We then face a propaganda onslaught from neo-con politicians, think tanks and “charities” urging a great rain of Western bombs and missiles, and are accused of callousness towards suffering children if we demur. This despite the certain knowledge that Western military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have had consequences which remain to this day utterly disastrous.
I fear that the massive orchestration of Russophobia over the last two years is intended to prepare public opinion for a wider military conflict centred on the Middle East, but likely to spread, and that we are approaching that endgame. The dislocation of the political and media class from the general population is such, that the levers for people of goodwill to prevent this are, as with Iraq, extremely few as politicians quake in the face of media jingoism. These feel like extremely dangerous times.
Because of course, if you were sending a cryptic message back from Salisbury to Moscow, you would naturally route it back via Syria, in the certain knowledge that all such calls from Syria are picked up from Troodos. I am sure the Russians already knew that, even before I published it in detail five years ago.
Given Russian involvement in Syria, that somebody is reporting in Syria the delivery of a package to Moscow, would not lead any sane human being to conclude it was delivered in Salisbury.
As for the phrase “two people have made their egress”, presumably this was said in Russian and I cannot understand the translation at all. Exit, egress, go out, leave to outside – there is only one Russian word to express all of these and that is phonetically from the stem “vihod”, either as noun or verb. There is no egress/exit choice in Russian.
The only possible explanation is that the person actually said “two people have left” and the British government propagandists have translated this as the weird “made their egress” to try to make it sound more sinister and more like a codeword.
Reminding me of my previous Troodos article was extremely apposite. Because the point of that article was to prove that alleged communications intercepts proving it was the Syrian government which was responsible for certain chemical weapons strikes in Syria were not genuine. I am very sceptical indeed about the claims being made today.
“No, Tovarich. There is this old retired guy I know living in Salisbury. We released him from jail years ago…”
“With respect Comrade Putin, are you sure he is the most important target to reveal a programme we have put so much resource into for ten years?”
“Yes. I sit here every day and I cannot concentrate on the affairs of Russia or the World as all the time am thinking of Sergei Skripal. I should never have let him out of jail to spend his life buying lottery tickets and eating in Zizzis. But you must make absolutely certain to kill him.”
“Don’t worry Comrade Putin, we have been training in secret novichok assassination techniques for ten years. We even have an detailed manual explaining our methods. We will spread the novichok on his outside door handle (fiendish laugh).”
“Are you sure comrade? Is there not a danger it will wash off or get diluted?”
“No Comrade Putin, it never rains in England.”
That is, genuinely, in every detail the official British government version of what happened in Salisbury, including the ten year programme and the secret assassination manual.
Despite this story being one of the most improbably wild conspiracy theories in human history, it is those who express any doubt at all as to its veracity who are smeared as “conspiracy theorists” or even “traitors”.
All copyright on this article is waived. Feel free to use, translate and republish as you wish.
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I cannot imagine the cold viciousness it must take to work on the Guardian newspaper, where on the homepage the small headline of the latest six Palestinians to be shot dead, is way below the larger headline of the several hundredth article associating Jeremy Corbyn with anti-Semitism, on the basis of the quite deliberate conflation of anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel.
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Kay Burley then appeared to suggest in reply to persistent questioning from Teymoor Nabili that Sky News could not put the interview online as they did not record it and do not hold a copy, which is plainly untrue (and would be illegal under their broadcast license).
My perspective on the interview itself was that the interviewer became aggressive and sarcastic, increasingly shrill as the apparent effort to discredit me was not going well, and resorting eventually to asking about any old extraneous matter but the Skripals. I strongly suspect it was not me being boring, but the strange performance by Kay Burley, which motivated Sky to bury the interview.
But you must judge for yourself.
It is my policy when invited by journalists, to give considered and courteous answers to the particular questions which they ask. This is as opposed to what politicians do, which is to spout pre-prepared soundbites irrespective of what they are asked.
I appreciate that mine is a very old-fashioned approach, and may lead you to be frustrated about areas I did not cover. I also make no attempt to look slick or sound glib. I realise in this modern age that may not be good PR, but my belief remains that in the long term people will see me as a polite and thoughtful old gentleman, and feel less disposed to share the obvious contempt towards me of the media and politician classes.
Motorola sales agent Gary Aitkenhead – inexplicably since January, Chief Executive of Porton Down chemical weapons establishment – said in his Sky interview that “probably” only a state actor could create the nerve agent. That is to admit the possibility that a non state actor could. David Collum, Professor of Organo-Chemistry at Cornell University, infinitely more qualified than a Motorola salesman, has stated that his senior students could do it. Professor Collum tweeted me this morning.
The key point in his tweet is, of course “if asked”. The state and corporate media has not asked Prof. Collum nor any of the Professors of Organic Chemistry in the UK. There simply is no basic investigative journalism happening around this case.
So given that the weapon itself is not firm evidence it was Russia that did it, what is Boris Johnson’s evidence? It turns out that the British government’s evidence is no more than the technique of smearing nerve agent on the door handle. All of the UK media have been briefed by “security sources” that the UK has a copy of a secret Russian assassin training manual detailing how to put nerve agent on door handles, and that given the nerve agent was found on the Skripals door handle, this is the clinching evidence which convinced NATO allies of Russia’s guilt.
As the Daily Mirror reported in direct quotes of the “security source”
“It amounts to Russia’s tradecraft manual on applying poison to door handles. It’s the smoking gun. It is strong proof that in the last ten years Russia has researched methods to apply poisons, including by using door handles. The significant detail is that these were the facts that helped persuade allies it could only be Russia that did this.”
Precisely the same government briefing is published by the Daily Mail in a bigger splash here, and reflected in numerous other mainstream propaganda outlets.
Two questions arise. How credible is the British government’s possession of a Russian secret training manual for using novichok agents, and how credible is it that the Skripals were poisoned by their doorknob.
To take the second question first, I see major problems with the notion that the Skripals were poisoned by their doorknob.
The first is this. After what Dame Sally Davis, Chief Medical officer for England, called “rigorous scientific analysis” of the substance used on the Skripals, the government advised those who may have been in contact to wash their clothes and wipe surfaces with warm water and wet wipes. Suspect locations were hosed down by the fire brigade.
But if the substance was in a form that could be washed away, why was it placed on an external door knob? It was in point of fact raining heavily in Salisbury that day, and indeed had been for some time.
Can somebody explain to me the scenario in which two people both touch the exterior door handle in exiting and closing the door? And if it transferred from one to the other, why did it not also transfer to the doctor who gave extensive aid that brought her in close bodily contact, including with fluids?
The second problem is that the Novichok family of nerve agents are instant acting. There is no such thing as a delayed reaction nerve agent. Remember we have been specifically told by Theresa May that this nerve agent is up to ten times more powerful than VX, the Porton Down developed nerve agent that killed Kim’s brother in 15 minutes.
But if it was on the doorknob, the last contact they could possibly have had with the nerve agent was a full three hours before it took effect. Not only that, they were well enough to drive, to walk around a shopping centre, visit a pub, and then – and this is the truly unbelievable bit – their central nervous systems felt in such good fettle, and their digestive systems so in balance, they were able to sit down and eat a full restaurant meal. Only after all that were they – both at precisely the same time despite their substantially different weights – suddenly struck down by the nerve agent, which went from no effects at all, to deadly, on an alarm clock basis.
This narrative simply is not remotely credible. Nerve agents – above all “military grade nerve agents” – were designed as battlefield weapons. They do not leave opponents fighting fit for hours. There is no description in the scientific literature of a nerve agent having this extraordinary time bomb effect. Here another genuine Professor describes their fast action in Scientific American:
Unlike traditional poisons, nerve agents don’t need to be added to food and drink to be effective. They are quite volatile, colourless liquids (except VX, said to resemble engine oil). The concentration in the vapour at room temperature is lethal. The symptoms of poisoning come on quickly, and include chest tightening, difficulty in breathing, and very likely asphyxiation. Associated symptoms include vomiting and massive incontinence. Victims of the Tokyo subway attack were reported to be bringing up blood. Kim Jong-nam died in less than 20 minutes. Eventually, you die either through asphyxiation or cardiac arrest.
If the nerve agent was on the door handle and they touched it, the onset of these symptoms would have occurred before they reached the car. They would certainly have not felt like sitting down to a good lunch two hours later. And they would have been dead three weeks ago. We all pray that Sergei also recovers.
The second part of the extraordinarily happy coincidence of the nerve agent being on the door handle, and the British government having a Russian manual on applying nerve agent to door handles, is whether the manual is real. It strikes me this is improbable – it rings far too much of the kind of intel they had on Iraqi WMD. It also allegedly dates from the last ten years, so Putin’s Russia, not the period of chaos, and the FSB is a pretty tight organisation in this period. MI6 penetration is just not that good.
A key question is of course how long the UK has had this manual, and what was its provenance. Another key question is why Britain failed to produce it to the OPCW – and indeed why it does not publish it now, with any identifying marks of the particular copy excluded, given it has widely publicised its existence and possession of it. If Boris Johnson wants to be believed by us, publish the Russian manual.
We also have to consider whether the FSB really publishes its secret assassination techniques in a manual. I attended, as other senior FCO staff, a number of MI6 training courses. One on explosives handling was at Fort Monckton, not too far from Salisbury. One in a very nondescript London office block was on bugging techniques. I recall seeing rigs set up to drill minute holes in walls, turning very slowly indeed. Many hours to get through the wall but almost no noise or vibration. It was where I learnt the government can listen to you through activating the microphone in your mobile phone, even when your phone is switched off. I recall javelin like directional microphones suspended from ceilings to point at distant targets, and a listening device that worked through a beam of infra-red light, but the target could foil by closing the curtains.
The point is that there were of course no manuals for this stuff, no manuals for any other secret MI6 techniques, and these things are not lightly written down.
I would add to this explanation that I lost all faith in the police investigation when it was taken out of the hands of the local police force and given to the highly politicised Metropolitan Police anti-terror squad. I suspect the explanation of the remarkably convenient (but physically impossible) evidence of the door handle method that precisely fits the “Russian manual” may lie there.
These are some of the problems I have with the official account of events. Boris lied about the certainty of the provenance of the nerve agent, and his fall back evidence is at present highly unconvincing. None of which proves it was not the Russian state that was responsible. But there is no convincing proof that it was, and there are several other possibilities. Eventually the glaring problems with the official narrative might be resolved, but what is plain is that Johnson and May have been premature and grossly irresponsible.
I shall post this evening on Johnson’s final claim, that only the Russians had motive.
Update: I have just listened to the released alleged phone conversation between Yulia Skripal in Salisbury Hospital and her cousin Viktoria, which deepens the mystery further. I should say that in Russian the conversation sounds perfectly natural to me. My concern is after the 30 seconds mark where Viktoria tells Yulia she is applying for a British visa to come and see Yulia.
Yulia replies “nobody will give you a visa”. Viktoria then tells Yulia that if she is asked if she wants Viktoria to visit, she should say yes. Yulia’s reply to this is along the lines of “that will not happen in this situation”, meaning she would not be allowed by the British to see Viktoria. I apologise my Russian is very rusty for a Kremlinbot, and someone might give a better translation, but this key response from Yulia is missing from all the transcripts I have seen.
What is there about Yulia’s situation that makes her feel a meeting between her and her cousin will be prevented by the British government? And why would Yulia believe the British government will not give her cousin a visa in the circumstance of these extreme family illnesses?
The key point is that the FCO knew it was lying. This was published six days after I was told by an FCO source, and published, that Porton Down scientists were refusing to say the substance came from Russia. The FCO knew this.
I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve agent as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation. 16 March 2018
There has to be some kind of redress for this. If we accept that we live in a society where the public bodies that are supposed to serve us, can lie to us and to the world in order specifically to heat up a cold war, then the future is bleak. This is a direct consequence of the lack of suitable punishment for those involved in the crime of creating lies to wage aggressive war on Iraq, particularly Tony Blair, Richard Dearlove and John Scarlett. As they are not in jail, Boris is confident he will not be either.
We have learned nothing from the Iraq War experience, and what is most disheartening is that officials within the FCO and security services still do not see it as their job to prevent lies rather than to propagate them when asked by a Minister.
Here is a screenshot of a FCO video showing Laurie Bristow, British Ambassador to Russia, in Moscow telling outright lies to gathered diplomats at a briefing there. The subtitle is accurate.
I have long held the opinion that Bristow is a deeply repulsive individual with no morals or scruples. When I was sacked as British Ambassador to Tashkent for criticising Uzbekistan’s human rights record and objecting to MI6 use of intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers, Bristow went to Tashkent after my removal to assure the Uzbeks that the UK had no interest in human rights and wished to continue “intelligence cooperation”. That somebody like Bristow can become one of Britain’s most senior Ambassadors says all you need to know about the United Kingdom today.
#Salisbury attack: Scientists have not been able to prove that Russia made the nerve agent used in the spy poisoning. Porton Down lab’s chief exec reveals the details in this interview pic.twitter.com/qFNgPlr6vS
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 3, 2018
If anyone can make a copy and send me, or make a safe permanent posting I can link to, I should be grateful (contact button top right). Only a very short clip is on Sky’s website and I am anxious to preserve it for reasons I shall explain.
In modern Tory Britain, it should be no surprise to anybody that, to be the Chief Executive of Britain’s chemical weapons establishment, they recruited a radio salesman:
Aitkenhead’s PR skills were clearly thought sufficient to get across the government’s key propaganda points, and his struggle to do this throughout the Sky interview is telling. Aitkenhead has been in an extremely difficult position for the past three weeks, standing between his scientists who are adamant they will not say the substance was made in Russia, and the government who have been pushing extremely hard for them to do so.
At 5 mins 30 sec into this interview Boris Johnson directly lies about what Porton Down had told him:
It is very plain that what Aitkenhead is saying to Sky is “the scientists cannot establish it is from Russia. But the government claims to have intelligence sources that show that it is.” His struggle to fit the formulations he has been given to parrot this sense as more effective propaganda, into answers to the pretty good questions he is being asked, is almost comic: “ummm” and “errr” come into it a lot. You have to remember that the precise forms of words to be used in official parlance had been the subject of tense negotiation between the scientists and the Porton Down bureaucrats, and then between the Porton Down bureaucrats and MOD Whitehall officials, and then between MOD officials and FCO and security service officials in the Joint Intelligence Committee, before being signed off by ministers. It is a process I know intimately from the inside. This reconciliation of conflicting interests is why at the start Aitkenhead says it is “Novichok” confidently, but at 1 min 30 sec in he says the more truthful “Novichok or from that family”, which accords with the evidence Porton Down gave to the High Court.
But the key moment comes at 3 min 27 secs in. Aitkenhead’s government minders were evidently unhappy with the interview, and the last passage is a statement, not in answer to any question, of the government’s propaganda position which is a very bad edit and clearly tacked on after the interview had finished. They get the continuity wrong – it is not only a wider shot, the camera and tripod have clearly been moved. It is in this final statement that, in a desperate last minute attempt to implicate Russia, Aitkenhead states that making this nerve agent required
“extremely sophisticated methods to create , something probably only within the capabilities of a state actor.”
Very strangely, Sky News only give the briefest clip of the interview on this article on their website reporting it. And the report is highly tendentious: for example it states
However, he confirmed the substance required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor”.
Deleting the “probably” is a piece of utterly tendentious journalism by Sky’s Paul Kelso. Interestingly, I have never seen such large scale and coordinated social media activity by the Tories as kicked into action immediately following Aitkenhead’s interview. Hundreds of openly identified Tory activists sprang into action using the “state actor” line – omitting the probably – and “government has other sources” line. The BBC contribution was completely to ignore the Porton Down statement and pretend nothing had happened. As part of what was clearly a coordinated PR strategy to pre-empt the OPCW and get over the hurdle of government lies while still blaming Russia, Boris Johnson and Theresa May simply lay low, unavailable to the media.
I shall post shortly a considered assessment of the wider analysis of what could have happened in Salibury. Here is my immediate reaction to Aitkenhead’s statement on Russia Today. Strangely the BBC did not invite me.
If the government were not confident he would implicate the Russian state, they would not be doing this. But nevertheless I would be surprised if the Chief Scientist were to lie outright*, and we need to study his language very carefully. Much of course will depend on the questioning, and undoubtedly Sky News (a Fox affiliate) has been selected as unlikely to be be forensic or difficult. I have however passed to the producers, who contacted me for potential comment, the three questions I would ask given the chance:
Are you saying definitely this can ONLY be made in Russia?
How long from contact would this agent take effect?
If it is an extreme military grade nerve agent (according to Boris Johnson “novichocks” are “ten times more powerful”) then why was it thankfully comparatively ineffective?
We shall see if Sky are anything like this challenging. My fear is they will rather feed him questions like “How do you react to claims it was Porton Down that produced this nerve agent” in order to allow him to appear pained and wronged.
I shall post again after the interview. Thank you to the many people who expressed concern for my welfare at my recent sudden silence, following the rather nasty personal attacks I was encountering – I traveled last week to a family funeral at my childhood home, and was just reflecting for a few days.
*On the other hand another Porton Down scientist, Dr David Kelly, told the truth to a journalist in a broadly comparable situation and met an extremely suspicious death as a result.
If the UK were any kind of a democracy, opposition parties would have held firm against the rush to conflict with Russia, until serious and thorough investigation of the Skripal case had yielded real results. At the very least, you would expect to see a select committee of the House of Commons call the head of Porton Down to give evidence and quiz him about the level of certainty they have of the identity and the Russian manufacture of the substance which poisoned the Skripals.
Instead, we have seen all the establishment parties fall over themselves to appear as belligerent and faux-Churchillian as May and her pipsqueaks, in order to placate the tabloids. This is ludicrous. You cannot out-jingo the Tories, and the rush to increase international tension benefits nobody except the armaments and security industries.
I am obliged to say I was disgusted by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP leadership and their premature condemnations of Russia. By coincidence I spent much of last week at pro-Indy events and I have to say I found this disgust almost universal.
The odd voice was prepared to offer the usual Nicola excuse of “She is trying not to alienate the Unionists”. But what is the point of not alienating the Unionists by, to all intents and purposes, becoming a Britnat yourself? The continued failure – for years now – of the SNP to argue to the public the case for Independence, the attempt to dodge Indyref2, all of it leaves me to feel that the SNP leadership have got their feet under the table within the UK, as a form of controlled opposition.
The SNP leadership are far happier talking about which powers devolve to Holyrood from Brussels, and which stay at Westminster, than they are talking about Independence. I don’t give a damn about the precise contours of the devolution settlement; I want my country to be free of Westminster entirely, and soon.
We are not yet subject to the extreme state repression afflicting our counterparts in Catalonia, but you can be certain the Tories have noted the template, and that other Western political leaders will support them if they start putting people like me in the pokey for thirty years for sedition. Sadly it has become abundantly clear that there is no danger of the highly paid SNP elected representatives, their SPADs, and party bureaucrats, ever putting themselves in that position.
They would be with those handing down the sentences, as their attitude to Carla Ponsati shows.
Just as MEPs lined up one after another in the European Parliament to defend Francoist thugs batoning grandmothers trying to vote as the “rule of law”, and use the same excuse for lengthy sentences for political prisoners, so there was an echo of this distancing in Nicola Sturgeon’s response to the extradition of Catalan campaigner Carla Ponsati through the Scottish courts, potentially to spend the rest of her life in a Spanish jail just for peacefully campaigning for freedom for her country.
Nicola referred to “the fact our justice system is legally obliged to follow due process in the determination of extradition requests”. She too is hiding behind “the rule of law” and thus turning a blind eye to the Francoist attack on fundamental rights.
Very few voters of the SNP put Nicola Sturgeon into parliament in order to warm her toes at the Robert Adam fireplaces at Bute House, while Catalan leaders are dragged from Scotland to a terrible repression. The SNP leadership have become far too adept at speaking with British Establishment voices and thinking with British Establishment minds.
At some stage they have to accept that achieving Scottish Independence is in itself a revolutionary act, and that it will never be achieved without real constitutional conflict with the UK, the sort of political conflict which has attended the birth of every independent state. If you are afraid to do something “unconstitutional” under the present repressive system, you have no right to pretend to be a part of the Independence movement.
For Sturgeon to hide behind the Edinburgh High Tory Scottish legal establishment and wash her hands, Pontius Pilate like, over the extradition of Carla Ponsati is simply unacceptable.
Saving this brave woman is as noble a cause to launch a constitutional crisis as one might wish for. The Holyrood parliament must pass a Bill forbidding the extradition of Ponsati and the Scottish government must order Police Scotland to enforce it. We need finally to show we are serious about challenging the UK. If Sturgeon declines, then the Scottish people must physically defend Ponsati. And the Independence movement must fundamentally reconsider its leadership and strategy.
Yesterday in an interview with Deutsche Welle Boris Johnson claimed directly Porton Down had told him they positively identified the nerve agent as Russian:
You argue that the source of this nerve agent, Novichok, is Russia. How did you manage to find it out so quickly? Does Britain possess samples of it?
Let me be clear with you … When I look at the evidence, I mean the people from Porton Down, the laboratory …
So they have the samples …
They do. And they were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, “Are you sure?” And he said there’s no doubt.
I knew and had published from my own whistleblowers that this is a lie. Until now I could not prove it. But today I can absolutely prove it, due to the judgement at the High Court case which gave permission for new blood samples to be taken from the Skripals for use by the OPCW. Justice Williams included in his judgement a summary of the evidence which tells us, directly for the first time, what Porton Down have actually said:
16. The evidence in support of the application is contained within the applications
themselves (in particular the Forms COP 3) and the witness statements.
17. I consider the following to be the relevant parts of the evidence. I shall identify the
witnesses only by their role and shall summarise the essential elements of their
i) CC: Porton Down Chemical and Biological Analyst
Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the
findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples
tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent OR CLOSELY RELATED AGENT.
The emphasis is mine. This sworn Court evidence direct from Porton Down is utterly incompatible with what Boris Johnson has been saying. The truth is that Porton Down have not even positively identified this as a “Novichok”, as opposed to “a closely related agent”. Even if it were a “Novichok” that would not prove manufacture in Russia, and a “closely related agent” could be manufactured by literally scores of state and non-state actors.
This constitutes irrefutable evidence that the government have been straight out lying – to Parliament, to the EU, to NATO, to the United Nations, and above all to the people – about their degree of certainty of the origin of the attack. It might well be an attack originating in Russia, but there are indeed other possibilities and investigation is needed. As the government has sought to whip up jingoistic hysteria in advance of forthcoming local elections, the scale of the lie has daily increased.
On a sombre note, I am very much afraid the High Court evidence seems to indicate there is very little chance the Skripals will ever recover; one of the reasons the judge gave for his decision is that samples taken now will be better for analysis than samples taken post mortem.
This website remains under a massive DOS attack which has persisted for more than 24 hours now, but so far the defences are holding. Some strange form of “ghost banning” is also affecting both my twitter and Facebook feeds. So please
a) Feel free to repost, republish, translate or spread this article anywhere and anyway you can. All copyright is waived.
b) If you came here by Twitter, please retweet but also in addition create a new tweet yourself containing a link to this post (or to any other site on which you have placed the information)
c) If you came here by Facebook, again please share but also in addition create a new post yourself which contains the information and the link.
The state and corporate media now have evidence of the vast discrepancy between what May and Johnson are saying, and the truth about the Porton Down scientists’ position. I am afraid to say I expect this to make no difference whatsoever to the propaganda output of the BBC.
But two nights ago my interest was piqued when, at the height of Cambridge Analytica’s domination of the news cycle, the BBC gave it considerably less airtime than the alcohol abuse problems of someone named Ant. The evening before, the BBC had on Newsnight given the CEO of Cambridge Analytica the most softball interview imaginable. If the BBC is obviously downplaying something, it is usually defending a deep British Establishment interest.
It took me a minute to find out that Cambridge Analytica is owned by a British company, SCL Ltd, which in effect does exactly the same activities in the UK that Cambridge Analytica was undertaking in the US. I then looked up SCL on Bloomberg.
The name which jumped out at me of course was Lord Ivar Mountbatten, direct descendant of Queen Victoria and scion of the family closest friends with that of the UK’s unelected monarch. The only person listed by Companies House as having “significant control” – ie over 25% of the shares – is Roger Gabb, the wine merchant known for large donations to the Tory Party. I have now spoken to people who know him fairly well who, I must note in fairness, universally say he is a kind and very bright man, but with no technical input in the kind of work performed by SCL/Cambridge Analytica.
SCL is as Establishment as a company can get. The most worrying aspect of this is that SCL is paid by the British government to manipulate public opinion particularly in the fields of “Security” and “Defence”, and still more worryingly SCL – this group of ultra Tory money men seeking to refine government propaganda at the expense of you, the taxpayer – is cleared by the MOD to access classified government information.
I then did a news search on google for “Mountbatten” and “SCL” and it brought up zero results from corporate and state media. I then did a wider search not just of news sites, and found this excellent article from Liam O’Hare on Bella Caledonia. It said everything I had been planning to write, and probably says it better. Please do read it. Liam has actually done this to me before, getting there first. I suspect we may be the same person. Come to think of it, I have never seen a photo of us together.
PS Everyone of my generation will remember this joke. “What’s white and flies across the sea at 300mph?” We had a more robust attitude to free speech in the 70’s, and the maudlin deference to the “Royal family” had much less hold on the population.
The attack works simply by getting many tens of thousands of bots from around the world to interrogate the site with queries into its search facility, thus crashing it. It is a type of attack we come under routinely, but never on anything like this kind of scale. This is a proper effort to get the blog off air.
EDIT: Attack ongoing – latest figures.
Further Update: Still going but slowing a bit now.
The site is just back up at 16.42 on 21 March having managed to slip like the Tardis into another dimension and thus dodge the massive DOS attack we are under. over 50,000 separate IP addresses simultaneously throwing up millions of hits. The attack has not actually stopped and does seem to have a human intelligence changing terms and directing it, which could make for an interesting afternoon. Once our excellent techs get a minute from fighting it, we will post the cloudfare graphs as evidence.
I just thought I might give you a little taste of what it means to your personal life to express dissent from the government line in the UK in 2018. Let me start with this combined effort from the UK’s most popular website, Guido Fawkes, which fanatically supports the government, and the Blairite crew at “The Guardian”.
The red ink is original.
Now it is true that, when I was sacked as Ambassador by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for blowing the whistle on extraordinary rendition and the Blair government’s misuse of intelligence from torture, I went into a terrible depression and voluntarily spent ten days or so in St Thomas Hospital (not a mental illness facility) for treatment. I have never tried to keep this secret, indeed it is a major part of my memoir “Murder in Samarkand”. It is also true, as I have always acknowledged, that I have had other less serious depressive episodes treated at home and been diagnosed as bipolar since I was 20.
That we stigmatise anybody who has ever had a mental illness, write them off and view their views, on anything, as invalid, is an attitude I had hoped we had moved past last century. Indeed, if this hatchet job was done on anybody writing within the Overton window, then the Guardian would be dedicating editorials to condemning it. We have in fact moved to the old Soviet position, where disagreement with the official line equals mental illness. I quite confess this sort of thing does in fact hurt me – if you cut me, do I not bleed?
The use of the term “conspiracy theorist” has been used to denigrate my views, ever since Jack Straw as Foreign Secretary lied to Parliament denying that the UK ever obtained intelligence from torture and denying the existence of the extraordinary rendition programme, which I was supposed to have fantasised. Anyone interested in this history can watch this series of videos of my evidence to a Parliamentary Committee on the subject. It explains why I start nowadays from a position of being so hated by the British state and its acolytes, and also of course enables you to judge for yourself whether I should be ignored as insane.
Ever since then, the state and corporate media have described me as a “conspiracy theorist”. Even though there is now acceptance that extraordinary rendition did happen and presumably they, somewhere inside, know I was telling the truth. I find people are taken aback to discover, for example, that I broadly accept that there was no US government involvement in 9/11 (other than minimising the Saudi role) and 9/11 discussion is banned on this blog – [warning it still is].
I cannot in fact conceive of a more outlandish conspiracy theory than that the Russian government secretly manufactured and stockpiled novichoks, hidden from the OPCW, and secretly trained assassins, only to blow the whole operation on a retired spy they let out of jail ages ago. Yet nobody calls Boris Johnson a “conspiracy theorist” for positing that.
But the abuse is not confined to what people publish about me. I receive some extremely unpleasant emails of which this is an example:
I do hope Mr Temis can get money back on his anger management sessions. But there has been rather a lot of this, including some by old fashioned mail. which I find myself prodding suspiciously before opening :-).
There is of course an open effort to extend the term “anti-semitic” to embrace any criticism of Israel. It is also particularly used by Blairites to attack anybody taking any position seen as supportive of Jeremy Corbyn. I am not in the least anti-semitic. Jewish people have made a disproportionate, indeed magnificent, contribution to the world in the fields of science, music, literature, commerce and others. That does not alter the fact that Israel is a rogue state when it comes to chemical weapons, the subject currently under discussion. It refuses to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention and destroy its chemical weapons stocks, and refuses to join the OPCW.
Plainly someone attacked the Skripals. In stating that it is not the case that Russia was the only state who could have done it, I have included Israel amongst other possibilities. Israel might wish to frame Russia for the deed, as Russian actions in Syria have severely conflicted with Israeli ambitions in Syria and Lebanon. But I have never said it was, or was most likely to be, Israel – it could be the CIA framing Russia, it could be a non-state actor entirely (which I am inclined to think most likely – this could come from those close to a victim of Skripal’s treachery, though I still think the Orbis intelligence connection has been overlooked).
Some of the most vitriolic abuse has come from state and corporate media journalists. Falsely categorising me as an insane racist allows them to ignore any challenge to the establishment line on Salisbury and absolves them, in their own minds, from any dereliction of duty in not questioning it.
In a chilling example of the way they move to crush dissent, here a prominent Blairite corporate media journalist, James Bloodworth, attempts to ensure that consideration of other possibilities than the government line is not carried even in the private domain. He harasses and bullies an individual attempting to force him to accept Mr Bloodworth’s version of what I had said, rather than what I had actually said. When Mr Law (who as a lecturer in philosophy presumably has an attachment to intellectual honesty) refuses, Bloodworth sanctions him by pulling out of his literary festival.
It is very difficult to understand what is happening in the UK today, but when the BBC on its flagship news programme holds a discussion of the Salisbury attack under a huge photo-shopped picture of the leader of the opposition in a Russian hat standing outside the Kremlin, it is plain a fundamental shift has happened in society. The Salisbury attack has perhaps taught us something massively more important than any of the stuff about chemical weapons, and that is that Britain is further along the road to becoming an authoritarian state than we had realised.
The European Union strongly condemns the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK on 4 March 2018, that also left a police officer seriously ill. The lives of many citizens were threatened by this reckless and illegal act. The European Union takes extremely seriously the UK government’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible.
The European Union is shocked at the offensive use of any military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, for the first time on European soil in over 70 years. The use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is completely unacceptable and constitutes a security threat to us all. Any such use is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, a breach of international law and undermines the rules-based international order. The EU welcomes the commitment of the UK to work closely with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in supporting the investigation into the attack. The union calls on Russia to address urgently the questions raised by the UK and the international community and to provide immediate, full and complete disclosure of its novichok programme to the OPCW.
The European Union expresses its unqualified solidarity with the UK and its support, including for the UK’s efforts to bring those responsible for this crime to justice.
The EU will remain closely focussed on this issue and its implications.
While Boris Johnson may spout off the cuff lies while giving TV interviews, when it comes to any formal document or statement – in parliament, the Security Council, NATO and now the EU – the British government always reverts to this precise formulation “of a type developed by Russia” which attempts to disguise the fact that they have no evidence the material is made in Russia. Many laboratories can produce “novichoks”.
The EU statement very obviously eschews the British government line that Russia is evidently to blame. “The European Union takes extremely seriously the UK government’s assessment” is a double edged statement. Of course such a profound accusation must be taken seriously – whether the accusation redounds eventually to the discredit of the accused and accuser is a different question. There is something patronising about the “takes extremely seriously” line.
As in “we take the views of our customers extremely seriously. Unfortunately none of our agents is available right now, please continue to hold…” followed by thirty minutes of jingle then cuts off. I am told the French text sounds still more disdainful.
Apparently the BBC’s Eddie Mair on the PM programme on BBC Radio 4 today did take up the subject of the peculiar wording “of a type developed by Russia”, though without reaching any conclusion. He mentioned me by name. Now both the UK’s main political radio programmes – PM and Today – have mentioned me by name and discussed my ideas, but neither has given me a chance to reply. Mair is interesting – he first interviewed me on Radio Tay in 1984. He was then a brilliant young school-leaver who looked 12 years old, and came from the Whitfield housing scheme in Dundee, then one of the most deprived and toughest estates in the entire UK. It is a shame that his talent and energy have been wasted in the BBC, but his background does perhaps lead him to go outside the Establishment consensus sometimes.
As it is, here I am on some “fringe” media outlets today, which there are increasing calls from MPs of all major parties to close down, so that non-Establishment views can be completely suppressed.
“No, Tovarich. There is this old retired guy I know living in Salisbury. We released him from jail years ago…”
WARNING If you harbour any doubts at all about the plausibility of Mr Johnson’s story, you are a crazed conspiracy theorist and a traitor. Plus you will never, ever get employed in the BBC or corporate media.
This is the sensational new claim which all the propaganda sheets are running with:
The Foreign Secretary revealed this morning that we have information indicating that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents likely for assassination. And part of this programme has involved producing and stockpiling quantities of novichok. This is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
This is an astonishing claim and requires close investigation. If this information comes from MI5 or MI6, there is a process of inter-departmental clearance that has to be gone through before it can be put in the public domain – even by a Minister – which is known as “Action-on”. I have been through the process personally many times when working as head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, monitoring Iraqi arms acquisitions. It is not, unless actually at war, a Saturday night process – it would have had to have been done on Friday.
So why is this essential information being released not to Parliament on Friday, but on Andrew Marr’s sofa early on a Sunday morning, backed up with a Sunday morning official statement? This is very unusual. Furthermore, it is absolutely incompatible with what I was told last week by FCO sources – they did not know this information, and one of them certainly would have if it was based on MI6 or GCHQ reporting.
I can see only two possible explanations. One – and the most likely – depends on looking yet again extremely carefully at what the statement says. It says “we have information indicating that within the last decade”. If does not say how long we have held that information. And “within the last decade” can mean any period of time between a second and ten years ago, Very tellingly it says “within the last decade”, it does not say “for the last decade”.
“Within the last decade” is in fact the exact same semantic trick as “sale price – up to 50% off”. That can mean no more than 0.1% off and its only actual meaning is “never better than half price”.
The most likely explanation of this sentence is therefore that they have – since last week when they didn’t know this – just been given this alleged information. And not from a regular ally with whom we have an intelligence sharing agreement. It could have come from another state, or from a private source of dodgy intelligence – Orbis, for example.
The FCO are again deliberately twisting words to convey the impression that we have known for a decade, whereas in fact the statement does not say this at all.
There is a second possible explanation. MI6 officers in the field get intelligence from agents who, by and large, they pay for it. In my experience of seeing thousands of MI6 intelligence reports, a fair proportion of this “Humint” is unreliable. Graham Greene, a former MI6 officer, was writing a true picture in the brilliant “our Man in Havana”, which I cannot strongly recommend enough to you.
The intelligence received arrives in Vauxhall Cross and there is a filter. A country desk officer will assess the intelligence and see if it is worth issuing as a Report; they judge accuracy against how good access the source has and how trustworthy they are deemed to be, and whether the content squares with known facts. If passed, the intelligence then becomes a Report and is given a serial number. This is not a very good filter, because it still lets through a lot of rubbish, but it does eliminate the complete dregs. One possible source of new information that has suddenly changed the government’s state of knowledge this weekend is a search of these dregs for anything that can be cobbled together. As I have written in Murder in Samarkand, it was the deliberate removal of filters which twisted the Iraqi WMD intelligence.
In short, we should be extremely sceptical of this sudden new information that Boris Johnson has produced out of a hat. If the UK was in possession of intelligence about a secret Russian chemical weapons programme, it was not under a legal obligation to tell Andrew Marr, but it was under a legal obligation to tell the OPCW. Not only did the UK fail to do that, the UK Ambassador Sir Geoffrey Adams was last year fulsomely congratulating the OPCW on the completion of the destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons stocks, without a single hint or reservation entered that Russia may have undeclared or secret stocks.
On the Andrew Marr programme, Boris Johnson appeared to say for the first time that the nerve agent in Salisbury was actually made in Russia. But this is a major divergence from the published FCO statement, which very markedly does not say this. Boris Johnson was therefore almost certainly reverting to his reflex lying. In fact the FCO statement gives an extremely strong hint the FCO is not at all confident it was made in Russia and is seeking to widen its bases. Look at this paragraph:
Russia is the official successor state to the USSR. As such, Russia legally took responsibility for ensuring the CWC applies to all former Soviet Chemical Weapons stocks and facilities.
It does not need me to point out, that if Porton Down had identified the nerve agent as made in Russia, the FCO would not have added that paragraph. Plainly they cannot say it was made in Russia.
The Soviet Chemical Weapons programme was based in Nukus in Uzbekistan. It was the Americans who dismantled and studied it and destroyed and removed the equipment. I visited it as Ambassador to Uzbekistan shortly after they had finished – I recall it as desolate, tiled and very cold, nothing to look at really. The above paragraph seeks to hold the Russians responsible for anything that came out of Nukus, when it was the Americans who actually took it.
This is the official British Government statement:
“We have no idea what Mr Murray is referring to. The Prime Minister told MP’s on Monday that world leading experts at Porton Down had positively identified this chemical agent. It is clear that it is a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. None of that is in any doubt”.
Which is perhaps the most hilarious fail in the history of refutation.
The BBC sprung that statement on me during a live interview on Radio 5 last night. They also sprung on me a statement by the Israeli Embassy and were attempting to lead me into accusing Israel of the attack. But even the BBC interviewer, Stephen Nolan, was flummoxed by the rubbish he had been given from the FCO. Here is an extract from that part of the interview:
Stephen Nolan: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have said to us tonight: “We have no idea what Mr Murray is referring to. The Prime Minister told MP’s on Monday that world leading experts at Porton Down had positively identified this chemical agent. It is clear that it is a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. None of that is in any doubt”. Well, you’ve already covered that Craig and you are zoning in on the fact that they are saying “developed by Russia”, they are unable to say whether it’s made – well they are not saying whether it was actually manufactured in Russia or the source of it or whether it was from Russia, right?”
Craig Murray Yes, exactly. No-one doubts that the Russians had the idea of making these things first, and worked on developing the idea. It has always been doubted up till now that they really succeeded. The Iranians succeeded under OPCW supervision some time ago and the chemical formulae were published to the whole world twenty years ago. So many states could have done it. The “of a type developed by Russia” thing means nothing, undoubtedly.
You can hear the whole interview here beginning about 5 minutes in.
I have now been sent the vital information that in late 2016, Iranian scientists set out to study whether novichoks really could be produced from commercially available ingredients. Iran succeeded in synthesising a number of novichoks. Iran did this in full cooperation with the OPCW and immediately reported the results to the OPCW so they could be added to the chemical weapons database.
This makes complete nonsense of the Theresa May’s “of a type developed by Russia” line, used to parliament and the UN Security Council. This explains why Porton Down have refused to cave in to governmental pressure to say the nerve agent was Russian. If Iran can make a novichok, so can a significant number of states.
While Iran acted absolutely responsibly in cooperating with the OPCW, there are a handful of rogue states operating outwith the rule of international law, like Israel and North Korea, which refuse to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, join the OPCW or destroy their chemical weapons stocks. Russia has cooperated in the OPCW destruction of all its chemical weapons stocks, completed last year, which included regular OPCW inspection of all the sites alleged to have been in the original “novichok” programme. Why nobody is even looking at the rogue states outwith the OPCW is a genuine puzzle.
Extraordinarily, only yesterday the Guardian was still carrying an article which claimed “only the Russian state” could make a novichok. Despite the lying propaganda regurgitated by virtually every corporate and state “journalist”, in truth is it is now proven beyond dispute that “of a type developed by Russia” has zero evidential value and is a politician’s weasel phrase designed deliberately to mislead the public. The public should ask why.
ty th Che