latest, media watch

Media Lens skewers Monbiot’s Syria nonsense

The always incisive people at Media Lens have just done an excellent job exposing the most recent media campaign for a NATO invasion of Syria as the dangerous, sub-intelligent nonsense it is.

George Monbiot

The particular focus of Media Lens’ recent piece – “An Impeachable Offence” is – deservedly – the prize nincompoop George Monbiot, who shall forever be remembered for declaiming in a cringeworthy tweet “Do those who still insist Syrian govt didn’t drop chemical weapons have any idea how much evidence they are denying?” – and then linking to a Medium article citing Eliot Higgins, aka “Brown Moses”, ex-admin for an underwear firm, as the source of incontrovertible proof!

(Note to George: don’t skim read before going public). But in case Monbiot doesn’t yet realise the depths of foolishness he has plumbed, Medla Lens reminds him and us:

In a 2014 letter to the London Review of Books, Richard Lloyd and Ted Postol, described by the New York Times as ‘leading weapons experts’, dismissed Higgins as

a blogger who, although he has been widely quoted as an expert in the American mainstream media, has changed his facts every time new technical information has challenged his conclusion that the Syrian government must have been responsible for the sarin attack [in Ghouta, August 2013]. In addition, the claims that Higgins makes that are correct are all derived from our findings, which have been transmitted to him in numerous exchanges’

There’s no excuse for anyone of Monbiot’s public stature giving credit to the entirely discredited Higgins, whose work has been repeatedly debunked. He’s – at best – an ungifted amateur with no training and little ability, promoted by the media and government intel agencies in need of a willing patsy to push stupid claims they don’t want to author directly. Even the full backing of the Establishment can’t conceal his ineptness, which continues to be manifest every time he releases another “analysis.” His bungling attempts to use the free photo analytic programme Foto Forensics to “prove” his claims of Russian fakery were heavily criticised and described as “how not to do image analysis” by the creator of the programme.

Higgins himself doesn’t allow any such reality-based critiques to get him down. He lives happily in the media bubble created for him and believes his own nonsense. When Theodore Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national-security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, challenged the claim that the Assad government had perpetrated the chemical attack on Ghouta in 2013, Higgins, unemployed office admin, apparently dismissed the criticisms as “amateurish”. Perhaps ultimately he can’t be blamed for such extremes of narcissistic delusion, but those – like Monbiot – who persist in quoting him and using his MS Paint-based “analyses” as an argument for a very dangerous war, have no such excuse.

Postol issued a very damning analysis of the recent White House claim regarding the alleged sarin attack in Idlib. As with the Ghouta incident it so closely resembles, Postol points up the numerous flaws and failures of the official position that rules Assad’s guilt beyond doubt.

But neither Monbiot nor any western journalist who happily source Higgins, appears aware of those criticisms, or the comparable sceptical analyses published by Philip Giraldi, Scott Ritter and Hans Blix. To quote Media Lens again:

Our search of the Lexis database (April 26) finds that no UK newspaper article has mentioned the words ‘Postol’ and ‘Syria’ in the last month. In our April 12 media alert, we noted that former and current UN weapons inspectors Hans Blix, Scott Ritter and Jerry Smith, as well as former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Giraldi, had all questioned the official narrative of what happened on April 4. Lexis finds these results for UK national newspapers:

‘Blix’ and ‘Syria’ = 0 hits

‘Ritter’ and ‘Syria’ = 0 hits

‘Jerry Smith’ and Syria = 1 hit

‘Giraldi’ and ‘Syria’ = 0 hits.

Is there any better evidence that our press is not free and what we see in our feeds and on our TVs is not “news” but absolute uniform and state-generated propaganda?


  1. Mr. Monbiot must have relied on the declassified evidence provided to humanity by the Trump administration “proving” Syrian forces gassed their own people.

    Oops… Forgot… The Trump administration still hasn’t declassified its “without a doubt… proof”.

  2. USAma Bin Laden says

    So given a choice between a former women’s underwear salesman (Eliot Higgins) and a professor emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at MIT who has worked for the US Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and as a scientific adviser to the Chief of Naval Operations (Theodore Postol), the mainstream Free Press considers the former underwear salesman a more credible and citable source.

    Welcome to the Idiocracy!

    • Catte says

      In fairness Higgins didn’t sell underwear, he worked as an admin in a firm that sold underwear 🙂

      • Ike says

        So he couldn’t even sell underwear but was sort of like the backup boy who did the sums and made sure the consumers were being overcharged for substandard undergarments.

        • Richard Ong says

          You mouth the usual silliness about the exploitative consumer economy where the helpless, witless consumer is cheated by mean owners.

          Why do you waste my time so?

  3. writerroddis says

    I’ve responded twice on my blog to Monbiot’s Idlib tweets – see <a href="; target="_blank". In his blog post, ‘Disavowal’ – which Jonathan Cook dissects at – Monbiot cites Linus Beach on forensics, a Guardian piece by Lebanon based journalist Kareem Shaheen for eye witness acounts damning of Damascus he says he collected shortly after he arrived at Idlib.

    Anyone know about Beach and/or Shaheed? What’s their credibility?

    • Sav says

      Don’t know Beach. Kareem Shaheen is as biased as you can get. Another Guardian journo who like Monbiot & Co repeatedly stating Syrian government guilt on previous claims which even the UN hadn’t attributed.

      If you remember just after the Omran story, it didn’t have the desired effect of overt intervention so they tried to keep the pressure up with the media claiming his older brother had died from his injuries. An older brother who no one had even mentioned previously. The claim rested solely on good ole ‘activists’ and who came to verify this claim? – Kareen Shaheen, saying in a Tweet that Omran’s doctor had confirmed this to him. A doctor who apparently had no name or face.

      Just go to his Twitter feed and you’ll see all you want to know about this compulsive liar.

    • I checked your blog writerroddis. With the above link to it, stuff is missing. I arrived at your blog, but got an Oops message. Jonathan Cook is indispensable.

  4. Jen says

    Since we mentioned Elliot Higgins aka The Brown Noser, we might as well mention his buddy Dan Kaszeta the self-styled chemical weapons expert and find out what qualifications he has to pronounce judgement on incidents involving or not involving the use of CWs.

    Dan Kaszeta’s LinkedIn profile:

    His biography at Strongpoint Security’s website where he is Managing Director:

    Anyone think he might have more than just an objective interest in “seeing” CWs where others advise more caution?

    • Sav says

      Kaszeta did a contracted piece to counter Assad’s comments on ‘kitchen sarin’ by citing the Japanese cult who killed commuters on the subway. His argument was that the cult were still raising money to create a multi-million dollar laboratory to produce it, therefore this was not something in the capability of the rebels to produce.

      I pointed out to him that the cult had been able to create it, albeit crudely, so his argument was nonsense. He came back with claims that I was too aggressive or some other crap and refused to answer. Usual format of the sociopath. You see it all over Twitter…instead of answering they’ll claim harassment.

      • Marko says

        Kaszeta mixes apples and oranges when he conflates the experience of the Aum Shinrikyo cult with the task faced by the rebels , and he does it to convey the ( false ) notion that only state actors ( i.e. Assad ) could possibly obtain and weaponize sarin. The cult started with far more basic and easily obtained raw materials , then using a quite challenging ( for them ) multi-step chemical synthesis to produce their sarin precursor material. For the rebels , the assumption is that they’ve obtained the precursor via black markets in either remaining stockpiles from Libya or Syria CW programs , or from newly-manufactured precursor obtained from a manufacturer in Turkey , Saudi Arabia , or wherever.

        Once this essential precursor is obtained , it’s a simple matter of combining it with easily-obtained isopropyl alcohol and you have your sarin. There are safety considerations , of course , along with the need to protect your product from exposure to air or water during storage , but these are tasks that are well within the rebel’s capability.

        • Sav says

          Or the other possbility is that there has never been sarin used anywhere. Only the by-product of sarin deployment used in a staged scene for when UN inspectors arrived.

          The 2013 UN report came from an area then controlled by the rebels so they had full control of what the inspectors would see and swab. It also states the scenes they went to, to get samples, had been disturbed.

          And towards the initial staging of these incidents rebels have simply used cheap household chemical agents to produce chloramine or the like?

    • Jen says

      Thanks to Sav and Mog for interesting and useful info on Dan Kaszeta!

      • I was just listening to a Scott Horton interview with Theodore Postol, and he claims that Kaszeta has obviously “manufactured his credentials,” that he is every bit as much an “expert” on “sarin” as Brown Noser Higgins.

        You can listen to the interview here, with the relevant bit beginning some 12 minutes and 17 seconds into the conversation.

        Postol is confident that Kaszeta has zero qualifications to pronounce judgement on incidents involving or not involving the use of CWs, declaring him to be an out-and-out ‘fraud.’

        • Sav says

          I’ve just finished listening to that interview, Norman. Very useful. Would recommend for others to check it out.

      • Here is a link to .pdf document by Theodore A. Postol, titled:

        A Brief Assessment of the Veracity of Published Statements in the Press and Elsewhere Made by Dan Kaszeta, A Self-Described Expert on the Science and Technology of Chemical Weapons

  5. Lets be honest the west and all their propaganda sources of information are all living in total dystopia.
    When has the west in the last 25 years ever resembled anything real or factual with relations to news.
    Orwellian times we r living in the west. Just look at how they portray the North Koreans as aggressors and dangerous to humanity.
    The United States of Amnesia has been in existence for circa 270 years of which they have been at war for circa 220 years. Since the 20th century western colonial aggression on the rest of the world has been ever so omnipotent until this day but hell why mention facts to the ever so obvious echo chamber we are all getting used to.
    Yes it is some sort of parallel universe we live in. One based on facts evidence ,reason and logic and one based on fabrications lies and denial.
    Globalism has just entered the realm of reality. Life support and the intensivist is drunk with illusion.

  6. michaelk says

    Using Higgins and the so grandly labeled Syrian Observatory on Human Rights as credible or authoritative sources allows people like Monbiot and others in the media to claim ‘plausible deniablity’ if at some point they are challenged about the quality of their articles. They can always ‘claim’ not to be directly responsible because the relied on and believed their sources Higgins and SOHR, so the stories and the consequences, just like in Iraq, weren’t their fault, they were ‘misled.’

    The security services in the UK are clearly linked to Higgins and SOHR. They are using them as channels to feed propaganda to journalists who would not be willing, I hope not, to accept such material directly from the SS, at least this is how it works, probably, with people like Monbiot.

    It is though, extraordinary that someone like Monbiot, with his status and reputation, and I suppose intelligence, would go anywhere near someone like Higgins, would touch him with a bargepole. The guy is toxic and the stuff he cobbles together is ridiculous and no half-way reputable journalist should have anything to do with him. It just shows how far our media and journalism have fallen since Iraq, which was a turning point alright… for the worse.

  7. BigB says

    The other problem is that TPTB are straining at the leash to start a war over this, or plausibly an even greater CW massacre yet to come, in order to precipitate an intervention. Bojo FM let it slip that the UK could go to war by Royal Prerogative, without Parliamentary approval, especially after May 23rd when Parliament dissolves. It would be “difficult not to” and the approval would have to be “tested.”
    Apart from the areas of Syria already Balkanised, the SAA seem to be doing rather well – having recently liberated the al-Shaer gas field (for the third time?) Although the war is far from over, the mood seems more optimistic – looking to the future with their chosen rebuilding partners – Russia, China and Iran. To the psychopathogenic puppet masters that pull the likes of Mattis and McMaster’s strings – this will not be an acceptable outcome, I feel.
    I can’t see into the future, but, as far as Monbiot is concerned – backing the terrorists makes such a future outcome more likely, as Syria does the best it can to normalise. For him, declaring oneself an enemy of the corporatocracy, whilst at the same time blatantly propagandising the corporate war strategy – must be a strange paramoral cognitive dissonant place to be?

      • JGarbo says

        Putin knows that it’s better to fight the US mercenaries in Syria than (eventually) in Russia (another Chechnya?). Even committing (more) Russian ground forces seems a better bet. But this is a “secret war” that the US public know little about, not that they would protest if they did, being too preoccupied with domestic problems, so public opinion can’t be swayed. Putin’s smart but his forces are limited. He must inflict maximum damage with low losses and demonstrate that the US game is too expensive. Supporting Assad seems the only practical, survivable course.

      • Jen says

        Are you referring to the recent Russian pull-out of fighter jets from the Khmeymim airbase in Syria?

        This withdrawal would have been planned in advance and agreed on by the Syrian government and probably Iran as well. The withdrawal comes because a number of strategic goals have been fulfilled.

        Of course the news would have been spun in the Western media to insinuate that Russia is an untrustworthy partner to the Syrians. Had the Russians decided not to withdraw the jets, that in itself could be deliberately misconstrued to imply something equally sinister in Russian political intentions for Syria or equally defective in Russian aerial strategy.

        “Russia has withdrawn almost half of its aviation group based on Hmeymim airbase in Syria”

        Russia has withdrawn almost half of its aviation group based on Hmeymim airbase in Syria, stated Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy in his speech at the VI Moscow Conference on International Security.

        “The number of terrorist groups in Syria has decreased that has allowed us to take this step,” said Sergei Rudskoy and added that “the Russian Aerospace Forces since the beginning of the operation in Syria have conducted more than 23,000 sorties and about 77,000 strikes on terrorists”.

        He also said that Syrian government troops had eliminated more than 7,000 insurgents of the 10,000-man strong grouping of militants in Hama with the support of Russian Aerospace Forces. They have been pushed from the city by 15 kilometers.

        • Yonatan says

          Why should Russia waste money keeping fighter aircraft there when they are no longer needed? The US Shirat bs has give Russia unambiguous requiremnt to use the S-400s from now on as it has to assume any US asset heading their way is actually offensive. The Russians need bombers and have sent in four more Su-34s. That is not mentioned in the west as it does not fit the propaganda position.

      • For what it’s worth, Pat Lang, at Sic Semper Tyrannis said it is a routine rotation, and has been done before.

        • I refer to nothing specific Jen. I don’t know details such as those all who responded to my comment relay. It just looked to me like Syrian terrorists, despite the news that Syrian armed forces, together with Russians, are ‘not’ running scared and still need to be dealt with. And I thought that with Russia forces attacking them, they’d be ‘very’ defeated by now. And I recall Putin meeting, cheerily, with Netanyahu (forget exactly who) during this crisis. Okay, We all want dialog. But when we here of such high level meetings and then we watch terrorists conducting operations with confidence and success…

        • Do you have a link Doug. I’m not that lazy but I seem to recall trying to find that site before and not having success for some reason. Or there was some issue or another.

            • Sic Semper Tyrannis meaning ‘such always to Tyrants’, as Brutus was murdering Julius Caesar. “Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets).” In his ‘about’, Colonel Lang goes on to list all of the departments of American Empire he worked in and never says anything along the lines of ‘and I apologize’. Perhaps he’s going to let his further words, and actions, making up the content of his blog stand in for such an apology.

  8. George has been at it for a while. Here’s his take on the film Loose Change, facets of which have also been criticized by 9/11 researchers. (Guardian, February 6, 2007)
    “A 9/11 conspiracy virus is sweeping the world, but it has no basis in fact. Loose Change is a sharp, slick film with an authoritative voiceover, but it drowns the truth in an ocean of nonsense.”
    And going on:
    “There is a virus sweeping the world. It infects opponents of the Bush government, sucks their brains out through their eyes and turns them into gibbering idiots. First cultivated in a laboratory in the US, the strain reached these shores a few months ago. In the past fortnight, it has become an epidemic. Scarcely a day now passes without someone possessed by this sickness, eyes rolling, lips flecked with foam, trying to infect me.”
    Further down is Monbiot’s explanation for how the towers collapsed.
    “The failure of the twin towers has been exhaustively documented by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Far from being impossible, the collapse turns out to have been inevitable. The planes cut some of the support columns and ignited fires sufficient to weaken (but not melt) the remaining steel structures. As the perimeter columns buckled, the weight of the collapsing top stories generated a momentum the rest of the building could not arrest. Puffs of smoke were blown out of the structure by compression as the building fell.”
    I interviewed Dr Shyam Sunder, NIST’s lead investigator into the collapse of the buildings. He confirmed he had used a model to predict the high temperatures reached prior to collapse although he could have directly tested good samples from the hottest areas of the fires that were available. He said he had not looked for evidence of explosions as he knew the buildings had collapsed because of airplane impact and the subsequent fires.
    Here’s Monbiot’s reason for why a third skyscraper, Building 7 collapsed at about 5.20 in the afternoon:
    “Counterpunch, the radical leftwing magazine, commissioned its own expert – an aerospace and mechanical engineer – to test the official findings. He shows that the institute must have been right. He also demonstrates how Building 7 collapsed. Burning debris falling from the twin towers ruptured the oil pipes feeding its emergency generators. The reduction in pressure triggered the automatic pumping system, which poured thousands of gallons of diesel on to the fire. The support trusses weakened and buckled, and the building imploded. Popular Mechanics magazine polled 300 experts and came to the same conclusions.’
    I spoke to Popular Mechanics the Counterpunch source. The editor was helpful but could not put-up an independent expert as the magazine had supervised the entire investigation. Dr Syam Sunder said he was not optimistic about finding a cause for the collapse of Building 7.
    Perhaps, afflicted by the virus, George was in no condition to make two phone calls.

    • Feb 2007 was when I got off the Monbiot train.
      He celebrates the careful scepticism of the scientific process and the adversarial challenging of evidence when it suits his argument, but when they don’t, he readily throws them down the shitter.
      Ultimately he cannot mentally escape his upbringing within the political establishment, he cannot accept that the people who run the empire are not ‘mistaken’ or ‘error prone’, but evil.

    • I’ve been collecting articles about fake Leftie, and Guardian tool, George Monbiot, for a little while now. The CounterPunch link is interesting, seeing how I was spit on, verbally, by Jeffrey St Clair, for seemingly no reason. But I did mention to him that I was simply collecting articles about Robert Reich (who I can’t help but dislike because of his service to the Clintons, but who may not actually be that bad), Juan Cole and George Monbiot (who Edward S. Herman has a thing or two to say about). I visit CounterPunch, infrequently, but I actually avoid articles by St. Clair and his colleague Joshua Frank (who seems to be on the ‘Putin did it whatever it is’ bandwagon (but haven’t investigated that thoroughly).

      • Seamus Padraig says

        For years, CounterPunch was my favorite website. I used to visit them almost daily, and often donated money to them. Unfortunately though, the site seems to have gone downhill after Alexander Cockburn’s death in 2012. To be sure, Cockburn had a bit of a prejudice against ‘conspiracy theory’ as well, even though he himself was a global warming skeptic. But I still preferred him to Jeffrey St. Clair.

  9. sabelmouse says

    idiot, or corporate shill, i can never make up my mind.

    • JGarbo says

      Sly corporate shill? Do these craven stenographers lose sleep over their lies? How do they face their families?

  10. BigB says

    The thing is, we all know that Monbiot is the very opposite of sub-intelligent – so there is something else going on in his mind. I’m not going to speculate what it is – but he has a new career as a travelling troubadour – soon to be appearing at the Brighton Festival if anyone fancies it. My suggestion is that he gives up the pro-terrorist journalism for music. That is if he has one ounce of moral rectitude left.
    He presents himself as a zero-carbon-footprint, pushbiking, organic-veg-growing, holier-than-thou eco-puritan – which is all very laudable – but ethical living extends first and foremost to human life. Ahimsa, above all, do no harm. Siding with the terrorists is siding with murder and death. There is a direct correlation between Khan Shaykhun and the child massacre at Rashideen. Surely as our number one lifestyle choicer he can see that?

    • Catte says

      In my experience the best shills are those too stupid to understand why the narrative they are selling is garbage, or too narcissistic to care or too insane for rational thought, or all three. Intelligence is a hindrance for the purveyors of bullshit.

      • I know someone whopersonally knows him and once remarked how intelligent they thought George Monbiot.
        He is well read, and was taught the arts of rhetoric and sophistry from an early age at one the country’s most elite schools. That doesn’t make him ‘intelligent’ in my book.
        It is a sad fact that so many liberal brits fall for this ‘cleverness’ posing as genuine wisdom or insight, and are decieved by it. For me the hallmark of genuine intelligence is some kind of self reflection and humility – traits that are revealed to be lacking in Monbiot at certain juntures.

          • That’s all of us here. Don’t feel bad. Until we get an edit feature (one day, when the site is redesigned), we will continue to look worse than we are. 😉

        • JGarbo says

          At school we would separated the “bright” (intelligent) from the “clever” (manipulators). Only a few were bright but many were clever and went on “great careers in commerce”.

        • Sav says

          Entirely agree, mog. Christopher Hitchens’ sycophants fall for the same nonsense.

      • BigB says

        Yes Catte, but my POV is that his narrative is not garbage; it is worse than that – it is deeply dangerous and complicit with murder and maiming. I question whether he has enough real
        insightful ‘intelligence’ to know this and suggest that if he really is who he says he is (some sort of self-styled anti-establishment-eco-truth-warrior) that by rights, he should. That leaves the option that there is something deeply dark going on inside his mind. That is something for him and his analyst, or more likely, him and his mirror to decide. 🙂

    • sabelmouse says

      nothing laudable about veganism. it does the opposite of what it says on the tin and i think he’s shilling for fossil fuel with that ”meat causes climate change” myth.

  11. Sav says

    Brownmoses got the nick of Brownnoser on CIF because he was so up Guardian arse. Pet of Brian Whitaker, he helped bring him to the fore. Then across mainstream media, without anyone even scrutinising his logic or his work, he was announced as this amazing citizen journalist. The usual spin – tell the plebs the emperor’s clothes are amazing and they will all chime along.

    In his defence, Higgins’ investigations are no worse than one by Amnesty or HRW. They’re just as ludicrous.

    Finding Syria/Russia guilty is what puts money his account. Simple as that. The idea that he’s out to find the truth is comical.

  12. On Tim Haywards article as linked above is a sad but much needed artwork commemorating the deaths of the children lured by terrorists towards the buses in Kafaryha and Fouha. I cannot reproduce it here, but OffG could, so I request that you visit Tim’s article and perhaps reproduce it on a post, as a reminder of what these monstrous terrorists are capable of.
    Susan O’Neill, Mohandeer, wgrovedotnet.

  13. William Heron says

    The only one that I know who got any media attention was Scott Ritter in the Huff post.

  14. Tim Hayward.George Monbiot, about Syria…Posted on April 28, 2017 by timhayward
    “I write this open letter, George, because you have been using your public platform to defend claims about Syria that I fear may be damaging for its people.
    Most recently, you blogged a note about the 4th April chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, and you related this to the more general issue of competing narratives.
    Professor Postol of MIT criticised the NATO/Gulf State account of the incident, and you say his claims ‘should be treated with great caution’. That’s fair enough. Shouldn’t we apply a similar standard of scrutiny to claims made on both sides?[1] You replied to the Media Lens article reporting Postol’s claims without acknowledging that it also mentioned that ‘former and current UN weapons inspectors Hans Blix, Scott Ritter and Jerry Smith, as well as former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Giraldi, had all questioned the official narrative of what happened on April 4.’
    We can be cautious about what they all say, of course, but I hope we may avoid the hubris of just dismissing their concerns.
    There are serious unsettled questions about every aspect of the incident, not only the anomalies concerning time of incident, identity of victims, causes of death, role of White Helmets, and about whose interests it served, but also concerning the forensic evidence itself. Regarding the latest claim made by France, a very elementary issue is chain of custody: with no French representatives on the ground, the test samples appear to have come from Al Qaeda by way of Turkey. Must we simply trust the testimony of a terrorist organisation in collaboration with a major conduit and supplier of anti-government forces in Syria? Do we find any corroboration? Western powers, you might be aware, have blocked the independent investigation sought by Russia.
    The reported results themselves are opaque. The French reports are no clearer on the science than the earlier UK ones (and I note that the UK has since gone rather silent about those rather than address questions about them). Moreover, the French claims rely on the veracity of claims relating to a 2013 incident, which are highly questionable.[2]
    Still, even aside from the facts around the Khan Sheikhoun incident, you are confident that there is a mountain of compelling evidence that is disregarded by ‘a few contrarians’. In tweets, too, you seem to be impressed by the sheer quantity of evidence purporting to establish President Assad’s complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
    Yet you surely realise that what actually matters is the quality of evidence?
    I therefore ask you: what evidence are you referring to? Whose evidence? In your note you link to a Guardian article by an Egyptian, raised in Dubai and living in Lebanon, who conveys reports from an Al Qaeda base; you also link to another Guardian article, by the same author, reporting claims from Turkey – one of the chief supporters of anti-government forces. Meanwhile, on twitter, you respond to ‘contrarians’ with the advice to read a lengthy thread authored by Kuwaiti activist Iyad El-Baghdadi who is renowned for talking up the “Arab Spring”. Based in Norway, he cites evidence from sources like the New York Times.
    Why should utterances from your recommended sources inspire less caution than those of MIT professors and professional weapons inspectors? You seem to think that anyone who questions the official narrative is a conspiracy nut, or an ‘Assadist’. I personally find a little condescending your reference to ‘an element on the left that seems determined to produce a mirror image of the Washington Consensus … and denies the crimes of the West’s official enemies.’ [3]
    At any rate, that begs the question: what crimes have been demonstrated? We have had mountains of allegations from organisations like Amnesty International since the “Arab Spring”, but what credible evidence have they ever produced?
    I earnestly invite you to cite some. Having looked at their reports over the past ten years myself, I have not found it. Instead, I have found very clear traces of a narrative produced in Washington. And not just a narrative, but a strategy for getting the liberal intelligentsia on board with the hawks.
    I think we need to look very closely at who is being misled by whom. Wouldn’t you agree?
    Meanwhile, with the upcoming UK election to think about – and the imperative of removing this warmongering government – I will understand if you direct your focus and energies towards areas of public life where you have a strong intellectual and political contribution to make. Best wishes, Tim
    [1] You might start by taking a more dispassionate look at the people you imagine have ‘debunked’ criticism of the mainstream narrative. Your link to Louis Proyect’s attack on Postol, for instance, betrays what I would regard as some want of judgement. In an update to your note, you add a link to further ‘debunkers’ who turn out to rely on the same Guardian evidence you are claiming they offer further support for! Incidentally, when the Guardian tells readers it is ‘the first western media organisation to visit the site of the attack’ it should really be careful what it boasts about, given that the area is controlled by Al Qaeda.
    [2] I understand from scientists that the unanswered questions include these:
    Did the Porton Down analysis of samples collected from the alleged attacks on 19 March 2013 support the finding of the Russian Laboratory for Chemical and Analytical Control that the material contained diisopropyl fluorophosphate and that the sarin had been produced under “cottage industry” conditions?
    What were the findings with respect to the synthetic pathway by which the sarin was produced? Specifically, did this synthesis start from trimethyl phosphite (which the Foreign Secretary stated had been sold to the Syrian government by UK companies) or from phosphorus trichloride or elemental phosphorus (which Turkish prosecutors stated was on the procurement list of the Nusra Front members arrested in Adana, Turkey in May 2013)?
    What efforts have been made by the UK government to establish whether or not the sarin used in alleged chemical attacks in Syria originated from Syrian military stocks, based on comparison of the chemical profiles of the environmental samples analysed at DSTL with the stocks of the sarin precursor methylphosphonyl difluoride that were profiled by mass spectrometry under the supervison of OPCW inspectors before they were destroyed on the MV Cape Ray in 2014?
    Those of us who struggle even to understand questions like these can very easily be bamboozled by bullshit responses from government spokespersons. But when scientists put such questions, I think they merit answer rather than dismissive tweets bidding us trust the word of foreign activists. I am grateful to Professor Paul McKeigue for the formulation of these questions.
    [3] For a more considered view of disagreement on the left, see, e.g., the recent short talk by Jay Tharappel on ‘Syria and the Confusion of the Western Left’:

    Louis Proyect has established himself as the “go to” guy for pro Israeli, pro Zionist propaganda and has made of himself a laughing stock with so many of The Guardian readers themselves(which is where he does most of his lying). Very few people could take Proyect seriously, precisely because he is the antithesis of sensible and honest reporting.
    louisproyect says:
    April 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm
    What lapse of judgement are you referring to? Postol’s chemistry adviser on sarin gas is a fascist who does interviews with David Duke. I guess you are okay with that.
    mohandeer says:
    April 29, 2017 at 2:11 pm
    Proyect. You should be grateful that “lapse of judgement” was used to describe your dishonest misrepresentation of the truth in favour of the bigoted interests you serve and the egregious agenda you espouse. You and others like your kind, are the reason why MSM is now a joke to so many. I wouldn’t know where to start in denouncing your “opinion”, ad hominem is your stock and trade and whilst Tim may be content to appease you with regard your objections to the wording of his article, I am not limited by such constraints, I’ve read too much of your crap.
    Many thanks for this counterweight to the tide of toxic propaganda threatening to submerge vital questions about Khan Shaikoun, and the job of verifying who died there and from what. I’m also glad to see more information about the only really verified Sarin attack in Khan al Assal, given the French story about the supposedly similar one in Saraqib in April, which I had no idea anyone took seriously till now. To my mind the French Intelligence source of these claims about Khan Shaikoun merely suggests that they were involved in coordinating the operation; it wouldn’t be much of a surprise, given their long presence in Syria – for instance in Homs in 2011.
    My focus now is in trying to expose the lies of leading Western leaders in a fraud which so many people simply cannot accept, particularly as a pretext for the illegal US cruise missile attack. In particular I believe that Theresa May MUST have knowledge of the truth, because the WH are ‘her men’ – or at least belong to the same establishment and serve the UK’s interests. It is simply not possible that she doesn’t know this, which makes her both war criminal and consummate liar. Is that the sort of person we really want to see in charge of the UK?
    Thanks Tim for your well-reasoned response to Monbiot’s apparent willingness to give greater weight to claims relayed via dubious sources, compounded by his apparent willingness to dismiss evidence from the side that seeks to draw conclusions based on verifiable ground truth. As a long-time follower of Monbiot, I’m disappointed, to put it mildly.
    mohandeer says:
    April 29, 2017 at 1:58 pm
    Reblogged this on wgrovedotnet and commented:
    Another excellent analysis of the populist and establishment orientated propaganda. George Monbiot used to be a half decent journalist, but if he is to save what credibility he has left as a journalist, he really has to quit the propagandist platform of The Guardian.

      • Jen says

        Haven’t seen him much here or at Moon of Alabama – maybe we were too hard on him and chased him away?

        • I’ve rejigged my ‘3 Fakers’ project. Instead of Reich, Monbiot and Cole, it’s now Proyect, Monbiot and Cole.

        • Sav says

          He did his trolling and was given plenty of chances.

          While not wanting to sound as narcissistic as Louis, I think my last remarks to him on his NPD and his ridiculous funding of his biography might have shaken him up a bit.

          He seems busy networking with his fellow NPD mates on Twitter like Dan Kaszeta and Eliot Higgins. Schmoozing with all the MSM, the way they like it.

  15. JJA says

    The most recent ‘intelligence’ on the gas bombing from the French claiming Assad dun it is based on claims by Higgins. You could not make it up.

  16. bl4ckhawk says

    The western cabal of terrorist states and their proxies are to be destroyed and then they will be tried for international war crimes in multiple theatres……The Axis of Evil uk/yank/qatar/saudi/zionist/ isis/ al nusra / al qaeda/ukronaxis….

    Hang all the neocons and their zionist Wahhabi collaborators.

  17. Paul Baker says

    The brazen assumption that Syria used Sarin is adopted not just by Rightwing neocons but Democrats and Liberals. On Newsnight last night the 2 guests, both Democrats and the presenter congratulated Trump on his missile offensive in the conviction that Assad did it. Trump they felt had “come good”. The fact it was a unilateral and illegal attack on a sovereign state wasn’t mentioned at all. It is all very much part of the campaign to back the absolute monarchs of the Gulf in their war against the Shia with the aim to destroy Iran.

    • John says

      Including the ruling Kuwaiti clique – and to think that we all sent troops there to help them get power back!

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