Explosive leaked email claims that UN watchdog's report into alleged poison gas attack by Assad was doctored

Douma on April 6, 2018 The OPCW is nominally independent, but its annual budget of roughly £75 million is supplied by member states, with much of the money coming from the USA and EU and NATO members, many of them heavily committed to supporting the rebels in Syria.

It says that the independent scientists’ official report on the Douma incident had been slashed and censored so severely that it:

- Misrepresented the facts – by leaving out key information;

- Hid the fact that the traces of chlorine found on the site were merely tiny trace elements, in parts per billion, and in forms that could have been found in any household bleach;

- Contained major deviations from the original report submitted by impartial experts, so that it had ‘morphed into something quite different’;

- Suppressed a total mismatch between the symptoms allegedly displayed by victims at the scene, and the effects of the chemicals which were actually found. The symptoms seen on harrowing videos shown at the time of the incident simply did not match the symptoms which would have been caused by any material found at the site.

Source:

Explosive leaked email claims that UN watchdog's report into alleged poison gas attack by Assad was doctored - so was it to justify British and American missile strikes on Syria?

By Peter Hitchens - TMoS - 

A leaked email last night dramatically indicated that the UN’s poison gas watchdog had butchered and censored a critical report on an alleged chemical attack in Syria. If substantiated, the revelations will be severely embarrassing for Britain, France and America, which launched a massive military strike in retaliation without waiting for proof that chemical weapons had actually been used.

Unconfirmed reports and videos, showing the corpses of adults and children foaming at the mouth in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, shocked the world in April 2018 and led to a joint Western attack on the supposed culprit, Syria, in which more than 100 missiles, including nearly 70 Tomahawk cruise missiles, were fired.

Although the reports and films could not be independently verified, as the alleged events took place in a war zone then under the control of brutal Islamist militants, Western governments, and many Western media, took them at face value.

President Donald Trump tweeted at the time: ‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!’

A leaked email last night dramatically indicated that the UN’s poison gas watchdog had butchered and censored a critical report on an alleged chemical attack in Syria. If substantiated, the revelations will be severely embarrassing for Britain, France and America, which launched a massive military strike in retaliation without waiting for proof that chemical weapons had actually been used. (Above, an RAF Tornado over Damascus during the coalition attack)

A leaked email last night dramatically indicated that the UN’s poison gas watchdog had butchered and censored a critical report on an alleged chemical attack in Syria. If substantiated, the revelations will be severely embarrassing for Britain, France and America, which launched a massive military strike in retaliation without waiting for proof that chemical weapons had actually been used. (Above, an RAF Tornado over Damascus during the coalition attack)

President Donald Trump tweeted at the time: ‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria'Britain’s then Premier, Theresa May, was equally confident of her facts

President Donald Trump tweeted at the time: ‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria.' Britain’s then Premier, Theresa May, was equally confident of her facts, saying after the missile launch: ‘Last Saturday up to 75 people, including young children, were killed in a despicable and barbaric attack in Douma, with as many as 500 further casualties'

This image released early on April 8, 2018 by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets shows a child receiving oxygen through respirators following the alleged poison gas attack. However, a dissenting scientist, employed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says in a leaked email that investigations on the ground at Douma have produced no hard evidence that the alleged gas attack took place

This image released early on April 8, 2018 by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets shows a child receiving oxygen through respirators following the alleged poison gas attack. However, a dissenting scientist, employed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says in a leaked email that investigations on the ground at Douma have produced no hard evidence that the alleged gas attack took place.

Britain’s then Premier, Theresa May, was equally confident of her facts, saying after the missile launch: ‘Last Saturday up to 75 people, including young children, were killed in a despicable and barbaric attack in Douma, with as many as 500 further casualties. We have worked with our allies to establish what happened. 

'And all the indications are that this was a chemical weapons attack … We are also clear about who was responsible for this atrocity. A significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian regime is responsible for this latest attack.’

But a dissenting scientist, employed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says in a leaked email that investigations on the ground at Douma have produced no hard evidence that the alleged gas attack took place.

It appears that these facts were deliberately suppressed in published OPCW reports.

The email makes no attempt to suggest what did happen in Douma. It simply points out that hard evidence, gathered and examined by non-political scientists, does not support the officially endorsed version. And it claims that this resulted in the OPCW redacting the report to the extent that its conclusions were misrepresented.

The revelation appears to be the worst instance of ‘sexing-up’ in support of war since the invasion of Iraq and Tony Blair’s doctored dossiers. A whistleblower has made public the astonishing email of protest which was sent to senior officials at the OPCW. It says that the independent scientists’ official report on the Douma incident had been slashed and censored so severely that it:

  • Misrepresented the facts – by leaving out key information;
  • Hid the fact that the traces of chlorine found on the site were merely tiny trace elements, in parts per billion, and in forms that could have been found in any household bleach;
  • Contained major deviations from the original report submitted by impartial experts, so that it had ‘morphed into something quite different’;
  • Suppressed a total mismatch between the symptoms allegedly displayed by victims at the scene, and the effects of the chemicals which were actually found. The symptoms seen on harrowing videos shown at the time of the incident simply did not match the symptoms which would have been caused by any material found at the site.

The Mail on Sunday has seen the email of protest which one scientist at the OPCW submitted to his superiors. It refers to the original expert report from Douma which the email says was savagely censored.

This original report, if it had been published as written, would not have supported widespread claims that poison gas was used at Douma on April 7, 2018. If any such gas was used, it was not a gas known to, or detected by the scientists who visited the scene, examined the buildings and soil and carefully checked the samples. 

A source has told me that the OPCW report, which was eventually published on July 7, 2018, was stripped of a vital fact at the last minute: the traces of chlorinated material which were found at the site were so small, and so easily available, that they could simply not be said to show that chlorine gas was employed.

The Mail on Sunday has also been told that, in the days before the original document was due to be published, a second report shorn of many of its most important findings was prepared behind the backs of most of the OPCW scientists.

A source inside the OPCW says that this move was discovered at the last minute. It was then met with protests from scientists, including the email sent to two senior OPCW officials, which The Mail on Sunday has seen. The source says a compromise was offered in which the truth about the tiny traces of chlorine would be told, though the report would still be heavily redacted. 

This original report, if it had been published as written, would not have supported widespread claims that poison gas was used at Douma on April 7, 2018. If any such gas was used, it was not a gas known to, or detected by the scientists who visited the scene, examined the buildings and soil and carefully checked the samples. (Above, a baby has its face wiped following the alleged chemical attack in Douma)

 

This original report, if it had been published as written, would not have supported widespread claims that poison gas was used at Douma on April 7, 2018. If any such gas was used, it was not a gas known to, or detected by the scientists who visited the scene, examined the buildings and soil and carefully checked the samples. (Above, a baby has its face wiped following the alleged chemical attack in Douma)

Western support for the Syrian rebels against the Assad regime in Damascus has been politically awkward, as many of these rebels are Islamist extremists, in some cases linked to Al Qaeda. Claims that Assad has used poison gas against his own people have been important in persuading the Western public to back the policy. (Above, President Assad last week)

Western support for the Syrian rebels against the Assad regime in Damascus has been politically awkward, as many of these rebels are Islamist extremists, in some cases linked to Al Qaeda. Claims that Assad has used poison gas against his own people have been important in persuading the Western public to back the policy. (Above, President Assad last week)

The scientists accepted this. But even this promise was then broken, and a third version of the document was issued which left out the vital fact. The wording of this report was so vague that news organisations around the world concluded – incorrectly – that it said that chlorine gas had been used or might have been used. If the key material had been left in, they could not have done this.

Since then, dissenting scientists have sought for months to find a way of setting the record straight, inside the OPCW. But all their efforts have failed, leading to the leak of the email.

It has been a long struggle. The original email of protest was sent to senior executives at the OPCW (whose names we know but have been asked not to publish) on June 22, 2018. The third (interim) report was published on July 6, 2018. A fourth report, even more mealy-mouthed, but still heavily censored, emerged in March this year.

The leak follows other alarming developments concerning the OPCW’s report on Douma, which suggest an organisation in severe crisis. Last May, another leak from the OPCW’s HQ in the Hague cast grave doubt on claims that gas cylinders found at the Douma site had been dropped from the air, a vital part of the Western case against Syria.

An OPCW engineering and ballistics expert called Ian Henderson (who was not the leaker) had strongly suggested that two gas cylinders found in Douma and examined by the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission had been ‘manually placed’.

This vital detail too was left out of the OPCW’s own published report, which implied strongly that they had been dropped from the air. This was crucial as Syrian government helicopters were the only aircraft in the area. On this occasion the OPCW revealed that the Henderson document was genuine, probably unintentionally, by announcing a leak inquiry on May 16.

Shock: How we reported the blitz launched by Western allies

Shock: How we reported the blitz launched by Western allies

The OPCW – whose member nations meet in The Hague for a major conference tomorrow – is also in severe turmoil after reports of further whistleblowing on the radical US website Counterpunch. Its account was written by the veteran journalist Jonathan Steele (formerly a senior foreign correspondent at The Guardian, twice named International Reporter of the Year), based on the account of a whistleblower who he codenamed ‘Alex’.

‘Alex’ said that dissenting experts, protesting against the doctoring of their work, were invited to a meeting with three American officials who were ‘cursorily introduced without making clear which US agencies they represented’. He recounted that the three ‘told them emphatically that the Syrian regime had conducted a gas attack.’

The Mail on Sunday approached the OPCW for comment on the protest email on Wednesday, November 13, more than ten days ago. We supplied them with a complete text. Despite several further requests by phone and email, the OPCW had not responded by last night.

The OPCW has been in severe disarray before, precisely because its rulings are so sensitive.

In 2002, in the lead-up to the Iraq war, the OPCW’s then director, the Brazilian diplomat Jose Bustani, was forced from office by intense US pressure. The US’s then ambassador to the UN was the ferocious pro-war hawk John Bolton, famed for his brusque and bullying manner to subordinates.

He is thought to have objected to Bustani’s plans to get Iraq to agree to OPCW inspectors going there to search for WMD. These inspections might have got in the way of US plans to go to war against Iraq at all costs, a decision which had already been made by the White House.

The same John Bolton was Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser at the time of the alleged outrage in Douma and the missile attacks on Syria, which took place a week later. He left the post in September after falling out with President Trump.

The OPCW is nominally independent, but its annual budget of roughly £75 million is supplied by member states, with much of the money coming from the USA and EU and NATO members, many of them heavily committed to supporting the rebels in Syria.

Western support for the Syrian rebels against the Assad regime in Damascus has been politically awkward, as many of these rebels are Islamist extremists, in some cases linked to Al Qaeda. Claims that Assad has used poison gas against his own people have been important in persuading the Western public to back the policy.

Counterpunch asked the OPCW’s media office to explain why the chlorine levels were excluded from the interim and final reports but they did not respond.

 

The leaked email in full

From: ********

Sent: 22nd June 2018 08:27

To: *********

Subject: Grave concern about the 'redacted' Douma report 

Dear ******,

I wish to express, as a member of the FFM (Fact Finding Mission) team that conducted the investigation into the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April, my gravest concern at the redacted version of the FFM report, which I understand was at the behest of the ODG. (Office of the Director General). After reading this modified report, which incidentally no other team member who deployed into Douma has had the opportunity to do, I was struck by how much it misrepresents the facts. Many of the facts and observations outlined in the full version are inextricably interconnected and, by selectively omitting certain ones, an unintended bias has been introduced into the report, undermining its credibility. In other cases, some crucial facts that have remained in the redacted version have morphed into something quite different to what was initially drafted. If I may, I will outline some specific aspects to the redacted report that are particularly worrisome.

The statement in paragraph 8.3 of the final conclusions 'The team has sufficient evidence at this time to determine that chlorine, or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical, was likely released from cylinders', is highly misleading and not supported by the facts. The only evidence available at this moment is that some samples collected at Locations 2 and 4 were in contact with one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom. Such chemicals could include molecular chlorine, phosgene, cyanogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen chloride or sodium hypochlorite (the major ingredient of household chlorine-based bleach). Purposely singling out chlorine gas as one of the possibilities is disingenuous. It is also worth noting that the term 'reactive chlorine-containing chemical' used in the redacted report is, in fact, inaccurate. It actually describes a reactive chemical that contains chlorine which itself (the chlorine) is not necessarily reactive e.g. chlorophenol. The original report uses the more accurate term 'a chemical containing reactive chlorine'.

The redacted report states that the gas was likely released from the cylinders (in Locations 2 and 4). The original report purposely emphasised the fact that, although the cylinders might have been the source of the suspected chemical release, there was insufficient evidence to affirm this. It is possible the error was simply a typo. This is a major deviation from the original report.

Paragraph 8.2 states that 'based on the high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives, [...] detected in environmental samples'. Describing the levels as 'high' likely overstates the extent of levels of chlorinated organic derivatives detected. They were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities.

The original report discusses in detail the inconsistency between the victims' symptoms, as reported by witnesses and seen in video recordings. Omitting this section of the report (including the Epidemiology which has been removed in its entirety) has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified. It either supports or detracts from the confidence in the identity of any possible chemical. In this case the confidence in the identity of chlorine or any choking agent is drawn into question precisely because of the inconsistency with the reported and observed symptoms. The inconsistency was not only noted by the FFM team but strongly noted by three toxicologists with expertise in exposure to CW (Chemical Weapons) agents.

The original report has extensive sections regarding the placement of the cylinders at both locations as well as the relative damage caused to the impact points, compared to that caused to the cylinders suspected of being the sources of the toxic chemical. These sections are essentially absent from the redacted report. This information was important in assessing the likelihood of the 'presence' of toxic chemicals versus the 'use' of toxic chemicals.

A feature of this investigation and report was the robust and extensive scientific basis for sampling plans and analysing the data collected. A comprehensive bibliography of peer-reviewed scientific literature was attached to support and enhance the credibility of the work of the mission. This has unfortunately been omitted from the redacted report.

By singling out chlorine above other equally plausible substances containing reactive chlorine and presenting it as a fact in isolation creates, I believe, a level of partiality that would negatively impact on the perceived credibility of the report, and by extension that of the Organisation. I am requesting that the fact-finding report be released in its entirety as I fear that this redacted version no longer reflects the work of the team. The original report contains facts and observations that are all equally valid. The fact that inconsistencies are highlighted or observations not fully understood does not justify their omission. The inconsistencies and observations are based on the evidence and data collected. Further information in the future may help resolve them but the facts as they stand at present will not alter and need to be reported.

If the redacted version is to be released, I respectfully request to attach my differing observations, in accordance with the spirit of paragraph 62 of part II of the Verification Annex of the CWC.

Yours sincerely

 

(Key passages emphasised by MoS)

 

Deluge Of New Leaks Further Shreds The Establishment Syria Narrative

 

By Caitlin Johnstone - 15. December 2019

 

It’s been a bad last 24 hours for the war propagandists.

WikiLeaks has published multiple documents providing further details on the coverup within the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of its own investigators’ findings which contradicted the official story we were all given about an alleged chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria last year. The alleged chemical weapons incident was blamed on the Syrian government by the US and its allies, who launched airstrikes against Syria several days later. Subsequent evidence indicating that there was insufficient reason to conclude the chlorine gas attack ever happened was repressed by the OPCW, reportedly at the urging of US government officials.

The new publications by WikiLeaks add new detail to this still-unfolding scandal, providing more evidence to further invalidate attempts by establishment Syria narrative managers to spin it all as an empty conspiracy theory. The OPCW has no business hiding any information from the public which casts doubt on the official narrative about an incident which was used to justify an act of war on a sovereign nation.

The following are hyperlinks to the individual OPCW documents WikiLeaks published, with some highlights found therein:

A first draft of the OPCW’s July 2018 Interim Report on the team’s findings in Douma.

Contains crucial information that was not included in either the final draft of the July 2018 Interim Report or the March 2019 Final Report, including (emphasis mine):

1. The symptoms of the alleged victims of the supposed chemical incident were inconsistent with chlorine gas poisoning.

“Some of the signs and symptoms described by witnesses and noted in photos and video recordings taken by witnesses, of the alleged victims are not consistent with exposure to chlorine-containing choking or blood agents such as chlorine gas, phosgene or cyanogen chloride,” we learn in the unredacted first draft. “Specifically, the rapid onset of heavy buccal and nasal frothing in many victims, as well as the colour of the secretions, is not indicative of intoxication from such chemicals.”

“The large number of decedents in the one location (allegedly 40 to 45), most of whom were seen in videos and photos strewn on the floor of the apartments away from open windows, and within a few meters of an escape to un-poisoned or less toxic air, is at odds with intoxication by chlorine-based choking or blood agents, even at high concentrations,” the unredacted draft says.

This important information was omitted from the Interim Report and completely contradicted by the Final Report, which said that the investigation had found “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

2. OPCW inspectors couldn’t find any explanation for why the gas cylinders supposedly dropped from Syrian aircraft were so undamaged by the fall.

“The FFM [Fact-Finding Mission] team is unable to provide satisfactory explanations for the relatively moderate damage to the cylinders allegedly dropped from an unknown height, compared to the destruction caused to the rebar-reinforced concrete roofs,” reads the leaked first draft. “In the case of Location 4, how the cylinder ended up on the bed, given the point at which it allegedly penetrated the room, remains unclear. The team considers that further studies by specialists in metallurgy and structural engineering or mechanics are required to provide an authoritative assessment of the team’s observations.”

We now know that a specialist was subsequently recruited to find an answer to this mystery. A leaked document dated February 2019 and published by the Working Group On Syria, Propaganda and Media in May 2019 was signed by a longtime OPCW inspector named Ian Henderson. Henderson, a South African ballistics expert, ran some experiments and determined that “The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft,” writing instead that the cylinders being “manually placed” (i.e. staged) in the locations where investigators found them is “the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”

More on Ian Henderson in a moment.

3. The team concluded that either the victims were poisoned with some unknown gas which wasn’t chlorine, or there was no chemical weapon at all.

“The inconsistency between the presence of a putative chlorine-containing toxic chocking or blood agent on the one hand and the testimonies of alleged witnesses and symptoms observed from video footage and photographs, on the other, cannot be rationalised,” the unredacted first draft reads. “The team considered two possible explanations for the incongruity:
a. The victims were exposed to another highly toxic chemical agent that gave rise to the symptoms observed and has so far gone undetected.
b. The fatalities resulted from a non-chemical-related incident.”

Again, none of this information made it into any of the OPCW’s public reports on the Douma incident. The difference between the information we were given (that a chlorine gas attack took place and the strong suggestion that it was dropped by Syrian aircraft) and the report the inspectors were initially trying to put together (literally the exact opposite) is staggering. For more insider information on the deliberation between OPCW inspectors who wanted their actual findings to be reported and the organisation officials who conspired to omit those findings, read this November report by journalist Jonathan Steele.

A memo from a member of the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Douma to the OPCW Director General Fernando Arais.

 

It’s worth noting that this memo is dated two weeks after the OPCW published its Final Report on the Douma incident in March 2019, because it further invalidates the bogus argument made by narrative management firms like Bellingcat claiming that the grievances of the dissenting OPCW inspectors had been satisfactorily addressed by the time the Final Report was published.

Clearly the concerns were not addressed, because the memo consists entirely of complaints, and according to its author “there are about 20 inspectors who have expressed their concern over the current situation.”

The memo’s author complains that the FFM report was made almost exclusively by team members who never even went to Douma, doing their research instead solely in “Country X”, which WikiLeaks speculates may be Turkey.

“The FFM report does not reflect the views of all the teams that deployed to Douma,” the memo says. “Only one team member (a paramedic) of the so-called ‘FFM core team’ was in Douma. The FFM report was written by this core team, thus by people who had only operated in Country X.”

“After the exclusion of all team members other than a small cadre of members who had deployed (and deployed again in October 2018) to Country X, the conclusion seems to have turned completely in the opposite direction. The FFM team members find this confusing, and are concerned to know how this occurred.”

The memo’s author is unnamed in the WikiLeaks document, but claims to have been “assigned the task of analysis and assessment of the ballistics of the two cylinders,” indicating that it was likely the aforementioned Ian Henderson. A concurrent publication by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mailappears to confirm this. Hitchens reports that when Henderson lodged his Engineering Assessment in the OPCW’s secure registry after failing to get traction for his report, which the memo’s author also reports to have done, an unpopular unnamed OPCW official nicknamed “Voldemort” ordered that every trace of the report be removed.

“Mr Henderson tried to get his research included in the final report, but when it became clear it would be excluded, he lodged a copy in a secure registry, known as the Documents Registry Archive (DRA),” Hitchens reported. “This is normal practice for such confidential material, but when ‘Voldemort’ heard about it, he sent an email to subordinates saying: ‘Please get this document out of DRA … And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever in DRA’.”

So to recap, the OPCW enlisted a longtime ballistics expert with an extensive history of work with the organisation to run some experiments and produce an Engineering Assessment to explain how the alleged chlorine cylinders could have been found in the condition they were found in, and when he came to conclusions which were exculpatory for the Syrian government, his boss ordered every sign of it purged from the registry.

Again, not a whisper of any of this was breathed in the OPCW’s public reports on the Douma incident, despite somewhere around 20 inspectors having objections. The OPCW had no business hiding this from the public.

An internal email from May 2019 voicing further concerns.

This interesting email, sent to the OPCW’s Office of Strategy and Planning Director Veronika Stromsikova, defended Ian Henderson and objected to the mistreatment of a principled and respected team member.

“A member of the FFM team has been suspended from his post and escorted from the OPCW building in a less than dignified manner,” the email’s author complains. “After more than 12 years, I believe, serving the OPCW with dedication and professionalism, Ian Henderson’s personal and professional integrity have taken a knock in the most public of fora, the internet. A falsehood issued by the OPCW, that Ian did not take part in the Douma FFM team, has been pivotal in discrediting him and his work.”

Indeed, as soon as Henderson’s Engineering Assessment was leaked this past May, Syria narrative managers like Idrees AhmadBrian Whitaker, and Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins immediately set to work trying to spin him as merely a lone “disgruntled employee” who was “not a part of the Fact-Finding Mission”.

“The denial is patently untrue,” the email’s author writes. “Ian Henderson WAS part of the FFM and there is an abundance of official documentation, as well as other supporting proof, that testifies to that.”

But I don’t suppose we can expect to see any apologies or corrections from the usual suspects in light of this new information.

“We are not insisting on being right in our assertions, but we are demanding to be heard,” the email’s author writes. “We have desperately tried to limit expression of concerns to within the Organisation and will continue to do so. However, we have been stonewalled throughout by obfuscationexclusion, and even thuggish and bullying behavior.”

The author wraps things up by explaining why they’re pushing so hard to be heard with a quote from Edmund Burke: “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Email communications between FFM members and their team leader Sami Barrek.

This July 2018 correspondence is significant mainly because it brings in hard evidence for the exchange described by the OPCW whistleblower “Alex” in the aforementioned Jonathan Steele report, which was described as follows:

“This request was rejected but Sami Barrek, the team leader, was put in charge of replacing the doctored version with what turned out to be a toned-down but still misleading report. During the editing four of the Douma inspectors, including Ian Henderson, the engineering expert, had managed to get Barrek to agree that the low levels of COCs [Chlorinated Organic Chemicals] should be mentioned. On the day before the new publication date, July 6, they found that the levels were again being omitted.”

The back-and-forth exchanges feature one or more anonymous team members arguing with Barrek that more information needs to be included in the Interim Report so that people won’t jump to conclusions that the team had found evidence it hadn’t. And sure enough, Moon of Alabamadocumented multiple mass media headlines which falsely claimed the Interim Report had asserted chlorine gas was used (that invalid claim wasn’t made until the Final Report in March 2019).

Here’s a sample exchange where one inspector tries to persuade Barrek to change the language in the report so readers will understand that the information they had about chlorinated organic chemical concentrations at the time hadn’t reached any “damning conclusion”, with Barrek throwing up inertia and saying he can unilaterally overrule them if he wants to:

 

 

Again, none of the findings which were inconsistent with the US narrative were included in either the final draft of the Interim Report or in the Final Report. Nothing about the low levels of chlorinated organic chemicals, nothing about the inconsistencies in symptoms with chlorine gas poisoning, nothing about the lack of damage to the cylinders, nothing about Ian Henderson’s findings. Nothing. The OPCW had no business withholding that information.

These new leaks take care of the latest spin jobs by establishment narrative managers, who were just the other day beginning to argue that the fact that there hadn’t been any more OPCW leaks in a while indicated that the whole OPCW scandal was bogus. Sorry to disappoint you, fellas.

The WikiLeaks documents and Hitchens’ Daily Mail article came out the same day as ex-Newsweek reporter Tareq Haddad shared emails sent to him by his editors forbidding him to publish information on the OPCW scandal, an important slice of information on the way mass media outlets stifle commentary on important stories that are inconvenient for US imperialism.

Newsweek’s foreign affairs editor Dimi Reider (who Haddad notes has Council on Foreign Relations ties) shot down Haddad’s pitch for a story about the OPCW scandal last month by falsely claiming that Bellingcat had “published a thorough refutation” of the story Haddad wanted to report on. In fact, as I documented at the time, Bellingcat had published an unbelievably pathetic spin job in which it tried to paint the whole OPCW scandal as a big misunderstanding.

Bellingcat argued that the concerns voiced in the leaked email published by WikiLeaks last month about the developing Interim Report in July 2018 had been fully addressed by the time the Final Report was published in March 2019, citing as evidence the fact that some slight adjustments had been made in the wording, like changing “likely” to “possible” and changing “reactive chlorine containing chemical” to “chemical containing reactive chlorine.” In focusing on this ridiculous, pedantic nonsense, Bellingcat tries to weave the narrative that because the whistleblower’s concerns were addressed with this pedantry, there was therefore no OPCW coverup. Never mind the fact that the multiple OPCW whistleblowers were still plainly so incensed by the organisation’s publishing that they felt the need to leak internal documents. Never mind that Bellingcat made no attempt whatsoever to address the aforementioned actual grievances by the OPCW whistleblowers like the low levels of chlorinated organic chemicals on the scene, the inconsistencies in symptoms and testimony with chlorine poisoning, or the Ian Henderson report.

But that’s what happens when mass media outlets like The New York Timesand The Guardian publish swooning puff piece after swooning puff piece about Bellingcat; they grant a US government-funded narrative management firm so much unearned legitimacy that even a transparently bogus argument like the one they made about the OPCW scandal gets passed around newsrooms by credulous editors assuring each other that it’s a “thorough refutation” of facts and reality. Mass media outlets help puff up Bellingcat’s legitimacy, and in turn Bellingcat rewards them with an excuse to not have to ever challenge establishment narratives.

Reider also argued that Haddad’s report on the OPCW couldn’t be published because “not a single respected media outlet — many of whom boast far greater regional expertise, resources on the ground and in newsroom than Newsweek does — have taken the leak remotely seriously.”

That’s a great self-reinforcing system, isn’t it? MSM outlets validate US government-funded narrative managers like Bellingcat so they can tell them with authority why an unauthorised story shouldn’t be published, and each outlet sees the absence of other outlets reporting on it as evidence that it shouldn’t be reported on. And we wonder why no one’s reporting on the OPCW scandal.

And Newsweek’s Digital Director Laura Davis gave Haddad the same answer, regurgitating the absolutely bogus Bellingcat line that the leaked email wasn’t newsworthy because “it predates the final report” and because no one else has written about it. It’s a system fully locked down against any oppositional reporting, and we can surmise that this is the norm for newsrooms throughout the English-speaking world.

Haddad also published a similar email he’d received from International Business Times then-editor-in-chief Julian Kossoff, who rejected a pitch he’d made for an opinion piece he’d written about the Khan Sheikhun incident in April 2017.

“Thanks for the suggested opinion piece,” Kossoff wrote. “However, I do not think we will be able to use it. Its narrative is highly controversial and likely to offend and only a writer or expert of repute (e.g Noam Chomsky) could get away with such an incendiary thesis.”

And what was this “incendiary thesis”? Well, Haddad published it withCounterPunch, so you can see for yourself. He simply argued what in my opinion should be a completely uncontroversial position: that there wasn’t yet enough evidence to be certain Assad was behind the attacks, and the US has a known history of entering into military entanglements based on lies, so the warmongers demanding Assad’s overthrow shouldn’t be listened to.

This insight into the dynamics behind the mass media’s lies by omission are very valuable, and they help us paint a better picture about the reason we’re not seeing more discussion of these OPCW leaks.

________________________

Author:

Caitlin Johnstone

Caitlin Johnstone 

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

 

OPCW probe team rejects watchdog’s report on Syria 'chemical attack’: WikiLeaks

 

WikiLeaks has released a new cache of internal documents revealing that members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), tasked with investigating a suspected “chemical attack” on Syria’s Douma, had protested the watchdog’s final report, saying it misrepresented their conclusions on the incident.   

The alleged chemical “attack” on Douma occurred in April last year at a time when the Syrian army was about to win the battle against foreign-backed militants there.  

The US and its allies blamed Damascus for the attack, an allegation strongly rejected by the Syrian government, saying the foreign-backed militants with the Western-supported White Helmets have staged the chemical attack in an attempt to frame Damascus.

However, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile strike against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs a week later, without waiting for proof that chemical weapons had been used.

WikiLeaks@wikileaks

 

RELEASE: Third batch of documents showing doctoring of facts in released version of OPCW chemical weapons report on Syria. Including a memo stating 20 inspectors feel released version “did not reflect the views of the team members that deployed to [Syria]”https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/ 

 

According to new documents released by WikiLeaks on Saturday, a scientist, who participated in the OPCW’s fact finding mission (FFM), wrote in a memo addressed to OPCW Director General, Fernando Arias, earlier this year that there were “about 20 inspectors who have expressed concern” over how the watchdog presented its findings on the alleged Syrian chemical attack.

The memo added that the OPCW’s final report, released on March 1, did not reflect the FFM’s findings, presented in their interim report, which is also part of the new document dump.

It further revealed that the final report “does not reflect the views of all the team members that deployed to Douma” to probe the alleged chemical attack, adding that all the team members on the ground in Douma, except for a paramedic, were apparently excluded from drafting the final report.

Instead, the OPCW’s final report was compiled by a separate group that had operated from “Country X,” believed to be Turkey, WikiLeaks’ new documents suggested.

“The consensus within the FFM team was that there were indications of serious inconsistencies in findings… the conclusion seems to have turned completely in the opposite direction. The FFM team members find this confusing, and are concerned to know how this occurred” the memo added.

The FFM’s findings, outlined in their initial report, illustrate some of these “inconsistencies.” For example, the probe team expressed uncertainty about the origin of the cylinders which were purportedly employed to release chlorine. The US and its allies claim that the cylinders were dropped from the sky, pointing to the Syrian government as the culprit.

Nevertheless, the original interim report by the FFM had said that there was no strong evidence to support the dropped-from-sky theory. In fact, a follow-up investigation into the incident concluded that it was more likely that the cylinders “were manually placed… rather than being delivered from aircraft.”

PressTV-Russia opposes sending new team to probe Syria gas attack

PressTV-Russia opposes sending new team to probe Syria gas attack

Russia has urged OPCW members to vote against funding a new Syria chemical weapons probe team.

Last month, WikiLeaks released an email sent by a member of the OPCW in which its author accused the watchdog of doctoring a report on the Douma attack.

“Many of the facts and observations outlined in the full version are inextricably interconnected and, by selectively omitting certain ones, an unintended bias has been introduced into the report, undermining its credibility,” said a member of the FFM in the email, dated June 22, 2018.

Earlier this year, an unreleased OPCW engineering report was also leaked to the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media that refuted militants’ claims that the cylinders that the engineering team examined were dropped out of a Syrian government aircraft.

Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the OPCW and the United Nations.

Several reports have previously suggested the use of chlorine against civilians by anti-Damascus militants.