Lying by Omission: Mainstream Media’s Distortion of the OPCW Report on Douma

Matthew Funke

Within hours of the release of the Organisation of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons report from their fact-finding mission (FFM), when they investigated the Syrian Arab Army’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians in the Douma stronghold, mainstream media already hopped on their sensationalist train of deception.

Reuters reported:

Chemical weapons agency finds ‘chlorinated’ chemicals in Syria’s Douma”

…and The Independent wrote:

Syrian conflict: Chlorine used in Douma attack that left dozens of civilians dead, chemical weapons watchdog finds”

While the Qatar’s government funded Al Jazeera posted their own article, titled:

Interim OPCW report finds proof of chlorine used in Syria’s Douma.”

Though these titles aren’t necessarily wrong, they are inherently misleading. Only in the fine print under the title of The Independent’s article does it say,

But no evidence of nerve agents, says watchdog.”

Later in the article, it says,

The OPCW has not attributed blame for the banned munitions in the April attack, but its investigation into the use of chemical weapons is continuing.”

Usually people just skim the article, or glance at the title itself, and if one did that, their mind would think “Okay, Assad gassed his civilians. The US government was right.” But that conclusion is wrong. Even then, those articles are wildly absolutist, and don’t acknowledge the complexities of the actual report, which I will deconstruct here. I am not claiming the OPCW report is wrong, I am simply showing that the media’s portrayal of these findings are flawed.

The summary of the report says,

The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is on-going. The FFM team will continue its work to draw final conclusions.”

One key word is alleged casualties, not confirmed, which shows that a lot of this is still up for debate. The OPCW report actually invalidates a large part of the previously mentioned article’s statements, as the OPCW has not drawn their final conclusions about the chlorine and explosive residues found on site, and are still working to find out the truth.

Another invalid part of those articles is their accusation against the Syrian government, when nowhere in the July 6th report does it accuse them of such. In the report, the OPCW writes:

The FFM’s mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria. It does not include identifying who is responsible for alleged attacks.”

Even if they completely confirm the presence of these chemicals, which they haven’t, that doesn’t mean the Syrian government is guilty. Keep in mind that this is a civil war, between numerous proxy forces, including the Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), a Saudi-backed terrorist group occupying the Douma suburb that was investigated, before Eastern Ghouta was completely liberated from terrorist forces. The likelihood of the Syrian Arab Army using chemical weapons is very slim, given that the OPCW confirmed that all declared chemical weapons in the country were handed over by Bashar al-Assad to the United States to be destroyed.

However, that doesn’t remove the possibility of terrorists getting their hands on some beforehand, which they did, most of them being salafist jihadist groups such as ISIS, Ahrar al-Sham, Jund al-Aqsaor, Saudi Arabia’s Jaysh al-Islam, Tahrir al-Sham, and the Guardians of Religion Organization. There is also the possibility that the Syrian Arab Army didn’t give all their weapons, but I don’t see the advantage of that, given that they already have tons of non-chemical weapons and the use of them would already make the international community hate Assad even more, and the OPCW probably wouldn’t let that fly.

But this isn’t the first time the SAA have been accused of gassing civilians after the destruction of the SAA’s weapons in 2014. The report specifically addresses two previous allegations

…of chemical weapons use in Al-Hamadaniya, Syria on 30 October 2016, and Karm al-Tarrab, Syria on 13 November 2016. On the basis of the information received and analysed… the FFM cannot confidently determine whether or not a specific chemical was used as a weapon in the incidents that took place in the neighbourhood of Al-Hamadaniyah and in the area of Karm al-Tarrab. The FFM noted that the persons affected in the reported incidents may, in some instances, have been exposed to some type of non-persistent, irritating substance.”

Given this conclusion, which sounds more likely, the Syrian Arab Army would gas the towns filled with civilians that they were trying to save, not caring what the international community thought of them, and that they still have a chemical weapons stockpile, or that the terrorist groups who have chemical weapons contaminated the area they were holding hostage.

You might ask, “But what about the video?” You mean the video that looks a lot like this one of the Syrian opposition rehearsing a fake chemical weapons attack? The one with the inconsistent (but disturbing) aftermath footage? The one in which medical professionals who were filmed in the video spoke out about the artificiality of the video? The one in which a boy in the video confessed that the White Helmets started pouring water on all the children and faking other treatments? I think I can draw the obvious conclusions, but if I do, I might be accused of being an “apologist”, a “denier”, or “pro-Assad.”

Another lie includes mainstream media’s claims that the OPCW weren’t initially allowed on site, suggesting that the Russians were hiding evidence. This is false. The OPCW report says:

The FFM team was not able to enter Douma for almost a week after its arrival, owing to the high security risks to the team, which included the presence of unexploded ordnance, explosives, and sleeper cells still suspected of being active in Douma. On 18 April 2018, during a reconnaissance visit to two sites of interest, the security detail was confronted by a hostile crowd and came under fire from small arms and a hand grenade that exploded. The incident reportedly resulted in two fatalities and one injury.”

The report also says that the planned FFM deployment was delayed until security was ensured, as suggested by the UNDSS (United Nations Department for Safety and Security), and these security measures included

(a) clearing the areas to be visited by the FFM team;
(b) securing the areas during the 24-hour period before deployment;
(c) increasing the number of escorts and having advance teams from the UNDSS and the Russian Military Police monitor the area prior to the arrival of the team at the sites;
(d) using the police force for crowd control;
(e) minimising the movement of civilians near the areas of interest given the possibility of suicide bombers getting within close proximity of the inspection team;
and (f) deploying snipers on rooftops around the sites of interest.”

The United Nations suggested that they make the areas safer, so the Russian Military Police complied; they weren’t blocking anyone off from Douma with secretive, malicious intentions.

In fact the Syrian Arab Republic wasn’t reluctant to have an investigation in the first place:

On 10 April 2018, the Secretariat sent note verbale No. NV/ODG/214589/18 to the Syrian Arab Republic expressing its intention to deploy a team to Damascus. This correspondence coincided with note verbale No. 38 from the Permanent Representation of the Syrian Arab Republic to the OPCW requesting that an FFM team be dispatched urgently to visit the town of Douma to verify the information surrounding the alleged use of toxic chemicals on 7 April 2018. On the same day, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW submitted a letter to the Secretariat in which he welcomed the request from the Syrian Arab Republic and pledged to facilitate the work of the FFM.”

But Syria and Russia were eager for a report and investigation, which isn’t how a government guilty of a massacre would react. Suspected murderers who turn out guilty typically aren’t desperate for the site of their crime to be investigated.

You might be thinking, “Why are you so adamant about defending the Syrian Arab Republic?” And the truth is, I’m not entirely. I’m adamant about defending the truth, the truth that has been hidden or distorted so often by western media, and their manipulation of current events has only led to the political nightmares in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, among many others. I’m not saying the Syrian government is perfect, nor do I agree with parts of their political ideology and laws, but I am saying this: the media lies a lot, and those lies lead to deaths.

Here in the imperial core, encouraging people to think critically, read carefully, and not jump to conclusions, while consuming media that isn’t tainted by greed and popularity, is the most I can do to try and stop these things from happening. No, I don’t think this article will single handedly end the Syrian Civil War, but the more people that are against western perpetuation of it, the better. Our suspicions aren’t historically unwarranted and if my defense of truth is a defense of the Syrian Arab Republic government, then maybe Assad is on the side of truth.

If the entire report, when finally completed, shows that the SAA isn’t guilty, the precedent that the imperialist triplets used to justify their bombing (which luckily harmed nobody) would turn out to be false, like Iraq, and Vietnam, and Libya. But they had to be telling the truth this time. Conveniently, they bombed the place where Assad was allegedly developing chemical weapons to kill civilians, which would have been a good place for the OPCW to investigate, had it not been blown to smithereens. Regardless of who is guilty, we must never forget the victims of this horrendous, bloody war; the loss of thousands of innocent civilians is something to mourn about, no matter who is guilty. The most we can do for them is bring justice to those that stole their lives, and somehow try to stop these things from happening again.


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vexarb
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Copied-and-Pasted from SyrPer: anti_republocrat nobody here can force Western media to report honestly, but even Sputnik reports in wrong. It reports, "The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has announced in a report that it found that chlorine had been used in an attack in the Syrian city of Douma." But the report does not state that chlorine had been used in an attack. It says rather, that chlorinated organics were found and they are working to find where these came from [for example domestic products]: "Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and… Read more »

vexarb
Reader
vexarb

St Theresa the Incompetent:

Canthama 2hr ago BTL SyrPer

One more idiot bites the dust. Boris “the clown” is gone. Assad curse takes its normal course [on those pompous persons who brayed, “Assad must go”]

https://twitter.com/BBCBreaking/status/1016321872689008640

Theresa “the incompetent” May will be left alone in nbr 10, her criminal regime melted away.

+9

Harry Stotle
Reader
Harry Stotle

Wait long enough, and ‘I told you so’ is more or less a stock response given the endless lies and subterfuge that form the bedrock of imperial policy in the middle east. But Matthew Funke needs a serious reality check if he thinks the MSM are ever going to report the implications of the OPCW findings in a balanced way. Neocons can blow up major western cities but the cappuccino guzzling, metropolitan press corp still can’t be arsed to report forensic evidence even when it is staring them in the face (despite the fact the scientific community have done their… Read more »

mikael
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mikael

Yeah, offG. intresting times indeed. They, the MSM lies about everything, all the time, the everything, is all encompasing, about every god dammed thing. Then, the deadbeats, sorry debates, again, in some places, and like this so called CW attack, in Syria, was 100% bollocks from the start, and still is, like this Shitpal Saga in the Island of Angels. The sad fact in this, debates is how single events, in an larger theater is used to highlight uh…. propaganda, when the premisses is based upon an perseption where everything to oponents states is propaganda, and counter that with their… Read more »

Paul C
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Paul C

A welcome analysis. Just one point to make: this is not a civil war, no more than was the case in Libya. Syria was on the western “hit list” (7 countries in 5 years) since at least 2001. The BBC was involved in preparing the ground for regime change from as early as 2004. There were no doubt numbers of people in Syria who didn’t like the regime. The ones fighting Assad are almost all paid mercenaries of various western and middle eastern regimes which wanted to dismember Syria, carve it up, steal its resources – and remove an alleged… Read more »

JudyJ
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JudyJ

There is an interesting website that can be used in searches for the origins and distribution of surnames(Forebears.io/surnames). The data is gathered from worldwide census information and is no doubt a bit hit and miss but it can still be quite revealing in giving an indication of migration patterns. I often have a look at this when so-called Syrians are quoted in the MSM – usually anti-Assad. It all started for me when a ‘Syrian’ was being interviewed on the MSM and his name didn’t strike me as typically Syrian – when I looked it up, the name occurred most… Read more »

Ghost Ship
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Ghost Ship

Don’t knock the SOHR, it’s one of the most reliable sources for casualties in the civil/proxy/terrorist war in Syria. For instance, using SOHR figures it’s possible to demonstrate that Assad has not murdered “hundreds of thousand civilians” as was claimed on a number of occasions by the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. as in December 2016, the number of civilian dead in Syria did not exceed 100,000. Most of the dead (about 200,000 on each side) were either government forces or insurgents/terrorists. Another claim that is easy to dismiss using the SOHR figures was that the majority of fighters on… Read more »

vexarb
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vexarb

@Judy. Shines a bright light on where the FO is likely to have gone recruiting for its Syrian expert. Are you wagering your usual $k that the 1 who runs the FO anti-Assad office in Coventry is not the 1 actually registered in Syria?

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

vexarb, even he admits he hasn’t been to Syria for 12 (?) or so years. I doubt he’s ever been there. The one registered in Syria is probably his primary contact on the ground, feeding him all the dodgy info to pass on to his duplicitous sycophants here and now better off to the tune of £196k paid by British taxpayers for recording and camera equipment – I am going to contact the FO at some point to ask for a precise breakdown of what that money has been spent on. I don’t doubt for one minute that the money… Read more »

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

Sorry, thought I’d included position numbers for all countries listed but clearly not. Should read:
12. England
29. Iraq
34. Oman
35. Bahrain
41. Syria

JJ

vexarb
Reader

@PaulC. Correct, except for one tiny typo. It’s not “threat” it’s “existential threat”; a much more impressively serious and highbrow class of threat.

tutisicecream
Reader

Actually this is lying WITH INTENT.

The omission, is that of perspective and balance. In this so called “post truth era” the craven MSM know this all too well.

How do we know this? Well when a correction has to be made, no apology or acknowledgement is ever made to the [what is laughingly called these days] the public record…

Antonyl
Reader
Antonyl

For the exact details see here:
https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/S_series/2018/en/s-1645-2018_e_.pdf

Chlorine cylinders are used by swimming pools, water treatment facilities etc. and can be ordered online by civilians – like in Saudi Arabia.

rilme
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rilme

Blowing up my kitchen will “produce some evidence of chlorine”.

anon
Reader
anon

OPCW, my home is full of chlorine gas, please investigate. My neighbour is cleaning his floors with bleaching powder and washing the residues into the common drain.

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

Or burning plastic.

Thomas Prentice
Reader
Thomas Prentice

Amazing that Western Christendom commits so many sins of omission and sins of commission — flagrantly — and engages in soccer-like shithousery exaggeratedly and defiantly doubling down and defending their lies and pretending victimhood and failing to both repent and amend their sinful ways. Jesus Wept.

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

Not to mention the BBC’s headline banner for the OPCW interim report “Syrian attack was chlorine gas -watchdog”. Followed by “The deadly attack in Douma in April left dozens of civilians dead and caused an international outcry”. As I have commented elsewhere, in the expectation that the OPCW would have carried out a thorough and extensive examination within Douma, one would be surprised if they did not produce some evidence of chlorine for several reasons clearly beyond the grasp of the MSM. For one thing, the SAA found at least one (maybe two?) terrorist controlled weapons factory as Douma was… Read more »

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

The BBC is totally controlled by Zionists and their stooges, and destroying Syria is a PRIME Zionist ambition, as outlined by the Oded Yinon Plan and the utterances of numerous Zionist bosses down through the years. QED.

Antonyl
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Antonyl

Sounds like an anti-Semite…

mail
Reader
mail

No, just truthful. The previous BBC director was a fanatical, rabid Zionist called Mark Thompson. (Not Jewish, he wasn’t.) He had private meetings with Nitwityahoo where he promised that no criticism of Israel would ever appear on the BBC.

Mulga Mumblebrain
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Mulga Mumblebrain

Who does? Showing your true colours now.

JudyJ
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JudyJ

Antony – Zionists can be of any religion, not all Jewish people are Zionists. QED: Anti-Zionist does not equate to anti-Semite.

Antonyl
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Antonyl

Yes, maybe 1% of all Zionists are not Jewish. Possible 50% of all Jewish people are not Zionists.
So 1% chance that Mumblebrain is not an anti-Semite.
He started calling me a racist: those living in glasshouses……

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

False accusations of ‘antisemitism’ concerning utterly unarguable observations regarding Zionist power, of both Jewish Zionists and goy Zionists like the Blairite scum, are a sure sign of a slandering Zionist racist.

Antonyl
Reader
Antonyl

Zionism is just a variety of imperialism. Why are you so obsessed with this mini imperialism in Palestine, but mum on Syria, Irak, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, PR China, Indonesia etc.?
This is what make you look a.s.

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

In regard to Syria, I fully support the Government, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and the others who are liquidating the invading takfiri death-squad butchers, many of whom (eg al-Nusra)were directly aided by Israel, as well as the other villains of the piece. Iraq, I support in the country’s travails, where over three million have been murdered since 1990 pursuant to your darling Zionists’ ‘Oded Yinon Plan’. Turkey I see as villainous in its support of the takfiris attacking Syria, and I have no time for Erdogan’s Islamism. Sordid Arabia, darling Israel’s close ally, I believe to be the vilest regime, equal… Read more »

JudyJ
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JudyJ

Mulga, I see that Israel are still sustaining their contrived, underhand and completely unwarranted attacks on Syrian army posts based near the Golan Heights. This time their excuse is that it was in response to a ‘drone infiltration’. Probably a drone observing what the Israelis are up to in their illegally occupied sector of the Golan Heights. The fact that these attacks serve to assist the terrorists in the region is incidental of course.

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

As a further example of my point.. in the 1970s the university I went to had an “Anti-Zionist Organisation” (yes, it was the days when such groups were permitted and allowed to debate such issues). The Organisation’s secretary was…yes, a young Jewish man.

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

Have you noticed that the Zionist lynch-mob and the Fraudian sewer have re-vivified their hate propaganda campaign against Labour under Corbyn. Apparently the impertinent ‘antisemites’ in Labour refuse to grovel properly, and adopt the entire Zionist ‘antisemitism’ definition, which outlaws all criticism of the actions or behaviour of any Jew, anywhere, and all criticism of the Israeli state and its clerico-ethno-fascistic ideology Zionism, and, by direct inference, any support for the Palestinian Amalekites. I’m sure Antonyl will be over the moon.

candideschmyles
Reader

Chlorine gas is only effective in confined spaces, being heavier than air, where it can collect or pool. The munition photographed as having been responsible for the Douma incident entered a 3 storey building through the roof and landed on a bed of a room with blown out windows. For the gas to be effective in the basement it would have to filter down 3 floors, which is not impossible but unlikely. In my youth I had a job in which part was to maintain the chemical balance of a resort indoor swimming pool. I once, trying to save time,… Read more »

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

The liars tried for a time to say that chlorine and ‘sarin’ had been used together, but that lie was dropped. I just recently saw Seymour Hersh assert that such combinations were tried years ago, but were totally ineffective because the chlorine rendered the sarin neutralised by scavenging hydrogen atoms from the sarin, or some such chemical reaction. That’s the fakestream media-all lies, all the time. I see, too, unsurprised, that one of the underclass patsies poisoned in Amesbury have been sacrificed, to ramp up the fear and hatred-making them permanently disappear, like the Skripals, is easier in a graveyard.… Read more »

Jen
Reader
Jen

I daresay there’s going to be a rash of “Novichok” poisonings in the Wiltshire county area and possibly surrounding counties all targeting drug addicts (especially those addicted to the new exotic “zombie” drugs like spice and Xylazine), homeless people, prostitutes and other marginalised individuals. The folks at The Fraudian and their like will rage at the prejudices of Russian President Putin against the poor, the sick and homeless, that he sees fit to target them and only them with his nefarious scheming. The shelter where Dawn Sturgess was staying is likely to disappear and the premises demolished. Perhaps when enough… Read more »

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

candideschmyles, Thanks for recounting this interesting episode from your carefree days of youth! I can only imagine what the headlines might have been! It isn’t clear where and when the dead bodies of women and children were photographed in the propaganda material presented to accuse the Assad Govt of the chemical weapons attack in Douma but I can almost guarantee they were poor unfortunate civilians suffocated by terrorists in an enclosed room/basement filled with chlorine gas. As you say, the use of chlorine gas is, and has been for generations, considered to be an accepted relatively humane way in open… Read more »

mohandeer
Reader

@JudyJ. Excellent observations but for one small passage:”one would be surprised if they did not produce some evidence of chlorine for several reasons clearly beyond the grasp of the MSM” – the MSM are calculating and sewer rat savvy and are fully aware of the many household and ordinary uses for chlorine and therefore “grasp” only too well their utter distortion of the facts. It’s the truth they choose not to “grasp”.
PS. Hope you don’t mind but I copied and pasted your comment when I shared it.

JudyJ
Reader
JudyJ

Mohandeer, thank you for your appreciation. On the whole you’re right of course about the MSM but, having said that, I am partial to watching TV quizzes and the appalling lack of general knowledge displayed by participants under 40 years of age and of all educational standards and professions is frightening, so I do think in some cases it is genuinely down to sheer ignorance! I am grateful to you for sharing my comment – the more people that our views can be shared with, the better.
JJ

Jen
Reader
Jen

We have had a discussion at Moon of Alabama a few days ago about the level of knowledge and experience that MSM journalists have. http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/07/syria-opcw-issues-first-report-of-chemical-weapon-attack-in-douma.html#comments This was my opinion (with some new additions) in response to three comments about the competence of journalists in reporting on the presence of chlorine residue in gas cylinder containers: It would seem that a common (and deliberate) ploy used by the MSM these days is to use journalists with no particular knowledge, experience or insight in an area to write articles that need that knowledge, [insight] or experience. The Guardian employs Olivia Solon, a… Read more »

Arrby
Reader

I came across the same article and forgot where I’d seen it. And you’ve said everything about it I was thinking! 🙂

candideschmyles
Reader

“the media lies a lot, and those lies lead to deaths.” This is the crux of it. The journals and journalists (though it is high time we universally referred to them as stenographers), of MSM are indeed guilty of coñspiracy before and after the fact in the mass murder of unarmed civilians. It is not enough to call them loathsome liars. They must be held to account and face charges and punishment for their collusion with the terrorists who have ravaged Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. I would suggest that a better brain than mine formulate a 38° petition to… Read more »

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

I agree-somewhere, sometime, these lying vermin must face the same judgment as Streicher. Without the neck-snapping of course. Life at hard labour seems appropriate.

mark
Reader
mark

After the war, minor Nazi functionaries like hack journalists, who had not committed atrocities, but who were cogs in the machine, were not executed or imprisoned in many cases. But they were banned from holding any position of influence of responsibility. They were free to earn a living as manual workers, eg, building work, road sweepers, brussels sprout pickers etc. This would be the best sanction to apply to people like Grauniad and all other MSM hacks. Don’t jail them, just make them do an honest day’s work for the first time in their miserable lives.

Jen
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Jen

The one issue some of us here at Off-G may have is that no form of labour, however physically, mentally or emotionally taxing or relentless, will be hard enough for the criminals, short of digging their own graves.

milosevic
Reader
milosevic

Why “of course”?

Apparently, it was good enough for Saddam Hussein and Julius Streicher.
comment image

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

A personal choice, and I think they’ll suffer more by being made to work for once in their lives.

bevin
Reader
bevin

Once again as you (and MoA and The Skwawkbox) clearly demonstrate the media acts as a puppet, without any will or ideas of its own, of its sponsors and enablers the Security ‘Services’. So, clearly, by carefully making its reports ambiguous does the OPCW. One wonders what these people are planning to do in the next phase of their careers, for this sort of credibility killing warmongering is suicidal. What is incomprehensible is why they waste away their credibility on picayune points like this- the number of people who come away from their cunning misrepresentations believing that there was a… Read more »