The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is now hemorrhaging evidence that the US and its allies deceived the world once again about yet another military intervention, which should be a front-page story all over the world. Yet if you looked at American news media headlines you’d think the only thing that matters right now is indulging the childish fantasy that Donald Trump might somehow magically be removed from office via supermajority consensus in a majority-Republican Senate.
CounterPunch has published an actual bombshell of a report by journalist Jonathan Steele containing many revelations about the OPCW scandal which were previously unknown to the public. Steele is an award-winning reporter who worked as a senior foreign correspondent for The Guardian back before that outlet was purged of all critical thinkers on western imperialism; he first waded into the OPCW controversy last month with a statement made on the BBC revealing the existence of a second whistleblower on the organisation’s investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria.
If you haven’t been following this story you can click here for a timeline of events to fully appreciate the significance of these new revelations about the Douma incident, but just to quickly recap, in April of last year reports surfaced that dozens of civilians had been killed in that city by chemical weapons used by the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad. This immediately drew skepticism from people who’ve been paying attention to the narrative manipulation campaign against Syria, since Assad had already won the battle for Douma and had no strategic reason to employ banned weapons there knowing that there would be a military strike in retaliation from western powers. True to form, a few days later the US, France and the UK launched airstrikes on the Syrian government.
The OPCW released its final report on Douma in March of this year, but that report has been contradicted by two separate whistleblowers from the Douma investigation. The first surfaced in May of this year with a leaked Engineering Assessment claiming the chlorine cylinders found at the crime scene were unlikely to have been dropped from the air, and that it was far more likely that they were manually placed there, i.e. staged, by the occupying opposition forces in Douma. The second whistleblower came forward last month with a day-long presentation in Brussels before a panel of experts assembled by the whistleblowing defense group Courage Foundation, the findings of which were published by WikiLeaks.
Chemical weapons watchdog accused by its own inspectors: see https://t.co/RRCu540aJv
— Jonathan Steele (@steelejourno) November 15, 2019
This new report by Steele focuses on information provided to him by the second whistleblower, who is going by the pseudonym “Alex” out of fear for his safety. The information provided by Alex has turned out to be far more incendiary even than the leaked Engineering Assessment. Here are seven major highlights (hyperlinks go to the relevant article text they reference):
1- US government officials attempted to pressure OPCW investigators into believing that the Assad government was responsible for the Douma incident. The officials were placed in the same room as the investigators by the OPCW’s then-cabinet chief Bob Fairweather, which the investigators of course felt was a grossly inappropriate breach of the OPCW’s commitment to impartiality. For the record the US government already has a known history of bullying the OPCW, an ostensibly independent and international body, to force it to allow the advancement of pre-existing regime change agendas.
2- Alex reports that internal dissent on the OPCW’s official publications on the Douma incident was far more ubiquitous than previously known, saying “Most of the Douma team felt the two reports on the incident, the Interim Report and the Final Report, were scientifically impoverished, procedurally irregular and possibly fraudulent.”
3- All but one member of the team agreed with the Engineering Assessment that it was far more likely that the chlorine cylinders were manually placed on the scene by people on the ground.
4- Ian Henderson, the South African ballistics expert whose name was signed on the leaked Engineering Assessment, seems to have been responsible for leaking it. Whether Henderson himself was involved in the leak was not previously known to the public.
5- Investigators experienced pressures against saying anything about their mounting findings that no chemical attack occurred, with Alex calling it “the elephant in the room which no-one dared mention explicitly”.
6- The OPCW’s Final Report on the Douma incident explicitly claimed the investigation 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.” Yet according to Alex the levels of chlorinated organic chemicals found on the scene “were no higher than you would expect in any household environment” and were in fact “much lower than what would be expected in environmental samples”, comparable to or even lower than the World Health Organisation’s recommended chlorine levels for drinking water. This extremely crucial fact was actively and repeatedly omitted from the OPCW’s public reporting in a way Alex describes as “deliberate and irregular”.
7- Steele mentioned last month that he’d unsuccessfully reached out to the OPCW for comment on the second OPCW whistleblower’s revelations, and in his new article he confirms that the organisation is still dodging him, with both Fairweather and the OPCW’s media office refusing to respond. La Repubblica‘s Stefania Maurizi has also been reporting that the OPCW is dodging the press on this important matter. The OPCW did respond to press inquiries after the first whistleblower surfaced in May, but it appears that someone has given the order to cease doing so with the claims of this second whistleblower.
This story — 2 whistleblowers accusing OPCW of suppressing evidence, under US pressure, to reach a conclusion that justified US strikes on Syria —
should be a global scandal. Instead it's widely ignored, except for a principled few like @caitoz who've called it from the start: https://t.co/hGSMVAan0d
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 16, 2019
If there were any correlation between newsworthiness and actual news coverage, the OPCW scandal would be making front-page international headlines today. Instead, the mounting evidence that the US and its allies committed a war crime based on false information and that a supposedly independent watchdog organisation helped them cover it up barely registers. Why is that?
If you ask Syria narrative managers like The Guardian‘s George Monbiot or The Intercept‘s Mehdi Hasan, this isn’t a big story because even if Assad wasn’t responsible for the Douma incident, it doesn’t matter because he’s still a very bad man. But this is an extremely intellectually dishonest obfuscation on their part, because this has nothing to do with whether or not Bashar al-Assad is a nice person. The OPCW covering up its findings exculpating the Syrian government on Douma wouldn’t be significant because it would mean that Assad is a good person, it would be significant because it would mean the US deceived the world about yet another military intervention. And it would make it much harder for the US to manufacture public support for other military interventions in the future.
Which is of course the real reason the political/media class is ignoring the OPCW scandal. Military violence is the glue that holds the US-centralized empire together, which means it is of utmost strategic importance that that empire retain the ability to manufacture consent for military violence going forward. Because plutocrat-controlled news media outlets are set up in such a way that their employees know their careers depend on protecting the empire upon which the plutocratic class is built, the OPCW scandal is an obvious no-go for anyone who wishes to remain in the business.
The only way this story will get mainstream coverage is if it goes viral without the assistance of the mainstream media, at which point the propagandists will be forced to report on it to save face and begin the near-impossible task of trying to regain control of the narrative. This will only happen if enough of us work together to shove the OPCW scandal into mainstream attention. I think this would end up being a very good thing for the world.
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Jp Jude / November 19, 2019
Interesting, but Eva Bartlett did a report on the nonsense of the chemical attack when it happened. She’s a Canadian independent journalist and was in Syria at the time. She has a great blog In Gaza (at wordpress) and has covered issues in Palestine and The Ukraine, usually from location. Just FYI….
pretzelattack / November 18, 2019
great analysis with supporting links.
Chico / November 18, 2019
Caitlin, I think I have never seen anyone display the wise focus and astute analysis that you continue to deliver. I have studied the best: Vincent Reynouard, Robert Faurisson, John Pilger, Julian Assange, Dane Wigington, Bob Lazar, Chip Tatum, Richard Sauder, David Icke, Sibel Edmonds, David Duke, and dozens of others. You are definitely among this exceptional crowd, and maybe even at the head of the class. I don’t know how you do it, but I am so glad that you do. Thank you for sharing your amazing gift with us all.
Joe Van Steenbergen / November 18, 2019
You voiced the sentiment I feel every time I ready Caitlin’s work, and you did so better than I could have. Thanks for reading my mind and putting my thoughts on the site.
Tiina / November 19, 2019
History will validate your analyses. There’ll be books collecting your work.
Meanwhile……Please…. keep it up. We need your candid honesty.
ron campbell / November 18, 2019
Human beings are killing machines and the United States is the very best at providing weapons:
Bill Rice / November 18, 2019
I actually linked to the OPCW “cover-up” (a piece by Caitlin) in an essay I wrote on Jeffrey Epstein published by The American Thinker Saturday. In my article, I mention several sham “investigations” and dubious “official findings” to provide context as to why so many people are so skeptical that the real story will ever be fully revealed in the Epstein scandal.
The American Thinker actually deleted my paragraph mentioning the highly dubious “Assad gassed his own people” narrative. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was for space reasons.
Bill Rice / November 18, 2019
Here’s the paragraphs as I wrote them, before editing. (The links did not come through on this copy and paste).
Citizens who doubt the full story of the Epstein saga will ever be revealed have little trouble citing stories that explain their metastasizing skepticism.
For example, plenty of people did notice when Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman suffered no adverse consequences following the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a murder many people believe the prince ordered.
Others have watched with interest as UK authorities continue to insist that the government of Russia commissioned a hit team that used nerve agents in the assassination attempt of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, this despite the copious number of holes that pockmark the “official” story.
Similarly, the narrative that Syria President Bashar al-Assad “gassed his own people” – a highly questionable proposition to many – has nonetheless been widely accepted as truth, at least by intelligence agencies and a press corps that increasingly accepts official pronouncements as incontrovertible.
The aggressive prosecution (persecution?) of Julian Assange is another story that disturbs at least some citizens. The fact so few members of the mainstream press have rallied to Assange’s defense has only deepened the depression of one-time idealists.
And these examples do not include the most dubious government narrative of them all, the assertion Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, a false predicate that ultimately caused the death and suffering of millions of people.
Cynics could also point to an investigation that, unlike several of the above examples, did receive incessant press coverage – the story that Russia somehow “rigged” or “hacked” a U.S. presidential election, a conclusion accepted as gospel by most in the mainstream press, but viewed as preposterous by millions of Americans.
In these and other cases, a growing number of citizens have come to believe that official “investigations” and “official findings” are either a sham or intentionally omit details which do not support the desired meme.
It’s within this context that millions of Americans have latched onto the Epstein story and the growing conviction that our government (and press corp) have become more interested in concealing truths than exposing them.
Paul Malone / November 17, 2019
It is also worth noting that the “chemical weapons manufacturing and storage sites the US bombed in retaliation for the supposed chemical weapons attack had been inspected by the OPCW.
In media briefings shortly after the US airstrikes US Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie said that by hitting Barzah in particular the US had attacked the heart of the Syrian chemicals weapon program.
But the Barzah Damascus laboratory the US attacked was investigated by the OPCW in the months before the airstrike and found not to be producing chemical weapons.
The Director General of the OPCW, H.E. Mr Ahmet Üzümcü reported on 13 March 2018 that on 22 November 2017 the OPCW concluded a second round of inspections at the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities.
In February 2018 he said samples were sent to two designated laboratories for analysis.“The results of the inspection were issued on 28 February … and it was noted that the inspection team did not observe any activities inconsistent with obligations under the Convention.” These OPCW reports were publicly available but at the time of the US strikes the OPCW did nothing to draw attention to them.
Journalists also moved about the smoking ruins of the supposed chemical weapons research centre shortly after the airstrikes with no ill effect.An AFP journalist reported visiting the site with plumes of smoke rising from the building and a burning smell in the air.An engineer, Said Said, who identified himself as head of the centre’s paint and plastics department, told AFP that only non-lethal research and development took place at the centre.
“If there were chemical weapons, we would not be able to stand here. I’ve been here since 5:30 am in full health – I’m not coughing,” he added.
Said confirmed that the OPCW had visited the site in Barzeh in recent months and had declared it free of any toxic weapons.
“The OPCW used to stay in the two upper rooms, and use the labs, and we would cooperate with them completely,” he said
Bill Rice / November 18, 2019
Thanks for reminding us of this. I also note that NO mainstream press organization sent its own team of reporters to Syria to try to determine the truth.
Charles Andrew Robinson / November 17, 2019
Different subject, 5G. The key word here is scanner. Just like the air port scanners. 5G will be used to scan you in your home. 24/7.
Edward / November 17, 2019
This kind of thing went on all the time during the 1990’s with UNSCOM and Richard Butler in Iraq. There is a pattern here of the U.S. having agents in organizations like the OPCW or the OAS in Bolivia who commit fraud to enable American crimes. Amano recently died. His replacement is supposed to be very “pro-U.S.”. How far will he cooperate with Trump’s “Maximum Pressure” campaign against Iran? Some wonder if Amano was murdered by the United States.
ron campbell / November 17, 2019
There is nothing that draws Human attention more than naked or half naked female bodies. In Chile they torture, kill, and rape.- Mon Laferte’s bare breasted protest at Latin Grammy’s sure caught my attention. I was unaware of what is going on in Chile until her protest woke me up. There is more here:
Peter in Seattle / November 17, 2019
False-Flags Я Us!
Visit our new outlet at the OPCW strip mall in The Hague, right off Johan de Witt Way! Free Libyan gas shells, white helmets, and ululating classes for the kids! Balloon animals, too! (Offer valid while funding leverage lasts.)
cutthecord / November 17, 2019
what has Bernie said about this? silence tells more than oration.
Baby Gerald / November 18, 2019
What have *any* of the candidates said about this? Quit this Bernie concern trolling.
Godless / November 18, 2019
Tulsi Gabbard called bullshit on these gas attacks and was eviscerated by the Democrats and the media for it. I see no one offering apologizes. They, and I include the left in this, are still calling her an Assad apologist for pointing out the truth. Therefore, pointing out Bernie’s and all politicians’ silence is a legitimate critique.
Paul / November 17, 2019
The OPCW also aided the Skripal hoax. This is also ‘highly likely’ to be the work of Bob Fairweather – no other reasonable explanation exists… The OPCW has lost all credibility and is no longer fit for purpose.
Godless / November 18, 2019
Look into Bellingcat, the source for much of the data being used by the OPCW for their reports. Much of their funding comes from the National Endowment for Democracy or, in their other acronym, the CIA. Bellingcat is responsible for stopping publications from printing articles by experts critical of the OPCW reports.
Khatika / November 17, 2019
Did not need this information to know the US did it. Common sense tells you when you have an aggressor at your border you do not do something that gives them an excuse to invade.
On another point, no one cares. They might if they ever learned about it but that is not going to happen. Lately it makes me wonder just how factual the news has ever been throughout history. They tell you the little nonconsequential stuff then cover up the important items.
John Allen aka Ol' Hippy / November 18, 2019
At least at the beginning of the 20th century the “news” throughout various outlets has been infused with govt propaganda. I haven’t looked further back. Since around the time of WW II “news” has been controlled by wealthy owners with strong ties to govt including the CIA. The internet has opened access to views other than the “grand narrative”, or multiple narratives in tune with the overarching ‘grand view’ for ‘conformity’. When I was in college contrary views were available in back allies and subversive publications. Rarely view by the masses, if at all. Again the internet has made access much easier. Which is why now there’s a considerable effort to silence truth tellers like Caitlin. Peace, The Ol’ Hippy
Roy / November 17, 2019
I’m sure that arguing this moot point of honesty will go as far as talking to the black plague did for stopping those epidemics; it won’t stop lying and killing until it’s had its fill. We just have to wait out these killers, because there’s no cure for lying and killing; just let it take its toll.
JWK / November 17, 2019
No surprise. US sociopaths in charge, with the assistance of the news media, have been doing this kind of thing for more than 100 years, at least since the Maine was sunk in Havana in 1898. Just 15 years later, we got income tax and the federal reserve, along with the 17th amendment, all in 1913, driving the nails in the coffin of a republican government. It took 100+ years, but but we are now witnessing the end of liberty in the world, and the destruction of the individual. We now suffer a truly democratic system; a system best demonstrated by gang rape, and lauded by news media.
John Hawk / November 17, 2019
1913: the year the USA went fascist…connect the dots, it’s easy…
Marten / November 17, 2019
The same year they created the Federal Reserve at Jekyll Island ?!?!?!?
mato48 / November 17, 2019
Thank you for your reporting and analysis. One additional point:
Is Syrian President Dr. Bashar al-Assad a good or bad person? This is a crucial issue because the imperial aggression against Syria is mainly justified by calling the Syrian government the “regime of bloodthirsty despot Assad (butcher Assad).” This regime has, so Western media and politicians argue, lost all legitimacy and is therefor free game.
It’s free for all, especially for the US and NATO allies, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar. Everybody is allowed to bomb, invade with regular troops or mercenaries, support criminal bands and murderous Islamic radicals, block crucial supplies for the Syrian population (medicines, food) with a stringent embargo.
It was astonishing how in 2011 the until then altogether favorable coverage of the Assad family (mild-mannered eye doctor, desert rose Asma al-Assad, both highly qualified, bright, trying to modernize Syria) switched suddenly to hateful comments, to slander, loathing, and utmost hostility.
Before the switch Vogue magazine wrote:
Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement. Paris Match calls her “the element of light in a country full of shadow zones.” She is the first lady of Syria.
Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, “the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors.” It’s a secular country where women earn as much as men and the Muslim veil is forbidden in universities, a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings, but its shadow zones are deep and dark. Asma’s husband, Bashar al-Assad, was elected president in 2000, after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad…
After the switch to hateful propaganda this article disappeared from Vogue, but it can still be read on Gawker: https://gawker.com/asma-al-assad-a-rose-in-the-desert-1265002284
together with a gut-wrenching comment by John Cook: https://gawker.com/5770625/how-vogue-covers-the-mideast-crisis
Reuters wrote in 2012: a “desert rose” crushed by Syria’s strife
The Guardian wrote in 2016: Asma al-Assad: from Syria’s ‘desert rose’ to ‘first lady of hell’
The coordination, the perfection, the complete compliance by all Western media channels was eye-opening, frightening, and mind-blowing. It was proof that the disciples of Edward Bernays had perfected the art of brainwashing, indoctrination, and mind control, bringing it to a level which not even George Orwell was able to imagine.
But why this unprecedented propaganda effort which will most likely one day backfire?
Muammar Gaddafi was demonized for years, so it was not difficult to justify the destruction of Libya with some lies about mass rapes and slaughter of unarmed protesters. The Assad’s on the other hand had a largely positive image, to paint them as psychopathic monsters made it necessary to pull out all stops and to bombard the media audience with horror stories of atrocities, mass murder, sadism, and pure bloodlust.
Well, at least we now know what they are capable of. And every media mercenary (even Amy Goodman and George Monbiot) had to reveal him or herself.
John Hawk / November 17, 2019
All you need to know is this: the Oded Yinon plan for ‘eretz israel’.
Chico / November 18, 2019
That is why uncovering the truth about the falsely demonized Hitler and the fraudulent Holocaust is so important, because it clearly shows how the brainwashing is done and how long it has been successfully employed. The Syrian story seen in this light is just business as usual, and utter child’s play in comparison.
pretzelattack / November 18, 2019
you lost me at “falsely demonized hitler”.
KT / November 18, 2019
Falsely demonized Hitler and the fraudulent Holocaust?! No, no no. Are you trolling?
Mishko / November 21, 2019
Sociopaths Blair and Sarcozy were on good terms with the late Colonel
Gadaffi. Before they threw him under the bus and destroyed Libya’s
infrastructure and communities and development projects.
NATO is just a bunch of gangsters. EU Defence Union will only make
matters worse for lack of accountability/democracy.
ALEX LEADBETTER / November 17, 2019
I can’t share your articles on facebook using the share button on this page. I can copy the page link and share that. Just thought you should know
ron campbell / November 17, 2019
Although my old mind believes it would be great if one of the presidential candidates brought this up the main stream media would be forced to look into it; the reality is that is extremely unlikely to ever happen. Nowadays ” war criminals ” continue to get away with their crimes.
shoeless pete / November 17, 2019
Amy Abeyta / November 17, 2019
Thanks for sharing the thoughts from your awesome brain, Caitlin. Terrifying stuff, but great writing and research. I know where my go to truth is at, Sistah!