Bellingcat Buffoonery on Khan Sheikyoun by Publius Tacitus


The pushback against Sy Hersh's latest piece of genuine investigative journalism in which he exposes the lie that the Government of Syria hit Khan Sheikyoun with a sarin gas attack on 4 April 2017 is based on ignorance and misinformation. One of those leading this effort is Eliot Higgins, who blogs under the handle, Bellingcat. Well worth asking, Who is Eliot Higgins? According to Wikipedia:

In 2012, when Higgins began blogging the Syrian civil war, he was an unemployed finance and admin worker who spent his days taking care of his child at home;[1] he is married to a Turkish woman.[3][4] . . .

Higgins has no background or training in weapons and is entirely self-taught, saying that "Before the Arab spring I knew no more about weapons than the average Xbox owner. I had no knowledge beyond what I'd learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo."[1] Higgins does not speak or read Arabic.[4]

Higgins is credited with being among the first to report on the widespread use of improvised barrel bombs by the Syrian government, a phenomenon which has spread to other troubled nations such as Iraq to combat insurgencies and opposition forces.[5][6]

Ah yes, an uneducated, inexperienced guy with an opinion who happens to be married to someone of Turkish descent. Nothing unusual there, right? Of course he's an expert on sarin (sarcasm fully intended).

The fact that this gentlemen is treated as a credible source is further proof of the insanity that has taken over the public debate. He knows nothing other than what he has read. He has not been through live agent training at Fort McClellan (I have). He has no scientific background in the subject matter and no experience (other than playing video games) with actual chemical weapons (Ted Postol, who has written extensively on the subject, does have actual scientific and military expertise on the topic). Higgins knows nothing of the military doctrine for employing such weapons. He knows nothing of the process and procedures required for a military unit to safely handle, load, activate and deploy such weapons.

Actual people with such expertise look at the public accounts about what supposedly happened at Khan Sheikyoun and scratch their heads. Why?


There is no evidence, not one shred of intelligence, to show that the Syrian Air Force or Army activated their chemical weapons unit anytime prior to the alleged sarin attack at Khan Sheikyoun. If the Syrians were going to launch a chemical weapons attack they would have to go through the process of alerting that unit and issuing it orders to prepare such weapons. That also means that the chemicals (the Syrian sarin was a binary system, which means that two separate chemicals had to be mixed together in order to create an active, viable chemical capable of killing) had to be taken from storage, transported in a secure fashion with men wearing MOPP gear (an acronym for "Mission Oriented Protective Posture"). Think of a space suit. The people handling live agents, such as sarin, do so in order to ensure they do not contaminate themselves and end up dead.

It is common knowledge within the intelligence and military community that both the United States and Israel put a priority on monitoring and collecting intel on the movements of Syrians Chemical Weapons units. Why? To ensure that Israel would be forewarned and protected against a surprise attack. The nature of military grade sarin is that it requires advance preparation, planning and logistics. One does not simply pick up a hand grenade, pull the pin and launch a chemical attack. That's only in Hollywood and the X-Box of Eliot Higgins.

Then we have the so-called evidence from Khan Shiekyoun of the sarin. Ted Postol has provided an extensive and comprehensive analysis of why the conventional wisdom that this was a sarin attack is wrong (one of his articles is at this link). Those who insist that there was sarin are relying entirely on second hand evidence collected by individuals with direct ties to radical Islamic groups. Not one single independent outside observer was allowed to the scene to collect forensic evidence or examine victims. The only "victims" examined took place a couple of days later in Turkey.

But we now have video evidence that it was not sarin. Watch as the White Helmets collects samples that they boldly declare as SARIN without having performed a single scientific field test. They collect samples declaring the water, etc as SARIN!! Talk about magic. 

This is all about propaganda and media manipulation. You will spot two individuals dressed up in some form of bizarre MOPP gear (they are fully covered). But that is not the case for everyone else running around, especially the knuckle heads carrying the supposed samples of deadly sarin. A simple surgical mask provides absolutely no protection whatsoever against SARIN. This is absurdity worthy of Monty Python.

So, here is the situation. Sy Hersh, a proven investigative journalist with a solid track record spanning 6 decades, has actual sources with first hand knowledge about what the U.S. military and intelligence community actually know. Hersh's reporting is attacked by Eliot Higgins, a chubby house husband who has no education nor experience in the field of chemical weapons and has no first hand sources. And who are we supposed to believe when it comes to an alleged Sarin attack? Why, Higgins of course. 

This entry was posted in As The Borg Turns, Syria, weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

69 Responses to Bellingcat Buffoonery on Khan Sheikyoun by Publius Tacitus

  1. wisedupearly says:

    The drums are sounding
    “President Bashar al-Assad appeared to be preparing a chemical weapons attack similar to the one in April, the White House said, warning that he would “pay a heavy price” if one occurred.”
    When will this insanity cease?

  2. JohnA says:

    On Syria, despite the angry rhetoric of the last few days, Moscow and Washington are close to an agreement on a de-escalation zone in South Syria. They may also be close to coordinating operations against Islamic State.
    – Vladimir Frolov
    We all hope it ends very soon.

  3. AK says:

    Perhaps I’m ascribing too much conspiratorial capability to the Trump White House and the Ziocons, but I can’t help but read this as a pretty transparent message to our dear “allies” in AQ/IS/JAN – “Hey, heads up fellas, you guys might wanna pull off another one of these false flags any day now. It would really help all our causes, because in case you haven’t noticed, we’re all quite a ways up shit creek at present.” I want to believe that it’s a far-fetched scenario, but I find any level of duplicity and moral vacuity is possible from our politicians and the Borg creatures these days. My grandfathers are rolling over in their graves…

  4. wisedupearly says:

    Its either Trump tweeting or Nikki Haley, where do they find these harridans?
    from Reuters
    The United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Twitter: “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia and Iran who support him killing his own people.”
    looks like peace is not her thing.

  5. ToivoS says:

    I just googled “seymour hersh news” and the top two hits were to Bellingcat’s denunciation of Hersh’s article this week in Welt. This article was not even listed in the top 10. How does Google do tnat?

  6. LeaNder says:

    Hmmm? OK, once again setting another red line in the sand?

  7. Yeah, Right says:

    There is no doubt that Higgins is a buffoon or, perhaps more insidiously, a useful idiot.
    Certainly his “rebuttal” is a sloppy bit of work.
    Sure, it starts out fair enough in that he summarizes Hersh’s article pretty well. Kudos for that.
    But then he simply ignores Hersh’s article altogether as he regurgitates his own “analysis”, as if it were a self-evident truth that his own alternate “facts” must be better than Hersh’s insider contacts.
    Sorry, Elliot, that isn’t the least bit self-evident.
    Indeed, as far as I can tell there is only one statement in Higgin’s post that is worth consideration, and it comes right at the end.
    It is this: Hersh says that the Russians informed the USA that they intended to blow *this* building to smithereens with a precision bomb, and the USAF’s own Bomb Damage Assessment was that the SU-22 did, indeed, blow *that* building to smithereens with a 500lb bomb.
    OK, says Higgins, then Hersh should give us all the GPS coordinates of *that* building so we can see for ourselves what happened to it.
    IMHO that is a very valid request, and it represents the only thing that is of any value in that Bellingcat post.

  8. Yeah, Right says:

    It’s hard to know which is the more frightening:
    Is it that Trump is so craven that he is threatening to attack Syria so as to distract attention from Hersh being bold enough to call Bullshit! on the President original action?
    Or is it that Trump is so venal that he is openly double-dog-daring the jihadists to stage a new false-flag attack on those “beautiful babies”?
    I note that this new utterance is so insane that US Central Command is running a million miles away from it.
    Good for them, though I don’t understand why the MSM is asking the US military for comment.
    Surely they should address their questions to the CIA.
    After all, the CIA will be the agency that will be tasked with coordinating Trump’s self-fulfilling prophesy.

  9. Kunuri says:

    Poor Eliot Higgins, I am sure he doesn’t realize how crafty Turkish women are. In our little ex-pat community here, divorce rate between Turkish women and my friends over the past 7 years I have been here is pushing 75%, myself included in this informal statistic.

  10. peaches and apples says:

    If it is true that an agreement between Moscow and Washington is imminent concerning the de-escalation zone perhaps a “false flag sarin attack” is needed to block this agreement.

  11. blowback says:

    Why do I get the feeling that this is those imbeciles Ezra Cohen-Watnick (the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council) and Derek Harvey (the NSC’s top Middle East advisor) stirring it up again.

  12. The-arioch says:

    but USA officials already decried evidence as unneeded and obsolete things of the past.

  13. turcopolier says:

    I am told that they are no longer serious players. pl

  14. The Beaver says:

    That’s why Brown Moses is going CRAZY!
    He has just realised that he will be the next Rita Katz after OBL was killed in Pakistan (no more fake videos to peddle to the CIA)after the R+6 succeeeds in their goal to retake Deir-Ezzor. May be the Sultan will give him another task .

  15. Matthew says:

    Publius Tacitus: Aren’t their great advantages to using amateurs like the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights and Bellingcat? You can launder fake information through the media, thereby creating a pro-intervention narrative, but without having to make actual professionals “sign their work.”
    Simply put, responsibility is diffused once the media pushes the story. Is it any surprise that the media avoided any soul-searching after selling the Iraq War.
    When everyone is responsible, no one is.

  16. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re: ” he doesn’t realize how crafty Turkish women are”
    IMO your statement applies to all women, irrespective of nationality. Might I remind you of Richard Sale’s gem of a quote from a few topics earlier: “what a conniving, heartless skunk Hillary was…”
    Ishmael Zechariah

  17. Old Microbiologist says:

    Well stated. This Higgins character has been an enormous pain in the petard for a long time now. I am surprised how much traction he gets. The same is of course true for the Syrian Human Rights Watch which I think is another one man show but out of the UK.

  18. The Beaver says:

    @ Old Microbiiologist
    Higgins also is out of the UK – an unemployed book-keeper but being paid by someone inside the beltway

  19. SmoothieX12 says:

    I would be extremely cautious, if not outright dismissive, with anything which comes out of Moscow Times, and especially by Frolov.

  20. sid_finster says:

    Don’t pick on poor Nikki. She’s right – any attacks will be blamed on Assad, no matter who is actually responsible.

  21. sid_finster says:

    Say the things the establishment wants you to say and sound sincere in doing so and you’d be surprised how much support you can muster.
    vid. Mensch, Louise.

  22. Greco says:

    As I understand it, the reason Trump hit the Shayrat air base in April was ostensibly due to the supposed “chemical attack Assad ordered”; however, Trump was also advised that this base was housing containers potentially used for storing chemical weapons, which would have been a violation to the agreement the Obama admin had made with Putin after the Ghouta attack in 2013.
    The missile attack Trump authorized in April was, for the most part, for show. And in the end, Trump didn’t authorize McMaster’s supposed plan to suit up 150,000 troops into Syria by June 1st (a claim made by Mike Cernovich who had learned of this plan from a source in the NSC/WH). And it was clear that those around Trump were pushing for regime change (McMaster had let on to as much), but Trump decided not to change the course he had set no less than a week earlier.

  23. b says:

    Higgins is now financed by U.S. NED and Soros Open Society – said differently, by the CIA. He has also been losing it quite a few times publicly ranting against White House journalists and Trump.

    “Syrian Air Force or Army activated their chemical weapons unit ”
    There are no longer such units. They have been completely dissolved and the soldiers and officers reassigned to regular troops. There is still is the normal ABC defense infrastructure every military has but this is integrated, as usually, in the battle units. There is no longer a chemical corps.
    If the U.S. claims that it sees “chemical staff” moving here or there to prepare weapons it is simply pure nonsense.

  24. Don’t use Google. They manipulate search results. Use another search engine, such as – they have no search filters.

  25. Jackrabbit says:

    “This is absurdity worthy of Monty Python.”
    I couldn’t agree more: Dead Psyop (based on Monty Python’s ‘Dead Parrot Sketch’)

  26. BillWade says:

    I can only hope that Trump knows who is planning this new upcoming attack and that he also knows it isn’t the SAA/Assad thereby truly allowing him to plummet ISIS, is that too far fetched?

  27. Get this: Higgins is now a “Nonresident Senior Fellow” at the Atlantic Council’s “Digital Forensic Research Lab”. Not bad for an unemployed panty salesman!

  28. Fool says:

    wisedupearly, thanks to the WH’s warning, a chemical attack by the SAA would make even less sense now than it made in April. It made no sense to me then. Although it *did* seem to make plenty sense to the gang at CNN then, even CNN has its breaking point.

  29. ann says:

    The msm is also owned (financed) by big pharma. Think of all the drug ads IF you watch the nightly “news”.

  30. confusedponderer says:

    re “Watch as the White Helmets collects samples that they boldly declare as SARIN without having performed a single scientific field test. They collect samples declaring the water, etc as SARIN!! Talk about magic.
    This is all about propaganda and media manipulation. You will spot two individuals dressed up in some form of bizarre MOPP gear (they are fully covered). But that is not the case for everyone else running around, especially the knuckle heads carrying the supposed samples of deadly sarin. A simple surgical mask provides absolutely no protection whatsoever against SARIN. This is absurdity worthy of Monty Python.”
    To that I say ‘AMEN’, even though, unlike in this sad reality, the Monties managed, still manage, to be funny. This here isn’t just unfunny, it is brazenly so, and dumb on top of that.
    I was leader of a company’s NBC recce and cleansing group, and we were trained a lot about what to do and how to do things in an CW situation. I am happy I never had to do that in real. Just reading what the C stuffs do and how to treat woundeds for such poison was quite sobering.
    To treat a nerve gas poisoning one of my handbooks recommends treatment with 20 mg or so of atropine substance to stop the severe acetylcholine effects of the poison. Well, just 10mg of atropine can already cause delirium and halucinations and/or kill you – that as a treatment is strongly suggesting what sort of trouble you’re in with Sarin type stuff.
    Anyway, when I saw the images of the apparently poison resistant suicide morons moving around alleged sarin sites without protection like MOPP gear I was almost laughing so pathetic and ridiuculous it was. To do so would be jackass dumb, culpable negligence.
    If there has been, as told, Sarin or stuff of that flavour out where the videos and pictures were made, these clowns would have been either suicidals or blatant jackasses. Generally, Sarin can be absorbed through skin, and can be in-breathed, of that stuff a single drop can make you sick and/or dead rather quickly. And yet … these video and image clowns in Syria were running around without mask, suits, gloves but in shorts and t-shirts??!
    Utterly ridiculous. Or just some idiotic clowns playing a piss poor skript. The only protection gainst getting poisoned by stuff like Sarin is a properly wholebody protection suit with a properly filtered breathing mask. If someone just doesn’t wear such protections when he’s either dumb as an ass, well, or knows he doesn’t need them (and lazy as he is dumb).
    Alas, back in time when I did my duty military service with the Funkers, I had the displeasure of having to get a particular moron in my NBC team who dumbly preferred to not wear a functioning gas mask with a proper filter. He refused because he said it was (a) easier to breathe without filter (brilliant) and (b) he also, just as dumb, asserted that there is good and bad gift gas, based on geography. His idea was like this: Good gas was from NATO (and NATO sarin or vx would thus make him … happy?) and bad gas was from the Warsaw pact (and only that would make you sick as a dog).
    Utter absurdity, of course and I told him hat that was nonsense, and that POISON gas is named POISON gas for a reason and that he had to obey the orders for our and his own safety and that that we, and I, weren’t allow him any of his weirdo views or decision. Alas, he didn’t get it. It first resulted in a couple of annoyed preaches from our captain and when that led nowhere it led to the loon getting unpleasant and wet and cold guard duty in the cold, windy Westerwald.
    Apparently and amazingly that wet coldness had effect on the man. Some time after that the weekly inspections of his mask suddenly, and newly, showed it funtional and with a proper filter. I never learned whether that was that actual understandment, fear of punishment, or just an accident. In any way, what a dumbass moron …

  31. LeaNder says:

    Older story, Seamus, based on his forensic web image and geolocation expertise, I spare you any scare quotes.
    Basically one of the many that jumped on the larger OSINT train at the right point in time. See his publication with the Director’s Special Forensic Lap assistant. Guess they call themselves DigitalSherlock’s by now. 😉
    But at that point in time he already was:
    Eliot Higgins
    Founder, Bellingcat and Visiting Research Associate, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

  32. LeaNder says:

    Old news, SP,
    it feels when he surfaced on the Atlantic Council after he already was semi-academically knighted in London for his ‘web images and geolocation forensic’ OSINT sleuth … Especially the geolocation expertise made me wonder a little.
    Simply someone that jumped on the larger OSINT train post 9/11 at the right point in time with the right focus it feels.
    Eliot Higgins
    Founder, Bellingcat and Visiting Research Associate, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

    A commentary by our 1st public channel on Seymour Hersh’s article and the aftermath ends with Higgins again. Strictly I agree with the only comment so far that Hersh may well have lifted an interesting corner of the veil. …
    Link via Google translate from German to English:

  33. VietnamVet says:

    This sure raises a hell of a lot of unanswered questions. Moon of Alabama stated that Syria is winning the war. I think it is at a tipping point. Alliances are shifting and America is being isolated to the Kurds as their only proxy force much to the displeasure of Turkey. This lead to the blockade of Qatar. Israel and the Saudis must be placing incredible pressure on the White House to do something to assure that Iran does not get a ground supply line to Lebanon. The sarin warning could be a prelude to taking the war to Iran.
    This all comes down to is President Trump the senile imbecile portrayed by Sy Hersh or a crafty NY mobster? I guess the question will be answered if the 14,000 hydrogen bombs held by the two superpowers are ignited in the end of time war between NATO and Russia that destroys the earth.

  34. Old Microbiologist says:

    I saw somewhere today balling at is funded by Soros among others.

  35. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, CP.
    Two experts once again ending with Higgins on the Hersh article on the ARD. Bellingcrat once introduced as British Forensic Research Lap was pleasantly absent for a while. I somehow agree with the only comment so far, Hersh may well have lifted one corner of the veil…
    Fact checkers, BotHunters and DigitalSherlocks. Not that any or this is wrong. Interesting to follow the links and look at who and what surfaces. …
    “‘There must be some way out of here’, said the joker to the thief.”

  36. Keith Harbaugh says:

    PT, let me give you some advice,
    or perhaps I should say, make a request:
    If you are going to attack at length something,
    do your readers the courtesy of providing
    the URL of exactly what it is you are attacking,
    so they can read it for themselves and see how accurate and fair your rebuttal is.
    Does that not just sound like fair play? It does to me.
    In this case, it seems more than evident that
    the target of your attack is the article
    Is that not so?
    Now, your (PT’s) analysis and knowledge of what actually happened in Syria may be 100% accurate.
    I certainly am not qualified to argue with it,
    and your remarks make great sense.
    But I have read Higgins remarks too.
    He points out some very real inconsistencies between your narrative and that given in multiple other sources,
    inconsistencies in both the actual time and actual location of events.
    These do cause me, and I believe any fair observer,
    to question which is right on those matters.
    PT, I believe that you,
    no matter how senior a figure in the IC or DOD you may be or have been,
    have the responsibility to address those flagged inconsistencies.
    Specifically, to acknowledge them and provide your response to them.
    Perhaps he is wrong. If so, prove it.
    Perhaps he is right, and you just made a minor error in time and location.
    If so, acknowledge it and point out how the minor error was made and that it really doesn’t affect your overall argument.
    That is what responsible argument is all about.
    And you fail the test of responsible debate.
    To attack Higgins as being chubby is really an insult to everyone’s intelligence.
    Let me conclude by quoting the final paragraph in the article by Higgins linked to above:

    One might argue that all the individuals and groups on the ground, all the doctors treating the victims, and every single person spoken to by the journalists visiting the site failed to mention the site described by Hersh,
    but there’s a very simple way to clear up this matter.
    Anyone can access satellite imagery of the town before and after the date of the attack
    thanks to the imagery available on TerraServer,
    all Hersh’s source has to do is provide the coordinates of the building attacked and anyone with an internet connection will be able to look at that exact location, and see the destroyed building.
    A simple way for both Hersh and Welt to preserve their reputations.

    Please, PT, either rebut his point there or prove why it is not important.
    Simply so that we all may better understand the nature of the differences between your story and his.
    Thank you.

  37. wisedupearly says:

    Jim Jeffery quoted in Politico
    “we’re going to look like fools if they do this again and we blow up a few more airplanes. We have to react very strongly to them.”
    So to obscure the WH BS, even more stupid stuff will be done. All for Trump’s vanity.

  38. Keith,
    First, I am not one to solicit advice from people I do not know but I do entertain requests.
    Second, I am not going to provide a link to a bogus article written by someone who pretends to be an expert but has no relevant experience at all. Higgins offers the illusion of someone who is knowledgeable but he is not. I’m not going to give him a platform. You find him informative. That tells me more about you and what you do not know about the subject at hand.
    Third, I did not “attack” Higgins for being chubby. I simply stated a fact. If he was svelte I would have used that as a descriptive.
    Fourth, you expressed one idea that I fully support–“I certainly am not qualified to argue with it,
    and your remarks make great sense.”
    Yes, you are not qualified to argue this. You have the Sy Hersh article and the Ted Postol article/link. Those two provide all the factual information that you require to understand what happened in Syria. Higgins reading of press accounts supplied by Islamic sources is not worth my time. If you want to waste time with his pieces have at it. It is a free country.
    One final observation. I do not debate Holocaust deniers. I don’t give them a platform and pretend that they have some valid case to make. I am not suggesting that you are a such a denier. But I do draw a parallel with Higgins. Clearly his type of denial is in a far lower, more benign category than are those heinous souls who deny the Holocaust. But the fact that Higgins is now accepted by some as an authority on matters where he really has no basis in experience or education to merit that status irks me. I find it shocking that intelligent people will actually take time to consider his opinion, especially when he fell for the rocket crater as evidence of a sarin attack. Hence my testiness.

  39. LeaNder says:

    Sorry, Publius, I noticed something was odd here. But didn’t mean to spam your threat. Wasn’t meant to be posted twice above.
    Brilliant article by the way.

  40. LeaNder says:

    KH, I would advise you to follow the link to the “brilliant” OSINT / investigative research in the NYT Higgins suggests to you. I am sure he’s pleased he could contribute:
    And then a link the Browne suggests.
    1) NYT – Malachy Browne
    Malachy Browne is a senior story producer with The New York Times. He specializes in social journalism with a focus on international reporting and breaking news.
    Here you will get basics on “Forensic Mapping” and Geolocation.
    How do they locate their collect their evidence? Well via social media activity, like twitter and pros on both the field and on narratives: Storyful
    I supplemented my reporting with notes from our Middle Eastern correspondents Anne Barnard, Hwaida Saad and Patrick Kingsley, who interviewed witnesses soon after the attack. I spoke with human rights investigators and weapons experts conducting their own analysis. I found more videos uploaded to YouTube and Facebook by residents of the area by searching for the Arabic spelling of Khan Sheikhoun. I examined other videos gathered by the journalist Eliot Higgins and the social media news agency Storyful.

  41. wisedupearly says:

    Advice? What you are pushing is advice? umm, don’t think so. I do see bile and wonder why.

  42. Yeah, Right says:

    I note that Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway let slip that those “observed activities” were at the Shayrat air base.
    IMHO if Assad was smart he’d immediately invite a coterie of “neutral” observers to visit that base.
    This team of eminent invitees should be:
    Elliot Higgins, founder, Bellingcat
    Rami Abdulrahman, founder, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
    David Albright, founder, The Good ISIS
    Jeffrey Lewis, founder, ArmsControlWonk
    Acknowledged experts in the use of “open source” information, one and all.
    And once they arrived at the base (and how could they refuse such a wonk’s wet dream?) then I’d wire them up Casey Neistat-style with the very best vlogging gear and invite anyone with a twitter account to direct them to go into *this* building or poke their nose into *that* hanger.
    Nikki Haley? I know you know how to use Google Earth.
    Sean Spicer? Come on man, they’re just a tweet away.
    Adrian Rankine-Galloway? You’ve talked the talk, let these guys walk the walk.
    Let them loose over the entire base, nothing off limits, and all streamed live to a breathless world.
    And after hours of fruitless searching Assad could appear like Trump in The Apprentice and tell them that they are so useless they couldn’t find their arse if he handed it to them on a plate. Which, incidentally, he just did.
    Don’t tell me that wouldn’t rate through the rafters, coz’ it would.

  43. wisedupearly says:

    April 7, Trump deliberately did not target the “sarin infrastructure” at Shayrat airfield because of, because of. Tell us why. OK. here is McMasters quoted in the Independent ““There were measures put in place to avoid hitting what we believe is a storage of sarin gas, so that that would not be ignited (impossible) and cause a hazard to civilians or anyone else,” WTF?
    60 tomahawks are clearly not a hazard to anyone, right?
    Well given that 36 tomahawks failed to impact the airfield it seems that the hazard was randomly distributed that night.

  44. Yeah, Right says:

    From the New York Times report on Trump’s breathless chest-beating towards the Syrians: “The highly classified nature of the intelligence — and the likelihood that it involved information provided by an American ally — kept the assessment and the potential administration response closely held, two American officials said.”
    provided. by. an. American. ally.
    Let me take a stab in the dark: this intel came from a middle east country whose name starts with “I”, but it’s not “Iran”.

  45. LeaNder says:

    Embarrassed now, irritated earlier. I meant your comment thread not threat. Guess you realized. Do we have police for misspelling around. We had a comma addict at one point in time.
    But interesting larger topic context.
    Arbitary glimpse yes, I would like to direct your attention on your own – sell – buy a video chances. After all everyone has a handy noways and maybe your images fit well into one story:
    Seems the idea on the left that there could be something like a citizen-journalist is in the process of being taken over.
    Considering that journalists are already a rather threatened species by now, if they don’t want to simply create content in demand in the larger PR and marketing industries, that is, this no doubt might be a business model for the future. Even less of them needed. No more necessity to be even present in the place.
    All that is needed are agencies that can provide images and sources for an already established narrative.

  46. LeaNder says:

    Yes, that is basically true, IZ.
    But as member of the sex, I’d like to lead your attention on two more arbitrary problems to grasp us more collectively. No matter what our national specifics are. There no doubt may be local specifics. But I’ll try to anyway. And, no, I did not seriously study it. But:
    1) don’t forget female struggles while young. Threatening to scratch out each other’s eyes if it is about a shared object of desire from the opposite gender.
    a) don’t loose track of our legendary evilness once we made it into the position of mother in law. Not familiar with it. Is that a purely a Western versus Oriental problem?

  47. confusedponderer says:

    Funny thing: I just recall an exercise we did back in the day for detection of NBC things. Not pointless since I learned that the warsaw pact had aimed some 20 or so nukes at our town, which was HQ place of a corps command.
    Anyway, in the exercise we wore full MOPP gear with NBC resistant overall and extra rubber boots. We had chemical detection tubes for B stuff, more detection tubes for C stuff. For the N stuff we had a geiger counter. For the exercise the geiger got a radio receiver. We were sent what we had to document. The receiver antenna was placed on the helmet and had the antenna mounted on the helm. It looked quite silly, like a marsian may look like.
    That exercise was in autum and rather early, and so there was fog and limited view. Walking around the baraques in MOPP, in fog, with that geiger counter crackling was creepy. You heard nothing but your steps and the crackling and also there was fog – it was as if you were walking on the moon. The eerie geiger crackling sound is something I’ll never forget.
    Here are some pics on what MOPP looks like, for everybody to get an idea of what we are writing about:
    US soldiers in MOPP in training:
    More US troops in MOPP training:
    An overview of MOPP levels in the US army:
    A protection suite for folks working in Ebola land:
    Point is that folks without protection in an (at least asserted) contaminated area are either suicidal, dumb or sillily playing a silly act. Looking at how folks in Ebola land in africa operate gives an idea of what a serious (serious as in ‘trying not to die’) try of protection looks like.
    Now, here are pics from turkey and syria:
    * Note the unprotected hands and heads:
    * Note the unprotected arms, hands and head:
    With C and B stuff unprotection invites sickness or death. The ovbious unprotections scream SCAM. It’s so simple.
    So they touch victims of alleged Sarin use with bare hands? Whee. How can they survive that? Magic? Hardly: These Syria pics didn’t look like serious attempts at protection but like silly, ill skripted showgames and propaganda.
    In a real C situations the ‘aiders’ of the above pics would be victims and likely be sick or dead. If they aren’t sick or dead … ah well … that, in its own way, speaks for itself.

  48. The Beaver says:

    @ Yeah Right,
    The same “American Ally” who loves to fabricate false flags and wants to appear that she is the only game in town (ME) as far as Intel is concerned.
    Like the fiasco about Trump telling the Russians about that ally- Israel which hacked an ISIS mail a/c ( most probably and gave the impression that they have a mole either inside the Syrian Govt or ISIS. All sizzle and no steak.

  49. Imagine says:

    What’s “NED”? USAID funds White Helmets, there was some law a while back that the CIA couldn’t fund rebellions any more so they shifted the agency source.

  50. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    National Endowment for Democracy [sic].
    A division of Exceptionalism, Inc., d/b/a Regime Change Are Us. Ostensibly a NGO, although it gets most of its funding from the U.S. Congress. Read the Wikipedia article, and follow links.

  51. Keith Harbaugh says:

    This is just an attempt to close an unclosed HTML I tag in LeaNder’s comment of 27 June 2017 at 04:15 PM.
    We’ll see if it works.
    I.e., this comment starts with a /I tag.

  52. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Bile? How about helping me and telling me exactly what you consider bile.
    For example, do you consider the following bile?

    If you are going to attack at length something,
    do your readers the courtesy of providing
    the URL of exactly what it is you are attacking,
    so they can read it for themselves and see how accurate and fair your rebuttal is.

  53. wisedupearly says:

    More bile.
    How about the WH tells us exactly where the sarin components where kept at Shayrat airfield and provide photographic proof of same.
    Before and after photos. Please no photos of Soviet-developed KMGU munitions dispensers for small-size loads. Russian tv toured the base that day IIRC without hazmat suits and no one died.
    The administration claimed that the sarin storage was deliberately not targeted. Fine. Then it takes 2 minutes to post the evidence.
    What your side would like to hide is that the burden of proof is entirely on your side. And the proof has to be incontrovertible. We are stepping closer to full on nuclear war so the proof has to be better than platinum. If experts are able to find contradictions and flaws in what your side has put forward as “evidence” then you should admit there is no incontrovertible proof. Certainly not proof good enough for war.

  54. wisedupearly says:

    Ghouta. Do not forget that it was Israeli Intelligence Corps Unit 8200 that provided intercepts of communications between SAA HQ and CW unit. These intercepts were used by the Borg as key “evidence” that the sarin attack was SAA.

  55. Keith Harbaugh says:

    The unheard voices, or
    The “dogs” that didn’t bark
    (reference to the Sherlock Holmes story)
    Okay, for the sake of argument let us assume that PT, Ted Postol, and Sy Hersh are 100% right,
    and that the “evidence” summarized in the Wikipedia article
    and presented by what some “the Borg”
    represents ignorance of the realities of chemical warfare.
    But let us recall that there is a chemical warfare establishment and program in the U.S.,
    which includes (which ran PT’s Fort McClellan school)
    and various university labs and commercial businesses funded by that program.
    These institutions have many Ph.D.’s and M.D.’s surely at least as knowledgeable as PT about the realities of chemical warfare.
    Some of these knowledgeable people are beyond the reach of the current Trump administration,
    either because they are tenured faculty or because they are retired.
    And surely some of them do not want to see the U.S. go to the verge of a very nasty war
    on the basis of trumped-up evidence.
    So, my question is:
    Why are not some of these experts speaking up about
    the issues PT is speaking up about?
    There are all kinds of ways they could be attempting to use their credentialed expertise
    to point out the bogusness of the anti-Assad case.
    As an example of what can be done,
    recall in the pre-Iraq War days various retired intelligence professionals banded together to form the VIPS,
    which pointed out the shabbiness of the case for fighting a war with Iraq.
    And of course we all have seen many examples of people, especially on the left,
    banding together in various activist groups to affect policy.
    Why, in heaven’s name, do not concerned members of the chemical warfare establishment
    form a similar organization to separate fact from propaganda?
    One possible answer to that question would be that many, maybe most, such professionals feel a loyalty to Israel,
    and do not want to prevent a war that Israel favors.
    Of course, many would view even mentioning that possibility as rank anti-Semitism and thus unacceptable.
    Another possible answer is that PT in fact is not as right as he thinks he is.
    I merely mention that as a possibility (hey, we all make mistakes, after all).
    So, dear readers, are there other possible answers that I have missed?
    Thank you.

  56. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    I am no expert on the fair sex, having been married to my first wife, a genuine Turk from Turkey, for 37 years; a decent, honorable person who does not play games. Had I pulled a trick like Mr. Clinton, or like Mr. Petraeus for that matter, I would not have survived to tell the tale.
    OTOH, I have been in the workforce for close to 40 years, and have worked with, for, and supervised women (and men) of many different nationalities, ethnicities, educational levels and ages. Overall there seems to be just as many skunks in both sexes, distributed evenly over all groups. It is not a unique “Turkish” trait. Along the same lines, “mother-in-laws” are not considered a universal good in Turkey- they can be pretty complicated people who complicate other people’s lives just because…
    Ishmael Zechariah

  57. Yeah, Right says:

    Keith: “Okay, for the sake of argument let us assume that PT, Ted Postol, and Sy Hersh are 100% right,”
    Now is a very good time to point out the name “Ted Postol” to everyone, because……
    Keith: “Some of these knowledgeable people are beyond the reach of the current Trump administration, either because they are tenured faculty or because they are retired.”
    Now would be a very good time to invite everyone to look up Ted Postol’s career……
    Keith: “So, my question is:
    Why are not some of these experts speaking up about the issues PT is speaking up about?”
    Did I mention that Keith has already mentioned Ted Postol by name?

  58. Keith,
    If you had paid attention you would have realized that VIPS has weighed in on the side of Sy. They recognize bullshit when they hear it or smell it. They were in the front of the line back in August 2013 when the rebels carried out another false flag effort and tried to blame the Syrian Government for it. You keep positing bizarre possibilities rather than deal with the facts.

  59. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Let me reply to those who replied to my “The unheard voices” post.
    First, yes, VIPS has addressed the issue of alleged chemical warfare in Syria.
    More recently than to the August 2013 attack,
    they posted the following response to the April 2017 bombing:
    Second, however, no one dealt with my main point:
    the absence of
    recognized, named, experts on chemical warfare
    willing to go on record countering
    the MSM narrative concerning what happened at Khan Shaykhun
    (Ted Postol is a recognized scientist,
    but not really a specialist on chemical warfare.)
    The VIPS letter linked to above does not seem to provide names that satisfy that criteria.
    If you look at the names on its bottom,
    are any of those people recognized experts on chemical warfare?
    People with relevant Ph.D.’s, whose sole business is the study of chemical warfare?
    If so, it is not evident from their affiliations or credentials as listed.
    Surely the Army Chemical Corps has such,
    either as civil servants or as university professors who serve as consultants.
    Why aren’t some of them (perhaps retired) willing to go on record,
    saying the sort of things that various anonymous sources are saying,
    but putting their names and credentials on the line
    to back up what their opposition to the MSM narrative?
    Now, maybe some are, or have.
    If so, how about pointing out who they are and what they have said.

  60. wisedupearly says:

    in an attempt to restore you to sanity — please reply
    What your side would like to hide is that the burden of proof is entirely on your side. And the proof has to be incontrovertible as we are stepping closer to full on nuclear war; the proof has to be better than platinum. If experts are able to find contradictions and flaws in what your side has put forward as “evidence” then you should admit there is no incontrovertible proof. Certainly not proof good enough for war.

  61. Mikey says:

    “Surely the Army Chemical Corps has such, either as civil servants or as university professors who serve as consultants.
    Why aren’t some of them (perhaps retired) willing to go on record,
    saying the sort of things that various anonymous sources are saying,
    but putting their names and credentials on the line(?)”
    Jail time.

  62. pmr9 says:

    This is a reasonable question, and one that some journalists have been trying to explore. The scientists who work on forensic analysis of chemical weapons are a very small group: about 50 people worldwide, who are heads of labs or senior investigators in OPCW-designated labs. Most of these labs are under their country’s defense ministry, rather than in a university. They are not allowed to talk to journalists, and instructed to refer any journalist to the institution’s press office. Even those who are in universities are dependent on government funding for research income and consultancies, which would be cut off if they were to step out of line.
    The scientists in this field know very well that modern methods of chemical forensics, using mass spectrometry to profile hundreds of impurities, can easily establish from an environmental sample of a CW agent how that agent was synthesized and can match the sample to the batches of precursors from which it was produced. They also know that the Syrian military stocks of the sarin precursor DF were profiled on the MV Cape Ray under supervision of OPCW inspectors in 2014, as part of the chain of custody procedure.
    No chemical signature attribution study of whether the sarin recovered from alleged attacks in Syria matches Syrian military stocks of DF has ever been reported, although there has been a UN Security Council mandate for such studies since 2015. Hersh has reported that such a study was done by the US military and that the Ghouta sarin was found not to match Syrian military stocks. There was a rather garbled report from the Vatican that a similar study was done by OPCW.
    I think we can be certain that most of the scientists in the CW forensics network know that by their silence on the chemical forensics they are colluding in the cover-up of false flag chemical attacks. We can only hope that if more journalists and parliamentarians start to ask questions, eventually a whistleblower will come forward.

  63. Pundita says:

    Once again, illuminating clarity from you. Wish you’d write a book: “Chemical Weapons Investigation for Dummies.”

  64. Keith Harbaugh says:

    “Jail time.”
    I’m not so sure about that.
    Sure, there are no doubt aspects of our chemical warfare establishment which are classified.
    But what about the very powerful case that PT makes
    in his post at the top of this thread?
    Is what he said classified?
    (Since he put it in this blog, I presume not, but you never know.)
    If those statements are not classified,
    IMO it would make the case much stronger if
    such arguments were made, not by the anonymous, pseudonymous, “Publius Tacitus”,
    but by, say, some identified retired professional (civilian, WO, or commissioned officer) of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps
    with verifiable expertise, experience, and credential in the matter.
    (Hint, hint!)

  65. Yeah, Right says:

    I suspect that pmr9 nails it. The pool of potential expert opinion is very small, which means that
    a) You don’t get to the top of this very small food-chain unless you know how to play the game, with the inevitable corollary that
    b) the contrarians in this field rarely get to the level you would acknowledge as being a “verifiable expert”.
    To borrow a phrase that I have heard before: the surest way to the top is to drink the Kool Aid.
    As evidence, compare and contrast Hans Blix (who was a contrarian) with Olli Heinonen (who was always simpatico to the Washington line).
    One of them does extremely well inside the beltway, and the other answers to the name of “Hans”.
    If you were one of the minnows (and they are all minnows at this level, make no mistake) you would look at those two gentlemen and you would draw the obvious conclusion: keep your head down, don’t buck the groupthink and never, ever, step out on a limb.

  66. Totally agree with your calling out of Bellingcat, and your support of Hersh, and Postal and others.

  67. confusedponderer says:

    re “Chemical Weapons Investigation for Dummies” …
    Actually, likely he doesn’t need to write such a piece, since there are a couple of such books out already, albeit with more serious titles. I still have a few of such books from ‘back the days’. Very sobering stuff to read.
    That written : IMO C stuff isn’t for dummies ever. The subject is special and IMO you’re unlikely to find literary about it in a library. If you’re really interested, a probably effective (if pricy) way to find such stuff is to go a science book shop (medicine and/or chemistry especially) and to ask and to order.

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