Saturday, April 07, 2018

Memory War: Israel Defenders Attempt to Scrub Past, Present, and Dissuade Future Criticism

Abby Martin interview critical of Israel is blocked by YouTube in 28 countries

by Abby Martin - Empire Files (RT)

April 6, 2018 

An episode of Abby Martin’s Empire Files, featuring journalist Max Blumenthal and spotlighting rising militarism in Israel, has been blocked by YouTube in 28 countries, including Israel and the UK, for violating “local laws.”

“Just notified by YouTube that Abby Martin’s interview with Max Blumenthal has been blocked from being viewed in 28 countries (including Israel) to ‘comply with local laws.’ Actions disabled & warnings for viewers elsewhere,” the program’s official Twitter account related on Thursday.

Entitled “Jewish-American on Israel's Fascism: ‘No Hope For Change From Within',” the episode featured a discussion between Martin and journalist Max Blumenthal about the increasingly militaristic, racist attitude of Israel towards Palestinians.

“YouTube has claimed that it removed my interview on Israel-Palestine with Abby Martin to comply with laws in 28 countries. However, nothing I did or said in the discussion was even remotely illegal, even in countries with the strictest hate crime laws,” Blumenthal told RT in an email.
 “My comments were based entirely on my extensive journalistic experience in the region and my analysis was clinical in nature. At no point did I denigrate anyone based on their faith or ethnicity.”

A screenshot from YouTube which accompanied the tweet 
identified the 28 countries and territories where the 2015 video, 
was blocked and this list includes most European countries.

Blumenthal said that his comments were “motivated by a strong opposition to Israel's systemic discrimination against Palestinians,” and his “dedication to equal rights for all.” He called the YouTube's decision “a political one and likely made under pressure from powerful pro-Israel interests.”

Viewers from around the world responded to Empire Files’ tweet, reporting that the video includes a warning that is has been “identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.” The video’s description, view counter, comments section, as well as ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ options have apparently also been disabled by YouTube.

According to Blumenthal, this isn’t the first time YouTube has censored his commentary and journalism on Israel-Palestine. In 2010, he made a viral video exposing “racist extremism” in Israel, which received widespread media coverage and was subsequently removed from the platform without explanation.

“The trend of censoring material that presents Israel in a less than favorable light has only intensified as establishment attacks on critical voices expands. This latest episode confirms my view that the pro-Israel lobby and its willing accomplices in Silicon Valley present one of the greatest threats to free speech in the West,” Blumenthal told RT.

Last year, YouTube invited the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to join its "Trusted Flagger" system. The ADL defines opposition to Israel's system of apartheid as a form of anti-Semitism. Blumenthal told RT that he believes the ADL is likely behind the suppression of his interview with Martin.

Empire Files, the documentary and interview program airing on teleSUR, is known for addressing hot-button issues that are often overlooked or ignored by traditional media.

Skripal Case Unearths "Expert" Syria Chemical Weapons Commentator

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

by Theodore A. Postol 

Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

July 10, 2014

[For complete report, please see link:]

Dan Kaszeta describes himself in public statements as having “over twenty years of diverse experience” as “a former US Army and US Secret Service specialist on chemical, biological, and radiological defense.”

Following the release on September 13, 2013 of the UN report on the use of chemicals in Syria, Mr. Kaszeta started making statements that the fact that hexamine was found by UN inspectors in soil samples and on metal fragments from chemical munitions indicated a “smoking gun” that connected the August 21, 2013 nerve agent attack to the Syrian government.

In repeated articles and statements he has claimed that he has scientific evidence that supports this important claim, which if true could well indicate that the Syrian government was the perpetrator of the attack.

Because my colleague, Richard Lloyd, and I have been drawn into scientific and technical analyses of the August 21, 2013 atrocity, and of the far ranging implications of Mr. Kaszeta’s claim, we decided to contact Mr. Kaszeta to get the information needed to confirm the scientific basis of his statements.

During this extensive exchange, Mr. Kaszeta was unable to provide even a single technical document that was relevant to his claims. When we pressed him about the absence of his ability to provide technical information, he claimed that he had information from statements made by Åka Sellström, the head of the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, as saying that hexamine proved that the Syrian government was the perpetrator of the attack (see Appendix 1 for entire record of emails).

Because I was unable to get any constructive information from Mr. Kaszeta, I wrote to Professor Sellström and asked him about the hexamine claim. I asked him if he could respond to me as if I were a reporter. My letter of request and his response are in Appendix 2.

During my fruitless effort to obtain any technical information in support of Mr. Kaszeta’s dramatic claim, I enlisted the help of a young quantum chemist who writes under the pen name “Syrian Sister.” Syrian Sister provided valuable technical information and advice in support of my effort to obtain the information from Kaszeta that would demonstrate that he had a technical basis for his claim. Syrian Sister provided valuable information on the solubility of hexamine in isopropanol, on the problems encountered if one were to try to use a very low solubility material like hexamine in a process for manufacturing sarin, and on chemical equilibrium constants, which provide important predictive insights into the equilibrium states of chemical mixtures.

Syrian Sister’s support was totally professional, and often constructively critical of the analysis I was presenting to Mr. Kaszeta. Mr. Kaszeta is very active on Twitter, and his communications offer additional insights into his attitudes towards this very serious question of whether hexamine unambiguously implicates the Syrian government in the attack. For example, in his twitter exchanges, he refers to those who question his claim as “trolls.” He has also attacked the integrity of Syrian Sister in the emails where I was trying to obtain technical information from him in support of his claims.

Mr. Kaszeta has occasionally referred to a book he has published titled, CBRN and Hazmat Incidents at Major Public Events: Planning and Response (see Appendix 3) as evidence that he is truly an expert in the science and technology of chemical weapons. However, the book he claims for his expertise is essentially a planning manual for local police forces and event planners where there is a concern that hazardous material could be released. There is essentially no technical or scientific information in this manual that cannot be obtained by a superficial search of entries available on the Internet.

Appendix 4 shows why the matter of Mr. Kaszeta’s claims are important. This appendix contains a New York Times article that treats false technical information as if it is real and uses that information to make inferences that are extremely important in the debate and analysis of who might have been responsible for the sarin attack of August 21, 2013. Since the US administration was arguing for military action against Syria, and openly accusing Russia in the UN of making false statements about their assessment that the attack might not have been executed by the Syrian government, the implications of this false technical information were far ranging.

Appendix 5 contains additional false technical information produced by Human Rights Watch and published on the front page of the New York Times that was also inflammatory and misleading. Appendix 6 shows a letter that my colleague, Richard Lloyd and I wrote to the London Review of Books making corrections to a large number of false technical claims that were being promulgated by Mr. Kaszeta, and his close colleague Eliot Higgins.

Appendix 7 shows an article written by Mr. Kaszeta where he claims This article explains the what, why, and how of the ‘Hexamine Hypothesis’. I have spent a lot of time and effort studying the history of Sarin and the particularly obtuse history of industrial efforts to produce Sarin. There are at least 20 production pathways to Sarin, each of at least 5 steps.

As is evident from the email exchange between Kaszeta and Postol, Mr. Kaszeta has no expertise at any level on the questions of how sarin could be produced. This very short summary is aimed at exposing a counterfeit expert and his cohort, Eliot Higgins, who were empowered by a serious failure of the mainstream Western press. This empowerment was due to an essentially complete failure of these major journals to exercise the most rudimentary levels of editorial due diligence. This has resulted in controversy that has no basis in sound science. This ill-informed and inflammatory use of false technical facts by the press could have played a role in a US military involvement in Syria. In addition, it is now clear, as reported by the New York Times itself, that by being a highway for the introduction of extremist Sunni jihadists, Turkey has played a major role in exacerbating an already out-of-control situation.

Based on the public information we now have, we cannot say for sure who executed the atrocity of August 21, 2013. But what we can say is that there is now substantial evidence that points to the possibility that the August atrocity in Damascus was a false flag attack by certain Sunni rebel forces that are now operating freely in Iraq as well as in Syria.

The collapse of the mainstream press over the past 10 years has had a major negative impact on the American system of democracy, which like all democracies, cannot function without an informed electorate. It is essential that everything be done by the mainstream press, and its citizen supporters, to encourage it in its role as a guardian of democracy.

The rush to judgment by members of the press who failed to execute their due diligence responsibilities is an important matter that I hope will be noted and corrected by the mainstream press.

Theodore A. Postol
Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts July 10, 2014

Fraudulent Claims Made by Dan Kaszeta
(Pages 1,2 of 44 Pages)

Friday, April 06, 2018

Undue Influence: Canadian State Broadcaster's Coverage of Gaza Massacre Directed by Israel Lobby Group

CBC Influenced by Zionist Lobby

by Hanna Kawas - Chair, Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver

The following letter was sent today to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) regarding their biased coverage of the Land Day massacre.
This is just one example of the unbalanced reporting by the North American mainstream media on the Palestinian narrative. The letter will be hand delivered on April 6 during a solidarity vigil for Palestine at the Vancouver offices of CBC, Canada’s national public broadcaster.

Re: Coverage of the Land Day massacre in Gaza

Dear CBC

You state that you “are independent of all lobbies and of all political and economic influence.” This might be true regarding the government that pays for your operations and wages but we regret to say it is definitely NOT true with the pro-Israeli lobby. Once again you were influenced by their lobbying and succumbed to their dictates, propaganda and falsehoods, even in regards to the use of specific language.

Let us start with how the CBC has tried to obscure Israel’s premeditated killing of unarmed protestors by instead talking about “clashes” and “confrontations” and “rock throwing”.

The lack of accuracy in your CBC News March 30, 2018 report is but one example. The narrator says:

“Israeli forces responded with force against rock throwing Palestinian protesters, at least seven Palestinians have been killed, hundreds more has been wounded.” 

And then your correspondent Derek Stoffel reported:

“some of those men were throwing stones and Molotov cocktail at the Israeli forces on the other side and they responded with tear gas with rubber bullets and in some cases with live ammunition…”. 

(Notice the downplaying of the use of live ammunition, which contradicts hospital reports of the wounded).

Also, your web article on March 30 from the AP ran with the subtitle:- “’Right of return’ mass sit-in organized by Hamas escalated into rock-slinging, tear gas firing” as if rocks and tear gas are more deadly than live ammunition!

You would think that all this “rioting” “violence” and the “throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails” that you emphasized would have left some Israeli causalities as well, but no, we did not hear from your reporter or any other reporter about Israeli causalities because there were none.

Such reporting makes you complicit with Israeli war crimes and brutality, noting that your description of what happened is a carbon copy of the Israeli military briefings. The same logic of blaming the victim was also reported by Mr. Stoffel on the National later the same day.

How about the reports from the Israeli Human Rights group, B’tselem, who not only warned in advance that the Israeli military were about to conduct a massacre, but have launched a new public campaign calling on Israeli soldiers to refuse such orders to shoot at unarmed protestors?

How about the IDF tweet, later deleted, that bragged they “knew where every bullet landed”? How about Gideon Levy, from Israeli newspaper Haaretz, who coined the term Israel Massacre Forces after last Friday?

For a contrast, from reporters live on the ground, you could have checked out Al Jazeera reporting which stated, “As unarmed protesters marched toward the border fence, Israeli soldiers opened fire.”

So much for your stated values of “Accuracy, Fairness, Balance, Impartiality and Integrity”.

And why is it in all your reporting you did not mention that Israel and its backer, the U.S., adamantly refused to accept any UN independent investigation? What are Israel and the US afraid of? Unearthing the TRUTH?

Now, lets move to language regarding the Palestinian refugees and how you followed the dictates of the Zionist lobby group “Honest Reporting”.

There was an initial Derek Stoffel report that we can no longer find on the internet anywhere, except on the “Honest Reporting” website post. They complained in regards to this report, that,

“It’s false to claim that in the 1948 war that ‘hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948…’”. 

They then dictated to you what is acceptable terminology by saying,

“It’s accurate to say that they were ‘displaced,’ but conventional reportage dictates that journalists say that the Palestinians voluntarily fled … It’s unfair to say that all were “forced from their homes…”.

And sure enough, the same day, in a later report, Mr. Stoffel corrected himself and he stated after stumbling briefly, that the protesters were “demanding the right of return, that people head to their homes…where they had to flee when the state of Israel was created.”

For your information what happened in 1948 was not a “WAR”, it was an act of aggression and genocide. Check your facts with the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi and his book “All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948”, the story of the over 400 Palestinian villages that were destroyed or depopulated. You could also consult with the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe and his book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” before you jump to follow the dictates of a foreign interest group.

There was another criticism of Stoffel’s original report from “Honest Reporting”, which was using the term Palestinians when talking about the 6 victims of the original Land Day. His initial report stated:

“On Land Day, that’s the day in which Palestinians commemorate the shootings and killings by Israel of six Palestinians back in 1976 as Israel was involved in a program of confiscating land.” 

While they curiously did not object to the stated facts of what happened on Land Day 1976, they dictated to you that other news agencies call them Arabs and you should too. Israel calls its Palestinians citizens Arabs to deny the existence of the indigenous population of Palestine. Their slogan always has been “A land without people”.

And once again on cue, later in the day, your correspondent Mr. Stoffel dropped Land Day 1976 altogether from one report, while on the National he got in step and called the murdered Palestinians “Arab Israelis”:

“The march began as Palestinians marked Land Day to commemorate the six Arab Israelis killed by Israel …”

While all Palestinians are culturally Arabs and are proud of it, most of the two million Palestinian Israelis consider themselves Palestinian. Has Mr. Stoffel seen what kind of flags the Palestinian Israelis carry when they commemorate Land Day and other Palestinian occasions?

Finally, Mr. Stoffel considers the “six weeks of sustained protests on Fridays” “a new security threat for Israel” and also thinks “the right of return … will be a security threat.”

On May 11/1949, Canada co-sponsored the U.N. General Assembly resolution 273 to admit Israel as a state to the U.N. on condition that Israel implements two resolutions – UN resolution 194 (the Right of Return), and UN resolution 181 (the Partition Plan).

Israel never implemented these two resolutions in addition to hundreds of UN Security and General Assembly resolutions that have stayed on the shelves collecting dust for the past seventy years. Wouldn’t a sane person conclude that Israel has been the true security threat not only to the Palestinians and Arabs but also to the peoples of the world?

CBC is unabashedly supporting Israeli ethnic cleansing, war crimes and Apartheid. We ask you to respect your stated values, especially accuracy and impartiality, and to not cave in to the pressure of a lobby group that is more concerned with serving a foreign government than in bringing the truth to the public in Canada.

Singing from Sinclair's Hymnbook

Media Giant Sinclair, Under Fire for Forcing Anchors to Read Trumpian Screed, Is Rapidly Expanding

by DemocracyNow!

April 3, 2018

While Sinclair Broadcast Group is not a household name, it is one of the most powerful TV companies in the nation. It owns 173 local TV stations across the country, including affiliates of all the major networks. And it’s attempting to grow even larger by purchasing Tribune Media—a $3.9 billion deal currently under regulatory review. Sinclair has been widely criticized for its close ties to the White House.

But Sinclair is facing new scrutiny after it ordered news anchors at scores of its affiliate stations to recite nearly identical “must-read” commentaries warning of the dangers of “fake news” in language that echoes President Trump’s rhetoric.

The commentaries reached millions of viewers last month and drew widespread attention after the website Deadspin published a video over the weekend showing side-by-side comparisons of the broadcasts from 45 Sinclair-owned stations.

We speak to Andy Kroll, senior reporter at Mother Jones magazine.

Second Week and Another Massacre in Gaza

Gaza protests: All the latest updates

by Al Jazeera

April 6, 2018

Israeli forces shoot dead five Palestinians and wound hundreds more as protests near Gaza border continue.

For a second week, thousands of Palestinians are protesting along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip, as part of the Great March of Return movement.

Israeli forces have killed 26 Palestinians during the past week, including 17 on the first Friday of protest, and wounded more than 1,600 others.

Here are all the latest updates on Friday's protests:

Palestinian protester wears a tyre on his head
with an onion (to protect himself from tear gas)
dangling from it [Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]

Fifth Palestinian killed, health ministry says 

The Palestinian ministry of health says the death toll has risen to five, with 20-year-old Ibrahim Al-Ourr killed.

Palestinian Ministry of Health: 780 wounded

Health officials in Gaza said that at least 780 protesters have been wounded, including seven women and 31 children.

Fourth Palestinian killed, health ministry says

The Palestinian ministry of health said that a 16-year-old boy has been killed by Israeli forces.

The teenager, Hussein Madi, was dead on arrival after he was taken to Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, the ministry added.

Journalist: 28 wounded protesters in intensive care unit

Hosam Salem, a photographer at the scene in the southern Gaza Strip, told Al Jazeera that there are currently 28 protesters in the intensive care unit at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis.

Salem witnessed his colleague Yaser Murtaja, a 30-year-old journalist with a local media outlet, drop to the ground after he was shot by Israeli forces in the stomach.

"Yaser was filming with his camera next to me when we heard the sound of gunfire," Salem said.
"He just fell on the ground and said, 'I've been shot, I've been shot'."
"He needed eight units of blood," Salem continued.
"The hospital moved him from the operations room to the ICU where his situation remains critical." 

Another journalist, Ibrahim Zanoun, was shot in the arm while covering the protests in Jabaliya, nothern Gaza.

Health officials: Two killed, 250 injured

The Palestinian Ministry of Health says protester Majdi Ramadan Shbat has been killed east of Gaza City by Israeli forces.

The number of those wounded has risen to at least 250, according to the ministry.

Shbat's death brings the total number of protesters killed on Friday to three, after Thaer Rab'a, who was shot by Israeli forces during the March 30 demonstrations, succumbed to his wounds earlier in the day.

Protesters 'defiant' amid growing tension 

 A Palestinian woman and man stand behind burning tyres in Khuza'a 
near the border in southern Gaza Strip [Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Gaza, says Palestinian protesters have remained "defiant" despite Israel saying it will not change its rule of engagement.

"Some young boys have been carrying mirrors to blind the soldiers stationed all along the border," she said.
"We've seen them with makeshift homemade gas masks which won't really protect them from anything.

"Tension is growing because more and more people are arriving, but it seems that the Israelis are showing some degree of restraint compared to last week," she continued. 
"They are still using live ammunition and high velocity bullets which don't kill but maim protesters."

Palestinian killed in Gaza

The Palestinian Ministry of Health has confirmed that 38-year-old Osama Qdeih has been killed by Israeli live fire east of Khan Younis.

The number of wounded has increased to at least 150, the ministry added.

Ministry of health: 40 wounded by live fire and tear gas 

A medic stands over a wounded protester near Gaza Strip's eastern 
border [Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]

Palestinian health officials say at least 40 protesters have been wounded.

According to Ashraf al-Qidra, the health ministry's spokesperson, five are in critical condition after being shot in the head or in the upper body.

Mahjoob Zweiri, a professor at Qatar University, told Al Jazeera that the protests are the outcome of "years and years of frustration" by the residents of the Gaza Strip.

"If you look at the past 60 years there has always been delayed action from the Arab League and the international community [with regards to] the Palestinian question," he said.
"That delay of action is an indication that there is no serious attempt to stop Israel from doing what it is doing now." 

UN warns Israeli forces to respect 'right of peaceful assembly'

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell has expressed concern over further violence during Friday's demonstrations and in the weeks ahead.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Throssell said: "We remind Israel of its obligations to ensure that excessive force is not employed against protesters and that in the context of a military occupation, as is the case in Gaza, the unjustified and unlawful recourse to firearms by law enforcement resulting in death may amount to a willful killing, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention."

Earlier, Gaza's Ministry of Health confirmed the death of Thaer Rab'a, 30, who succumbed to his injuries after he was shot by Israeli forces last Friday.

This brings this week's death toll to 22 Palestinians.

Friday of 'Burning Tyres'

Palestinians have gathered hundreds of spare tyres and plan on setting them on fire in order to create a smokescreen to obstruct the vision of Israeli snipers.

Al Jazeera's correspondent in the Gaza Strip, Hoda Abdel-Hamid, said that the situation is calm at the moment, despite five Palestinians so far being wounded by live ammunition

"[At the five encampments along the border] you have entire families with their children dressed in traditional Palestinian clothes," she said. "They are having picnics, they are sitting on the floor, and there's a lot of vendors on the side.

"It is a completely different atmosphere and that's where the vast majority of people are." 

Hamas internal security called for peaceful protest 

An elderly Palestinian man and his granddaughter sit during Friday 
prayers at at one of the encapments east of Khuza'a in the southern Gaza Strip 
[Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]

On Thursday night, the internal security of Hamas released a statement calling on all protesters to "avoid friction with the Israeli occupation forces, and cooperate with the instructions of the organizers of the events."

The statement also called on participants to avoid wearing distinctive clothes, and to not take photos or use their mobile phones.

Organisers of the march 

"The march is organised by refugees, doctors, lawyers, university students, Palestinian intellectuals, academics, civil society organizations and Palestinian families," Asad Abu Sharekh, the spokesperson of the march, told Al Jazeera.
"Using these claims of Hamas being behind the protests, Israel is trying to sabotage the idea of the march to justify its escalation against protesters." 

Protests begin

The planned protests, which started on March 30, or Land Day, will continue until the Nakba anniversary on May 15, which marks 70 years since 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their villages and towns by Zionist militias in 1948.

Makeshift tents have been erected 700 metres away from the Israeli fence, symbolising the right of return for Palestinian refugees, who make up 70 percent of the Gaza Strip's population of two million.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera News

Murder in Gaza: Israel Provides Evidence of Its Crimes, and Promises More to Come

Premeditated Murder in Gaza, How Israel Provided Evidence of Its Own Crimes

by Ben White - MEMO

April 6, 2018

The evidence is overwhelming and almost entirely provided by Israeli officials themselves.

A week on from Israel’s deadly crackdown on Palestinian protests in the occupied Gaza Strip on Land Day it is clear that the killing of demonstrators constituted a case of premeditated murder.

The evidence is overwhelming and almost entirely provided by Israeli officials themselves. First, consider the Israeli authorities’ preparations and open threats in the lead up to Friday, 30 March.

Two days in advance, the head of the Israeli armed forces proudly told local media that there would be more than 100 snipers positioned around the Gaza Strip, mostly from “special units,” who would be authorized to live fire on Palestinian demonstrators.

Meanwhile, a government spokesperson even threatened protesters with a tweeted video of an unarmed Palestinian civilian being shot by an Israeli soldier. No wonder, then, that human rights groups like Amnesty International and B’Tselem warned – ahead of time – that Israeli forces were preparing to “shoot-to-kill unarmed Palestinian demonstrators”.

As an article in Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post put it, after last Friday’s bloodshed, “Israeli statements leading up to the incident focused on its readiness to use live fire as opposed to describing how involved its legal apparatus would be in projecting restraint”.

It should be noted that Israeli officials’ open threats have been cited by the army’s admirers as mitigation – “Palestinians were warned!” they say. Though it seems ridiculous to have to point this out, declaring in advance your intent to commit criminal acts not only fails to absolve you, but actually constitutes an important part of the evidence of your guilt.

On the day itself, and in its immediate aftermath, the response of Israeli officials to international criticism was also instructive.

One notable example was the Israeli military tweeting – then deleting – a statement that proudly took ownership of every shot fired: “nothing was carried out uncontrolled,” the IDF Spokesperson said,

“[E]verything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed”.

Army spokesperson Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, meanwhile, explicitly justified the shooting of an unarmed Palestinian as he fled, an incident caught on camera: the young man in question, he said, was “one of the most active participants in rolling burning tyres toward the fence”.

Political leaders were equally unrepentant, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring: “Well done to our soldiers”. A spokesperson for the ruling Likud party, Eli Hazan, told Israeli television that all 30,000 protesters – men, women and children – were “legitimate targets”.

The next piece of evidence is the Israeli army’s rules of engagement and open fire regulations, “which allow snipers to shoot anyone approaching the fence with the intent of breaching it and entering Israel”. This week, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman affirmed the rules would stay the same:

“[I]f there are provocations, there will be a reaction of the harshest kind like last week.”

The Israeli military has repeatedly insisted that it shot “instigators” and individuals who approached the Gaza Strip perimeter fence; “an unarmed person would be allowed within 100 metres (330 feet) of the border before soldiers opened fire” (my emphasis), according to one report.

As Israeli media has noted,

“[E]ven the…[army spokesperson’s] statements themselves testify to the fact that there is some concern that gunfire was initiated not only when there was a specific and concrete danger from Palestinians, but was also aimed at specific individuals”.

These two justifications for opening fire – the targeting of ‘instigators’ and anyone who approaches the fence – directly contradict Israel’s obligations under international law, which prohibits lethal force except in the case of an imminent threat to life.

As Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director for Human Rights Watch, told The Telegraph: “Senior Israeli officials continue to order soldiers to fire on ‘instigators’ and those who approach the border regardless of whether they pose an imminent threat, a flagrantly unlawful policy that could subject them to prosecution by the International Criminal Court.”

Israeli legal experts have also spoken out, affirming that an attempt to cross the Gaza fence does not constitute a justification for live fire against civilians. As one senior Israeli professor put it,

“[T]he fence…is not more sacred than human life, and that includes the lives of Palestinians living in Gaza”.

The rot, however, goes right to the top. As has been noted, the Israeli military’s chief of staff, the head of Southern Command, and the Gaza Division chief “were all present on the ground” on Friday, 30 March – it “beggars belief that they weren’t monitoring use of live (sniper) fire”.

Amos Harel, the military correspondent for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, noted that “testimonies of correspondents on the Israeli side about the rate of firing and Palestinian reports of 800 people wounded attest to very permissive orders given to the snipers”. Harel has also suggested that the army could have been motivated by a desire “to counter claims of weakness” in the media.

Human Rights Watch has stressed that the killing and maiming of Palestinian protesters was “unlawful” and “calculated”. In a striking call for soldiers to disobey illegal orders, B’Tselem was clear that “in line with the instructions given to the civilian leadership, the preparation by senior military officials did not focus on attempting to minimize the number of casualties. Quite the contrary…”

Of course, events in Gaza need to be placed in the context of Israeli occupation forces routinelyshooting Palestinian civilians, in both the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Those who pull the trigger, and those who give the orders, are almost never held to account. Systematic impunity for those who injure and kill makes for trigger-happy soldiers because they do not fear accountability.

As Palestinians in the besieged enclave gear up for another Friday of protest, Israeli officials – political and military – are doubling down on their threats, and illegal rules of engagement. International pressure is likely the only way to end the Israeli authorities’ policy of shoot-to-kill.

Ben White is a British journalist and activist who primarily writes about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

MEMO is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

"They Live!": 'Porton Down Syndrome' and the Resistant Skripals

CrossTalk Skripal and the Problem with BoJo

by 21st Century Wire (via RT)

April 5, 2018

After weeks of media hysterics and official claims without a shred of evidence, the case that Russia was behind the Salisbury poisoning incident is falling apart. Transparency and the rule of law never played a role. It always has been about politics and a pernicious agenda. What happens next sadly is only too predictable.”

CrossTalking with host Peter Lavelle are guests Marcus Papadopoulos, Alexander Nekrassov, and 21WIRE’s Patrick Henningsen.

Gateway to a Russia War: NATO's Ukraine Ingression

Old Pretexts for Mass-Murderous Aggression: A New War Against Russia in Ukraine Unfolding Before Our Eyes?

by John McMurtry - Global Research

March 27, 2018

We are now entering yet another US-UK led war build-up against the cornerstone of Western ideology, the designated Enemy Russia.

As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker’s government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by all NATO-member governments, mass media and even ‘peace activist’ organisations.

This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent, usually a stock move in espionage entertainments, but here with no evidence of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather expert denial within British defence and weapons research itself, with devious political word games to get around the absence of evidence in familiar denunciations of Russia that are full of aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded while US-led and UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of, once again a society, Yugoslavia, with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.

What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in the Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along Russia’s Western borders following the self-declared Nazi-led and proven US- orchestrated and commanded mass-murder coup d’etat in February 2014 . As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker’s government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by NATO-member governments, mass media and even ‘peace activist’ organisations.

This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent traitor, usually a stock move in espionage entertainments. Yet there is no confirmed evidence of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather denial within Britain’s own Defence Science and Technology Laboratory unreported in the press, with devious PR word games of Downing Street crafted to get around the absence of fact in the familiar denuciations of Russia full of aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded as, all the while, US-led and UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of Yugoslavia – yet another a socialist society with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.

What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in the Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along Russia’s Western borders are in place following the neo-Nazi-led and US-orchestrated mass-murder coup d’etat in February 2014 and the uprising of Eastern Ukraine. As always, the US-directed mass murder in the Kiev coup was reverse-blamed on the ever shifting Enemy face – Russia’s allied but duly elected federal government of the Ukraine. It was only after this violent-coup of the elected government of Ukraine’s very resource-rich country – “the breadbasket of Europe” and sitting on newly discovered rich fossil fuel deposits – that Russia annexed its traditional territory of the Crimea next to Eastern Ukraine. In predictable censorship by state proclamations and corporate media in NATO societies, all of these facts are elided.

In reality, Crimea was returned to Russia in a referendum-backed bloodless transition in reaction to the war-criminal putsch that put it under the rule of a US-appointed and neo-Nazi-led junta as the dispossessed Russia-speaking people of Eastern Ukraine simultaneously fought for their own government – Russia refusing pleas for annexation – in the now NATO-targeted Donetsk and Lugansk republics (the former by the way with a publicly adored competitive national soccer team in the European Champions League).

What is new now is that we are about to enter yet another NATO-member war build-up against the cornerstone of Western ideology, the designated Enemy Russia. As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day US-led NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker’s UK government, and silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding in NATO-member states, mass media and even ‘peace activist’ organisations.

Cui Bono?

The UK and the US followed by Canada and some of the EU have by expulsion of Russia diplomats prepared the diplomatic way for war in the Ukraine to seize back these lost coup-territories, and it will be in the name of “freedom”, “human rights” and “international law”. But there is much officially suppressed colour to the warring parties of this international conflict which reveals who the vile suppressor of human rights is in reality. Under mass media and corporate-state cover, the ordering the expulsion of Russia by NATO nations with its Secretary-General Stoltenberg crowing at the disbelief of Russia is preparation towards what will only be prevented by public exposure – NATO plan for war against Russia over Eastern Ukraine and Crimea separation from the illegal coup-state of Ukraine. The factually absurd but non-stop pretext of “Russia aggression” constructed out of the double-agent poisoning affair, with the guilty agents and poison having no proof but the ever louder UK-led and NATO-state assertion of it in unison, is the already building pretext.

Yet there is a clear answer to the cui bono question – which party does all this benefit? Clearly once the question is posed, as opposed to gagged, Theresa May’s slow-motion collapsing Tory government – now even challenged for its fraudulent Brexit referendum protecting the big London banks from EU regulation – has to have such a war-drum distraction to survive. The old war of aggression pattern reverse-blamed on the official enemy unwinds yet again. Now NATO-member states are clearing the way by expulsion of Russia diplomats, and the bigger prize is armed seizure of the new Eastern Ukraine republics and the Crimea itself, incalculably rich in natural and strategic resources. But all this depends on whether the peoples of Britain and NATO buy the string of big lies that grow before them propounded by hate-Russia propaganda being dinned people’s heads now.

It is revealing in this context how Canada’s government has no such ruler need of war – unless it be its Ukraine-descendent Foreign Minister up front and the very powerful and widely Nazi-sympathizing Ukraine Liberal vote bank and leadership brought to Canada after 1945 to overwhelm the preceding active socialist Ukrainian community in Canada. Canada’s government – not its people – is in any case used to being a puppet regime in foreign affairs as a twice-colonized rule by big business (why the NDP is not allowed to govern unless so subjugated).

The Human Rights Question

In light of all of this suppressed factual background and motive for more war in Ukraine which is unspeakable in the official news, interaction with the United Nations is of revealing interest. While it has been the cover for US-led NATO executed genocidal wars of aggression in the past as in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Korea, the pretexts of ‘human rights’, ‘responsibility to protect’ and ‘stopping communist aggression’, which are in fact always been the spectacular opposite on the ground in terms of diseased, mass-murdered and destitute bodies, these pretexts cannot sell when the background facts are no longer suppressed from public view. But what state leader yet has repudiated these false-pretext wars rather than sustained their illusions and thus the war crimes and crimes against proceeding underneath them?

Screengrab from The Washington Post. 
Click here for the full list of countries.

The NATO-executed Ukraine war now being orchestrated is especially revealing in its actual record of ‘protecting human rights’ through ‘international law’ and ‘norms of civilised nations’. Completely buried in official records is a United Nations resolution n on Ukraine that the US and Canada repudiated on November 20, 2015 after the US-led bloody coup d’etat in Ukraine was in full motion claiming all the vast tracts of land and resources that were Russia-speaking territory in the past.

The 2015 UN resolution was straightforwardly against “Nazi symbols and regalia” as well as “holocaust denial”. The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for a resolution to enable measures against “the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that facilitate the escalation of modern forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance”. A total of 126 member-states of the UN voted for it for the second time. Over 100 countries also voted for the first resolution in 2014 which also included “denial of the holocaust and glorification of the Nazi movement, former members of the Waffen SS organization, including the installation of memorials to them, and post-coup attempts to desecrate or destroy the monuments to those who fought against Nazism in Ukraine during World War II”.

How could any civilised state vote against these United Nations Resolutions for human rights as Canada and the US have done and stood by ever since while mouthing opposite commitments? Well instituted group hatred of the officially designated enemy can justify anything whatsoever, and is doing so towards the next NATO-executed orgy of war crime and crimes against humanity, again inside Europe itself, flaunting reverse-blame lies and slogans as red meat for psychotically trained masses. It is not by accident that Canada’s Foreign Minister in this near century-old Nazi loyalist vs. Russia-speaking conflict was before her appointment the “proud “granddaughter of a leading Nazi war propagandist during its occupation of Poland and Ukraine described as a “fighter for freedom”.

Yet on the other hand, we must not lose ourselves in ad hominem responsibility. Chrystia Freeland, her Canada name, is interestingly propagandist in itself from her birth – Christian Free Land – but not observed in the corporate press. Minister Freeland is only a symptom of something far deeper and more systemically murderous and evil in state-executed unlimited corporate greed and immiserization of innocent millions of people masked as ‘human rights’ , ‘freedom’ and ‘the rule of law’ . Her more sinister double in the US is also a renamed person of the region, Victoria Nuland (read New Land) who orchestrated the whole 2014 mass-murder coup in Ukraine and now tub-thumps on public television for the ‘need to teach Putin and Russia a hard lesson’, aka another war attack by US-led NATO on Russia’s borders.

The difference now is that the absurd pretext and geostrategic mechanisms now in motion can be seen in front of our eyes beforehand – that is, if we can still see through the engineered prism of the US-UK led NATO war machine. This alone will stop it.

John McMurtry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada whose work is translated from Latin America to Japan. His most recent book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: from Crisis to Cure. John McMurtry is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Backed Up And Beginning to Stink: Skripal Story Stuck in the Pipes

The Empire Strikes Backwards

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

April 6, 2018

Moscow - Empires are just like everything else going down the toilet. Bits always stick on the porcelain which require more flushing. Embarrassing bits.

Now in its fifth week since the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on March 4, the bits that cannot be flushed away are producing an odor whose obviousness is embarrassing for Salisbury Hospital and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The hospital is treating the Skripals for their medical welfare and is required by hospital policy and UK law to be accountable to their next of kin. Their rights of access to and from the hospital are also required by European Human Rights Convention.

The evidence now accumulating is that the hospital is detaining and isolating the Skripals against their will, preventing contact with their family. Requested to explain this and identify her legal authority, the response of the hospital’s chief executive, Cara Charles-Barks, is to stonewall.

The OPCW, comprising 192 states which have signed, ratified and enacted the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), is governed by a 41-member Executive Council, and administered by a Secretary-General and a staff based in The Hague. They represent the management arm of the Convention to ensure that everyone follows its provisions. But in acting on the Skripal case, the OPCW is voting in secret and violating the articles of the Convention itself.

The OPCW’s spokesman, an American named Deepti Choubey, refuses to reply to questions claiming the right of confidentiality according to the Convention and the OPCW’s policy. When asked to identify which provisions of the Convention apply, and what is the text of the OPCW policy on confidentiality, Choubey’s response is to stonewall.

Yulia Skripal can hear and speak, according to the British state broadcaster BBC, but she is incommunicado. In Moscow, her cousin Victoria Skripal has told the Russian press she has repeatedly tried to telephone her cousin on the latter’s Russian mobile telephone, but that this device has been disconnected.

That was until Thursday morning, when Yulia Skripal reportedly initiated this call from the hospital to her cousin in Moscow. She was using what she called a “temporary telephone”.

Listen to the Russian tape-recording of the call here

The BBC has broadcast an edited and excerpted version of this conversation, with English commentary over the Russian voices. Its translation of the Russian into English can be read here.

Victoria told Yulia: “Look, if tomorrow I get a [British] visa, I’ll come to you on Monday.”
Yulia replied: “Vika, no-one will give you a visa.”

Amplifying on this, Yulia said:

“[T]hat’s the situation at the moment, we’ll sort it out later… Later, we’ll get it sorted later, everything’s fine, we’ll see later… Everything’s fine, but we’ll see how it goes, we’ll decide later. You know what the situation is here. Everything is fine, everything is solvable, everyone is recovering and is alive.”

On Thursday, soon after the Moscow telephone-call was broadcast, the Metropolitan Police in London issued a statement. Its veracity cannot be authenticated, and its substance is contradictory. On the one hand, the release claims to have been “issued on behalf of Yulia Skripal”.

On the other hand, the statement quotes Yulia Skripal directly. Why her words could not have been given to the press and public directly is not explained.


Because neither the Russian telephone recording nor the British police statement can be authenticated and verified independently, the only thing certain is that Yulia Skripal is not permitted by the hospital to speak directly in public. The implication is that she will also not be permitted to meet her cousin, and that, accordingly, it is unlikely the UK Government will allow Victoria Spripal to enter the UK. The British state broadcaster is reporting the contrary:

“[T]he Foreign Office said its Moscow embassy was expected to give Victoria a [British] visa, possibly on Thursday, and that she would be given full [Russian] consular help in the UK.”

The Russian Embassy in London has issued several statements that it has been unlawfully denied consular access to the Skripals at Salisbury Hospital. The British law requiring their contact and communication is in the enactment in November 1968 of the UK-USSR treaty number 92. Article 36 is explicit on the British law applying to Russian government officials in the Skripal case.

The preceding Article 35 of the treaty is also explicit in allowing the Russian Embassy to identify Victoria Skripal, or a British lawyer, or both together, to represent the Skripals in hospital, and to meet with them without obstacle or hindrance.

To date, Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko in London and the Foreign Ministry in Moscow have not attempted to exercise this entitlement. If the UK Embassy in Moscow refuses Victoria an entry visa, that action will be open for the Russians to engage a Queen’s Counsel to challenge under Article 35 in the High Court.

Another British law applies, too. Article 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms — incorporated in the UK Human Rights Act of 1998 — orders that “noone shall be deprived of his liberty” except for six specified circumstances.

These cover arrest on suspicion of crime, conviction by a court, or “for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases.” In all of these conditions, Section 4 of the Article allows access to the court for the person detained, or their legal representative:


This is also the habeas corpus provision in longstanding British law, explained here.

The Salisbury Hospital’s chief executive Cara Charles-Barks was asked on March 31 to clarify the circumstances of the Skripals’ condition in the hospital:

Charles-Barks replied on April 4 through a spokesman.

“In answer to questions 1,2 and 4 the [Salisbury Hospital] Trust is not commenting beyond what it has already said in public due to patient confidentiality. In response to question 3 it is the Trust’s standard procedure that patients who have capacity are asked whether they would like to receive visits and if so from whom. No-one is permitted access to patients without their consent. Due to patient confidentiality, the Trust is not able to enter into further correspondence about the clinical care of patients.”

This is a shutdown by the hospital of all communications regarding Yulia Skripal on the ground that she has given her consent, and that said, the hospital has the authority to safeguard her privacy. Neither the consent nor the privacy can be independently verified. Both claims by Charles-Barks are subject to UK law and the European human rights convention so that verification can be tested by sworn evidence in court.

If on the day after Charles-Barks’ email, Yulia Skripal made her telephone-call to Victoria Skripal on a telephone not her own, she was disputing her consent, and exercising her right to speak to her next of kin. Alternatively, as the BBC and London newspapers have intimated, the call was fabricated and she cannot communicate with her cousin because she doesn’t want to. Both possibilities lead to the same place – a test in the High Court in London of the evidence of the Skripals’ condition.

The police statement “on her behalf” implies what the hospital already claimed by putting the words in Yulia’s mouth on Metropolitan Police letterhead:

“I hope that you’ll respect my privacy and that of my family during the period of my convalescence.” 

Since Victoria Skripal is indisputably “family”, and the telephone-call is now public, the standing of Victoria Skripal to speak on behalf her cousin and uncle, and to challenge the legality of the Skripals’ detention is also indisputable.

The embarrassingly obvious speck on the porcelain — Salisbury Hospital is in violation of British and international law. If this isn’t taken to court, it stinks.

There is also the odor from the OPCW headquarters at The Hague. On Thursday, at Russia’s request, the forty-one members of the Executive Council were called into a special session to discuss the Skripal case, and to consider a Russian proposal to implement Articles VIII and IX of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Read that here.

Article VIII sets down the rules, procedures and organizations for implementing the requirements of the Convention with which everybody, Russia and the UK included, agrees to comply. Article VIII requires the Executive Council to vote on “decisions on matters of substance by a two-thirds majority of all its members.” That’s 27 votes. Nowhere in this article is there a proviso for the Executive Council to keep its voted decisions secret.

Secrecy does not appear in the Convention at all except for agreements which members of the technical staff of the organization are required to sign covering their work and their access to classified information of member states.

Article IX sets out the requirement that when one member state suspects it has been attacked by a chemical weapon, possibly from or by another member state, it shall (that means must) cooperate with the suspected party.

The Russian proposal was for the Executive Council to enforce these provisions because the UK had been refusing to do so.

The OPCW Secretary-General, Ahmet Üzümcü (right with US Secretary of State John Kerry), opened the session with a statement published on the OPCW website. Üzümcü, a Turk, was first appointed to the OPCW post in 2009.

Before that, he served the Turkish Government in a variety of posts, including its embassy to NATO. Üzümcü has also been a member of the NATO staff in charge of expanding NATO military operations to the Russian frontier, as well as NATO operations in Ukraine and Syria. For a time also, he was the Turkish consul in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

On Thursday Üzümcü said the UK had invoked Article VIII to start an OPCW investigation of the Salisbury incident.

He then described the OPCW inspection of several Salisbury sites and blood sampling of the Skripals in hospital. He also explained how the evidence was “split”, so that the UK received a part, and the OPCW kept the remainder.

“These samples,” Üzümcü claimed, “were sealed and brought to the OPCW laboratory on 23 March 2018. Samples were split in the presence of an expert from the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom was provided with one split of each sample. The environmental samples were then delivered to two designated laboratories, and the biomedical samples were delivered to another two designated laboratories.
The collection, splitting, and transportation of the samples were carried out in-line with the relevant procedures of the Secretariat. The chain-of-custody was fully maintained.”

Üzümcü’s use of the legal term “chain-of-custody” is odd because OPCW is not a judicial body; he is a Turkish national under Turkish law, and the unidentified OPCW personnel responsible for the “splitting” were supervised by the British. No independent verification of the chain of custody or protection against tampering was arranged or published. London lawyers say such evidence would be inadmissible in a British court. Üzümcü’s chain-of-custody claim, comments one, “has no legal merit but it does tell you which side he’s on.”

Although Russia has been officially accused by the British Government of the chemical attack in Salisbury, Üzümcü didn’t mention it. He also did not say that any of the evidence the OPCW has gathered and is analysing will be made available to the Russian Government.

“The results of the sample analyses are expected to be received by early next week,” Üzümcü told the Council.

“Once the results of the analyses of the samples are received [by the Director-General], the Secretariat will produce a report on the basis of these results and will transmit a copy of this report to the United Kingdom. The report will reflect the findings of the designated laboratories. Access of other States Parties to the report will be subject to the agreement of the United Kingdom pursuant to the Confidentiality Annex of the Convention, the OPCW Policy on Confidentiality, and the consistent practice in relation to other technical assistance visits.”

It is now public information that the head of the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Gary Aitkenhead, refuses to identify a Russian source from the samples of the poison which the Porton Down institution received from government agents gathering them from the Skripals and the Salisbury police officer who was contaminated at the Skripal home; the Skripals’ BMW car; and from sites around the city where the Skripals stopped before their medical collapse.

“We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent,” Aitkenhead said.

“We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to the government who have then used a number of other sources.” 


“It is our job,” Aitklenhead added, “to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is, we identified that it is from this particular family and that it is a military grade, but it is not our job to say where it was manufactured.”

A study by British academics of this class of nerve agents reported on April 1 that identifying a state origin from the samples examined by Porton Down, or by the OPCW, will be impossible because a large number of states have bench samples in their laboratories or are known to have synthesized them; and because the molecular structure of the agents breaks down swiftly in the blood and in the environment.

“Blood tests for nerve agent detect only what is left of the molecule after it has bound to the receptor. The ‘leaving group’ (the rest of the molecule) cannot be identified. For sarin (and presumably for A-234 [Novichok]) the leaving group is a fluorine atom, and for VX the leaving group is a thiol.”

Üzümcü’s statement at yesterday’s session of the OPCW rules out the possibility that the OPCW report will publicly identify the molecular traces in the sampling which has been conducted, and that no source of manufacture will be identifiable.

Since Üzümcü told the Executive Council he was following the UK request to keep the OPCW evidence and its reported conclusion from public release or from Russian examination, the Russians, joined by Iran and China, called for a vote of the Council to require the UK to comply with the Article IX “cooperation” rule. Ahead of the vote, the OPCW published official member statements from several countries.

Fourteen of the members, including Russia (China did not join), declared:

“We consider it necessary to ensure that this problem is solved exclusively within the international legal framework using the full potential of the CWC. The stake holders among States Parties of the OPCW should, in close cooperation with each other through constructive dialogue, find a solution for the current dangerous situation and prevent its further escalation.”

A separate Iranian statement explicitly invoked Article IX:


A statement from the European Union expressed “full confidence in the UK investigation and… UK’s collaboration with the OPCW Technical Secretariat, in full compliance with the Convention.”

The US statement avoided the issue tabled for the vote, announcing instead the US conclusion of the investigation:


The outcome of the session has not been officially reported by the OPCW. Press reports indicate that of the 41 members of the council, 3 were absent; 15 voted against the Russian proposal; 6 voted in favour; 17 abstained.

According to the Russian representative, Alexander Shulgin,

“unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get the qualitied majority of two-thirds of the votes, which would mean adoption of our resolution. The Britons, Americans and – following their example – EU and NATO member-states and some the Asian allies of the US voted against it. It’s noteworthy, however, that 23 countries refused to associate themselves with that viewpoint. They either voted for our proposal or refrained from voting. And this is a half of all the members of the Executive Council.”

The Foreign Office in London issued this tweet:

To clarify what had transpired at the OPCW council session, Üzümcü’s spokesman was asked to identify the member states which had absented themselves from Thursday’s session; and to name the countries voting against the resolution; for the resolution; and those abstaining. She was also asked to clarify the claim by Üzümcü, reported to the Council, that denial of access of state members of OPCW to the Skripal investigation report is founded on the Confidentiality Annex of the Convention.

To which specific section or sub-section of the Annex was the Director-General referring? the spokesman was asked.

The spokesman of the OPCW is Deepti Choubey, an American who has worked for a series of the US funded and US directed think-tanks, according to this resume.

Her media credits, she reports, include “CNN, MSNBC, Russia Today TV, Voice of America, numerous foreign outlets, National Public Radio, BBC, ABC Radio and CBS Radio…the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and U.S. News and World Report.”

The British Government was one of the principal financiers of the think-tank on chemical and nuclear warfare where Choubey worked between 2010 and 2012. For more on Choubey’s background, read this. For her paymasters, click.

Choubey issued a tweet to report Thursday’s session; this republished the official statements already posted on the OPCW website:


She refused to respond to a telephone call or to emails setting out the questions. Instead, an unsigned email was despatched to say:

Choubey refuses to clarify what provision of the Chemical Weapons Convention makes the secrecy of Council votes lawful. The Confidentiality Annex of the Convention also fails to provide for the secrecy of Council votes. The annex covers mostly the technical and investigative work of the OPCW. It is silent regarding cases where one OPCW member states accuses another member state of a chemical weapons attack on its territory and citizens, as the UK, the US and the European Union are charging Russia.

Read the Confidentiality Annex carefully here.

In short, the UK can order Director-General Üzümcü, a NATO ally, to accept its “designation” for information it wants to keep secret from Russia, including the names of the member states which refused to agree with the UK in the vote to implement Article IX of the Convention, and make the OPCW investigation of the British allegations open, transparent, accountable to the Convention itself.

This is what Üzümcü did. When he told the Council in his published statement “the United Kingdom has expressed its wish to be as transparent as possible”, he was faking. By telling Choubey to stonewall, he turned the Convention into a deadletter.

As bits on the porcelain go, this one is too big to flush away.