By Patrick Armstrong
The Bellingcat site has a piece entitled "Confirmed : Russian Bomb Remains Recovered from Syrian Red Crescent Aid Convoy Attack" which includes this picture as well as several others. You may look at the others, but this one picture is apodictic proof 1) that the Russians (or Syrians) didn't do it and 2) that Bellingcat is a loyal servant of the Borg.
He spends a lot of efforts to establish that the metal piece is the tail piece of a Russian-made OFAB 250-270 Fragmentation High Explosive Bomb. No argument there, I'm sure it is. Said bomb has 92kg of explosive. Which is quite a lot.
If said bomb has exploded in this not very large room, all those cardboard boxes would be torn to pieces and burned. To say nothing of a lot more damage to the room itself. Therefore it did not explode in that room.
If said bomb was a dud and did not explode, where is the rest of it? Therefore the bomb is not a dud.
Therefore the bomb piece was put there to make it look as if the Russians had done it. (And not very competently either: note that it is supposed to have come through the ceiling and neatly placed itself underneath some undamaged cardboard boxes.)
If it is necessary to produce a fake picture, then the Russians didn't do it.
And, as a bonus, by perpetrating this fraud, Bellingcat has also proved that he is a stooge of the war party.
A lot to deduce from one photo, isn't it? It used to be that it took more effort to disprove Bellingcat's fakes. He's losing his touch.
Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant analysis. Thank you.
Bellingcat is financed by the British government, at arm’s length. He does this kind of analysis to support the British political position. He started off, under the screen-name Brown Moses, writing comments which supported the British position during Libya in 2011. He was unemployed, but someone among the Brits thought he was worth financing, and that seems to be continuing.
I know that. What interests me in this case is that his stuff used to be very involved and complicated and took quite a lot of work to expose (see for example any of the stuff on the MH17 Buk videos) This is really sloppy. In general, the Borg is losing its touch. See also http://thesaker.is/why-the-recent-developments-in-syria-show-that-the-obama-administration-is-in-a-state-of-confused-agony/ in which the Saker introduces this interesting word “недоговороспособны” “not-agreement-capable” to describe the state of complete incompetence the USG is in today.
The hole on the roof looks significantly bigger than the diameter of the bomb (even with fins).
Why such a “dumb bomb” did not go off when hitting the above steel reinfirced concrete surface (ie the ceiling?)
Thanks Patrick, I forget the context of my puzzlement when Bellingcrat surfaced as legitimate “research” on our public channels news. Seems they have learned, TV, that is, but I have to watch this. 😉
I was pondering around rumors around the White Helmets, what’s your take that they recently received the “alternative Nobel price”?
Bellingcat’s latest report reads: must do better.
White Helmets also a fake. MofA does a good job of covering it. See, for example, http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/06/the-usuk-financed-white-helmets-shtick-fake-child-rescued-videos.html
Higgins has been heavily hyped by CorpsMedia. Wonder if he is being set up to be discredited then rehyped as an example of the unreliability of “unofficial” Internet sources.
He is also being financed by someone or some organisation inside the beltway. He is a buddy of the pseudo-journo and so-called Freedom fighter Matthew VanDyke (who is silent these days since the death, by the hands of ISIS, of two of his friends whom he convinced to go to Syria for in situ in visu reporting)
Balint, they can be equipped with delayed fuses, no high tech involved. Those type of fuses allow for penetration of the first obstacle (wall, roof, ceiling) and then explosion of the weapon’s primary explosive. On a kinetic basis, if the bomb was a dud, it would still cause much more damage and debris than the picture shows.
The hole in the roof still has intact reinforcement bars crossing it(see pic in second tweet here: https://twitter.com/Malinka1102/status/780350645157126144/photo/1). Even parts of a bomb, like the one on the ground, would have difficulties going through there.
Pretty obvious fakery.
(Former) NATO commander Breedlove once retweeted on his official account a donation request by Brown Moses – says all one needs to know.
I prefer this post of mine.
“Dramatic Rescue! Man With Kid Runs Towards Camera!” – 44 Staged Pictures
I since collected another dozens of the White Helmets “brand” photo. All of the same theme. There is certainly no “natural” explanation how a warzone could created so many alike pictures.
Obviously they are (almost) all staged.
That was actually the one I was looking for but the search turned up the other one.
Ah did not know thanks.
I nearly chocked whilst watching the French news last night (France 2) . They were showing the unibrower Hisham (or Hashim ??) telling the West how bad the bombing is in East Aleppo.
Yep he must be rich to have houses in every town and city that the govt/Russians are bombing.
I recently read “Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell concerning the Spanish Civil War. One of his “throw away” observations was that the men who evacuated KIA and WIA were notorious for pilfering any items of value off the dead and wounded.
Historically this seems to be a pretty standard practice in many wars. I would not be surprised if the White Helmets did the same to survive in rebel held Syria. If they do, I wonder if they have to remit a portion to the local rebel group as the price (tax) to operate in the area. If also supported by international NGOs, I wonder if their money to the White Helmets also goes to the rebels as “tax”. Any one know if Médecins Sans Frontières pays local rebel taxes to be allowed to operate?
Glad you put that out there but there is more.
Al Jazeera (not the most reliable of news agencies considering they’re owned by Qatar) videoed the location and Bellingcat has seen it because they tweeted about it.
If you go to 1:00, you’ll see a wide image of the bomb crater, and if you go to 1:04, you’ll see a close up of the bomb with what looks like the rest of the casing present.
Bellingcat kindly provides screen captures from the video:
Wide image: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CtC9T0uWEAABKL2.jpg
It doesn’t look like Bellingcat have used the new images to update their report. Playing “Spot the difference” with the images in the Bellingcat report is quite amusing.
Is that ‘retweet’ from Breedlove traceable? I am interested in Higgins in another context, and it would be useful. Sometimes, precisely because people do not think before they write – and can be called on it – sequences of ‘tweets’ can be very valuable evidence indeed.
As it happens, Higgins, in his ‘Brown Moses’ incarnation – along with our old friend Michael D. Weiss – was a recipient of a ‘tweet’ in which Tom Coghlan of the ‘Times’ attempted to refute Seymour Hersh’s claim that tests carried out at Porton Down had established that the substance used at Ghouta was ‘kitchen sarin’.
This generated a fascinating series of exchanges.
The initial ‘tweet’ from Coghlan was sent on the morning of 8 April 2014, the day following the interview on ‘Democracy Now!’ in which Hersh made this claim.
It read: ‘@michaeldweiss @Brown_Moses Hersh’s claim that Porton Down found it to be “Kitchen Sarin” is completely untrue. We’ve just checked.’
Then the journalist Ilhan Tanir – who had recently interviewed Hersh, and used the ‘Twitter’ name ‘@WashingtonPoint’ asked Coghlan whether Porton Down had ‘sent any statement’.
Coghlan responded: ‘@WashingtonPoint @michaeldweiss @Brown_Moses We think the S. Hersh story is a non-story. For now that’s about it from us.’
However, not long after, Coghlan had second thoughts, and attempted to produce some evidence for his claim in a new ‘tweet’: ‘@WashingtonPoint @michaeldweiss @Brown_Moses ‘MOD sources: no doubts expressed by Porton Down on quality of sarin found in the soil sample’.
This was followed up by the claim that ‘MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory spokesman said absolute confidence that the sarin analysed was from Syrian regime stocks.’
The following day, Gareth Porter responded: ‘The press office of MoD’s DSTL says it did NOT say sarin samples came fm Syrian regime stocks – only that many tested positive.’
Obviously – to adapt Patrick Armstrong’s ‘QED’ – if Hersh had been wrong about the Porton Down tests, Coghlan could have found a spokesman from the laboratory to say so.
Moreover, if they had in fact decisively established the guilt of the Syrian Government, the MSM on both sides of the Atlantic – with the ‘Times’ in the lead – would have been trumpeting the fact to the skies.
So, inadvertently, Coghlan provided confirmation that one of Hersh’s most significant – and in some ways puzzling – claims was true. Effectively, he exonerated Assad in relation to the accusations which came very close to causing Obama to lend the jihadists the services of the American Air Force.
The whole sequence of tweets can be seen at
Also of interest are contributions to the ‘Brown Moses Blog’ by a former British Army CBRN expert called Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon.
From his entry on the ‘Military Speakers’ website, and other material, it seems likely that he was instrumental in providing ‘environmental’ samples from incidents prior to Ghouta in which sarin was used to Porton Down. This has quite large implications.
(See http://www.militaryspeakers.co.uk/speakers/hamish-de-bretton-gordon-obe/ .)
“I know that.”
I suppose my reaction was that the post needed a little context. Not everyone knows Bellingcat, particularly as he’s a Brit.
Interesting. Where are the cardboard boxes on top of it?
I saw an image of the same hole in the ceiling, but without sunshine impeding the view and there seemed to be straight, undamaged rebar in the hole.
If the site is telling lies, it isn’t for the purpose of convincing the “fence sitters.”
Most people don’t know anything about bombs. We/they can’t evaluate bomb damage for ourselves, other than either believe or disbelieve the information sources. Finding alternate sources and evaluating contrary information is difficult, again, because we don’t know what the truth even looks like. Most people, I imagine, would dispense with step and simply trust the information that fits with their existing worldview, which, for people whom sites like Bellincat are designed for, would include suspicion and dislike of the Russians and Middle Eastern authoritarians.
I suppose this begs the question: how dumb and/or indifferent can the Borg take these people to be and still get away with it, and I suspect it still has a way to go: the stories are tapping into rather deeply ingrained prejudices and most people are blissfully ignorant of military matters.
Breedlove pointing to this Bellingcat Ukraine project:
“Phil Breedlove @PMBreedlove
Crowd sourcing is another innovative way to track Russian forces and equipment in #Ukraine. #Russia
Breedlove pointing to a NYT piece about Bellingcat
For a while Bellingcat was funded through a kickstarter by anonymous source. I distinctly remember a Breedlove tweet promoting that Kickstarter campaign of Bellingcat but it seems to have gone from Twitter.
Last I know is that Bellingcat is now financed by Google to promote open source (Google earth) research (and to get some bonus points in the White House)
And the prominent box with the Red Crescent symbol on it half the way up the pile. Also the tail in the report looks quite corroded compared to the one in the video.
Another article on Brown Moses and Ukraine:
I’ve been waiting for a piece of a Russian bomb to turn up, in exactly these circumstances, ever since Ukraine sold 2000 of them to Qatar for an exorbitant price – because they were in a hurry for some reason – back in December last year.
I am frankly surprised they did not stage an ambush of the convoy in which the bombs were buried by the roadside, and simply trigger them off as the convoy passed between them, then supply the usual frightened eyewitnesses to say they saw SU-24’s come in low and deliberately bomb the convoy. That would look, to my mind, more realistic than this. But perhaps they suspected the convoy was under drone surveillance while it was moving.
As the author of the referenced piece pointed out, the bombs do not need to be air-dropped; they could be transported to the desired point in the back of a pickup truck and detonated there, providing a ready-made Russian air strike.
It’s nice to see Eliot Higgins humiliated like this. Well done.
b: There is no chutzpah like Saudi chutzpah. See https://twitter.com/jsiwat/status/779011477424447488
In other news, Jack the Ripper condemns knife violence.
White Helmets are just logistical support for the Nusra Front or whatever other name they have currently assumed to be sold for the Western public consumption. They operate strictly in areas controlled by the roving bands of looters and militants loosely called the FSA and have been recorded assisting death squads by cleaning up after sectarian executions, and other assorted, “humanitarian” activities. I’m guessing it’s some Turkish/Gulfie paramilitary type force.
That’s it exactly. I am one of the ignorant masses when it comes to military matters, for the most part anyway, and I simply can’t evaluate the truth of what I am being told about Syria in many cases, especially if it involves knowing a lot about bombs and military equipment or the credibility of alleged witnesses or analysts I know nothing about. The New York Times reports it as fact that Syria committed the nerve gas attack a few years ago and now it’s a “fact” that Russia bombed the convoy. Maybe it is for all I know. Or maybe not. I suspect most people who aren’t alreaady predisposed to be suspicious of our foreign policy would just accept what the NYT says.
The situation is changing very rapidly, and I find it difficult to get a ‘handle’ on it.
But, a number of points.
1. Characteristically, ‘information operations’ work by creating the impression that ‘evidence’ comes from a range of diverse sources, while in fact, it comes either from a single source, or from diverse sources working ‘in cahoots’.
In relation to Higgins. What happens is that the BBC and other MSM quote him as a supposedly independent ‘citizen blogger’, and also quote de Bretton-Gordon as a supposedly independent expert on CBRN, while he produces voluminous screeds of drivel – some of it actually very revealing – on the ‘Brown Moses’ blog.
2. If one can make this kind of circularity work – as the British did with German intelligence in the Second World War – the results are brilliant. The risk however is that if one link in the chain is called seriously into question, the whole structure collapses.
If German intelligence had not been useless (‘Caesarist’ systems can have problems with intelligence analysis), at least one link in the British deception operations would have collapsed early on, and the outcome of the war might have been somewhat different.
3. In relation to current Anglo-American ‘information operations’, what is patently happening is that there is an increasing body of people, of very diverse social and educational backgrounds, and also political views, for whom at least one, if not more, key link in the ‘chains’ propagated by ‘Borgists’ has totally lost credibility.
And, as could have been predicted, once this happens, a much wider collapse in confidence results.
4. As regards Britain, at least, the numbers involved are only one issue. What is important is that the people who have become sceptical are precisely those who will spend time posting comments on reports in the MSM.
And here, the change over the past couple of years is really quite extraordinary. If one follows comments on diverse sites in Britain – of particular interest to me, precisely because they are so different, are the ‘MailOnline’ and the ‘Financial Times’ – one finds that a kind of ‘peasants’ revolt’ is happening among commenters.
A corollary of this is that you have a class of commenters who have a completely transformed attitude to the papers they read. In a bizarre way, this turns the whole ‘Borgist’ ideology on its head.
For these commenters, it is a point of pride that nobody is paying them.
Likewise, it is a point of pride to search out sources of ‘information’ to which the ‘mainstream Western media’ pay no attention.
This puts the ‘mainstream Western media’, which has been thoroughly complicit in the kind of ‘information operations’ in which people like Higgins are involved, in a bizarre position.
They can – as the BBC and ‘Telegraph’ have done – stop comments. But that is, in its way, an admission of defeat. Or they can – as in general the ‘MailOnline’ and ‘Financial Times’ have done – have to confront, ever day, the fact that the commenters who other commenters like treat them with contempt.
5. Of course, some of the time, the assault on conventional wisdom involves the propagation of one or other form of lunacy. Out of the Borgist frying-pan into the anti-Borgist fire, as it were.
6. However, in relation to comments not simply on the ‘Financial Times’ but the ‘MailOnline’, a reassuring element is that, while there is a lot of nonsense, there is a good deal of well-informed good sense.
7. In his post, Patrick Armstrong – in my view quite rightly – points to the fact that the quality of the ‘information operations’ in which Higgins is involved has deteriorated. In my view, this is an indication of a developing panic.
8. What I am hoping is that at least some element of the ‘Borg’ will realise that the directions in which they have been heading are suicidal for themselves, as well as destructive for others. It has to be said, that the behaviour of Clinton and her supporters, as of the ‘Remain’ people in Britain, has not been reassuring.
9. But, sometimes, ostriches do pull their heads out of the ground. Never say never.
Thanks. That is enormous helpful.
I wouldn’t entirely believe any claims about how Higgins was funded. I suspect a great deal of ‘information operations’ effort went into disguising the fact the he was a front for dolts in the British ‘Borg’.
These people are beyond belief stupid.
Thanks. That is enormously helpful. A lot to think about.
This is all excellent information about Bellingcat.
I’m involved in a subgroup of Reddit focused on the Ukraine conflict where his “analyses” are treated like gospel. Is there any more traceable information to link him to the NATO/Pentagon PR apparatus?
Yes, this is a very important point, given that a HUGE majority of the public is completely incompetent on most matters even piss poor disinformation “does the job” of tilting the public opinion.
We are on track to hell, IMO…
Interested to hear the reaction on this group to the question why, if NATO/US intelligence is so good, all-seeing and so forth do all the statements about MH-17, Syria, Ukraine etc depend on some amateur guy in the UK? Is that really the best information out there?
Although it looks as if at least some of the casing may still be attached to the tail piece, it’s clear that those at the site are well aware that this is not an unexploded bomb – they’re quite happy to disturb it and excavate to get a better photo
“given that a HUGE majority of the public is completely incompetent on most matters”
While that view is what our politicians hope it is patently false.
Agree with you that Bellingcat is, like SOHR, a product of British secret services and likely funded by them. Still fun to poke holes into that cover …
I think the purpose of intelligence operations is not only to gather information but also to use that information and knowledge to get the other side to do something unprofitable.
There is a story about a Greek (Hellas) spy being caught in the Great King’s camp. Rather putting him to death, the Great King had him escorted all over the camp to see for himself the strength of his army. And then he was set free to carry that message of strength back.
It did not persuade the Hellenes, and the Great King, in retaliation of the Hellenes’ burning of Sardis, captured Athens and set it on fire.
The helmets themselves are a dead giveaway. How many combatants on either side in Syria wear helmets? For people unused to wearing helmets, a helmet tightly strapped under the chin is extremely uncomfortable and annoying, yet they all find time to strap the shiny helmets on for photo ops.
What I fear is that, once the “official” information outlets lose any credibility whatsoever, the powers-that-be will simply lay waste sources of any and all information.
My understanding is that, by 1970s, Soviets just completely quit even trying to raise credibility of the official media. Instead, they sought to undermine any and all information sources, period. So the Russians, by the end of USSR, were either complete cynics who trusted no one or naive and deluded believers in somewhat fringey ideas (among which I include the ridiculous notion that a shock therapy would somehow get a working free market going in Russia–which should have looked as absurd back then as it does in retrospect).
If the Borgist information operation succeeds, which I presume would include seeding a lot of ridiculous stories that are allegedly skeptical of the official story as cover, I fear that we will be left atomized, with very little ability to make sense of the world.
One question is whom “the other side” constitutes.
A lot of these operations are targeted at publics in Western countries themselves, basically propaganda operations. Russians are not relevant, except as straw men, in these antics.
It, is yes. His account Brown_Moses seems to be above any scrutiny. The Reddit itself seems heavily moderated to ensure consistency with the Borgist narrative. Fortunately, it has only a modest readership.
Technically, it’s illegal for Western Intelligence Agencies to plant disinformation in their domestic media.
During the run up to the Iraq War, “they” got around this little curb, by planting disinformation in “foreign media”, then pointing those articles out to their friends in the domestic media.
By using so called “citizen journalists” like SOHR, Bellingcat, AMC, they can plant all the lies they want.
@Brunswick That’s no longer the case.
U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans
Effectively as you say, the hole looks deeper in the later photograph, more like a bombcrater.
My BDA training and experience is almost two decades old at this point, but in my judgment the pictures show pretty clearly a scene where a weapon failed to detonate. All the signs are there. The hole in the ceiling with rebar stripped out is what you would expect from a bomb casing punching through the ceiling. The hole will be slightly larger than the bomb diameter due to shattering from the kinetic energy and the fact that bombs almost never hit targets straight-on. The angle of entry in relation to the crater is consistent with a bomb. The limited amount of frag damage to the boxes is from pieces of concrete/rebar and bomb casing after the bomb penetrated the roof – a cone of debris would be sprayed along the angle of entry. The small crater is consistent with a weapon of this type impacting the ground – The kinetic energy is sufficient to create a small crater (a 250kg weapon at an estimated 250m/s gives a kinetic energy equivalent of about 1.5kg of TNT). The fin assembly shown in the photos is clearly pancaked – consistent with a kinetic impact, not a detonation. Someone in the threat also mentioned seeing parts of the bomb case in the pictures – that’s also consistent with a dud weapon, not a detonation.
I doubt very much this scene was staged – even if the bomb parts were planted, the other aspects of the scene would be very difficult to fake, especially given the short timeframe between the attack and photographs. We obviously don’t have all the details, but I don’t see anything here that is inconsistent with an OFAB 250 impacting the building and failing to detonate.
Now the New York Times and Washington Post prove that Bellingcat’s report is garbage, well sort off.
I was just over at The Guardian where they have an article about the current bombing of Aleppoa.
Bunker-buster bomb reports may mark new stage in Russia’s Syrian assault
One of the commentators there under the monniker NativeBornTexen linked to two articles:
From the New York Times:
“Be careful,” Ammar al-Salmo, a rescue worker…..
“We went from paradise to hell,” said Mr. Salmo, who had been drinking tea on his rooftop a few miles away minutes before the attack, enjoying the relative quiet of the partial cease-fire.
From the Washington Post:
That Monday was a warm fall evening. Ammar al-Selmo, a local rescue worker, was making tea in a building across the street. Stepping onto a balcony just after 7 p.m., when it was already past dusk, he said he listened to a helicopter swoop in and drop two barrel bombs on the convoy.
So which was it? A few miles away or across the street? On a roof or on a balcony?
I know that eyewitnesses can become unreliable quite quickly but just having witnessed such an important event at first hand, you would think that each time he told a reporter what happened, his story would be fairly consistent. That it isn’t means either he’s lying or the reporters are. On balance, I reckon he is, so why. Because he forgot the script he was supposed to use? And if the rest of the evidence is so overwhelming, why did the rebels need to fabricate this part of it?
The only possible theory is if the bomb was a dud. If the bomb exploded there would have to be some sort of visible damage to the currently pristine, white walls that look to be a mere 10 ft away from the tail fin and crater.
I found one comment on Southfront that gave a rather spirited defense to the dud theory, “You [replying to someone else] stated correctly that it had a 92kg explosive that should have destroyed the building but it didn’t. Bellingcat had another photo with fragments from the casing. The explosive should be a yellow/yellow white material and the photo clearly show a white granular substance. A 250 lb bomb hitting a industrial floor and decelerating from 500+ miles an hour is not going to leave very much, but the picture shows a compressed tail section. It was a cold war dud.”
His claim is clear, in short, the bomb was a dud, the tail fin survived and the front of the bomb including the explosive turned into powder. I would think that if that if there was enough energy to create a crater of that size and disintegrate the front of the bomb that there would have to be some serious fragmentation damage to the walls which are still in perfect condition. What do you guys think of the dud theory?
b, the twitter post you linked to is gone
Is Malinka one of the Borg? Perhaps he/she realizes that the picture undermines the case that the bomb crashed through the roof because of the visible crossbar. Pity. I hope that the picture showing the crossbar is somewhere around the net. If anyone finds it, please save the image locally.
1. Would the hole in the roof be perfectly circular or would it be elliptical reflecting the angle of the bomb? (I agree that the hole would be larger than the bomb)
2. I actually do think that tail fin is from a dud, I am certain that there is a plentiful supply of duds available in Northern Syria at this point.
3. Why would the bomb form such an impressive crater but leave not marks on the walls that are just a few feet away?
As with Moon of Alabama, this site is an invaluable resource not only with the information / opinions voiced in the main article but also with the variety of comments & the time taken to read through the comments is rarely, if ever, wasted. A prime example of this is the back & forth between David Habakkuks & “b” – 26 September 2016 at 10:28 AM – (for those that aren’t aware, “b” IS MoonofAlabama.org)laying out information on the Porton Down “investigation” of the sarin attacks in East Ghouta I had been unaware of this & yet consider myself fairly au fait with the monumental injustice visited upon the Syrian people.
As someone above mentioned – Patrick Lancaster I think – this is rather sloppy of BellingCRAP, but the alphabet agencies are on a pretty short time frame playing catch up with releases from the Russian & Syrian govts of FACTUAL information.
1. We can’t tell if the hole is perfectly circular given the angle of the pictures but it looks pretty close. Given the steep angle of impact, I would expect the hole to be mostly circular. The rule of thumb for penetration openings is they are about 2 inches larger than the bomb diameter.
2. Probably, a lot of these bombs have been used by both the Syrians and Russians. Back in my weaponeering days we planned on 5-10% failure rate, so there are likely a lot of unexploded bombs out there if the failure rates are similar.
3. The angle of impact is away from the wall and most of the boxes of aid are between the impact and the wall, so I wouldn’t expect any visible damage to the wall. Additionally, in a kinetic impact, most of the kinetic energy is absorbed into the ground so there isn’t much “blast.” The effect on the surround area is limited.
IMO it most certainly was a dud or the tail section was a plant. There are photos on the internet of 500# WWII era UXB’s from Europe, they are rusted but still intact. Disintegration, IMO, is unlikely.
So IYO was this a helicopter delivered barrel bomb or a Russian air strike? pl
I always delight in your updates on the “peasants revolt” in various UK publications. That growing numbers of everyday people are reaching the “hang on a minute” stage is in an odd fashion profoundly reassuring.
It also strikes me as a truly revolutionary development. Has there ever been an historical equivalent? I don’t think so, at least not on this scale.
The “transformed attitude” you mention is likely to be permanent. Once one has come to see that the “news”, let alone “analysis” and opinion, are not only deeply unreliable but also often designed to deceive, there’s no way back. As you say, it “turns the whole “Borgist” ideology on its head.
The Russians appear to be following the opposite tack. After observing their words and actions for a long time, intently so since the Ukrainian crisis blew up, it seems to me that at every level they work very hard at saying what they mean and then doing what they say. If my reaction is any indication, this consistency and straightforwardness builds serious credibility.
Charles Mackay suggested “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” Could there nevertheless be a tipping point somewhere ahead, a time when all us “peasants” individually recovering our senses (in this case perhaps for the first time) reach a critical mass? When the sort of ridicule Patrick so nicely dished out to Bellingcat spreads its wings far more widely?
Colonel Lang –
Not sure if you are asking me (mike from Long Beach) or the other Mike who posted at 10:32 in response to Chris Chuba?
If you were asking me, I do not yet have an opinion on how that convoy met its destruction. I am not smart on doing forensics on images no matter whether still photography or video. I do not believe that Brown Moses (or Belling Cat or whatever his name) is either. And I am unaware of the degree of competence of anyone here in that field. Unfortunately with the onset of cell phone photography, too many in America have automatically become so-called experts.
I would like to know if NSA has anything to say about the attack, but we may never know that.
Look no further:
Suggest you change your moniker and tell us the new one. pat
I had some fun with those Ammar al-Salmo pieces here:
The guy was a Jihadi until he got a job with the U.S./UK propaganda shop White Helmets. There are photos of him carrying weapons and in the mids of other Jihadis.
If it’s the image I think it is, you will find it was taken from this video at the 56/57s mark:
Dominic H, a big, big, big, fan of Bellingcat posted this by way of comment
Ammar al-Salmo (see my comment above abd b’s post on the id convoy for more) should be well known if not by name:
This is what seems to happen when what looks like a dud OFAB 250-270 crashes through a reinforced concrete roof onto a concrete floor:
Make it ‘mike allen’ then. No relation to george felix allen, the former Senator from your fair state, even though my father was a Virginian. But I don’t think george felix was born in Virginia anyway, wasn’t he a Californian?
One person commenting here on photo forensics that I think has an understanding is ‘Andy’ who posted above at 7:06pm and again at 10:04pm regarding the OFAB250. I hope he will comment again regarding the photos of the burned out convoy trucks.
From Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon’s(*) bio:
“He has also worked with US networks and British newspapers to smuggle chemical samples out of Syria for verification in UK and France.”
So there is absolutely no credibile custody trail for these samples smuggled out of Syria. They serve purely PR purposes, which is consistent with the primary involvement of western MSM in the exercise.
* I just love the names the Brits come up with. My fave is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
Can’t answer that. It would be a WAG on my part.
Clearly this was a genuine DUD. The question remains did it fall through this ceiling or is it one of the many DUD’s in Syria that was then later carried to this location?
B’s twitter link worked that last time I checked it. There are two intact crossbars in the ceiling. It does not look like there is enough room for the bomb to pass through them.
Look, I’m not an expert on munitions or anything military and neither is Bellingcat. I’d like to see some actual experts on that seen.
Also, even if the Russians bombed the warehouse it doesn’t mean they bombed the trucks, does it? Those would be two different investigations.
The second picture is very informative. From the back towards the camera it shows i) dispersed groups of small items smeared with residue the same color as the floor ii) a sloping wall of a small crater possibly ~1 m wide at the apex iii) a badly mangled tailfin consistent with an OFAB 250-270 along with oddly shaped metal(?) protusions of the same color possibly representing the extended fins or tapered rear of the bomb canister iv) a closed packed group of clean small items wedges tightly into the space between the front of the tail fin and the front edge of the crater v) no covering cardboard boxes.
Given the rom is intact, we can be certain that it there was an OFAB, it didn’t explode. However if the dud bomb did simply embed itself in the floor, it is unlikely that the tail fin would be deformed as badly as it is.
If an OFAB-250 had been dropped, the front of the bomb would be buried in the crater. The film crew and others seem to be incredibly relaxed about the presence of an unexploded 250kg bomb which could go off at any time.
My hypothesis for the visible evidence is as follows: It is possible that some small projectile came through the roof creating a small crater and smearing adjacent goods with residue.
The presence of intact rebar in the roof weakens this so alternatively, the hole in the roof was created by a small projectile which did not penetrate fully into the building. Then a small ground charge, e.g. buried hand grenade was detonated to produce a small crater in a suitable position with respect to the hole in the roof. Either way, a tail fin from a real exploded OFAB 250-270 was placed in the crater, and extra small items were jammed in to keep the fin at the ‘correct’ angle.
Later images show cardboard boxes around and partially over the tail fin. It might be argued that these clean items were in the cardbox that was removed and just happened to fall into place. However, they would not end up densely packed as they appear in the photograph. Similarly, if they were claimed to end up there as a result of an explosion. Further the putative explosion would have covered them with residue.
The presence of the cardboard boxes in some of the photographs and their absence in the video is unambiguous proof that the physical evidence has been manipulated (in the neutral sense of the word) in an undocumented manner.
There is evidence of an airstrike. See following footage showing missile strikes and aircraft cannon being used. You can hear the aircraft and the distinct burp of the aircraft cannon.
Aircraft cannon fire at 1:05, 1:40. 2:21 missile strike?
Very similar to cannon used on the Syrian Aero L-39 Albatross. Video from earlier in the Syrian conflict.
No. The implications of de Bretton-Gordon’s claim are quite different, and much more devastating to the conventional wisdom on Ghouta.
A key to the whole affair is that the developments in mass spectrometry which have made it possible for analysis of ‘environmental’ – as distinct from ‘physiological’ – samples to establish not simply whether sarin is present but crucial information about how it was produced are relatively recent.
If – in the spirit of a ‘citizen investigative journalist’ such as Higgins is supposed to be but isn’t – one follows up the ‘Military Speakers’ entry, and looks at a range of materials by de Bretton-Gordon, including several contributions to the ‘Brown Moses Blog’, some interesting facts emerge.
It is important that there are four incidents prior to Ghouta where there is reason to believe small quantities of sarin were used: Khan Al-Asal, Aleppo, and Uteibah, Damascus, on 19 March; Sheikh Maqsood, Aleppo, 13 April, and Saraqib, Idlib, 29 April.
It is I think virtually certain that Porton Down tested ‘environmental’ samples from Khan Al-Asal, and Saraqib, and probable that they also tested such samples from Uteibah and Sheikh Maqsood.
The ‘chain of custody’ issue is only relevant, if the evidence suggests that the results of these tests were different from that of the tests carried out by the Russian OPCW-certified laboratory on samples from Khan Al-Asal, announced by Vitaly Churkin at the UN on 8 July.
The Russians called it ‘cottage industry’ sarin, which matches Hersh’s term ‘kitchen sarin’ for the results of Porton Down’s tests on the samples from Ghouta.
A key point is that, in the initial reports of tests carried out at Porton Down, ‘environmental’ samples are mentioned. Then, suddenly, between mid-May and early June, they fall into an Orwellian ‘memory hole’, and the references are all to ‘physiological’ samples.
A plausible hypothesis as to what happened is that at the outset, only the scientific experts were aware that ‘environmental’ samples might establish who had used the sarin in these various incidents.
The BBC report from Saraqib from 16 May 2013, which is the last instance in which such samples were mentioned before they disappear from view I have been able to trace, and in which de Bretton-Gordon features prominently, provides further evidence that this was so.
(See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22551892 .)
The hypothesis to which ‘Occam’s Razor’ points is that key people had become aware some weeks before Churkin presented the Russian results both that Porton Down could and had produced crucial evidence about how the sarin had been produced – and knew that it did not support the indictment of the Syrian Government.
If this was the case, certain puzzles raised by Hersh’s version dissolve.
A lot food for thought in both your comments. These are matters about which I need to think further.
However, for what they are worth, a few ‘off the cuff’ thoughts.
I think the internet, and the networks it creates have very ambiguous implications. They can lead to people, essentially, reinforcing each other in their various ‘groupthinks’ – some of which are plain barmy.
But one does also find a lot of people, of very diverse backgrounds and views, who do take a critical attitude to evidence. And, up to a point, I find the ‘recommended’ comments not just on the ‘Financial Times’ but also the ‘MailOnline’ indicative of a move towards a more sober, rather than more hysterical, view of things.
In regard to the ‘FT’, an interesting development is that one of the commenters who regularly gets the most recommendations, who uses the name ‘MarkGB’, has created his own blog, which reproduces his comments, with elaborations.
His latest piece is entitled ‘Martin Wolf on “How the west might soon be lost”’’ – it is a response to yet another in a long series of diatribes in the paper which denounce Trump without displaying any serious indication of any attempt to understand why a lot of people might not think Hillary Clinton an ideal candidate.
(See http://www.markgb.com/blog/2016/9/28/dfk0cbiodm2zqbuouge2oxr6t9sxtt .)
This piece by ‘MarkGB’ features some interesting responses to his main comment, together with his responses to these.
As to his views on specifically economic issues, at the risk of revealing my misconceptions, I think these have a good deal in common with what Ingolf or indeed ‘Jack’ think.
Also interesting, to my mind, is the way in which, in the exchange he reproduces with a commenter calling himself ‘Tempus Fugit’, ‘MarkGB’ links arguments about economics with arguments about language:
‘I appreciate your honesty TF. Apart from the fact that it makes a difference personally, “honesty” is almost completely lacking from our culture of political economy. “Politics” has become the art of BS rather than the formation of policy. So “speaking out” is the antidote to corruption, and we will not go forward healthily from here without it. It matters little how “clever” we are – our problems breed in the dark.’
In a piece in April last year, entitled ‘Politics, Bullshit, and Ukraine’, the Russian émigré literary scholar made use of a pamphlet by the philosopher Harry C. Frankfurt entitled ‘On Bullshit’.
(See http://original.antiwar.com/vladimir_golstein/2015/04/08/politics-bullshit-and-ukraine/ .)
His argument is informed by his personal experience of Soviet ‘bullshit’.
However, in my view one of the things which was happening in the late Soviet period was that a very significant number of Russians, not simply outside the system but inside, came to grasp the point that ‘MarkGB’ is making: that one cannot run a society effectively if one’s language has lost touch with reality.
So, as Golstein brings out, Putin can certainly lie – but he does not ‘bullshit’.
A problem is that, as indeed the collapse of the Soviet Union illustrated, a problem with a ‘bullshit’ world is that too many of those involved may have too much to lose by restoring some kind of contact with reality.
And, as ‘MarkGB’ suggests, this is the case with people like Martin Wolf.
However, it is a quite new experience for such people to be, as it were, ‘called out’ in the comments to their own articles.
” . . . one cannot run a society effectively if one’s language has lost touch with reality.”
Yes, exactly. Nor can one remain sane. Coming across others trying hard to extract clarity from this egregious muddle always feels like a gift. So, thank you for the link to MarkGB; based on that piece his thoughts do indeed seem broadly congenial.
Even more important, however, as you suggest, is his attitude. “Honesty”, staying open enough to take in and, where justified, absorb new or even contrary perspectives is the key. That, and the related willingness to admit error, however painful.
We all know, I think, how difficult it is to get clear, and stay clear, about what’s really going on. Voices that have proven themselves over time are pure gold. That some of them are gathered here at SST is what makes it so special.
b and David Habakkuk
I get the impression its more likely to be Gulf money channeled through a third party. A PR firm perhaps? There’s no end of institutions such as Bell Pottinger or the Henry Jackson Society that would be a convenient conduit for Saudi money. Its so wretchedly partisan its embarrassingly clumsy.
H de B Gordon, you mentioned, is more open and has been funded by UK government since 2012 at least to develop a network of people in Syria to work on collecting samples among other tasks. His past as head of the UK’s CBRN training base for the army alongside his involvement in Syria has given him a platform that allows him ‘authority’ to write leader articles in the Daily Telegraph among other papers, calling for more effort to oust Assad.
I think questions to do with funding, with so many individuals and organisations, are often very obscure.
As you obviously know, the ‘Henry Jackson Society’ had provided the secretariats for the All Party Parliamentary Groups on ‘Homeland Security’ and ‘Transatlantic Security’.
These apparently both ceased operating after an investigation by ‘Spinwatch’ into the funding of the HJS led at the end of 2014 to requests to for it to disclose its donors to the Commons’ standards watchdog that it failed to meet.
So, as with so many of these organisations, it could receive from and transmit funds to all sorts of people.
As to de Bretton-Gordon, it had seemed to me likely that he was operating on behalf of the Government – in collecting samples, among other things – not least because his professional expertise and activities ideally fitted him for the role.
However, precisely this fact makes me concerned about the way in which not simply the ‘Telegraph’, but other MSM organisations, including the ‘Mail’, the ‘Guardian’, as well as the BBC, treat him as an independent expert.
This is not how we would have behaved in my time in television and radio current affairs, back in the ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties.
(We thought we were a cut above ‘Radio Moscow’. Those were the days.)
Moreover, among the somewhat alarming elements in all this is that a discussion by de Bretton-Gordon on the ‘Brown Moses Blog’ of the 16 May 2013 report from Saraqib by Ian Pannell suggests that he was apparently producing material in cahoots with the BBC, while they presented him as an independent expert.
(See http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/responses-to-final-un-report-into-use_14.html .)
In that discussion, de Bretton-Gordon explains: ‘I covered the Sarin attack with the BBC’s Ian Pannell and concluded without doubt, that the Regime was responsible, and we didn’t have any detailed chemical analysis kit with us.’
But in the original report, Pannell tells us that ‘Samples of soil, blood, urine and hair have been taken. They hold the best clue as to what happened in Saraqeb. What it will not do is determine who is responsible.’
This is all frankly bizarre. For one thing, the appropriate procedure was not for ‘on the spot’ testing to be done with a ‘field kit’ used by people without proper scientific expertise – it was for the samples to be taken back to Porton Down.
And, in a ‘Guardian’ article in April 2015, de Bretton-Gordon made clear that this is precisely what happened.
Moreover, the suggestion that ‘environmental’ samples could not determine ‘who is responsible’ is simply false.
As a result of – relatively recent – developments in mass spectrometry, of which de Bretton-Gordon at that point could well have been unaware, tests carried out at Porton Down were potentially capable of doing precisely that.
Moreover, in another contribution to the ‘Brown Moses Blog’, de Bretton-Gordon makes confusion worse confounded, by suggesting that the sarin used at Saraqib was ‘probably of a low quality.’
But the Syrian Government had developed its chemical weapons programme, not for ‘battlefield’ use, but as a ‘poor man’s deterrent’ against Israel: so it could be expected that the sarin would not be ‘probably of a low quality’.
And it seems virtually certain that the tests carried out by UN/OPCW experts, and also from the U.S. Army’s OPCW-certified laboratory, when the arsenal was being dismantled on the MV ‘Cape Ray’ in mid-2014, confirmed that it was not. The ‘precursors’ were high up the process of synthesis from more basic chemicals, and there were stabilisers.
All this is part of an accumulating body of evidence which strongly suggests that, weeks before the Ghouta atrocity, there was ample evidence, which ought to have been available to the JIC and Cameron, that the earlier small-scale attacks were ‘false flag’ attempts.
(Although Khan Al-Asal, where the victims were on the government side, remains an outlier and in some ways a problem.)