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OPCW Scandal.

Written By: - Date published: 11:14 am, January 3rd, 2020 - 40 comments
Categories: International, Propaganda, Syria, United Nations - Tags: , ,

No airborne chemical attack in Douma: that was the conclusion reached by Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors on the ground in Syria. And that’s the conclusion they passed on to their superiors within the supposedly independent UN organisation.

But the OPCW big wigs (it seems) weren’t interested in mere and somewhat pesky facts – they had a narrative to sell. So they published a fraudulent report that justified the US bombing of Syria.

So far, two experts from the OPCW have broken cover, and as whistle blowers, have probably killed any future prospects they may have had in their field of expertise.

Now, do you remember how Robert Fisk was on the ground in Douma, and how he got smeared and dismissed by ‘all and sundry’ when his reporting questioned the notion of there having been a chemical attack? 

Or the boy from the white helmet’s video footage in the hospital…you remember how he spoke at The Hague, and we were told to dismiss what he was saying because he’d obviously been subjected to coercion and it was all just Russian propaganda?

Maybe you were one of those people smeared for not showing appropriate fealty to whatever “truth” was being reported across all western pop media and not a few independent media outlets at the time. Or maybe you were one of those people who delighted in smearing those who displayed skepticism.

I don’t really care at this point which side of that divide you were on. What fucks me off is that we were wilfully ‘played’ in order to garner tacit approval for an illegal military operation that killed people.  It’s a repeating pattern I can only put down to the prevalence of a gullible notion that our elected officials and the various permanent state apparatus that sit behind them are essentially benevolent.

But I digress.

Of course the OPCW whistle blower’s revelations aren’t being reported in pop media because, of course, everything is meant to languish down the memory hole. Maybe you’re happy with that state of affairs. If so, the following links aren’t for you. They are extensive (which is why I haven’t attempted a summary) and result from the work of a frighteningly small number of journalists in the western world who still care about their craft, who seek out facts, and who have managed to find some platform to speak from.

This is the Jonathan Steele article referenced in the linked interview from The Grayzone.

 

 

 

40 comments on “OPCW Scandal. ”

  1. JanM 1

    Off topic, I know, but can I just express my appreciation for your courtesy in writing your initialism in full at the beginning if your piece. I know it is standard practice in acadaemia but it surprises me how seldom it is honoured on this site.

  2. Poission 2

    Of course the OPCW whistle blower’s revelations aren’t being reported in pop media because, of course, everything is meant to languish down the memory hole.

    Max Abrahms has been discussing the problem.

  3. Good on you Bill

    It's pretty clear that the OPCW leadership , made up of diplomats rather than scientists has been absolutely subverted by the foreign policy dictates of the major sponsors, US/UK/EU

    If John Bolton could swagger into the very first Sec. General's office and demand he step down, then lobby for his dismissal successfully, the chances of a truly independent body, faithful to science, were not looking good even back then

    Incidentally, NZ also voted for his removal .Cravenly obedient to the US even in Clark's time .After all who wants their economy to "scream"?

    And his removal was unprecedented for a UN official at his level before his term was out.

    So we find out that UN bodies can't be relied on for the truth , and our media for the most part can't be relied on to inform or question, or investigate , or , in this case even to report for godsake, on the scandalous shenanigans at the OPCW

  4. Incognito 4

    The OPCW should improve their vetting process for prospective inspectors and make sure they are ‘with the program’. Most journalists in the Western world are already on board; the best ones become PR consultants and smear agents spin-doctors for political parties and governments because, you know, they have mortgages to pay off and families to feed. The banality of it all.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    The November meeting of the OPCW considered the allegations.

    • Bill 5.1

      No. You're link is quite clear in that France, the UK, the US and others blocked calls for a briefing that would have delved into the controversy around the OPCW report and fact finding mission in Douma. 🙄

      • Stuart Munro 5.1.1

        They didn't really see it as a controversy; probably they view it as subversion of a handful of low-level staff. And relatively neutral participants like Canada aren't particularly interested in lending credence to the "controversy".

        Of the many possible stories to be told about Syria, it is significant that those stemming from the populace – the source of any legitimate mandate – are eclipsed by superpower jostling.

        • Bill 5.1.1.1

          Two OPCW inspectors, experts in their fields, who were responsible for gathering facts on the ground in Douma and ruling various possibilities in or out, have exhausted all internal avenues for concern/complaint available to them in the OPCW and ended their own careers by going to available media because their analyses and findings were suppressed by management of the OPCW who wrote up and released a fraudulent report.

          Now I fully accept (given the evidence thus far) that the OPCW do not want to acknowledge jack-shit. What I don't accept is that you can put this down to "superpower" jostling – information is coming from the OPCW's own inspectors and what they alledge strikes to the heart of the UN in terms of integrity and impartiality.

          And that's before we look at the apparent complicity of a now utterly silent media that waved it's arms night and day spinning narratives in support of military intervention and regime change while more or less completely blanking any counter narrative from the airwaves. (Fisk was far from the only journalist smeared, derided and marginalised for their on the ground reporting from Syria)

          • Stuart Munro 5.1.1.1.1

            Oh please – a bloke as cynical as you are of the NED ought to treat these "independent news sources" with a little care.News is not a self-funding enterprise, and news that favours Putin does not surface coincidentally.

            The human stories in the wake of regime bombings or shellings are not being reported. So why stories positing scandals in the OPCW? They haven't had such problems historically – only since they found against Russia.

            [Again with the gas lighting! 🙄 You strike me as an irredeemable idiot who really needs to fuck the fuck off back to the petri dish of thoughtless slime and kool aid from whence you came. And if you need a little helping hand on that front, then I’ll be happy enough to oblige. Any further comment by you on this post will be read as you requiring that helping hand.]

  6. Bazza64 6

    Thanks for the post Bill. Some people don't consider Robert Fisk is entirely independent in his reporting of the Syrian conflict https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/syria-dispatches-robert-fisks-independence/

    Also Robert Fisk's truthfulness in reporting has been questioned in the past http://hurryupharry.org/2012/03/23/robert-fisk-makes-things-up/

    I agree that the Syrian conflict is a complex mess, so I am always unsure who to believe when it comes to this.

    • Bill 6.1

      Like I wrote in the post, Fisk was smeared 'by all and sundry' for his reporting from Douma (btw – there were other western reporters in the area reporting the same thing as Fisk).

      It's down to you to make a judgement call on the veracity of the sources you linked (Y'know, like do a simple google search on authors and take any possible bias on their part into account)

      • Bazza64 6.1.1

        I agree the authors may have bias, but Robert Fisk has been accused of bias towards Bashar Al-Assad & being in that regimes pocket.

        Hard to know who could be considered totally untainted in this matter.

        • Bill 6.1.1.1

          lol – anyone who questioned the dominant pop narrative on Syria was accused of being an Assadist (myself included). So I struggle to see how much of any store can be put in such accusations.

          • Bazza64 6.1.1.1.1

            Of course anyone you disagree with is biased. Anyone who disagrees with you has just "smeared all & sundry" as you put it. Like I have said my links may have bias, but of course yours are impeccable.

            I don't know how you can accept what Fisk reports without accepting that he too may be biased & may not be lilly white in this reporting. But of course your posts can't be subject to any criticism.

            • Bill 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Anyone who disagrees with me may be right or may be wrong. Same goes for anyone who agrees with me. The main link I provided is from a source that's proven itself to be consistent over time in terms of integrity and honesty (the grayzone).

              And as I pointed out before, Fisk was far from the only person smeared for "inconvenient" reporting from Syria.

              But, y'know, like a few others, you seem to be missing the point that the post, although compiled by me, isn't about me. It's about OPCW inspectors turned whistleblowers, a fraudulent report that was used to justify illegal bombing and media complicity in peddling a false narrative and cover up (amongst other things).

              When people commenting begin to focus in on me, then I just reasonably assume they have nothing of worth to say about the matter at hand.

        • francesca 6.1.1.2

          Peter Hitchens has also drawn attention to the whistleblowing scandal at the OPCW, and he cannot be considered a fan of Assad

          Jonathan Steele, now working for Middle East Eye, and previously a senior writer for the Guardian has also come out to highlight this story of OPCW malfeasance

          Most recently, this new article by Robert Fisk in the Independent

          Some editor has given it a thoroughly ambiguous heading , and Fisk is skating pretty close to the ice as far as continuing publication goes

          Robert Fisk Chemical warfare bodies, be wary of Syrian war propaganda

          "The most recent information – published on WikiLeaks, in a report from Hitchens again and from Jonathan Steele, a former senior foreign correspondent for The Guardian suggests that the OPCW suppressed or failed to publish, or simply preferred to ignore, the conclusions of up to 20 other members of its staff who became so upset at what they regarded as the misleading conclusions of the final report that they officially sought to have it changed in order to represent the truth."

          This 20 team members is a little more than an individual "outlier" or a handful of dissidents

          Its pretty much the whole team, toxicologists, ballistic experts and engineers included.

          I dont think it can be brushed off as a minor squabble

          Too bad if it suits Putin, sometimes the truth has unintended consequences

  7. " It’s a repeating pattern I can only put down to the prevalence of a gullible notion that our elected officials and the various permanent state apparatus that sit behind them are essentially benevolent.

    But I digress."

    I confess, I have next to no real understanding on the Syrian conflict. However thats no digression Bill..thats a core truth that could be put up on an almost daily basis on pretty much each and every issue that gets worked over on TS.

    The following link…"Pushback with Aaron Maté Journalist Tareq Haddad explains his decision to resign from Newsweek over its refusal to cover the OPCW's unfolding Syria scandal. According to whistleblower testimony and leaked documents, OPCW officials raised alarm about the suppression of critical findings that undermine the allegation that the Syrian government committed a chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma in April 2018. Haddad's editors at Newsweek rejected his attempts to cover the story. "If I don’t find another position in journalism because of this, I’m perfectly happy to accept that consequence," Haddad says. "It’s not desirable. But there is no way I could have continued in that job knowing that I couldn’t report something like this."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8o6RA6C2WDM

  8. Adrian Thornton 8

    Thanks Bill, on mark as usual.

    A deafening silence from the usual suspects on this site speaks volumes…enough said.

    • gsays 8.1

      I am not sure which is the most worrying.. the lies, smearing and cover-up from the PTB, or the attitude of folk here in TS.

      When something like the 'chemical attack', the poisoning of a double spy, (heaven forbid) 9/11 etc, sides are drawn up and the truth goes out the window. It's an almost coordinated effort to harangue, undermine and bully the 'others'.

    • McFlock 8.2

      Speaking for this usual suspect, it says loudly that I'm not going to get into an eternal and even-more-pointless-than-usual-debate with Bill on his own damned post.

      He has his reckons and interpretations, I have mine.

      • Bill 8.2.1

        That's good (not wanting eternal debate). If you read and watch the links provided in the post you'll be availing yourself of hitherto unknown facts to pin (or re-pin)any "reckons and interpretations" to. And I fully accept you might rather not do that. Hope your day's jollying along nicely.

        • McFlock 8.2.1.1

          As far as I can see going through the text links, there's no new contribution to the discussion.

      • Brigid 8.2.2

        "He has his reckons and interpretations"

        No

        Bill has integrity, honesty and cares about writing the truth. Is there anything that he's written that can be proved false?

        On this issue it must not be relegated to a mere debate. It's about the OPCW Douma scandal.

        It's more important than your or anyone's ego.

        • McFlock 8.2.2.1

          Proving a falsehood is a joke.

          What it comes down to is how much weight each person puts on each piece of the evidence, and the interpretations of that evidence.

          The only common point of agreement that I can see is that someone has sowed liberal amounts of bullshit into the global discussion on the incident, and presented that bullshit as fact.

          You call it a "scandal". We can see where you judge the weight of evidence. I, on the other hand, am put in mind of a colleague who wanted to put off release of a report purely on a semantic point that nobody else thought was particularly important. In the OPCW case, the final report was amended to lessen those concerns.

          Both sides had form for chemical attacks. People died from something other than bullets and other bang-bangs. One side in particular has form for building, stockpiling, and using chemical weapons, and their key ally has form for bullshitting about such events. If they happen to be innocent of this one attack (which I am inclined to think they did, for the above reasons), then the fairytale "the murderer who cried wolf" has a handy lesson for them.

          • Bill 8.2.2.1.1

            In the OPCW case, the final report was amended to incorporate those concerns.

            McFlock. You jumped onto this thread claiming you didn't want to debate. You then claimed you'd explored the links. But if you had, then you simply couldn't have written what you just did – unless black is white, up is down and in is out…

            The OPCW report isn't contested because of semantics, but because the inspectors technical and scientific findings were variously altered or omitted and a fraudulent report released.

            • McFlock 8.2.2.1.1.1

              Yeah, I had difficulty finding the right wording, edited/settled on "lessened". In previous discussions, it was pointed out that the wording was changed from a categorical certainty down to a likelihood. Which is routine when one author responsible for a narrow part of a report has concerns about how their part is interpreted, but doesn't necessarily know what other evidence is available.

              As for your second paragraph, that interpretive hyperbole ("fraudulent") is why I didn't want to get involved. But then Adrian took silence as validation. So damned if I do, damned if I don't.

              • Bill

                The term "fraud" is employed in both links, and in the text link by none other than the second whistleblower – Most of the Douma team felt the two reports on the incident, the Interim Report and the Final Report, were scientifically impoverished, procedurally irregular and possibly fraudulent”, he said.

                The video link is more assertive on that front.

                Regardless, you'll note he refers to "most of the Douma team", yes? (So not "one author" as you suggest). And the expertise of other the whistleblower whose findings were suppressed was ballistics, not chemicals. The findings from those two inspectors dove tail with one another, and their findings are at direct odds with the reports released by the OPCW – reports that are meant to be based on the findings of its inspectors.

                • McFlock

                  sigh.

                  Nice illustration – you put so much weight on the "fraudulent" the "possibly" disappeared. And whistleblower is singular – what that person reports the rest of their team feels is still based on that single person's say-so. One member of that team = one author.

                  This really isn't going to get us anywhere.

                  • Bill

                    Number of whistle blowers? Two. When documents claiming to be based on facts are based on deliberately curated fictions, that's fraud. (Not just according to me)

                    And you seem to be suggesting that unless the entire team of inspectors step out as whistleblowers, then the two that have stepped forward with hard evidence should be treated with caution and suspicion.

                    I know you want to hang on to your "reckons and interpretations", and you know as well as I, that involves denying there's anything of substance coming to the surface vis a vis the OPCW reports.

                    That's your prerogative.

                    • McFlock

                      Why shouldn't two members of a team be treated with any less caution than the board that released the final document?

                      The trouble is that concerns get inflated in the retelling, and "deliberately curated fiction" is another inflation from "scientifically impoverished, procedurally irregular and possibly fraudulent”. Which in itself might be an inflation.

                      And yes, I would have been more persuaded months ago if everyone in the team with concerns had come forward – or maybe they have, and the 2nd whistleblower is inflating the concerns within the team.

                      There's nothing that hasn't been rehashed for months. All that's happened lately is the report went to committee and the committee received it, with most of the international players following their scripted path, and everyone here following a fresh round their own dance.

                    • In Vino

                      But just one question, McFlock. Do you apply to stories emanating from the proven liars in the Western, Capitalist Media the same devastating standards you apply to any news you consider to be pro-Russian in origin?

                      In 1964 I drank in innocently the full story of the Tonkin Gulf Incident. I have learnt quite a lot about the pernicious duplicity of Western news media since. (Weapons of Mass Destruction just the easiest example..) I cannot quite figure why you seem to accept the western version of things in Syria, and apply your cynicism only to people like Robert Fisk, whom I see as probably blowing a justified whistle.

                    • McFlock

                      Depends on which actor in the "Western, Capitalist Media" we're talking about, and which issue they're discussing. Some seem sober on many issues, others excitable, some are just as bullshitty as RT.

                      And then there's the distinction between the headline and content…

                    • In Vino

                      "some seem sober"..

                      Don't really trust them that much myself. Maybe you have more youthful optimism? A Capitalist system is pretty good at eradicating any non-capitalist element anywhere at all, and the thin veneer of objectivity that is feigned does not convince me. Can you give any convincing proof of our Western media being more honest than other media? I fear that we gave up that thin pretence long ago.

                      I have decided that I prefer to distrust our media instinctively because they constantly prove themselves worthy of that distrust.

                    • McFlock

                      Oh, I'm pretty sure the size of the Auusie fires is generally accurately reported. I quite like Fisk, and the fact that his latest article uses stronger language than previously is interesting, but it's not the same level of conviction that commenters here seem to have.

    • A deafening silence from the usual suspects on this site speaks volumes…

      Bollocks. I don't bother disputing anything Bill writes these days, for reasons made obvious in comment 5.1.1.1.1 above.

  9. Brigid 9

    Thanks Bill

    What is tragic but rarely referred to, is, what did the so called victims die of?

    When photos of these dead people were shown to Douma locals they said they were not known locally. (Cant find the link atm) So who were they?

    The OPCW obviously has no interest in finding out.

    It's all quite disgusting.

    • Bill 9.1

      Yeah. The victims thing is disturbing. The OPCW inspectors determined that the video footage of victims didn't fit with chlorine poisoning. That aside, there was footage (unrelated to Douma) of civilian bodies being strategically laid out on a floor, presumably for yet another white helmet's propaganda video. One was still alive and shot where they lay – a spreading blood stain coming through the blanket that covered them.

  10. Sacha 10

    There was no chemical attack in Douma.

    So what changes?

    And how does it compare with the impact of Soleimani's killing?

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