The Novichok Incident: Growing Concerns Russia Is Being Falsely Accused to Provoke a Western Power Play
March 28, 2018 CNN & Chris Kanthan / NationofChange & Ron Paul / The Liberty Report & Executive Intelligence Review & Craig Murray / Strategic Culture & Patreon.com
If you're Sherlock Holmes and you go through all the facts and possibilities, would you still conclude that Putin's agents were behind the UK chemical attack? Fact: There is no evidence that Russia retains an active Novichok capability -- unlike the US, Britain and Israel. The fact the UK chose to shut down all avenues of inquiry -- and to falsely claim that the "only possibility" is for all roads to lead to Russia -- demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation.
(March 21, 2018) -- Just a day after President Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election victory, the Kremlin suggested that the US was responsible for the poisoning of a former spy in Britain. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has the story.
Did Putin Do It? Chemical Attack in the UK Chris Kanthan / NationofChange
(March 21, 2018) -- How many readers are convinced that Russia was definitely behind the chemical attack in the UK? At a glance, it seems an open-shut case: someone tried to assassinate an ex-Russian spy and a double-agent with a nerve agent. And the modus operandi and motives clearly point to Vladimir Putin. However, let's pretend to be Sherlock Holmes -- the great British character -- for a moment and look at all the facts surrounding this case.
Who's Got Chemical Weapons (CW)?
Russia got rid of all its chemical weapons under the supervision of UN's OPCW. On the other hand, the US hasn't destroyed all its chemical weapons yet and there are still two CW sites in the US! The US government claims it will destroy them within the next five years. Hmm . . .
Who Has Novichok?
Novichok, the deadly nerve agent, was invented and produced by the USSR in the 1970s and 80s. Is it possible now for others to possess or manufacture it? Of course. Military labs around the world keep samples so they can develop antidotes. As UK's foreign minister Boris Johnson admitted, the UK labs do have samples of Novichok. Even Iran was able to develop Novichok in 2016 and they have registered it with UN's OPCW.
Sharing the Sample
Each lab adds a chemical "signature" to the deadly agents as a matter of protocol and safety. If Theresa May wanted to be credible, she would release the samples from the alleged incident to Russia and other neutral parties so there can be independent analyses. But the UK refuses to do so.
Porton Down -- The Infamous UK Lab
As an amazing coincidence, it just so happens that there is a famous UK military chemical lab in Porton Down, just six miles from Salisbury, where the alleged attack took place. Porton Down is the British lab where tear gas and the deadly VX ("Venomous Agent X") were invented a few decades ago. Tear gas is now used all over the world against humans; and VX is considered a weapon of mass destruction and is banned. Could some rogue MI6 agent have sneaked out the nerve agent from Porton Down?
The Porton Down lab also tested nerve agents on more than 20,000 unwitting UK civilians and soldiers and used them as "guinea pigs." Not a nice bunch of guys!
Guess Who Lives in the US
One of the leading chemists who developed Novichok defected to the US long time ago and lives in New Jersey now. He brags about it openly on his Facebook page. His name is Vil Mirzayanov.
The Formula Is Well Known
[Mirzaranov] also wrote a book and revealed the composition of the chemical agent.
Did the CIA Get Hold of Novichok?
The Novichok nerve agent was actually produced in a lab in Uzbekistan, which became a separate country after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Then Uzbekistan became very close to the US As this 1999 New York Times article reveals, the US worked with the Uzbek government to dismantle the lab and helped many scientists emigrate/defect to the US So, it's safe to assume that the CIA and the US military have Novichok. (Think of Operation Paperclip when Nazi scientists were brought into the US after World War II).
Is it possible that the entire story is bogus?
This nerve agent is supposed to be extremely deadly, but the UK government advised people in the area to use "baby wipes", "warm water" and "detergents" to clean their belongings. Really?
And then if you look at the photos of experts at the site, there are these guys in hazmat suits for visual impact. Then, right beside them are UK cops without any protective material. Maybe they had baby wipes with them? It's just like the implausible White Helmets story where they handle "Sarin gas victims" with bare hands. (Oh, btw, the White Helmets got millions of $$ of funding from the UK government).
Also, there have been no suspects in this case. For someone to specifically poison the food of two people eating at a restaurant, the attackers must either work at the restaurant or must have sneaked into the restaurant at the right time using some excuse. So there should be descriptions from others and perhaps the criminals were recorded on CCTV. Strangely, there has been no discussion of the culprits or any plans to track/capture them.
In any crime, we must look at the motives and opportunities. The only ones to benefit from this are the West and its allies -- US, UK, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others who are mad that Putin is helping Assad and ruining their grand plans for Middle East domination.
The Russian spy -- Sergei Skripal -- was a traitor who got arrested in 2004 for leaking state secrets to the UK. He was released in 2010 and sent to the UK as part of a spy-swap program. So Putin had 6 years to kill the guy in the Russian prison. But no! Putin would release him, wait for 8 more years, and then try to kill him in the most bizarre way possible just before the World Cup and just before the Russian presidential election.
Let's face it: the only ones to benefit from this asymmetric propaganda war are Putin's enemies.
What do these masterminds aim to accomplish? Let's go through a quick list: * Affect Putin's election last Sunday. At least they hoped that the turnout or his margin of victory will be a bit smaller.
* Ruin the World Cup in Russia this summer through boycotts and constant reminders that Putin poisons everyone.
* Freeze assets of Russian billionaires in London, and then use it to blackmail them for info; turn them against Putin; or at least use them to persuade Putin to give up Syria.
* Ban RT in UK/EU -- the Russian TV channel that is the only big one in the world to challenge western narratives.
* Stop the completion of Nordstream oil/gas pipeline that links Russia and Germany/Europe. The US has successfully disrupted the Russian pipelines through Ukraine, Poland and Bulgaria. The last one is Nordstream. Eventually, if the globalists can disrupt Russia's energy lifeline, they can bring Russia to its knees, kick out Putin and install a puppet. This is the geopolitics of oil that's rarely discussed in the MSM.
So, if you're Sherlock Holmes, and you go through all these facts and possibilities, would you still conclude that Putin's agents were definitely behind this chemical attack?
Chris Kanthan is the author of a new book, "Syria -- War of Deception." It's available in a condensed as well as a longer version. Chris lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has traveled to 35 countries, and writes about world affairs, politics, economy and health. His other book is "Deconstructing Monsanto." Trump's Expulsion of Russians:
Poison Attack or False Flag? Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams / The Liberty Report
(March 26, 2018) -- President Trump has expelled 60 Russian diplomats from the US over UK government claims that Russia was behind the recent alleged attack on a former Russian spy in the UK. The Russians have asked for some evidence they were behind the alleged attack. London refused.
What's behind Trump's decision to back up UK Prime Minister Theresa May in her allegations? Is it a diversion from economic issues like the new PetroYuan? Maybe it's about Iran? Iran Synthesized Novichok
Nerve Agent under OPCW Supervision Executive Intelligence Review News Service
(March 19, 2018) -- Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, who has been challenging the British government's claims regarding the poisoning of British double agent Sergei Skripal, reported in a blog posting on March 17 that he had been sent "vital information" showing that in 2016 Iranian scientists synthesized Novichok nerve agents under the supervision of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Warfare, so that they could be added to the OPCW's data base. "This makes complete nonsense of the Theresa May's 'of a type developed by Russia' line, used to Parliament and the UN Security Council," Murray writes.
"This explains why Porton Down [Britain's Defense Science and Technology Laboratory] have refused to cave in to governmental pressure to say the nerve agent was Russian. If Iran can make a Novichok, so can a significant number of states. [emphasis in original]: "While Iran acted absolutely responsibly in cooperating with the OPCW, there are a handful of rogue states operating outside the rule of international law, like Israel and North Korea, which refuse to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, join the OPCW or destroy their chemical weapons stocks."
Murray reports that Russia, in cooperation with the OPCW, completed destruction of its chemical stocks last year. "Why nobody is even looking at the rogue states outside the OPCW is a genuine puzzle." Murray concludes that despite what the lying media are regurgitating every day, " 'of a type developed by Russia,' has zero evidential value and is a politician's weasel phrase designed deliberately to mislead the public." A report on the Iranian work was published in Spectroscopy Now on Jan. 1, 2017. Porton Down Scientists Under Extreme Pressure
To Confirm Nerve Gas As Russian Craig Murray / Strategic Culture
(March 19, 2018) -- I have now received confirmation from a well placed Foreign and Commonwealth Office source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation "of a type developed by Russia" after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation.
The Russians were allegedly researching, in the "Novichok" programme a generation of nerve agents, which could be produced from commercially available precursors such as insecticides and fertilisers. This substance is a "novichok" in that sense. It is of that type. Just as I am typing on a laptop of a type developed by the United States, though this one was made in China.
To anybody with a Whitehall background this has been obvious for several days. The government has never said the nerve agent was made in Russia, or that it can only be made in Russia. The exact formulation "of a type developed by Russia" was used by Theresa May in parliament, used by the UK at the UN Security Council, used by Boris Johnson on the BBC yesterday and, most tellingly of all, "of a type developed by Russia" is the precise phrase used in the joint communique issued by the UK, USA, France and Germany yesterday: "This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War."
When the same extremely careful phrasing is never deviated from, you know it is the result of a very delicate Whitehall compromise. My FCO source, like me, remembers the extreme pressure put on FCO staff and other civil servants to sign off the dirty dossier on Iraqi WMD, some of which pressure I recount in my memoir Murder in Samarkand. She volunteered the comparison to what is happening now, particularly at Porton Down, with no prompting from me.
Separately I have written to the media office at OPCW to ask them to confirm that there has never been any physical evidence of the existence of Russian Novichoks, and the programme of inspection and destruction of Russian chemical weapons was completed last year. Did you know these interesting facts?
OPCW inspectors have had full access to all known Russian chemical weapons facilities for over a decade – including those identified by the "Novichok" alleged whistleblower Mirzayanov – and last year OPCW inspectors completed the destruction of the last of 40,000 tonnes of Russian chemical weapons.
By contrast, the programme of destruction of US chemical weapons stocks still has five years to run Israel has extensive stocks of chemical weapons but has always refused to declare any of them to the OPCW. Israel is not a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention nor a member of the OPCW. Israel signed in 1993 but refused to ratify as this would mean inspection and destruction of its chemical weapons. Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise "Novichoks".
Until this week, the near universal belief among chemical weapons experts, and the official position of the OPCW, was that "Novichoks" were at most a theoretical research programme which the Russians had never succeeded in actually synthesising and manufacturing. That is why they are not on the OPCW list of banned chemical weapons.
Porton Down is still not certain it is the Russians who have apparently synthesised a "Novichok". Hence "Of a type developed by Russia". Note developed, not made, produced or manufactured. It is very carefully worded propaganda. Of a type developed by liars.
This post prompted another old colleague to get in touch. On the bright side, the FCO have persuaded Boris he has to let the OPCW investigate a sample. But not just yet. The expectation is the inquiry committee will be chaired by a Chinese delegate.
The Boris plan is to get the OPCW also to sign up to the "as developed by Russia" formula, and diplomacy to this end is being undertaken in Beijing right now. I don't suppose there is any sign of the BBC doing any actual journalism on this? UK Government Manufacturing
Nerve Agent Case for 'Action' on Russia Official claim that 'Novichok' points
solely to Russia discredited Nafeez Ahmed / Insurge Intelligence
(March 14, 2018) -- On Monday, [British] Prime Minister Theresa May announced that former Russian spy, Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia, were poisoned with "a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia" known as 'Novichok'. The chemical agent was identified by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down.
May referred to the British government's "knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so" as a basis to conclude that Russia's culpability in the attack "is highly likely."
On these grounds, she claimed that only two scenarios are possible:
"Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others."
The British government's line has been chorused uncritically by the entire global press corps, with little scrutiny of its plausibility. But there is a problem: far from offering a clear-cut evidence-trail to Vladimir Putin's chemical warfare labs, the use of Novichok in the nerve gas attack on UK soil points to a wider set of potential suspects, of which Russia is in fact the least likely.
Russia did actually destroy its nerve agent capabilities according to the OPCW Yet a concerted effort is being made to turn facts on their head. No clearer sign of this can be found than in the statement by Ambassador Peter Wilson, UK Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in which he claimed that Russia has "failed for many years" to fully disclose its chemical weapons programme.
Wilson was parroting a claim made a year earlier by the US State Department that Russia had not made a complete declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile: "The United States cannot certify that Russia has met its obligations under the Convention."
Yet these claims are contradicted by the OPCW itself, which in September 2017 declared that the independent global agency had rigorously verified the completed destruction of Russia's entire chemical weapons programme, including of course its nerve agent production capabilities.
OPCW Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, congratulated Russia with the following announcement: "The completion of the verified destruction of Russia's chemical weapons programme is a major milestone in the achievement of the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention. I congratulate Russia and I commend all of their experts who were involved for their professionalism and dedication. I also express my appreciation to the States Parties that assisted the Russian Federation with its destruction program and thank the OPCW staff who verified the destruction."
The OPCW's press statement confirmed that: "The remainder of Russia's chemical weapons arsenal has been destroyed at the Kizner Chemical Weapons Destruction Facility in the Udmurt Republic. Kizner was the last operating facility of seven chemical weapons destruction facilities in Russia. The six other facilities (Kambarka, Gorny, Maradykovsky, Leonidovka, Pochep and Shchuchye) completed work and were closed between 2005 and 2015."
The OPCW's reports on Russia confirm that the agency found no evidence of the existence of an active Novichok programme.
It should be noted that Dr. Robin M. Black, formerly of Porton Down's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, which reportedly confirmed the use of Novichok in the Salisbury assassination, sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of the OPCW. Yet a scientific review by Dr. Black also raised doubts about Novichok, noting that its properties and structures had not been independently confirmed.
Here is what Porton Down's Dr. Black wrote about Novichoks in a 2016 scientific review published by the Royal Society of Chemistry: "In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, 'Novichoks' (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the 'Foliant' programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive counter-measures.
"Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published.
On the basis of this sort of analysis, the OPCW's science board, which included Porton Down's Dr. Black as UK representative, concluded that:
". . . it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of 'Novichoks.'"
So in short, the OPCW does not agree with the vague US and British insistence that Russia failed to declare all its chemical weapons stockpiles and facilities, and does not agree with the insistence that Novichok stockpiles or production facilities exist in Russia. But it seems that neither does His Excellency Peter Wilson himself.
In a statement to the OPCW in November 2017, Ambassador Wilson congratulated the OPCW on verifying the complete destruction of Russia's chemical weapons programme with high praise for its director, Ahmet Üzümcü. Wilson listed the latter's numerous achievements including: ". . . the completion of the verified destruction of Russia's declared chemical weapons programme."
Yes, Wilson specified he was only talking about Russia's "declared" programme, but he did not denounce the OPCW for failing to deal with an undeclared Novichoks programme. So how credible is his recent insinuation that the OPCW's position is wrong? Arguably, not very.
Because the claim, tracing back to the State Department, that Russia has not declared all its chemical weapons, is based on the assertion that its Novichok capability still exists. But both Porton Down's Dr. Black and the OPCW's Science Advisory Board fundamentally questioned the "existence" of Novichok.
Lack of credibility of the Anglo-American critique of Russia's destruction of its chemical weapons was called out in a detailed report by the respected Clingandael Institute of International Relations.
The report, co-funded by the European Union, criticised the United States for adopting an unhelpful politicised approach to the chemical weapons issue in relation to Russia, while hypocritically delaying its own compliance obligations, all of which was done in a manner which bypassed OPCW mechanisms.
It's worth reproducing that entire text in full :
". . . on a political level there have been some drawbacks. Particularly interesting is that compliance concerns tend to be raised by the US, while this state is itself being criticized for delays in disarmament.
"In 2005, the US expressed concern about active offensive CW research and development (R&D) programmes, as well as inaccurate declarations regarding past CW transfers and undeclared CW facilities in Russia, China, Iran, Libya and Sudan. The US decided to address these concerns through bilateral channels, rather than directly engaging formal OPCW mechanisms.
In the meantime, the US itself has been criticized for exporting arms classified as 'toxicological agents' (notably tear gas) to numerous countries in the Middle East (between 2009-13).
Since 9/11, the US has also intensified its R&D on non-lethal chemical agents, along with new means of delivery and dispersal. The CWC (Article II, para. 2) does cover chemical compounds with incapacitating or irritant effects . . . Taken together with the delay in destroying US CW stockpiles, this has taken a toll on the US' standing within the CWC, undermining its role as a 'regime hegemon'. Since these compliance concerns remain unresolved, this has also, ipso facto, affected the authority of the CWC, and hence the OPCW." [Emphasis added]
In other words, the US did not raise its claimed concerns about Russia's undeclared Novichoks through the proper mechanisms via OPCW, but only bilaterally. Why?
One possible explanation is that by not working through the issue with the OPCW, the US effectively circumvented the international verification process by which the Novichoks issue, if real, could be properly investigated and assessed.
This has conveniently permitted the US and Britain to claim, entirely without evidence, that Russia is in non-compliance of the Chemical Weapons Convention by insisting that its Novichoks supplies and capabilities remain undeclared. Yet it is precisely the US' own refusal to disclose and navigate the issue through the OPCW that means the matter can be made out to be forever unresolved.
The crux of it is this: At this point, neither the US nor Britain have offered any actual evidence as to why the OPCW's verification process regarding Russia's dismantlement of its chemical weapons capability should be disbelieved. They have provided no evidence that Russia retains any Novichok stockpiles.
The OPCW is, of course, the same agency whose independent investigations the West is relying on to determine culpability in major chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Why, then, would the OPCW's conclusions on Syria be considered gospel truth, while its conclusions on Russia be rejected?
Not only has the press completely overlooked these kinks in the British government line, it has curiously ignored that Theresa May's claims contradict the public statements of Mirzayanov. Agence France-Presse, for instance, declared in an opening paragraph to an interview with Mirzayanov: "The Russian chemist who first revealed the existence of 'Novichok' nerve agents says only the Russians can be behind the weapon's use in Britain against a former spy and his daughter."
And yet, the AFP article went on to report: "The only other possibility, he said, would be that someone used the formulas in his book to make such a weapon." Mirzayanov's book, published in 2008, contains the formulas he alleges can be used to create Novichoks.
"In 1995, he explained : "the chemical components or precursors" of Novichok are "ordinary organophosphates that can be made at commercial chemical companies that manufacture such products as fertilizers and pesticides."
"If his claims are remotely accurate, that means Novichoks can actually be manufactured by anyone who reads Mirzayanov's book with access to a decent laboratory. Which means that Theresa May's claim that Novichoks lead only to Russia is little more than a deception.
Other states have Novichok capabilities, but the British government doesn't want to investigate them. The OPCW's authoritative verdict on Russia's now-destroyed chemical weapons capabilities should be enough to give anyone pause for thought in rushing to judgement concerning Russian responsibility for the Novichok attack.
Instead, the British government appears to have no interest in investigating the fact that there are other state agencies with significant nerve-agent capabilities. Like its ally, the United States. Under Boris Yeltsin, who won Russian elections thanks to Western covert meddling, the Russian government had declared that it was not stockpiling Novichok. This is why Yeltsin did not report Novichok's existence under chemical-weapons conventions at the time -- because the official Russian position was the stockpiles no longer existed.
It turns out the Americans themselves were involved in dismantling Russia's remaining Novichok capabilities. In August 1999, as the BBC reported, US defence experts arrived in Uzbekistan to help "dismantle and decontaminate one of the former Soviet Union's largest chemical weapons testing facilities."
The facility was known as "a major research site for a new generation of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons, known as Novichok," and provided the US ample opportunity to learn about this nerve agent and reproduce it for testing and defence purposes.
But it is not just the US. According to Craig Murray , former US Ambassador to Uzbekistan and prior to that a long-time career diplomat in the UK Foreign Office who worked across Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia; the British government itself has advanced capabilities in Novichok: "The 'novochok' group of nerve agents, a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing 50 years ago, will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes.
"After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents, one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel."
But the British government doesn't want to investigate Porton Down, not even to rule out the possibility that it may have 'lost control' of some of its Novichok stockpiles.
Porton Down: Experiments on British Public from 1950s-1989
Perhaps the government is worried about what it might actually discover if it asks too many questions about Porton Down itself. The facility has a somewhat chequered history in relation to the abuse of chemical and biological weapons programmes that has been largely forgotten. This history illustrates that the British government has not at all been averse to using chemical and biological weapons on its own population, just to see what happens.
Two years ago, The Independent reported on new historical research which found that during the Cold War, the British government "used the general public as unwitting biological and chemical warfare guinea pigs on a much greater scale than previously thought."
Over 750 secret operations were carried out on "hundreds of thousands of ordinary Britons" involving "biological and chemical warfare attacks launched from aircraft, ships and road vehicles."
"British military aircraft dropped thousands of kilos of a chemical of 'largely unknown toxic potential' on British civilian populations in and around Salisbury in Wiltshire, Cardington in Bedfordshire and Norwich in Norfolk . . . Substantial quantities were also dispersed across parts of the English Channel and the North Sea. It's not known the extent to which coastal towns in England and France were affected . . . commuters on the London underground were also used as guinea pigs on a substantially larger scale than previously thought.
The new research has discovered that a hitherto unknown biological warfare field trial was carried out in the capital's tube system in May 1964. The secret operation, carried out by scientists from the government's chemical and biological warfare research centre at Porton Down, Wiltshire , involved the release of large quantities of bacteria called Bacillus globigii . . ."
New research also shows many of the British scientists involved "had grave misgivings about the field trials . . . some had long felt it was not politically advisable to conduct large-scale trials in Britain with live bacterial agents." Such reservations did not stop the government from authorising these dangerous experiments.
Porton Down also conducted extensive nerve agent tests on British soldiers around this time. Less well-known, is the fact that members of the British armed forces "were experimented on with Sarin, the deadly nerve gas, as late as 1983 at the Government's defence research centre at Porton Down," according to Ministry of Defence documents obtained by The Telegraph. Operation Antler, as the police investigation into the experiments was called, found that nerve agent trials had gone on as late as 1989.
British Intelligence Disinformation Services
A secret British intelligence unit is actively arranging 'honey trap' propaganda operations to incriminate 'adversaries' There are strong reasons then, not to fall slavishly in line with the British government's rush to judgement on Russia. This is particularly the case given what we now know about British intelligence service's disinformation intent and capabilities when dealing with "adversaries."
National Security Agency documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that a secret British intelligence unit, Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG), uses a range of "dirty tricks" against "nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into 'honey traps,'" according to a NBC News investigation.
Although much of the focus of these operations is online, they include the goal of "having an impact in the real world," and "using online techniques to make something happen in the real or online world." The modus operandi is to "destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt" enemies by "discrediting" them and planting misinformation designed to look like actions were performed by them.
Propaganda campaigns can use deception, mass messaging and "pushing stories" via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. One section of the document explains that such influence operations can involve direct efforts to manipulate people's behaviour into compromising situations: "Honey trap; a great option. Very successful when it works.
Get someone to go somewhere on the internet, or a physical location to be met by a 'friendly face'.
JTRIG has the ability to 'shape' the environment on occasions."
Such capabilities and operations of deception at the heart of the British state raise perfectly reasonable questions about whether the UK's intelligence services are deliberately seeking to pin the blame on Russia for geopolitical reasons , or perhaps, even to distract from scrutiny from allies who might be legitimate suspects.
According to former British diplomat Craig Murray, it is more reasonable to cast the net of suspicion onto Israel for many of the same reasons cited by the British government: "Israel has the nerve agents. Israel has Mossad, which is extremely skilled at foreign assassinations.
Theresa May claimed Russian propensity to assassinate abroad as a specific reason to believe Russia did it. Well Mossad has an even greater propensity to assassinate abroad.
While I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grievously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging Russia's reputation so grievously. Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and Israel has every motive for damaging Russia's international position by an attack aiming to leave the blame on Russia."
Murray further points out that it is unlikely the Russians "waited eight years to do this, they could have waited until after their World Cup." Similarly, it makes little sense to suddenly assassinate a "swapped spy" who had already served his time and been living out in the open for years in the UK.
Murray is no blind Russiaphile, so his critical analysis cannot be dismissed on grounds of partisanship. He describes himself as "someone who believes that agents of the Russian state did assassinate Litvinenko. He believes the Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia is illegal. But he cautions that, given the severe lack of credible evidence on this case, he is "alarmed by the security, spying and armaments industries' frenetic efforts to stoke Russophobia and heat up the new cold war."
INSURGE just reported on an extensive US Army study published in 2017 which not only stated quite unequivocally that NATO expansionism is the main driver of Russian 'belligerence,' but that NATO's main interest has always been to rollback Russia's regional influence so the West can dominate Central Asian natural resources and oil pipeline routes. The document recommended that in 2018, the US should consider pursuing a concerted covert "information" campaign to undermine Putin.
Is this what we are seeing play out right now as Theresa May rushes to punish Putin? This leaves us with the following. The actual history of Novichok shows that out of the countries discussed here, Russia is the only state to have been certified by the OPCW as having destroyed its chemical weapons programme, including its nerve agent capabilities.
The OPCW found no evidence to indicate Russia retains an active Novichok capability. The same is not the case for the US, Britain and Israel. There is no legitimate reason for British authorities to rule out that any of these states could have at the least 'lost control' of their nerve agent stockpiles.
The fact the government chose, instead, to shut down all avenues of inquiry other than to claim falsely that the "only possibility" is for all roads to lead to Russia, demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation.
It may turn out that Russia did indeed carry out the Novichok attack. But at this time, the British state has no real basis to presume this. It implies the state has already decided it wants to manufacture a path to heightened hostilities with Russia, regardless of the evidence. And that does not bode well.
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is the founding editor of INSURGE intelligence. Nafeez is a 16-year investigative journalist, formerly of The Guardian where he reported on the geopolitics of social, economic and environmental crises. Nafeez reports on 'global system change' for VICE's Motherboard, and on regional geopolitics for Middle East Eye.
He has bylines in The Independent on Sunday, The Independent, The Scotsman, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, New York Observer, The New Statesman, Prospect, Le Monde diplomatique, among other places.
He has twice won the Project Censored Award for his investigative reporting; twice been featured in the Evening Standard's top 1,000 list of most influential Londoners; and won the Naples Prize, Italy's most prestigious literary award created by the President of the Republic. Nafeez is also a widely published and cited interdisciplinary academic applying complex systems analysis to ecological and political violence. Army Study: US Strategy to 'Dethrone' Putin
For Oil Pipelines Might Provoke WW3 Patreon.com
(March 7, 2018) -- This exclusive covers a major internal US Army document published last year, in which senior DIA, Air Force and Army officials admit that NATO expansionism and US covert interference in Russian internal politics may backfire to trigger "next global conflict."
It also reveals the real interests in US encroachment on Russia: oil pipelines, access to natural resources, and expanding American capitalism.
This is big story that will likely upset a lot of people as it completely overturns the dominant narrative right now that Russia is the be-all and end-all of all the world's evil. There's a great deal that is wrong and destructive about Russia -- as with all nation-states -- but what's particularly interesting is that this US Army study questions a lot of these narratives with hard evidence.
My hope is that this piece can be used to counter some of the rampant disinformation emerging which appears to be legitimising a dangerously hardened policy stance on Russia, which could heighten the risk of another world war. Thanks for your support, which made this story possible. Do share widely, and perhaps we can begin to put out a bit of an antidote to the hysteria that is rapidly eroding the public conversation on these issues.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.