrative first-hand account

Peter Hitchens (13 December 2019) In Praise of Telling The Truth, First Things

Sam Dorman (7 December 2019) Newsweek reporter quits, claiming outlet ‘suppressed’ story on global chemical weapons watchdog, Fox News

Peter Hitchens (1 December 2019) My secret meeting with mole at the heart of The Great Poison Gas Scandal, Mail on Sunday

Xinhua (30 November 2019) Dispute mars conclusion of OPCW conference, XinhuaNet

Peter Hitchens (29 November 2019) In Defense of Journalism, Spectator USA

Peter Hitchens (28 November 2019) Bellingcat or Guard Dog for the Establishment?, Mail on Sunday

Peter Hitchens (26 November 2019) Trump’s Syria missile strike was a scandal. But almost nobody dares say so, Spectator USA

Karin Leukefeld (25 November 2019) The OPCW board is accused of manipulating the investigative report on an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, NachDenkSeiten (in German)

Tucker Carlson with Jonathan Steele (25 November 2019) Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox News (video)

Greg Norman (25 November 2019) Syria watchdog accused of making misleading edits in report on chemical weapons attack, Fox News (video & text report)

Peter Hitchens (24 November 2019) Sexed Up to Make War – an astonishing leak from the Poison Gas Watchdog the OPCW, Mail on Sunday

Stefania Maurizi (24 November 2019) Wikileaks: nuove rivelazioni sull’attacco chimico a Douma, in Siria, La Repubblica

Elizabeth Murray (12 November 2019) OPCW Covering Up War Lies, Talk Nation Radio (archived audio)

Richard Falk (1 November 2019) Independent Panel Challenges OPCW Findings on 2018 Attack in Douma, Syria, Foreign Policy Journal

Jonathan Steele (27 October 2019) speaking on Weekend, BBC World Service

Peter Hitchens (27 October 2019) Mail on Sunday column

(scroll further down for more)

Karin Leukefeld (24 October 2019) Giftgas in Duma: über mutmaßlich manipulierten OPCW Bericht (RT video, 14 minutes, German)

Pro-Syria & non-MSM (23 October 2019) AMN, RT, TASS, Kit Klarenberg, Caitlin Johnstone, Morning Star

La Repubblica (23 October 2019) Whistleblower denuncia che l’OPAC, l’Organizzazione per la proibizione delle armi chimiche, ha manipolato le indagini sull’attacco chimico a Douma, in Siria, By Stefania Maurizi

Nachdenkseiten 23 October 2019) Whistleblower – der OPCW-Bericht zum angeblichen Giftgasangriff in Duma entspricht nicht der Wahrheit, by Karin Leukefeld

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) (23 October 2019) OPCW-Inspektoren widersprechen offiziellem Abschlussbericht

Wikileaks (23 October 2019) OPCW Whistleblower Panel on the Douma attack of April 2018

Courage Foundation (23 October 2019) Panel Criticizes ‘Unacceptable Practices’ in the OPCW’s investigation of the Alleged Chemical Attack in Douma, Syria on April 7th 2018 

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Posted in journalism, media, OPCW, propaganda, Syria, UK Government, Uncategorized, war, White Helmets | 14 Comments

“Unacceptable Practices at OPCW” – by José Bustani and international panel

“The convincing evidence of irregular behaviour in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirms doubts and suspicions I already had. I could make no sense of what I was reading in the international press. Even official reports of investigations seemed incoherent at best. The picture is certainly clearer now, although very disturbing” 

“I have always expected the OPCW to be a true paradigm of multilateralism. My hope is that the concerns expressed publicly by the Panel, in its joint consensus statement, will catalyse a process by which the Organisation can be resurrected to become the independent and non-discriminatory body it used to be.”

José Bustani, First Director General OPCW and former Ambassador to the United Kingdom and France

Panel Criticizes ‘Unacceptable Practices’ in the OPCW’s investigation of the the Alleged Chemical Attack in Douma, Syria on April 7th 2018

The Courage Foundation convened a panel of concerned individuals from the fields of disarmament, international law, journalism, military operations, medicine and intelligence in Brussels on October 15th. The panel met with a member of the investigation team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international chemical watchdog. On this basis the panel issued the following statement: Continue reading

Posted in chemical weapons, disinformation, guest blog, international institutions, journalism, media, OPCW, propaganda, Syria, UK Government, Uncategorized, war, White Helmets | 15 Comments

Flawed OPCW Douma Report: key criticisms

An International Panel convened by the Courage Foundation in October 2019, whose members included OPCW’s first Director General, José Bustani, issued strong criticism of ‘unacceptable practices’ surrounding the OPCW report on an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria on 7 April 2018.

The panel’s criticisms, following a meeting with a member of the OPCW’s Douma investigation team, highlight a number of serious concerns. These include alarming irregularities in the handling of toxicology reports. A summary of points arising from the panel meeting follows.

Analytic Points

  1. General

A critical analysis of the final report of the Douma investigation left the panel in little doubt that conclusions drawn from each of the key evidentiary pillars of the investigation (chemical analysis, toxicology, ballistics and witness testimonies,) are flawed and bear little relation to the facts.

  1. Chemical Analysis

Although biomedical analyses supposedly contributed to the conclusions of the report (para 2.17), the same report is unequivocal in stating that “no relevant chemicals were found” in biological samples (Table A5.2).

The interpretation of the environmental analysis results is equally questionable. Many, if not all, of the so- called ‘smoking gun” chlorinated organic chemicals claimed to be “not naturally present in the environment” (para 2.6) are in fact ubiquitous in the background, either naturally or anthropogenically (wood preservatives, chlorinated water supplies etc). The report, in fact, acknowledges this in Annex 4 para 7, even stating the importance of gathering control samples to measure the background for such chlorinated organic derivatives. Yet, no analysis results for these same control samples (Annex 5), which inspectors on the ground would have gone to great lengths to gather, were reported.

Although the report stresses the ‘levels’ of the chlorinated organic chemicals as a basis for its conclusions (para 2.6), it never mentions what those levels were —high, low, trace, sub-trace? Without providing data on the levels of these so-called ‘smoking-gun’ chemicals either for background or test samples, it is impossible to know if they were not simply due to background presence. In this regard, the panel is disturbed to learn that quantitative results for the levels of ‘smoking gun’ chemicals in specific samples were available to the investigators but this decisive information was withheld from the report.

The final report also acknowledges that the tell-tale chemicals supposedly indicating chlorine use, can also be generated by contact of samples with sodium hypochlorite, the principal ingredient of household bleaching agent (para 8.15). This game-changing hypothesis is, however, dismissed (and as it transpires, incorrectly) by stating no bleaching was observed at the site of investigation. (“At both locations, there were no visible signs of a bleach agent or discoloration due to contact with a bleach agent”). The panel has been informed that no such observation was recorded during the on-site inspection and in any case dismissing the hypothesis simply by claiming the non-observation of discoloration in an already dusty and scorched environment seems tenuous and unscientific.

  1. Toxicology

The toxicological studies also reveal inconsistencies, incoherence and possible scientific irregularities. Consultations with toxicologists are reported to have taken place in September and October 2018 (para 8.87 and Annex 3), but no mention is made of what those same experts opined or concluded. Whilst the final toxicological assessment of the authors states “it is not possible to precisely link the cause of the signs and symptoms to a specific chemical” (para 9.6) the report nonetheless concludes there were reasonable grounds to believe chlorine gas was the chemical (used as a weapon).

More worrying is the fact that the panel viewed documented evidence that showed other toxicologists had been consulted in June 2018 prior to the release of the interim report. Expert opinions on that occasion were that the signs and symptoms observed in videos and from witness accounts were not consistent with exposure to molecular chlorine or any reactive-chlorine-containing chemical. Why no mention of this critical assessment, which contradicts that implied in the final report, was made is unclear and of concern.

  1. Ballistic studies

The unauthorised disclosure of the Engineering Assessment in May 2019 of the two munitions found at Locations 2 and 4, and subsequently acknowledged by the Director General as bona-fide, revealed the diametrically opposing views of inspectors within the FFM team. Although the panel does not have the technical competence to judge the merits of the contradicting studies (i.e. the study described in the final report versus the leaked engineering report), it was surprised by how little consideration was given to alternative hypotheses in the final report.

One alternative ascribing the origin of the crater to an explosive device was considered briefly but, despite an almost identical crater (understood to have resulted from a mortar penetrating the roof) being observed on an adjacent rooftop, was dismissed because of “the absence of primary and secondary fragmentation characteristics”. In contrast, explosive fragmentation characteristics were noted in the leaked study.

  1. Testimonies

The reporting of witness statements and the lack of any meaningful analysis highlights the partiality of this report. Whilst two clearly distinct and opposing narratives are described by witnesses, only the one supportive of the use of toxic weapons contributes to the conclusions. The imbalance between numbers of persons interviewed by the respective FFM teams in Damascus and in Country X is noteworthy, with twice as many of the latter being interviewed.

  1. Exclusion of inspectors and attempts to obfuscate

Contrary to what has been publicly stated by the Director General of the OPCW it was evident to the panel that many of the inspectors in the Douma investigation were not involved or consulted in the post-deployment phase or had any contribution to, or knowledge of the content of the final report until it was made public. The panel is particularly troubled by organisational efforts to obfuscate and prevent inspectors from raising legitimate concerns about possible malpractices surrounding the Douma investigation.

 

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Posted in chemical weapons, disinformation, international institutions, journalism, OPCW, propaganda, Syria, UK Government, Uncategorized, war, White Helmets | 4 Comments

OPCW: A Site of Struggle for Impartiality, Independence and International Legitimacy in War Crimes Investigations

The use of chemical weapons is a war crime. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) – signed by almost every nation[1] – aims to expunge their use from the face of our planet. Charged with implementing the Convention is the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Part of its task is to investigate such use when alleged to have occurred. It has played a particularly prominent role in relation to Syria since the US administration under President Obama declared the use of chemical weapons a ‘Red Line’ the transgression of which would trigger military intervention in the war.

Ascertaining facts in the circumstances of war is never a straightforward matter, and there are strict protocols governing OPCW investigations. Unfortunately, the investigations of the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Syria have not always conformed to its own rules. A number of States Parties to the CWC are seriously concerned about this – they include not only Syria itself, along with its Russian allies and China, but also the nations of the Non-Aligned Movement. They have gone so far as to reject the associated UN-mandated Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM) attribution of blame to Syria for the 2017 Khan Sheikhoun incident, refusing thereafter to renew its mandate. In consequence, a new investigative mechanism has been created under the auspices of the UN, albeit without consensus of states parties, called the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM).[2] Where OPCW investigations are primarily oriented to fact finding, the IIIM has been set up to provide documentation that would support prosecutions. The OPCW and the IIIM have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to underscore their intention to collaborate.

But what wider international legitimacy will this have, and how independent or impartial will the workings of these organisations be? The OPCW has evidently been ‘captured’ by Western powers, and the IIIM has been controversially created without a consensus. So what can be done to restore trust? These are serious questions that are not easy to answer. The aim here is the limited one of explaining how they have arisen and why they need to be pressed. Continue reading

Posted in chemical weapons, global justice, human rights, international institutions, OPCW, political philosophy, Syria, UK Government, Uncategorized, war, White Helmets | 8 Comments

A Syrian Student Writes…

In May this year I received a message from a student, one I had never met. With the student’s permission, I share the message now because it offers some salutary perspective on an issue that has recently been raised in a hostile article in The Tab (a Murdoch-funded media entity) about expectations and concerns of Syrian students entering Western universities. Aside from smearing my own reputation, the article takes a damagingly prejudicial approach to a sensitive issue, as this message helps us see.

Dear Professor Hayward, I thought it might be important to let you know that an individual claiming to be a journalist for HuffPost UK contacted me yesterday asking If I would comment on your involvement in the Syria, Propaganda and Media Group as I am a [degree programme redacted] student in the School of Social and Political Science. It would appear that the person has likely messaged more students within the school and I felt it was best to let you know. I have not replied and do not intend to.

However, I would be very interested in meeting to discuss the issue of Syria, the uprisings and the truth. As a Syrian student who comes from a pro-government family, I have often felt conflicted between my personally held views and the overwhelming outlook of those around me in Scotland and at the university. I have found it very difficult to know how to research the issues at stake, as any information available tends to be extremely biased in one direction or another. Having now read your wordpress and other materials, I feel it could be extremely refreshing to speak to you and perhaps get a proper perspective on an issue that is extremely personal and important to me.

As I’m sure you understand, being a Syrian student studying at a Western institution has made it extremely difficult to wrap my head around the conflict of viewpoints I face as a Syrian but also a Western-educated student when thinking about and trying to research Syria.

I met the student and we had a long chat – about many things, but they included the difficulties faced by Syrians who are obliged to take a view of the situation in their home country that is imposed on them by people in the West. The fact is, students from Syria, as from anywhere else, have a range of backgrounds, experiences and beliefs. But they also come from a situation of terrible and complex conflict – which can intensify and complicate differences. One thing they have in common, though, is that they have sought to get away from conflict.

Anybody who claims to care, and especially those of us with a duty of care, should be aware of the possibility that people we meet may have views they are reluctant to share – for any number of reasons – and we should be very careful not to presume to know what those views are.

The student I met spoke of being overwhelmed by the expectation of conforming to a view that was so at odds with the student’s own beliefs and experience. The fact that even academics can be contributing to that demoralising experience should be a concern to all of us in education. We might all look to how we can raise our game.

For The Tab – following its big sister The Times – to be singling out for attack those of us making this very point simply goes to show that that the values and ethos of a media entity with multi-million dollar funding from the Murdoch empire are fundamentally at odds with the very vocation of academics, and not just a small group of us.

I am personally most grateful to the student who contacted me, not only for helping avert a planned media attack, but for making tangible the value of respectful mutual engagement that a university aims to support and encourage.

 

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Posted in propaganda, Syria, Uncategorized, war | 3 Comments

Global Justice and Finance: an introduction to critical questions

This post introduces some central arguments of my book Global Justice and Finance. Continue reading

Posted in Finance, global justice, political philosophy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Should Universities Care About The Truth?

Caring about the truth is what universities – through their members – do. But what about the truth of alleged facts that are appealed to as grounds for governments to go to war or to engage in military interventions? Such claims are not typically the fruits of academic research. So the question is whether universities have any particular business truth-checking them. The answer is not obvious.

In my latest article, published in MR Online, I argue that since universities are already getting drawn into the world of fact-checking controversies, some strategic reflection on how best to do so would be in order.

The article considers two starkly contrasting methods of finding truth ‘in a post truth world’ – Bellingcat’s and that of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media. It comes to a very clear recommendation about why and how universities should care about checking the truth of the claims that are leveraging their reputations.

Read the article at MR Online

Download pdf

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Posted in chemical weapons, journalism, media, OPCW, propaganda, Syria, UK Government, Uncategorized, war | 3 Comments