Crimes of the century – truth, perception and punishment

Kevin Smith

“You didn’t think that one through, did you, @eliothiggins sweetie? You’re not in the ladies’ lingerie trade now. This discussion is about truth, which endures, is not held together by elastic, and is not for sale.”
Peter Hitchens responding to Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat over the OPCW scandal on Twitter – 2 January 2020.

Like many, I’ve been following the Douma scandal for some time and particularly since the OPCW whistleblowers and leaked emails blew the lid off the official narrative that Assad used chemical weapons there.

This issue is being discussed on one of my ‘go to’ accounts on Twitter – Peter Hitchens who has brought this to the attention of the mainstream.

For the past few weeks he’s been debating the topic with Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, Scott Lucas and various Middle East based journalists who created and then pushed the false narrative.

In fact, it’s not really a debate. Peter Hitchens is quite literally slaughtering these narrative managers – his logic and clear thinking – and wit exposing the numerous gaps in their story and their desperate deflections.

Hitchens position is not exactly the same as many of us here hold – that Douma was a clear false flag. What he is saying is the evidence points to there being no chemical attack by the Syrian government, the pretext used for the attack on Syria. He doesn’t wish to speculate on matters which aren’t conclusively proven, for example precisely on what did actually happen.

I respect that position in many ways and his refusal to comment on the dead civilians in the Douma images makes sense from a journalist in the mainstream. I think by having a position which is clear and unassailable enables him to easily brush off his online detractors and not allow them to deflect to other issues.

While I don’t agree with everything he says, Hitchens has a calm and rational argument for all the issues he covers. This puts clear ground between him and his online opponents who often resort to childish abuse.

My 80-year old mum admires him too. She describes him as ‘frightfully posh’. Perhaps someone who might have belonged in a previous age – but I’m glad we have him in this one.

Anyway, I think we can be sure that Hitchens will continue his important work within the remit he’s chosen and others will investigate the unanswered questions which arise from the Douma incident.

Ultimately the question about the dead civilians in the images is simply too dreadful to ignore.

This is because if a chemical attack did not take place and Assad was not responsible it seems highly likely that the civilians including children were murdered to facilitate a fabrication.

And were our own intelligence agencies involved in a staged event, considering the refusal to even establish the basic facts in the days following?

And then, of course, the resulting air strikes nearly caused us to go to war with Russia, with all that would entail.

While these investigations continue, I think it’s timely to see where these events fit into the way the general public think and perceive wrongdoing and to try to radically to change this.

I believe more people nowadays recognise that the devastating wars in Iraq and Libya and events in Syria were pushed by our governments and media. They can even accept, when you explain, that we’ve been assisting terrorists to unseat governments for years. But they seem hesitant of taking the next step and we need to encourage them on this path.

This path leads to recognising the sheer evil in our midst and getting out of this mindset that criminal behavior and lying in governments and in our media is normal or should in any way be tolerated. Perhaps some people appreciate this already but don’t want to address it out of concern to what they might find. Maybe some people dread the thought of a global conflict so ignore it. But we need to hammer home the consequences of simply doing nothing.

I’ve been trying to think of an analogy to try to get this point across. I sometimes say to people, we wouldn’t have released a serial killer like Harold Shipman from prison and appointed him Foreign Secretary. Therefore, why do we tolerate a long line of Foreign Secretaries complicit in laying waste to the world? Sadly, with this analogy most people usually look back at me blankly so I have been searching for one more complete and rooted in history which people can relate better to events today.

So, here follows an analogy of a character who lived in the 17th century. His traits, his crimes, the political climate and peoples misguided perceptions in response can be compared to recent events and one particular individual causing havoc in the world today.

Of course I refer to Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat.

Eliot (‘suck my balls’) Higgins and Titus Oates

1. Eliot Higgins and Bellingcat

Higgins probably doesn’t need much of an introduction here. It seems he has no specific qualifications relevant to his role and a bit of a drop-out in terms of education.

Higgins has been quoted as saying:

Before the Arab spring I knew no more about weapons than the average Xbox owner. I had no knowledge beyond what I’d learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo.”

But this didn’t prevent him blogging about world events and then setting himself up and his site as investigator for several incidents most notably the shooting down of the MH17 passenger plane over Ukraine and allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. It’s now known that Bellingcat is funded by pro-war groups including the Atlantic Council

Higgins has been accused by chemical weapons experts, academics and independent journalists on the ground of fabricating evidence to reach a predetermined outcome decided on by his funders.

His rise to prominence was fast and apparently some media editors now refer their journalists to Bellingcat fabrications rather than allowing them to do any journalism themselves.

Higgins is currently frantically trying to prop up the Douma narrative against a mountain of evidence disproving his conclusions.

For those who’ve followed his story, it’s clear that Higgins is an intelligence asset, set up to take the fall when the currently collapsing narratives take hold in the mainstream.

2. Titus Oates and the Popish Plot

Oates was a foul-mouthed charlatan, serial liar and master of deception who lived in the 17th century. His earlier life included being expelled from school and he was labelled a ‘dunce’ by people who knew him. He became a clergyman and later joined the Navy. His career was plagued by various sex scandals and charges of perjury.

In the 1670s during the time of Charles II, religious tensions threatened to spill over into civil war but the pragmatic King, by and large, kept a lid on it.

However, along with Dr Israel Tonge an anti-Catholic rector, Oates started writing conspiracy theories and inventing plots and later began writing a manuscript alleging of a plan to assassinate King Charles II and replace him with his openly Catholic brother.

When the fabrication started to gather momentum, the King had an audience with Oates and was unconvinced and was said to have found discrepancies in his story.

However, the tense political and religious climate at that time was ideal for conspiracy theories and scaremongering. The King’s ministers took Oates at his word and over a dozen Catholics were executed for treason. This story created panic and paranoia lasting several years taking the nation to the brink of civil war.

Over time Oates lies were exposed and when the Catholic King James II came to the throne, he tried Oates with perjury and he was whipped and placed in the pillory.

After James II fled England during the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’ King William and Queen Mary pardoned Oates and gave him a pension.

For me, this whole episode has many obvious parallels with Higgins, the long-running Russia and the anti-Semitism witch-hunts in the media and the false narratives over Iraq, Libya and Syria. Like those in power today, Oates had a knack for getting away with it. And I guess we can all relate this to Julian Assange – the victims or whistleblowers being punished and the perpetrators getting off.

I had wondered why James II, often ruthless and unforgiving had not executed Oates. But apparently the crime of perjury even then didn’t carry the death sentence. The judge who convicted Oates was said to have tried his best to finish him off through the whipping, though he survived.

But perhaps even the King and judiciary in failing in this or not using other means at their disposal, couldn’t comprehend the enormity of his crimes. Oates was after all a rather absurd character, open to ridicule.

Perhaps this is a bit similar to people today when discovering that Eliot Higgins is also a foul-mouthed fraud – but they can’t reconcile this comical ex-lingerie employee as a menace to humanity.

3. Modern day

In the past few weeks I’ve read various older articles on Iraq and Syria. US troops shooting people for fun from a helicopter. The perpetrators are still free – the whistle-blowers who exposed that, and other events in prison or exile.

Last year we learned about a shocking massacre of Syrian children, unreported in the mainstream media. Mainstream journalists through their one-sided distortions of the conflict and silence, perpetuating the myth that the terrorists who carried out this mass murder are freedom fighters.

And as I’ve mentioned, we’ve seen firmer evidence of what many of us knew along – that Douma was a staged fabrication as a pretext for air-strikes and dangerously escalating the Syrian war. The likes of Eliot Higgins and others in the media, colluding in the cover-up of mass murder which likely facilitated this event. And for those honest journalists and experts who bring the truth of these staged events to us, smears will no doubt continue.

Higgins and others in the media who lie, misinform or remain silent are no better than those shooting civilians from helicopters or starting these wars in the first place. In fact, they have killed more and keep killing.

This modern-day Titus Oates, and others share a big responsibility for death and destruction in the Middle East and a dangerous new Cold War.

As I say, I think people are waking up to the distorted narratives and misdirections which have inflicted war on others. Now they need to take the next step and grasp the sheer enormity of the crimes and the risks of global conflict if we don’t act.

So, how do we achieve this and get in a position of holding the criminals and war propagandists to account?

By confronting them directly and mercilessly. As Jeremy Corbyn should have done over the anti-Semitism hoax. Perhaps we should adopt some of the tactics they use against the truth-tellers and whistle-blowers. I don’t mean by lies or smears. Maybe even ridiculing these people and their nonsense might have the effect of trivialising the crimes they have committed.

No, I think it is time for plainer, no-holds-barred language describing these people for the true evil they are – until the truth and label sticks.

We need to recognise more the seriousness of the crimes. This commentary from the usually measured Piers Robinson about the staged event in Douma reflects the true gravity of the situation in terms of the OPCW complicity.

4. The hijacking of OPCW

The cover-up of evidence that the Douma incident was staged is not merely misconduct. As the staging of the Douma incident entailed mass murder of civilians, those in OPCW who have suppressed the evidence of staging are, unwittingly or otherwise, colluding with mass murder.”

We need to now apply this strong language to all crimes committed, be it from the soldiers on the ground, the governments starting these wars or supplying terrorists or the media which promote mass murder through their lies, distortions and silence when presented with the true facts.

We need to go on the offensive and call out the criminals and spell out in no uncertain terms what we are dealing with. With the evidence and fact-based analogies or arguments we publish we should be using more commentary such as ‘mass murderer’, ‘traitor’ or ‘terrorist propagandist’.

This is particularly important in light of events in recent days. The assassination of General Qasem Soleimani has been normalised in both mainstream and on social media. The people legitimising state-sponsored murder in offices thousands of miles away from Iran, woefully ignorant of the potential of this causing a chain of events which could visit our door soon.

Above all, we should specifically name and shame the individuals promoting war. This needs to be relentless. The official war narratives which have crumbled so far are ample evidence of wrongdoing on a vast scale. So, we can be confident in doing this with the truth firmly on our side.