The Courage Foundation, an international protection and advocacy group for whistleblowers, has published the findings of a panel it convened last week on the extremely suspicious behavior of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its investigation of an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria last year. After hearing an extensive presentation from a member of the OPCW’s Douma investigation team, the panel’s members (including a world-renowned former OPCW Director General) report that they are “unanimous in expressing our alarm over unacceptable practices in the investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus on 7 April 2018.”

I’ll get to the panel and its findings in a moment, but first I should provide some historical background so that readers who aren’t intimately familiar with this ongoing scandal can fully appreciate the significance of this new development.

In late March of last year, President Trump publicly stated that the US military would soon be withdrawing troops from Syria, causing some with an ear to the ground like independent US congressional candidate Steve Cox to predict that there would shortly be a false flag chemical weapons attack in that nation. This was because the public had already been shown that highly suspicious chemical attacks tended to happen when the Trump administration begins pushing for a reversal of standing US Syria policy, as I noted in April 2017 immediately following the alleged attack in Khan Shaykhun.

“I was able to predict Douma in 2018 because it happened already almost exactly 1 year prior, at Khan Shaykhun, April 4, 2017,” Cox told me on Twitter earlier today. “Khan Shaykhun also occurred within days of the Trump Admin saying we’re leaving Syria.”

And, like clockwork, on April 7 2018 dozens of civilians in Douma were killed in an incident which was quickly reported as a Syrian government chemical attack by all the usual establishment narrative managers on Syria, with everyone from the White Helmets to Charles Lister to Eliot Higgins to Julian Röpcke loudly flagging it on social media to draw the attention of mainstream news outlets who were slower to pick up the story.

There was immediate skepticism, partly because acclaimed journalists like Sy Hersh have been highlighting plot holes in the official story about chemical weapons in Syria since 2013, partly because Assad would stand nothing to gain and everything to lose by using a banned yet highly ineffective weapon in a battle he’d already essentially won in that region, and partly because the people controlling things on the ground in Douma were the Al Qaeda-linked extremist group Jaysh-al Islam and the incredibly shady narrative management operation known as the White Helmets. Those groups, unlike the Assad government, most certainly would stand everything to gain by staging a chemical attack in the desperate hope that it would draw NATO powers into attacking the Syrian government and perhaps saving their necks.

Long before any investigation into this suspicious incident could even be begun, much less completed, the US State Department declared it to have been a chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the Syrian government, saying “the Assad regime must be held accountable”, and that Russia “ultimately bears responsibility” for the attack. Which was of course mighty convenient for US geostrategic interests.

On the 14th of April 2018, the US, UK and France launched an airstrike on the Syrian government as punishment for using chemical weapons, citing secret “intelligence” which the US government claimed gave them “very high confidence that Syria was responsible.” The public has to this day never been permitted to see this intelligence. This all happened before any formal international investigation could take place.

The OPCW conducted their investigation, and in July 2018 published an interim report saying that “no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties.” This ruled out sarin gas, invalidating earlier reports by Syria war pundits like Charles Lister who claimed that sarin had been used, but it didn’t rule out chlorine gas. In March of this year the OPCW issued its final report saying forensics were consistent with chlorine gas use and advancing a ballistics report which strongly implicated the Assad government by implying it was an aerial drop (Syrian opposition militias have no air force). The official Twitter account for the UK Delegation to the OPCW tweeted at the time that the report “confirms chemical weapons used, demonstrating the vital importance of OPCW’s work. This confirmed chlorine attack was only the latest example of Asad regime’s CW attacks on its own population.”

In May of this year, a leaked internal document from the OPCW investigation was published by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media which completely contradicts the findings of the official report published in March. The leaked Engineering Assessment said that “observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest there is a higher probability both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft,” which would implicate the forces on the ground in the incident rather than the Assad government.

The OPCW indirectly confirmed the document’s authenticity by telling the press that its release had been “unauthorised”. Climate Audit’s Stephen McIntyre published an excellent thread breaking down how the document invalidates the OPCW’s claims which you can read by clicking here. Establishment narrative managers had a very difficult time spinning the fact that the OPCW had taken it upon itself to hide findings from the public which dissented from its official report on an incident which preceded an international act of war upon a sovereign nation, and all the implications that necessarily has for the legitimacy of the organization’s other work.

Throughout this time, critical thinkers like myself have been aggressively smeared as deranged conspiracy theorists, war crimes deniers and genocide deniers for expressing skepticism of the establishment-authorized narrative on Douma. Which takes us to today.

The Courage Foundation panel who met with the OPCW whistleblower consists of former OPCW Director General José Bustani (whose highly successful peacemongering once saw the lives of his children threatened by John Bolton during the lead-up to the Iraq invasion in an attempt to remove him from his position), WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson, Professor of International Law Richard Falk, former British Army Major General John Holmes, Dr Helmut Lohrer of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, German professor Dr Guenter Meyer of the Centre for Research on the Arab World, and former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East Elizabeth Murray of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

So these are not scrubs. These are not “conspiracy theorists” or “Russian propagandists”. These are highly qualified and reputable professionals expressing deep concerns in the opaque and manipulative way the OPCW appears to have conducted its investigation into the Douma incident. Some highlights from their joint statement and analytical points are quoted below, with my own emphasis added in bold:

“Based on the whistleblower’s extensive presentation, including internal emails, text exchanges and suppressed draft reports, we are unanimous in expressing our alarm over unacceptable practices in the investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, near the Syrian capital of Damascus on 7 April 2018.  We became convinced by the testimony that key information about chemical analyses, toxicology consultations, ballistics studies, and witness testimonies was suppressed, ostensibly to favor a preordained conclusion.”

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

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

From the section on Chemical Analysis:

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

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

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

From the section on Toxicology:

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

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

From the section on Ballistic Studies:

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

From the section titled “Exclusion of inspectors and attempts to obfuscate”:

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

I’ll leave it there for now.


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23 responses to “Expert Panel Finds Gaping Plot Holes In OPCW Report On Alleged Syrian Chemical Attack”

  1. Why am I not surprised? Anyone with half a functioning brain cell would have known this was a fake reason for retaliation from the beginning.

    These questionable actions need exposure, and those responsible need to be brought to account for these actions of war.

  2. Just want to leave this here in case it goes “astray”
    “Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland condemned the attack at the time, saying the “repeated and morally reprehensible use of chemical weapons” by the Assad regime has been confirmed by independent observers.
    Canada condemns the Assad regime — and its backers, Russia and Iran — for its repeated, gross violations of human rights and continued, deliberate targeting of civilians,” Freeland said in a statement.

    Thankfully she is now ‘former’ Foreign Affairs Minister.

  3. Ah, sunlight…

  4. USA-ma Bin Laden Avatar
    USA-ma Bin Laden

    Any moment now, the mainstream media (aka The Free Press) will broadcast these important findings to the world as widely as possible!

    Moreover, this media will also start to question the entire propaganda narrative about the war against Syria (and Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan, and War on Terrorism in general).

    There will be a honest self-reckoning as The Free Press takes a hard look at itself in the mirror and its own criminal role in peddling disinformation and half-truths in order to justify yet another American war of aggression.

    Responsibility, Honesty, and even Truth will finally become the guiding principles of The Free Press in deed, and not just word….

    Meanwhile, pigs will fly, the Tooth Fairy will become president of the USA, and Hell itself will become as cold as the farthest reaches of deep space.

    1. And the CIA will proclaim high confidence in the Free press’s ability to adhere to truth and dignity of the profession. In the land of the free and in other affiliated lands of the free and democratic and humane…

  5. Twitter stock fell 20% on Thursday after a weak quarterly earnings report.
    “But you who philosophize, disgrace and criticize all fears,
    Take the rag away from your face, now ain’t the time for
    your tears.”
    — Nobel prize winning poet Bob Dylan, “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”

  6. Syria is ” Up in Smoke ” by D. Stockman is well worth reading:

  7. OPCW was contacted concerning targeted chemical weapons used against 1) a lawyer in Los Angeles and 2) a journalist in Latin America. Their sole response is that the OPCW does not concern itself with individual cases. Links here: and The reports of such attacks on US citizens are increasing, though you would not know this if you only read the mainstream press.

  8. I believe most governments are corrupt and by extension their satellite organizations. The public has always turned a blind eye to it. However once corruption becomes so blatant that it cannot be ignored governments start falling apart and empires fall. The American empire is in decline. As bad as it is I do not think we will like what comes after the fall.

    1. “As bad as it is I do not think we will like what comes after the fall.”

      Your statement is as completely false as the fake chemical attack itself. Empire does ABSOLUTELY nothing for 99.8% of the population living in it. Nothing.

      Life in the US will be better by an order of magnitude 10 to 20 times than it is today for the 99.8% of the population living in it.

      Your comment makes me wonder what your purpose is here on this forum.

      1. Hey everyone, nuclear winter is going to be a blast!
        When the policy is to bluff and double down on every setback, then there is only one end point.

  9. Hmmm – Facebook won’t let me share this. Anyone else try to post this on FB?

  10. “All Wars Are Bankers Wars” by Michael Rivero at WhatReallyHappened(.)com

    “The World War One Conspiracy” documentaries by James Corbett

    All war in the last two hundred years have been stage set and false flag triggered.

  11. It seems evident (to me at any rate) that what the bosses of OPCW needed to do was to take the raw data collected by their experts, and shape a report that met the demands of Western governments – i.e. one that blamed the Syrian government for a deliberate, malicious attack.

    That would have been fairly easy, given that the media could be relied upon to ignore any discrepancies or inconsistencies in churning out sensational stories that would convince 99% of Western citizens. The more so as those citizens had already been tenderized by a multi-year campaign of savage disinformation aimed at painting the Syrian government as bloodthirsty murderers.

    The method is very similar to those used in justifying the invasion of Iraq, the destruction of Libya, the bombing of Yugoslavia, the invasion of Afghanistan, and many other episodes of Western terrorism.

    It is also, sadly, the case that detailed and compelling refutations such as Caitlin’s miss the mark because they are published long after the damage has been done. This was clearly understood 300 years ago:

    “It often happens that, if a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work, and there is no further occasion for it”.

    – Swift, The Examiner, 1715.

  12. Don’t expect this to be reported anywhere in the mainstream media; who are in fact no more than paid propagandists for imperialism and Empire. It goes against their fake narrative they have screeched about for years. Excellent article again.

  13. Way, way, way too many words bolded in the last half of this article.

    Other than that, a pretty damning indictment of the OPCW.

  14. Awesome post Caitlin, should be spread far and wide. Though I suspect will be buried deep. Anyone that has kept an eye on developments within Syria, KNOWS that any claim of the Syrian Government using chemical weapons is a LIE.
    We also KNOW, the organisation that calls it’self O.P.C.W. has been well and truly compromised by none other than Bolton Himself. Which was reported in the MSM by the head of O.P.C.W. that was threatened. According to him, Bolton stated “unless the report displayed the narrative as the U.S. wanted to see, he knew where his kids went to school”, which he took as direct threat to himself and his family. The threat was made public by the official himself, and made it’s way into the media World wide. Not one nation, or the U.N. (which overseas O.P.C.W. in the first place,) made any public official comment on the threat. Instead there was deathly silence on the issue. Shortly thereafter the official resigned.
    This act alone, told the World, everything we needed to know regarding the undermining and compromising of that authority by the U.S. Government via Bolton, thus establishing the FACT, O.P.C.W. had allowed it’self to be neutered and compromised, ensuring anything that came out from that organisation could not be relied upon, or accepted as TRUTH.
    So, given this TRUTHFUL history, that is there for anyone wishing to research it for themselves, it amazes me that people still accept the false narrative being spun by these criminals, when the TRUTH is so easily found.

  15. This old man senses that Saudia Arabia and Israel have ” Uncle (Sap) Sam ” doing the dances again in the middle east. It would be real nice if ” our government ” looked out for us instead of the foreign money being waved at it. Thank You, Ms johnstone, for this eye opening article.
    Please peruse these:

  16. We need to create a movement of “Peace Mongers”. Any kind of coalition of merely sane individuals would be welcomed by weary victims of nonstop propaganda and nonstop forever war. That could be a way to slowly bring the Sheep-Walkers into a semblance of reality. We could certainly investigate many other examples of crimes of the Oligarchy. There’s a never ending supply of topics and more every day.

  17. after breaking my heart
    again and again
    I realize
    this world
    is only a dream
    which makes the beauty of nature
    look even more radiant

  18. Actually, the very fact that these claims usually involve ‘chlorine gas’ makes the suspicious all by themselves. Chlorine gas was indeed one of the first chemical weapons developed and used during WW1. However, the Evil Scientists who work for Capitalism have long since developed more effective chemical weapons. With high levels of exposure, chlorine gas can be lethal, causing pulmonary edema. Beyond that, it is an irritant to mouth, throat, skin and eyes.
    In the first WW1 gas attack, the Germans released approx. 150 tons of the chemical. I don’t know how many canisters that was, but it was a lot more than one or two. It also had a strong effect because chlorine is heavier than air, and it was used against troops who on a WW1 battlefield had to hide in trenches and dugouts just to survive.
    The most common cases of chlorine gas poisoning are industrial accidents. A website seeking reform in the use of chlorine gas says that over 15 years there have been 600 accidents (in America I believe) resulting in 779 injuries, 2 of whom died. ( Which shows that while chlorine is a nasty irritant to which to be exposed, its not really fatal. An evil dictator wanting to attack his own people wouldn’t be likely to use this, as at best it would irritate and perhaps temporarily incapacitate.

  19. You are on the team that is winning and this is becoming clearer every day. Caitlin stay on it. Millions are rising to join you. This I can feel and see. All power and happiness to you and your noble passion.

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