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25 June 2017


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Seamus Padraig

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Seamus Padraig

"How is it that they can enforce a COMPLETELY uniform narrative across virtually ALL of the dissemination channels, spanning continents, nations, languages.. etc.?"

Very easy. Just *own* all the media. Are you aware that about 95% of our MSM in the West is owned by a handful of giant corporations? That makes it a lot easier to control the narrative.


The tomahawks were launched from ships.they then flew past the Russia armada and hit a target.a few years ago under Obama the same thing occurred except Russia brought the tlam,s down.

What has changed?.

Chris Chuba

Our Pentagon, claims to have captured via SIGINT, radio communication between the pilot and ground control confirming the chemical WMD narrative. While people can criticize this Hersh story, why hasn't the Administration released a printed transcript of this communication, why hasn't our MSM pressed them to do this?

The standard answer is, 'we don't want to divulge our methods', but a printed transcript wouldn't give that away like a recording might and we have already announced that we have captured it, so what is gained by saying that we have it but not releasing the printed text?

The fact that the MSM is totally disinterested in questions like this, and people like Hersh are marginalized tells me that it will be a miracle if something really bad doesn't happen. It's just a matter of time.

David Habakkuk


I agree that there is a distinctly ‘fishy’ smell about this conversation.

You ask:

‘does that collusion merely involve making use of the incident for PR purposes or does it extend to some degree of collusion in setting the incident up?’

That is, I think, a $60,000 question.

Of particular interest here is the incident at Saraqeb on 29 April 2013, for a number of reasons.

One is that it puts centre stage the role of a former leading British Army CBRN expert, Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, both in retrieving samples and providing ‘StratCom’ against the Syrian government, and also of his collaboration with journalists from the ‘Times’ (Anthony Lloyd) and, more particularly, the BBC (Ian Pannell.)

On this, there is a mass of further material on the pages entitled ‘Talk: British involvement in Syria’ on the ‘A Closer Look On Syria’ site.

(See http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:British_involvement_in_Syria .)

This in turn bears upon a key problem with claims by Western officials about the Khan Sheikhun incident, which has been put into a wholly new context by the account given by his sources to Hersh.

In the first of my two open letters to the members of the Commons Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees, which was posted on SST by Colonel Lang on 14 April, I pointed to an ambiguity already apparent in the ‘sarin’ or ‘sarin like’ formulation, which had been first introduced by our Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, the previous day.

(See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/habakkuk-on-urgent-need-to-release-test-results-from-porton-down-on-samples-from-khan-sheikhoun-ghouta.html .)

As I noted, if the test results referred to were on ‘environmental’ samples, and the lab only had ‘degradation products’ to work from, it would be perfectly possible for it to be unclear whether sarin, or some other organophosphate, was at issue. If that was the reason for the ambivalence, however, both Rycroft and other British officials would have had no grounds whatsoever for going to suggest that it was sarin that was at issue and it incriminated Assad.

In relation to ‘physiological’ samples, the position has turned out to be more complex than I first thought. It had seemed the case that tests on these would definitively establish whether sarin or some other organophosphate was at issue.

However, there are two sets of circumstances in which this may not be so.

The ‘sarin or sarin-like’ formulation had been used by the OPCW in relation to tests on samples from Syrian soldiers in connection with the incident at Darayya in February 2015. In this case, however, it referred to the impossibility of establishing whether the substance at issue was sarin or chlorosarin. As the latter is just as difficult to produce and the former, but less toxic, in practical terms we are simply dealing with a quibble.

There are, however, apparently, circumstances in which there could be a more significant ambiguity in relation to blood tests.

What however Hersh’s account is suggesting is that the use of the formulation in describing symptoms of victims from Khan Sheikhun is compatible alike with sarin or the results of an inadvertent release of organophosphate-based fertiliser or insecticide. And, it is suggested, it was well-known throughout the American ‘intelligence community’ right from the start that it was the latter which was responsible for the casualties.

However, in the ‘National Evaluation’ which they released on 26 April, the French government claimed 1. that their own tests had identified sarin, and 2. that they were able to establish that it came from Syrian government stocks because it matched the contents of an – intact – grenade retrieved from Saraqeb. The decisive element in proving that in both cases the sarin came from Syrian government stocks was said to be the presence of hexamine.

(See http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/170425_-_evaluation_nationale_-_anglais_-_final_cle0dbf47-1.pdf .)

At this point we come back to Colonel de Bretton-Gordon, in that, as the ‘ACLOS’ pages to which I have linked bring out, it seems likely that he was responsible for retrieving the ‘environmental’ samples from Saraqeb tested in France, as well as those tested in Britain. (It also seems quite likely he was involved in retrieving those from Khan Sheikhun.)

Moreover, when the ‘Technical Secretariat’ of the OPCW reported on 12 May on the results from ‘Designated Laboratories’ on both ‘physiological’ and ‘environmental’ samples from Khan Sheikhun, we were told that has been unambiguously identified by both as having been present in the sample of soil taken from the crater which we were told was where the munition hit. Moreover, hexamine is featured prominently in the accounts of what was found in the ‘environmental’ samples.

In relation to blood and biomedical samples from victims, the ‘sarin or sarin-like’ formula is used time and again.

(See http://undocs.org/S/2017/440 .)

If the claims made by Hersh’s sources are correct, then we have the strongest possible evidence that the test results from both ‘Designated Laboratories’, and also the French laboratory, on ‘environmental’ samples, were on samples that were fabricated.

Moreover, we have a glaring question as to why the information possessed by American intelligence agencies was not released to the OPCW, and to the French and British, before both those country’s governments made complete fools of themselves by suggesting that test results unambiguously implicated the Syrian government, when quite patently they did not.

What however further complicates an already very complicated picture is the history of the ‘hexamine hypothesis’.

In a July 2014 paper, which I commend to anyone seriously interested in this history, Professor Postol exposed its origins in blatant fabrication by the Kaszeta/Higgins duo. This should have, as it were, driven a stake through its heart.

(See https://cryptome.org/2014/08/postol-debunks-kaszeta.pdf .)

However, it has proved to be a very resilient intellectual vampire. And the fact that it features both in the claims made in the French ‘National evaluation’ and the OPCW test results does tend to point towards some kind of transnational conspiracy.

The question at what point participation in a cover-up becomes ‘prima facie’ evidence in collusion in the preparation of what has to be covered up is an interesting one.

Yeah, Right

Chris, in fairness your question works both ways.

Note this paragraph of Hersh's article: "Russian and Syrian Air Force officers gave details of the carefully planned flight path to and from Khan Shiekhoun on April 4 directly, in English, to the deconfliction monitors aboard the AWACS plane, which was on patrol near the Turkish border, 60 miles or more to the north".

I find it hard to believe that Russia doesn't routinely record those conversations - if only to have hard proof that they are, indeed, living up to their side of that deconfliction arrangement.

Yet where are the transcripts of those conversations? Why doesn't Russia release them?


does that collusion merely involve making use of the incident for PR purposes or does it extend to some degree of collusion in setting the incident up?

EA, you are alluding to the Turkish MIT truck scandal? The larger Cumhuriyet, for us over here, centrally the Can Dündar case? He lives in Berlin now. Or at least Lüder's may refer to it in the talk-show advertising his book.

What's your point? Not sure if I understand? Hersh is getting old and does not really understand he is misused in some type of PR coup. His job is to sanitize the US military's own involvement beyond what we know that far, in this case in setting up a false flag?

And Hersh stepped into such a trap with his sources? Not aware he is misused in some type of image sanitation operation?

I haven't read Lüder's book, the little he said is pretty close to what seems to have surfaced as something of a basic consensus on Syria here on SST over the years.

Concerning the MIT truck scandal, I don't recall that any type of poison gas surfaced in that context. Doubt it could have. Although, yes, both Hersh's and Dündar's stories surfaced in 2014. One year post Obama's hesitations around enforcing his red line.



I agree that there is a distinctly ‘fishy’ smell about this conversation.

David, could you give me the passages or is it the overall idea of publishing an highly edited anoymous exchange, as the Welt suggests? The post 9/11 universe confronted this nitwit with what felt a lot fishier official narratives. More from the top of my head.

And the fact that it features both in the claims made in the French ‘National evaluation’ and the OPCW test results does tend to point towards some kind of transnational conspiracy.

Caught my attention too. Admittedly. Strictly we watched similar matters here in Europe, partly. But: Necessarily? Or simply some type of long established habit in following the US authority? Via e.g. the upper US Nato representatives?

David Habakkuk


If you look at the attempted rebuttal of Hersh’s new piece on ‘Bellingcat’, to which others have referred, you will see that Higgins claims that the earlier ‘Red Line and Rat Line’ article was effectively refuted by a piece he and Kaszeta published in the ‘Guardian’ – of which a key part was the ‘hexamine hypothesis’.

(For the piece, see https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/22/allegation-false-turkey-chemical-attack-syria .)

As to the ‘Red Line and Rat Line’ article, I produced a great deal of evidence both developing and supporting its argument in the piece entitled ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards?’ which Colonel Lang posted here in April.

(See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/22/allegation-false-turkey-chemical-attack-syria .)

With regard to the ‘hexamine hypothesis’, look first at Kaszeta’s background. As the email exchanges reproduced in the piece by Professor Postol to which I linked bring out, he clearly has no genuine claims to scientific expertise. However, his entry on the ‘Bellingcat’ sites tells us he ‘served for 12 years in the White House in Washington DC, from 1996 to 2008, in two different jobs spanning two very different Presidential administrations.’

In the exchanges with Postol, moreover, Kaszeta attempted to claim that Åke Sellström, who had headed the UN/OPCW investigation into Ghouta and related incidents, and his colleague Scott Cairns, had endorsed the ‘hexamine hypothesis’, linking to a press conference in which the two had participated on 13 December 2013.

And indeed, the author of the ‘hexamine hypothesis’ claimed that he was only developing conclusions to which the UN/OPCW team had been forced by the evidence, but could not make public because their remit did not allow them to do so:

‘As you can see, when confronted by the statements of someone who was on the ground and was in direct contact with the experts in both field and lab, I’m in no position to refute such established authorities. I am merely seeking to flesh out a hypothesis and scenario that accounts for all of this.’

But if in fact you look at the press conference, one finds that Sellström handed over the question to Cairns, who described the ‘hexamine hypothesis’ as just that – an hypothesis – without in any way endorsing it. So you can see that Kaszeta is believer in the technique of ‘the big lie’.

However, Kaszeta and Higgins were not going to allow the fact that neither Sellström nor Cairns had endorsed their claims to cramp their style. They simply resorted to new and more inventive forms of mendacity – as is evident from a 31 January 2014 post by the latter:

‘Ask I’m constantly being asked this, here’s the Hexamine question from the CBRNe Sellstrom interview that didn’t make the edit, from Gwyn Winfield, the interviewer –http://www.cbrneworld.com/_uploads/download_magazines/Sellstrom_Feb_2014_v2.pdf

‘“Q – Why was hexamine on the list of chemical scheduled to be destroyed – it has many other battlefield uses as well as sarin? Did you request to put it on the list or had the Syrian’s claimed that they were using it?

‘A – It is in their formula, it is their acid scavenger.’’’

(See https://plus.google.com/108344897173120412718/posts/62vsHPVJPua .)

After Sellström was e-mailed by Postol, and made clear in an e-mail which the latter reproduced in his paper that this was not his view, there was a fascinating exchange of ‘tweets’ on 3-4 July 2014 initiated by Maram Susli – who had provided input on relevant science for the paper, and ‘tweets’ under the name ‘Partisangirl’.

It started with her ‘tweeting’ ‘I can reveal that Ake Sellstrom of the OPCW rejects @Brown_Moses & @DanKezetas claims that Hexamine is evidence that Sarin belong to Sy govt’

In response, Higgins ‘tweeted’ both her and Winfield, who apparently uses the name ‘ChemBioTroll’: ‘@Partisangirl @ChemBioTroll has a recorded of Sellstrom saying “It is in their formula, it is their acid scavenger.” during his interview’.

To cut a long, and interesting, exchange, short, Winfield ‘tweeted’: ‘@Partisangirl @Brown_Moses on culpability I have to agree with PG. At no point, in published or un-published material, does he ascribe guilt.’

Then, Susli linked to an interview Sellström had given in March to the ‘Carnegie Moscow Center’, where in answer to a question about the ‘hexamine hypothesis’, he had said:

‘Hexamine could be a stabilizer of sarin, but others have claimed that the hexamine found could also be a contaminant being present because of the explosives.’

In response, Winfield ‘tweeted’: ‘I don’t see any difference between what Ake said to me and them. He plays with “a straight bat”.’

Among many fascinating elements of these exchanges is the curious way that both Sellström and Winfield very clearly intimate that the account of both their actions by Higgins and Kaszeta is false. However, neither actually says openly that the duo are simply fabricating.

From that, it seems legitimate to infer that the pair are not simply, as they claim to be, ordinary citizens engaged in attempting to seek out the truth. They are dirty little disinformation peddlers. However, they would not act with such impudence, if they did not have much bigger and more powerful disinformation peddlers behind them.


The phrase "sarin or sarin-like substance" is used to describe a positive result in the fluoride regeneration test on blood samples. This means that the original molecule had a structure of the form isopropyl-methylphosphonyl-R, where R is a group that comes off easily as an anion: fluoride (as in sarin), chloride (as in chlorosarin), cyanide or something else.

No molecules with this structure are used as pesticides, fertilizers or for any other industrial use. So release of such chemicals from secondary explosions can't explain the positive test results.


That is the gold standard for determining the accuracy Ukrainian or middle eastern reporting.

If Bellingcat denounces it, you've hit pay dirt.


I didn't know you are from the movie business, whatever that is supposed to mean.

It is very convoluted, and it is noticeable that the parties are not responding to each other, but addressing the audience.

Interesting. What is it exactly that makes it convoluted, or for that matter reminds you, as expert, of a bad movie script? Or gives you the impression an audience is addressed?

Not responding to each other? Only happening in movie scripts, never in real life? I'll read it again. May have missed something.

Anyway. Passages? Evidence?


Why should they have to, and who would listen?

It's already admitted that Russia gave the US the flight plan of the Su-22 in question, what more should they have to give?



"No one is talking about the entire reason we're in Iraq and Syria in the first place. That mission is fucked now."

I have my own thoughts, but would be curious to read others' interpretations of this statement.

Thanks in advance.


I've subscribed to the LRB for decades and wrote them concerning this. Here's their reply, excluding the salutation - "We would dearly have liked to publish the story but we needed more supporting evidence than we and his sources were able to get.

Best wishes,

The Editors"

English Outsider

David Habakkuk - sincere thanks for that summary.

Samples of dubious origin, no verifiable chain of custody, dodgy science, contested interpretation of tests. + Hamish de Bretton-Gordon serving Queen and Country in his own inimitable way. Sounds an absolute riot. Not so much for the Syrians, sadly.

I'm not being flippant. What the hell are our people doing getting mixed up in this sort of rubbish? I just have a suspicion that, despite such indefatigable work as yours, we're never going to know.

English Outsider

LeaNder - At 12 mins in on the video Lueders is referring to the Ghouta poison gas incident. I'm sorry I didn't make that clear before.

Is Hersh used as a conduit? Undoubtedly. Politicans and officials do try to use journalists as conduits. Is Hersh aware of that? Well, he's been around for a while so he's probably noticed it by now.

I find German TV considerably more prepared to give a platform to those querying the official line, even if only on chat shows or discussion programmes. They gave General Kujat a good innings a while ago. Wonderful man, solid as a rock - I hope you agree. And of course there's always Sahra Wagenknecht battling away. Is it your impression that the German media isn't quite as sealed tight shut as ours?

Yeah, Right

sid: "It's already admitted that Russia gave the US the flight plan of the Su-22 in question, what more should they have to give?"

No, that is untrue. Neither the State Dept spokesman nor his Pentagon equivalent has acknowledged that this information was shared.

I don't dispute that Hersh is reporting that he was told that this did indeed take place, but since he doesn't have any evidence other than "I am told" then that amounts to hearsay.

The Russians could provide just such evidence, at which point the US Govt would have no choice but to admit that this did indeed happen.

But absent such evidence the US Govt can simply ignore Hersh, which is exactly what they are doing.


The absence of an unequivocal denial that US forces were given the alert must be confirmation that it was received. Right?

Keith Harbaugh

I don't believe this blog is indexed by news.google.com.
But it certainly is by google:
Just visit google.com and type in
Syria site:turcopolier.typepad.com
or whatever you want to search on.
The point is you can specify the site (URL) you desire to be searched.


Why does the "conversation" sound cooked? It does, I agree. My options: 1) It is. Or 2) Sounds like two people, who know each other pretty well, have worked together before, and all id and opsec have been stripped out.

FB Ali

The BBC is reporting that Trump is saying another chemical attack is being planned by the Syrian government, and is warning of a severe reprisal:

( http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40413563 )

I don't know what new lunacy this is, but something very like it seems to have erupted again in the White House. Will the US military and State Department be able to stop the craziness this time around? Or, is the future to be one crazy US action after another until everything gets blown up in Armageddon?


FB Ali

The Israelis are in a fright over recent SAG successes and IMO are probably pushing Trump to take the US to war against Syria. They can easily do that using JK and the daughter as instruments since DJT has no FP of his own. IAF strikes against Syrian forces in Quneitra Province in the last few days tend to support this opinion on my part. In this case there appears to be significant distance between the WH and DoD. The WH has telegraphed its intentions so clearly that a lack of Russian response to a strike in response to another phony Syrian gas attack would seem likely unless Russia has decided to abandon the Syrians. pl


Publius T

To explain why your comment about the strike being southwest of town may be critical to making sense of the story:

Adam Larson has located one of the fog sources to a building southwest of town that was destroyed by an air strike on a date close to 4 April:-


Okay, this can't be what he actually means, but there's an apparent two-story home, maybe brick, destroyed maybe on April 4 (between satellite pics) outside town to the southwest. A home on the same site was destroyed at the time of the 2014 Islamist "liberation" of the town. See here - it's the apparent origin of the fog over the south part of town. It's got weird tracks into the field, a big water reservoir to use, it gets destroyed, and the rubble might have been re-located to a nearby field. It's perhaps just beneath the recon/alleged bombing flight path. But there's no sign of a blast or smoke from here at the time of the attack - that started later. If noth were south, this might be the place someone spoke of. Maybe it was intact as it did its smoke op once the recon jets had passed, and then it was blown up at noon, as a Nusra CW facility? --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:04, 26 June 2017 (UTC)

Hersh describes a US military Bomb Damage Assessment that concluded that a toxic cloud of chemicals had been released by secondary explosions at the site of the attack. If this was the site they were looking at, it's possible that they could have reached such a conclusion from drone/satellite images of the fog. With the prevailing southwesterly wind (from southwest to northeast), this fog spread over the town as seen in We suspect that this fog was produced deliberately as a special effect, but that wouldn't have been the most obvious explanation at the time.


Begs the question as to when do the Russians start holding the Israelis accountable for their lobby?

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